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Somewhat recently I was at a somewhat major (national-level, so the referees were competent) karate tournament which used the standard WKF rules when it comes to scoring.

While watching others fight, I noticed that not a single time I had seen an Ippon being awarded for a technique on a fallen opponent. I did see a few Ippons being awarded for kicks to the head, but not a single occasion for the second category, despite having seen quite a few people having fallen / thrown to the ground.

Now my questions is:
Is there a "common" (?) interpretation of the standard rules that heavily discourages awarding Ippons on fallen opponents or is it more likely that more often than not some of the other scoring requirements are not met by the attacker when attacking a target at this "weird" position?

For reference: The current official Kumite rules (PDF, Article 6 on page 10 is most relevant).

  • I know it's hard to judge without having video of the relevant techniques, but I hope some answer can still be given. – SEJPM May 7 '18 at 17:12
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Point Karate differs from Knockdown Karate and other forms of Full Contact Karate in that it doesn't try to simulate a real fight, but seeks to encourage "proper" application of Karate techniques in a competitive setting. This is why certain criteria are required for a technique to score points:

  • Good form
  • Sporting attitude
  • Vigorous application
  • Awareness (ZANSHIN)
  • Good timing
  • Correct distance

While I cannot vouch for this interpretation to be "common", it is not impossible that judges and referees are especially hard on some of these when dealing with attacks on fallen opponents.

For example, they might take into account the actions that led to the fall. To qualify for the "good form" criterion, certain referees could require the fall to be the result of a properly applied technique such as a throw or sweep. Without such skillful application of a Karate technique, perhaps the strike is judged to be simply opportunistic, and not an indicator of skill.

Similarly, as the objective is to showcase the skill of the participants, it could be judged unsportsmanlike to strike an opponent that fell by himself. If the fall isn't the result of any technique at all, awarding points feels like punishing bad Karate rather than encouraging good Karate.

From my limited competitive experience as a kid in the 80's, I remember attacks on fallen opponents being discouraged (if not entirely forbidden), but that could simply be because we were not expected, as kids, to show the same level of control as older Karateka. Hopefully, somewhere on this site is a Shotokan practitioner more familiar with the modern WKF competitive scene than I am to shed more light on the matter.

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