Frequently Ask Questions


  • Where can I find my membership number? 
    In order to confirm your account you will need to create a USA Karate Membership Account. Visit and click on member resources, create an account with the same email address used to register your account and login.  Once logged in you will see all your membership numbers of athletes associated with your account.  If any accounts are missing simply email us at and let us know what members should be under your account and we can associate them for you. 
  • I am having trouble uploading my photo, the cart won’t accept it. 
    This is caused by uploading too large of a photo. Today’s high tech consumer cameras are often in the 8 megapixel to 15+ megapixel range, this can produce photos easily in excess of 2 megabytes. This is too large for our application to handle efficiently so you need to resize the photo to 72dpi, 200x233 resolution, or at least get the size down below 2mb. If you don’t have the ability to resize an existing photo we recommend taking a new photo and turning your resolution all the way down, select the lowest megapixel setting (mp), and select the lowest quality for the photo.  This will allow even the high end cameras to take a small enough photo to upload to us. 
  • Can I confirm my registration?
    Yes.  You can confirm your registration online by going to and selecting “confirm registrations” on the main page.  Search using your membership number and confirm your registration.  If you have registered online, you will receive an “order confirmation” via email in addition to being taken to a confirmation screen at the conclusion of the registration process.  If you do not receive the confirmation email, please check your spam filter.
    If you completed the paper application and mailed your registration, it will take approximately 10 business days for your registration to appear online using the website.  Because of the volume of paper registrations, we can not confirm your registration any sooner than it would appear online. Please note that there is a $30 paper handling fee, to avoid this please use the online search to confirm your registration.
  • What if I confirm my registration and it is incorrect? 
    If the registration appears to be incorrect online, simply check the box next to the athlete name and select EDIT.  You can then go in and make changes to your registration.  Don’t forget to CHECKOUT if you made any changes affecting your balance, otherwise your registration will be marked as incomplete.
  • What if I make a mistake during registration, do I have to pay a change fee? 
    Yes, a late/change fee will be charged, unless the mistake is a minor clerical error or is the result of a mistake by the USA Karate Staff.
  • Can someone else pick up my competitor pass for me? 
    Yes, however it is strongly recommend whoever picks up the athlete pass review it carefully for mistakes.  If the pass is accepted and is later found to be incorrect, a late/change fee will be assessed to make corrections. 
  • What are the skill levels and how do I know which skill level I should compete in? 
    The skill levels are to help keep the competition a level playing field for all competitors.  USA Karate is committed to giving every athlete the opportunity for success in the ring, so some changes have been made to the skill level descriptions.   Here is a description of the skill levels:
      • Beginner – 8th kyu and under/Less than 1 year of training
      • Novice – 7th kyu-5th kyu/1-2 years of training
      • Intermediate – 4th kyu-2nd kyu/2-4 years of training
      • Advanced  - 1st kyu and higher/4 years or more of training
      • Elite – US Team Trial Divisions/Recommended rank of 1st Dan or higher and 5+ years of training
      • All brown belts must compete in intermediate or higher divisions
      • All black belts must compete in advanced or higher divisions
      • Athletes who participate in a beginner, novice, or intermediate division must compete in that skill level for all divisions
      • An athlete who participates in an elite division may compete in an advanced division in another category (Exp:  Athletes may compete in Elite Kumite and Advanced Kata, but may not compete in Elite Kumite and Advanced Kumite)
      • Athletes who compete in Elite Kata may not compete in any other Kata division
      • Athletes who medal in any skill level must move up to the next higher skill level the following year (Exp: An athlete who medaled in a Novice category in 2015 must compete in the Intermediate or higher category in 2016)
      • The ultimate placement of athletes in the correct skill level is the responsibility of both the athlete and their coach/instructor.  We rely on the integrity of all of our participants to ensure for the safest and most fair competition.  Should an athlete be found to purposefully misrepresent their skill level for the purpose of competitive advantage, appropriate actions may be taken against both the athlete and the coach/instructor
  • If I have been training for 2 years but have a brown belt, I have to compete as an intermediate? 
    Yes, all brown belts must compete in intermediate or higher divisions. 
  • What are Team Trial Divisions (Elite)? 
    Each year the USA Karate selects the Junior and Senior National Teams that will officially represent the USA in international competition.  Athletes who compete in Team Trial divisions are trying out for a place on the USA National Karate Team.  These are also called Elite Divisions because they represent the highest level of competition the US has to offer. 
  • If I am competing in an Elite division do I need to show proof of US Citizenship? 
    Yes, all athletes competing in a Junior or Senior Elite division must bring their passport when picking up their competitor pass (passport must be current).  If you do not provide proof of US citizenship you will not be allowed to compete in the Elite Divisions.  Elite divisions are used to select the US Team for international competition and US citizenship is a requirement.  Non-US Citizens seeking high-level competition are encouraged to compete in our Advanced divisions. 
  • Can I compete in Elite and Advanced Divisions?
    That depends, Elite is a separate skill level division available to Advanced competitors, therefore competitors may compete in Advanced or Elite per event category (Kata or Kumite).  For example, an athlete may compete in Elite Kata and Advanced Kumite or Elite Kumite and Advanced Kata but CANNOT compete in both Advanced Kata and Elite Kata.
  • If I register for Elite Kumite, do I have to register for Elite Kata? 
    No, Kata and Kumite are separate events and you CAN register for Elite in one event and Advanced in the other.  You CANNOT compete in Advanced and Elite in the SAME event.
  • What if I am trying out for the Jr. USA Team and my birthday puts me in one age category for the PKF and a different age category for the World Championships?  For example I am 17 years old at the time of the Pan American Championships but will be 18 for the World Championships.  Can I try out for both categories? 
    Yes.  For those people that have birthdays between the Pan American Championships and the World Championships you can compete in both age categories.  You must register for the second division ON SITE. Please remember if you are doing an Elite division you must provide proof of US Citizenship. 
  • What if I am 17 years old and will be 18 time the time of the North American Cup or Sr. Pan American Championships next year, can I try out for the US Senior National Team even though I am 17 now? 
    No.  You must be 18 years old at the time of the National Championships and US Team Trials to try out for the US Senior National Team.
  • What if I just want to watch the tournament?
    Spectator tickets are on sale at the event for $25 a day or $60 for a four day pass.  Purchase your tickets online and save, $20 a day or $50 for a four day pass by clicking here.  Children 4 and under get in free. 
  • How can I be a volunteer?
    All volunteers are encouraged to register in advance online here and attend a volunteer course held on-site.  For specific information on volunteering contact the National Volunteer Coordinator, at 
  • Where do I check in as a volunteer?
    Volunteers will need to check-in at the Volunteer Check-in Table in the Registration area. Volunteers will pick up the volunteer T-shirt and get additional information about the tournament.


  • Is the schedule of events posted somewhere?
    A schedule will be posted online prior to the tournament and at various locations onsite. The schedules are tentative and subject to change.
  • Will Juniors do Kata and Kumite in the same ring or will there be a break in between?  
    Kata and Kumite Divisions will be held on different days for all divisions.
  • Does everyone need to be at the tournament at 8:00am? 
    No, the USA Karate Staff is committed to providing a basic time structure for events and stage times. You can also sign up for our text messaging service.  This service will send you a text message when your child is called to Staging, sent to a ring and completed competition.  For more information about this service, sign up online during the registration process or ask in Registration onsite.


  • Are USA Karate patches mandatory? 
    Yes. USA Karate patches are required for this event.
  • Are face mask required? 
    No, the face mask is optional for any Elite division.
  • Are body armor required? 
    Yes.  In January of 2012, the WKF changed rules and is now requiring a body protector for all elite kumite divisions. USA Karate has adopted this rule and is requiring WKF approved Body Protectors.
  • Do females have to wear the Body Protector AND Chest Protector?  
    Yes.  Both are required for females.   USA KARATE is looking for ways to resolve this rule conflict and are working with the WKF Referee Commission closely.
  • Are shin pads required? 
    Yes, USA KARATE approved shin pads are required.  No cloth foot/shin pads will be allowed.  All equipment will be checked at Staging prior to competition for compliance.  Competitors will not be allowed to compete without approved gear.
  • What color equipment is required? 
    Red and Blue USA KARATE approved hand pads are required.  Red, Blue or White USA KARATE approved shin and foot pads are required. Only soft foam headgear is allowed and it must be a solid color, preferably white. 

Please note, you must wear matching hand and foot gear or red/blue hand gear with white foot and shinpads.  You may not wear red hand pads with blue foot and shin pads or vice versa. 

  • Is headgear allowed?  
    Yes.  Classic headgear with no attachments, face shield or metal bars is allowed.  Headgear will be checked in Staging prior to competition for compliance.
  • Will USA KARATE approved equipment be on sale at the tournament? 
    Yes. Vendor booths will be onsite for equipment purchases, however it is suggested you purchase in advance to ensure you have equipment for the tournament.
  • What color uniform (gi) can I wear? 
    Competitors may only wear traditional cut unmarked white karate uniforms without stripping or piping.  Only athletes that have won the World Championships may wear a gi with gold lettering on it.
  • Do I need both red and blue belts for competition?  
    Yes, all competitors need red and blue belts for both Kata and Kumite.  The Red/Blue “flip” belts are not allowed for competition.
  • Why do I have to wear all this gear? 
    USA Karate is the National Governing Body for the sport of Karate and represents the International Governing Body, the WKF.  As such, when the WKF makes rule changes that effect the international competitions, it is in the best interest of the US Team and its’ athletes to follow those rules so they are prepared for the international competitions.  In January of 2012, the WKF changed the equipment requirements and required Body Protection for all adults and juniors in Elite Divisions. The USA Karate Staff understands the equipment requirements can be confusing,  the USA KARATE Staff is ready to help you figure out what you need for competition.

Kata Competition

  • Can I compete in both Advanced Kata and Elite Kata (Team Trials)?  
  • Can I register for 16-34 Elite Kata and 18-20 Elite Kata?  
    Yes. The 18-20 Elite Kata category is the team trial division for the US Jr. Team.  The 16-34 Elite Kata is the team trial division for the US Sr. Team. Please note that you will not be able to register for both online and will need to register onsite for the 18-20 Elite divisions.
  • What division should I register for if I am an adult advanced Kata competitor, but do not want to compete in Elite Team Trials for Kata?
    Competitors should register for Advanced 18-34 Kata.
  • Can I register for Elite Kata (Team Trials) and Style Specific Kata divisions? 
    No.  These divisions are exclusive and will run on the same day.  You will need to choose which division you want to compete in.
  • What are the Style Specific Kata Divisions? 
    These are new divisions added in 2010 to allow competitors to compete in Kata against only competitors from their particular style of karate.  The Style Specific divisions represent the 4 major styles of traditional karate in Japan, Shotokan, Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu and Wado-ryu.  As in the past years, Okinawan and Korean styles are also given the opportunity to compete in style specific divisions of Kata, please see the Okinawan or Korean Kata divisions.  Style Specific Divisions are open to advance competitors ages 16-34.
  • Why did the rules change to using flags? 
    In an effort to prepare all USA Karate competitors for Kata competition at the WKF level, the Referee Committee, Technical Committee and USA Karate Staff decided to adopt a modified flag scoring system.
  • Will I have to do my kata at the same time as my opponent?
    •  All Beginner and Novice Divisions will perform Kata simultaneously.
    • All Intermediate Division for UNDER 18 will perform Kata simultaneously.
    • All Advanced Division UNDER 14 will perform Kata simultaneously.
    • All Adult Intermediate Divisions will perform Kata individually.
    • All Advanced Divisions 14 and OLDER will perform Kata individually.
  • Can I repeat Kata?  
    That depends.  ALL Beginner, Novice and Intermediate Divisions may repeat Kata in all rounds.  All Advanced NON-Team Trial Divisions can repeat Kata UNTIL the final round.  In the FINAL ROUND, Advanced NON-Team Trial competitors must perform a different Kata from previous rounds. 
    ALL ELITE KATA DIVISIONS will follow WKF rules and must perform a different Kata each round.

Kumite Competition

  • What equipment do I need to Kumite?
    The following protective equipment is required for all Kumite competitors:
    Red/Blue USA-NKF/WKF Approved Gloves/Mitts
    White/Red/Blue USA KARATE/WKF Approved Shin/Instep Protectors
    Mouth Guard
    Groin Protectors (All male competitors)
    Elite competitors will need additional equipment.
  • Do I have to weigh in?  
    All athletes registered for an Elite Kumite (Team Trial) Division, must weigh-in. Weigh-ins will be held for all Elite kilo categories, including 12-13, 14-15 & 16-17 Team Trial categories.  All athletes must weigh-in and can be moved to the appropriate weight division if the athlete is outside the registered weight division.

 All athletes that are required to weigh in must weigh in at the designated weigh-in time.  If an athlete fails to weigh in at the designated weigh-in time, the athlete will be disqualified from competition for failure to comply with weight control regulations.

Signs will be posted at Registration directing athletes to weigh-ins.  Athletes will need their Credentials and passport to weigh-in.

Team Divisions

  • Do I have to have an all male or all female team for team kata? 

No, we have a few different team kata events.  Regular team kata, mixed gender team kata, and family team kata.

  • What division should I register my team for?  This year teams will be divided up into a Beg/Nov division and an Int/Adv division for each age group.  If you have a team made up of novice and intermediate athletes, they must compete in the higher division (Int/Adv).  Athletes must meet all age requirements for that division.


  • Can I coach my athlete at the ring? 
    That depends, all Coaches must be current USA KARATE Coach Members and have completed all SafeSport requirements.
  • How can I become a Coach? 
    All coaches must have completed SafeSport training and an NCSI background check within the past two years. Once this is completed they will need to complete the following form and have their information verified by the USA KARATE staff. 
  • How old do I have to be to be a Certified Coach?  
    18 is the minimum age for certification, however anyone is allowed to attend the course.
  • Where do I pick up my Coaches’ pass?  
    Coaching passes will be available at the pre-registration desk.

Weapons (Kobudo)

  • Can I do Long Weapons and Short Weapons Divisions?  
    No. These divisions are exclusive and will compete on the same day.  You must choose which category to compete in.
  • What kind of weapons can I use?  
    Please go to and click on Officials and Coaches Resources at the top.  Follow the links to the current Rules Update and look for the rules pertaining to Kata and Kobudo.


  • Can I go with my child to the ring? 
    No.  The competition floor is closed and only for competitors, registered coaches and officials. 
  • Can I go to the Staging Area with my child? 
    A small section of the Staging Area will be available for parents to visit and check on their competitors; however parents will not be allowed in the “competitor only” area of Staging.  The Staging Area can be a loud and busy place in the tournament and this rule will allow the USA Karate Staff to focus on the competitors to expedite the competitor to the competition floor.
  • Will food or drinks be allowed in the Staging Area? 
    Yes.  Competitors will be allowed to bring bottled drinks and snacks to the Staging Area.  Common courtesy is appreciated and the USA Karate Staff expects all competitors to keep a clean Staging Area.
  • How will I know when it is my child’s time to compete? 
    Each division is assigned a number.  The division number will be printed on your child’s competitor pass that you will pick up at Registration.  The Announcer will call the division number to Staging and that will signal your child needs to go to the Staging Area immediately and prepare for competition.  Generally, once a division has been called to the Staging Area, the division will make it to the competition floor in under 30 minutes.

You can also sign up for our text messaging service.  This service will send you a text message when your child is called to Staging, sent to a ring and completed competition.  For more information about this service, sign up online during the registration process or ask in Registration onsite.

  • When will my child compete? 
    A general schedule will be posted to prior to the tournament and posted to various locations at the tournament site, but no specific times can be given as to when a competitor will be on the competition floor.  The USA Karate Staff is committed to running an efficient, fair and fun tournament for all participants, so it is the Staffs’ intention to minimize wait times.  Generally the youngest age divisions start the day and the tournament works through ascending age divisions as the day moves on.