As the Kata World Championships Abu Dhabi 2023 begin, some explanation is helpful on how the kata are judged, it’s important to understand the course of the event.

There are two age categories engaged: Senior and U-23. Each federation may enter a maximum of ten (10) pairs and a maximum of three (3) pairs in any one kata. The senior competitors can only participate in one kata, while juniors can present two different kata. All participants must be at least 16 years old in 2023 (born 2007 or before). They shall be at least black belt 1st dan for the seniors and 1st kyu (brown belt) for the U-23. In kata, both men and women participate equally. This means that you can have 2 men, 2 women or one man, one woman as a pair. Competitors can only participate in one age category.

Five official kata (nage-no-kata, katame-no-kata, ju-no-kata, kime-no-kata and Kodokan goshin-jutsu) will be performed during the two day competition. Each kata is divided into two groups: the top three pairs with the maximum points from each group (that is 6 pairs for each kata) will compete in the finals. If the number of pairs is less than 10, there will be only one group: the top 6 pairs of the group will compete in the final.

In each of the five katas, the pair with the highest score will be awarded the gold medal, the pair with the next highest score will be awarded the silver medal and finally the pair with the third highest score will be awarded the bronze medal.

On each tatami there are five judges, under the supervision of a kata supervisor, who has access to a CARE system (video review). The result of one pair is the sum of the scores for each technique. From the 5 scores awarded by each judge, the highest and the lowest scores for each technique are cancelled. Both the ceremonies (opening and closing of the kata) and the techniques themselves are judged.

The opening ceremony begins at the 8m or 10m line and consists of: bowing to the competition mat, stepping left / right foot, bowing to judges, and bowing to partner, and stepping left / right foot for the first technique. The closing ceremony begins when tori and uke finish the last technique. It includes with stepping behind the 6m line, bowing to partner, bowing to judges and exiting (starting with the right foot) to the safety zone at 8 m or 10 m. Each technique ends when tori releases the technique; errors which subsequently occur are included in the next technique. Specifically for katame-no-kata, the technique ends when tori assumes the kyoshi posture.

There are four categories of mistakes that the judges are looking at: major mistake (F), big mistakes (B), medium mistakes (M), small mistakes (S). It goes from an omitted technique (F) to imperfection (S). At the end of each technique, a judge has the possibility to leave the point as it is or to add or remove 0,5 point against the final score written on the score card. The maximum score for each technique is 10 points and the minimum score is 1 point if there is no forgotten technique or major mistake.

0 (Zero) is only for ‘forgotten technique or major mistake.’ The total score is then divided by two once, even if there are more forgotten techniques or major mistakes. The total score can only be halved if all judges agree on the ‘forgotten technique or major mistake.’

The ultimate goal of the judging system is to guarantee that the best pair wins. Don't hesitate to follow the event

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