Karate at the Summer Olympics

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Karate at the Summer Olympics
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Karate at the Summer Olympics will make its debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.


Olympic karate will feature two types of events: Kumite and Kata. Sixty competitors from around the world will compete in the Kumite competition, and twenty will compete in the Kata competition. Both divisions of the competition will be split 50/50 between men and women. [1] [2]


The quest to bring karate to the Olympics was begun in the 1970s by Jacques Delcourt. [3] [4] [5] [6]

In 2009, in the 121st International Olympic Committee voting, karate did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport. [7] Karate was being considered for the 2020 Olympics, [8] however at a meeting of the IOC's executive board, held in Russia on May 29, 2013, it was decided that karate (along with wushu and several non-martial arts) would not be considered for inclusion in 2020 at the IOC's 125th session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September 2013. [9]

Bid for inclusion

In September 2015, karate was included in a shortlist along with baseball, softball, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics; [10] and in June 2016, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that they would support the proposal to include all of the shortlisted sports in the 2020 Games. [11] Finally, on August 3, 2016, all five sports (counting baseball and softball together as one sport) were approved for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic program. [12]

Format and rules

The Olympic karate competition will put eight gold medals in dispute: six for the Kumite (fight) competition (with three weight categories for each sex) and two for the Kata (form) competition (one for each sex).

The main rules for Kumite and Kata competitions are as follows:


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 each for both men and women. [13] However, the Kumite competition at the Summer Olympics will consist of just three divisions each, thus:

Kumite rules

In any category, fights last for up to three timed minutes (i.e. the clock stops every time the referee says yame). During that period, the winner is considered to be the karateka who scores eight points more than their adversary. If this does not happen, the person with more points at the end of the fight is the winner. If the fight ends up tied, a decision will be given through the senshu rule, the contestant that scored the first unopposed point wins. [15] [16]

Assignment of points

Points are earned as follows:

  • Ippon (three points): for hitting the head or neck of the opponent with a kick, or when any technique is applied to a fallen adversary.
  • Waza-ari (two points): for applying a kick to the belly, side, back or torso of the opponent.
  • Yuko (one point): for delivering a punch with closed hand (tsuki) or strike (uchi) to the head, neck, belly, side, back or torso of the opponent.

Strikes below the belt are strictly forbidden and strength must always be controlled as the fighter will receive a warning if they hurt their opponent, points may be lost or there may even be a disqualification if the resulting injury is severe. Knocking an opponent down to the floor without at least attempting to strike him/her is also liable to be punished[ clarification needed ].

Warning levels:

  • Chukoku (first warning): for committing a minor infraction for the first time.
  • Keikoku (second warning): for the same minor infraction, or for committing a medium infraction for the first time.
  • Hansoku-chui (third warning): for committing the same minor infraction for the third time, the same medium infraction for a second time, or for committing a major infraction for the first time (usually excessive contact to vital parts or below the belt, really hurting the opponent).
  • Hansoku (fourth and final warning): inflicting serious damage on the team score as a whole. The victory is given to the opponent.

Warnings and punishments are divided into two different categories, the first being for excessive and/or illegal contact and the other for technical violations, such as leaving the koto (fighting space) or faking an injury in order to make the referee give the opponent a warning.


Competitors are judged on the power and correctness of their techniques. Under conventional competition rules, one competitor is assigned a blue belt and the other a red belt, and each takes a turn in 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 discussions are still ongoing into the judging system, including whether to use a scoring system rather than the flag system.[ citation needed ] [17]

Due to the immense number of karate styles, each with its own katas, only katas from the styles recognized by the WKF (Gōjū-ryū, Shitō-ryū, Shotokan and Wadō-ryū [18] ) are allowed in the Olympics. The lack of representation of other karate styles in the kata competition generates criticism from practitioners of these styles.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Karate Japanese martial art

Karate (空手) is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. It developed from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts under the influence of Kung Fu, particularly Fujian White Crane. Karate is now predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands and palm-heel strikes. Historically, and in some modern styles, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints and vital-point strikes are also taught. A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家).

Shotokan Karate Shodan Style

Shotokan is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin Funakoshi was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing "karate do" through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.

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The World Karate Federation (WKF) is the largest international governing body of sport karate with 198 member countries. It was formed in 1990, is the only karate organization recognised by the International Olympic Committee and has more than ten million members. The WKF organizes the Junior and Senior Karate World Championships, which are each held every other year. The President of the WKF is Antonio Espinos, and the headquarters are located in Madrid, Spain. All the styles are officially recognised by the WKF.

Japan Karate Federation The governing body of sport karate

The Japan Karate Federation (JKF), a.k.a. Japan Karatedo Federation, is a national governing body of sport karate in Japan. The JKF is officially affiliated with the Japan Olympic Association (JOC), World Karate Federation (WKF), Japan Sports Association (JSA) and Japanese Budō Association (JBA). The styles recognized by the JKF are Wadō-ryū, Shotokan, Shito-ryu and Goju-ryu. The headquarters is located in Tokyo, Japan.

The Karate World Championships, also known as the World Karate Championships, are the highest level of competition for karate organized by the World Karate Federation (WKF). The competition is held in a different city every two years. Some of the most recent championships include Madrid in 2002, Monterrey in 2004, Tampere in 2006, Tokyo in 2008, and Belgrade in 2010. The competition was initially riddled with controversy regarding karate styles and the ruleset.

Atsuko Wakai is a Japanese practitioner of karate who has won many international and Japanese national competitions in kata (patterns), including unprecedented numbers of consecutive titles in World Karate Federation (WKF) and All Japan Karatedo championships. She holds the rank of 6th dan black belt from the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF), training in Seigokan Goju-ryu karate.

Terrance Alan "Tokey" Hill is an American karateka most well known for being the first male American to ever win a WUKO/WKF World Karate Championship which he achieved at the 1980 World Karate Championships in the 80 kg Kumite category. He also won a bronze medal in Kumite at the World Games 1981 He would open up his own school in 1983. He has also been a kickboxing coach for Michael McDonald and later a karate coach for the USA National Karate-do Federation

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Dorota Banaszczyk born 1997 in Łódź, Poland) is a Polish karate athlete competing in kumite -55 kg division. Her biggest success is the gold medal of the world championships of seniors in 2018 in the kumite competition individually, cat. 55 kg.

Karin Prinsloo (karateka) South African Karateka and winner of the 2001 World Games, living in Australia

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Steven Da Costa French karateka

Steven Da Costa, sometimes written as Steven Dacosta is a French karateka. In 2018, he won the gold medal in the men's 67 kg event at the 2018 World Karate Championships held in Madrid, Spain. He is also a two-time gold medalist in this event at the European Karate Championships. He is scheduled to represent France at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Hamoon Derafshipour is an Iranian karateka from Kermanshah Province. He qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where karate will be featured for the first time, as part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Olympic Team,He started practicing karate when he was 7 years old. Previously, Derafshipour won a bronze medal in the Men’s Individual -67 Kg Kumite at the 2018 Senior World Karate Championships at Madrid, Spain and Two Asian Karate Championships titles, and several other medals, including three golds and three bronze in the World Karate Federation Karate1 Premier League Championship.

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Ali El-Sawy is an Egyptian karateka. Current World Number 1 Rank in the Men’s Individual -67 Kg Kumite and He Won Bronze Medal in Karate at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games The 4th Islamic Solidarity Games was held at Baku Sports Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan from 13 to 14 May 2017.

Abdalla Abdelaziz Full name - Abdalla Mamduh Abdelaziz is an Egyptian karateka. He won silver medal in the Men’s Individual -75 Kg Kumite Karate at the 2019 African Games was held from 24 to 26 August 2019 in Rabat, Morocco and Gold Medal in the Men’s Individual -75 Kg Kumite (UFAK) JUNIOR & SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS 2020 at Tangier, Morocco.

Noah Bitsch German karateka

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