Shortcutting… Taekwondo

9 Aug

Sorry for the recent lack of posts – my excuse is that I have been swept up in a wave of all-consuming Olympics frenzy, as you might have guessed from my last few posts, before the frenzy completely took over. But today I return to you with information on a new sport that has caught my eye, after watching Jade Jones take the gold for team GB a few hours ago. It is my belief that no activity in which a spinning kick to the head is encouraged and rewarded should go unnoticed and so I would like to draw your attention to the ancient and brutal art of taekwondo.

According to my good friend Wikipedia, the name ‘Taekwondo’ can be broken down into ‘tae’ – to strike or break with foot, ‘kwon’ – to strike or break with fist, and ‘do’ – way/ method/ path, so can be literally translated as ‘the way of the hand and the foot’. The ‘Games and Beyond’ web page for taekwondo agrees with this but offers a more accurate translation – the art of kicking and punching. Brilliant. So let’s get started.

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, and the national sport of South Korea, hence all the Korean names for things. Matches are fought in an 8 x 8m court between two contestants. Both wear  white suits – ‘doboks’, and protective equipment – ‘hogu’ – which is either red -‘chung’ – or blue – ‘hong’. Matches are three rounds of two minutes, with one minute breaks in between (in the event of a tie a sudden-death fourth round is played). Athletes are only allowed to used closed fists to punch and parts of the foot below the ankle to kick, so no knee-ing or shin-ing. Full-force kick and punch attacks are only allowed on the part of the torso covered by the protector. Only foot techniques can be used to attack the head, and these attacks must be to the front of the head. Points are awarded when a contestant uses accepted techniques to deliver a full-force kick or punch.

Points are awarded as follows:
  • One point for a valid attack on the trunk protector.
  • Two points for a valid turning (spinning) kick to the trunk protector
  • Three points for a valid kick to the head
  • Four points for a valid turning (spinning) kick to the head

If a player is knocked out or counted out, their opponent is declared the winner.

There are two types of penalty that may be given:
  • A kyong-go warning penalty is given for misdemeanours such as falling down, grabbing, holding or pushing, turning your back on your opponent or attacking below the waist. Two kyong-go penalties lead to a one-point addition to the opponent’s score.
  • A gam-jeom penalty is given for infractions such as attacking your opponent when the round has stopped, attacking a fallen opponent or intentionally attacking your opponent’s face with the hand. One gam-jeom penalty leads to a one-point addition to the opponent’s score.

[The above information has been sourced from the Games and Beyond website]

I believe that there are other ways of doing taekwondo other than simply sparring, and taekwondo-ists can also collect belts etc. as in the more mainstream martial arts karate and judo, but this is a quick guide to the Olympic way of doing things, just so you can understand the rules. Do research further – in my opinion, it’s pretty cool!

Get ready to kick some ass (or rather, trunk and front of head)…

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

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