TaeKwonDo at the Olympics

TaeKwonDo at the Olympics

TaeKwonDo has been an international martial art since the 1970’s and boasts thousands of schools teaching various styles of TKD across the globe.  As a testament to its’ popularity, TaeKwonDo became an official sport in the Olympic Games in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  Of all the traditional Asian martial arts, Judo and TaeKwonDo are the only to that hold such an honour.  103 TaeKwonDo fighters from 51 countries participated in the Sydney Games, with South Korea winning the most total medals with three gold and one silver.


This year is the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. There will be a total of 128 TKD athletes at this years’ games competing in eight weight classes( four male and four female).  Spain and China were tied for most overall medals in TaeKwonDo at the 2012 London Olympics, with South Korea and Turkey close behind.  As the Summer Games get closer, let’s take a closer look at the rules of engagement of Olympic TaeKwonDo.


The standard equipment for Olympic TKD consists of:

Forearm and Shin Guards

Dobok or the standard TKD uniform

Head Protector

Trunk Protector

Groin Guard


The contest takes place on a ten by ten meter square, with an additional boundary line set around this square to denote “out of bounds”  Each match consists of three 3 minute rounds with two 60 second breaks. There are 3 corner judges to score the bout, and one referee to enforce regulations and to start and stop the match. In the event of a tie there will be a sudden death round with the first to score as the winner. If there is no score in overtime, the referee will declare a winner.




Ways to Win



Rendering the opponent unconscious or unable to continue.

2.Referee Stoppage

The referee intervenes for the safety of the athletes

  1. Win by withdrawl

One athlete withdraws from competition


One athlete is disqualified for fouls or other means

  1. Referee decision

Int the event of a tie, the referee shall decide

(If a competitor has 12 points more than his or her opponent in either the second or third round they will be declared the winner)




Ways to Score

Hand or foot strikes to the Hogu or chest protector worn by competitors

Kicks only are allowed to the head and face, no punches.

Power, accuracy, and technique are the main factors when determining points.


Ways to be Penalized


Going out of bounds, stalling, crouching, turning back to opponent in defense

Headbutts, groin attacks

Hand strikes to opponents head, punching opponents face

Stomping or kicking the opponent’s legs or feet (no leg kicks), grabbing opponents legs

Grabbing, holding, throwing, or otherwise grappling with opponent

Attacking a downed opponent, faking injury, unsportsmanlike conduct


Olympic TaeKwonDo is a study in timing, precision, and agility. It should be noted that Olympic TKD is not a fight, it is a competitive sport with rules. Hopefully with the help of this brief overview, you can enjoy TaeKwonDo Olympics a little more.


The 2016 Rio Games begin August 5


Beginning TaeKwonDo

So you’ve decided to embark down the road of TaeKwonDo?

Here are some tips for beginning martial artists:


  1. Know your school

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with your academy.  Understanding the history and basic foundation of your chosen martial art is an important first step.  You may want to study upon the lineage of your particular school or instructor, and be certain that you feel comfortable in the environment.  Each academy is different, with emphasis on different aspects of the art ( self defense, competition, physical fitness, etc.) It is important to understand and respect the academy etiquette and courtesies as well. New students are usually given an outline of these, and senior students typically lead by example.


  1. Know Yourself

What are your initial goals for beginning training? Not everyone knows where their martial arts journey will take them; but setting some personal expectations of what you hope to get out of your classes is a good idea. Some people walk into an academy intending only to get a new workout a few times a week and end up becoming champions.  Understand your current physical health, and how much work you may have to put in to achieve your desired results.  Know your limitations as well. Pushing yourself too hard in the beginning will only result in injury and leave a bad impression about training.  Remember to stretch properly, and follow the advice of your instructors.


  1. Understand the Style

Studying TaeKwonDo? Loosen up those legs! TaeKwonDo is known worldwide in the martial arts community as THE kicking style.  There will be great emphasis on leg dexterity and flexibility, which are both fundamental aspects of executing TKD techniques. Work on your balance, body mechanics,  and footwork.  Watch closely the students of higher rank during class and try to understand the how and why of their movements. Watching the instructor and students of higher rank may also give you something to aspire to in your martial studies.  In the beginning there will be much memorization of forms and techniques. Understanding the concepts and reasons behind the movements, however, will be the key to progressing as a student.


  1. Put In The Work

Ultimately the person who decides the level you reach in martial arts is you.  As with most undertakings, you will get back what you put in.  We all want to start kicking butt right away, but building a proper foundation is the only way towards mastery.  Much of martial arts is muscle memory, so there will be repetitive movements to build the techniques into your brain. Practice movements at home in your free time, or try to be aware of your body mechanics in everyday life and what adjustments you can make in relation to training.  Focus and self discipline are also important parts of studying TaeKwonDo, and any other martial art.  With the proper drive you can push yourself further than you think.



  1. Have Fun

This one is the most important of all.  Training must remain enjoyable, not something to be dreaded or seen as a chore.  It is always hard to learn something new, and no one likes feeling clueless. It is best to relax and not be self conscious, don’t expect to be a master your first time on the mat. Martial Artists are some of the most interesting people to meet,and they come from all walks of life. Make friends, laugh, enjoy yourself. Whatever your personal goals for beginning TaeKwonDO, keep it playful, and you will enjoy many years of training.


Wing Chun vs Taekwondo

Wing Chun vs Taekwondo


For the Wing Chun fighter, going against a formidable kicking style like TaeKwonDo can sometimes be problematic. Students of the Korean martial art are well known for their acrobatics, fast footwork, and lightning fast kicks.  There are of course numerous branches of the TKD system, but to be brief we will focus on some generalities of the style. These recommendations are supposing a match of ValeTudo  or MMA rules, leaving out any eye rakes, groin strikes, etc.


  1. Hands Up, Chin Down

Too often, in my humble opinion, students of Wing Chun wade forward into combat with their heads raised proudly and their chin on display.  This is generally a bad idea in any fighting art, especially so when facing someone who will be trying to head kick you.

Tuck your chin towards your chest while maintaining your fighting stance as you move forward. The distance TKD fighters play at is longer than they typical Wing Chun fighter.


  1. Utilize Footwork

Wing Chun is typically a linear style, meaning the WC stylist typically moves in a straight line from point A to point B. The typical TaeKwonDo stance is mostly sideways, and the WC fighter will find it very hard to attack the centerline without using footwork and feints to get there.


  1. Use Distance To Your Advantage

As stated, the optimal TKD distance is significantly longer than Wing Chun.  Ideally the WC fighter will want to close the distance and press the attack.  TKD fighters can be seen covering a lot of ground in the windup for their kicks, be sure not to freeze in the moment. Moving is better than trying to stand and cover. Being too near,  or too far to be on the receiving end of any TKD kicks is the safest. TaeKwonDo fighters are not known for their hand techniques, though there are many branches of TKD. One would think that the Wing Chun fighter has the close range advantage.

  1. Intelligently Counter The Kicks

The best case counter against a kicking opponent is the strike them as they are attacking.

Front thrust kicks to the hips or the non-kicking leg(Before or just as the kick is fired. You must have timing)

Gong sau or bong sau parry and strike( Only if you have mastered these techniques)

Simply try to close the distance and smother the technique.( Beware of TKD fighter’s ability to kick equally with both legs, and their ability to attack while moving away. Wheel Kicks, Turning Side Kicks to the liver, Tornado kicks, Flip Kicks, etc. )


  1. Stick To Your Opponent

Once you gain ground, you must not give it back.  That is not to say the WC stylist should shift into “Chain Punch Mode”; for instance, if you have closed the distance on your opponent and have made close quarters contact, why would you allow him to gain space and have to start the battle over again. Hand trapping techniques can come in to play at this distance; as well as elbows, knees, palm strikes, and joint locks. If you have trapped one of your opponents limbs to his body, it is time to finish the fight.




A Short History Of TaeKwonDo

A Short History Of TaeKwonDo

TaeKwonDo like many martial arts was built on the foundation and assimilation of other styles.  The term TaeKwonDo, or “the way of the foot and fist”, was coined by General Choi Hon Hi of the South Korean Army in 1957. The style itself was a melding of the top martial arts schools, or kwans in South Korea at the time. Korea already had several traditional martial arts dating back to the 1st century A.D., most notably Takkyeon and Gwonbeop.  During the occupation by Japan from 1910-1945 , many Korean masters incorporated the Japanese arts of Karate, Judo, and JiuJitsu, as well as elements of Chinese Kung Fu into their martial training.


After its liberation from Japan, the nine major kwans began working on creating a unified style of Korean martial arts, and in 1959 the Korea Taekwondo Association was formed.


The Original 9 Kwans


Chung Do Kwan


Moo Duk Kwan

Chang Moo Kwan

Song Moo Kwan

Oh Do Kwan

Kang Duk Kwan

Han Moo Kwan

Jung Do Kwan


Any youtube search will show that some of these kwans have carried their distinct lineage into present world of TaeKwonDo.


In 1959 the Korean TaeKwonDo Association was established, and then the International Taekwondo Federation(ITF was formed in 1966 under General Choi. After what seems a lengthy process, fraught with disagreements the Kukkiwon national academy of TKD was formed in 1972.  This became the official unified version of the sport of TKD, known as the World TaeKwonDo Federation(WTF).


In the early 1960’s twelve TKD masters were selected to promote the art of TaeKwonDo across the globe.  The popularity of the art was tremendous, coupled with the pop culture of the martial arts world of the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s TKD became an international martial art in very little time.  Over the years the organization has splintered many times from its’ original Korean TaeKwonDo Association.  In fact of the original twelve masters sent out to popularize TKD, only 6 retain any affiliation with the ITF or WTF.  Many TKD masters have formed their own TaeKwonDo associations or federations in various countries, and some with great success.


In the summer of 1988 TaeKwonDo made its’ appearance as a demonstration at the Olympic Games in Seoul. It became an Olympic Sport at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Austrailia. The World TaeKwonDo Federation is the governing body for TKD in the Olympics.


TaeKwonDo has grown into a well respected, international sport and form of self defense.  Like many other martial arts styles it is ripe with nuance and variation.  Of the scores of TaeKwonDo schools, federations, and organizations most will trace their origins back to the same roots.  In modern times, there are many fighters in MMA or kickboxing organizations that are TaeKwonDo practitioners.  Like most martial arts TKD continues to inspire people around the world towards self improvement.

The Five Tenets of TaeKwonDo are:





Invincibility of Spirit