Tkd Dead?


Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Jan 3, 2006
Reaction score
Denver, CO
Being from an ITF background (although I'm no longer in the ITF - these rules are based on the YomChi TKD Association, my current affiliation), my perspective on tournament sparring is a little different, as our rules are somewhat different. The target zone is from the belt to the base of the throat (front only) and anywhere on the head. There are no targets on the back or below the belt. Arms can be hit without penalty, but strikes to the arms are not scored. Competition matches are generally continuous; point sparring (where the match is stopped to award points) is used as an added event, but is not the usual format. Points are awarded as follows:

Hand attack to any legal target: 1 point
Foot attack to any legal target on the torso: 1 point
Foot attack to the head: 2 points
Flying hand attack to any legal target (jump must cover at least competitor's own body length): 2 points
Flying kick to any legal target on the torso: 2 points
Flying kick to the head: 3 points

Please remember that points are only awarded if they are delivered to a legal target using a legal technique (hand and foot attacks, no grabs, foot sweeps at red belt and up only, no elbows - there are more, but those are the main ones) with focus, power, and control - that means medium contact to the body, light contact to the head. In addition, the ITF requires hand and foot pads, headgear, mouthguards, and cups for male competitors - but no hogu.

Continuous sparring is, in my opinion, more realistic than point sparring; anyone who thinks that a referee is going to stop a street fight to award points had best think again! :)

In my own personal opinion, if hand strikes to the face/head, and sweeps to the knees were made part of the olympic sparring rules, it would, at least to me, become olympic UFC. JMHO

My concern with knees - sweeping or kicking - is the very minimal amount of force needed to cause serious and often permanent damage. Such concerns are why the YCTA rules do not allow attacks below the belt (and from a self-defense standpoint, if I can kick you in the solar plexus, throat, or head, knees and groin become really easy targets to reach) or to the back (spine and kidneys). Headgear is mandatory not because of concerns about people being hit in the head, but because it was mandated at red and above when sweeps were instituted, due to the danger of hitting one's head on the floor when falling after being swept. The requirement for headgear was later expanded to all ranks.