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Referee Authority & Qualifications


The referee is the most important official in the ring and

must know all the rules pertaining to the competition

he/she may be refereeing. The Referee’s primary

responsibility is the safety and well-being of the 



1. Duties of the Referee:

  • The Referee’s basic duties are to enforce the rules fairly, maintain control of the bout and to ensure the fighter’s safety as well as calling points.

  • The Referee cannot at any time impose, change or alter any of the rules.

  • The Referee has the final decision on any disputes on the score and also has the power to issue warnings and penalties without a majority decision.

  • The Referee’s authority is not confined solely to the competition area, but to the entire tournament perimeter.

  • The Referee can disqualify a participant from the entire tournament who fails to comply immediately with the Referee’s commands.

  • Any tournament competitor who doesn’t follow the rules and regulations of the tournament will be disqualified.

  • Any competitor that behaves towards the Referee or any tournament official in an aggressive or offensive manner will immediately be disqualified.

  • The Referee must keep all competitors from receiving unnecessary punishment.

  • The match starts and stops only with the Referee command, not the timekeeper (see Time Keeper).

  • The Referee must ensure that the fighter’s equipment meets AMA’s requirements.

  • The Referee may issue a deduction point to a competitor for unsportsmanlike conduct by either the competitor or anyone working his/her corner.

  • The referee must wear the official uniform designated by the AMA’s Referee Commissioner.

  • The Referee must be aware of a competitor’s condition at all times during competition and rest periods.

  • In the case of an injured or downed competitor, the Referee will lead all ring personnel in securing the area (crowd control). The Referee will then remove the mouthpiece if necessary, and assist emergency medical personnel in assisting the downed competitor.

  • Only the Referee can talk to competitors, instructors, and spectators.

  • Only the Referee can issue time outs. A competitor may ask for a time out, but it is up to the Referee to issue it.

  • A competitor is only allowed 3 Referee approved time outs.

  • The Referee will not stop the flow of a bout unless it’s necessary. A good Referee will not interrupt the action of a bout unless there is a point to be called or a violation of the rules.

  • The Referee and Judges will rotate their positions with each match.

  • The Referee is in complete control of the ring and all ring personnel.

  • All ring personnel especially the Referee must remain impartial to all competitors.

  • The Referee must check the positioning of all Ring Personnel before starting the match.

  • The AMA expects all Referees to rotate their positions to a Judge when they have been or currently are the instructor of a competitor in a match that they are refereeing.

  • The Referee and Judges must inspect the ring before each bout begin.

  • The Referee will announce the winner of each match.

  • The Referee has the ability to nominate substitute officials where such are required.

  • First-time referees will wear a plain white shirt.

  • Competitors who over-react to light contact, in an effort to have the Referee penalize their opponent, such as holding the face and staggering about or falling unnecessarily, (faking) will be immediately penalized and if this conduct continues you will be disqualified from the entire tournament and all awards forfeited.

2. Referee’s Verbal Commands

The Referee must make sure that each competitor understands his/her language so that there is no confusion on ring commands.

Five verbal commands must be recognized.

  • Fighting positions – When ordering competitors to start or continue the match.

  • Stop – When ordering competitors to cease fighting.

  • Fight – When ordering competitors to continue the match.

  • No Activity – When competitors make an obvious attempt not to fight.

  • Judges call – All Judges and the Referee will cast their votes concerning scoring.

  • Break – When ordering competitors to separate.


When the competitors are ordered to break, both competitors must step a minimum of three steps back before the Referee restarts the match in the center of the ring.

Qualifications for a Referee:

1. An Applicant must be at least 21 years of age.

2. An Applicant must have experience in a martial art (Black Belt not needed).

3. All Applicants must attend an AMA Referee training class (class times will be announced on the website).

5. Must have no physical disabilities.

6. Must not be over 60 years of age unless an extension is approved by the AMA’s Referee Commissioner.

7. An applicant cannot have any convictions or restrictions dealing with him /her being around children.

8. Taking classes doesn’t prepare you for every eventuality when serving as a referee, only experience can do that. Instead, gain skill by practicing               during sparring matches at your school or gym.


Referee Dress Code:

  • Referees are required to wear black slacks.

  • Referees must wear a small buckled belt.

  • AMA Official shirt is mandatory.

  • The cost of AMA shirts are $25.00.

  • Shoes must be black and soft rubber sole. (No dress shoes)

Referees are Not Allowed to wear:

  • Jewelry

  • Watches

  • Hats


The Judges:

The Judges will assist the Referee in decisions concerning his/her opinion on scoring and disciplinary actions.

  • Report an injured competitor.

  • Report to the Referee when a competitor has moved out of the competition area.

  • In the case of an injured competitor, the Judges will assist the Referee in securing the area for medical personnel.

  • Each Judge will be assigned one corner to watch the activities of the competitor and his/her Instructor or Coach.

  • The Judges and referees will rotate their positions. The rotation of the position will be determined by the tournament director.

  • Each judge will be seated at the corners on the mat in the safety area. The referee may move around the entire area, including the safety area where the judges are seated.

 Time Keeper’s Duties:

  • To keep the official time of each bout.

  • The Time Keeper will start and stop time at the command of the Referee.

  • In the case of an injured competitor, the Time Keeper will assist the Referee in securing the area for Medical Personnel.

  • The Time Keeper will notify the Referee when there are ten seconds remaining in the round by taping the table.

Score Keeper Duties:

  • To keep the official score of each event.

  • The Score Keeper must know the right score for each technique

  • The Scorekeeper will inform the referee when a competitor gets the appropriate number of points to automatically win. (see 7 Point Lead)

  • The Score Keeper must pay close attention to the referee on what score to give.

  • In the case of a downed competitor, the Score Keeper will assist the Referee in securing the area for Medical Personnel.

The Arbitrator:

  • The Arbitrator is the Official appointed to settle disputes and to ensure that all rules are applied fairly to all competitors.

  •  If the Referee cannot settle the dispute, it will be up to the Arbitrator to decide the outcome.

  • The Arbitrator must be called by the Referee to solve a dispute. When there is no dispute or incident the Arbitrator cannot interfere with the normal functions of a ring or an event.

  • The Arbitrator may work with the Tournament Director to find a fair and impartial solution to a dispute. (see Fair & Impartial Rule)

  • The Arbitrator has the ability to nominate substitute officials where such are required.


Fairness and Impartial Rule:

If an incident or dispute occurs that is not covered by the rules and regulations that govern an AMA Tournament, the Arbitrator or the Tournament Director along with their appointed officials can overrule, modify, or change a rule for the fairness of a competitor. This can only be done in extreme circumstances for example, handicapped or disabled individuals.

Ring Officials:

  • Referee, Judges, Time Keeper, and a Score Keeper.

  • Preliminary matches require 1 Referee and 2 Judges. Championship matches require 1 Referee and 4 Judges.


Rules for Tournament Officials:

  • A Tournament Official cannot work a corner or work with a participant at an event he/she is an Official in.

  • A Referee cannot have trained one or both competitors in which he/she is assigned to work in.

  • If a ring receives 3 different incident complaints about a Tournament official’s conduct or wrongfully scoring, the Tournament Director will shut that ring down pending an investigation. Complaints must be made in an Orderly Manner.

Late Calls:

All officials should make their calls at the same time. If a Judge intentionally makes a late call, the Referee can disqualify that call. If that Judge is continuous in making late calls he or she may be disqualified from their judging duties. The referee must first make sure that all judges can hear their calls before disciplinary action is taken.

All referees must arrive before the tournament begins. All tournament officials are required to attend the judge's meeting and expected to stay until the final match is completed.

Point fighting is a sport, for that reason, some of the most dangerous techniques are banned and all techniques must be controlled, but the fact remains that the head, face, neck, groin, and joints are particularly susceptible to injury. Therefore any technique that results in injury, will be penalized unless caused by the recipient. The competitor must perform all techniques with control and good form. If they cannot, then regardless of the technique misused, a warning or penalty must be imposed. Particular care must be exercised in junior and little dragon divisions.

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