Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On June - 1 - 2013

A few weeks ago, I took an International Karate Daigaku Judge’s clinic and exam.

During the class the Chief Instructor of the IKD, Shuseki Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai explained what he wanted judge’s looking for in competitions.

First the scoring system that is used for kata is as follows:

10-7 kyu (White -Orange) – 4 point average
6-4 kyu (Green – Purple) – 5 point average
3-1 kyu (Brown Belts) – 6 point average
Black Belts – 7 point average

The judges’ job is to score katas on the 4 elements of KIME!

1. Speed of Technique: Are the techniques performed at the correct speed to be affective?

2. Expansion and Contraction of the Body: Is proper use of the bodies muscles performed?

3. Proper Application of Power: For karate techniques to work, they must be performed with the correct power.

4. Ki (Spirit and energy): Is the karate showing spirit and energy in their performance?

Many karateka, feel that their “flawless” kata should have scored higher than what they received. However, they only received low scores. There is a reason for that. If their kata did not have the 4 elements listed above then they did not perform the kata to the specification required to achieve a good score in a tournament. I was approached on the weekend by students that did not understand why their kata was scored so low. They worked so hard on perfecting the kata and lost to a karateka whose kata was full of bad form. I had to explain to them that to earn a good score you need to show more kime. This prompted a response of, ‘I had kime!’

Now, scoring a kata is not a guessing game. If all of the elements are in place a judge will now have to decide how strong the performance was. They will then score the kata accordingly using the following system:

.1-.2 – Weak
.3-.4 – Adequate
.5-.6 – Good
.7+ – Strong

(The number before the decimal will depend on the rank of the karateka. See above.)

Of course, on occasion,  mistakes are going to be made. If this happens, the judges will have a brief meeting and determine how many points will be deducted.

If you are competing in a kata tournament. Make sure you have practiced your kata with kime. Make sure that you kiai in the correct places and you perform the kata with spirit. A judge will know immediately if your skill level is lower. Your technique will be weak. If your techniques are slow and weak, then you will get a low score, even if you believe you made zero technical errors. Each kata has a distinct timing sequence. If this timing is off, then the kata is incorrect. Also there are points in the kata that require strength and other places that require speed. If you are not using the correct speed and power then the kata is wrong. Make sure you really know your kata before you enter a tournament.

Karate is an art form and with each art form there is room for creative license. However, too much creativity is not good in a kata.

I hope this brief explanation of competition judging helps you understand better how to train as you prepare for your next tournament.




Categories: Teaching/Training

Leave a Reply

Featured Posts

I’m a Sensei!

What makes a person a Sensei? There are a lot of factors involved but what gives a person the ability to call themselves Sensei? Ok, first what does the word mean? Sensei translates to “one who has gone before” or “one who has walked the path ahead”. It synonymous with the term “teacher” but in […]

It is my instructor’s fault!

This happens often, a student or parent complains that the outcome of their testing was not what they expected. The student isn’t successful or gets a low level pass so they blame the results on the examiner or the instructor. Then they either give up, change to a different dojo or different style. The problem […]


Achieving a goal is something that is to be celebrated but don’t fixate on it. As a white belt the main goal is to become a black belt. This is true but each beginner should start off with basic goals, learn how to tie your belt, memorise the first kata and learn all of the […]

2017 IKD World Camp

In 2 weeks, the IKD will hold the 6th IKD World Honbu Camp. The organisation has grown with leaps and bounds over the past few years and recently expanded into Australia. Each year at Camp there has been a theme, last year was kobudo, weapons. This year will have two themes. The Science of Karate […]

Search my site

Twitter Updates

No public Twitter messages.