(a) The following are fouls and will result in penalties such as warnings, point deductions or disqualification, if committed:

1. Holding or grabbing the fence;

A fighter may put their hands on the fence and push off of it at anytime. A fighter may place their feet onto the cage and have their toes go through the fencing material at any time. When a fighter’s fingers or toes go through the cage and grab hold of the fence and start to control either their body position or their opponent’s body position it now becomes an illegal action. A fighter may not grab the ropes or wrap their arms over the ring ropes at any time. If a fighter is caught holding the fence, cage or ring rope material the referee shall issue a one-point deduction from the offending fighters

scorecard if the foul caused a substantial change in position such as the avoidance of a takedown If a point deduction for holding the fence occurs, and because of the infraction, the fouling fighter ends up in a superior position due to the foul, the fighters should be re-started by the referee, standing in a neutral position 2. Holding opponent’s shorts or gloves;

A fighter may not control their opponent’s movement by holding onto their opponent’s shorts or gloves. A fighter may hold onto or grab their opponent’s hand as long as they are not controlling the hand only by using the material of the glove, but by actually gripping the hand of the opponent. It is legal to hold onto your own gloves or shorts

3.Butting with the head;

Any use of the head as a striking instrument whether head to head, head to body or otherwise is illegal.

4.Eye gouging of any kind;

Eye gouging by means of fingers, chin, or elbow is illegal. Legal strikes or punches that contact the fighter’s eye socket are not eye gouging and shall be considered legal attacks.

5. Biting or Spitting at an opponent;

Biting in any form is illegal. A fighter must recognize that a referee may not be able to physically observe some actions, and must make the referee aware if they are being bit during an exhibition of unarmed combat.

6.Hair pulling;

Pulling of the hair in any fashion is an illegal action. A fighter may not grab a hold of his opponent’s hair to control their opponent in any way.

7. Fish Hooking.

Any attempt by a fighter to use their fingers in a manner that attacks their opponent’s mouth, nose or ears, stretching the skin to that area will be considered “Fish- hooking”. Fish-hooking generally is the placing of fingers into the mouth or your opponent and pulling your hands in opposing directions while holding onto the skin of your opponent.

8. Groin attacks of any kind.

Any attack to the groin area including, striking, grabbing, pinching or twisting is illegal

9. Intentionally placing a finger into any orifice, or into any cut or laceration of your opponent.

A fighter may not place their fingers into an open laceration in an attempt to enlarge the cut. A fighter may not place their fingers into an opponent’s, nose, ears, mouth, or any body cavity.

10. Elbow strikes of any kind to any area.

11. Small joint manipulation.

Fingers and Toes are small joints. Wrists, Ankles, Knees, Shoulders and Elbows are all large joints.

12. Strikes to the spine or the back of the head

Strikes are not permissible in the nape of the neck area up until the top of the ears. Above the ears permissible strikes do not include the Mohawk area from the top of the ears up until the crown of the head. The crown of the head is found where the head begins to curve. In other words, strikes behind the crown of the head and above the ears are not permissible within the  Mohawk area. Strikes below the top of the ear are not permissible within the nape of the neck area.

13. Heel kicks to the kidney

14. Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.

No directed throat strikes are allowed. A directed attack would include a fighter pulling his opponents head in a way to open the neck area for a striking attack. A fighter may not gouge their fingers or thumb into their opponent’s neck or trachea in an attempt to submit their opponent.

15. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh or grabbing the clavicle

Any attack that targets the fighter’s skin by clawing at the skin or attempting to pull or twist the skin to apply pain is illegal. Any manipulation of the clavicle is a foul.

16. Kneeing the Head of an opponent.

17. Stomping of a grounded fighter

Stomping is considered any type of striking action with the feet where the fighter lifts their leg up bending their leg at the knee and initiating a striking action with the bottom of their foot or heel.

(Note) Axe kicks are not stomps. Standing foot stops are NOT a foul. As such, this foul does not include stomping the feet of a standing fighter.

18. The use of abusive language in the fighting area

19. Any unsportsmanlike conduct that causes an injury to opponent

20. Attacking an opponent on or during the break.

A fighter shall not engage their opponent in any fashion during a time-out or break of action in competition

21. Attacking an opponent who is under the care of the referee.

22. Timidity (avoiding contact, or consistently dropping the mouthpiece, or faking an  injury Timidity is defined as any fighter who purposely avoids contact with his opponent, or runs away from the action of the fight. Timidity can also be called by the referee for any attempt by a fighter to receive time by falsely claiming a foul, injury, or purposely dropping or spitting out their mouthpiece or other action designed to stall the fight

23. Interference from a mixed martial artists seconds

Interference is defined as any action or activity aimed at disrupting the fight or causing an unfair advantage to be given to one combatant. Corners are not allowed to distract the referee or influence the actions of the referee in any fashion.

24. Throwing an opponent out of the caged area.

A fighter shall not throw their opponent out of the cage.

25. Flagrant disregard of the referee’s instructions

A fighter MUST follow the instructions of the referee at all times. Any deviation or noncompliance may result in the fighter’s disqualification

26. Spiking the opponent to the canvas onto the head or neck (pile-driving)

A pile driver is considered to be any throw where you control your opponent’s body placing his feet straight up in the air with his head straight down and then forcibly drive your opponents head into the canvas or flooring material. It should be noted when a fighter is placed into a submission hold by their opponent, if that fighter is capable of elevating their opponent they may bring that opponent down in any fashion they desire because they are not in control of their opponents body. The fighter who is attempting the submission can either adjust their position, or let go of their hold before being slammed to the canvas.

27. Attacking an opponent after the bell has sounded the end of the period of unarmed combat

28. Linear kicks to the knee joint.

29. Neck Cranks Any hold that places the fighter’s neck in jeopardy from a crank is illegal. Neck cranks such as the “Can Opener” or “Bulldog” are examples of an illegal neck attack, unless the contestant is in their guard and refuses to open their guard.

30. All twisting leg submissions

Heel hooks and toe holds are prohibited. Straight Knee bars and the Straight Ankle lock are allowed

31. Spine locks

32. Strikes to the head of a grounded opponent-

A grounded opponent is any fighter who has more than just the soles of their feet on the ground.(i.e. could have one shin or one finger down to be considered a downed fighter) If the referee determines that a fighter would be a grounded fighter but is not solely because the cage fence has held fighter from the ground, the referee can instruct the combatants that he is treating the fighter held up solely by the cage as a grounded fighter.

Advanced Divisions Rules (fighters who have 2 or more fighters at Novice are eligible for advanced Rules)

Advanced Divisions Rules Fighters DO NOT Wear Shin guards and are Allowed Hand strikes to the downed 

 opponent (IE: Ground and Pound with the exception of Elbows)


Copyright © 1998 USMTA Inc.   All rights reserved. Revised: September 20, 2015