Taekwondo is an ancient martial art which knowledge has been passed from generation to generation of students that in turn pass it on to their pupils, such as the idea of this ancient knowledge.
But through the years Taekwondo also became something else, that something else was an Olympic sport. And that’s where everything changed. The norm was that the Taekwondo uniform was only seen in the gym where training occurred, and depending on the achievements was the color of the belt worn by the students.
Of course, that brought change, from a form of personal defense to a sport, and that meant that a new set of rules came around since the idea of sports competition change the whole idea of contact against an opponent, it also modified the way and what was worn, and that what we are going to talk about today.
SO, WHAT’S THEGEAR?
We call “gear” to anything and everything that is part of the Taekwondo uniform that is worn for both training and competition, and it is that which you put on over the uniform that makes the difference.
We have said that the first and most important difference between martial arts Taekwondo and Olympic Taekwondo is the purpose of the combat itself. While in the first case it would even represent a life or death situation and the idea is to hurt your opponent with kicks and punches, in Olympic competition the idea is to score points. That means you’re not looking forward to hurting your opponent but to merely make contact with his or her body.
This became sort of a problem in the early years as the determination of the contact came from a referee and he needed to be completely sure of what had happened. This forced some practitioners to hit too hard and cause injury.
So, one of the first things that were introduced and that are worn where the body protection pads, this was designed with the original idea to do exactly what, allow for the referee to have a better view of when a kick and/or punch landed in the body while at the same time protect the recipient from unneeded harm.
Alongside that came the head protector which, considering that a hit to the head represents three points (four if it was achieved through a spinning kick), had the sole mission of keeping the head safe from unnecessary harm.
There are other elements that are not always required like the elbow and leg protectors which aim at keeping the fighters safe from broken bones, especially in the case of the accidental impact of the legs.
But in recent years the body and head protectors played a new role in the taekwondo uniform and that was of helping judges and referees to better do their job as they were equipped with electronic sensors that, upon the slightest contact, send a signal indicating that a point was earned, after that it depends on the judges to determine how many points will be awarded (remember, the way a punch or a kick is landed determines how many points are awarded).
So, all in all, nowadays along with protecting the fighters, the gear also helps referees and judges to better make their job as well as keeping the fighters from needing to hit too hard.