The World Karate Federation (WKF), is the ONLY KARATE body recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has more than ten million members. The World Karate Federation, or WKF, was formed in 1990 from the former WUKO (World Union of Karate-do Organisations) members and is the largest international governing body of sport karate with over 130 member countries.

The Official WKF Logo is:


The WKF regulated all aspects of the sport with a view to getting karate accepted into the Olympics. A Karate tournament may comprise Kumite competition and/or Kata competition. The matches are divided into age and weight divisions. The term "bout" also describes the individual Kumite competitions between opposing pairs.

The contestant must wear a single coloured belt when competing in both Kata and Kumite. This will be red for AKA and blue for AO. Belts of grade should not be worn during the bout.

Additional Equipment that is required for Kumite is Karate Mitts (red and blue), Shin-Pad & Foot Protector (red and blue), Female Chest Protector (white), as well as Gum Guards.

mitts and shin protector

The Tournament "Competition Floor" is know as a Tatami and it is a requirement that it be used for all tournaments especially as throws are involved.


KATA (formation of Moves):

There are specified kata's that have been approved by the WKF, and only these kata's may be performed at a WKF tournament. (Other than Children's Divisions these Kata's may not be repeated), thus some Competitors might need to perform up to 7 Kata's.

Kata's are judged by means of a flag system – with the opponent with the most flags getting the win.

In Team Kata the same rules apply with an addition that during the Final rounds a "bunkai" is required to be performed as well as the Kata.
KUMITE (Fighting)

The matches are divided into age and weight divisions. The term "bout" also describes the individual Kumite competitions between opposing pairs.

KUMITE SCORING/ JUDGING The Kumite Scoring system is as follows:

SANBON= Three points which is awarded for the following: Kicks to the Head or Takedowns with a kick or strike
NIHON= Two points which is awarded for the following: Kicks to the body
IPPON= One point which is awarded for the following: hand strikes/punches

A scoring point is awarded if the technique is performed according to the following criteria:

  • Good form
  • Sporting attitude
  • Vigorous application
  • Awareness (ZANSHIN)
  • Good timing and
  • Correct distance

Attacks are limited to the following areas:

  • Head
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Abdomen
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Side

A brief overview of Martial Arts History in S.A.

The unification of karate in 1992 in South Africa, karate was only practiced and controlled by a small minority sympathetic to the Apartheid regime. Universally it is now recognized that representative karate in South Africa only started at the Unification process.

Karate was formally introduced into South Africa in the early '50's by men such as Len Barnes, Richard Salmon, James Rousseau, Des Botes, Stan Schmidt and Norman Robinson. These early pioneers of the art relied largely on text books for their knowledge and instruction. One of the first dojo was opened by Shihan Mohan Hira and a friend on a rooftop of a building called Commissioner House. By training on their own they progressed a great deal. Their exploring spirit in the quest for greater knowledge and new frontiers lead them to Japan in the early 1960's where they received formal instruction in the art of karate.

When James Rousseau got his black belt in Japan, the first South African to do so, Karate was firmly established. Judo man George Higginson brought top Shotokan Instructors Keinosuke Enoeda and Hiroshi Shirai to South Africa and "hired" them out to a few karate schools in existence then. This proved the basis for future visits by top Martial Art masters and from there South African martial artist also undertook regular visits to the far East. At that time other South Africans also began to dabble in karate, but it was not until 1964 that it became organised on a national basis.


WKF Website: