Sparring

 
ITF Sparring

 

ITF Sparring

 

Sparring is the term for practice-fighting in a Taekwon-Do class. It is also the kind of fighting most commonly used at tournaments. The ITF-style Taekwon-Do practitioners practice continuous point-sparring, and the WTF style also does, but in a very different way. Other Taekwon-Do schools or styles will practice one-point sparring; every time a point is scored in competition the match is stopped and it is awarded. Generally ‘light-contact’ is the allowed power in tournaments, but very often ‘light-contact’ means to go nearly as hard as you can! Top-Ten sparring gear is the offical ITF sparring gear, and Adidas is the WTF’s offical equipment brand.

You are not allowed to go to the ground, hit to the back, or kick below the belt in ITF-style sparring, but in competition hitting to the face is allowed. In WTF style, punches rarely count or are even used, and chest protectors are required. Switch kicks are commonly used as the bread-and-butter technique in this Olympic-style sport Taekwondo. Often electric scoring methods are used in the WTF, where each kick will count as a point automatically, no corner-judges required. Honestly, this can become a problem because some good kicks won’t be counted, while other kicks with incorrect technique will be. The ITF sparring points are counted by hand by four corner judges. Any punch is one point. Any standing kick is two points. Any jumping kick to the head is three points. Wins by knockout are not encouraged, but it has been known to happen.

Sparring is different from fighting in the fact that the emphasis is on point-scoring, whereas in a real fight points don’t matter and you can attack to vital spot such as the eyes, philtrum, groin, and solar plexus. Many do-jangs will also teach what you should do in a real fight as opposed to tournament sparring.

This kind of sparring is not to be confused with Pre-Arranged Free Sparring and Step-Sparring, which are pre-arranged self defense sequences and, while effective for teaching techniques and for demonstration, is nothing like actual sparring.

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