The Maine Martial Arts Challenge has been held every year since 1978. Still, Robert Dupuis isn’t above doing a little tinkering.

“This year,” Dupuis said, “we’re going to do something different.”

The event, which begins at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, will be held at Winthrop High School for the eighth consecutive year. But within the divisions from boys and girls 5 and under to women 40 and over and men 50 and over, there will be a new scoring system.

“We’re piloting a program that consists of two points per kick and one point per hand,” said Dupuis, who is hosting the event with the Tao Karate Club of Winthrop.

Traditionally, the tournament awards one point for a kick or a hand. Dupuis said the new system — which is actually a throwback to an older system — has been well-received.

“The majority of the Taekwondo students are kickers,” Dupuis said. “I’ve talked to quite a few competitors who are coming to the tournament, and they’re all excited about two points for a kick.

“We think it’s going to pick up the experience of the spectators, and hopefully some of the spectators will gain some more knowledge of the martial arts.”

Dupuis said he expects about 250 to 300 competitors and 300 to 400 spectators.

Just to run a tournament of that size takes a significant number of volunteers. Dupuis said there will be eight rings at the competition, and each ring will have five judges and three timers/scorekeepers. So that’s 64 people just to judge, score and run the clocks.

Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 4 to 11 and free for children 3 and under. One dollar from every admission will go to the Japan earthquake relief effort. There will be a Taiko drumming demonstration from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., led by Naoto Kobayashi, a Japanese language instructor at Hall-Dale High School and native of Tokyo.

“That’s the highlight of the event,” Dupuis said. “Naoto does a really good job with the students. That’s a great program.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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