Competitive tournament events are divided into 3 divisions based on karate experience. Kumite events are further divided based on gender.

You can determine your division from the table below. Note that the kyu ranks provide a maximum level to compete in that division - you can always compete higher.

If you have been trainingOr your rank isYour division is
< 12 months10th - 7th KyuBeginner
12 months - 2 years6th - 4th KyuIntermediate
2 years +3rd - 1st Kyu or a Dan rankAdvanced


Judging is based on the World Karate Federation guidelines, modified slightly to make the rules applicable to martial artists from other styles, and for brevity in other events.

Events taking place in The Battle for Boston are kata (forms) and weapons kata kata, kumite (sparring), and Boston Battle. Kumite events and Boston Battle require additional safety equipment.

The overall list of events is:

Note that the tournament director reserves the right to make further divisions in the events or to merge divisions if needed.

Kata (and Weapon Kata)

Kata divisions are split into the three experience brackets, but are coed. In the event of large divisions, the competitors will be split randomly into smaller groups, with the winners of each group competing in a "finals" event for that division. Individuals wishing to perform weapon kata in the advanced division may do so freely.

Kata are not required to be from Shotokan Karate (in the past, competitors have used forms from Kung Fu, Ueichi Ryu, and other martial arts styles). The basic judging criteria can be found in the WKF Kata Rules; however, judging in initial rounds will be done using "Olympic Style" scoring instead of side-by-side matches. In the finals, side-by-side matches may be used to determine the winner. In finals, competitors may perform the same kata they used previously, or perform a new kata. Bunkai are not required.

The primary judging criteria are independent of whether the competitor is doing Shotokan Karate, or is using a weapon. Kata is not a dance or theatrical performance. It must be realistic in fighting terms and display concentration, power, and potential impact in its techniques. It must demonstrate strength, power, and speed -- as well as grace, rhythm, and balance. Specific criteria include:


There are kumite events in all 3 experience divisions, with separate events for men and women.

Safety equipment is required to participate in kumite.

Kumite is scored using a variant of the WKF Kumite Rules.

Each regular kumite bout will last three minutes in advanced divisons, and two minutes for intermediate and beginner divisions. The result of each bout is determined by a contestant obtaining a clear lead of eight points, or at time-up having the highest number of points. In the event of a tie, an extra deciding bout not exceeding one minute will be fought. If after the extra deciding bout there is still a tie, the decision will be made by a vote of the referee and judges.

Valid targets to aim for are the head, face, neck, abdomen, chest, back, and side. However, for safety reasons no contact is allowed to the head, face, or neck except in the advanced division where light contact to the head and face is allowed. In no situation is contact to the throat permitted, and this will result in disqualification. Points are awarded as follows:

To be scored, a technique must be made with good form, a sporting attitude, vigorous application, awareness, good timing, and correct distance. The tournament floor is not padded, so the throws which are allowed is limited for safety reasons.

There are also a variety of techniques or behavior which are prohibited for safety reasons or to encourage a good competitive environment and will result in a penalty. These include

Team Kumite

Team Kumite pits teams of 3 against each other in head to head combat. In each round, the members of the team fight in successive kumite bouts against the opposing team. Whichever team wins two or more of the bouts advances to the next round. As few as two members may form a team, but a lack of team members will result in forfeits for those matches, so all two members of the 2-man team must win their match in order to win.

All the usual rules for Kumite listed above apply to bouts in the Team Kumite competition. Competitors must present a final fighting order to the head judge as well as the scoring table before the start of each round. No further changes to the fighting order are allowed until the start of the next round. Any changes to the team roster due to injury must be approved by the head judge and head table, and are only permitted between rounds.

There is only one division for Team Kumite, composed of all ages, skills, and genders. We encourage competitors to form mixed-gender and cross-school teams.

Boston Battle

Boston Battle is a portion of the NECKC/NAKF tournaments that was created by Master Tabata. It is unique to NECKC/NAKF tournaments and tends to excite all those who attend.

Boston Battle is normally held at the end of the tournament, after all kata and kumite divisions are competed but before the formal close of the tournament.

Boston Battle is a two-on-two kumite competition that uses the entire gymnasium space as its competition ring. Because of the size of the competition area, all judges that participated in the tournament are used for the competition. In most cases there are a minimum of six judges watching the ring.

Competitors start from opposite ends of the competition space and approach each other only when the head judge calls out to begin. The object is to score upon someone of the opposite team while avoiding getting scored upon. If someone from one of the teams gets scored upon, that person returns to the sideline and kneels. Their teammate then faces the other team for a two-on-one match. If the remaining member scores a point on one of the other team, that person sits down at the sideline of the ring, and the match becomes a one-on-one match. If both members of a team are scored upon, the scoring team gets a point. Matches go to two points.

Safety equipment for Boston Battle is mandatory. Other than that, the rules of going outside the ring, warnings (except for excessive contact or continuing after the judges call a halt), and general sparring are waived.

Anyone can compete in Boston Battle if they have two members for the team. The event is open to men and women of at least 18 years of age. The competition is coed.

Boston Battle is not recommended for the novice fighter. The tournament director has the final say in who is able to compete in this event due to the nature of the event.

Team Overall Sscoring

In addition to individual scoring, scores from all events will be combined into overall team scores by adding up points as follows:

1st Place10 points
2nd Place7 points
3rd Place4 points
Participation1 point

Note that this favors teams that get everyone from the team to participate in every event!


For all sparring competitions, competitors are expected to dress in appropriate clothing (such as a Gi). All competitors are required to wear safety equipment including a groin protector for males, a mouthguard, and karate mitts. Karate mitts must be non-cloth (i.e. dipped foam). Shin guards and helmets are optional.