..Olympic Sparring Rules of Competition

Colored belt matches shall each normally consist of two rounds of 60-90 seconds (Black belts two to three rounds of 2-3 minutes), with a 30-60 second rest in between rounds. National and International competition requires a competition ring size of eight meters by eight meters.

Safety Equipment

All contestants shall wear approved trunk protector, head protector, groin guard, forearm protector, shin-instep protector, and a mouth protector. WTF approved Hand gloves are optional and required for World Class Black belt divisions. Jewelry is to be removed and finger and toenails are to be neatly trimmed. Eyeglasses are not permitted. Contestants shall have one (1) minute to confirm.

Legal Techniques (Duk-jeom)

One (1) point shall be awarded for each closed fist or kicking technique delivered accurately and with sufficient power to the entire colored area of the torso protector, in the absence of any violations. Sufficient power in the absence of Electronic sensors is defined as abrupt displacement due to the impact of the strike. Force of impact using electronic sensors in the trunk protector is measured by the level of force by which points are scored varying by weight division and gender. Authorized scoring implements are the forefist and any part of the foot below the ankle.

Points shall be awarded for each kicking technique delivered to all sides of the head above the collarbone, including the facial area. Under Senior (Full-contact) rules for W.T.F. and U.S.A.T. sanctioned tournaments, one (1) point is awarded for legal punches to the trunk protector, (2) points for legal kicks to the trunk protector, three (3) points are awarded for legal kicks to the head, four (4) points awarded for legal turning kicks to the trunk protector, with five (5) points awarded for valid turning kicks to the head. No punching to the head or kicking below the belt is allowed.

One score will automatically be awarded for legal techniques which result in staggering or a knockdown. A knockdown is defined as an 8-count required by the Referee due to the strike impact of a valid technique, whereupon any part of the body other than the foot touches the ground. In the case of either a knockdown or staggering, a competitor must demonstrate the ability to continue the match safely, or the referee will continue the count to 10, thereupon declaring the winner.

Scoring techniques shall not be delivered to unauthorized areas including directly to the spine. Foot sweeps and throws are not allowed. When a contestant scores through the use of a prohibited act, the point(s) shall be annulled.

A 20-point gap rule will be enforced at the end of the 2nd round, in which a winner will be immediately declared.


Deductions (*Gam-jeom) +1 Point awarded to Opponent for each declaration:

  1. Crossing the Boundary Line.
  2. Falling down.
  3. Avoiding or delaying the match.
  4. Grabbing or Pushing the opponent.
  5. Lifting the leg to block or/and kicking the opponent's leg to impede the opponent's kicking attack, or lifting a leg or kicking in the air for more than 3 seconds to impede the opponent's potential attacking movements, or aiming a kick below the waist.
  6. Kicking below the waist.
  7. Attacking the opponent after "Kal-yeo" (break) is called.
  8. Hitting the opponent's head with the hand.
  9. Butting or attacking with the knee.
  10. Attacking the fallen opponent.
  11. Following the misconducts of contestant or coach:

a) Not complying with the referee's command or decision.

b) Inappropriate protesting of officials' decisions.

c) Inappropriate attempts to disturb or influence the outcome of a match.

d) Provoking or insulting the opposing contestant or coach.

e) Unaccredited doctor/physicians or other team officials found to be seated in the doctor's position.

f) Any other severe misconduct or unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of a contestant or coach.


1. Total of 10 deductions/"Geom-jeom" points.

  1. Competitor or coach intentionally disobeys the referee, the competition rules, displays unsportsmanlike conduct, or does not show up in time for the match.
  2. Heavy contact to the head with the hand or foot that resulting in injury, or injuring any opponent and rendering him/her unable to continue (Junior Safety Rules).
  3. Foul (Profanity) language by the coach/player/parent; bad conduct/behavior; verbal abuse.


**Junior Safety Rules regarding contact to the Head:

U.S.A.T. (U.S.A. Taekwondo) Junior rules state that no contact to the head is allowed for ages 7 and under (All Belts), and 11 and under (Color Belts).

Light, controlled contact is allowed to the head area (entire circumference) for age 8-11 Black belts, and colored (non-black) belt levels age 12-16, and "Ultra" divisions age 35 and over. Full Contact rules apply to all Belt levels age 17-34, and all Black belts age 12 and over.

Junior Rules include a non-differential point scoring system, with only one (1) point awarded for each legal scoring technique, and without awarding of bonus points. Excessive contact to the head will stop the time in order for a penalty to be issued, rather than for an 8-count. Excessive head contact resulting in the inability to continue will disqualify the attacker at the discretion of the referee. Turning head kicks are NOT allowed (Spinning hook kicks, back kicks, Turning Round-kicks/na-ra-ban, etc.)

NOTE: Inability or lack of desire to continue the match due to a legal technique is not grounds for the disqualification of an opponent.

Black belt Athletes age 12 and older who qualify at a U.S.A.T. State Championship may compete at National competitions in the World Class Cadet/Jr. divisions, with Senior rules regarding full Head contact.


The winner is determined by superior point totals of successful hits (solid contact) using hands and feet.

With an Electronic Scoring System (PSS), a point must be confirmed by a minimum of two corner judges within a one (1) second "scoring window" in order to be recorded onto the Scoreboard. Once a scoring window is opened upon one judge indicating a point seen, this window will remain open for one (1) second to be confirmed, regardless of the match duration time. Penalty points will be taken into account at the time they are recorded and will appear on the scoreboard. International competition will include the use of an instant video replay system.

Decision of Superiority

  1. In the case of the tie score by deduction points, the winner shall be the contestant awarded any point or more points throughout the course of the match.
  2. In the case of a tie score other than case 1. above [where both contestants received the same number of points and/or deductions] the winner shall be decided by one (1) additional Overtime/Golden point round. The winner will be declared as the first contestant to be awarded a legal point during this additional 1-minute round, absent any violations, or whose opponent receives two "Gam-jeoms" shall be declared the winner (the first "Geom-jeom" does not affect the score).

In the event that neither contestant has scored a point after the Golden Point round, the winner shall be decided by superiority based on the following criteria:

  1. The contestant who achieved a higher number of hits registered by the PSS during the Golden Point Round.
  2. If the number of hits registered by the PSS is tied, the contestant who won more rounds in the first three rounds.
  3. If the number of rounds won is tied, the contestant who received fewer "Gam-jeom" penalties during the total number of rounds.

Procedure for Superiority

  1. At the end of the overtime round, the referee takes two steps back, and says "Woo-se ki-rok."
  2. The corner judges complete their cards and present them to the referee.
  3. The referee completes his/her own card, records the result, confirms the result with the T.A., and declares the winner.
  4. With three corner judges, if there is a 2-2 tie, whichever player the referee voted for is the winner, and turns the cards over t0 the T.A. The referee shall decide the winner based upon the competitor who has shown the initiative through a. Technical dominance of an opponent
    through aggressive match management.
    b. The greater number of techniques executed.
    c. The use of the more advanced techniques,
    both in difficulty and complexity.
    d. Display of the better competition manner.

Penalties and prohibited acts are declared by the referee. In the case of multiple penalties being committed simultaneously, the heavier penalty is declared (+1) additional point awarded to opposing contestant.

Complete U.S.A. Taekwondo Competition Rules & Interpretations