Do I have to enter kumite and kata?
No, you can do either or both.

What grade do I have to be to do Kata at tournament?
Any grade at all.

Who will I be competing against?
Other people of your approximate grade. If you are less than 21, you will also be matched with competitors of your approximate age. Adults can compete in the 21 and over division, or 35 and over. National and world cup events also have an additional senior veterans division for competitors aged 45 and over. Competitors aged over 13 are usually matched by gender, so males and females do not compete against each other.

What kata should I perform?

What katas am I allowed to do?

Up to Orange belt Up to and including Bassai Dai
Up to Red belt Up to and including Empi
Up to 1st kyu brown belt Up to and including Kanku Dai and Karurunfa
Open division Up to and including Sochin and Seisan

What katas can teams perform?
Teams may perform any kata.

What happens in the event of a tie?
In the event of a draw for any medal position, all tied competitors enter a kata off, and they will perform a kata again. They may perform the same kata or a different one. The judges will only score their katas relative to each other. See the segment on scoring below.

How is kata scored?
Three judges are seated at different positions around the ring. You start with a median mark, (7.0 up to red belt, and 8.0 for brown belts and above and the Opens). Each judge will watch your kata adding .1 when they see something good and deducting .1 for something not so good. At the end they will add further marks for overall etiquette and performance. Your score is the total of the three judges' scores.

If two or more people are tied for a medal or qualification position, the first person to perform his kata again, will ALWAYS score the division's median mark. This score has no relevance upon their ability whatsoever. Subsequent competitors in the kata-off, will score .1 more or less than previous competitors in the kata off. Thus, the judges' scores in a kata off, only reflect the score relative to other competitors in the kata off, not the overall competition.

How are team events scored?
All of the same factors used for solo performances are considered, but additionally the level of synchronisation is considered, and is given extra weighting in the final score.

What are the most important scoring factors?
In order of importance, the main scoring factors are as follows:

1. Know the pattern
2. Get the stances right
3. Do it with heart, as if your life depended on the moves.
4. Show your understanding of the different moves - fast and light where called for, or slow and powerful if that's what's needed.
5. Ensure that you maintain control during stance transitions - no wobbling or leaning forwards.

The following criteria may also be considered, especially at higher levels:

6. Good flow - avoid being robotic.
7. Accuracy of techniques and strikes.
8. Personal interpretation of rhythms and transitions.

How many people can form a team for team kata?
At regional competitions a team for team kata usually consists of three people. At National and World Cup events, there may be an additional five person division.

What grades do team members have to be?
Team members can be any grade, and they do not have to be the same grade.

What ages do team members have to be?
You must be 15 or under to enter a junior team, and 16 or above for a senior event.

How should I start my kata?

When your name is called, loudly respond "Hai", then stand and make your way to the bottom right corner of the ring (furthest away from the score table). Compose yourself and tidy your gi. Now walk along the bottom edge of the ring on the outside. When you reach the middle, turn to face the Head Judge, who is seated just in front of the score table. Bow, and take three steps to bring you to the kata starting line, which is marked on the floor. Bow and loudly announce the name of the kata that you are going to perform, preferably in Japanese. The Head Judge will repeat your kata to you, to confirm to the other judges which kata you will be performing. If you made a mistake, or you changed your mind which kata to do, this is your chance to correct it! When the Head Judge has repeated your kata back to you, bow, count to three, then begin your kata.

How should I end my kata?
When you have finished your kata, hold the last position for a count of three, then turn to face the Head Judge. Yoi. Bow. Return to your starting line, then stand in heiko dachi and wait for the scoring. The Head Judge will blow his whistle and the Judges will hold up their score cards to the score table. The Head Judge will blow his whistle a second time and the Judges will turn their score cards to the audience. Do not fidget or look around at the scores at this stage. Get a friend to remember them for you. When the scores have been shown to the audience, the Head Judge will indicate, usually with a nod, that you can leave the ring. Walk backwards out of the ring to the same place you entered it. Bow when you reach the edge of the ring, then return to wherever you were sitting.

Does it matter that we do kata a bit differently to other regions?
In theory it shouldn't matter at all. There are lots of subtle regional interpretations between the different kata (although these should be fewer now that the official DVDs show the definitive performances - if your sensei is teaching differently to the DVDs, respectfully point it out in private after class and ask if there is a reason why). The important thing is to demonstrate good knowledge of the kata, good fluency from one move to another, powerful and spirited execution of the moves and accurate positioning of the stances. However, in practice, many judges, particularly inexperienced ones, still expect every kata to be performed exactly as they know them, and will penalise anyone who fails to do them that way. There's nothing you can do about this if you don't know the judges. However, the more closely to the DVD performances yours are, the more likely you are to be singing from the same song-sheet. If you compete, buy the DVDs and study them.

What happens if I make a mistake?
If you are a brown belt or below, and you are not competing in the opens, you are allowed one restart. If you make a mistake, stop, turn to the Head Judge. Say, "Can I restart", and of course, he will say "Yes". Go to the starting line, announce your kata again. The Head Judge will repeat the name of the kata you announced. Bow, wait for three seconds then start your kata. You can choose a different kata on a restart, although it's unusual.

Whether you repeat the same kata or choose a different one, your previous performance will not have any bearing whatsoever upon the score that you receive for your second attempt.

If you make a mistake in your second attempt, you must simply continue and do the best that you can.

Open Division competitors are not allowed any restarts at all. If you make a mistake, simply put it from your head and continue. You will usually be penalised .1 by each judge for the mistake.

How many times can I restart my kata?
If you are in an Opens division, you may not restart your kata. Everyone else can restart once.

Does it matter what gi I wear or how I wear it?
Your choice of gi makes no difference. You may feel freer in a light-weight one, especially if you are performing a kata with a lot of sumo stances in. However, a heavyweight gi looks much sharper and gives you a more pleasing body shape, particularly if you are skinny.. However, if the arms or legs of your gi are rolled up, it should be no higher than elbows and mid shins, with no loose bits that could catch and injure your opponent’s fingers and toes when you go on to do your kumite.

What should I do if they mess up the scores or I don't get a medal I earned?
Politely complain about it immediately. MIstakes can be rectified if they are dealt with right away, but after the event is finished and another one has started, it's very hard to work out any mistakes that might have been made. Everybody wants to ensure that the right people win, but mistakes happen. If the table officials won't listen, complain to someone higher.