There are regular local, national and international competitions available for all TAGB students (English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish/British/West of England/Southern England for example). You can compete in Sparring, Patterns or Destruction (black belts only). I never push students into taking part in competitions, although I do encourage everyone to at least give it a go once – it is a great experience, and even the smallest of successes can be a big boost to confidence. My students often return with medals and trophies from local and national competitions, and I have even had two students become world champions.
There are two different types of TaeKwon-Do sparring; there is the type that you may have seen on the TV, particularly during the Olympics – this type of sparring is full contact fighting (hitting each other as hard as they can with the intention of hurting and/or knocking out) and does not use hand techniques to the head. This style of TaeKwon-Do is referred to as WTF (World TaeKwon-Do Federation). Our association does not routinely do this style of sparring, however for the more experienced student, supplementary courses are occasionally run. The style of sparring we practice is similar to that used in modern kickboxing – it is semi-contact, meaning we are not trying to hurt our opponent. You won’t see us wearing the full contact body armour as used at the olympics! We do wear protective sparring kit though – and it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all sparring kit fits and has no rips or tears!
What Can You Compete In?
Sparring: Sparring is the main event in TAGB competitions. This is done at a semi contact or ‘touch contact’ level, this means that nobody is attempting to actually hurt, knock out or draw blood at all. Contestants who are seen to be going too hard in competitions are warned and then disqualified.
There are very definite rules in competition sparring, as well as the ‘not attempting to hurt’ rule; we wear protective equipment (gloves, head guard, foam boots, shin guards, gum shields and groin guards for men and boys). There is no kicking below the belt, no sweeping/catching kicks/tripping or take-downs, no grabbing at all – we do not grapple in competition. We attack only with our hands and feet (no knees or elbows) and the target areas are the front of the body and all of the head.
This type of sparring is also performed regularly in class; as well as training for the competition side of TaeKwon-Do, it is a good way to develop and experience fighting in a controlled way – all sparring is very closely monitored by experienced instructors.
Patterns: As well as sparring, students can also compete in patterns divisions. Patterns are combinations of TaeKwon-Do moves put together in a set routine (in Karate these patterns are known as Kata).
Destruction: Once the student has attained their black belt, they can also compete in the destruction event – breaking boards to demonstrate power and correct technique (and how daft you are!).
For more information on the TAGB competition rules, you can click here to download the TAGB rules for competitions PDF.