Olympic TKD

andyjeffries

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Totally. I'm open to the possibility that I just lack the context to understand what I'm seeing.

Judo (and Sumo) are very fun to watch for me, because I can see the grip fighting and positional battles that are going on. But I could totally understand that to someone who isn't familiar with grappling, it looks like two people dancing around. Maybe TKD is like that.
I spoke to my daughter on this very topic.

She was a recreational Taekwondoin (2nd poom), when we watched the Judo. She's never done Judo but is aware of throws and submissions (because they're part of Kukkiwon Taekwondo now). Her response while watching it was "why do they keep grabbing each other and then stopping?" and "why has it stopped just because it's on the ground, I thought Judo was all about grappling and submissions on the ground".

To her it looked very dull and was missing the exciting bits she knew of Judo (exciting throws - rather than just trips - and ground submissions rather than just holding people still for 10 seconds). As you said, I too am aware of grip fighting and such - but most people aren't, so to the average viewer I'd imagine it looks much as it did for my daughter.

I haven't spoken to any non martial artists about Olympic Judo, but maybe I should...
 

andyjeffries

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Various trunk punch scores (well you can't punch the head, so I guess that's redundant). What I don't get is not using leg blocks (so my son says, he read the rules) - and yet much of the fight is spent with legs entangled. Frustrating mess to watch as someone who knows TKD, so goodness knows what it looks like to a non-martial artist. Seems Karate has been similarly watered down, which is bad news given the host nation!
My thoughts on this, hope it helps provide some insight in to where we are now and why we got here.

I think it helps if you come at it from a point of both understanding the Korean cultural background AND the business side of finding a niche and filling it (and let's not mistake this - Kukkiwon cares far less about money, they charge relatively low fees for things - WT however is a global business/sport with all that comes with it).

First part - Koreans have never liked face punching. From the early days of Taekkyeon they never wanted it in their sport. The reason given is that they were pottery makers and craftsmen as a nation and didn't want to risk breaking a hand. Whether that's the true reason or they just felt it uncouth, we may never know - but we know it's there.

Second part - imagine you're responsible for the multi-million point business that is defining a sport of Taekwondo. You have lots of impressive kicks and you want to differentiate yourself from Karate (so you can try to get in to the Olympics separately rather than as a flavour of Karate), what would you do in your rules? I'd say they'd go much as they have...

Punching to the head is already off limits as above, but we don't just want boxing to the body and people doing that all fight, we want them kicking. So let's de-emphasise them by making the point for a punch lower and them score far less often. We want to encourage lots of high kicking action so let's give more points for the head and more points for spinning.

Now, when that Steven Lopez chap was around, he actually blocked with his lower leg quite often and it made for very boring fights because it turns out no one wanted to attack and end up doing a painful shin/foot on shin or shin/foot on knee kick. So we'll change the rules to penalise anyone doing that.

Lots of hugging, that's not exciting kicking action - so let's allow pushing to try to allow players to break that stalemate of the clinch. But we don't want them just pushing each other to the floor if the other is trying to kick (we want to encourage kicking) so we'll penalise if they do that.

That's pretty much how the evolution of the rules has gone - with every step being with a mindset of "we have exciting kicks which is different to most other martial arts, how can we show them off, and try to reduce things that stop people showing them off".

The common question I hear is "why don't we allow X in Taekwondo like we do in Y, then it would be better" where X is leg blocking, leg kicks, face punching, takedowns, whatever. The reason is that when you do - you change the game. You don't just add something in, suddenly the strategies that most competitors will use will be whatever wins them matches - so you risk "why bother kicking if I can just slip the first kick, take them down and get the points".

You also lose the uniqueness of WT Taekwondo and it becomes "just like Thai Boxing" or "just like MMA" and what's the point in that, those sports already exist! If you want leg blocks, leg kicks, face punches - do Thai boxing.
 

MadMartigan

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Thanks for chiming in.
I think there's often a view that the modern game is boring to watch, but in reality there was LOTS of bouncing and often very little action in old school games too. For example, here's a final from the 1989 world championship - - under the current rules inactivity is penalised really quickly.
When I watched this, my first thought was it was miles above what I saw last week. While a small sample size no doubt, the mid competition matches reminded me off...
I suspect that it's the kicking toward the head in and from the clinch that I find so silly looking.

Today when searching YouTube, the matches I found actually were much better than what I saw last week
Perhaps we all saw the same couple bad matches and formed opinions from those poor examples.
The electronic PSS is much much fairer. The amount of times points would be scored in old school that landed on a forearm guard (but made a loud noise) or actually landed on a hip was crazy.
That makes sense (as to why it happened). There are few things I hate more than biased and subjective judging in any sport; and this was a logical attempt at solving this problem. Just as fencing when it introduced electronic sensors. The fairness increased but it seems that dynamic and exciting action was the price. In fact, fencing with the lead leg seems to be the direction Olympic TKD is heading.
Perhaps if the sensitivity of the chest protector was dialed down even more, it would encourage harder contact (more in line with the old mentality of going for the knockout win).
 

andyjeffries

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Perhaps we all saw the same couple bad matches and formed opinions from those poor examples.

Maybe, the coverage in the UK was REALLY limited, I don't know where you live or what yours was like, but we had a couple of last few second losses in the final that were fairly exciting. Bradley Sinden from Team GB's early couple of fights were quite the one-sided affairs (and therefore more exciting too).

That makes sense (as to why it happened). There are few things I hate more than biased and subjective judging in any sport; and this was a logical attempt at solving this problem. Just as fencing when it introduced electronic sensors. The fairness increased but it seems that dynamic and exciting action was the price. In fact, fencing with the lead leg seems to be the direction Olympic TKD is heading.
Perhaps if the sensitivity of the chest protector was dialed down even more, it would encourage harder contact (more in line with the old mentality of going for the knockout win).

That's the way I tend to think - given X problem, how can we logically solve it. And every time I can't come up with anything better than the PSS system (although it has its faults).

Initially to try to think about how to "solve the problem of too many cut kicks" when the game started changing, my logical/computing brain went to thinking about accelerometers and AI recognition of the kicks and then not scoring them. However, I came up against the problem that socks are currently not-powered devices - they have magnets in them, but no circuitry or power. So to add anything more advanced would mean the price of the sensor socks/foot protectors will increase dramatically (and likely break/need replacing sooner with the impacts it would go through on a daily basis).

I also came to at least have an appreciation for the front leg game. How to work around the cut kick, how to cancel it, how the footwork has to change to get there first, etc. Now I don't mind it so much.
 

Flying Crane

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Today when searching YouTube, the matches I found actually were much better than what I saw last week
I don’t know the rules of Olympic TKD sparring. Is it illegal to use the hands in a decisive way? I see a few punches, but zero attempts to block or smother the kicks. The two competitors are just taking turns throwing the same lead-leg side kick, over and over, with no engagement of the hands. It seems that the kick could be smashed down with the hands, leaving the way open for a decisive kick in return. Why is that not done?
 

Buka

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I don’t know the rules of Olympic TKD sparring. Is it illegal to use the hands in a decisive way? I see a few punches, but zero attempts to block or smother the kicks. The two competitors are just taking turns throwing the same lead-leg side kick, over and over, with no engagement of the hands. It seems that the kick could be smashed down with the hands, leaving the way open for a decisive kick in return. Why is that not done?
Because....you know.....it's just not done. :)
 

Tez3

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Maybe, the coverage in the UK was REALLY limited, I don't know where you live or what yours was like, but we had a couple of last few second losses in the final that were fairly exciting. Bradley Sinden from Team GB's early couple of fights were quite the one-sided affairs (and therefore more exciting too).



That's the way I tend to think - given X problem, how can we logically solve it. And every time I can't come up with anything better than the PSS system (although it has its faults).

Initially to try to think about how to "solve the problem of too many cut kicks" when the game started changing, my logical/computing brain went to thinking about accelerometers and AI recognition of the kicks and then not scoring them. However, I came up against the problem that socks are currently not-powered devices - they have magnets in them, but no circuitry or power. So to add anything more advanced would mean the price of the sensor socks/foot protectors will increase dramatically (and likely break/need replacing sooner with the impacts it would go through on a daily basis).

I also came to at least have an appreciation for the front leg game. How to work around the cut kick, how to cancel it, how the footwork has to change to get there first, etc. Now I don't mind it so much.

I saw most of the TKD and Judo here in UK, on Eurosport who have 7 channels for the Olympics as well as online, the time difference was a nuisance but I recorded anything on in the very early morning our time. I'll do the same for the karate and wrestling.

My instructor was old time Judo, his first style and is disappointed in Olympic Judo with there being no grappling on the ground.


One thing though we point out to detractors of MMA, the human cock fighting brigade, is that all the separate components are to be found in the Olympics, then we detail the boxing, TKD, Judo and wrestling. A little simplistic of course but we do sometimes get an 'ah I understand' moment.
 
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Gyakuto

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OK, as you say there's very little Kukkiwon stylists here chiming in, so I'll be the proverbial offering put forward. (asbestos suit on...)

So I would make a few points:
  1. I think there's often a view that the modern game is boring to watch, but in reality there was LOTS of bouncing and often very little action in old school games too. For example, here's a final from the 1989 world championship -
    - under the current rules inactivity is penalised really quickly.
  2. The old school kickers looked powerful, but I would argue that the modern game is equally powerful. For example, having had Bianca Walkden (Team GB female heavyweight and Tokyo 2020 Bronze medalist) at my dojang for a seminar, there's no denying how hard she kicks! The problem is people see cut kicks as just like a jab, but it's more like a real gut punch if you get caught by one and aren't used to it. The thresholds for scoring are set at a decent level and when these guys are training full time (which very few people got to do when it was the "old school glory days") they develop serious power in techniques that don't look like they have it.
  3. I would say though I prefer the old school philosophy, I have maybe rose-tinted history glasses about that, however there's no denying that changes had to be made. The electronic PSS is much much fairer. The amount of times points would be scored in old school that landed on a forearm guard (but made a loud noise) or actually landed on a hip was crazy. Also the subjectiveness of "was that really hard enough to score". Not to mention Sarah Stevenson losing in 2008 when her headshot on her opponent wasn't scored even though it split her lip.
  4. A lot of this is out of WT's hands. We're a relatively new sport to the Olympics with a lot of competition for replacement - so when the IOC says "hey, you need to make scoring fairer, these mis-counted/mis-scored shots need to be scored by a system not a fallible or potentially biased judge - or you're out" we have to do it.
  5. People are saying "I think Karate will be better" and I agree, this year it may be more exciting, but if they were to remain past this year - let's see what IOC has to say about new changes that must be made... Although based on YouTube I just searched for "World championship Karate final" and got
    - maybe it won't be, lots of bouncing lots of running off celebrating after a touch.
So I get people's point. However, I have spoken to quite a few non-martial artists recently about it and framed the question as "ignore that I do Taekwondo, I get it's a niche sport that I may like more than others and that's fine - what did you think of it" and the responses are generally "wow, they're athletic and incredible with their feet" and "it's exciting to watch, so many points can change in the final seconds of a fight".

It's a small sample, but that's been my experience. In the old school days everything was one point. Now with spinning headshots worth 5 and body shots worth 2 (and you can score a couple of them electronically in quick succession) - a one point lead with seconds to spare is far from safe.

Side note: I have heard that the Karate heads have already been told effectively "it's in Tokyo, so you can have the two Karate events as sports this year, but Karate won't be staying past this event - Taekwondo has already made the needed changes, is more unified in ruleset and has more practitioners". Whether that's true or not, I couldn't say, but I've heard they've been told.
Very interesting account, thank you.
 

J. Pickard

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Non-martial artists will think this is what TKD is all about.
This is the same issue I have with the K-Tigers dance group. Super talented, but not representative of TKD as a whole. As far as olympic TKD goes it's just sooooo boring to watch and lacks so much of what makes TKD a great martial art in my opinion. But I also find most other sports boring to to watch so it could just be me.
 
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J. Pickard

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as a general rule, if you want to turn a martial art into a shell of it's former self, incorporate it into the Olympics. Fencing, Judo, TKD, Wrestling, Boxing (not as bad) are all super watered down variations lacking in all regards when compared to their martial art origins. When you take something designed to harm another individual (some times even designed to take a life) and turn it into a game it's got no choice but to become a pale impression of the real thing.
 

Steve

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as a general rule, if you want to turn a martial art into a shell of it's former self, incorporate it into the Olympics. Fencing, Judo, TKD, Wrestling, Boxing (not as bad) are all super watered down variations lacking in all regards when compared to their martial art origins. When you take something designed to harm another individual (some times even designed to take a life) and turn it into a game it's got no choice but to become a pale impression of the real thing.
I disagree. Olympic fencing, judo, wrestling, and boxing are all pretty awesome. For example, I really appreciated the different rules, and as a result, the different skills, strategies, and tactics, between epee, sabre, and foil. Some have specific targets, while others score on any touch, the size and weight of the instrument.

Judo is always cool, and if you think those guys aren't dangerous, you are crazy. The team events in fencing, and now in Judo, were super fun to watch.

Similarly, the difference between freestyle and greco roman wrestling is awesome. I really think submission wrestling could do VERY well in the Olympics with minimal revision (well, maybe the addition of a cool uniform).
 

J. Pickard

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I disagree. Olympic fencing, judo, wrestling, and boxing are all pretty awesome. For example, I really appreciated the different rules, and as a result, the different skills, strategies, and tactics, between epee, sabre, and foil. Some have specific targets, while others score on any touch, the size and weight of the instrument.

Judo is always cool, and if you think those guys aren't dangerous, you are crazy. The team events in fencing, and now in Judo, were super fun to watch.

Similarly, the difference between freestyle and greco roman wrestling is awesome. I really think submission wrestling could do VERY well in the Olympics with minimal revision (well, maybe the addition of a cool uniform).
My fault for not articulating my point well. I agree they are still very dynamic and require a lot of skill. I personally just get bored watching sports, but enjoy playing many.
The overall point I was trying to make is that the sport version of these martial arts is not representative of the art as a whole and can be misleading for laymen that thing the sport represents the art as a whole. The sport version of these combat arts barely scratch the surface of what the art has to offer and are in that regard a meager shell of the art as a whole. From a school owner perspective it can make it frustrating when people want the sport but don't understand the difference and think the sport is all there is to an art.
 

Steve

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My fault for not articulating my point well. I agree they are still very dynamic and require a lot of skill. I personally just get bored watching sports, but enjoy playing many.
The overall point I was trying to make is that the sport version of these martial arts is not representative of the art as a whole and can be misleading for laymen that thing the sport represents the art as a whole. The sport version of these combat arts barely scratch the surface of what the art has to offer and are in that regard a meager shell of the art as a whole. From a school owner perspective it can make it frustrating when people want the sport but don't understand the difference and think the sport is all there is to an art.
Sure, the Olympics are all about niche sports. Only time I ever watch archery or trap shooting is in the Olympics. Not your cup of tea? No problem. Other sports I can't get into are water polo, long jump, and the canoeing/kayaking. Man, are those boring to watch.

From a school owner perspective, I mean, that's a business. I honestly don't understand why you'd be frustrated with people who "want the sport". Or maybe a better way to say it is, if the sport gets folks interested in the art, I think that's a good thing. Were I a school owner, I'd embrace that and use it to get folks in the door. As their skills improve, some will want to specialize in the sport, and others will want to balance out their skills. I don't see one as better or worse than the other. But I do still think the path to real skill isn't less sport. It's more (and more diverse) sport.
 

J. Pickard

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From a school owner perspective, I mean, that's a business. I honestly don't understand why you'd be frustrated with people who "want the sport"
In a nutshell: Too many people out there, some Taekwondoin included, think TKD is exclusively what you see in the olympics. Many people don't know that the practical side of Taekwondo, how Taekwondo started as an effective martial art, includes takedowns, throws, trips, joint locks, and strikes to the head. So what happens is we get new student's that come in thinking all TKD is the sport so we have to spend extra time explaining the difference which is really not so frustrating as much as it is tedious. Then there are the Taekwondoin and keyboard martial artists that have only ever been exposed to the sport side that are constantly criticizing the non sport schools and bombarding them with the "that's not Taekwondo. Taekwondo doesn't have X Technique in it". I lost count of the number of times we have had visiting students from a neighboring sport TKD school come to our open gym and then tell us how we are doing TKD wrong because they only know the sport side (They are a good school though, great players of the game). That's the frustrating part because it's endless. Just like Karate, it's not just punches and kicks.
 

nigebj

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In a nutshell: Too many people out there, some Taekwondoin included, think TKD is exclusively what you see in the olympics. Many people don't know that the practical side of Taekwondo, how Taekwondo started as an effective martial art, includes takedowns, throws, trips, joint locks, and strikes to the head. So what happens is we get new student's that come in thinking all TKD is the sport so we have to spend extra time explaining the difference which is really not so frustrating as much as it is tedious. Then there are the Taekwondoin and keyboard martial artists that have only ever been exposed to the sport side that are constantly criticizing the non sport schools and bombarding them with the "that's not Taekwondo. Taekwondo doesn't have X Technique in it". I lost count of the number of times we have had visiting students from a neighboring sport TKD school come to our open gym and then tell us how we are doing TKD wrong because they only know the sport side (They are a good school though, great players of the game). That's the frustrating part because it's endless. Just like Karate, it's not just punches and kicks.
This is why the Olympic version of any sport is so important - it exposes new people to a sport.

In the TKD case there are two risks:
  1. The art is trivialized for the sake of ease of scoring, or to drive some perceived differentiation as @andyjeffries suggests, or
  2. The newly exposed citizens think "Wow, why don't they use their hands? I think I'll try something which uses all four limbs" - netting no new TKD participants anywhere.
Someone here mentioned Kendo worked hard to avoid inclusion - seems a smart decision to me.

BTW: @andyjeffries thanks for the detailed, if IMO sad, response.
 

Steve

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This is why the Olympic version of any sport is so important - it exposes new people to a sport.

In the TKD case there are two risks:
  1. The art is trivialized for the sake of ease of scoring, or to drive some perceived differentiation as @andyjeffries suggests, or
  2. The newly exposed citizens think "Wow, why don't they use their hands? I think I'll try something which uses all four limbs" - netting no new TKD participants anywhere.
Someone here mentioned Kendo worked hard to avoid inclusion - seems a smart decision to me.

BTW: @andyjeffries thanks for the detailed, if IMO sad, response.
Think about that in terms of real numbers though. Taking nothing away from Kendo, which is a great sport and fun to watch, how many people worldwide train in Kendo? Vs TKD? Of course, this invites a slew of other criticisms, but from a “butts in seats” perspective you just cannot beat the exposure that the Olympics provides to any niche sport.
 

andyjeffries

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This is why the Olympic version of any sport is so important - it exposes new people to a sport.

In the TKD case there are two risks:
  1. The art is trivialized for the sake of ease of scoring, or to drive some perceived differentiation as @andyjeffries suggests, or
  2. The newly exposed citizens think "Wow, why don't they use their hands? I think I'll try something which uses all four limbs" - netting no new TKD participants anywhere.

That's a fair summary of the risks. I would say personally Olympic Taekwondo nets us almost no new students directly (maybe a handful since 2000), but it does increase mindshare of Taekwondo being a popular martial art. By the time potential students are considering a martial art and look up clubs in the local area, that "oh yeah, I remember Taekwondo being in the Olympics" (without remembering whether they thought it was good or not) can help in getting students that may have gone to Karate or Jiu Jitsu or Kung Fu.

I'd also say that things like the World Taekwondo Demo Team going on America's Got Talent or the Kukkiwon Demo Team going on World's Best show help to show that Taekwondo isn't just Olympic sparring. We then get detractors saying "it's like gymnastics" or "those boards are too thin", but not from non-martial artists in my experience. The general public just seem to have the "Holy sh*t - that's AWESOME!" when they see it.

BTW: @andyjeffries thanks for the detailed, if IMO sad, response.

You're welcome :)
 
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Gyakuto

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Someone here mentioned Kendo worked hard to avoid inclusion - seems a smart decision to me.
I should add, part of the (unofficial) motivation was to avoid the very real possibility of being annihilated by the Korean Kumdo practitioners. It was a face-saving exercise of the part of the ZNKR!
 

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Did anyone see an exciting match this Olympic tournament?
 
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