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July 2013 - Taekwondo World Championships in Mexico in July

The 21st Taekwondo World Championships are set to take place July 15th - 21st in Pueblo, Mexico. The games, organized by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), are taking place for the first time ever in Mexico, and return to Latin America for the first time since 1982 when they were held in Ecuador.




Although taekwondo as a martial art dates back thousands of years in Korea, as a competitive sport it first came into prominence when the WTF was founded in 1973. This was also the first year the World Championships were held. Only 19 countries participated that year in just 2 events, the men’s lightweight and heavyweight divisions. Korea took the gold in both events.


Since then the games have been held every two years. They have taken place six times in Korea, but are also regularly held in all different parts of the world. 1987 was the year that first saw women’s participation. Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000.




The organizers are expecting over a thousand of the world’s top practitioners to converge upon Mexico, representing 135 different nations.  There are several teams to watch out for that are heavily favored.


Korea - Obviously taekwondo has its roots in Korea and thus Korea is not only the country that has the most practitioners, but it’s also the country that has had the most success at the World Championships. In fact, Korea has won the most medals in both the men’s and women’s divisions every single year since the Championship’s inception, with the exception of last year’s events, which was won by Iran in the men’s division and China, who won in the overall medal count in the women’s division in 2009.


Iran - As mentioned above, Iran was the first male team to win the overall medal count at the World Championships in history other than Korea. They have a long and rich tradition, competing since 1975.


China - They have a really strong women’s team who took the overall medal count in 2009 and also had four competitors who made it into gold medal matchups in 2011.


Mexico - Organizers are expecting huge crowds at this year’s events and the home town support will undoubtedly help the local team. Mexico won 6 medals at the 2012 Olympic Games.


Electronic Scoring and Other Innovations


Taekwondo is the first fighting sport to use an electronic scoring system to record points. Each participant is fitted with a chest protector which has electronic sensors inside it. When the protector is struck hard enough an electronic impulse is detected by the chest protector and a point is automatically awarded. Electronic sensors are also fitted in the socks of participants. The higher the weight class of the competitors, the harder the chest protector must be struck in order to be detected by the sensors.


In addition to the electronic scoring system, taekwondo also allows for the use of instant replay. Each coach is given a card that he can use at any point during the fight to replay a call made by the judges. If he is correct in his challenge, he can keep the card and use it again. However, if his challenge proves false, he loses the use of the card for the remainder of the contest.


Winning and Losing


Single elimination tournaments will be held in each of eight different weight divisions for both men and women with higher ranked fighters getting a bye in the first round. Each match is composed of three two-minute rounds. If there is a tie score at the end of regulation, a sudden death round will take place with the first point scored winning the match.


Kicks to the head are worth 3 points while all strikes (kicks and punches) to the body are worth 1 point each. If there is a turning or spinning technique on the kick it will be awarded an additional point. No punches to the head are allowed.


It’s possible to get a half or full point deduction for fouls. Typical fouls include going out of bounds, intentionally falling down or stalling in the match. If you acquire two half point deductions, a full point will be awarded to your opponent.


Besides the point system, it’s also possible to win a match by disqualification, referee stoppage and knockout.


My Recommendation

If you’ve never seen competitive sport taekwondo before, I highly suggest you check it out. It’s a completely different style of combat sport that compares to nothing else. Some of the spin kicks and jumping kicks are incredible. The electronic scoring system and instant replay are also an interesting innovation that needs to be seen to be believed.


If you don’t have access to the 2013 Championships, I suggest you check out the previous games from 2011 which will be on Fightbox all month long in July.



Daniel Austin


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