Hapkido Sparring & Self-Defense Rules


Competitors must be in top condition in order to participate in tournaments.

    1. The center referee will assess the competitor’s health status before the start of the match.

    1.  Competitors must maintain good hygiene including neatly trimmed fingernails, toenails, etc. before the match.

    1. Competitors with loss of vision in one eye, hard of hearing or deaf, epilepsy, or eyeglasses cannot participate in tournaments.

    1. The center referee may stop a match and refer to a medial personn to assess a competitor’s medical condition if an competitor is knocked down out or groggy during the match.

    1.  A tournament official will guide any competitor suffering a knock out during a match to first aid for medical examination.

  1. In the event of an accident, a tournament official shall accompany the competitor to the hospital or resting quarters.

 Competitors are strictly prohibited from possession or use of any drugs or chemicals other than those that generally accepted or medically approved.


Regulation Injury, Illness, and Accident Protocol

    1. If an injury is self-afflicted and the competitor cannot continue a match, the match is awarded to the opponent. If the injury was caused by excessive force by the opponent, the match is awarded to the injured competitor.

  1.  If both competitors are unable to continue competition due to injury, the match will be determined by the points scored up to the stopping of the match. If neither competitor has scored any points, the center and corner referees will confer and report the consensus to the judge and the winner of the match will be announced. In addition, the match may be awarded to the competitor who is able to continue the match. A technique executed at the moment expiration of timed match will be allowed. If the center and corner referees determine that the competitor’s technique was good, the point will be reflected in the scoring.


Regulation End of Match

    1. The match will end upon the signal of end of match

    1. The match will end due to foul, inability to compete due to injury, or withdrawal

    1. If either or both competitors are disqualified

  1. If either or both competitors are injured and cannot continue the match

Any issues which are not covered by the tournament regulations will be conferred and agreed upon by the center and corner referees and reported to the judge who will sanction the outcome of the issue. Depending on the severity of the issue, resolution may be deferred to the Tournament Head of Judging and Tournament Director.

Judging Regulations

Introduction: Referees and judges assess and determine the results and performance of competitor’s competition. Referees and judges will not be affected by their schooling, territorial and blood ties, and must remain unbiased, impartial, and well experienced in the judging and smooth running of matches. They must maintain the highest standards in administering the tournament regulations. Judges must have a high level of self-esteem, pride, character and authority. They must also maintain a sound mind and body in order to participate in tournaments.


Regulation Judges Duties and Responsibilities

    1. The judge area is 1-3m outside of the match area surrounded on the sides by the time keeper and record keeper. 2. The judge will oversee and direct the center and corner referees, record keeper, and time keeper.

    1.  The judge may replace the center and corner referees, record keeper, and time keeper.

    1. If the judge determines that the scoring of the corner referees is biased or not justified, the judge may call the center referee to discuss the validity of the scoring and suggest replacements.

    1. The judge may determine the winner of scoreless or tied matches upon conferring with the center referee.

  1. Judges do not have scoring privileges.


Regulation Center Referee Duties and Responsibilities

    1. The center referee has main responsibility over the competition and receives assistance from the corner referees and time keeper.

    1. The center referee will score the competitor’s points and losses. If a competitor commits afoul, the center referee may award a penalty. If a penalty is given, the corner referees must clearly record the nature of the penalty.

    1. The center referee will examine the uniform and each competitor’s physical condition before the start of a match.

    1. If the center referee has a concern for risk of injury to competitor due to a large discrepancy in skill level, the center referee can ask for the competitor’s opinion, confer with the corner referees, and with the approval of the judge, render verdict on the match.

    1. If one or both competitors are injured and the match is stopped by a medical person, the center referee must stop the match upon the medical person’s order. The outcome of the match is then determined by points and penalties scored until the match was stopped.

    1. The center referee’s judgment and announcement are final and may not be contested.

    1. The center referee will not automatically announce to separate even after 3 seconds have passed if one or both competitors are engaged in self-defense or grabbing techniques but will assess progress of the technique and may announce to separate afterwards.

    1. The center referee will issue a warning to a competitor who consistently avoids attacks and backs up.

  1.  The center referee shall not leave the match area even during rest periods other than for urgent matters.

Regulation 5 Corner Referee Duties and Responsibilities

    1. The corner referees positions are at the opposite corners of the mat. One corner referee will be in the upper left corner of center referee and the other corner referee will be at the lower right corner of the center referee in a diagonal line.

    1.  The corner referees must follow the orders of the center referee and judge and record the scores of the competitors.

    1. The corner referees will refrain from engaging in unnecessary discussions with others or similar behaviour. They must stay in the tournament area even during rest periods and may only leave the tournament area for urgent matters.

  1. The corner referee must not correct or adjust the recorded scores under any circumstances.

Regulation Maintenance and Supervision of Judge

    1. Judges (judge, center referee, corner referee) are supervised by the Head of Judging Committee.

    1. Judges’ levels are grouped into first, second, third gup and also executive judge.

    1.  Judging assignments must be made prior to opening of the tournament for judge, center

    1. referee, corner referee, and on call judge.

  1.  The supervisor of judges will determined by the head of the Judging Committee based on each tournament’s report of judges.

Regulation 7 Judges Attire

    1. The dress code for judges must reflect the level of responsibility and respect of judges and must be uniform for all judges.

    1. Fall and winter dress code is a formal suit and pant that is either black or dark navy in color. A white dress shirt, the Federation’s judge necktie, and judge’s mark shall be worn.

    1. Summer dress code is a black or dark navy pant with a short sleeve white shirt.

    1. The Federation’s judge necktie and judge’s mark shall be worn.

    1. Judges and tournament officials must dress according to regulations 1 and 2 above.

  1. Fall and winter dress code are in effect from November through April. Summer dress code is in effect from May through October.


Regulation Weighing

Weighing will be conducted together by a judge approved by the Judging Committee and tournament director approved by the Tournament Committee. The weighing official does not follow anyone else’s direction or influence other than the Tournament Director and Judging Director. The weighing official will stamp a seal for passing weighing session on the competitor’s right inner forearm.

    1. Weighing is ideally done without any clothing. Allowances are made as follows: 500g for t- shirt and underwear for males, up to 1kg for females.

    1. Only a certified weighing scale may be used.

    1. Weighing is divided into preliminary and main. Competitors who have successfully passed the preliminary weighing will be deemed to have passed the weighing. Those competitors who are either over or under weight limits will be weighed again using the main weighing scale. Those competitors who are determined to be under or over weight qualifications in the main weighing may be disqualified.

    1. The weigh in should be conducted one to three hours before the start of the tournament but may be adjusted according to circumstance. In the event of change in weigh in time, the Head of Judging and Tournament Director must give notice to both competitors’ supervisor or coaches at least one day in advance.

  1. Competitors who have successfully completed weigh in must obtain a weigh in approval stamp on their right inner forearm. awards.

Regulation Points, Order of Awarding Points, and Scoring

1) Points

    1. Accurate self-defence technique that controls the opponent

    1. An undefended punch to the opponent’s abdomen, ribs, or chest

    1. An undefended kick to the opponent’s face, chest, ribs, or abdomen

    1. An undefended low spin heel kick to the opponent

    1. A throwing technique or defensive kick throwing technique that throws an opponent

    1. down from the air

  1. A counter kick to the opponent when they are attempting a low spin heel kick

2) Order of Awarding Points:

Points are awarded based on large and small techniques

      1. Accurate self-defence technique that controls the opponent

      1.  A throwing technique or defensive kick throwing technique that throws an opponent

      1. down from the air. Also, a low spin heel kick that brings an opponent down

      1. Successfully executing a kick to the opponent’s face

      1. Successfully executing a kick to the opponent’s abdomen, chest, or ribs

      1. Successfully executing a punch to the opponent’s abdomen, chest, or ribs

    1. When there are no clear points, points may be given to the competitor showing initiative and attacking spirit during the tourname

3) Scoring:

Scoring affects the win or loss of competitors and must be taken with great care. When neither of the competitors do have any point leads, cautions, warnings, penalties, and dominance in the match will determine the winner of the match. The scoring card will reflect points with a “+” for scores, “-“ for deductions by round. The center referee will announce the outcome of the match based on scoring sheets.

4. Scoring for dominating and leading the match 10:9


Regulation Voided Scoring

    1. Self-defence techniques that do not control the opponent

    1. Falling during execution of an attack

    1. When a punching attack is not the only technique (i.e., it is part of combination attack)

    1. A kicking technique that is not effective.

  1. Falling during the execution of throwing technique or defensive kicking throwing technique


Regulation Downed Opponent

    1. When locked up from a self-defence technique and unable to free themselves

    1. When unable to get back up right away after being thrown from a justified throw or defensive kicking throw

    1.  Falling down from a punch or kick attack

  1. Receiving an attack from opponent that is called as a foul


Regulation Tap Out

  1. When a competitor is restrained by a self-defence technique for a count of 9, or if the competitor taps the opponent or mat for a tap out


Regulation (Referee Stop Competition) Winner

If the center referee determines that an accident or injury may occur due to vast disparities in physical or technical abilities of the competitors, the center referee will call the corner referees and confer to reach a consensus. The consensus will be reported to the judge. The competitors will be called to their starting positions and be notified of the consensus. The match may be continued if both competitors decide to continue the match; however, the match will be stopped if a competitor decides to discontinue the match or if a large disparity of ability is shown. In this case, the R.S.C. will be announced and a winner will be determined.


Regulation Match Outcome

    1. At the end of the match, the center referee will collect the score cards of the center and corner referees and give them to the judge. They will follow the decision of the judge.

    1. If the match cannot be continued due to accident or injury of one or both of the competitors, the match will be determined by scoring until the match has been stopped. However, if the cause of the accident or injury is due to a foul, the competitor who committed the foul will lose the match. If the injury was caused by an allowed technique, the injured competitor will lose the match.

    1. A competitor that commits an intentional foul will be barred from receiving any awards.

  1. If a match cannot be continued due to natural disaster, condition of the tournament facility, or unruly spectators, the match may be declared void.


Regulation Disqualification

    1. When a competitor does not obey the commands of the center referee, or, if the coach or supervisor does not follow the instructions of the center referee

    1. If a competitor receives two warnings in any one round

    1. If the competitor does not enter the match within 2 minutes after the announcer has called for the competitor three times in one minute intervals

    1. If any other similar events occur, the center and corner referees will confer and may issue a disqualification after approval from the judge.


Regulation Caution, Deduction, Warning (Prohibited Actions)

Prohibited actions (cautions, deductions, warnings) can greatly impact the morale and performance of competitors. Therefore, the center referee must exercise extreme care and accurate judgment. A penalty will be issued only after the center referee has clearly determined that a prohibited action has occurred and must be clearly and quickly acted on. If the judge is personally biased, this may affect both the progress and outcome of the match.

1) Caution

    1. Competitor adjusts their belt or uniform without permission

    1. Competitor incurs time by running around the mat

    1. Intentionally avoiding contact by crossing or leaving the mat boundaries

    1. Turning their back and retreating or pushing the other competitor out of bounds

    1. Not standing up immediately or otherwise not continuing the match after executing a low spin heel kick

    1. Attacking a competitor who has been downed or fallen down

    1. Attacking with the head, elbow, or knees

    1. Attacking with the hands above the neck area

    1. Kicking or hitting above the knee when the opponent has been grabbed

    1. Intentionally avoiding attacks by falling or lowering the body below waist level

    1. Kicking above the knee with a low heel spin kick

  1. Not immediately obeying the command of the center referee


2) Deduction

    1. Receiving two cautions during one match

  1. Receiving a warning during one match (automatic deduction)

3) Warning: A warning may severely impact the competitor. The center referee must not issue a warning without a high level of judgment.

    1. Intentional attack to the groin

    1. Striking the opponent with a fist, head, elbow or knee

    1. Striking or kicking a downed opponent

    1. Not following the center referee’s commands during a match and speaking

    1. disrespectfully

    1. When a coach or supervisor enters the match area without the permission of the center

    1. referee, a warning or disqualification may be issued.

  1. When the contact is considered excessive. All striking techniques must be controlled so as not to injure or KO the opponent.


Regulation Loss due to Foul

When a competitor who has received a deduction receives another caution by committing a foul from prohibited actions, or if a competitor receives a second warning during one match, the center referee will call the corner referees to the center referee’s line. Upon conferring and obtaining agreement with them, the center referee will report to the judge and upon receiving the judge’s approval, a loss due to foul will be declared and the competitor will be directed to leave due to disqualification. The action that caused the foul will be gestured by the center referee and the competitor committing the foul will be pointed to. After announcing the loss by foul, the center referee will point to the entrance and direct the competitor that committed the foul to leave the match area. In accordance with the Judging Regulation a competitor who commits an intentional foul will be barred from receiving any awards. Only those competitors who have not lost due to foul resulting cautions, deductions, and warnings may receive awards.


Regulation Use of Center Referee Commands and Motions

Attention, bow, ready, start, separate, continue, stop, caution, deduction, warning, loss due to foul, disqualification.

1) Attention:

Attention command is required at the beginning and end of matches to show respect between the competitors.

2) Bow:

The bow command is required at the beginning and end of matches to show respect between the competitors.

3) Ready:

The ready command is used only at the start of matches.

4) Start:

The start command is used at the beginning of the match and also after the separate command

5) Separate

    1. When one or both competitors have gone out of bounds

    1. When one or both competitors are injured

    1. When one or both competitors cease to fight and stop attacks and stare at one another or continue to avoid each other by running around the ring

    1. When competitors have grabbed each other for a throw or joint locking technique and no change has occurred for 3 seconds

    1. When both competitor’s hands or feet have become entangled regardless of scoring

    1. When prohibited action occurs, the center referee will announce separate and instruct the time keeper to stop the time. The competitors will be instructed to stand in their starting positions. A gesture to demonstrate the action resulting in a penalty will be made and a penalty will be issued.

    1. The center referee will also announce command to separate for other matters that warrant a separation. The match will be continued after the appropriate amount of time for separation as determined by the center referee.

  1. The separate command that results in stopping of match time can greatly impact the flow and progress of a match. Therefore, the center referee must exercise great care and judgment in announcing the separate command.

6) Continue:

The continue command will be to begin the match

7) Stop:

The stop command will be used only at the end of rounds and the end of the match.

8) Caution:

A caution will be issued for (Prohibited Actions).

If an action requiring a caution occurs, the center referee will announce command to separate and direct the time keeper to stop the time. The center referee will then make a gesture of the action resulting in a caution, point to the competitor receiving the caution with the index finger, announce the caution and issue command to continue the match.

9) Deduction:

A deduction will be issued if two cautions are given in any one round in a match, a deduction will be issued. A deduction will be issued without exception for a warning and will be considered an automatic deduction.

10) Warning:

A warning will be issued when a warning is issued, the center referee will announce separate and simultaneously call for stop time to the time keeper and direct both competitors to their starting positions. The center referee will gesture the action resulting in the warning and announce the warning.

11) Loss due to Foul:

Loss due to foul will be issued when a loss due to foul occurs, or if a competitor that has received a deduction due to caution commits another foul, a loss due to foul will be issued. A competitor that is issued a loss due to intentional foul in will be ineligible to receive any awards and disqualified from further competition. The center referee will direct the competitors to their starting positions and demonstrate the action resulting in foul, announce the foul and disqualification. The competitor receiving the command will exchange bows with the other competitor and exit the match area.

12) Disqualification:

Disqualification will result only to competitors who lose the match due to committing fouls. The remaining competitor will become automatic winner and the win will be recorded as winner as result of foul.

Hapkido Self-Defense Rules

1) Self-Defense

The self defense demonstration consists of pairs or groups of competitors (up to 4 persons) performing self defense techniques of their choosing. The competitors may have all attack/defense techniques be performed by one of the competitors, or they may alternate who attacks and who defends. However, only one competitor will register to receive scoring.

Defense against weapons is also included in this competition without extra credit for the use of weapons.

A time limit of 3 minutes applies to all demonstrations. Time begins after the lead competitor addresses the judges and receives permission to begin, or when the second competitor enters the ring. A penalty will be deducted for each 10 second period that a demonstration exceeds the 3 minute time limit.

2) Judging

This division will be judged in a similar manner to SKITA rules for forms divisions and competitors will be evaluated on artful and effective technique, speed, rooting, and skill. The purpose of this demonstration is to evaluate the competitors’ ability to select an appropriate defensive technique for the attack attempted, and to effectively execute the defensive technique so that the attacker is rendered harmless, as well as the safe falling technique. The defender should not use flashy or ostentatious techniques that add nothing to the effectiveness of the defense. Rather, the defender should seek to end the attack using techniques that are practical, efficient and feasible for use in real self-defense situations.

Scoring will be based upon:

  1. Accuracy of Techniques. Accurate application of techniques to control opponent(s).
  2. Fluidity and effective demonstration of techniques. Creative application of techniques.
  • Balance, Speed and Power. Accurate and quick movements that generate explosive power, while properly maintaining balance during artful demonstration.

A single technique may be continued into a second round of techniques. Acceptable techniques for Hapkido-Self Defense Demonstration Category

  1. Wrist Grabs,
  2. Clothing Grabs,
  3. Defensive Punching,
  4. Defensive Kicking,
  5. Defensive Throwing
  6. Attacking Techniques,
  7. Restraining Techniques,
  8. Rope Techniques,
  9. Sword Techniques,
  10. Staff Techniques,
  11. Cane Techniques,
  12. Special Kicking,
  13. Falling,
  14. Sword Techniques.