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.

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