Taekwondo is a combat sport which is acted out between either two men or women with the aim of scoring points by hitting their opponent in quick succession. The competitor with the most points at the end of the time limit wins. However, if a fighter is knocked down for a count of ten then they forfeit the fight and their opponent wins, just as in boxing. Taekwondo is particularly renowned for its kicks, which include kicks to all heights, with spins and jumps included. The sport also uses punches, however, as kicks score higher in fights, punches are less likely to be seen.
In a taekwondo fight there is an abundance of clothing and equipment that it is essential competitors wear. Firstly, there is the uniform of taekwondo, which is a loose fitting, white uniform, and belt. Next there is a head guard which helps reduce the damage from the inevitable head kicks in a fight. Next is a body guard which is the only piece of equipment to be worn over the uniform. Forearm guards, mits, shin guards and feet pads must also be worn. Men also wear groin guards, whilst women wear chest guards. As you can tell, fighters are much protected from damage in a fight, which reassures them that they can go harder at the time.
In terms of the ring, taekwondo fights are held on a rubber mat area, which gives a little spring to help out the fighters, especially when they go to do flying kicks. There is always one referee in the ring, conducting the fight, and four judges around the mat who award the points. For a point to score, at least two judges must score it. A recorder takes down all the scored points to give the final score. There is also a doctor present for fights, in case of injury. Each fighter will have their coach on ringside for guidance. Similarly, during the fight the competitors must be wearing the colour of their side so that the judges can tell them apart. These colours are usually red and blue.
Despite the emphasis on sport in taekwondo, it does have a far reaching history, being created around 2000 years ago in Korea. Indeed, taekwondo is still the national sport in Korea, and much of the original terminology is still used, even in Western taekwondo clubs, today. Taekwondo translates into English as ‘the way of the hand and foot’, much less poetic than judo’s ‘gentle way’, but arguably more accurate of the style. There are 191 nations in the World Taekwondo Federation worldwide, so no matter where in the world you are, there will definitely be a taekwondo club out there for you to try!