What Is Sport Karate? Part 1

What Is Sport Karate? Part 1

What is Sport Karate?
Fighting Divisions

In today’s terminology, Sport Karate (or Sport Martial Arts) is the application of competitive martial arts in a sporting environment, and has been around for a few decades.

The two main categories/divisions of competition are Fighting and Forms, with this article focusing on the Fighting category. Part 2 will focus on the Forms category.

Within those two categories, there are various areas of competition – such as weapon forms, musical forms, team forms, team fighting, continuous fighting, and many more divisions (depending what sanction an athlete competes in). Sport Martial Arts is quickly evolving as competitors continue to push the envelope of what people are physically capable of doing. This not only has increased the level of competition, but also allows martial art athletes to be more innovative in their traditional and competitive training.


MA athletes that compete in fighting have implemented new fighting techniques and moves that were previously only seen in boxing and other arts, along with training habits of professional mainstream sports players. This has heighten the level of fighting, and made the sport more exciting to watch and be apart of.

All of the various divisions at a Sport Karate tournament are broken up into age categories and levels of martial art experience to even out the competition. Age groups vary from event-to-event, but experience is usually the same. Less then 1 year is considered a beginner, 2 – 3 years is intermediate, 3 or more years is advanced and Black Belts are segregated from all other under belts (non-black belts).

Fighting division can be pictured as tennis matches, except they are not as lengthy. Matches are usually 2 to 3 minutes long and the winner is determined by either total points scored (first one to 5) or whoever is ahead in points when time runs out. Ties are sent into sudden death overtime – first person to score, wins. Keep in mind these rules do not apply to every Sport Karate sanction.

Typical matches are single elimination with no opportunity to fight again unless a competitor makes it to the quarterfinals (the loser, will compete for 3rd and 4th place). Winners of their respected division, as in Forms, sometimes have the opportunity to compete for an Overall Grand Champion against other division winners.

Will I get hurt? Well, you are fighting another person, so chances are you’ll end up with a bruise or two at the end of a match. But Sport Martial Arts wouldn’t have gained the popularity it currently has if athletes kept on getting injured. Almost all sanctions require the athletes to wear protective gear to prevent injury and judges are always close by to monitor the match. Think of a sanction as a league, there are different types and different levels. Be sure you know what the rules of a particular sanction are before you join to ensure it is the type of competition you’re looking for.

To see part 2 of this article, go to www.experiencemartialarts.com, click on “Learn More” and look in the “Sport Martial Arts” section.