For years now Taekwondo has been the competition that represents martial arts in the Olympics games. Athletes from all over the world who appreciate martial arts and want to take a chance at winning Olympic gold have found in taekwondo their discipline of choice. But in Tokyo 2020 a new martial arts discipline will make its debut: Karate Do.
Does taekwondo need to feel this as a menace? Yang Jin Bang, one of W.T.F. highest officials said to The Indian Express that it should not be a reason to worry: “Karate has been always seen as a menace, while they have only been trying to get in (the Olympic games) for a while and now we’re going to be in the home of Karate so it’s natural”.
He also expressed that “we (the taekwondo community) should congratulate them as their presence in the games will only lead to improvement in both disciplines”. He also expressed that in the Olympic games there is a wide variety of ball games, so “why not have different combat sports?”.
Although one must be clear that he’s not saying that the inclusion of karate-do in the Olympics is going to benefit taekwondo, he also knows that they will be there “as an exhibition sport” and that “it is not clear if their inclusion as a competition discipline is going to occur and if it will be permanent”.
“We must remember that they will be present as an exhibition sport, that’s the opportunity the IOC has given them to see how people react and after that, make a decision” – said Bang.
One of the things Mr. Bang comments is the fact that whereas karate has its popularity in pop culture, taekwondo is a competition sport that has expanded globally and, as an example, combatants from India and the middle east captured gold medals in Rio last year.
He also believes that taekwondo has its place secured as an Olympic sport whereas karate is included or not as a permanent discipline, partly because of its simple and precise point system, as well as the fact that taekwondo has the benefit of welcoming people who want to practice an Olympic sport regardless of their religious beliefs, resulting in seeing combatants from India, Iran and other world countries participating in Olympic competition.
Also, he stated that the sole worry of the WTF after the games in Rio is how to increase the weight divisions for both women and men prior to Tokyo 2020, due to the fact that today, in Olympic competition, only four weight divisions are allowed for both men and women which he considers not enough considering the variety of combatants practicing the sport and because the distances between one another is too wide.