Olympic Taekwondo could get more exciting after sparring rule changes

Rule changes were needed to make Taekwondo matches competitive

Taekwondo, by nature, is an aggressive sport. Fighters don’t bounce around waiting to get kicked, unless they are really scared.

But a plethora of reasons made Taekwondo at 2016 Rio Olympics boring. For one, the fights weren’t aggressive, and the strikes weren’t hard. Sensors could identify a tap of a kick on a pad and register points.

The decline of TKD as an Olympic sport was weighing on World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), the sanctioning organization. TKD barely qualified as a sport for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and WTF has made some rule changes to make the sport attractive again.

Significant among the rule changes is the points allotted for kicks. A kick to the trunk protector will amass two points, which should bring back some aggression in kicking. Taekwondo is based on kicks, so this is an interesting rule change.

All in all, here is the scoring explained in the WTF document:

3.1 One (1) point for a valid punch to the trunk protector
3.2 Two (2) points for a valid kick to the trunk protector
3.3 Three (3) points for a valid turning kick to the trunk protector
3.4 Three (3) points for a valid kick to the head
3.5 Four (4) points for a valid turning kick to the head
3.6 One(1) point awarded for every one “Gam-jeom” given to the opponent contestant

Also, coaches may not be aware, but they will have the option to ask for one video replay per contest. That’s provided video replay is available. In WTF’s words:

“In case there is an objection to a judgment of the refereeing officials during the contest, the coach of a team can make a request to the center referee for an immediate review of the video replay. The coach can only request video review for followings;
i) Penalties against the opponent for instances of falling down or crossing the boundary line or attacking the opponent after “Kal-yeo” or attacking the fallen opponent
ii) Technical point
iii) Any penalty against own contestant
iv) Any mechanical malfunction or error in time management.”

It is important that contestants and coaches read the new WTF competition rules document, which went into effect on June 24. The rules are regularly modified, and more rule changes will come before Tokyo 2020. After all, Taekwondo will compete with Karate for Olympic glory.

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