Chi Sao Rules


  • Competitor will wear colored sashes (white and red).

Skill Divisions:

  • If enough competitors are present, the events will be separated by skill levels. Otherwise, divisions will be combined by the tournament staff. The divisions are as follows:
    • Beginner (BEG) – one to two years experience
    • Intermediate (INT) – two to four years experience
    • Advanced (ADV) – over four years experience


  • Three rounds of 1 minute (running time) with 30-second breaks between rounds.
  • Winner must win two (2) rounds.
  • If one competitor wins first two (2) rounds, the match is over.

Required Equipment:

  • All competitors must provide their own headgear (face mask optional)
  • All competitors are required to provide their own mouth guard and groin protector

Optional Equipment:

  • All competitors may provide their own chest protector

Permitted Techniques and Scoring:

  • Only clear techniques will score.
  • Competitors can withdraw their hands to attack or neutralize an attack for no more than one (1) second. After one (1) second, the competitors will be restarted from the spot where they separated.
  • Strikes are permitted throughout the area between the shoulders and the hips (front and back), but strikes to the spine are not permitted.
  • Attacking the head is limited to the use of the front section of the palm to strike the forehead and both cheeks; it is prohibited to use the fist, root of the palm, and finger tips.
  • Head Contact MUST be light contact. Excessive force is not a Chi Sao characteristic.
  • Competitors are allowed to catch or sweep with the legs as long as they do not hit with them.
  • Elbow techniques can be used in defense, but not for attacking.


  • Strike to Torso – 1 to 2 points
  • Sweep of Legs (ADV only) – 3 points
  • Palm Strike to Head (ADV only) – 3 points
  • Trapping (Laahp-Sau) of Hands – 4 points

Prohibited Techniques and Fouls:

The referee may warn competitors before issuing a penalty.

  • Excessive force in head contact is illegal.
  • Strikes to the spine are strictly prohibited and may result in immediate disqualification.
  • Competitors may not trap with any part of the body other than the hands.
  • Strikes using the heel of the palm or fingertips are not permitted.
  • Strikes with the knee or foot are not permitted.
  • Competitors may not strike with the elbows.
  • It is forbidden to strike both eyes, both ears, mouth, nose, temples, back of the head, throat, and neck. It is forbidden to strike in areas of the neck and below the hip (genitals, legs, etc.).
  • Use of a damaging action intended to hurt the opponent is illegal.
  • Any competitor who receives six (6) penalty points is immediately disqualified.
  • The Referee may issue immediate disqualification to any competitor if he/she feels the competitor is intentionally attacking with the intent on causing injury or a rules infraction is deemed serious.
  • The center referee has full authority.
  • Each formal penalty (publicly issued by a referee) carries a one (1) point penalty based on the schedule below:
    • Strikes with fists, elbows or grabbing the Face
      • 1st offense – 1 point penalty
      • 2nd offense – 2 point penalty
      • 3rd offense – disqualification
    • Strikes with elbows or grappling to the Torso
      • 1st offense – 1 point penalty
      • 2nd offense – 2 point penalty
      • 3rd offense – disqualification
    • Kicks to any area
      • 1st offense – 1 point penalty
      • 2nd offense – 2 point penalty
      • 3rd offense – disqualification
    • Competitors cannot advance by causing an injury from which the injured cannot continue. Injured competitors must have approval from the medical staff and tournament staff to continue in the competition.