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Circuit Rules and Regulations

          Each culture around the world has a form of hand to hand fighting (Martial Art). With this being the case there are many ways to categorize them in order to form an efficient way to judge them in a modern competition setting.  The rules and regulations have been developed by the MWMAF in order to promote an honest and fair competition regardless of origin of the style competing in our circuit. While there are many similarities in rules from other MA circuits it is always best to go over rules of each individual organization to better familiarize with them.

Who’s eligible to compete in the MWMAF Circuit?

Every martial art system is able to compete in the MWMA circuit in empty hand, weapons, continuous sparring (med-contact sanda), and team forms.  We also have BJJ divisions at our tournament events. There are two types of competitions in the MWMA circuit invitationals & championships


      Invitational's are competitions that are hosted in federation members’ schools (but not limited to). Competitors in the MWMA compete at these mini events hosted all over the Midwest to gain points that will put them in higher rankings for the whole circuit. At the end of the circuit year the highest ranking competitors will receive recognition awards at the end of the year banquet. Invitationals only have 3 categories to compete in Empty Hand, Weapons, and Sparring. The events are categorized as ALL YOU CAN COMPETE, because competitors pay a registration fee and can compete in all 3 divisions for one price. (FCM only pay $35 for entry into invitationals)


      Championships are larger competitions for the circuit.  All championships are held in venues such as hotels, high school gymnasiums, or on college campuses.  Championships are also generally events that competitors travel nationwide to compete in. A championship has a multitude of divisions such as, empty hand forms, weapons for are broken up into short, long, and flexible weapons forms, as well as board breaking, submission grappling, team forms, self defense, sanda, as well as point sparring. In addition to these divisions, competitors that are advanced rank or higher can compete for Grand Champion or Ultimate Warrior.

· Grand Champion:

             All 1st place winners from each division compete to win Grand Champion either in empty hand or weapons (Adult men also have a Sanda GC). If competitor wins 1st in empty hand and in weapons they must choose which grand champion they would like to compete for. (some Invitationals also have Grand Champion divisions.)

· Ultimate Warrior:

             This division is only open to Intermediate level and above. Competitor must compete in empty hand, short weapons, and long weapons. Highest total points wins Ultimate Warrior. 

ALL competitors are required to adhere to the rules and regulations of the federation and demonstrate sportsmanship towards fellow competitors and respect for judges and other tournament officials. 


Competitors don't have to belong to a formal school in order to participate in MWMA events.

Uniforms for empty hand, weapons, and team form:

Traditional Martial Arts and Modern Performing Arts: Any cotton or silk Chinese styled uniform with frog buttons, Shaolin, Wudang and Southern Style (sleeveless) are acceptable. Cotton or silk Gi’s and Dobak’s are all a must for any performing art.

  •          School T-shirts and tournament T-shirts are acceptable for fighting or applications.

  •          Martial arts style shoes are allowed if you practice a style that wears them. (ONLY IN NON COMBATIVE DIVISIONS)



  •          All competitors must be present for the opening ceremonies. With exception to exhibition matches.

Competitors should become acquainted with the competition floor layout. They should know the rings where their divisions will be taking place.

Competitors must be present at ringside when their divisions are about to begin.*

  •          If you have a conflict due to an event scheduled in another ring, you must notify the Tournament Arbitrator. We will do everything possible to see that you have a chance to compete in all of your scheduled events.


Order of Performance:


The first to register is the last to go. Athletes will be listed in accordance with their date of registration; the earlier your registration is submitted, the lower you will be placed on the list.

Unless you are the first athlete to perform, you will receive an "on deck" call announcing your name and signaling that you should prepare to compete as soon as the athlete ahead of you clears the floor. When it is your turn to compete, you will be called by name or number depending on the event.

If you are not present when you are called, two additional calls will be made over the PA system. The second of these will be a final call. If you do not respond, you will forfeit the event. The forfeiture is final and cannot be reversed.

Once called up, athletes should stand at the call of "ready," enter on the right side of the performance area that faces the Chief Judge, walk smartly to the starting point for their form, come to attention, and salute the Chief Judge.

  •          No spoken presentation of your name, form or style is required.

Salutations Empty Hand:

When called to perform, athletes will walk to the place on the competition floor where they will begin their form and greet the center judge with a recognized salute or bow. Upon being acknowledged by the Chief Judge, athletes will return to attention and begin their form within 5 seconds.
Upon completing their form, competitors must once again come to attention and salute the center judge. Competitors will wait to receive the scores, then perform one final bow toward the center judge and walk off the floor.

Skill Level Criteria:

The Guidelines below are for general purposes when registering for a tournament in the MWMA Federation.

                  Where 5 divisions

  • Novice - Up to 1 year of training.

  • Beginner - 1-2 years of training.

  • Intermediate - 2-4 years of training.

  • Advanced - 4-6 years of training.

  • Black Belt - 6+ years of training.

Sense there is often a large difference between belt rankings in schools. Students that are ranked Black Belt in their style that have trained for 4-6 years please enter in the advanced level divisions.

(Advanced is still considered Black Belt, some schools do not have a belt ranking system.)

                  Where 3 divisions

  • Beginner - Up to 2 years of training.

  • Intermediate - 2-4 years training.

  • Advanced - 4 years of training.

Though it is not common Invitationals that are smaller venues may choose to only have 3 divisions. In this event novice and beginner levels are combined, as are advanced and black belt.

Scoring for Forms:

                  Novice - Beginner - Intermediate Athletes

                  Scores range from 7.0 - 8.5

  • Low 7's: Performance reflects novice skill level

  • Mid 7's: Performance reflects solid beginner skills

  • Upper 7's: Performance reflects better than average skills

  • Low 8's: Performance reflects solid intermediate skills

  • Mid to upper 8's: Performance reflects entering advanced skill level*

                  Advanced - Black Belt Athletes

                  Scores range from 8.5 - 10.0

  • Low 8's: Performance does not reflect advanced level of skill

  • Mid 8's: Performance is entering the advanced level of skill

  • Upper 8's: Performance reflects advanced level of skill

  • Low 9's: Performance reflects superior advanced skill

  • Mid to upper 9's: Performance reflects World Class Advanced Skill

Forms Time Limits:

All times are given in minutes. A penalty of 0.2 points will be deducted for each infraction of 5 seconds or partial increment thereof. (These rules pertain only to the Chinese martial art styles listed below. Competitors must inform judges at time of competition of their style.)

  • Taiji and Liuhe Bafa Hand & Weapons Forms

        Min 3:00 Minutes, Max 3:30 Minutes

  • Taiji 24 & Taiji 42

        Perform to completion

  • 32 Taiji Sword

        Perform to completion

  • Xing Yi and Bagua Hand & Weapons Forms

        Min. 1:00 Minute, Max. 2:30 Minutes

An audible warning will be given 30 seconds prior to the time limit for TaiJi and LiuHe BaFa.
In all Taiji and Liuhe Bafa categories, it may be necessary for two or more athletes to perform simultaneously.

Penalties and Deductions

Northern Long Fist: Athletes can begin their form in any quadrant of the competition ring. The form must end in the same quadrant as the starting point*. Forms that end by facing opposite of the starting point will result in a .5 point deduction from the final score. Forms that do not end in the same quadrant as the starting point will result in a .2 point deduction* from the final score.

*Competitors whose form does not end in the same quadrant must inform the Chief Judge before performing. No penalty will be given in such circumstances.

Note: The basic 32 Wushu Forms are permitted in the Traditional Kids and Juniors Novice and Beginner Categories only.1

Interruptions caused by uncontrollable circumstances will not be penalized.  

Re-performing due to forgetfulness will result in a .5 point deduction from the final score. The only exception is for Novice/Beginner Categories.

Broken weapons will result in a .5 deduction from the final score; this applies to all skill levels.

All sabers and swords used in the traditional divisions must be of Long Quan type steel or heavier steel; the weapon must be able to sustain its own weight when placed on its tip. All kids divisions 9 and under are exempt from this rule.

Wushu divisions require the current standard weapons used in international competition.

Non-compliance with these weapon standards will result in a .5 point deduction from the final score unless otherwise specified.

NOTE: The Kids & Junior divisions (12 years & under) are not subject to the traditional weapons requirement stated above.  
Weapon Length


Weapons require a certain length in order to be used efficiently. The requirements, with few exceptions, are generally the same for Traditional and Modern Wushu. The length of the weapon is determined according to the competitor's height.  

The pictures that follow are self explanatory.

Saber & Swords:

The minimum length for the saber and the straight sword requires that the tip of the weapon reach the competitors top of ear when held at the sides.

Staffs can vary in length from a minimum of the height of the competitor's eyebrow to well over the competitor's head. Staffs shorter than the competitor's eyebrow fall into the Open Weapons category. In divisions where there are no Open Weapons any length staff or stick may be used.

Spears vary in length between Traditional Northern and Southern Systems and Contemporary Wushu.

For Northern Systems the spear should reach the tip of the competitor's fingers when the arm is stretched overhead.

For Southern Systems the spear can be slightly shorter but the spear tip must be above the competitors head.

For Contemporary Wushu the Spearhead should be above the competitor's fingertips when the arm is stretched overhead.


Medals will be awarded from 1st through 3rd place in each division immediately following its completion.

In tournaments that offer Grand Champion all advanced and Black Belt athletes that place in their divisions will compete for grand champion. If an athlete wins gold in all categories he is allowed to compete in all divisions that allow for a grand champion.
In tournaments that offer Ultimate Warrior awards for advanced athletes who have entered in the required divisions of Forms, Short Weapons, Long Weapons, and Sparring the winner will be determined by the highest total combined scores.
Note: No ties are allowed at any level since placements reflect the overall standing of a competitor. Tie breaking procedures will go into effect to determine the winner.


Mid-Contact Continuous Sparring:

Mandatory protective equipment must be supplied by the athlete and must include: Head protector, mouth guard(MOLDED), groin cup, chest protector (For Women), 8 or 10oz boxing gloves, shin and instep guards, foot guards (Mandatory for all 17 years of age and under). To prevent scratching straps on gloves must be taped.

Competition format:

All matches are single elimination 2 out of 3, consisting of two-minute rounds of running time. The time is stopped for injuries or equipment adjustment.

Rings consist of 2-4 judges with one center referee. At the beginning of each round two diagonal judges will focus on one fighter counting each technique he or she hits clean with intent. Next round judges switch to watch other fighter. At the end of each round the winner of that round is declared by the amount of points acquired. The winner of two out of three rounds wins the match. In case of a tie after the three rounds there will be a final two-minute round to determine a winner; if still tied after this round, the winner is determined by a total of points from all rounds.

Point Scoring

  • 1 point is awarded for every kick or punch that hits clean (Meaning stronger than a tap!!!)

  • 2 points for every throw/take down. (Take downs are null if fighter executing the take down is taken down as well, or has three points of contact on the mat.

  • 3 points awarded for opponent stepping, being kicked, struck, pushed, or thrown out of the ring. (Going out of the ring twice in a round, the round is awarded to the fighter still in the ring.)

Progression of match:

  •  Athletes enter the ring at the command of the Chief Judge (Referee)

  • Before initiating competitive sparring athletes salute the chief judge and then each other

  • The Chief Judge will commence the match by giving the signal to begin

  • The Chief Judge directs the match with verbal signals ("begin," "stop," etc.)

Legal contact targets:

  • Medium contact to front and sides of torso

  • Medium contact to face and side of head gear (Sides being left, right, up, top, and bottom)

  • Medium contact to above the knee


Allowable techniques:

  • Sharp, clean punches and kicks

  • Momentarily grabbing the opponent's wrist to execute a technique

  • Leg sweeps to both the front and back leg


Illegal techniques:

  •  Elbows

  • Knees

  • Joint locking

  • Striking any area of the opponent's back  


The following infractions will result in a warning:

  • Use of illegal techniques

  • Striking an illegal target

  • Not following the Chief Judge's directions  


The following will result in immediate disqualification:

  • Excessive use of force

  • Bleeding that results from any strike

  • Accumulation of 3 warnings

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct by Athlete, Coach or Parent

Exhibition SanDa (Chinese Kickboxing)

Some events in the MWMA will have exhibition sanda matches as a demonstration for spectators. No points or trophies are awarded. (Fighters wishing to compete in Sanda like competition should enter in the Mid Contact Continuous Sparring Divisions.)

Match and round duration

  • Each bout will consist of three (3) three minute rounds with 30 seconds rest period between rounds. 

  • If a fighter wins the first two rounds, the match is over. (Matches for first and second place go all three rounds.)

  • 15 and under; if conditions call for it the tournament director can instate 3 one min rounds (too many people in a division, lack of mat space) Note: if one division is changed, all 15 and under divisions must be changed.

  • If the match is tied after the first three rounds there will be an additional two minute round to decide the bout


Weight Categories

Men's Categories

  • 145 lbs & under

  • 146-165 lbs

  • 166-185 lbs

  • 186- 205 lbs

  • 206 lbs & over


Women's Categories

  • 125 lbs & Under

  • 126-150 lbs

  • Over 150 lbs  


Teens Categories: Boys

  • 125 lbs & Under

  • 126-155 lbs

  • 156-175 lbs



The official weigh-in for amateur Light Sport Sanda fights will be posted on the tournament schedule for each stop on the circuit

  • All fighters will weigh in on the same scale  

Making Weight

  • Any fighter who fails to make weight will be automatically moved to the category in which he or she makes weight  

Match Area

  • Matches can take place on an open mat 24' X 24'

Protective Equipment Requirements

  • Protective head gear 

  • Mouth guard 

  • Shin and instep protectors (cloth slip-on)

  • Groin cup 

  • 12 oz. boxing gloves 

  • Approved chest protector  


Scoring Techniques (For possible later events)

  • Medium level kicks and strikes to side of headgear

  • Closed hand strikes to body 

  • Kicking techniques to body and thigh 

  • Throws/Sweeps/Takedowns  


Note: Any kicks or strikes that cause a jarring of the head or strike the face area will result in immediate disqualification.

Note: Clinching in an attempt to execute a throw or takedown is limited to 5 seconds

Illegal Techniques

  • Heavy Kicks and strikes to the head

  • Elbows

  • Kicks to knee joint 

  • Knee strikes

  • Foot stomps 

  • Joint locks 

  • Striking the back of the head

  • Striking the spine, or any part of the back  

  • Head butting  

  • Striking a downed opponent  


Cautions (1 Point Deduction)

  • Holding the ropes or running out of the mat area

  • Spitting out mouth piece

  • Purposely loosening equipment

  • Continuing to clinch after referee has called for break

  • Initiating attack before the referrer’s command  

  • Continuing to fight after the referee has called “stop”


Warnings (2 Point Deduction)

  • The employment of any illegal technique will result in a warning

  • Hitting a downed opponent  


Awarding of Points

Three points are awarded if

  • If opponent is knocked out of the ring.


Two points are awarded if

  • The opponent falls while the other fighter remains standing 

  • The opponent receives an official warning penalty 

  • Standing 8 Count  


One point is awarded if  

  • Hand strike to head and body

  • Kick to body and thigh 

  • The opponent falls and the other fighter falls afterwards

  • The opponent receives a caution


No points are awarded if    

  • A fighter uses an unsuccessful falling technique to attack 

  • Unclear techniques are employed by either fighter  



  • Heavy contact to the head or face area

  • Intentionally hitting a downed opponent

  • Pile driving

  • Corner man physically interferes with the match

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct


An arbitration is a matter officially and properly submitted to the arbitrator for investigation and rendering of a decision. The decision of the arbitrator is final and binding.  

The arbitrator is an individual, impartial to the outcome of the proceedings, who is empowered to examine the facts and render a decision. The official is separate from all other officials of the tournament.

Who may request Arbitration?

  • A competitor who believes that there was an irregularity in applying the rules to his or her own performance may request. The competitor’s coach or designated representative may apply on behalf of behalf of the competitor only if the competitor is incapacitated.


What may be the Subject Arbitration? 

  • Matters that are eligible for arbitration include errors of administration, procedure, or fact. Examples of matters which may be arbitrated include, registrar errors, enrollment in the incorrect division, misidentification of an athlete, incorrectly recorded scores, mathematical errors, timing signals incorrectly presented, interference from events or persons outside the ring, and actions of age inappropriate to his/her duties.

  • Matters that are not eligible for arbitration include request with regard to another athlete’s match or performance, nor may any athlete request re-examination of his/her match or performance with the performance with the purpose of obtaining a different score or evaluation. In fairness to all athletes, scores must be given by the judges based on their observation during the actual match or performance and from their particular vantage point, within the general framework of the tournament in progress.



We pride ourselves on the safety and fairness of all of our federation events. This is because of the amount of dedication our members have to their art and supporting future martial artists to strive to be the best they can be. Another reason is unlike most other competition circuits where they have a black belt signup sheet at the registration desk to be a judge, and all you need to do is say you are a black belt. All of our judges under go monthly training and have to take a test to be certified as an mwmaf judge. Anyone over the age of 18 with at least 3 years of martial arts training themselves or are a parent of a child that has trained in a SPECIFIC martial arts academy can test to become a federation judge. Please thoroughly look over the regulations of the federation, then print out and submit the judges exam. The judges fee is only $50 and can be paid by check to the MWMAF at the time of exam submission.

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