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A new world

Taekwondo

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“The way of the feet and hands” is the meaning of the Korean word taekwondo, a martial art included in the Olympic Games since Sydney 2000. At the Rio 2016 Games, there are four weight classes for men and women.
Spectator's Guide - Taekwondo

About

About

Aim of the game

Fighters score points by landing kicks and punches on the torso and head of their opponent – the fighter with the most points wins the bout

Why should you watch this?

The combination of accuracy, power and control in taekwondo fights, coupled with the grace and movement of the ancient martial arts, makes for an impressive contest

International Federation

WTF

Olympic debut

Sydney 2000

Rules
  • Dobok

    Dobok

    The taekwondo uniform

  • Hogu

    Hogu

    The name of the chest guard worn by fighters, with a red or blue area representing the opponent’s target

  • Shijak!

    Shijak!

    Korean for ‘begin’, it is shouted by the referee at the start of each fight

Impress your friends

  • The sport’s Korean roots go back 2,000 years, but the modern rules of taekwondo were defined in 1955

    The sport’s Korean roots go back 2,000 years, but the modern rules of taekwondo were defined in 1955

  • Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Games, but did not become a medal event until the Sydney 2000 Games

    Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Games, but did not become a medal event until the Sydney 2000 Games

  • Knockouts are rare in taekwondo, but Dae Sung Moon won gold at Athens 2004 with a spinning kick that ended Alexandros Nikolaidis’ participation there and then

    Knockouts are rare in taekwondo, but Dae Sung Moon won gold at Athens 2004 with a spinning kick that ended Alexandros Nikolaidis’ participation there and then

  • Rohullah Nikpah won Afghanistan’s first ever Olympic medal by taking bronze at Beijing 2008, a feat he repeated at the London 2012 Games

    Rohullah Nikpah won Afghanistan’s first ever Olympic medal by taking bronze at Beijing 2008, a feat he repeated at the London 2012 Games

  • At London 2012, young British fighter Jade Jones delighted the home crowd by beating world champion Hou Yuzhuo of China to win the women’s gold medal

    At London 2012, young British fighter Jade Jones delighted the home crowd by beating world champion Hou Yuzhuo of China to win the women’s gold medal

  • Not surprisingly, the Republic of Korea has dominated Olympic taekwondo over the years, taking one third of the sport’s gold medals to date

    Not surprisingly, the Republic of Korea has dominated Olympic taekwondo over the years, taking one third of the sport’s gold medals to date

  • Asian countries dominate the sport, with China the second highest medal-winners with eight, including five golds

    Asian countries dominate the sport, with China the second highest medal-winners with eight, including five golds

  • Taekwondo means ‘the way of the feet and hands’ in Korean

    Taekwondo means ‘the way of the feet and hands’ in Korean

  • Cuba’s Ángel Matos was so upset at being disqualified in his Beijing 2008 bronze medal match that he kicked one of the referees in the face – he was banned for life

    Cuba’s Ángel Matos was so upset at being disqualified in his Beijing 2008 bronze medal match that he kicked one of the referees in the face – he was banned for life

  • A revised scoring system and reduced mat size for London 2012 helped make bouts more exciting, and eight nations won the eight gold medals on offer

    A revised scoring system and reduced mat size for London 2012 helped make bouts more exciting, and eight nations won the eight gold medals on offer

  • The majority of points in taekwondo are scored in counter attacks, hence its reputation as a sport of reaction and quick-thinking rather than brute strength

    The majority of points in taekwondo are scored in counter attacks, hence its reputation as a sport of reaction and quick-thinking rather than brute strength

Duration

The bouts are divided into three two-minute rounds, with one-minute intervals between each.

Scoring

The aim is to strike the opponent inside the red or blue areas of the uniform and points are awarded for each strike. 

If a fighter hits their opponent on the turn, the infamous ‘spinning kick’, it is worth two points.

A hit to the head can score three points (direct hit) or four points (spinning kick).

How to win

A fighter can win the fight by:

  • Scoring the highest number of points after three rounds

  • Knocking out the opponent

  • Having 12 points more than the opponent at the end of the second round

  • Disqualification of an opponent

If the scores are level at the end of the first three rounds, there will be a fourth round where the first to score a point wins. If no points are scored in the fourth round, the winner is decided by the referees.

Not allowed

Use of the knee, pushing, holding, hitting below the belt and hitting your opponent when they are on the floor, are considered serious, punishable infringements.

Stats

Top Medalists

Men
IRI
Hadi Saeibonehkohal
2 0 1 3
usa
Steven Lopez
2 0 1 3
tur
Servet Tazegul
1 0 1 2
Women
chn
Zhong Chen
2 0 0 2
chn
Jingyu Wu
2 0 0 2
kor
Kyung-Sun Hwang
1 0 1 2