US Open ISKA Sport MMA Rules

Us Open


ISKA SPORT MMA is a mixed martial arts sparring competition. It may best be viewed as a light contact, theoretical version of MMA, the combat sport that has taken the world by storm. Sport MMA provides competitors with an opportunity to use many of the same techniques associated with MMA, including; strikes, throws, shoots, grappling and submissions applied safely with light or semi-contact. This will be strictly enforced (no damaging strikes or slams, or face/head contact of any kind). The format for our Sport MMA competition is additionally designed to allow each and every competitor the opportunity to gain as much experience as possible. In order to achieve this, we have instituted a “best of three, tap out” rule (explained below). Each match begins with two competitors starting from the stand-up position. Light contact strikes combined with good foot-work may be used to control the action, score, or close the gap for a shoot or takedown. If the match goes to the ground, grappling, submissions and light contact striking to legal targets come into play. The ultimate goal will always be to obtain submissions over your opponent.


  • If FIGHTER A obtains a submission over FIGHTER B, it is recorded on the score sheet and the match gets restarted from the stand-up position.
  • FIGHTER B must now obtain a submission over FIGHTER A in order to have a chance at winning the match. Regardless of how effective FIGHTER B is for the rest of the match, if he does not score a submission over FIGHTER A, then he will lose even if he is the superior technical competitor, gains more points for striking or outclasses FIGHTER A for the duration of the bout.
  • If FIGHTER B can score a submission over FIGHTER A (draw even in submissions), the match will again be restarted from the stand-up position. If time elapses and neither fighter has an advantage in the number of submissions, then the match will be evaluated based on the relative merit of the clean, controlled striking, effective grappling technique and ring control.
  • Two submissions over any fighter in a match ends the bout immediately.So, the final outcome of each match is determined by: 1. If a fighter scores two submissions over his opponent, he automatically wins. 2. If either fighter has an advantage in submissions (1-0) at the end of the match, he wins.

 If there is no advantage in submissions (0-0 or 1-1), the bout is decided by a poll of the judges who will evaluate the action according to the criteria listed above.


  • ISKA approved combined shin and instep protectors.
  • ISKA approved gloves (minimum 7 oz. padded glove for adults).
  • Mouth Guard
  • Groin Protector (males)
  • Shorts
  • Shirt / Rash guards.

o Knee & elbow pads are not permitted. Neither is strapping of any kind which can cause grip advantage. o No “grease” (Vaseline) is allowed to be applied to any part of the fighter. o No shoes are allowed. o HYGIENE RULE: All competitors must be bathed and have clean apparel and equipment. If a referee feels this criteria has not been met, he will not allow the competitor to participate.


All hand strikes that occur with the padded part of the glove executed in a controlled fashion. Punches are allowed to the body and legs while on the ground. (in 16 & 17 yrs. & adult divisions) Fighters can “push off” opponents. No elbow strikes are allowed at any time to any part of the body or face. The entire head is a legal, non-contact target while both fighters are standing Strikes to the head are not allowed while on the ground. Striking to the kidney area, behind the head or neck is not permitted.


    • All kicking techniques are allowed with light contact to the front and side of the body above the belt, and light contact roundhouse kicks are allowed to the legs. NO linear kicks are allowed directed to the legs.
    • Light contact knee strikes are allowed to the body and legs in adult divisions only while standing.
    • All low kicks must be minimum 6 inches above the knee and all other kicks, above the waist.
    • No kicking to opponents is allowed once the match goes to ground by either of the competitors.


    • Any attempt at executing a takedown or Shoot must be done so with the primary motive to go to ground as quick as possible. Any attempt to walk with the lifted opponent or raise the opponent higher off the ground than is deemed necessary to execute a safe take down will be considered a serious foul with a high probability of immediate disqualification. No exception to this rule will be allowed under any circumstance.
    • No “spearing” or dive tackling is permitted.
    • No scissors takedowns are permitted, unless a hand is first placed on the mat.
    • All shoots must be premeditated and followed up with at least a guard mount or attempt to pass the guard.Shooting or taking down of opponent without an attempt to follow up will be met with one and only one caution.
    • If a fighter attempts a shoot / takedown and is not immediately successful, the referee may at his discretion “break” the fighters. “Standing Clinches” will be allowed for only a short period, and only if either fighter appears to be scoring effectively in some way.
    • If a fighter is scoring effectively with strikes, and his opponent “walks through” the strikes in order to clinch, the clinching fighter must immediately take his opponent down or the referee will “break” the fighters and restart the action.
    • You may not execute any takedown in a way that damages your opponent either in the way the takedown was executed or by intentionally landing on top of them in a manner to use your body weight to do injury.
    • Hip throws are permitted.
    • All prevention necessary must be taken to not allow your opponent to fall on his or her/head or attempt to drop the opponent on the back of their neck or head as the fall to the ground.
    • You are allowed to pull opponent towards you when going to ground.
  • GRAPPLING – SUBMISSIONS & LOCKS:It is VERY important that all competitors understand how to “Tap Out” when caught in a submission technique. Tapping out can be done either verbally or through a physical tap. Competitors can tap with their hands, feet, or even a nod of the head. This “Tapping” is a conscious admission of surrender to an opponent.
  • All submission techniques are legal for adults with the following exception; No twisting neck cranks or angled leg/foot/ankle locks.
  • SPECIAL RULES FOR KIDS & TEENS: No heel hooks, toeholds, slamming, or neck cranks are allowed. No straight ankle locks where the leg crosses the body (reaping of knee). No squeezing the legs around an opponent’s torso (from guard, back, or side) as a submission. No scissor takedown is permitted, whether a hand is on the ground or not.
  • SPECIAL RULE FOR KIDS: Submission techniques may be restricted or prohibited based on age division. This will shift the judges evaluation emphasis to clean striking, wrestling and control.
  • OTHER FOULS: Fighters are not allowed to grab and use their opponents’ clothing. Attacks to the front of the windpipe (i.e. finger in throat), eyes (elbows, palms, fingers, etc.) or groin. No pushing the palm or elbow directly into the nose. No dropping or slamming an opponent on his head. No slamming from the Guard position. eye gouging, fish hooking, biting, hair pulling, pinching, twisting of skin, sticking a finger into an opponent’s cut, small joint manipulation (finger or toe locks), and putting a finger into any orifice are all FOULS and grounds for disqualification. No interference by a corner with any official or fighter. No throwing an opponent off the mat. No unsportsmanlike conduct. The Boston Crab technique is not allowed. Any intentional use of an illegal technique or act of poor sportsmanship will result in the immediate ejection of those competitors/spectators.
  • The Chief referee reserves the right to stop any attempt at any submission or lock, listed and un listed at any time of the match should he deem any such technique to be considered dangerous in any way but not restricted to the effect it has on an opponent. In other words while the attempt is being made to secure any technique which could be deemed as unsafe.
  • The referee may “declare a submission” if he believes that it is necessary in order to protect a fighter’s safety or if he believes that a downed fighter is in a compromised position that he cannot or chooses not to try to escape from. (example: if the bottom fighter in a full mount position does not try to escape the referee may declare a submission)
  • LENGTH OF MATCH: ALL JUNIORS: Two 1.5 minute rounds (with a thirty second rest). ADULT BEG/ INT: Two 2 minute rounds (with a thirty second rest).
  • NOVICE: One year of training or less.
  • INTERMEDIATE: Two years of training of less.
  • ADULT ADV: Two 3 minute rounds (with a thirty second rest).
  • ADVANCED: More than two years of training During the match, if there is stalling on the ground, the referee has the right to restart the match standing. If the competitors go off the mat, the match can be stopped by the referee, and the competitors will be moved to the middle of the ring/mat in the same position, if that position can be determined by the referee. The referee has the right to stop time and check the condition of the fighters.

LEGAL TARGET AREAS: Head and face (no contact), ribs, chest, abdomen & legs (above knees).

ILLEGAL TARGET AREAS: Spine, back of neck/Head, throat, sides of the neck, Kidneys, groin, knees and back

NON-TARGET AREAS: Hips, shoulders, buttocks, arms, and feet.

LEGAL TECHNIQUES: As described above. Legal techniques are all “controlled” martial arts techniques, except those listed as illegal.
 ILLEGAL TECHNIQUES: Head butts, hair pulls, bites, scratches, elbows, knees (Juniors), eye attacks of any kind, stomps, kicks to a downed competitor, slapping, uncontrolled blind techniques, any uncontrolled throws, takedowns or sweeps with the intention of slamming the opponent to the ground or landing with excessive force on top of opponent and any other uncontrolled dangerous techniques that are deemed unsafe in sport Martial Arts. 
GRABBING: Is allowed but no pulling on any part of the pants, top or gloves worn by any competitor. 
SWEEPS, TAKEDOWNS, GRABS AND GROUND SPARRING: Sweeps to take down an opponent, to obstruct the balance so as to follow up with a technique is allowed. A sweep must be deemed a proper and safe sweep to be legal. Controlled sweeps that are meant to take down an opponent are allowed only on a declared approved padded surface.
 LIGHT TOUCH CONTACT: Means there is no penetration or visible movement of the competitor as a result of the contact. The face is a legal target area whilst stand up fighting is in play.
MODERATE TOUCH CONTACT: Means slight penetration or slight target movement. 
WARNINGS AND PENALTIES: The referee will at his discretion issue cautions, warnings, penalties and or disqualification for rules infractions. An official penalty will have the same effect on the bout as a submission. If, in the opinion of the referee and/or the medical personnel, a competitor cannot continue because of an injury caused by an illegal penalized attack executed by his/her competitor, the offending competitor shall be automatically disqualified. 

Other Cause for Penalization:Attacking illegal and non-target areas, using illegal techniques, running out of the ring to avoid competing, Preventing your opponent from initiating combat, continuing after being ordered to stop, excessive stalling, blind, negligent or reckless attacks, uncontrolled techniques, showing unsportsmanlike behaviour by the competitor, his/her coaches, friends, etc., excessive contact, and delay of time are examples of possible penalization.

 Non-Competing Penalty: If, in the majority opinion of the officials, it is considered that the competitors are not making an obvious attempt to compete in the true spirit of competition, both competitors will be warned and if it continues, will be disqualified.
 Wrong Division: If any competitor competes in a division he/she does not qualify to compete in due to age, weight, rank, gender, style, etc. (sandbagging), he/she will risk disqualification.

 COACHING: The luxury of having a coach is something that most competitors do not have access to. Therefore, it sometimes can become an unfair advantage over a competitor who does not have a coach. The rules are made and enforced so no one competitor has an advantage or disadvantage over another competitor. Therefore, coaching is allowed but only under the following guidelines: Never, at any time, can a coach enter the ring without the referee’s permission, 2. No abusive, violent, unsportsmanlike or overzealous coaching; 3. Coaches cannot ask for a time out (only the competitor may ask for a time out), 4. Coaches can never, at any time, interfere with the proper running of the ring or the decisions of the judges. A Coach is defined as anyone who is trying to help one competitor in anyway. A coach could be but is not limited to a friend, parent, team mate or official coach. The centre referee can issue a warning to a competitor for each time his/her coach is interfering with a match or disrupting fair play between contestants.