Abstract The aim of this study was to define the time-motion (i.e., fighting, preparatory and breaking activity), technical (i.e., attack, timed-attack, counterattack, blocking and grasps) and tactical (i.e., upper limb, lower-limb, combination and throwing) profiles of the senior top-level karate competition played under the most recent rules of the International Karate Federation in relation to gender, match outcome and weight categories. Time-motion, tactical actions and technical executions were investigated of senior karatekas (n = 60) during the Karate World Championship. The referee's decisions caused an overall activity-to-break ratio of ~1:1.5 with a significant difference (P = 0.025) between karateka's weight categories (light = 1:1.5; middle = 1:2 and heavy = 1:1). High-intensity actions (i.e., attack and defensive actions performed quickly and powerfully) were higher in male compared to female athletes. Top-level karatekas used upper limb techniques more than lower limb ones, with both applied in the head more than in the body. For the high-intensity-actions to pause ratio and the percentage of combined techniques, light weight category was significantly higher than middle weight category. These findings suggest that training programs may need to be specific to the requirements of the gender and weight categories.