Black Belts will attend a brief rules review and judges instruction just before competition begins.

We hold traditional Taekwondo tournaments and welcome invited martial artists from other styles who understand and play by the rules set forth. If you have any questions regarding our tournament or the MidAmerica Tournament Alliance, please contact us!

American Taekwondo & Hapkido Association



For Complete Judging Rules and Certification Training, Please Contact ATHA Headquarters



All three judges will be responsible for judging overall form presentation.  Forms will be judged on the basis of spirit, enthusiasm, balance, speed, focus, power and presentation.  A longer form does not necessarily represent a higher scoring form, nor should a student be penalized for a long form.  It is the presentation of the techniques within the form that indicate the level of performance. The competitor should be graded from the time their name is called until the conclusion of the form. Spirit and enthusiasm should be included in the overall score.  Judges should remember that different styles of Taekwondo will be represented at this tournament and that individual differences in form shall not be considered in the scoring criteria. Judges are not permitted to determine if an error occurred during the form presentation (such as leaving a move out or changing a technique) except when it becomes obvious that the student hesitates, only the overall quality of the performance



Forms will be scored using a numerical score from 5-9 (9 being the highest).  In order to keep ties to a minimum, half points will be used. Score cards should be held high so that the competitor and the spectators see the score.


5 = Incomplete Form

6 = Average Technique

7 = Above Average Technique

8 = Very Good Technique

9 = Excellent Technique


2nd Attempt – If a colored belt cannot finish his or her form on the first attempt, they may have a second chance. Black Belts will only get one attempt except for the 8 and Under divisions. The score for the second attempt will be the score they should receive minus a 1 point deduction from each judge. At the beginning of each division the judges will have the first three competitors complete their form prior to scoring any of them.  After the third competitor has completed their form, the judges will call each competitor out and score them.  The competitors and spectators will be allowed to see their score.  After the initial three competitors have been scored, the remaining competitors will be called out one at a time and scored immediately upon completion of their form.


Remember:  When scoring, you are not comparing students to a testing standard, but to the competition group in that ring.



This is NOT A HEAVY CONTACT SPARRING TOURNAMENT! Sparring will consist of light contact focus free sparring. Uncontrolled attacks that endanger either competitor will not be tolerated.

1.  All ranks will be allowed to compete in free sparring. Divisions will be determined at each competition in order to assure the fairest pairings for everyone.


2.  The scoring zone is as follows:  from the left side seam of the uniform top to the right seam of the uniform top and from immediately above the belt to the top of the head.  HAND CONTACT TO THE HEAD, FACE AND NECK IS PROHIBITED.  Contact to the back, below the belt, as well as excessive contact to any legal target area, is strictly prohibited. Hand fakes to the head, grabbing, tripping, foot sweeps and running out of bounds to avoid competition are not allowed.


3.  Points are scored as follows:


A.  1-point for any standing kick or punch to the body.

B.  2-points for any kick to the head.

C.  2-points for any jump kick to the body. (Technique must be scored while airborne.)

D.  3-points for any jump kick to the head. (Technique must be scored while airborne.)


4.  There will be three judging positions for free sparring, two corner judges and a center referee.  The center referee is responsible for running and controlling the ring.  Any judge observing a competitor score a point may call for a point.  The center referee will then immediately stop the ring and call for point.  Although the competitors stop, time continues to run, therefore it is critical that the center referee quickly call for point.  All three officials will then indicate simultaneously one of the four following rulings:


1.  No Point -- indicating that the judge did observe the technique but that it did not score a point.

2.  No See --- indicating that the judge did not observe the technique in question.

3.  Point ------ indicating that the judge observed the technique and that it did score points.

4.  Warning -- indicating that a competitor committed a rule violation.







The majority ruling will be awarded.  If there is not a majority, no point will be awarded.  When an official indicated No See, they have removed themselves form the scoring.  Remember, you can’t score what you did not see.  Officials should exercise cautions and not award points that they “heard” but did not see. A warning and a point cannot be awarded to the same competitor


Upon agreement of any two judges, warnings or disqualifications may be given for excessive contact to any legal target area or contact to non-contact areas.  Upon agreement, judges may also disqualify competitors for misconduct.  Any person disqualified for misconduct will be escorted from the premises and will not be invited back to future events.


Warnings will be handled as follows:


A.  First offense ------ no penalty, point or DQ. (Please attend rules meeting  regarding contact penalties)

B.  Second offense -- the offending competitors opponent is awarded a point.

C.  Third offense ----- the offending competitors opponent is awarded an additional point. Or the competitor is disqualified from competition for the remainder of the tournament.

* Be aware that serious infractions can lead to immediate disqualification. Hand strikes to the head or low kicks will result in a point award to opponent (no warning) or a DQ if the foul is deliberate or repeated.


After the call for point, the center referee will restart the competition without any delay.  Only the center referee has the authority to stop time and this should only be done in the case where it is necessary to adjust equipment or if there is any injury to a competitor or a judges discussion must occur.  The center referee may also stop the ring and time if he observes any unsafe condition which could result in injury to any competitor or spectator.  The match is awarded to the competitor who has scored the most points at the end of the two-minute round or to the first competitor who scores 5 points.  This is a SINGLE ELIMINATION tournament.


5.  Although light contact is permitted it is not necessary for the scoring of a point.  Judges shall award a point when, in their opinion, the technique was close enough that it would have scored a point if it had not been controlled, i.e., the competitor made no attempt to block. Adult black belt divisions will require light controlled touch contact to score a point.


6.  In the event that a question arises concerning the application of the rules, time shall be stopped and the ring officials shall attempt to resolve the questions among themselves.  If the ring officials cannot resolve the issue among themselves, the tournament host or designated arbitrator should be contacted.  The decision of the tournament host or his designee shall be final and binding.


7.  An attempt will be made to insure that no ring is judged by more than one judge from the same school.  The ability to accomplish this depends, of course, on the number of Black Belts available from the various schools and organizations represented. Referees must be trained in tournament ring management.


Note to instructors: 

      Please review this listing of rules and regulations with your black belt students prior to the tournament so that they become familiar with them. Judging training and certification is available and ATHA would be happy to provide a rules seminar for your black belts.

We have attempted to keep a commonality of rules from within the Mid-America Tournament Alliance.  It is our hope that this rules overview will help all competitors enjoy a fair and familiar competition format.