A.O.K Competition Rules 2020 Edition


  1. All competitors must be at their assigned ring before competition begins. Once eliminations begin in a particular kata or sparring division, that division is closed to all late entries.  A competitor shall be disqualified when he/she has failed to appear at the ring within one (1) minute after the third call of his/her name.  No points can be awarded to anyone that fails to appear as indicated above.

  2. Students from the same club should not be required to fight each other until the final match.  It shall be the responsibility of the competitors or instructor to inform the head judge referee in advance that they are from the same club.

  3. A competitor must compete in the appropriate age, rank, and weight division unless written permission to change division s is obtained from the AOK Executive Committee prior to the first tournament of the year and presented upon registration.

  4. A competitor who moves up in any division with proper authorization must advance in both kata and sparring divisions and may not return to a lower division.

  5. A competitor must compete at the highest level of rank held in any martial arts system (which involves striking or kicking) if that rank is different than that currently held.

  6. A competitor may compete in a beginning division for only one 12-month period in the AOK.  Rule is waived for the 5 and under division to allow them to compete for a longer period of time as a beginner due to their age.

  7. A competitor may enter only one division of sparring per tournament.

  8. Junior competitors (17 years and under) may not compete with adults under any circumstances.

  9. Executive competitors (35 and older for men, and 32 and older for women) may compete as Adults or Executives, but not as both in the same tournament.

  10. Executive/Sr. Executive competitors shall receive points in the division in which they place at each Tournament ( Executive or Adult), but may not transfer points from one division to another at the end of the year, unless a change in age that year makes them eligible for the Executive/Sr. Executive division.

  11. A competitor will compete at the State Tournament in the division/divisions where they have obtained the most points.

  12. Any area of competition for which no AOK rules exist (i.e. grappling, breaking) may be designated as a demonstration division using rules clearly stated and provided in written form to competitors.  Such divisions will not have winners reported to the AOK tabulator.  All such divisions must follow standards of safety, eligibility, required of AOK divisions.  Competitors may be disqualified or subject to other penalties as stated for AOK divisions.  

  13. All competitors, 17 & under must submit a copy of their birth certificate, upon request, to the tabulator for proper tabulation purposes.

  14. Rules meetings for officials and competitors shall be held before AOK competition begins, with the following exception:  Forms division in which music may be utilized (Black Belt Spec., Jr. Spec., Adult Amateur Spec., Teams) may be held prior to the rules meetings to avoid disturbing other rings if the early starting time for those divisions is state clearly in the tournament flier.

  15. A weigh-in shall be required for all Adult Black Belt Sparring Competitors on the day of competition. A weigh-in may be required for any other competitor for whom a reasonable question of weight division exists.  Scales will be provided by the Executive Board to be purchased by the AOK.  All AOK points shall be credited to the weight division in which the most points have been earned at the end of the year for State Finals.

  16. A judge or referee that is texting or talking on a cell phone while he/she is judging will be removed from the ring as soon as possible.

  17. A Scorekeeper or timekeeper that is texting or talking on a cell phone while he/she is working in a ring will immediately be removed from the ring.



  1. Regulation Karate or Kung Fu uniforms must be worn with sleeves reaching to at least the elbows.  Uniforms must be neat and clean.

  2. All competitors in the Black Belt divisions must wear Black Belts.

  3. Kung Fu T-shirts may be worn in Kata competition only.

  4. No hats or headdresses will be allowed.

  5. All tournament entrants must be in good health.  The competitor is responsible for his/her own health and level of fitness.

  6. All competitors must be clean.  Any competitor with dirty hands/feet will be required to shower before competing.  Fingernails and toenails must be cleaned and trimmed.

  7. All competitors must wear:

    • Soft Foam-type protective equipment on hands and feet including foam dipped, vinyl and leather material, not to include: boxing gloves, MMA Gloves, bag gloves, articulating finger style gloves or any hand or foot gear that has exposed seams or laces on striking area.  

    • Foam headgear that covers the forehead, back of the head, and sided of the head to earlobe level.

    • Tennis shoe style sparring safety shoes will be allowed.

    • A mouthpiece that shall be visually checked by the Head Official.

    • A groin protector is required for all male, competitors.  (And recommended for females).

  8. All shin pads must be soft. (No hard plastic or metal is allowed in the shin pad). This includes casts, forearm/elbow pads, hand gear and footgear for any sparing division.  The Executive Board must approve heavy padding over medical appliances that must be worn by the competitor by doctor’s prescription.

  9. All protective equipment must meet the approval of the Head Official.  All striking surfaces should be free of abrasive tape. No tape allowed covering wraps on the hands.

  10. A competitor or instructor, removing his/her uniform (other than switching Gi tops) in full view of spectators/competitors shall be disqualified if competing and lose all points accumulated the day of the infraction with possible removal from the tournament site

  • Soft Foam-type protective equipment on hands and feet including foam dipped, vinyl and leather material, not to include: boxing gloves, MMA Gloves, bag gloves, articulating finger style gloves or any hand or foot gear that has exposed seams or laces on striking area.  

  • Foam headgear that covers the forehead, back of the head, and sided of the head to earlobe level.

  • Tennis shoe style sparring safety shoes will be allowed.

  • A mouthpiece that shall be visually checked by the Head Official.

  • A groin protector is required for all male, competitors.  (And recommended for females).



  1. All matches will be conducted in a ring no smaller than 18 X 18 square feet and no larger than 24 X 24 feet.

  2. The dimensions of the ring may be increased for finals but not decreased.  (A larger area may be used for Kata competition).

  3. This area will be outlined by tape at least two inches wide and clearly discernible from the floor.

  4. Two starting lines, each three feet in length, will be centered in the middle of the ring six to twelve feet apart. Both competitors must start with both feet behind the starting line before match begins.

  5. A visible sign with the ring number and sparring scorecards shall be utilized at each ring.

  6. All spectators, including Black Belt instructors, shall remain outside the designated area of competition during competition.

  7. The Head Official shall be responsible for clearing the area around the ring and controlling spectators, parents, instructors, side judges, timekeepers, and scorekeepers.



  1. Any instructor of a competitor may protest any infraction of the rules.  He may not protest or question the call or failure to call a point or decision of the judges.  An official’s decision may be protested only if it is against an AOK rule.

  2. All protests must be presented to the Head Official at the time of the infraction of the rules.

  3. No protest will be considered after the conclusion of a match in Sparring or the conclusion of a division in Kata.

  4. All protests must be submitted in a sportsmanlike manner.

  5. A Black Belt competitor involved in a protest may present his/her own protest in a sportsmanlike manner.

  6. A competitor or instructor may request the replacement of an official before a match begins.  The producer or the arbitrator may or may not replace the official, as he or she chooses.

  7. In the event of a protest over an incorrect score, the score recorded by the scorekeeper in Kata and the visible scorecards in sparring shall stand unless a single different score can be confirmed by a majority of judges in that ring.

  8. In the event of a stalemate or lack of relevant information during a protest situation, the Head Official should request the assistance of the arbitrator.

  9. A minimum of 2 Executive committee members shall be designated as arbitrators before competition begins.  If only one, or no, Exec. Committee member is present, then an alternate arbitrator approved by the Executive Committee may be an alternate arbitrator for that event.

  10. Arbitrators shall disqualify themselves from any arbitration if the outcome would affect their students in any way.

  11. The first eligible arbitrator to report to the ring shall be the primary arbitrator.  That arbitrator’s decision shall be final and binding and may not be appealed to another arbitrator or tournament official.  Protests over Arbitration may be submitted in writing to the AOK Exec. Committee.

  12. Before announcing a decision, the primary Arbitrator shall clear the ring and confer in private with the officials in that ring, and may also confer with the secondary arbitrator and/or tournament officials in cases involving anything other than routine enforcement or clarification of AOK Rules.



  1. Upon majority vote of the officials, a competitor shall be immediately ejected from competition for:

  2. Unsportsmanlike conduct by the competitor, his parent, or instructor.

  3. Disrespect displayed towards officials.

  4. Being judged by his/her own instructor in sparring competition.

  5. Pre-arranging the outcome of an event or engaging in non-competitive sparring (both competitors shall be ejected).  The only acceptable grounds for bowing out of competition is a confirmed injury sustained by either competitor.   A competitor cannot bow out at a tournament and receive points unless they are the only person in the division or if declared unable to continue by the medical personnel.

  6. Malicious head, face, or body contact

  7. If a competitor is ineligible for ejection (i.e. has already lost a match, etc.) and displays unsportsmanlike conduce, he/she may be subject to a six-(6) tournament suspension.

  8. A competitor who is ejected from competition shall loose all AOK competition points and any other awards for that division at that tournament and any other tournament to which suspension applies.

  9. Any individual who threatens an official shall be expelled from the premises for the duration of the tournament.

  10. A physical attack on an official shall incur one (1) year suspension from the AOK events.



  1. The forms judging board shall consist of three (3) or five (5) qualified Black Belt officials.

    • An instructor may judge his own student in forms competition only under circumstances in which other qualified judges are not available.  A judge may never judge any family member/relative in any forms division.

    • Side judges will sit at the ring corners.  The head official will sit at the front center of the ring.

    • All forms judges must remain at their assigned ring until all forms competition is completed.

  2. Competitor’s names will be called from the bottom of the list.   (Unless producer has advertised otherwise.)

  3. Each competitor will address the head judge by giving only his/her name, style, and form to be executed.

  4. The first three competitors will execute their forms without being scored, then return to be scored one at a time.

  5. Each competitor after the first three shall be scored immediately following the completion of his/her form.

  6. All forms judges will score each form simultaneously when the Head Official says, “Judges score.”  The judges will make scorecards visible to competitors.  

  7. If there are five judges, the high and the low scores will be omitted by the scorekeeper, adding the remaining three scores.  If there are three judges, all scores will be added.

  8. The following scoring system shall be used for all forms divisions:

    •  Forgets form, drops weapon, or has equipment fail during musical form.

      • 8.1-8.4 Poor form. Hesitation, disorientation, loss of balance, weak movements, flaws in movements

      • 8.5-8.7 Average form.  Weakness in some moves, break in concentration, slight loss of balance

      • 8.8-8.9 Above average.  Strong form but lacking smoothness and/or continuity.

      • 9.0-9.4 Good form.  Overall good performance with slight flaws in balance, technique, speed, power, or timing.  (Lower scores would indicate more flaws in the form).

      • 9.5 + Excellent form.  Demonstration of superior movement and balance.  Extreme level of difficulty taken into consideration.  Exceptional power, speed, focus, balance, smoothness and continuity demonstrated.

  9. If the head official deems a disturbance to be in a hindrance in the execution of an individual’s form, the competitor will be allowed to begin again after disturbance is over.  Otherwise, only one (1) opportunity to perform will be allowed.

  10.  TIES

    • In the event of a tie in the Teams, Weapons, Specialty, or any Beginning Forms divisions, a competitor may execute the same form for runoff purposes.

    • In the event of a tie in all other divisions, a different form must be executed.

    • In the event of a second tie, the high and the low scores shall be added to the total.

    • In the event of a third tie (or a second tie if only three (3) judges are used) judges will simultaneously point to their preferred winning competitor.

  11. All weapons must meet the approval of the head official, who will check them for safety.  No plastic or SHARPENED BLADED weapons will be allowed.  All spectators must be kept a safe distance from the weapons competition ring.

  12. If a weapon makes contact with the tournament floor, points should be deducted at the option of each official, unless permission is obtained in advance from the head official and tournament producer to place the weapon(s) on the ground in a safe and controlled manner.  A competitor whose performance jeopardizes the safety of other tournament participants or threatens to damage the tournament site will be disqualified.  (This includes but is not limited to the use of flames or other pyrotechnic devices.)

  13. Specialty (musical, two-man, etc.) forms may not run more than three (3) minutes in length.  Any forms that run overtime may have points deducted at the discretion of each judge.

  14. Forms divisions that specify a particular type of forms (i.e., traditional, hard-style, Korean, etc.) may not deviate from AOK rules in any way, including type of uniform worn.  Competitors who, in the opinion of the judges have inappropriate attire or forms for a specific division may be penalized at the judge’s discretion.

  15. Self Defense is competitor’s choice and props may be used.

  16. Team Forms are groups of 2 or more competitors and will be judged same as specialty divisions.

  17. If a weapon makes contact with the tournament floor, points should be deducted at the option of each official, unless permission is obtained in advance from the head official and tournament producer to place the weapons on the ground in a safe and controlled manner.

  18. If Grand Championship forms are provided, all AOK rules shall apply with the following:

    • Lineup shall be set by lot, with each competitor allowed one draw for each division won.  Number one (1) shall be at the top of the list and shall compete last.

    • Each competitor shall perform a form representative of the division in which he/she won; multiple winners shall choose one division to represent.

  19. The Adult Black Belt Specialty division is required to have Music with both open hand and weapons.

  20. Rules for Traditional Divisions:

    • No Jewelry.

    • No more than 5 Kias.

    • No music, no weapons or props can be used.

    • Start and end (relatively) in front of the head judge.

    • No wasted movements, each movement has a reason.

    • No more that three kicks without setting foot down.

    • No gymnastics: Flips, Splits, Cartwheels or Handstands.

    • Competitors wear traditional type uniforms either white or black (exception for Kung Fu).

    • Traditional Forms should incorporate techniques learned in basic karate classes and in karate books provided by the founders of major karate styles.



  1. The head official and each side judge have one vote.  A majority of votes is required to confirm any decision (two of three officials or three of five) with exception of disqualifications for injuries as stated below.

    • Optional: Under belt Jr. divisions can be ran with only 2 judges for sparring.

  2. The head official shall stop the action in a match to call for points or fouls either upon: (1) the head judge seeing a point or foul. (2) A signal from any of the side judges that they have seen a point or a foul.  All officials shall score simultaneously upon a signal from the head official.

  3. The head official shall stop time for multiple calls, conferences, injuries, or equipment adjustments.

  4. Matches shall be two minutes in length and shall officially end when the timekeeper informs the head official that time has expired.

  5. Coaching is allowed in all sparring divisions.

    • Time Keeper will call a time out at the one-minute mark per match.

    • During the time-out each fighter will have 10 seconds to talk with their coaches.

  6. The competitor with the most points when time has run out will be declared the winner.

    • A competitor who gains a five-point advantage over his/her opponent (5-0, 6-1, 7-2, etc.) before time has expired shall be declared the winner.

    • Matches ending in a tie will be decided by” Sudden Victory” overtime.  The first competitor to score a confirmed point shall be declared the winner.

  7. A competitor who scores a confirmed technique shall receive one point for a hand technique and two points for a kicking technique.  (A competitor who scores more than one technique in an exchange shall receive only the point total confirmed by the majority of officials.)

  8. Points will be awarded for a visible technique delivered to an unprotected target area with enough speed, power, focus, balance, and good form to have inflicted serious damage to the receiver had it not been pulled short of hard contact and full penetration.

    • Light contact to the side, back, and top of the head will score.  Light to medium body contact will be required to score points in all divisions.

    • In all divisions below Brown Belt, techniques to the face and throat must be stopped within one (1) inch of all actual contact.

    • Light contact may be made to the face in all Adult and Junior Brown and Black Belt divisions.

  9. Authorized scoring techniques shall include:

    • Punch  

    • Back fist

    • Knife-hand

    • Ridge-hand

    • Hammer fist

    • Front kick

    • Back kick

    • Side kick

    • Wheel or round kick

    • Heel, hook, spin, turn or jump kicks..

  10. Authorized target areas shall include:

    • Face (catcher’s mask area - an oval from the front of the ears forward, including the throat.    

    • Head

    • Side of the neck

    • Ribs

    • Kidneys

    • Abdomen

    • Chest

  11. When a competitor has committed any three (3) confirmed fouls, the competitor’s opponent shall receive one (1) point and shall receive one (1) additional point for every foul thereafter.  Fouls shall include:

    • Unauthorized strikes, head butts, finger-jabs, ripping or gouging techniques to the face, strikes with the elbow or knee.

    • Attempted attacks to the joints or spinal area.

    • Blind or uncontrolled techniques.

    • Continuing to fight after “Break” has been called.

    • Kicking techniques to the legs.  Sweeps may be used only if done with a straight legged, unsnapped motion and must be done to upset the opponent’s balance only.

    • Takedowns can be used in Brown and Black Belt adult divisions only and only on a raised (yielding) boxing style ring.  Attacks on a downed opponent must be executed within three (3) seconds of the take down.

    • Attacking a downed opponent with exception of the conditions mentioned above.

    • Drop kicks and attacks from the ground.  (Drop kicks may be used only under the same conditions for takedowns).

    • Stepping out of bounds during a match in progress.  A competitor is out of bounds when a foot either touches or crosses the boundary line while fighting, retreating or being knocked

    • back by a legal technique that does not score.  (Pushing an opponent out is a foul.)  A competitor may not score or be scored upon while out of bounds; however, other confirmed fouls or face contact penalties committed while out of bounds shall be assessed.

    • Strikes to the groin.

  12. A competitor who commits a foul before, during, or after scoring a point shall receive a foul rather than a point.

  13. Light face contact only will be allowed in Adult and Junior Brown and Black Belt divisions.  If a competitor in any other Adult or Junior division makes a confirmed face contact whatsoever, the competitor’s opponent shall receive a point.  (The face shall include the catcher’s mask area and the throat).  Contact to the headgear covering that area shall also be considered face contact.

  14. A competitor who commits three (3) confirmed face contact violations in the same match should be disqualified.  (Face contact penalties shall not be included as fouls.)

  15. If face contact causes any swelling, discoloration, or bleeding, in any division, the offender shall be disqualified.  At least one official must confirm the strike that caused the injury.  (Two officials must confirm if five officials are used).

  16. If illegal face contact by both competitors is confirmed in the exchange, each competitor shall receive one (1) point assessed as face contact penalty.  If said contact is the third committed by either or both competitor(s), then that competitor(s) shall be disqualified.  (If both are disqualified in the final round, both shall receive second place AOK points.)

  17. A face contact penalty shall nullify any point scored in the same exchange by the competitor who makes the face contact (but shall not nullify a foul by that competitor.)

  18. A competitor who is struck with an illegal face contact immediately during or after the execution of a legitimate scoring technique shall receive both the contact point and the point(s) for the scoring technique, if both are confirmed.

  19. A knockout or other injury requiring the opponent to bow out to seek immediate medical attention shall result in the offender being disqualified.  If medical personnel and/or the tournament producer feel that further competition would aggravate the injury, the injured competitor will not be allowed to compete for the rest of the day.

  20. If a competitor is disqualified from competition due to malicious contact or unsportsmanlike conduct, they shall not receive any points for placing in that division.

  21. Grand Championships may be awarded based on sparring runoffs between weight division’s champions, or based on which division champion scored the most points in the final two rounds of the division.  (In which case the 5-point spread limitations will be eliminated from the scoring procedure in those matches.)

    • During Black Belt finals if a competitor is unable to compete and forfeits the match, his/her opponent will be credited a 5-0 win.

    • In the event of the point method being used to determine the Grand Champion if there is a tie, one (1) two-minute match will be used to determine the Grand Champion


 All rules are identical to individual competition except:

  1. All matches will be one minute in duration - total points.

  2. The winning team will be the team with the most accumulated points at the end of the three individual matches.

  3. At the beginning of each match, the center referee will flip a coin to determine which team will put up the first fighter.  The loser of the coin toss will put up the first fighter and the winning team may match any member of its team against him.  On the second fight, the winner of the toss

  4. must put up the next fighter and the loser may match any of its remaining fighters.  The third fight will be between the remaining two fighters.  In the case of a tie score at the end of the three matches each team will put up the fighter of its choice in a “Sudden Victory” match.

  5. Once a team has been formed, there are no substitutions of other fighters on the team.

  6. If a team has a competitor who is unable to participate in a match the other team is automatically awarded three extra points.

  7. In the case of a disqualification of a competitor in a match, the disqualified competitor will lose all of his points in that match and the other fighter will be awarded (3) extra points to his score.

  8. On children’s teams or women’s teams when there are no other belt divisions, there will be only one advanced student (Brown or Black Belt) per team.



  1. AOK by-laws require a tournament to provide:

    • An adequate tournament facility large enough to handle at least eight (8) rings.

    • Adequate spectator seating if producer is charging a spectator’s fee.

    • A minimum of eight (8) rings with adequate equipment for each ring (clipboards, forms, pencils, stopwatches, visible marking of ring numbers, forms and sparring

    • scorecards.

    • Pre-trained personnel including timekeepers, scorekeepers, and at least four registration personnel.

    • Adequate security measures to keep spectators, food, and drink out of competition area.    

    • 1 Professional medical personnel.

    • Adequate copies of AOK rules for competitors provided at producer’s expense.

    • A starting time within 30 minutes of that advertised.

    • Presentation of all awards advertised.

  2. If Producers wish to divide forms into Traditional, Kung Fu, Kenpo/Kajukempo, Karate/Tae Kwon Do, etc., the competitor can use points toward ratings in appropriate forms divisions in regional ratings.  Competitor cannot combine traditional and open forms points in the same tournament

  3. Minimum divisions for AOK ranking - see AOK DIVISIONS. (Producers may add to but may not subtract from these minimum requirements.)

  4. The following AOK tabulation points shall be awarded to the first (1st); second (2nd); and two third (3rd) place winners in each division:

    • “C” rated:    1st Place = 4 points  /  2nd Place = 3 points  /  3rd Place = 2 points

    • “B” rated:    1st Place = 8 points  /  2nd Place = 6 points  /  3rd Place = 4 points

    • “A” rated:    1st Place = 12 points / 2nd Place = 9 points  /  3rd Place = 6 points