One of the last events to get underway at London 2012 is the martial art of Taekwondo. Starting yesterday, 116 athletes embarked on the long journey to Olympic Gold. There is still a lot of fighting to be done so here’s our guide to the intricacies of this great martial art.
Taekwondo originated during the 1950s in Korea, partly as a means of teaching discipline and increasing strength in the Korean army and is heavily entrenched in their history. Taekwondo means to “the way of the foot and hand”. There are a huge amount of variations in the sport but the Gyerugi sparring format is used for the Olympics because of it’s clearly defined scoring system.
Each fight has 3 rounds in which competitors aim to score points by kicks and punches to the body (1 point), spinning kicks to body (2 points) and kicks to the head (3 points). Fighters use a variety of moves including blocks, kicks, open handed striking, punching, throws and takedown in an attempt to score as many points as possible.
It’s a knockout event so it’s very tense right from the first fight and there are 4 different weight divisions for men and women. We like the fact that any one beaten by the two finalists on the way through go into a bronze medal competition with the 2 beaten semi finalists, which seems much fairer and should negate the affect of a bad draw.
In the men’s tournament there has been plenty of furore over the selection process that saw world number 1 Aaron Cook miss out on a place in the team but his replacement, Lutalo Muhammad, is a current European Gold medalist and is expected to challenge for an Olympic medal.
The women’s team is particulalrly strong with Sarah Stevenson and Jade Jones (only 4 years after taking up the sport!) amongst the favourites for Gold in their weight categories, coming into the Games with plenty experience and success in top level tournaments.
Try it yourself
To get involved in this great sport that works on strength, control, discipline and endurance then head over to British Taekwondo’s website to find your nearest club.