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World Traditional Karatedo Union Guidelines


Who We Are

Just as traditional associations based in the orient are able to confer, validate, and issue licenses, the WTKU is fully authorized to confer such degrees, titles, and licenses.  Our executive board is comprised of many outstanding individual Ryuha and Kaiha leaders, in addition to having two outstanding, elder advisors well respected in the United States, and in Japan and Okinawa, respectively.  Our standards meet or exceed that of any association in the World.  This consortium is not comprised of individual schools, but rather world and international organizations, with member branches and schools in every part of the globe.  The WTKU demands that prospective members adhere strictly to the tenets of traditional karate-do.  We have the authority to sanction events worldwide, and to promote the consortium at every level.  The WTKU offers referee certification, teaching credentials, and all manner of karate-related licensures.  Prospective candidates are screened carefully to ensure that the WTKU never succumbs to the temptation of politics.  Every prospective member must complete an application, and must be able to present evidence of their level of expertise.  Individual schools must elect to affiliate with an established WTKU Ryuha or Kaiha before they are admitted into the consortium.  Independent Ryuhas or Kaihas leaders must present evidence of rank, traditional katas performed live or on DVD, and an account of chartered schools in the United States and abroad before they are admitted into the consortium as a member.  A Ryuha or Kaiha head must have the capacity to lead large groups of practitioners; therefore, admittance is not based on rank attained.  We are here to propagate the art of traditional karate-do.  A leader with no student base will not be admitted into the WTKU. 

Mission Statement

The World Traditional Karate-do Union (WTKU) is a consortium of traditional, professionally-based Ryuha and Kaiha.  Our goal is to never infringe upon the standardization and practices of autonomous or independent Ryuhas or Kaihas.  Instead, we focus on the precepts of traditional karate, an adherence to sound, fundamental technique, good moral and ethical conduct, and above all, observing the essence of mutual understanding and cooperation between organizations in a spirit of fairness and equitable standards.


Part 1 – Guidelines, Structure, and Rules of the World Traditional Karate-Do Union (WTKU)

Article 1 - Purpose

1. The purpose of the WTKU is to enhance, and standardize traditional Karate and to assist in the development of Karate virtues and research to all throughout the world.  We are not an organization but rather a consortium of Ryuha and Kaiha.

1.A The mission of the WTKU is to propagate Karate-do ideals to the four corners of the earth to

individuals of all ages, races and creeds.   Karate enhances the general well-being, and fair play of those who undertake it as a discipline.  The WTKU provides appropriate mentorship to individuals or groups training for regional, national, international, and world events.

1.B The WTKU will implement a ranking and certification program to certify instructors, coaches, and officials to any sanctioned WTKU event.  All of our events promote fairness, excellent sportsmanship, safety, and the traditional values of Budo.

1.C Working with established organizations to promote Karate-do.

1.D The establishment of the WTKU Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding individuals who exhibit leadership, high moral character, sportsmanship and ideals of karate-do.

1.E The WTKU will establish an internet presence to provide its members with up to date information concerning events, meetings, and tournaments.


Article 2 – WTKU Events

2. All WTKU events will adhere to the prescribed guidelines of its executive board.

2.A  District, Regional, National, International, and World Karate Qualifiers

2.B Our prescribed rules may be used by other organizations; however we assume no liability for use of these rules.

2.C Rules other than those sanctioned through the WTKU can be used only if approved by the executive board, and only ensuring the safety of the competitors.

2.D WTKU rules supercede those of any other sanctioning body.


Article 3 –WTKU Executive Board

3. WTKU Karate Executive Board and Committees shall be current members and shall

be comprised of the following:

3. A The Executive Board of Directors—The executive board determines any and all pertinent matters concerning sanctioning, tournament venues, meetings, sponsored events, symposiums, and hall of fame.

3.B  The WTKU secretary general will keep tabs of all items presented at national meetings, and shall inform its members of all pertinent information.

3.C  The WTKU executive board decides any all promotions as stipulated beforehand by the board.

3.D  The WTKU executive board will consist of five permanent members and five provisional members.  The five provisional members shall serve a term of three years.

3.E  All WTKU subcommittees will be agreed upon at the time of annual meeting—Technical committee, promotion committee, credential committee, hall of fame committee, tournament committee, and referee committee.

3.F  WTKU regional committees will oversee the activities in their respective region upon approval by the executive board.


Part 2 –WTKU Committee Structure

Technical committee will oversee all technical aspects regarding standardization of tournament procedures—kata, kumite, and kobudo.

4.A  The promotion/credential committees will oversee all pertinent promotions up to Rokudan level.  Any level beyond Rokudan and/or credential validation will be determined by the WTKU executive board.

4.B  The hall of fame committee will screen prospective candidates to hall of fame induction ceremonies.

4.C  The tournament committee will oversee all aspects regarding tournament compliance, safety, and WTKU rules.

4.D  The referee committee will oversee that all referees and judges are certified, dressed appropriately, and shall have the power to appoint a site arbitrator at every WTKU event.


Part 3 – WTKU Criteria for Officials and Coaches

5.  Purpose and Function – The WTKU insists on maintaining the highest standards of officiating in order to promote fairness and good sportsmanship at WTKU competitions and tournaments.

5.A  All WTKU officials shall maintain current membership in good standing.

5.B Class A Official - Referees who have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency, and who have the ability to instruct other officials at any level of competition.  This license can only be determined by the WTKU executive board.  Licensure is valid for five years.

5.C  Requirements—Minimum rank Godan; minimum age of 35; a thorough understanding of WTKU rules and proficient in the understanding of Kata, Kumite, and Kobudo as stipulated by the executive board..

5.D  Class B Official - Referees who have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency.  This license can only be determined by the WTKU executive board.  Licensure is valid for four years. 

5.E  Requirements— Minimum rank Sandan; minimum age of 30; a thorough understanding of WTKU rules and proficient in the understanding of Kata, Kumite, and Kobudo as stipulated by the executive board..

5.F  Class C Official - Referees who have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency. 

5.G  Requirements— Minimum rank Nidan; minimum age of 25; a thorough understanding of WTKU rules and proficient in the understanding of Kata, Kumite, and Kobudo as stipulated by the executive board..  Licensure is valid for three years.

5.H  Class D Official - Referees who have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency. 

5.I  Requirements— Minimum rank Shodan; minimum age of 18; a thorough understanding of WTKU rules and proficient in the understanding of Kata, Kumite, and Kobudo as stipulated by the executive board..  Licensure is valid for two years.

5.J  Class E Official – Junior referees who have demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency. 

5.K  Requirements— Minimum rank Shodan; minimum age of 16; a thorough understanding of WTKU rules and proficient in the understanding of Kata, Kumite, and Kobudo as stipulated by the executive board..  Licensure is valid for two years.

5.L  All WTKU officials, and coaches are expected to maintain the highest standard of comportment, and ethical behavior. 


Part 4  Article 6– WTKU KATA Competition

6. Kata

6. A  Kata area shall be free of hazards, and the area will be determined by the site administrator.

6.B  Kata competition shall take place in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by the WTKU. 

6.C  Shitei, Tokui, or Sentei kata may be chosen for performance purposes.  The WTKU is open to all traditional-based karatedo Ryuha or Kaiha.  The key operative phrase is the integrity of the kata.  As long as all movements are in accordance with the original integrity of the kata, then they are permissible.  No additions or deletions are permitted during the execution of the kata.  Absolutely no combination katas are permissible.  When a competitor approaches the ring area, only the name of the kata is permissible.

6.D  All WTKU tournaments should embody fairness, integrity, and an adherence to the integrity of the katas as handed down by the founders.  Kata competition may be individual, or team (synchronized).

6.E  All gis should be solid white, with either a school emblem or kanji, or solid white.  Yudansha belts shall be either solid black with no stripes of any kind, or if they choose to do so, the Ryuha or Kaiha affiliation in Kanji on the right side of the obi and/or their name on the left side of the obi.  No headbands or jewelry are permitted during competition.  Non-compliance and/or insubordination will result in the immediate disqualification of the competitor. 

6.F  Ordinarily, men and women compete separately in kata, but the site administrator and/or promoter may make the appropriate modifications if few contestants are available in a specific division.

6.G  For a competitor to receive adequate point assessment, the kata must display: outstanding posture, correct stances, proper breathing and flow, balance, integrity of technique, feet edges firmly on the floor, power and speed, and concentration.  The competitor will only say the name of the kata before the shushin. 

6.H  The aforementioned criteria shall be used for all kata and kobudo competition.

6.I  Referee panel shall consist of three, or five judges.  Each ring shall have one shushin (center referee) and two or four fukushin (corner referee).  The shushin sits in front of the competitor, and the fukushin sit at the corners of the ring.  The shushi must be a class A referee.  The panel should dress in a suit—dark blue blazer, white shirt and tie, and gray slacks.  With prior approval from the WTKU executive board, referees may wear a solid white gi with a black belt.

6.J  The range of kata scoring shall be the following: 

For Advanced divisions the range of scoring shall be from 8.0 to 9.0.

For Intermediate divisions the range of scoring shall be from 7.0 to 8.0.

In novice divisions the range of scoring shall be from 6.0 to 7.0.

In beginner divisions the range of scoring shall be from 6.0 to 7.0.

6.K  Kata discrepancies shall result in decimal deductions:  hesitation (0.1), pause (0.2), unbalance (0.2).  When a division has three or more competitors, the first three competitors must perform first to determine a baseline score.  If the disparity is too great, the chief arbitrator will determine whether to keep the scores or to procure another panel of referees.  Scores will be given immediately after the kata has ended, when the shushin calls “hantei.”


6.L  If a tie results, the competitor must perform a different kata from the one performed.  The promoter reserves the right to determine what type of kata is to be performed at their event; however, the WTKU executive board must receive prior notice (30 days) before said changes can take place.  Bunkai competitions can also take place with prior approval from the WTKU executive board. 

6.M  Sample of katas to choose from:

Heian Shodan Heian Yondan Bassai Dai Kanku Dai Jitte Meikyo
Heian Nidan Heian Godan Jiin Empi Gankaku Unsu
Heian Sandan Tekki Shodan Jion Hangetsu Tekki Nidan
    Bassai Sho
    Tekki Sandan
    Kanku Sho
    Nijyushiho Wankan
Shito Ryu  
Bassai-Dai Rohai Bassai-Sho Naihanchin Suparinpei
Kosokun-Dai Jion Kosokun-Sho Ni-Dan Chatanyara-Kushanku
Jutte Naihanchin Jiin Rohai (Itosu no Rohai Nidan) Nipaipo Unshu
Juroku Wanshu Sochin Nijyushiho Gojushiho Kururunfa
Matsukaze Seienchin Shisochin Seipai Tomari-Bassai Heiku
  Sanseiru Bassai Annan
Shorin Ryu    
Fukyugata Ichi, Ni Pinan Yondan Wanshu Jitte Passai Sho
Pinan Shodan Pinan Godan Wankan, Sochin Dai Kusanku
Pinan Nidan Naihanchi Shodan Rohai Ananku Goju Shiho Chinto
Pinan Sandan    
Goju Ryu    
Gekki Sai Dai Ichi Seiunchin Sanseru Suparinpei Any of the kata listed can be chosen
Gekki Sai Dai Ni Shisochin Kururunfa Seipai  
Saifa Sesan  
Wado Ryu    
Pinan Shodan Pinan Yondan Seishan Wanshu Chinto Jiitte
Pinan Nidan Pinan Godan Bassai Jjion Niseishi Rohai
Pinan Sandan Naihanchi Shodan Kushanku  


WTKU KOBUDO Competition

6.N  KOBUDO competition shall be scored similarly to that of kata.  Under no circumstance can the weapon damage the floor area.

6.O  Minor deductions range from 0.1-0.3, major point deductions range from .04 - .06.


Part 5 Article 7 – Kumite Competition

7  Competition area

7. A  The competition area must be flat and devoid of hazard.  The competition area should be a matted square whenever possible.  The area will be a square, with sides measuring a minimum of 12 X 12, and a maximum of 20 X 20.   

7.B  - A karate tournament may comprise Kumite competition. All adult competitors must be weighed in prior to the beginning of the tournament. 

7.C  Tournaments may use a repechage system, single/double elimination, or round robin format with prior approval from the WTKU executive board. 

7.D  Competitors must be present at the start of his/her event.  Once the competitors are in line, there will no late additions.   Late arrivals will be disqualified. 

7.E  Referees must be certified class A to be centers referees.  Their authority shall be definitive. 

7.F  Duration of Bouts will be defined as three minutes for adult male and female competitors, and two minutes for those under the age of 18. 

7.G  Center referees can only call Hajime to begin, and Yame to stop any match. 

7.H  Scoring shall consist of an ippon (full-point) or wazari (1/2 point).  All perfect techniques shall consist of a maximum of one point.  Geri and tsuki are worth the same maximum score. 

7.I  For an ippon to be scored, the competitor must display good form, proper attitude, complete follow-through, proper timing, and excellent spatial distance. 

7.J  A competitor may win a match by sanbon (3 points) or by an opponent disqualification (Hansoku or Shikkaku).

7.K  Legal target areas include:

 Head (limited contact)

 Face (limited contact)

Neck (limited contact)



Back (but excluding top of shoulders-limited contact)


Prohibited techniques include:  techniques to the throat or groin; excessive contact to any area of the head or face; open-handed techniques; Judo throws; or direct attacks to the arms and legs.  Grabbing is permitted as long as an attack immediately follows.  Sweeping is allowed only to the ankle area.  No sweeps to the inside or outside of the legs.

7.L  An effective technique delivered at the same time that the end of the bout is signaled, is considered valid.  If one competitor is in-bound during an attack, and the other competitor is out of bounds, the technique shall be scored.

7.M  Competitors to the right of the center referee is Aka (red), and competitors to the left of the center referee is shiro (white).

7.N  No technique will be scored if delivered after a penalty that will be issued to the opponent. If a competitor commits an infraction at the same time the opponent scores, the point shall be valid.  If the score occurs after the initial infraction, the infraction shall be scored, but the point will not be scored.  Simultaneous attacks will not scored. 

7.O  Although two Waza-ri equal one Ippon in scoring value, technically, a Waza-Ari is equal to 90% of an Ippon.  An ippon supercedes two wazari.  If no scoring takes place, then the individual who initiates the action will be awarded the victory.

7.P  Any competitor feigning an injury or purposely leaving the ring area will be penalized or disqualified if done more than one time.  Three cumulative infractions will result in a disqualification. 

7.Q  Penalties

CHUKOKU (Warning): Will be imposed after the first infraction.

KEIKOKU: Will be imposed on the second infraction and a waza-ri is added to the opponent's score.

HANSOKU-CHUI: Will be imposed after two Keikoku infractions have taken place, and an ippon is subsequently added to the opponent's score.  If two prior infractions have taken place, then Hansoku-chui cannot be given; Hansoku shall be given.

HANSOKU: Will be imposed following a very serious infraction. It results in the

opponent's score being raised to SANBON--winner.

SHIKKAKU: This type of disqualification is very serious.  When an competitor, instructor , or parent willfully compromises the ideals of the WTKU, and the spirit of Karate-do, after consultation with tournament officials has taken place, this individual will be removed permanently from the site, and future participation in WTKU events will be compromised. 

Injuries do occur from time to time at any event involving a contact art, but if an individual is injured and is not allowed to continue by the medical staff, then said individual may not resume tournament activities until cleared by a licensed physician. 

7.R  Any formal protest must be submitted in writing to the WTKU executive board with the competitors name, the official in question, and a detailed explanation, and the board will either respond via telephone or in writing with its final decision.  Under no circumstance can protests be aimed at any tournament official or referee. 

7.S  The shushin is ultimately responsible for what occurs in their ring. The chief arbitrator (kansa) will oversee and critique how every ring is being conducted. 

7.T  The shushin shall award all points and declare the technique scored and to what part of the body it scored.  The fukushin can override a technique scored with a consensus reached. 

Part 6 Article 8 - General Considerations

8  Tournament divisions.

8.A  Tournament divisions will vary somewhat from event to event.  However, all tournament divisions must first be cleared with the WTKU executive committee. 

8.B  All competitors must be members of the WTKU at the time of competition. 

8.C  All competitors must be cleared by a physician if an injury has taken place. 

8.D  All competitors must adhere to the WTKU code of ethics, and must be a member in good standing.

8.E  All competitors must be clean, neat, toe-nails clipped, and absolutely no jewelry. 

8.F  All mudansha competitors will have the appropriate belt color or equivalent in accordance with their respective Ryuha or Kaiha.

8.G  All competitors must have appropriate safety equipment ready at the time of competition.  Safety equipment may include: foam rubber gear (Head, Hand, and Foot), white cloth mitts for hands and shin-guards for feet, and a head gear.  In addition, every competitor must have a mouthpiece, groin-cup for males, and breast-guard for females.  Any substitution of gear must be first approved by the WTKU executive board at least 30 days before the event.

Part 7 Article 9 - Code of Honor

9 Athletes/Instructors

9. A I do solemnly swear upon my word of honor that I will not take an unfair advantage of an opponent, that I will be courteous, patient, and forthright to opponents, officials and spectators; that I will observe the rules of the WTKU, and that I will uphold the spirit of Karate-do.


1 = 0 9 = 7 17 = 15 25 = 7
2 = 0 10 = 6 18 = 14 26 = 6
3 = 1 11 = 5 19 = 13 27 = 5
4 = 0 12 = 4 20 = 12 28 = 4
5 = 3 13 = 3 21 = 11 29 = 3
6 = 2 14 = 2 22 = 10 30 = 2
7 = 1 15 = 1 23 = 9 31 = 1
8 = 0 16 = 0 24 = 8 32 = 0

athletes closest to these numbers without going over and you’ll have the number of byes needed. For example if
there are nine athletes, subtract 9 from 16 and 7 is the number of byes needed.


About the W.T.K.U.


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