Traditional Taekwondo sparring uses hand, foot, and head protection but no chest protection and only allows light-contact. Both open and closed fist techniques to the head are allowed if they are used with precise focus and control. Referees stop the action to allow judges to call a point. Points are awarded for clean, focused techniques delivered to permitted targets. Excessive contact will draw a penalty.
Since the first clean technique stops the action, counter fighters are at a disadvantage since their subsequent techniques are not scored, even though they may have been more devastating than the opponent’s first technique. Since hand techniques to the head are allowed, even back fists and knife hands, traditional fighters tend to keep their guard up, protecting their torso and head. Close-range fighting is common and the silly clutching technique is not even considered. Since there is no requirement to displace the opponent's body, quick front leg snaps kicks and other “weak” kicks are often used. When the rules do not award additional points for head kicks, these techniques are used less frequently since they expose the attacker to counterattacks.
Techniques must be precise, focused, and powerful, and delivered to a scoring area without striking with excessive force; therefore, the fighters are usually hesitant about rushing into an attack. The action is slower, but when it occurs, you see beautifully executed techniques being used.
Some traditional Taekwondo organizations use continuous fighting so the action is not stopped to award point. Traditional sparring with continuous action seems to be the best combination of sparring to use.