From 2018 ATA Rules
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Ring Size

Ring dimensions for competition shall be square and should measure in the range of 14 - 18 feet per side, depending on the type of division (adult or junior). For ATA Tiger divisions, the previously described rings can be “cut” in half, and two divisions may be run side-by-side.
Each ring should:

  • Have clearly marked boundary lines.
  • Have centering marks for sparring competition.
  • Be numbered.

Order of Events

The host of each tournament will publish the tournament schedule, as provided by their Regional Tournament Team Leader, for that particular tournament. If the host has a particular schedule in mind, the host must submit their proposed tournament schedule to and receive approval from the Regional Tournament Team Leader before it is published to the general public.
The order of competition at regional, national, and world events will be:

  • Traditional Form Competition.
  • Traditional Weapons Competition.
  • Traditional One-Steps / Traditional Point Sparring.
  • Combat Weapons Sparring.

ATA-Xtreme and ATA creative competitions are held at different times from the traditional events. The time various from region to region. Students should check published times for event schedules. ATA International Headquarters will publish the competition times before each national and world event. Check the website at before each event for the current competition schedule. For ATA Team Sparring and Combat Sparring competition opportunities click link provided.

Tournament Registration

For regional tournaments, all competitors are encouraged to pre-register with their instructor. The following guidelines apply to all registrations and registration cards:

  • It is the responsibility of the competitor to obtain a registration card from their instructor, and with his/her guidance, fill out the registration card fully. This includes but is not limited to their Name, ATA number, Date of Birth, Age, Rank, School Number, and the Name of their instructor.
  • If the student is competing at an event that their instructor cannot attend, as long as they have their instructor’s permission, they may register at the event.
  • If the ATA membership number is absent or incorrect on the registration card, it is the responsibility of the Instructor of the competitor within five business days after the event to contact ATA International Headquarters with the missing or incorrect number to avoid the forfeiture of points.

To better prepare for world and national tournaments all competitors, regardless of their rank, are asked to pre-register to compete. All registration cards must be filled out completely. ADULT BLACK BELTS, who register onsite at a world or national event, will be charged a “late” fee of $50 in addition to their regular registration fees. Those competitors will also only be eligible for ½ regular points. (Half points will be rounded up. For example, a “late” competitor earns ½ of 9 points in his/her ring. The 4.5 points will be rounded up to reflect 5 points earned).

Arrival and Competition Times

It is recommended that each participant arrives before opening ceremonies in time to be on the main floor to line up and bow-in before the competition. However, many regional and all national and world events now post the approximate competition times for each division. In those instances, each color belt competitor should arrive at the tournament site approximately 30 to 45 minutes before their posted competition time unless otherwise notified in the tournament information packets.
If for some unforeseen legitimate reason, a competitor is late for his/her division, the center judge will allow the competitor to enter the division if possible based on the following:

  • The Regional Tournament Team Leader approves the entry and will be called to the ring to oversee the proper insertion of the competitor into the competition ring.
  • The rule governing late competitors is as follows:
    • If traditional forms competition has started but has not been closed, the competitor will be allowed to compete in the traditional forms. The inserted competitor will perform next.
    • Traditional forms competition is closed when one of the following events have occurred:
      • If there are any ties when the tie run offs have begun.
      • If there are no ties when the first weapons competitor has been called up to compete.
    • If traditional forms competition has been closed and traditional weapons competition has started, the competitor will not be allowed to compete in the forms event, but can be added to traditional weapons. If traditional weapons competition has already begun, the inserted competitor will perform next.
    • Traditional weapons competition is closed when one of the following events have occurred:
      • If there are any ties when the tie run offs have begun.
      • If there are no ties when the first point/one-step sparring match has begun.
    • If the traditional weapons competition has been closed, the competitor will not be allowed to compete in the traditional forms or weapons event, but may compete in one-step or sparring and combat weapons.
    • If the first round of one-steps or sparring competition has started, no late entries will be allowed in this event because a late entry would disrupt the bye system, but may compete in combat weapons sparring.
    • If the first round of combat weapons sparring has already started, the competitor will not be admitted to the ring.

At that time, the Regional Tournament Team Leader will determine if there is another ring available. At national and world events, that decision will be made by the National Tournament Director or his/her assigns.

If it is the opinion of the RTTL that the student has purposefully arrived late in order to receive an advantageous position, the RTTL may refuse entry into any competition.

For the sake of competition, the Regional Tournament Team Leader will make every effort to see that a junior competitor is allowed to compete. If their ring is completed the Regional Tournament Team Leader MAY, create another ring of competition for the purpose of awarding trophies. These rings will not receive points in the World or State Champion Top Ten standings. The exception to this is if the RTTL determines that it was their fault the competitor missed the ring. 

Traditional Ring Procedures

The following procedures are indicative of how each ring is to be run at every ATA tournament:

  • Collect all the competitor registration cards. The center judge should re-count the number of competitors and the number of registration cards to ensure these numbers match.
  • The center Judge should not physically “warm-up” the competitors in any manner.
  • To officially start the division, the competitors will line up and bow in to the assigned judges.
  • The center judge will introduce the judges to the competitors and announce who is judge A, and who is judge B, and what area of form competition each judge is scoring.
  • While facing the competitors, judge A will be on the left-hand side of the center judge and judge B will be on the center judge’s right.
  • See Traditional Forms competition.
  • A traditional weapons check should be performed by the judges for all competitors participating in traditional weapons competition.
  • See Traditional Weapons competition.
  • A groin protector check should be performed by the judges for all competitors participating in free sparring or combat weapons sparring.
  • See Traditional One-Step / Point Sparring competition..
  • See Combat Weapons Sparring competition.
  • Announce Awards : Each judge should shake the hand of each competitor and congratulate them after the awarding of the trophies.
  • To officially end the division, the competitors will line up and bow out to the assigned judges.
  • Double check paperwork and return it to the Tournament Secretary.


  • All judges have equal authority to call points or penalties. A center judge cannot overrule a call by a corner judge, except through his vote on a point or warning, which has no more weight than each of the other two judges’ votes.
  • No judge is allowed to alter, add, or modify any ATA rules.
  • If anyone (Senior, Parent, Competitor, Spectator, or Judge) feels there is a problem in a ring, that person should notify the National Tournament Director or Regional Tournament Team Leader with the concern. The National Tournament Director or Regional Tournament Team Leader will decide if any changes should occur.

Weapons Inspection

The center judge will call for each weapons competitor to come forward and present the weapon intended for use in that competition.

The weapon shown will be inspected to insure that:

  1. Based on the competitor's rank, they are eligible to compete with that type of weapon.
  2. The weapon is an appropriate style for their rank and competition event.
  3. The weapon is the appropriate size for the height of the competitor.
  4. The weapon does not violate weapon adornment restrictions in any way.
  5. The weapon is in good repair and safe to use in competition.
  • If in the opinion of the judges, it is determined that the weapon has been altered before the competition takes place, the competitor will be allowed to replace the weapon.
  • If it is determined after the student competes that the weapon was altered, the competitor will be disqualified.
  • Presenting an appropriate weapon for the weapon inspection, then exchanging it for an incorrect size, type or style after the inspection process will result in a disqualification of the competitor.
  • If a weapon breaks during competition it is not the fault of the judge who preformed the weapons check. The weapon is the responsiblity of the competitor.

Groin Protector Check Procedure

All male competitors must wear a protective cup prior to beginning sparring competition. Judges shall, immediately prior to beginning sparring rounds in which male competitors are involved, conduct a discrete groin protector check. One of the adult male judges shall gather the competitors competing in either traditional or combat sparring together, forming a tight circle, and ask each person to tap on their protective groin cup so that the judge can hear the knocking sound. No judge should perform this task for the competitor. If all three judges are female, they should ask an adult male black belt judge nearby to do the groin protector check. Any male competitor found not to be wearing a protective groin cup shall be instructed to put one on. Any male competitor who is not wearing a protective groin cup at the time they are called to spar will forfeit the match.


Every effort has been made to ensure that competing in a Songahm Taekwondo tournament be as safe as possible. However, injuries may occur. The following guidelines will be applied to all injuries during competition:

  • If a competitor is injured the judge will have him/her lie down (or remain where he/she has fallen).
  • Keep the competitor as still as possible, and DO NOT remove the headgear.
  • The medical team on site will be called to the ring.
  • If there was no blow to the head or face, the competitor may be asked to remove his/her mouthpiece.
  • Until the medic arrives at the ring, every effort will be made to help the competitor stay calm, making sure he/she is advised not to move around.

The injured competitor will only be allowed to continue when a certain criterion is met. The criteria are as follows:

  • It is the opinion of the medical team that he/she will not be further injured by continuing. The decision of the medical team, the day of the event, is final, and may not be overruled by a parent or instructor.
  • If the competitor is under 18 years old, he/she MUST ALSO receive permission from his/her parents (if present), instructor (if present).
  • If a health-care professional is not available, ALWAYS err on the side of caution.

Injuries and Concussions: ALWAYS err on the side of caution. You are not expected to “diagnose” a concussion, as that is the job of an appropriate health-care professional. If an appropriate health-care professional on the side determines that the athlete HAS NOT suffered a concussion, the athlete may return to competition. If an appropriate health-care professional determines an athlete HAS suffered a concussion, that athlete MAY NOT return to competition that day. No one may “overrule” the health-care professional. This includes parents, competitors, guardians, other judges, and spectators.

Awards for Competition

There will be three places awarded in Traditional Form, Traditional Weapon, ATA-Xtreme Form, ATA- Xtreme Weapon, Creative Form, Creative Weapon, Synchronized Team Form and Team Demo competitions. They are as follows:

  • 1st Place - Awarded to the competitor/team with the highest cumulative point total.
  • 2nd Place - Awarded to the competitor/team with the next highest cumulative point total.
  • 3rd Place - Awarded to the competitor/team with the third highest cumulative point total.

One-step Sparring, Traditional Point Sparring, and Combat Weapons Sparring competitions will culminate with the following awards given:

  • 1st Place - Awarded to the person who wins the final round of competition.
  • 2nd Place - Awarded to the person who reaches, but is defeated in the final round of competition.
  • 3rd Place - Awarded to the winner of the 3rd place match which will be held between the two competitors defeated in the semi-final matches.

Songahm Spirit Awards

The Songahm Spirit Awards are commemorative competitor awards. These will be awarded in the following way;

  • All ATA Tigers will receive a Songahm Spirit Award for each event in which he/she competes.
  • Novice division competitors (all ages/ranks) will receive ONE Songahm Spirit Award if they did not place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in any of the events.
  • All competitive division competitors (all belts/ranks/ages) will receive ONE Songahm Spirit Award if they did not place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in any of the events.
  • Disqualified competitors are still eligible for Songahm Spirit awards.

Correctable Errors

As in most competitions, there exists the possibility of "correctable errors". Judgment calls such as scores given or points called in sparring are not considered a correctable error. An instructor/parent/competitor may ask for clarification if they believe a "correctable error" has been made. The Regional Tournament Team Leader will be responsible for this determination, and his/her decision will be final. If an instructor/parent/or competitor would like to discuss the decision of the Regional Tournament Team Leader, they may do so after the conclusion of the tournament. This should occur through the proper "chain of command."

NO Coaching Rule

It is the responsibility of the judges to ensure that no one is allowed to receive coaching during any competition expect the team sparring events. There will be no coaching from the sidelines by anyone, including color belts, black belts, instructors, family members or friends. This no-coaching rule is in effect from the time the competitors are “bowed into their ring” through the time they are “bowed out of their ring.” This includes quietly telling a student what to do between matches in sparring, or before a tie-breaker in forms/weapons. Cheering and offering encouragement is indeed allowed and encouraged. A competitor may receive a warning during sparring events for receiving coaching from anyone during the prescribed time they are in a ring (See Traditional Point Sparring Competition | Contact / Non-Contact Penalties).

Competitor's Attitude

One of the most important tenants of Songahm Taekwondo is the concept of DISCIPLINE. While it is important to show the discipline of being a good loser, it is equally important to exhibit the discipline of being a good winner. Songahm Taekwondo students are known for their discipline, courtesy, and respect. Any exhibition of disgust, frustration or dissatisfaction with the outcome of competition will not be tolerated. This includes leaving the ring or ring area before awards are given and the ring being formally dismissed. Neither will over-exuberance with winning be allowed.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct Warnings

Unsportsmanlike Conduct Warnings are in the sole discretion of the center judge. Unsportsmanlike conduct warnings may, in the sole discretion of the center judge result in a penalty point and/or disqualification. At the discretion of the center judge, a competitor may be given an unsportsmanlike conduct warning if the competitor's family, friends or fans engage in such conduct. If a competitor is disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct after places are awarded, that competitor will forfeit his/her place. Other competitors will not move up in place if this occurs. At the discretion of the International Chairman of Tournaments, unsportsmanlike conduct may result in the loss of all or part of one’s accumulated top ten points, or being barred from future tournaments. The offender will receive official written notification from the International Chairman.

White/Orange/Yellow Belt Sparring at all Tournaments

Beginning at World Championships 2016, all W/O/Y belts will be allowed to compete in traditional sparring and combat weapons sparring as well as traditional one-steps at all tournaments.
Your W/O/Y belt students may now choose to:

  1. Compete in traditional one-steps
  2. Compete in traditional sparring
  3. Compete in both traditional sparring and one-steps.

For details on how the points will be awarded for placement, see Champion program

A competitor who chooses to do both one-steps and traditional sparring will have an additional competition fee unless this event is their 6th/7th/8th/or 9th event. In that case, the traditional sparring will be at no charge.

Genders will be separated only for traditional point sparring and combat weapons sparring.
Example: There are five boys and five girls combined to form a ring at a tournament. They will compete together for forms, weapons, and one-step sparring. However, the genders will be separated for traditional sparring and combat sparring.