There are two categories of prohibited behaviour, Category 1 and Category 2.


1. Techniques which make excessive contact, having regard to the scoring area attacked, and techniques which make contact with the throat.

2. Attacks to the arms or legs, groin, joints, or instep.

3. Attacks to the face with open hand techniques.

4. Dangerous or forbidden throwing techniques.


1. Feigning, or exaggerating injury.

2. Exit from the competition area (JOGAI) not caused by the opponent.

3. Self-endangerment by indulging in behaviour, which exposes the Competitor to injury by the opponent, or failing to take adequate measures for self-protection, (MUBOBI).

4. Avoiding combat as a means of preventing the opponent having the opportunity to score.

5. Passivity – not attempting to engage in combat. (Cannot be given after there is less than 15 seconds left of the bout.)

6. Clinching, wrestling, pushing, or standing chest to chest without attempting a scoring technique or takedown

7. Grabbing the opponent with both hands for any other reasons than executing a takedown upon catching the opponents kicking leg.

8. Grabbing the opponents arm or karategi with one hand without immediately attempting a scoring technique or takedown.

9. Techniques, which by their nature, cannot be controlled for the safety of the opponent and dangerous and uncontrolled attacks.

10. Simulated attacks with the head, knees, or elbows.

11. Talking to, or goading the opponent, failing to obey the orders of the Referee, discourteous behaviour towards the Refereeing officials, or other breaches of etiquette.


I. Karate competition is a sport, and for that reason some of the most dangerous techniques are banned and all techniques must be controlled. Trained adult Competitors can absorb relatively powerful blows on muscled areas such as the abdomen, but the fact remains that the head, face, neck, groin and joints are particularly susceptible to injury. Therefore, any technique, which results in injury, may be penalised unless caused by the recipient. The Competitors must perform all techniques with control and good form. If they cannot, then regardless of the technique misused, a warning or penalty must be imposed. Particular care must be exercised in Cadet and Junior competition.

II. FACE CONTACT — SENIORS: For Senior Competitors, non-injurious, light, controlled “touch” contact to the face, head, and neck is allowed (but not to the throat). Where contact is deemed by the Referee to be too strong, but does not diminish the Competitor’s chances of winning, a warning (CHUKOKU) may be given. A second contact under the same circumstances will result in KEIKOKU. A further offence will result in HANSOKU CHUI. Any further contact, although not significant enough to influence the opponent’s chances of winning, will still result in HANSOKU.

III. FACE CONTACT — CADETS AND JUNIORS: for Cadet and Junior Competitors no contact to the head, face, or neck, is allowed with hand techniques. Any contact, no matter how light, will be warned or penalised, as in paragraph II above, unless caused by the recipient (MUBOBI). Jodan kicks may make the lightest touch (“skin touch”) and still score. Any more than a skin touch will require a warning or penalty unless caused by the recipient (MUBOBI). For Competitors under 14 years of age; see also APPENDIX 10 for further restrictions.

IV. The Referee must continue to observe the injured Competitor until the bout is resumed. A short delay in giving a Judgement allows injury symptoms such as a nosebleed to develop. Observation will also reveal any efforts by the Competitor to aggravate slight injury for tactical advantage. Examples of this are blowing violently through an injured nose or rubbing the face roughly.

V. Pre-existing injury can produce symptoms out of all proportion to the degree of contact used and Referees must take this into account when considering penalties for seemingly excessive contact. For example, what appears to be a relatively light contact could result in a Competitor being unable to continue due to the cumulative effect of injury sustained in an earlier bout. Before the start of a match or bout, the Tatami Manager must examine the medical cards and ensure that the Competitors are fit to fight. The Referee must be informed if a Competitor has been treated for injury.

VI. Competitors who over-react to light contact, in an effort to have the Referee penalise their opponent, such as holding the face and staggering about, or falling unnecessarily, will be immediately penalised themselves.

VII. Feigning an injury, which does not exist, is a serious infraction of the rules. SHIKKAKU will be imposed on the Competitor feigning injury i.e., when such things as collapse and rolling about on the floor are not supported by evidence of commensurate injury as reported by a neutral doctor.

VIII. Exaggerating the effect of an actual injury is less serious but still regarded as unacceptable behaviour and therefore the first instance of exaggeration will receive a minimum warning of HANSOKU CHUI. More serious exaggeration such as staggering around, falling on the floor, standing up and falling down again and so on may receive HANSOKU directly depending on the severity of the offence.

IX. Competitors, who receive SHIKKAKU for feigning injury will be taken from the competition area and put directly into the hands of the WKF Medical Commission, who will carry out an immediate examination of the Competitor. The Medical Commission will submit its report before the end of the Championship, for the consideration of the Referee Commission whom in turn will submit their report to the EC in the event that they deem further sanction is warranted. Competitors who feign injury will be subject to the strongest penalties, up to and including suspension for life for repeated offences.

X. The throat is a particularly vulnerable area and even the slightest contact will be warned or penalised, unless it is the recipient’s own fault.

XI. Throwing techniques are divided into two types. The established “conventional” karate leg sweeping techniques such as de ashi barai, ko uchi gari, etc., where the opponent is swept offbalance or thrown without being grabbed first — and those throws requiring that the opponent be grabbed by one hand or held as the throw is executed. The only instance where a throw may be performed while holding onto the opponent with both hands is when trapping the opponent’s kicking leg. The pivotal point of the throw must not be above the thrower’s hip level and the opponent must be held onto throughout, so that a safe landing can be made. Over the shoulder throws such as seoi nage, kata guruma etc., are expressly forbidden, as are so-called “sacrifice” throws such as tomoe nage, sumi gaeshi etc. It is also forbidden to grab the opponent below the waist and lift and throw them or to reach down to pull the legs from under them. If a Competitor is injured as a result of a throwing technique, the Judges will decide whether a warning or penalty is called for.

The Competitor may seize the opponent’s arm or karategi with one hand for purpose of executing a throw or a direct scoring technique – but may not keep holding on for continuous techniques. Holding on with one hand when immediately executing a scoring technique or takedown or to break a fall. Holding on with both hands is only permitted when grabbing an opponent’s kicking leg for the purpose of executing a takedown.

XII. Open hand techniques to the face are forbidden due to the danger to the Competitor’s sight.

XIII. JOGAI relates to a situation where a Competitor's foot, or any other part of the body, touches the floor outside of the match area. An exception is when the Competitoris physically pushed or thrown from the area by the opponent. Note that a warning must be extended for the first instance of JOGAI. The definition for JOGAI is no longer “repeated exits”, but merely “exit not caused by the opponent”. If however, there is less than fifteen seconds to go, the Referee will, as a minimum, directly impose HANSOKU CHUI on the offender.

XIV. A Competitor who delivers a scoring technique and then exits the area before the Referee calls “YAME” will be given the value of the score and JOGAI will not be imposed. If the Competitor’s attempt to score is unsuccessful the exit will be recorded as a JOGAI.

XV. If AO exits just after AKA scores with a successful attack, then “YAME” will occur immediately on the score and AO's exit will not be recorded. If AO exits, or has exited as AKA's score is made (with AKA remaining within the area), then both AKA's score will be awarded and AO's JOGAI penalty will be imposed.

XVI. It is important to understand that “Avoiding Combat” refers to a situation where a Competitor attempts to prevent the opponent having the opportunity to score by using time-wasting behaviour. The Competitor who constantly retreats without effective counter, who holds, clinches, or exits the area rather than allow the opponent an opportunity to score must be warned or penalised. This often occurs during the closing seconds of a bout. If the offence occurs with fifteen seconds or more of the bout time remaining, and the Competitor has no previous Category 2 warning, the Referee will warn the offender by imposing CHUKOKU. If there has been a previous Category 2 offence or offences, this will result in KEIKOKU being imposed. If however, there is less than fifteen seconds to go, the Referee will directly impose HANSOKU CHUI on the offender (whether there has been a previous Category 2 KEIKOKU or not). If there has been a previous Category 2 HANSOKU CHUI the Referee will penalise the offender with HANSOKU and award the bout to the opponent. However, the Referee must ensure that the Competitor’s behaviour is not a defensive measure due to the opponent acting in a reckless or dangerous manner, in which case the attacker should be warned or penalised.

XVII. Passivity refers to situations where both of the Competitors do not attempt to exchange techniques over an extended period of time.

XVIII. An example of MUBOBI is the instance in which the Competitor launches a committed attack without regard for personal safety. Some Competitors throw themselves into a long reverse-punch, and are unable to block a counter. Such open attacks constitute an act of MUBOBI and cannot score. As a tactical theatrical move, some fighters turn away immediately in a mock display ofdominance to demonstrate a scored point. They drop their guard and lapse awareness of the opponent. The purpose of the turn-away is to draw the Referee's attention to their technique. This is also a clear act of MUBOBI. Should the offender receive an excessive contact and/or sustain an injury the Referee will issue a Category 2 warning or penalty and decline to give a penalty to the opponent.

XIX. Any discourteous behaviour from a member of an official delegation can earn the disqualification of a Competitor, the entire team, or delegation from the tournament.