Karate at the Tokyo Olympics: Athletes, How to Watch, What to Know

There will be two types of karate disciplines in the Olympics: Kumite and Kata.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Karate is one of the five new sports at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. Karate competitions will take place between August 4 to 7.

Karate means “empty hand” in Kanji. Many believe the sport originated in Japan. The Japanese connection is one the reasons why the sport was added to the Olympic games in Tokyo.

There will be a total of eight events and eight gold medals that will be awarded.

There will also be two types of karate disciplines in the Olympics: Kumite and Kata.

Both divisions of the competition will be split 50/50 between men and women.


Kumite is the fighting competition or sparring.

During the match, two athletes will compete in an 8x8 area, as they are attempting to out strike the other for three minutes.

The competitions will be divided in weight classes for men and women, which are:

  • Men’s weight classes: 67kg, 75kg, +75kg
  • Women’s weight classes: 55kg, 61kg, +61kg

The competitors will be awarded points when they land kicks, strikes or punches in a good form and power.

The scores and points assignments are the following:

  • Ippon or three points.
  • Waza-ari or two points.
  • Yuko or one point.

The winner will be declared when the competitor scores eight points first or has the most points at the end of the match.

There are also four warning levels in the kumite competition:

  • Chukoku or first warning:
  • Keikoku or second warning:
  • Hansoku-chui or third warning:
  • Hansoku or fourth and final warning. It will result to a disqualification and the victory is given to the opponent.


A total of 20 athletes will compete in the Kata competition. 10 athletes each in Men’s and Women’s competitions.

In Kata, athletes will get the opportunity to perform their forms in front of seven judges.

The athlete is not allowed to perform the same form twice during the tournament.

Competitors will be judged on seven technical points, which are

  • Techniques
  • Stances
  • Transitional movements
  • Timing
  • Correct breathing
  • Conformance
  • Focus

They will also be judged by three athletic points, which are

  • Balance
  • Speed
  • Strength

The two highest and two lowest scores will be eliminated and all the remaining scores will be added to make up the final scores.

In the case of a draw, the competitors will need to perform an additional form.

Unlike the Kumite competition, Kata does not have a weight division.

Athletes to Watch

While there are no Bay Area athletes in the Karate competitions, there are three Americans who will compete for Team USA.

  • Sakura Kokumai of Hawaii. She will compete in the women's kata event.
  • Brian Irr of New York. Irr will compete in the men's kurmite (+75K)
  • Ariel Torres of Florida. He will compete in the men's kata event.

Here's How to Watch Olympic Karate on NBCOlympics.com (All Times Pacific)





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