Tournament Rules

Tournaments Rules

Competitors Brief
Rules applying to all GTI Tournaments

*NB. This ‘Competitors Brief’ contains information relevant to competitors and is abridged from the full competition rules contained in the ‘GTI Tournament Rules – Appendix B’ of the GTI Constitution

GTI tournament rules

Since its founding, the Global Taekwondo International has been regularly organising tournaments. Our tournaments are run on an invitational basis to the schools and associations who follow the ITF style. We conduct the sparring competition under strict 'light and semi contact' rules. We implement 'points away' penalties and disqualification for any excessive contact. We require a minimum of 9 kup (white belt with yellow stripe or tags) to enter our tournament. 
children's kick boxing

Belt divisions and weights

Belts: The ITF belt ranking system applies as follows:
  • 9th kup – white belt with yellow stripe or tags
  • 8th kup – yellow belt
  • 7th kup – yellow belt with green stripe or tags
  • 6th kup – green belt
  • 5th kup – green belt with blue stripe or tags
  • 4th kup – blue belt
  • 3rd kup – blue belt with red stripe or tags
  • 2nd kup – red belt
  • 1st kup – red belt with black stripe or tags
  • 1st dan and above – black belt
The adult category is for competitors aged 18 years and older. The junior category is for competitors under 18 years of age.
karate session


The belt ranks fall into the following divisions with separate categories for men, women, boys, and girls. The Peewee category is an exception and it includes mixed grades of boys and girls. The option of a veterans' category may also be available at particular events.
  • Yellow – 9th to 7th kup
  • Green – 6th and 5th kup
  • Blue – 4th and 3rd kup
  • Red – 2nd and 1st kup
  • Black – all dan grades

Yellow and green, and blue and red divisions may be merged depending on how many participants attend.
adult male sparring weights

Adult male sparring weights

Weight divisions are specifically calibrated for the hundreds of competitors who are fighting on the day. A rough guide using traditional boundaries would include:
  • Lightweight: up to and including 67 kg
  • Middleweight: over 67 kg up to and including 77 kg
  • Heavyweight: over 77 kg
Adult female sparring weights

Adult female sparring weights

Weight divisions are specifically calibrated for the hundreds of competitors who are fighting on the day. A rough guide using traditional boundaries would include:
  • Lightweight: up to and including 56 kg
  • Middleweight: over 56 kg up to and including 60 kg
  • Heavyweight: over 60 kg
junior sparring weights

Junior sparring weights

Weight divisions are based on competitor height and are specifically calibrated for the hundreds of competitors who are fighting on the day. We also ask for competitor ages and weight, in order to more informed decision about the best category to compete in. A rough guide using traditional boundaries would include:
  • Peewee: up to and including 4 ft (122 cm)
  • Lightweight: over 4 ft (122 cm) up to and including 4 ft 6 inches (137 cm)
  • Middleweight: over 4 ft 6 inches (137 cm) up to and including 5 ft (152.5 cm)
  • Light-heavy: over 5 ft (152.5 cm) up to and including 5 ft 6 inches (167.5 cm)
  • Heavyweight: over 5 ft 6 inches (167.5 cm)
Please note: peewee division is mixed boys and girls. Other junior weights have separate divisions for boys and girls.
sparring competition

Sparring competition

  • Yellow and green belt juniors: point stop sparring
  • Yellow and green belt cadets and adults: continuous 
  • Blue and red belts: continuous sparring
  • Black belts: point stop and continuous sparring
bouts session

Duration of bouts

  • Junior and adult coloured belt divisions: 1 1/2 minutes
  • Junior and adult black belt divisions: 2 minutes
  • Finals in black belt continuous sparring: 2 x 2 minutes with 1 minute break
Please note: in point stop bouts, if a competitor scores 10 points, then the bout will be stopped and awarded to that competitor.
kick boxing arena

Scoring of points

  • 1 point awarded for any hand technique to any target area
  • 2 points awarded for foot technique to mid section area
  • 3 points awarded for foot technique to high section area
kids kick boxing pose

Target areas

  • High: head and neck area complete
  • Middle: trunk of the body from neck to lower abdomen vertically and from a line drawn from armpit vertically down to the waist on each side
  • Middle: kidney area (only scoring area of back)
Please note: No hand techniques are allowed to the face in peewee and lightweight junior yellow and green belt divisions. Hand techniques will be scored for all other parts of the head covered by the head guard, including the protected forehead area.
karate students

Demerit points and disqualifications

  • Point stop sparring penalties: points will be deducted from the offender's score. If the offender has no points or insufficient points for penalty, then any outstanding points will be added to their opponent's score.

  • Continuous sparring penalties: as points cannot be deducted from the handheld counters used by the umpires, the relevant points will be added to their opponent's score.
karate lessons


  • Stepping out of the area twice (i.e. on the 2nd, 4th, 6th and every other subsequent occasion). A competitor is considered to have “stepped out” when one foot fully crosses the perimeter line.
  • Unintentional excessive contact on 2nd and all further occasions (i.e. after one warning by the referee).
  • Loss of balance on each occasion (a competitor is considered to have lost balance when any part of the body other than the feet, come in contact with the floor).
  • Grabbing any part of the opponent or their dobok after the referee’s warning.
  • Tripping or leg sweeping the opponent on every occasion.
adults karate lessons

Discretionary points away or official warnings

These may be awarded by the referee after one warning for the following:
  • Unsportsmanlike behaviour
  • Intentional lack of effort
  • Excessive contact and aggression
  • Illegal technique (e.g. low kicking, knee and elbow strikes, pushing)
children's kick boxing

Disqualifications will be awarded by the referee for the following:

  • Intentional excessive contact or unnecessary aggression
  • Repeated on “point away” offences
  • Showing dishonour or disrespect to the officials, competitors or to the area
  • Second occasion that an official warning (yellow card) is awarded
  • Immediately on showing of the red card.
men dressed in karate

Accumulative disqualification

During a sparring competition, a referee may award an “official warning” for offences listed above. Any competitor who receives 2 official warnings during the entire competition will be disqualified from the competition immediately upon receipt of the 2nd official warning. The referee will display a yellow card when announcing an official warning. A red card will be displayed upon disqualification. The referees must announce to the competitor, umpires and recorder than an official warning is being given. The recorder marks the official warning against the competitor’s name on the competitor list, then, before the start of the next and all subsequent bouts, the recorder will announce than the competitor is carrying an official warning.
a kids karate fight

Contact and injury

As detailed previously above, contact is penalised but if in the opinion of the referee a competitor steps forward into a technique, which otherwise would have been correctly
focused, points will be awarded to the attacker as if it were a “decisive blow”.

If a competitor is unable to continue in such a situation, the bout will be awarded to the attacker. In all other cases of unintentional and intentional excessive contact, where a
competitor is unable to continue, the injured competitor will be awarded the bout (subject to referee’s decision).
kids with their coach

Pattern competition

The following patterns are the choices available to each division:
  • Yellow – Chon-Ji, Dan-Gun, or Do-San
  • Green – Do-San, Won-Hyo, or Yul-Gok
  • Blue – Yul-Gok, Joong-Gun, or Toi-Gye
  • Red – Toi-Gye, Hwa-Rang, or Choong-Moo
  • Black – Choong-Moo or any dan grade pattern relevant to grade
karate arena

Destructive competition

When board breaking takes place it is only open to adult Blue, Red, and Black belt adult divisions. Each competitor attempts five different breaks as listed below. One point is awarded for each successful break. In the event of a draw the lightest competitor will be announced as winner.

Red and blue belts: 
  • 1 white board
  • 1 palm heel
  • Knife hand or reverse knife hand
  • Left side kick
  • Right side kick
  • Reverse side kick or spinning back kick

Black belts: 
  • 1 black board
  • 1 palm heel
  • Knife hand or reverse knife hand
  • Jumping left side kick
  • Jumping right side kick
  • Jumping reverse side kick
All these need to be performed from the parallel ready stance. Each competitor will have one attempt to break with only one pre judging of distance is allowed. The hand or foot must not touch the board when measuring
strapping in the arena

Bandages and strapping

All competitors with injuries which require bandaging or strapping of any type must satisfy the judges of their need and obtain approval before performing (i.e. no hard materials or pins can be worn, neither can bandaging give extra support so that it constitutes an advantage to that competitor).
female karate training


No jewellery, watches or any other adornments may be worn. Hair may be kept in place using a material of soft elastic nature only, no grips or slides allowed.
white GTI uniform

Uniforms and safety equipment

Global Taekwondo International members must wear their official white GTI uniform at the English and British championships. Other associations must wear a traditional or freestyle dobok with relevant ITF belt ranking as listed above. 

T-shirts are not permitted. 

Safety equipment should be for semi-contact only. This should include:
  • Headguard (open face)
  • Mouthguard (Optional)
  • Gloves  (NO weighted gloves. e.g. 10oz 16oz)
  • Groin Guard (Optional for ladies)
  • Shin guards
  • Foot Protection

outdoor karate training

Safety equipment

All competitors must wear the following safety equipment:
  • Groin guard protector of an approved type for men
  • Hand and feet safety equipment of an approved type
  • Shin protectors of an approved type
  • Head guard
Optional equipment:
  • Breast or groin protectors for women
  • Gum shields
Please note: hand and foot protectors suitable for semi contact must be worn. Bag, grappling or boxing/ weighted/ laced gloves are not permitted. The foot protector must be a full boot type which only leaves the sole exposed, and must be of the correct size so that the toes do not protrude.
official commands for karate kids

Official commands

The following are the commands that referees will issue to competitors during a tournament:
  •  Charyot: attention
  •  Kyong ye: bow
  • Chunbi: ready stance
  • Si jak: start
  • Hye chyo: break (sparring only)
  • Barro: return to ready stance

Dispute procedure

For all events in all tournaments any disputes arising will be dealt with as follows:
  1. Tournaments chief umpire: all organisers will appoint a person to act as the chief umpire. This person must be present in the arena throughout the whole of the tournament. Generally this person will be the most experienced official at the event
  2. All competitors must nominate on their competition entry from a delegate to act on their behalf in the event of any disputes. This person would normally be their club instructor, but can be any black belt that is fully conversant with the GTI tournament rules.
  3. All competitors who wish to dispute a decision must go through their delegate direct to the chief umpire. Neither the competitor, nor any person other than the delegate, is allowed to approach the chief umpire direct.
  4. In order to give a decision on any dispute, the  chief umpire may call officials, competitors or delegates, as he/ she so desires in order to give evidence or opinions on the dispute.
  5. On reaching a decision, the chief umpire will notify all parties concerned, and this decision will be binding and cannot be appealed against.
  6. A copy of the full GTI Tournament rules as laid down in appendix B of the constitution must be present at all tournaments and must be accessible to all competitors and officials.
  7. The tournament chief umpire must base all their dispute decisions on the rules as laid down in this document, and in no case can their final decision conflict with these rules.
  8. Delegates, competitors or team captains who persist in arguing against a decision made by the chief umpire, may at his/ her discretion, have their whole team or club disqualified from further events at the tournament.
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