Two competitors perform their chosen patterns simultaneously side-by-side. The judges (usually 3 or 5) then make a decision based on multiple areas; from technique to breath control. It is not the case that the competitor with the most powerful patterns will always win as correct technique and rhythm are equally important.
The competitor with the largest number of decisions in their favour will win - if there is a tie they must perform the pattern again.
At Vision competitions we usually let competitors choose their own pattern - "Optional Pattern". There is no penalty for your choice of pattern but competitors usually choose their grade pattern or the pattern immediately below.
At national and international competitions competitors may have to perform a pattern chosen or randomly generated by the Jury President called a "Designated Pattern".
Competitors fight their opponents in the ring to see who can score the most points within the time given. Round times and numbers vary by age category. Children may have 1 round of 1 minute whereas an Adult Black Belt may fight for as long as 2 rounds of 2 minutes.
At the end of these rounds the scores from each of the four corner umpires are converted to decisions. Whoever has the most decisions out of 4 wins. A competitor requires a minimum of 2 decisions to win, 3 draws and 1 win will not suffice.
Should competitors draw, another round will be fought. Should competitors still draw at the end of this round we enter 'Sudden Death'. In Sudden Death the centre referee will stop the fight after every action in which points may have been scored and ask for a decision from the corner umpires. If two or more umpires have seen a point for one of the competitors, they win. If not, the fight continues until a decision is reached.
Competitors may be given Warnings and Fouls. Warnings and Fouls will be explained to the competitor by the centre referee when they are given. Three Warnings equals a minus point which will be deducted from each of the corner umpire's scores automatically. Each Foul is a minus point in itself. Three Fouls constitutes an immediate dismissal from the division. The most common Foul is excessive contact.
The Jury President may also dismiss competitors outright if they see fit.
The decisions of the Jury President and by extension the centre referee are final.
Competitors perform flying and jumping techniques to hit targets or boards. There may be obstacles to clear.
Competitors will be briefed on the exact technique and the requirements to advance in the rounds.
Competitors break boards in the holder.
At Vision competitions competitors may choose the number and type of board they wish to break. The higher the difficulty, the more points that will be awarded on success. Competitors must make this decision before each round and will do so in secret. This introduces an element of risk and reward and makes this event tactical as well as a demonstration of sheer strength.