Tae Kwon Do is perhaps the most commonly practiced martial art in the world today. Developed in Korea, it is a combination of combat technique, self defense, exercise, sport, entertainment and philosophy. It is the national sport of Korea and an Olympic sporting event.
Tae Kwon Do sparring is generally divided into two forms: one-step sparring and free sparring.
One-step Tae Kwon Do sparring involves prearranged movements performed by two participants in concert. One of the participants employs punching and kicking techniques while the other uses various combinations of blocking and counterattacking techniques.
One-step sparring helps familiarize the students with the fundamentals of kicking, punching, and blocking movements. The students will learn to develop and manage their reaction time for accurate counterattacks. One-step sparring is essential in preparation for free Tae Kwon Do sparring.
Free sparring in Tae Kwon Do is the practical application of self defense techniques. The points of contact include the belt and above.
Typically, full contact is not permitted in free Tae Kwon Do sparring for safety reasons. Students are only allowed to strike specific target areas. Hand techniques, for example, may only be used on the front and side of the body from the belt to the shoulder. This also means that no hand technique may be delivered to the face or head.
Foot techniques may only be executed on the front and sides of the body from the belt to the head. Intentional kicks to the back and back of the head are strongly illegal. Also, there should be no throwing, knee attacks, head butts, or elbows are allowed. These rules are generally maintained by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation (WTF).
Taekwondo sparring tournaments consist of three rounds, each of which is three minutes, with a one minute rest period between rounds. In competition, matches are held in an 8x8 meter contest area in the center of a 12x12 meter competition area. A referee controls the match and enforces compliance with the rules. The event is judged by four corner judges who award the scores.