Sport Poomsae Rules of Competition

Poomsae (a.k.a. Forms, Patterns, Hyung, Kata) is considered to be the traditional aspect of the Korean martial art of Taekwondo, and is defined as a patterned series of offensive and defensive techniques performed against an imaginary opponent. The regulations below pertain to Internationally recognized Poomsae and Kukkiwon/WTF standards and rules of competition

Duration of Contest

Recognized Poomsae: Individual, Pair and Team competitions from 30-90 seconds.

Free Style Poomsae: Individual, Pair and Mixed Team competitions from 60-70 seconds.

The waiting time between 1st and 2nd Poomsae is 30 to 60 seconds. National and International competition requires a competition ring size of 10 meters by 10 meters.

Uniform and Hygiene

All contestants shall wear an approved white Taekwondo V-neck uniform (dobok) or WTF approved Poomsae competition uniform in good condition. Black Belts must wear black-collared white uniforms or WTF approved Poomsae competition uniform. Color belts may not wear black-collared uniforms.

Shoes may not be worn. No jewelry or ornaments may be worn. No hats or items may be worn on the head except for religious coverings or soft ties to contain the hair. No tape will be allowed on any part of the uniform.

All competitors must maintain the highest standard of personal hygiene, keep their nails cut short, and groom their hair neatly.


Total score is 10 points.


TECHNICAL ACCURACY OF POOMSAE TECHNIQUE (0-4 Points, scored during performance):

0.1 point shall be deducted each time a stance, hand, or foot technique is not performed as explained in the current Kukkiwon Taekwondo Textbook.

Examples of 0.1 (minor) Deductions for each infraction:

  • Incorrect motion (for correct technique).
  • Poor balance.
  • Incorrect thumb placement.
  • Angle of feet incorrect in stances.
  • Poor chamber or re-chamber of kicks.
  • Blocking past midline of body (when midline is target).
  • Blocking with the inside arm rather than outside arm.
  • Striking from outside rather than inside.
  • Kicking with wrong part of foot.
  • Blocking/striking not at the same height as target (groin, solar plexus, and or philtrum).
  • Hand wrapped around elbow strike, rather than flat.
  • Incorrect number of motions in one pause.
  • The stance and the hand technique do not finish at the same time.

0.3 points shall be deducted when incorrect actions or techniques are performed or correct techniques or actions are omitted; i.e., serious deviations from the Poomsae as described in the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Textbook.

Examples of 0.3 (major) Deductions per infraction:

  • A contestant's performance not corresponding to the WTF movement (e.g. Wrong or omitted movement).
  • When contestant omits yell (ki-hap) or yells at wrong movement.
  • The starting position differed from the ending position by more then one foot allowance.
  • The contestant made unnecessary foot noise in stance or stepping.
  • The player made mistakes, such as pausing for more than 3 seconds during their performance.
  • The contestant performs foot-stomp without enough power and sound.

PRESENTATIONAL PERFORMANCE OF POOMSAE TECHNIQUE (0-6 Points, scored overall following performance):

  • Speed & Power (2.0 points): Ability to perform Poomsae shall be evaluated on whether the movements are performed in accordance with the characteristics of the pertinent movement.
  • Control of Power, Speed and Rhythm (2.0 points):

-Control of power means the greatest power is shown at the most critical moment of the movement.

-Control of speed means an appropriate connection between actions and changes in speed, such that powerful moves accelerate.

-Rhythm means that repeated actions are performed with timing that results in the technique being most effective to accomplish the intended result, and flow of power with the greatest expression of power occurring at the instant of the strike, block or kick.

  • Expression of Energy (2.0 points):

-This category addresses the presentation of confidence and power that come from mastering the expression of energy. The range of techniques, concentration, courage, sharpness, confidence, and posture affect how energy is expressed according to the characteristic actions of the Poomsae.

Examples of 0.1 (minor) Deduction:

  • Slight hesitation.
  • Slight imbalance.
  • Lack of rhythm.
  • Lack of alternating relaxation and tension.
  • Lack of flexibility and grace.
  • Incorrect uniform.

Examples of 0.3 (major) Deduction:

  • Eye focus or breathing is not corresponding to the movement of motion.
  • The contestant expressed power and speed with lack of fluency in movement.
  • The contestant lost balance in performing a movement to the extent that it is not appropriate.
  • The contestant performs movements with lack of flexibility.
  • The contestant shows a lack of energy force.

Additional 0.3 deduction factors from final score:
1. Crossing the Boundary Line.
2. Exceeding the time limit.

Gam-jeom Deductions (-1 Point):

  • Uttering undesirable remarks or any misconduct on the part of a contestant or coach.
  • Any act that intentionally interferes with another competitor, coach or official.

Should a contestant be assessed two (2) deductions, the referee shall declare the contestant a loser on penalties. "Gam-jeom" penalties refer to deduction of points due to behavior that does not respect the spirit of the sport, rather than due to judges' scoring in terms of accuracy and presentation.


  • Accuracy shall be scored separately from presentation.
  • Final score shall be the average of the judge's scores for accuracy (the highest and lowest judge scores dropped before calculating the average) and the average of the judge's scores for presentation (the highest and lowest judge scores dropped before calculating the average). If using the three judge format (rather than the standard 5 judge format), the highest and lowest score will not be dropped.

-The publication of the score shall show the score for Accuracy, the score for Presentation, and the Total Score.

-All penalties accumulated during the competition shall be deducted from the final score.

Decision and Declaration of Winner

  • The winner is determined by the contestant who is awarded the highest total points.
  • In the case of the tie score, the winner shall be the contestant with the highest presentation score. In case the scores are still tied, then the contestant with the higher total points (including all judges' scores, the highest and lowest not dropped) shall be the winner. In case the scores are still tied after the highest and lowest scores are added back, a rematch shall be conducted to determine the winner. The Referee will designate the Poomsae to be performed.
  • The rematch will consist of performing one compulsory Poomsae designated by the Referee. The previous scores will not affect the scores of the rematch.
  • In case of a tied score after the rematch, the winner shall be the contestant who is awarded more points in total, including the highest and lowest scores that were dropped. In case of a tie, the rematch will be repeated until there is a winner.


Cited/Key Sources:

Kukkiwon. (2006) Taekwondo Textbook (2nd ed.). Seoul, Korea, O-Sung Publishing (ISBN: 978-89-7336-750-1).

Kukkiwon. (2009) The Textbook of Taekwondo Poomsae. Seoul, Korea, O-Sung Publishing.

Ikpil, Kang and Namjung, Sung. (2008). The Explanation of Official Taekwondo Poomsae (2nd ed.). Seoul, Korea. Sang-a Publishing Co. (ISBN: 978-89-91237-24-7).

Serbin, S., Serbin, V. (2010). USA Taekwondo Poomsae Scoring Guidelines.

Southwick, R. (2009). Improving Poomsae Performance.

(Last Update: June 2013)