About Tae Kwon Do
The term Taekwondo means 'the way of the foot and the fist', referring to the breaking up and launching of attacks with the feet and fists. The sport originated in South Korea in 1955 and is an amalgamation of a number of different martial arts that had themselves been practised for centuries previously.
Taekwondo made its debut as a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 Games, but was not officially added to the Olympic programme until the Sydney 2000 Games.
Like judo and other martial arts, Tae Kwon Do is as much an art form as it is a combat sport. The art form of taekwondo is centred around moves, steps and shapes which represent fighting situations but with no confrontational element and is used for exercise, meditation and philosophy. The combat sport is more formal and features rules and point-scoring methods. Find out more about the difference between art and combat with the World Taekwondo Federation.
Since its inception in 1955 as a competitive sport, taekwondo has grown in popularity to the extent that it now has an estimated 50-60 million regular practitioners and is the most popular of all martial arts. The World Taekwondo Federation, founded in 1973, is responsible for the advancement of the sport globally and the organisation of international competitions such as the World Championships and the Olympic competitions. In the UK, the British Taekwondo Control Board promotes the sport and assists people in accessing it and competing in various shows, events and competitions.
The object of Taekwondo is to land kicks and punches on the opponent’s scoring zones: one point is awarded for a valid attack to the trunk protector, two points for a valid turning kick to the trunk protector, three points for a valid kick to the head, and four points for a valid turning kick to the head.
Each contest is made up of three two-minute rounds. Over their standard white uniform, known as a dobok, competitors wear coloured protective equipment. The competitor wearing blue is referred to as chung, while the competitor in red is hong. Athletes in Taekwondo need strength and stamina as well as excellent technical ability in order to make every punch and kick count for points.
The rules at a glance
In each weight category, the competition consists of a single elimination tournament.The winners of each contest qualify for the next round, with the two finalists going head to head in the gold medal contest. All competitors who lose to one of the finalists at any stage of the competition enter the repechage. The two semi-final losers meet the winners of the two repechage pools; these matches determine the winners of two bronze medals.A referee stays in the combat area, while corner judges sit at each corner of the court. The judges award points for valid kicks and punches that are recorded electronically.
Infringing the rules can see valuable points awarded to the opposition. Penalties range from Kyong-go (a warning penalty) for acts such as crossing the boundary line, hitting below the waist or using the knee to attack. Two Kyong-go warnings result in a point being awarded to the opponent. More seriously, a Gam-Jeom (deduction penalty) is given for actions such as attacking a fallen opponent, or intentionally attacking the face. A Gam-Jeom results in a one-point deduction.
If an athlete receives four penalty deduction points, the contest is stopped and the opponent is declared the winner.
Trevor Nicols – Development Officer
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