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By Charles Rhodes


1st Revision: March 29, 2012

Re: Proposed changes to WKF Competition Rules and related judge and referee training

Referee Committee of Karate Ontario including:
Zvonko Celebija
Antonio Terra
Allan Tanzadeh
Tammy Hennessy

Referee Committee of Karate Canada including:
Norma Foster
Zvonko Celebija
Alan Tanzadeh
John Mazzarold (sp?)(Maritimes)
Marc Ward (British Columbia)

World Karate Federation (WKF) Competition Rules Committee including:
Mr. Con Kassis
Mr. Antonio Oliva-Seba

Sensei Dragan Kljenak, the president of Karate Ontario, and Sensei Malcom Fisher, the only Canadian graduate of the JKA Instructor Program, have jointly proposed scheduling a quarterly meeting of parties who are interested in improving the quality of Karate in Ontario, in Canada and in International competition. Any past or present karate competitor, coach, instructor, dojo head, official or elected representative from any karate style would be welcome to participate in these meetings. However, only members of Karate Ontario or Karate Canada can make formal presentations for transmittal by Karate Ontario and Karate Canada to the World Karate Federation (WKF). The object of the presentations is to address the detail of competition rule changes that senior members of Karate Ontario and Karate Canada contemplate proposing in writing to senior officials of the WKF.

The meetings would be held at a central location such as a gymnasium at the University of Toronto. At the meeting site there would be chairs, tables, a hardwood floor and hopefully a competition mat so that the relative merits of various competition rule changes could be discussed and demonstrated. The meetings would be of sufficient duration that all attendees would have an opportunity to make non-repeditive presentations and have their presentations intelligently reviewed and considered by all present.

It is contemplated that the conclusions of the meeting(s) will be transmitted in writing to the Referee Committees of Karate Ontario and Karate Canada together with instructions for these Referee Committees to re-transmit these conclusions to members of the WKF who are in a position to actually implement international competition rule changes.

It has been proposed by Dragan Kljenak and Malcolm Fisher that Charles Rhodes, a person who has been associated with karate in Canada since 1964, who has previously been a Karate Ontario board member and a Karate Ontario official and who maintains, would chair and moderate the meetings.

The proposed meetings are to some extent motivated by the reality that karate competitors like to win, so competitors practise techniques that in their minds will lead them to winning. Their mind set is driven by their perception of what competition judges and referees expect in order to award points in karate competition. To improve the quality of karate in Canada it is necessary modify WKF competition rules and to train competition judges and referees to look for certain features in every scoring technique and in every winning kata.

The issues related to WKF rule changes and related competitor, coach and official training would be central to the discussions.

These meetings are further motivated by the fact that Karate Ontario no longer holds minuted open monthly meetings at which issues of general concern to the karate community can be raised, discussed and resolved.

1. Introduce and welcome all attendees;
2. Chairman to outline the sequence of events that led to this meeting and to planned subsequent meetings;
3. Chairman to emphasize that neither Karate Ontario nor Karate Canada is in a position to make unilateral changes to the WKF Competition Rules. All Karate Ontario and Karate Canada can do submit to the WKF proposed karate competition rule changes and the reasons for each proposed rule change.
4. Determine suitable dates for subsequent meetings at approximately quarterly intervals;
5. Determine the general nature and approximate length of the prepared presentations;
6. Set a reasonable time frame for prepared presentions and related discussions;
7. Discover other issues that attendees wish to present/discuss;
8. Set a reasonable time frame for discussion of these other issues;
9. Proceed with the pre-prepared presentions and related discussion;
10. Proceed with other matters attendees wish to discuss or otherwise include on the agenda;
11. Discuss the scope, objectives and agenda of the next meeting;
12. Adjourn.

(other prepared presentation summaries are welcome, please forward them to
1. Present WKF rules specify that karate kata competitions shall take place on kumite competition mats. The historical circumstances, involving use of relatively heavy canvas covered kumite mats, that led to this rule no longer prevail. The present foam rubber kumite mats present a high friction surface and rubber dovetail connections that are hazardous to kata competitors knees and ankles when executing high speed large angle turns. Furthermore, recently unrealistic circus like kata bunkai have evolved, partly as a result of performance of kata competitions on foam rubbber kumite mats. It is proposed that to improve competitor safety and kata bunkai realism WKF rules for kata competitions be changed to specify a smooth firm surface such as a gymnasium floor rather than foam rubber kumite mats. The present widespread use of dovetail joined foam rubber mats for kumite competitions makes physical side shifting of these mats for kata competition logistically simple.

2. The use of shitei kata in WKF competition has led to excessive prescribed movement detail that is currently sometimes considered by some kata judges to be more important than is speed and energy delivery to appropriate locations on the bodies of the imaginary opponents. If the movements in a kata lack the speed and power that would be required in actual combat/kumite, then the kata is unrealistic and should not earn a high score. It is proposed that the criteria for kata judging under WKF rules be modified such that the speed, power and realism of individual sequences of movements take precedence over prescribed movement detail.

3. Too often in kumite competitions officials award points for techniques that lack sufficient energy to disable a strong well conditioned opponent. The first criteria that karate kumite judges and referees should look for is the technique having sufficient energy with respect to the chosen target to potentially disable the opponent. A sign of such energy in a stationary reverse punch is simultaneous straightening of the elbow of the punching arm and the knee of the rear leg with its heel firmly on the ground. There are comparable signs for other techniques that kumite judges and referees must learn to recognize.

Absent delivery of sufficient energy to an appropriate target a karate technique is useless in real combat. It is proposed that WKF kumite rules be modified so that the primary requirement for earning points is capacity of a technique to deliver maximum energy to a potentially disabling target area.

4. In any real combat situation generally the first party to disable his/her opponent wins. However, the present WKF rules do not reward the competitor who is first to score for being first. It is proposed that the WKF kumite rules be modified so that the first competitor to score receives extra points just for being first.

This web page last updated March 29, 2012.

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