Academic Taekwondo®

Taekwondo Sparring


What is Sparring? 



Sparring Methodology


 Even though there exist as many different sparring methodologies as there are different martial arts, any sparring system's developmental level can be analyzed according to two criteria; the range of allowable techniques and the level of permissible contact.

Another important, albeit auxiliary method of classifying sparring methodology is the type and extent of protective equipment used.

The original difficulty in finding a compromise between safety and perfection in sparring was, to some extent, resolved by the degree of limitations imposed on the system:

          1.  The number and type of techniques permitted in sparring.

          2.  The limitation placed on the degree of contact.

          3.  Limits restricting legal target areas.

A part from these characteristics, the type and extent of protective gear is another important characteristic of sparring methodology.




 No contact allowed 

 Very few limitations


Light, controlled contact 

Moderate limitations 

Full-contact (other)  

Full-contact allowed 

No limitations 


Full-contact allowed

Strict limitations

Permitted Techniques – Sparring Rules

Fist techniques: Delivering techniques by using the front parts of the forefinger and middle finger of the tightly clenched fist.


Foot techniques: Delivering techniques by using the parts of the foot below the anklebone.

Permitted Areas

Trunk:  Within the limits of the area from a horizontal line at the base of the acromion down to a horizontal line at the iliac crest, attack by fist and foot techniques are permitted. However, such attacks shall not be made on the part of the back not covered by the trunk protector.

Face:  This area is the front part of the face on the basis of a coronal line at both ears, and attack by foot technique only is permitted. Juniors – Light Controlled Contact only.


Valid Points

Points shall be awarded when permitted techniques are delivered accurately and powerfully to the legal scoring areas.

Each scoring technique shall earn 1 (plus one) point. Match score shall be the sum of points of the three rounds.


Legal Scoring Areas

Mid-section of the trunk: The abdomen and both sides of the flank.

Face: The permitted parts of the face.

Trunk:  The valid scoring areas of the trunk are divided into three sections of the abdomen and both flanks. The size of each scoring area is depicted in the following illustration.

Face: The same as the permitted parts of the face.

Prohibited Acts

The referee shall declare penalties on any prohibited acts.

Penalties are divided into “Kyong-go” (warning penalty) and “Gam-jeom” (deduction penalty). Two “Kyong-gos” shall be counted as deduction of one (1) point. However, odd “Kyong-go” shall not be counted in the grand total. A “Gam-jeom” shall be counted as minus one (-1) point.

Duration of a Contest

The duration of the contest shall be three rounds of three minutes with one minute of rest between rounds.  World Junior Championships being three rounds of two minutes with one minute of rest between rounds.

  • Each scoring technique shall earn 1 (plus one) point. 

  • Match score shall be the sum of points of the three rounds.

Kyong-go penalty


1.   Touching acts

  • Grabbing the opponent

  • Holding the opponent

  • Pushing the opponent

  • Touching the opponent with the trunk

2.   Negative acts

  • Intentionally crossing the Alert Line

  • Evading by turning the back to the opponent

  • Intentionally falling down

  • Pretending injury

3.   Attacking acts

  • Butting or attacking with the knee

  • Intentionally attacking the groin

  • Intentionally stamping or kicking any part of the leg or foot

  • Hitting the opponent’s face with hands or fist

4.   Undesirable acts

  • Gesturing to indicate scoring or deduction on the part of the contestant or the coach

  • Uttering undesirable remarks or any misconduct on the part of the contestant or the coach

  • Leaving the designated mark on the part of the coach during match

Gam-jeom penalty


    1.   Touching acts

  • Throwing the opponent

  • Intentionally throwing down the opponent by grappling the opponent’s attacking foot in the air with the arm

    2.   Negative acts

  • Crossing the Boundary Line

  • Intentionally interfering with the progress of the match


     3.   Attacking acts

  • Attacking the fallen opponent

  • Intentionally attacking the back and the back of the head

  • Attacking the opponent’s face severely with hand

    4.   Undesirable acts

  • Violent or extreme remarks or behavior on the part of the contestant or the coach.


When a contestant refuses to comply with the Competition Rules or the referee’s order intentionally, the referee may declare the contestant loser by penalty.


When the contestant receives minus three (-3) points, the referee shall declare him/her loser by penalties.

“Kyong-go” and “Gam-jeom” shall be counted in the total score of the three rounds.



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