The following guidelines may help spectators in enjoying and appreciating Taekwondo sparring matches that use the point (flag) sparring style. Since rules vary for different organizations, Taekwondo America rules are shown as an example.
Valid Scoring Areas
- Front half of torso, from shoulders to belt and from side to side from imaginary vertical lines drawn from the armpits to the belt, using hand or foot technique.
- Anywhere on the red area of the protective headgear, using a foot technique.
Indications of a Valid Score
- For color belts, contact is not required but the technique must be unblocked and within two inches of the target.
- For black belts, light contact is required.
Warnings and Deductions (Penalties)
The referee declares a warning when any of the following prohibited acts are committed. Warning may be merely to inform the competitor or it may be an official warning. Only official warnings count toward scoring. First official warning has no deduction. Second official warning has a 1-point deduction. Third official warning results in disqualification.
- Grabbing the opponent
- Pushing the opponent with the shoulder, body, hands or arms
- Holding the opponent with the hands or arms
- Intentionally crossing the alert line
- Intentionally leaving the ring
- Evading by turning the back to the opponent
- Intentionally falling down
- Pretending injury
- Strikes below the belt
- Strikes to back half of torso
- Contact to the opponent's face with hand or foot
- Contact to the opponent's head with hand
- Throwing the opponent
- Gesturing to indicate scoring or deduction by raising hand (self cheering), etc.
- Uttering undesirable remarks or any misconduct on the part of the contestant or the coach
- Accumulation of three strikes
- Excessive contact
- Any excessive violation of the items listed for warnings
- To appreciate Taekwondo competition more fully, the spectator must look beyond the results of the match, toward the inherent beauty of the techniques, which are an expression of the competitor's Taekwondo spirit.
Characteristics of a Taekwondo Match
Taekwondo is an intense combat sport using kicking and punching techniques that are known for their destructive power and astonishing beauty of form. Taekwondo competition is different from other combat sports because of its fighting strategies. These strategies, developed through scientific inquiry and experience, are the key to appreciating the beauty and complexity of the Taekwondo match. Another significant aspect of Taekwondo is found in its kicking techniques, which have the destructive power to bring the match to an end instantly and unexpectedly by a knockout.
The nature of Taekwondo's competitive spirit is embodied in the competitor who displays a true warrior spirit, both when winning and losing.
Matches are two minutes in length or until one competitor scores five points. Matches use single elimination.
Points are awarded for:
- Clean hand or foot technique to body, one point
- Clean foot technique to head, 2 points.
- Clean jumping foot technique adds 1 point to the score earned for the technique.
Final score is determined by points awarded minus any deductions.
Winner is first competitor to earn five points or the one with the most points after match time limit expires. For ties, competitors continue sparring until one scores.
In viewing a Taekwondo match, the following guidelines are essential for full appreciation:
- Comparing the perceived score with the score posted by the officials at the end of each round.
- Recognizing and comparing each competitor's special techniques and habitual style of attack and defense with that of their opponents.
- Recognizing which style is more effective in the course of each match, the attacking style that uses aggressive, powerful techniques and big motions, or the counter attacking style that uses accurate techniques.