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Sparring In Taekwondo (Part 1)

In the discipline of Taekwondo, sparring between two practitioners is known as Kyeorugi. It’s a common feature in any good
Taekwondo class, and it’s also heavily featured in most Taekwondo competitions. Taekwondo sparring is a type of mock
combat which features a realistic struggle for the upper hand without using the full power of the participant’s abilities. The
intent is to learn and practice, not to cause injuries. In formal, competitive sparring, intentionally or accidentally injuring
one’s opponent carries potentially severe penalties.

Sparring is the primary form of competition used in Olympic Taekwondo. Other significant parts of the discipline, like
patterns, breaks, and multiple-opponent-defense, are not considered in Olympic competition despite their importance in a
well-rounded Taekwondo education. Olympic Taekwondo can be considered a kyeorugi-only event; it does not consider
the martial art as a whole.

Taekwondo has two main international organizations, each of which has its own sparring rules:

* The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is closely aligned with Olympic Taekwondo and uses the same rules as the
Olympic committee for sparring.
* The Internation Taekwondo Federation (ITF) has its own sparring rules. The ITF allows a wider range of sparring
techniques, some of which are more dangerous than those allowed under WTF rules.

Olympic / WTF Taekwondo Sparring Rules

Sparring takes place in a square matted area measuring 10 meters on a side. Competitors must be wearing the appropriate
protective gear to participate. Required gear includes:

* Head guard
* Shin guards
* Wrist guards
* Trunk protector (hogu)

A sparring match for competitors below black belt level consists of three rounds. Each round is a minute long; there are 30-
second breaks between the rounds. Black belt sparring features both longer rounds (two minutes each) and longer
intervals (one minute).

Sparring activity is continuous during a competitive round. Judges assess points based on the strength of competitors’
techniques, their style, and their points of contact.

Punches aimed at the head are prohibited in WTF sparring. Many kicks that use jumping and/or spinning are also
prohibited. Strikes below the waist and striking an opponent on the ground are both forbidden. Competitors who employ
illegal moves have their scores wiped out and can also be disqualified.

Beginning in January 2017, WTF-style scoring is as follows:


* One point for a strong punch to the opponent’s torso.
* Two points for a regular kick (a non-spinning kick) to the opponent’s torso. (In 2016, this was just one point.)
* Three points for a spinning kick (i.e., a technical kick) to the opponent’s torso.
* Four points for a spinning kick to the opponent’s head.

Making soft contact with the opponent’s body or head scores no points. Each participant accumulates points throughout all
three rounds of sparring. A competitor who achieves a seven-point lead over his or her opponent is declared the winner
and the match is ended. Scoring 12 points in total will also end the match and earn a competitor the victory. If two
participants reach the end of the third round with equal scores, a ‘sudden death’ round is fought after a one-minute break.

– To be continued –