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Olympic Sports



Kumite (or Sparring) Competition

The individual tournament for the Kumite competition at the World Karate Federation (WKF) Karate World Championships is held under a weight class system comprising five divisions for both men and women.
Weight classes for men: −60 kg, −67 kg, −75 kg, −84 kg, and +84 kg
Weight classes for women: −50 kg, −55 kg, −61 kg, −68 kg, and +68 kg

Kata (or Form) Competition

Competitors choose which kata they will demonstrate from approximately 75 types designated by the WKF. At the tournament, competitors are required to demonstrate a different kata for each match, including the final.

Key Points

Kumite Competition

Competitors send tsuki, or punches, and keri, or kicks, with explosive force at the prescribed regions of their opponent's body. However, a tsuki or keri never actually hits the opponent because competitors perform every tsuki and keri with absolute control, enabling them to stop the motion suddenly only millimetres before coming into contact with their opponent. Competitors switch between attacking and defending so instantaneously that only very observant spectators are able to discern which competitor has succeeded in completing a tsuki or keri.
There are four ways of determining victory or defeat: (1) a lead of eight points scored within the prescribed duration of the match determines the scorer as the winner; (2) withdrawal from the match, rule violation, or disqualification by one competitor determines the other as the winner; (3) an advantage in points scored by the end of the prescribed duration of the match determines the scorer as the winner; or (4) in the case of a tied score at the end of the prescribed duration of the match, a decision by the judges determines the winner.

Kata Competition

Competitors are judged on the speed and power of their tsuki and keri, and are also required to show their understanding of the meaning, or principle, carried by the kata they demonstrate. Kata demonstrations performed with precise rhythm, balance, and kime, or focus, are utterly fascinating.
Under conventional competition rules, one competitor is assigned a blue belt and the other a red belt, and each take turns demonstrating his or her kata. The outcome of the competition is determined under a flag system, where five judges who each have a blue flag and a red flag raise either to signal which competitor, they believe, won: the one with more flags raised in his or her favour is declared the winner. However, to provide more clarity regarding the judges' views, discussions on applying a scoring system where victory or defeat is determined by adding up the points that each judge gave each competitor are being held for the Tokyo 2020 Games.


Karate was established for the purpose of protecting oneself with one's bare hands. Therefore, karateka use their whole body and employ techniques such as uke to block the attacker's strike, tsuki to thrust punches, uchi to strike with the ridge-hand, elbow, wrist, or palm, and nage to throw the attacker to the ground.
Karate originated in the Ryukyu Islands that make up Japan's present-day Okinawa Prefecture. This martial art developed by combining te (lit. hand(s)) - an indigenous combat art that was practiced in Okinawa from ancient times - with another martial art called kenpō that came from China.
As karate spread to other parts of the world, practitioners evolved karate from a disparate collection of jutsu, or techniques, into today's dō, a path to self-knowledge, while also protecting the traditional principles that Japanese martial arts teach. The basic philosophy of karate is that “karate is ultimately for self-defence.” This is reflected in karate's unique teaching of “never strike first,” by which practitioners guide themselves.
Karate began to spread across Okinawa and develop from around 1900, and was taught in physical education classes both in junior high schools and shihan (lit. master instructor) schools.

Competition Venues

  • Nippon Budokan

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