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ATA's primary goal for its students in sparring matches is to be safe and have fun. To do that, competitors and spectators are to follow these rules and guidelines:

All sparring students are expected to wear ATA-approved equipment:

• Head gear

• Face shield

• Chest guard

• Foot gear

• Hand gear

• Mouth guard

• Protective cup (for males)

Students and their parents will practice good sportsmanship by showing discipline, courtesy, and respect. They will refrain from signs of frustration, disgust, or dissatisfaction with the outcome of matches, and they will not show over-exuberance should they or their student win a match.

Competitors will get warnings for these actions:

• Purposely running out of bounds to avoid the match or fall down to avoid contact or otherwise delaying a match. Going out of bounds or falling in the normal course of the match will sometimes happen. Competitors should know where they are in relation to the ring boundary.

• Performing fakes to illegal targets

• Grabbing or holding an opponent, but swatting or closed-hand blocking away kicks and punches is fine.

• Receiving coaching. Positive cheering is welcome and encouraged. If a spectator is coaching, the chief judge will stop the match and remind them of the rules. Should the coaching continue, the spectator will be asked to leave the ring side or the competition area.

A student always has the right, and the responsibility, to limit the amount of contact during a sparring match. Although color belt sparring is ideally noncontact, contact does occur. If you are uncomfortable with the amount of contact or power, it is your right, and responsibility, for you to ask for less contact or power. No one else will ask for you.


The diagram below shows how points are scored in a tournament.

The winner of a sparring match is the competitor who is the first to earn five points or has the greater number of points at the end of two minutes. If the match is tied after two minutes, it enters "sudden victory": the competitor who gets the next point wins.

For a point or no point/block call to be made, a judge must observe the point (or block/no point). If the judge does not see the contact in question, he can call only "no see," even if it's obvious that contact was made. Judges must see the point they call.

Judges sometimes make mistakes, but they are never wrong. They do the best job they can with the views they have, watching two fast-moving people throwing kicks and punches at each other. Competitors and spectators should remember the judges only see small part of the sparring match at any instant. Spectators have different views, and they will often see things the judges do not. If there is a legitimate concern, feel free bring it to the attention of someone at the tournament's head table.


ATA Tigers - boys and girls up to age 6 - participate in simplified sparring matches. Each competitor gets two sparring matches, each lasting 30 to 60 seconds. Each match is interrupted a couple of times, and although no points are awarded, each competitor is told about something good they did in that segment. Students must still wear a complete set of sparring gear.


The same protective equipment is required for a combat sparring match as with a traditional sparring match: helmet, face shield, mouth guard, chest protector, kicks (foot pads), and male protective gear for the males. The difference is the gloves. For competition at regional, national, or world tournaments, competitors are required to wear special combat sparring gloves. These are predominantly white, have the word "combat" printed on the back, and other than the fingertips, little padding on the inside. This design allows a good grip of the weapon while providing ample padding on the outside of the hand. In class or in-school tournaments, your instructor may allow the use of your traditional sparring gloves (pull out your fingers from the glove grips for a better hold on the handle) or "bag gloves" (an older style of gloves which were used primarly for bag work).

Weapon sparring is done with a special bahng mahng ee, normally colored blue. These are not the same ones which we train with in our weapons classes. These bahng mahng ees are longer and are padded so a moderate-strength hit to a legal nonpadded body part will not cause serious injury. (If you try weapon sparring with a standard bahng mahng ee, it will hurt, so please don't.) They're basically nylon-covered pool noodles on sticks. A combat sparring stick must be in good condition: It must have no tears or holes in the fabric, the padding part of the weapon should not move along the stick, and the supporting stick inside the padded portion should completely fill the padding.


Unlike in traditional sparring, where only the chest and head are targets, the entire body (with a few exceptions) is a target. A competitor's legs, arms, and back are all in play for points. Therefore one should avoid using their body to block attacks by their opponent because it probably will result in point(s) for your opponent.

The following are illegal targets in weapon sparring. The penalties in combat sparring for motions or strikes to illegal targets are the same as those for traditional sparring.

• All sides of the neck
• A horizontal strike to the eyes which might go through the hole in the sparring face shield
• The groin

A direct strike on a blocking body part would likely result in a point for the striker, a deflection does not count as a hit. For a strike to be deflected, the angle of the strike should not change appreciably. How much this is depends on the judges.


The conditions which end of a weapon sparring match are the same as those which end a traditional sparring match save one: The maximum number of points in a combat sparring match is 10. (It's 5 points in traditional sparring.)

As mentioned earlier, the entire body (with a few exceptions) is a target. Except for the following strikes, all other strikes are worth 1 point:

• Head: 2 points
• The forearm of the hand which contains the weapon: 2 points
• A stab to the front leg: 2 points

As with traditional sparring, jumping adds a point. For example, a jumping head shot is 3 points (2 for the head + 1 for the jump), a jump strike to the back is 2 points (1 for the strike + 1 for the jump).

There is one more important way that points can be scored: dropping the weapon. However, this works against you. That is, if you drop your weapon, it gives 1 point to your opponent. This is in addition to any points they might get from a strike they made on you. For example, a jump with a strike to your oppoent's weapon forearm which causes them to drop their weapon will result in your earning 4 points: 2 for the hit to the weapon forearm + 1 for the jump + 1 for their weapon drop.


Safety first, always.

Warnings can (and often will) be issued to a competitor who uses excessive power, repeatedly runs out of the ring to escape an opponent's attacks, or feints or contacts an illegal target. This latter action (illegal contact) will likely result in a point for the other competitor.

If contact to an illegal target is thought to be incidental and an attempt was made to avoid it, an oral warning might be given with an explanation; it's likely no penalty point will be issued. For more blatant illegal moves, whether intentional or not, the first occurrence can result in an oral warning, unless contact was made, in which case a point will be awarded to the other competitor. The second occurrence of any illegal move is a point for the other competitor (or disqualification if a point has been awarded already). The third occurrence in a match will cause that competitor to be disqualified.

ATA's primary goal for its students in sparring matches is to be safe and have fun. While sparring is ideally noncontact, contact does frequently happen. It's up to you, as a competitor, to ask the judge to keep the contact down if you feel it's too much. Competitors must wear all appropriate and approved protective equipment.

teen development


Today’s world keeps getting tougher for teens. Here at Delaware ATA Martial Arts, it is our goal to create a safe and encouraging learning environment, where they can learn self-defense, discipline, and confidence without being ridiculed for their mistakes. This sense of identity will boost their confidence, resulting in increased assertiveness when dealing with the high-pressure situations they’re faced with on a daily basis.

Our classes are an excellent way for teens to get involved with peers that share similar goals and standards. By expanding their network with positive influences, they'll be able to maintain accountability and increase their social skills.

Parenting should not have to be a stressful task you face alone!

Let ATA Martial Arts Help You Equip Your Teen For Success In The Real World.


positive attitude

Positive Mental Attitude

goal setting skills

High Goal-Setting


Respect & Self-Confidence

ATA Martial Arts Is Your Partner In Parenting

The teenage years are a critical time in a child's personal development. It is important for teens to learn the acceptable boundaries for their behavior so that they can develop the habits they need to become a functional adult. Martial arts teaches teens this kind of self-discipline through the tradition and etiquette of the practice. 

Teens will feel a sense of belonging as they learn within an environment that is encouraging and non-judgemental. They will build their confidence through positive reinforcement by their instructors, as they continue to challenge themselves and achieve new goals.


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Your Teen's
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The country’s largest martial arts organization.

130,000 active members & over 1 million students trained since 1969.

Each instructor has passed an intensive certification process based on 40 years of tradition, research & development.


prevent bullying


is a victim of bullying

resist drugs

42.5% OF TEENS

in the U.S. try drugs



fail to graduate on time


Equip them with the tools to succeed in the real world with ATA Martial Arts.

Since 1969, over one million students have trained in one of the 950 ATA Licensed schools. Our students regularly go on to join Ivy schools and become community leaders. The values they learn during their martial arts journey are the same you teach at home and last a lifetime.


improved social skills


Social interaction teaches teens how to effectively work as part of a team.

improve fitness


Martial arts helps improve coordination and is an excellent form of exercise.

build healthy habits


Building healthy habits early on can help prevent obesity and diabetes later in life.

Delaware ATA Martial Arts


life long fitness

Life-Long Fitness

Martial arts is an excellent form of exercise. The discipline students learn in their martial arts class will help them stick with their practice as a way to maintain fitness for the rest of their lives.

develop social skills

Develop Social Skills

For many teens, controlling their emotions in social situations is a challenge. Martial arts helps teens improve their self-control by teaching control of the body. This is a vital skill that teens can carry with them into their adult life, helping them to manipulate their thoughts and emotions more effectively.

develop respect

A Strong Sense of Respect

A key component of the martial arts tradition is respect. Students will be taught to respect their instructor, their classmates, and themselves.This sense of respect promotes dignity and well-being among those who practice.

build confidence

Build Confidence

In martial arts classes, all students are treated equally. They will engage with a wide range of opponents, giving them a sense of accomplishment as they find success in a variety of situations.

What Other Parents Are Saying:

My six year old son started classes in February. Within two months, there was a noticeable and significant improvement in his self-control, temper, and willingness to help around the house, and help his younger sisters. We struggled for four to five years unsuccessfully to get his outbursts and quick temper under control. In just a few months of ATA classes, my son progressed toward the behavior we expect from him. My son enjoys the classes and has fun. The instructors have a special way of teaching martial arts and discipline to the kids while still making class fun. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the students or instructors are having more fun. I like the way the instructors handle students who are disruptive and lack focus. The kids are guided with dignity and encouragement that they can do better. For kids that are especially challenging, the instructors meet with the parent(s) and child together in a calm and respectful manner. They are informed about expectations for the child’s performance and behavior in the class and steps that can be taken to achieve those goals. The instructors help the parent(s) and child maintain confidence that the child can accomplish the goals of the class despite the child’s current behavioral challenges.  I highly recommend Delaware ATA for anyone that wants their child to gain discipline, self-control, and confidence.

Kris Bieschnaugh

The presentation was outstanding. All the instructors were kind and compassionate. They took into consideration each child's skill level and adapted to each classroom setting. The concepts were very age-appropriate and left the children with very strong self-esteem and confidence.

Charlene Smith

Frequently Asked Questions

Our pre-school program is for ages 4-6, while pre-teen classes are for ages 7-12.

We offer month-to-month memberships, as well as savings on longer plans.

You will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule your first class. One of our instructors will call you, or you may call the school directly.

Absolutely not. Although they will learn cool martial arts and self-defense moves, your child will learn how to AVOID fights, not pick them.

Our Martial Arts classes' primary goal is to make sure our students have fun in a playful, safe environment. Come and see a class for yourself - the kids have a blast and our instructors do too.

No, our classes are a good mix of boys and girls of all fitness levels. Beginners train alongside some of the more experienced kids, helping each other out in a fun team environment.

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