Olympic Games Karate competition: WHAT IS KUMITE?


Olympic Games Karate competition: WHAT IS KUMITE?

Learn everything you need to know about Kumite. 

Kumite can mean ‘sparring’. In Karate terms, Kumite is where two competitors face off performing defensive and offensive techniques in a standing competition. Competitors can use punches, kicks or takedowns against their opponents. 

  • Kumite is a discipline that puts a lot of importance on technique and skill, with strict rules enforced to ensure the safety of the athletes.

  • Kumite Karate takes place on an 8x8 metre tatami mat, where the athletes must stay during the course of the bout. If they step out of the ring, they typically receive a warning.

  • Scoring is point-based. To earn points, participants must land a punch or kick with proper form.

  • Scoring is as follows:
    • Ippon: 3 points. An Ippon is awarded for kicks to the head or any scoring technique delivered on a thrown or fallen opponent.
    • Waza-Ari: 2 points. A Waza-Ari is awarded for kicks to the midsection of the body.
    • Yuko: 1 point. A Yuko is awarded for punches to the head or the body of the opponent.

  • To win, an athlete must either reach an 8-point advantage within the 3-minute round or have the most points at the end of the bout.

  • If there is a tie, the first athlete to have scored a point wins (Senshu). If neither athlete scores a point, the judges determine the winner based on form (Hantei).

  • Ties are allowed only during the first round of the Olympic competition (Round Robin format). This is called Hikiwake.

  • A Kumite bout lasts for 3 minutes.

  • Competitors receive sanctions for prohibited behaviour. There are two categories of sanctions:
    • Category 1: For techniques that make excessive contact or dangerous or forbidden throwing techniques.
    • Category 2: Feigning, or exaggerating injury, exit from the competition area, avoiding combat, passivity, discourteous behaviour towards the refereeing officials, or other breaches of etiquette.

  • There are three degrees of warning: Chukoku, Keikoku, and Hansoku Chui. A competitor receiving a fourth penalty (Hansoku) is declared the loser of the bout.

  • The Olympic Kumite will feature three weight categories for both men and women and competition will begin on Thursday 5 August with the Men’s -67kg Elimination round.

  • Olympic competition in Karate Kumite: Competitors are divided into 2 pools of 5 and 6 competitors each, and fight with one another in the pool. The top two contestants from each pool qualify for the semifinals. The winners of the semifinals will clash for gold, while the losers of the semifinals are both awarded the bronze medal.

  • Glossary:
    • HANTEI: Decision. At the end of an inconclusive bout, the judges declare the winner by flag signal.
    • HIKIWAKE: Draw. A draw is only applicable to Round Robin phases.
    • AKA: Red. Competitor wearing the red belt and protection.
    • AO: Blue. Competitor wearing the blue belt and protection.
    • IPPON: 3-point technique.
    • WAZA-ARI: 2-point technique.
    • YUKO: 1-point technique.
    • CHUKOKU: Warning. A Category 1 or 2 offence.
    • KEIKOKU: Warning. A Category 1 or 2 offence.
    • HANSOKU-CHUI. Warning of disqualification.
    • HANSOKU: Disqualification.
    • SENSHU. First unopposed point advantage. In case of a tie, the competitor awarded with “Senshu” will be declared the winner.