In Taekwondo sparring refers literally to face an opponent in combat, mostly for competition and as with every competition sports it is guided by a series of rules which are the topic of today’s article.

For a start, we need to know that you need to wear a specific attire that goes beyond your usual taekwondo gear. By regulation you need to wear the following:

  • A mouth-guard
  • Chest protector
  • Head guard
  • Groin guard
  • Forearm guard
  • Hand protector
  • Shin guards
  • Instep protector

These are the basic elements that the WTF requires for normal competition, depending on the federation you might not be required to wear some of them.


For a start know that you can punch with your clenched fist, that’s for your hands, now, to kick, you can kick (make contact) with any part of your feet below your ankle.

With this in mind let’s talk about where you can hit, and basically, you only have two places where you can connect your opponent at the chest (technically any area covered by the protector) and the head (again any area covered by the head gear is valid).

What you cannot do is hit directly on the face and the spine of your opponent or below the waist line.


Now that you know how to hit let’s talk about how to score (bear in mind that nowadays the protective gear is electronic so any contact can count and you don’t need to use excessive force to score).

Now, for any contact to the chest, you get one point. If you use any spinning technique to connect to the chest the result will be two points.

If you are able to hit the head in any way, you will be awarded three points.

Once again remember that today’s protective gear is electronic so when you connect you will be awarded the points described below.

To win you need to score the most points after three rounds of sparring. You can also win if you knock out your opponent. If at the end of the three rounds there’s a tie, a golden round takes place where the winner is the one who connects a point first.


OK, now that we have learned how to score and how to win, it is also important to learn what are the things that we cannot do: 

  • Step out of the combat area. (both feet)
  • Fall down intentionally
  • Fake injuries
  • Hit below waist
  • Direct hits to the face
  • Evading your opponent to avoid fight


This is interesting to discuss as there has been a variety of changes lately in hopes of making taekwondo more fun to watch. For instance, the rule of winning if you were ahead by 7 points or if you made 12 were waived and now the winner (as mentioned before) is the one who scores the most points.

Also, the use of electronic gear has made easier the scoring and became a great aid for judges as before three judges needed to see the contact to award a point as well as giving two points if a spinning kick is used to connect.