What Moves Are Banned In Karate?

Karate is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Like all martial arts, there are certain rules surrounding what you can and can’t do in a Karate match.

Not every attack is legal, and some moves can lead to some pretty serious consequences if you use them in a fight.

What moves are banned in Karate

If you’re curious about which moves are banned in Karate, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, we’ll teach you the ins and outs of which moves in Karate are legal, and what moves are prohibited.

So read on, and you’ll learn everything there is to know about the banned moves in Karate!

What Moves Are Allowed In Karate?

Before we can take a look at the illegal techniques in Karate, let’s go over which moves are legal to use.

In a Karate match (see also ‘How Long Is A Standard Karate Match?‘), players are allowed to use all punching and kicking techniques as long as they are aimed at the target areas.

For punches and other closed-hand strikes with the fists, these must be directed at the target area of the front and side of the face, and the body above the beltline.

Open-hand strikes aren’t allowed, apart from ridge-hand strikes.

Kicks must also be aimed at the front and sides of the face and the body above the beltline, although there are some exceptions. Kicks to the legs must be delivered to below the knees only.

These include hook kicks and roundhouse kicks, although these can also be delivered to the other target area.

Throws, grabs, and sweeps are also legal moves, but they have some caveats to their use.

Only certain sweeps and throws are allowed, and any reckless or uncontrolled sweeps or throws are classed as fouls.

Similarly, grabs must be used to execute a legal move within one second or else they are considered an ‘inactive grab’, which is an illegal move.

The same goes for takedowns. You must use proper takedown techniques and avoid any reckless, uncontrolled, or dangerous takedowns for it to be legal.

Sweeps aren’t meant to be used as takedowns, and kicking the legs out beneath someone is a foul.

The rules are slightly different when an opponent is on the ground.

If your opponent is grounded, you are only permitted to use punches and hand strikes (however, hammerfists and ridge-hand strikes are prohibited).

Meanwhile, a grounded fighter can use both punches and kicks as they normally would while standing.

What Moves Are Banned In Karate?

Fouls in Karate typically come under two categories.

In general, banned moves in Karate are typically common sense and involve moves that are considered to be either dangerous or unsporting, or both.

What moves are banned in Karate (1)

These two categories of banned moves cover different types of violations. Neither category is more severe than the other, but some violations carry much harsher penalties than others.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the two categories of banned moves in Karate:

Category One

The first category of banned moves generally deals with techniques that are illegal, make excessive contact, or are particularly dangerous.

These include attacks to the throat, groin, or legs, as well as other deliberate strikes to areas other than the scoring area. These attacks are considered dangerous; similarly, uncontrolled throws, takedowns, and sweeps are banned too.

Category One violations also include kicking a grounded opponent, as only punches are legal against an opponent on the ground.

Headbutts, hair pulling, scratching, and ground fighting are also penalized, as is striking with an open hand (apart from a ridge-hand strike).

The most serious Category One violations can result in severe penalties for the offending player.

These include actions like biting, deliberately dangerous throws, and any other excessively dangerous or violent actions.

Category Two

Category Two violations, meanwhile, are more focused on unsporting actions and passive behavior (ie. fouls that don’t necessarily involve contact with the opponent).

Some Category Two fouls include unsporting behavior such as disobeying the referee, deliberately exiting the competition arena, or any verbal abuse directed towards the referee, opponent, or spectators.

Other unsporting actions are also classed as Category Two violations, like exaggerating an injury or continuing to attack an opponent after the referee has paused the match.

In the same way that deliberately exiting the competition arena, deliberately forcing your opponent out (for example, by pushing or throwing them out of the arena) is classed as unsporting and can be penalized.

Not all Category Two violations are passive, though.

Grabs, holds, and clinches are all classed as fouls if they aren’t immediately used to execute a legal technique; any grabbing that lasts for more than a second without a legal move being performed will be split by the referee.

Category Two violations aren’t any more or less severe than Category One violations by themselves, and some particularly egregious Category Two violations can lead to just as severe punishments as the most serious Category One fouls.

What Happens If You Use A Banned Move?

These moves are banned for a reason, and can result in some pretty severe penalties if they’re used in a match.

Fouls in Karate are punished gradually, with penalties awarded in a three-warning system.

These are known as Chukoku (or first warning), Keikoku (second warning), and Hansoku-Chui (the final warning).

After three warnings, the offending player is disqualified from the match and their opponent is the winner by default.

This disqualification penalty is known as Hansoku.

However, it’s also possible for a player to be issued a Hansoku without receiving any of the prior warnings if their behavior is deemed to be a particularly egregious and unsporting violation.

In some rare cases, the most serious violations can lead to a penalty known as Shikkaku.

If you are issued a Shikkaku, you won’t just be disqualified from the match – you’ll be completely disqualified from the entire tournament!

Final Thoughts

Like any martial art, Karate puts a lot of emphasis on discipline and safety. The moves we’ve looked at in this guide are banned for good reason, as they either put others in danger or are unsporting.

So now you know a bit more about the banned moves in Karate and some of the punishments they can lead to, you can make sure that you never commit a violation during a match.

Christopher Anderson
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