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Eligibility Requirements for ATA Team Sparring Participants and Coaches

  • There is a strong possibility that Junior Teams and Adult Teams will compete at the same time. Coaches should consider this when selecting additional coaches. Competition will not be held because an adult coach is competing at the same time a Jr. Team is competing.
  • There is a strong possibility that Team Sparring Events will be held AT THE SAME TIME as Team Sync and Demo events at national and world events. Competition will not be held because of competitors competing in both events.
  • Must meet all tournament participation requirements
  • All competitors must be at least a first degree decided black belt.
  • 6th and 7th degrees black belts are eligible to compete in this event.
  • All members of junior or adult teams, including alternates, must compete in the corresponding Traditional Sparring/Combat Weapons Sparring event at the tournament in which the team is to compete. This rule applies to every tournament including World Championships. However, 6th and 7th-degree black belts cannot compete at regional/district events in the regular competition. Therefore, they are exempt from the traditional event competition requirement at these events.The rule will apply to 6th and 7th-degree black belts at any national/world tournament.
  • No student may be contacted for team participation without prior approval from his/her instructor. Sanctions will be enforced upon any school/coach not adhering to this rule.
  • For junior and adult teams their members and coaches may either be citizens of the country or in the case of USA teams the District in which they represent. A citizen of a country outside of the United States, who works for a school owner in the United States, may choose to compete for his/her home country rather than the region in which he/she works. This would include school owners who are citizens of another country but have schools in the U.S.
  • Members of Junior/Adult teams cannot cross District boundaries.
  • A Competitor's District is determined:
    • For non-licensees by the location of their school of record.
    • For licensees, by the location of the school where they are the primary licensee. In the case of licensees of multiple schools, the district shall be the district of their primary residence.
    • Any dispute as to the proper district of a competitor shall be resolved in the sole discretion of the International Tournament Director.
  • Members of each team must be currently competing in Black Belt divisions in their respective countries. (Students age 17 and under may not participate in adult divisions)
  • Once an individual is member of a "qualifying team", they are not eligible to compete on any other team for that tournament season.

Team Composition

Teams can be formed by any ATA Licensee who has become a certified team sparring coach. or has a certified coach on staff atthier location.

Junior Teams

The junior team sparring event is only for those students whose ages fall in the 15-16-17 age group as of 11:59 p.m. on December 31 of the current tournament year. Jr. Teams (ages 15-17 only) are comprised of the following members:

  • 2-Females
  • 3-Males
  • 4-total alternates (2 male & 2 female)
  • 2- coaches with one being certified. One of the coaches must be present at each match.
  • Members of a team can be selected from any 15-16-17 boy or girl in good standing with the ATA from the district in which they reside. Members of a team may not cross district lines. Prior to contacting a potential team member, the coach must obtain permission to speak to the student from the student’s instructor. Proof of approval will be necessary.

Adult Teams

Adult teams may have a maximum of 10 total members consisting of 8 competitors and 2-coaches.(1 head coach and one assistant coach of which one coach must be certified.) The breakdown of adult team competitors are as follows:

  • 4-Male competitors
  • 1-Female Competitor
  • 3-total alternates (2 male & 1 female)
  • Two coaches with one being certified. One of the coaches must be present at each match.
  • Coaches may be competitors for adult competitions, but must be listed on the official roster as both a coach and competitor. (There are only eight competitor spots on a roster.)

Coaches Qualifications

All coaches must be certified. Certification can be obtained by attending a Coaches Training Seminar at any of the world or national tournaments. Owners attending the World Conference will not incur an additional charge for coaching certification at this event. Any person who has previously coached a team at the 2014 District and/or World Championships will grandfather in as a certified coach. The official list of certified coaches will be maintained by tournament department of the ATA.

Coaching certification is necessary to ensure the coaches:

  • Know the rules/guidelines for forming teams and competitions
  • Learn coaching strategies pertaining to team sparring/cumulative scoring.
  • Understand the training nuances connected with team sparring vs individual sparring
  • Limit the coaching liability
  • Ensure the integrity of the selection process for teams

General Rules and Guidelines for ATA Team Sparring

A MATCH is the sparring competition between two members of opposing teams.
A ROUND is the total matches in one section of a sparring bracket between two opposing teams. There will be five matches per round.
A 10 foot or more perimeter should be established around the competition ring for team sparring events. Only team coaches will be allowed inside the perimeter. Only team members and coaches are allowed in this area. Warnings, and penalty points will be awarded if spectators are entering the coach’s area. Team members who are not a part of the current match may not step into the competition ring at any time. Warnings and penalty points will be awarded for each violation.

Competition Procedures

Adults Teams

The order of competition for adult team sparring/combat weapons team sparring in each round will be as follows:

  • In each round, the female competitor of each team will compete in the first match. If in this first match the score is tied at the end of regulation time, this match will go into “Sudden Victory”. The winner of the match will be awarded the additional point for the win.
  • Subsequent matches, if tied at the end of regulation time, do not go into “Sudden Victory”.
  • The losing team of the “female” match is required to send forth their next competitor for Match # 2.
  • Team strategy for match #2 is now in place because the winning team of the “female” match will then have the opportunity to “size up” the competition, before submitting their person to spar in match # 2.
  • For match #3 and beyond, this process would alternate regardless of the winner of the subsequent matches.
  • All five matches will occur, regardless of the cumulative score.
  • if there is a tie in the cumulative team points at the end of the 5th match, sudden victory will apply to the match in progress.

Juniors Teams

The order of competition for Junior Team events is as follows:.

  • Prior to the beginning of a round (before the first match), the center judge will ask one coach from each team to come forward for the coin toss. The winner of the toss will have the option to put forth the name of their team’s first female competitor, or wait to see who their opponent puts forth to compete before sending up their competitor.
  • The first two matches of the round will be between female competitors.
  • At the completion of match #2, the losing team from match #2 must put forth their competitor for the match #3. If in this second match, the score is tied at the end of regulation time, this match will go into “Sudden Victory”. The winner of the match will be awarded the additional point for the win.
  • Subsequent matches, if tied at the end of regulation time, do not go into “Sudden Victory”.
  • This process will then alternate between the teams.
  • All five matches will occur, regardless of the cumulative score.
  • if there is a tie in the cumulative team points at the end of the 5th match, sudden victory will apply to the match in progress.

Primary and Alternate Competitors: Substitution Rules

At the beginning of the team sparring at a tournament, the coach must declare the five primary competitors (starters). This is the starting line-up. An alternate can be used as a substitute at any time during a round. However, once the alternate has substituted for one of the five primary competitors, the alternate must continue for any further matches of the ROUND unless replaced by another alternate. The "starter" may re-enter for subsequent rounds of the day. This does not exclude the starter from competing in other rounds that day. If the substitution occurred during the match because of injury, the injured competitor is not allowed to compete in team sparring for the rest of the day.

Match Scores

In each match, all points and/or warnings will be given using the current sparring rules of the ATA with the following exceptions:

  • for a point to score, direct contact must be made unless, in the opinion of the judges, the person throwing the technique intentionally did not contact his/her opponent for the safety of his/her opponent. "Close contact, as applied in traditional sparring, will not constitute a point.
  • The act of running around the ring to avoid the fight will not be allowed. If in the opinion of the judges, the competitor is running around the ring, not just evading techniques, the following penalties will be enforced. For clarification as to what is "running around the ring to avoid the fight" please see your RTTL.
    • 1st time- penalty is a verbal warning-no point awarded.
    • 2nd time- Point awarded to the opponent.
    • 3rd time- Competitor is disqualified, and the opponent is awarded seven cumulative points, plus the current number of points he/she obtained in the match. The disqualified person's team does not receive any cumulative points for that match.
  • Each match will last 1 minute and 30 seconds.
  • A match does not end when 5 points scored as in traditional sparring and when 10 points are scored in combat sparring.
  • The winner is the competitor whose scores the most points during the match.

Team Scores

Team points are awarded in the following way:

  • Each team will be awarded the points scored during the matches.
  • The winning team will be awarded an additional point, termed "match point", for the winning the match.
  • A competitor can earn an additional MATCH POINT for their team if they defeat their opponent by more than 7 points. This is referred to as a “Superior Decision”.

Example 1: Score at the end of the match is team A-2, Team B-5. The cumulative team score is Team A-2, Team B-6 (1 match point awarded)
Example 2: Score at the end of the match is team A-0, Team B-7. The cumulative team score is Team A-0, Team B-8 (1 match point awarded)
Example 3: Score at the end of the match is team A-0, Team B-8. The cumulative team score is Team A-0, Team B-10 (superior decision)

Round Winner

The team with the most points at the conclusion of all five matches will be declared the winner of the round. Keep in mind that in tied matches that are not allowed sudden victory, there is no additional match points awarded.

Awarding of Byes

Should it be necessary to awarded bye, such a bye will be given by a random draw the day of the qualifying event. This random draw will be done by the Senior Instructor in attendance at the event.


Three judges will be used in all tournament matches. These judges are to be selected by the International Chairman of the ATA in consultation with Grand Master In Ho Lee or his/her designated representative.

Competition Opportunities and Fees

Junior and Adult teams may compete at any ATA sanctioned regional tournament assuming the team have a- certified coach. It is the responsibility of the team coach to check with the tournament host to see when he/she will be conducting this event. Team Sparring will be offered on the Friday of National Tournaments.

  • The fee to participate in Team Sparring at a qualifying event is $100 per team event for the first two teams and $25 for each additional team event. The same fee structure will apply to teams who qualify for District and/or World Championships.
  • At Regional events, should only one team register to compete in team sparring at a tournament, that team will automatically qualify for district championships.
  • All travel expenses of team members are the responsibility of the individual. Teams may try to obtain sponsorships to defray their cost of travel.
  • At District and Nationals events, if only one team registers for the event, that team will automatically qualify for World Championships. A team that has qualified for Worlds at a national event may choose to compete at the District Championships for the purpose of earning a District Champ title.

Championship Advancement Program

Junior and Adult Teams

  • Winning a Regional Tournament will qualify a team to compete at the District Championships. Teams must compete in their district.
  • Team competitions will be held at National events on the Friday. Teams winning a national event will automatically qualify for the Team Sparring and Team Combat Sparring at World Championships and will not have to win a district tournament.
  • Teams may try to qualify at multiple events. They may continue to compete in regional or national tournaments even if they have qualified for District and/or World Championships.
  • Winners of each District Championship and the two Nationals are eligible to compete at World Championships to represent the USA in the finals.
  • The winner between USA Champion and the International Champion will be awarded the title of “World Team Sparring Champion” or "World Team Combat Sparring Champion".

Roster for Qualifying Teams

A qualifying team is a team that has met the eligibility requirements for advancing to District or World Championship competitions.

  • Once a team has qualified, members of that team may not compete on any other team for the remainder of the tournament season. If in the event of the loss of a team member for some reason, i.e. moves, is injured, or as a disciplinary action, the coach feels an addition name should be added to the roster, this may be permitted up until the District Championships.
  • The team roster must at all times contain at least 50% of the original qualifying roster.
  • At the time of registration for the District Championships, the coach is required to enter his/her “Districts Roster”. This creates your final roster.
  • The total number of team members does not change.
  • The removed member may not compete on any other team regardless of the reason for removal.
  • Once the District Championships roster has been emailed to the tournament department, the team member roster is considered "set" and cannot be changed in any way.
  • Only the members listed on the qualifying team’s roster may compete. If a member does not attend or cannot compete, a qualifying team must choose from the substitute list they submitted when they submitted their “District” roster. No other or additional substitutes may be added

At regional events, a completed official team sparring roster must be submitted to the RTTL prior to the beginning of the competitive event for the team to eligible to compete. The RTTL will forward the winning team's roster to the tournament department with that regional tournament's paperwork. From this point forward, the qualifying team must always contain a minimum of 50% of the original qualifying team’s roster. The winning team's roster will be "set" at this point because they have qualified to compete at the district competition. For each national event, team registration requirements will be communicated on ATA's website and must be followed explicitly. Members of each qualifying team will be checked to insure eligibility.


If a competitor is disqualified, for any reason other than running around the ring to avoid the fight, and the opposing team is behind in points, they shall be awarded either the greater of the difference in the total team score at the time of the disqualification or seven points. If the opposing team is behind in points, they shall receive 7 points, and the disqualified team shall forfeit any points earned in that match.
If in the opinion of the judges, the disqualification was intentional, meaning the team member got themselves disqualified intentionally to prevent the opposing team from catching up in points, the offending team shall lose the match entirely.