In previous occasions, we have spoken about how Taekwondo is an ancient martial art that, with the pass of time, became also an Olympic sport. This came after Taekwondo expanded globally in the mid-60s.
So, now that we know that let’s talk about how the Olympic competition goes on in a modern day. First and foremost let’s start with the fact that participants do not only wear the traditional sparring Taekwondo uniform but also they are required to wear body and head protection.
You might be wondering why protection is required when technically you learn to control yourself and how you hit while in combat, well, yes, that’s true but since this is treated as a sport, it has to abide by the rules of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) which dictates that in all and any contact sport that participates in Olympic competition, protection, especially to the head, is required.
Until recent years that was the only function this had. But ruling was always in discussion as point marking depended on a referee to see the contact in order to award the point, so one of the innovations presented was to add electronic sensors in the chest guard body protection so whenever a contact happened, a signal was sent to a wristwatch in the referee’s arm that will let him know that a point needs to be awarded. Also, this allowed the fighters to use less force since it was not needed to mark the contact that much anymore.
SO HOW IT WORKS EXACTLY?
First let’s start by saying that a match is divided in three, two minutes rounds and an extra round might be added in case there’s a tie after the third round is concluded.
One point is awarded for contacting the body with a kick, but, if said contact occurs with a special, aka a spinning kick, then three points will be awarded to the fighter. Don’t forget that the pads in the body are electronic so nowadays what the referee is only responsible to see is the technique used. Also, punches to the body are awarded one point.
Now, what happens to contacts to the head, well, in order to protect the participants ruling dictates that any contact to the head with a kick is awarded three points, if that contact was obtained with a special, aka spinning kick, then another point is awarded.
There are also penalties which come from contacting forbidden areas like that below the belt or withdrawing from a fight as well as remaining inactive for more than ten seconds.
Also, there is a rule that dictates that whenever a fighter reaches a point difference of over 12 points the match is immediately stopped and victory awarded. This comes as getting back from such a difference is nearly impossible.
Finally, Coaches can call for a video replay in case they believe that their fighter was incorrectly awarded points or if their opponent got awarded points the wrong way. The video is reviewed by a panel of Taekwondo judges which will decide if that decision is against the caller, he loses his right to use that resource and the card that allows him to do so must be surrendered.
It is not complicated but demands good knowledge from both coaches, judges, and referee.