TAEKWONDO IN THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Every uniform defines the abilities and capabilities of an athlete that competes in the Olympic Games, and this is especially true in martial arts, each of the disciplines present in the games wears their uniforms with joy, respect, and pride. But there is one that is more recent and became recognized in 1994: The Taekwondo Uniform.
This is in part caused by the fact that this is a martial art of very recent creation (its first apparition is dated in the late 1940s, just after the end of World War II) so its expansion around the world has taken its time.
One must remember that for a sport to be considered as part of the Olympic competition it needs to have global reach and a common entity that regulates rules, competitions, qualifiers and so on and so forth.
This leads us to say that it was not until 1973 that this entity came to be: The World Taekwondo Federation was created to give the discipline global reach and a common set of rules and regulations (from the way a Taekwondo Uniform had to be and what belt colors were to be represented) for all its affiliates around the world to follow.
One of the interesting things about Taekwondo and that actually help it became an exhibition sport is its foundation: fast kicks and punches.
And it was in the country that saw it born, South Korea, during the 1988 Olympic Games that for the first time, an athlete wearing a Taekwondo Uniform competed, not as an officially recognized sport but as it has been for the last 20 years, an exhibition sport.
Nonetheless in the games of the century, Sidney 2000, for the first time ever, Taekwondo had the opportunity to actually win medals as an Olympic Sport, yet and curiously continued to be recognized as an exhibition sport.
Now, let us explain a bit how the competition works in the Olympic games, first, there are two main divisions: one for men, one for women. Then each of these divisions is subsequently divided into four weight classes. Now competition itself is formed by a single elimination tournament that decides the gold and silver medal.
Points are awarded based on the type of punch or kick connected and the part of the body where they are aimed at. It is important to say that an athlete can earn more points if the kick applied has a high degree of difficulty and if it is aimed at the head.
The bronze medal decision is a competition in itself as the two losers of the semifinal matches have to face each other to determine who gets the medal.
One of the things that are important to mention is that in the first appearances of the sport in the Olympic games the award of points was the sole responsibility of the referee and the judges and based solely on their appreciation, which in a sport so complicated as Taekwondo, is a very very difficult task. That is why nowadays the use of electronic protection for the body and head that senses the contact is part of the regulation which makes the determination of points a lot easier.
Now that taekwondo is an official sport in the Olympic Games, we can only wait for more history to be written.