Vail Taekwon-Do Tournament Rules
*Text in italics is detailed information intended for judges and officials listed for transparency and completeness.
It is the responsibility of the competitor to know the rules and be ready for competition when called. He/she must be suitably attired and at the appropriate ring when competition begins. If the competitor is not at his/her ring ready to compete when competition begins, he/she will not be able to compete. If a competitor leaves the ring after the competition begins and is not present when his/her name is called to compete, his/her name will be called three times at ringside. If he/she is still not present to compete, he/she will be disqualified from that competition.
All competitors must wear a complete (top and bottom) traditional uniform in a good state of repair. The appropriate belt must be worn in competition.
A competitor must compete at the highest belt level they have earned in martial arts. If a competitor has just received a new belt within 30 days before the tournament they can choose to compete at their previous rank. If a competitor chooses to compete as their old rank they must wear the correct belt.
Instructors are responsible for letting their students know what belt they can compete at. It is not possible to verify some ones belt level. We must trust that their instructor has signed them up correctly.
Competitors will be broken into different divisions based on rank, age and gender.
When the divisions are being grouped the day of the tournament they can be: divisions can be split into separate divisions or merged with other division. The goal is to have divisions with no fewer than 3 competitors but no more the 8. It depends on participation for a given tournament. It is up to the head judges and tournament coordinator to do quick adjustment to divisions the day of the tournament.
- If a division is large, determined by the head judge, the division to be broken into a light weight and heavy weight divisions. Height is used for youth divisions. An attempt to break into equal size divisions is first priority then size difference amongst the competitors.
- The Head Judge can also take school origins into consideration. The goal is to have competitors go against competitors from different schools. They compete with the follow classmates all the time and did not come to the tournament to spar against someone they do week in week out.
- If a division is too small the tournament coordinator will be brought in to help determine where to merge the competitors. Care should be taken to not throw a competitor to the lions.
- When merging or splitting divisions the head judge MUST let the spectators and most important for juniors the parents of the competitor know about the change and the reason behind.
- It is possible that a division is merged with another of a different skill level or age. Get approval from the competitor and if a junior the competitors parents when the division is being merged. If the parent or competitor does not wish to merge into a different skill level or age then that division will run as is. Even if it is only one competitor, they will automatically get first but must perform their form and put on the sparring gear to officially compete. They were brave enough to come to compete so they deserve their win.
BELT RANK SPLITTING:
The basic division for tournaments are listed as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Larger tournament can break these down farther. It is the job of the Tournament Coordinator to generate a chart for each school invited as to where their belt rankings fall in the categories of Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
- The Tournament Coordinator should work directly with the invited school well in advance of the tournament on how their belt system falls into the divisions.
REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT:
The following sparring gear is required: headgear; hand and foot pads; mouthpiece and groin cups (for male competitors only).
The following are optional: shin guards, forearm guard and chest guards (recommended but not required).
The competitor's equipment will be checked and if it is deemed unsafe, he/she will be asked to change the equipment before he/she can compete. Equipment must be in a good state of repair.
Good judgment will be used when deciding if sparring gear is safe and fair. Schools use different gear based on their instructor's preference. If a competitor has gear that is deemed unsafe or unfair attempts should be made to loan the competitor some approved sparring gear.
Once a division has started (the first competitor has started his/her form routine or the first sparring match has started) no competitor/s can be added to that division. BE ON TIME! Only exception to this rule is the "Fairness Rule".
If a competitor who is running late has a credible reason for running late have the competitor do their form next.
The size of the sparring and form rings shall be approximately 16' x 16'. Starting lines should be marked approximately four feet apart in the middle of the ring. Additionally, each ring should be posted with a ring number visible to competitors, officials, and medical personnel.
The ring size should be no larger than 16' x 16' and no smaller than 10' x 10'. Modifications may be necessary to fit the location and the number of rings required. There should be at least three feet between rings to allow for judges to move around the ring and a buffer zone if a competitor leaves the ring while competing.
ORDER OF COMPETITION:
The following is a sample for a competition order. The tournament coordinator can modify the order of events, add events or remove them entirely. The following is just a suggest order of events.
1. Ring Assignment: Contestants will report to their rings. Divisions can be modified at this time.
- Inform competitors when they sign in to find their assigned ring. Let them know that this is their current ring and to be there at a given time for ring assignment. Also let them know that it is possible for a division to be moved to another ring to keep the tournament efficient.
2. Opening Ceremony: Tournament director will have all contestants sit where they are at. The director will introduce any special guests and welcome all contestants.
- Before introductions the national anthem may be played. This is done to honour our country and it also helps to get everybody's attention.
- Introduce any guest(s) of honour first. These are high ranking visitors and judges. Then introduce all master level and higher that are in attendance and helping with the tournament. You need to only introduce guests if time is an issue.
3. Demonstrations: Demonstrations occur based on the tournament coordinators discretion.
- Move all demonstrations along quickly. They can be interspersed throughout the day to be used during lulls between forms and sparring while the competitors are getting on their sparring gear.
4. Board Breaking: Board breaking competition does not occur at all tournaments, but may be moved to any point during the day.
- Board breaking can be moved as needed. A good time is in-between colored belt forms and sparring. Another good time is to use the black belt board breaking competition as a demonstration.
- Make sure to sweep up afterward as to protect competitors feet for the following competitions.
5. Colored Belt Forms: All rings will begin process all their assigned divisions. Once the final call for the form divisions has been made at ring side the competition cards will be collected and shuffled thoroughly. If a ring completes all their divisions before the other rings they may take a division from another ring that has not completed.
- While judging forms competition ensure that you sit up straight, both feet on the floor and keep your focus on your ring. Parents and students will be discouraged if they see the judges slouching in their seats or looking at a different ring. Keep conversation to a minimum. This is the student’s time to shine make this time all about them.
- The Head Judge of the ring should explain the rules of the competition to both the competitors and more importantly the spectators. The students have been versed in the competition already but we need to ensure the spectators understand how things will progress.
- Minor issues should be resolved by the Head Judge of the ring. If the Head Judge feels the issue is not minor then someone will be sent for the Tournament Coordinator and they will have the final say on any issues that arise.
6. Colored Belt Sparring: Sparring will start once all colored belts forms divisions have been completed. The competition cards should be collected and counted (if competition cards are not used, count the competitors) to see if byes are needed. (If using double elimination a prebuilt bracket system will be used). Matches should be selected as randomly as possible. Certain allowances may be given to competitors from the same school or team to reduce chance of being matched up in the first round of competition. They may be separated randomly from each other in the first round if possible.
- During sparring the Head Judge will be in the ring with the contestants. The other judges will remain outside the ring and assigned to a corner.
- More information is listed in the Rules section below.
7. Black Belt Forms: Can be held as a demonstration at time chosen by Tournament Coordinator or held after all colored belts events are completed.
8. Black Belt Sparring: Black belt sparring will be held after all colored belt forms and sparring has been completed. Black belts will be broken into divisions by weight/height. The sparring division is open to 1st-4th Dan.
- Black Belt sparring should be judged by 4th Dan and higher if possible. The action is fast paced and the highest level of attention is required.
BOARD BREAKING RULES:
Competitors will be given 6 boards to set up 3 stations (2 boards per station recommended). Competitors are given a couple minutes to setup their breaks. The competitor will slowly demonstrate the breaks without touching the boards. The Head Judge will say when to begin at which time the competitor must perform the break immediately. Breaks will be scored on difficulty of technique, full breaks, and transition between breaks. (Clumsy repositioning between breaks will be scored lower than a smooth transition from one technique to the next).
- The score sheet will have three categories for each competitor: Technique, Full Break and Transitions.
- Each of these sections will be scored on a range from 1 to 10.
- Scores from all three will be added to give the breakers final score.
- Scores are not announced only final placement at the end.
- On a tie score the judges will be asked to rank the breaks of the contestants to break the tie.
PATTERN / FORM / KATA RULES:
All the competitors will be seated outside their assigned ring, preferably opposite the judges. Competitors should remain quiet; they can sit and stretch quietly.
The competitor cards will then be drawn randomly for the order of competition. Forms competition should have 5 judges and a score keeper assigned per ring. If the tournament is low on volunteers a minimum of 3 judges can be used. In the case of 3 judges all scores will be used. In the case of 5 judges the highest and lowest scores are tossed out using the middle 3 scores.
Competitors are called individually to perform their form:
All competitors will use a formal forms introduction The following is an example:
- When a competitor’s name is called reply with a loud "Yes sir" or "Yes ma'am" they should stand-up and ensure uniform and belt are straight.
- Quickly approach center back of the ring, bow and approach the center judge (about 3 feet away from center judge) bow then ready position.
- First & Last Name
- Name of Association or School and/or Martial Art Style
- Form Name then the word pattern, form or kata
- Ask permission to proceed “May I begin sir?”
Example: "John Doe, Vail Taekwon-Do, Do-San pattern. May I begin Sir?"
- Upon given permission snap back to attention and bow, and then walk backwards to where to start their form (DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK TO THE JUDGES). Once at your starting point bow then assume the forms ready stance.
- Steps 2-4 may vary depending on the school the competitor is from. The above is a guideline on how the competitor can introduce themselves and declare what form they will do.
- Some school's introduction will have a request to be able to continue to start. It is the responsibility of the Head Judge to say 'Yes' or 'Proceed'.
- Perform their entire pattern.
- When the pattern is complete the competitor may hold the last technique or may go back to ready stand, bow then attention stance and hold.
- Some schools may have the competitor return to ready stance and hold, or just hold the last movement of their form. If this is the case the Head Judge should signal the score keeper to call for score.
- Score keeper will call for "Judge's Scores" and tally the final score.
- When "Final Score" is called the competitor will snap to attention, bow, say "Thank you Sir" and step out of the ring.
FORMS ARE JUDGED ON:
1. Correctness of Techniques: correct order of movement, location of techniques, etc.
- There may be a variation in how techniques are performed. The end position should be the same but the transition may be different depending on the way the student was taught.
- Look for consistency of technique. If all middle punches are in a consistent location they are deemed correct. If each punch is placed differently it is not correct.
2. Stance: correct stance for the technique and the stance is correct
- Look for consistency in stance. One martial art or even different schools in the same martial art may teach a stance a little different. Some use very deep stances other schools use shallow stances. Ask your self does the first front stance look like the last front stance?
3. Attitude: respectful to judges and competitors and shows confidence and energy
- Does the competitor talk loudly and proudly?
- Do you feel their energy?
- Does the competitor make you look forward to 'watching the show' or make you think of 'how many points you will take away'.
4. Power: techniques performed with power strong breath control and or yell.
- Every competitor's full power level is different; think of what that competitor can do for power and judge them on what they should physically be able to do.
- Are their hands tights? Does their foot flop when they throw a kick
It is up to each judge to decide what is most important to them and judge that way for all competitors.
- Attitude may be the most important for one judge and least important for another.
- As long as each judge in consistent the competition will be fair.
- Break the four areas into points. A simple method is 1 point for each section so each section can earn -.5, 0, .5 or 1 points.
- Judges will score some students the exact same score for different reasons. Do not feel compelled to increase a score because of the other judges.
- Try to not think or compare the competitor to other competitors; judge them individually on their performance and let the total of scores determine the winner.
Judges will show their score by holding up 6 to 10 fingers. If the judge’s fingers are 'blinking' it signifies a half a point. Holding up seven fingers that are blinking designate a 7.5.
- Blinking is when the judge opens and closes his hands showing the score.
When called to show the score by the score keeper saying "Judges Score" the judges will show their score and the score keeper will go down the line and record the scores. The score keeper will say out loud the score they are recording. All Judges will keep their score up until all the judges' scores have been recorded.
If the scorekeeper misstates the score the judge is giving that judge will inform the score keeper politely of the correct score.
The score keeper will record the scores; throw out the highest and lowest value (when 5 judges) then tally the remaining three scores.
Once tallied the judge near the score keeper can review the math to ensure it is correct.
The score keeper will then announce "Final Score" then the score the competitor received.
Once all competitors have performed their form divide the score cards out to the judges for them to review the final score to ensure it is correct. Once verified the Head Judge will have all contestants stand and announce the winners in order from 3rd to 1st place.
If there is a tie the two thrown out scores are added back in to determine the tie breaker. If still tied the competitors will perform a "form off". The competitors will be called up in front of the judges and they will perform A DIFFERENT form at the same time. When competitors are finished the scorekeeper will call "Judges Call". At this point the judges point toward the winner.
RESTARTING A FORM:
If a competitor starts his/her form over because of a memory lapse or any reason due to his/her own negligence, he/she may perform the form again. The judges will score as though there was not a restart, but the head judge will instruct the scorekeeper to subtract one point from the competitor's final score. A competitor can only start over one time for scoring. If a competitor has to start over not due to his/her negligence, he/she will not be penalized.
When the forms competition is done, for a given division, return the score cards to the competitors. They will need them for the sparring competition.
Each ring should have a Head Judge, up to four other judges and a Time/Scorekeeper.
The head judge is the most experienced official in the ring and is thoroughly versed on the rules and order of competition. He/she promotes the safety of the competitors and enforces the rules. He/she starts and stops the match, awards points, makes penalty decisions, communicates clearly with the scorekeeper and timekeeper, and announces the winner of each match.
Responsibilities of the Head Judge:
1. Match starts and ends only with his/her command.
2. Has final decision on any disputes on score.
3. Has the power to issue warnings and award penalty points.
4. Can overrule a majority call to issue a warning or a penalty point.
5. Has power to disqualify a competitor who has received their third warning or for severe rules infraction.
6. Has power to issue time-outs. A competitor can ask for a time-out, but it is the determination of the head judge to issue one. Time-outs are for injury or equipment issues not for exhaustion.
7. Does not need to track total points. (maintained by the scorekeeper)
Time/Scorekeeper manages the time and score of the ring. Can be one or two people.
Responsibilities of a Time/Scorekeeper:
1. Track length of match and calls “Time” when match length is reached. (Uses a bean bag or substitute to toss into ring to help signify end of match.)
2. Tracks points when called out by the Head Judge. Also informs Head Judge of score when requested.
3. When winning number of points is reached calls “Time” to end the match. Then informs the Head Judge of the winner.
4. Tracks winner and loser bracketing to determine next match.
Each ring should have a Head Judge, up to four other judges, a Timekeeper/Scorekeeper(can be one person or two). The judges call points and infractions that they clearly see. They also can vote on disqualifications. The head judge does not normally call points but does call rules infractions. During a point call the head judge can call point, no point, warning, or disqualification. (The head judge should only add their call when the call is close or during a dispute.) Head judges make all final decisions on warnings but can consult with the other judges before making their decision.
CALLS A JUDGE MAY MAKE:
When a corner judge believes there has been a point scored or a foul has occurred they will call out "POINT" in a loud voice. At this point the Head Judge will call out "STOP!" in a loud voice. The head judge shall then return the competitors to their starting marks and addresses the judges by saying "JUDGES CALL!" All judges cast their votes simultaneously and in the following manner.
1. Point - The judge will hold up the corresponding flag to the color of the competitor that scored the point. If a competitor scores a two point head kick, the officials should hold up two fingers (index and middle fingers) with the other hand. If only one point is being called, the judge should only hold up the flag.
- When showing a point the judge does NOT tell what the technique was. The Head Judge can request that the Judge name the technique seen.
2. No Point Scored – The judge crosses his/her wrist at waist level to indicate that he/she believes that a point was not scored. Either due to a block, did not contact legal target area, etc. A no point call negates a point call.
3. No See - The judge holds his/her hand over his/her eyes indicating that he/she could not see whether a point was scored or not. (It is not the same effect as saying "No Point". A "No See" does not negate a good point).
- If the Judge cannot see the contact occur they must call 'No See'. Even it is clear that the defender did not block and the attacker had good technique and you can even hear the attack land.
- This means on a majority of calls there should be at least one 'No See'.
4. Clash – The judge makes a motion as though they are hitting both fists together, indicating that both competitors scored at the same time. A Clash does not add or take away a good point.
5. Foul - The judge holds the color of the offending competitor down to his side. The head judge may request the judge describe the foul the judge observed. An additional call on the foul may be called by the head judge by saying "JUDGES CALL", if the other judges will either agree, disagree or No See.
6. Disqualification – There are two ways for a competitor to be disqualified. 1) Upon receiving a 3rd warning. 2) A severe rules infraction (deliberate illegal technique, ignoring the head judge, excessive use of force, etc.) If a disqualification vote is asked for due to a severe rules infraction, the head judge will explain that this is a disqualification call and explain the reason then say, "JUDGES CALL". The judges will then either agree, disagree or No See. If two or more agree with disqualification the competitor is immediately disqualified. The Head Judge has a right to make the call himself or request a call from the other judges.
Judges should not say anything after "Judges Call" is said by the Head Judge. They will show their view on the point by the above mentioned hand signals. They should only speak when requested by the Head Judge.
Judges stay in call stance until the Head Judge finalizes the call as: a point, no point, foul, etc.
- The Head Judge will look to each judge in turn and calculate if a point is to be awarded or not. No Point cancels out a good point. A total of 2 good points is required to score.
- The Head Judge may add their call when necessary if they saw the technique clearly. If the Judges all see a point though the Head Judge saw no point it is a point because there are at least two good points.
- Once a point is determined it is the Head Judges responsibility to inform the score keeper of the contestant and number of points scored. At this point the score keeper will tally the points.
All officials should make their calls at the same time. If, in the opinion of the head judge, the corner judges are making a late call intentionally, the head judge can disqualify the call and/or judge (noise not allowing the judges to hear the head judge and the honest mistake of raising the wrong color should be taken into consideration not to disqualify the call or judge).
LENGTH OF MATCH:
There are two main ways to determine the length of the match. Either a set time, usually 2 minutes or a race to a point number (usually 3 or 5) with a time limit. The type of match will be determined before the tournament starts by the Tournament Coordinator. All rings will use the same match length and it must be explained to the spectators and competitors. If a match is tied at the end of two minutes, sudden victory (first person to score a point) overtime period will determine the match.
- The time keeper will start and stop a stop watch to track the time of a match.
- Time starts when the Head Judge says 'Start'.
- When time reaches two minutes the time keeper will call out loudly 'Time' if they have a bean bag they will toss it into the ring to assist in showing time is called.
- Time is either stops at each point or goes continuous. Decided by the Tournament Coordinator and announced before competition begins.
POINT VALUES AND WINNER DETERMINATION:
All legal hand techniques that score will be awarded one (1) point. All legal kicking techniques to the body that score will be awarded one (1) point. All legal kicking techniques to the head that score will be awarded two (2) points.
AWARDING A POINT:
Points are awarded by a minimum of two good calls from the judges (including the head judge). If a No Point is called it cancels a good point call. For instances three judges call point, and two judges call no point, this is a +3 and a -2 resulting in only 1 good point therefore no point is awarded. The majority of judges do not have to agree on the same technique being scored, only that a point was scored. To be awarded two points then two good two point calls must be made. Otherwise only one point is awarded.
WHAT IS A POINT:
A point is a controlled legal technique scored by a competitor in-bounds and up-right (not considered down) that strikes a competitor with the allowable amount of force to a legal target area. Attacks to the head can follow the “Halo Rule”. One point for all legal hand techniques; One Point for legal kicks to the body; Two Points for legal head kicks.
If an attack is to the head but does not touch and the defender makes no movement to block or avoid the technique a point can be awarded. Halo rule is used to reward control by the attacker. The distance of the attack counting is dependent on the division.
- Beginners within 6 inches
- Intermediate within 3 inches
- Advanced within an inch
- Black belt touching
LEGAL TARGET AREAS:
Sides and top of the head, ribs, chest (below the collarbone), abdomen (above the belt).
- Attacks to these locations can score a point.
ILLEGAL TARGET AREAS:
A downed opponent, back of the head (4” wide stripe down the back of the head), back, neck, throat, legs and groin.
- Attacks to these locations incur a foul.
Hips, buttocks, shoulders, arms, hands and feet. No point can be scored to these locations.
- Attacks to these locations do not score a point.
LEGAL TECHNIQUES: All controlled techniques, except those listed as illegal with light to medium contact only.
- Beginners (white through yellow): The only legal hand technique is straight punch to the body. No hand techniques to the head.
- Intermediate (green through blue): Back fist to the head is added to list of legal techniques.
- Advanced (red through recommended black): Ridge hand to head for ages 10+.
- Black belt: Ridge hand and straight punch to the head added to the list of legal techniques. Front of head added to legal target area.
- Hard contact (head judge makes the call if a technique is thrown with too much force)
- Contact is considered hard if it causes instant swelling, bleeding, major deflection of the body or head.
- open hand techniques or hammer fist
- attacks below the belt
- spinning hand techniques
- Technique is not considered a spinning technique if the attacker pauses after turning around then executes the hand technique.
- "Piston Punching" (throwing more then 3 punches in a row)
- Punches should be accurate and controled not just spamming the opponent with lots of punches hoping one gets through.
- head butting, biting or scratching
- elbows or knees
- eye attacks of any kind
- When done intentionally. Accidental eye contact may occur on a legal punch or kick.
- take downs or sweeps
- grabbing or holding
- falling down or fleeing the ring to avoid sparring
- Competitors should circle to stay in their ring and stay on their feet.
- uncontrolled blind techniques and any other uncontrolled dangerous techniques that are deemed unsafe by the Head Judge.
- Attacking a downed competitor or attacking while being downed
- A competitor is considered 'downed' when any part of their body except their feet is touching the ground.
The following is a list of techniques that are legal but will NOT score points:
- hooking punch or upper cut: scoring punches must be straight punches
- short jabs (front hand straight punches will score if it travels at least 1 foot)
- back fist to the body
- block kicks: it is legal for a competitor to use their legs to block attacks, or block an arm out of the way. These do not score points but can be used
These techniques are listed to discourage a 'boxing match' from breaking out.
Limiting the types of punches stops from having to rock-em sock-em robots just swinging punches at each other.
The goal is to see combinations of kicks and punches.
A foul occurs when a competitor uses an illegal technique or attacks an illegal target area. Fouls are in total not just of a single time. Any three fouls disqualifies a competitor.
- 1st foul is a warning
- 2nd foul competitor loses one point
- 3rd foul competitor is Disqualified
If an injury occurs have the other competitor return to their starting spot face away from the injured competitor and take a knee.
The Head Judge will determine if the injured contestant can or cannot continue.
If an injured contestant cannot continue:
- From a legal technique they forfeit the match.
- From a non-scoring or illegal technique the injured competitor wins the match.
Competitor is listed as the loser and the win is given to the other competitor.
The Tournament Coordinator can be brought in if the disqualification may require more actions outside of the current match (removal from the tournament, banning from future tournaments).
NO CONTACT SPARRING:
For Beginner divisions the option to do no contact sparring is available. This can also be used for young competitors as well.
- A ring for no contact sparring will have a head judge and an even number of other judges.
- The competitors are lined up similar to sparring.
- When start is called the competitors will take turns doing two kicks followed by a yell. They will NOT make any contact. They will go back and forth doing two kick combos until the head judge calls for stop (about 30 seconds).
- At this point the head judge will call "Judges Call" then each judge and the head judge will point to which competitor won the match.
- The competitors are judge on: Kicking technique, variety of kicks, strong yell, keeping hands up, movement when backing up.
FAIRNESS RULE: If a question arises that is not completely covered by this rule book, the Tournament Coordinator may at his/her discretion, overrule, modify or change a delineated rule if he/she believes that enforcing such a rule would result in an inherent unfair outcome to a competitor. However, the tournament coordinator should do this only in extreme or rare cases.
Additional information for judges:
- Remember that there are no schools only competitors.
- Try to ignore the fact that you may know some contestant and judge them on their performance at the competition and not how you may know they can perform.
- Be mindful to not allow our own prejudices and opinions to affect the way you score.
- Remember that this is for the spectators as much as the competitors. A junior student mom or dad will be excited and want to see their little one compete.
- Show that you are enjoying the competition. Your energy will transfer to the competitors
- Stay at your assigned ring at all times. You should only leave if you need to use the bathroom or an emergency. If you do leave make sure the Head Judge knows you are leaving and why.
- It is the Head Judges responsibility to have his/her judges ready when competition begins.
- No food or drink is allowed on the competition floor, have a bag or backpack that the judges can keep a water bottle and maybe a protein bar in near your assigned ring. Only get a drink during a lull in competition. Between division changes.
- Show respect for the head judge and the contestants. Be on your best behaviour to show everybody present what it means to be a black belt and not just having a black belt.