Rules and Regulations, Karate Combat



IMPORTANT NOTE: This document is designed as an introductory description of the major elements of KARATE COMBAT. It is not a replacement for the full KARATE COMBAT RULES AND REGULATIONS document. Every athlete and official is obliged to understand the full rules document and guide their participation accordingly.

KARATE COMBAT is: A Martial Arts Combat Sport based on the principles of traditional karate combat applications including aggressive striking and the use of throws, sweeps, takedowns and limited ground fighting.

Effective KARATE COMBAT fighting: is defined as aggressively attacking with legal strikes and takedowns that result in effective impact on the opponent.

LEGAL TECHNIQUES while standing:

  • All punching and hand striking techniques executed with the closed fist directed to the front and sides of the face, and the torso above the beltline. Ridge-hand strikes are also legal.
  • All kicking techniques delivered to the front and side of the head, and torso above the beltline. Roundhouse or hooking kicks (non-linear or thrusting) kicks delivered to legs below the knees only.
  • Sweeps, reaps, and throws (other than those listed as fouls below)

LEGAL TECHNIQUES while one fighter is grounded:

  • The standing fighter may attack only with legal hand strikes (except hammerfist and ridge-hand strikes).
  • The grounded fighter may attack with all legal strikes (including kicks as per stand up rules)

FOULS - Including but not limited to:

  • Striking with an open hand (other than a ridge-hand strike), or striking with the fingers to any target
  • Striking with hammerfist or ridge-hand strikes when a fighter is grounded
  • Striking with the elbow, forearm or head
  • Kicking the portion of the leg below the hip and above the lower part of the knee
  • Striking or grabbing the throat in any way
  • Striking to the spine or the back of the head
  • Kicking, stepping on, stomping, jumping on or throwing oneself on a grounded opponent
  • Groin attacks of any kind
  • Grabbing the opponents head with either hands or holding the head with one hand and striking with the other
  • Single and Double leg takedowns (Catching a kicking leg of the opponent and executing a takedown will not be considered as a single leg takedown.)
  • Clinching, holding or grabbing for any reason other than to immediately execute a legal technique. Inactive clinching will be split by the referee.
  • Suplexes or any other throwing techniques over the head
  • Throwing or spiking an opponent intentionally on their head or neck, or out of the fighting area
  • Timidity or Passivity, including but not limited to; avoiding contact with an opponent, failing to initiate legal techniques, intentionally or consistently dropping the mouthpiece or faking an injury
  • Holding the mitts of an opponent
  • Attacking an opponent on or during the break, while the opponent is under the care of the referee or after the bell has sounded ending the round
  • Flagrantly disregarding the instructions of the referee or any interference by the corner
  • Biting, spitting, clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh, hair-pulling, fish-hooking, gouging, putting a finger in an orifice, cut or laceration, small joint manipulation or any other “dirty tactics”
  • Engaging in any unsportsmanlike conduct, including but not limited to abusive language.
  • Applying any foreign substance to the hair or body to gain an advantage


  • Each bout is contested in the KARATE COMBAT PIT fighting arena.
  • Each non-championship bout will be scheduled for three, 3-minutes rounds with one minute rest periods between each round. If the final judges’ scores result in a draw, there will be one additional Sudden Victory round, the results of which will determine the winner. If the results of the sudden victory round is a draw, the official results of the bout will be a draw.
  • Preceding the bell to begin each bout the referee will instruct each fighter to perform a traditional karate bow to their opponent.
  • During the rest period, the fighter will exit the pit and be treated by their chief second, and a cut man.
  • During the fighting action when one fighter becomes grounded* the referee will begin a visible finger-count from five (5) to one (1) representing the length of time that the standing fighter may continue their legal attack and the downed fighter may fight back from the ground. At the end of the “Five-Count“, the referee will separate the fighters, make the downed fighter stand and will quickly restart the action from that same position in the pit.

*The definition of a grounded fighter is determined by the regulatory jurisdiction if it differs in any way from the definition provided below: A fighter is considered grounded when any part of the body other than the soles of their feet are touching the fighting area floor

Note that the Pit Wall is NOT considered the ground. In reference to the pit wall, a fighter shall only be considered grounded if he is directly facing to the wall and has both hands on it.

  • When a fighter is attacking his downed opponent, he may do so only with hand strikes (except hammerfist and ridge-hand strikes) and he must maintain an upright and controlled position while attacking. The “top” fighter may place a single knee on his downed opponent, but once a second knee goes (and stays) down, or both fighters are considered grounded, the referee will stop the action, stand the fighters and immediately restart the action from that same position in the pit.
  • Whenever a fighter is injured by a foul that causes time to be stopped or is finished by KO or TKO, the uninjured opponent shall assume the traditional kneeling position (seiza) on the opposite side of the pit until the opponent has recovered or the referee indicates that the uninjured fighter should rise.
  • A fighter may submit to his opponent by either tapping their hand continuously on any area of the pit, placing one knee on the ground and one hand above their head or by verbally submitting to the referee. A fighter’s chief second may concede the match by throwing the white belt provide to each corner into the pit and immediately notifying their corner inspector.

KARATE COMBAT bouts will be evaluated by three judges using the 10-Point-Must system. The judges will evaluate the relative merits of each fighter’s performance according to the following prioritized criteria; Effective Aggressiveness, Number of Effective Kicking Techniques, Effective Striking, Dominance, Damage and Control – in that order.

FINAL NOTE: KARATE COMBAT’s intention is to feature matches that reflect BOTH the fierce fighting spirit, and the traditional ethics associated with the Code of Bushido. Towards that end, fighters are rewarded for courageous effort to aggressively apply their skills, and penalized for timidity or passivity demonstrated by failing to engage or fighting only by countering. The matches should be fast paced, spectacular displays of dramatic and compelling karate fighting action. This is KARATE COMBAT.

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