What do you know about this Korean form of martial art?
In Korea, it is practiced as the national sport, but it provides more than entertainment for those who learn it. Tae Kwon Do is used as a form of self-defense and exercise. Competitors come together in matches, somewhat like boxing, to fight, or spar, with one another. Much training and practice takes place before official sparring matches are held, as the technique is complicated, and competitors must be aware of what types of hits (strikes) are legal and illegal, and how points are awarded.
Tae Kwon Do competitors are required to wear the proper protective gear, and to abide by the rules of the referee who is present during the sparring. There are three rounds in a match. The rounds last for three minutes, and there is a one-minute break between rounds. If, during a round, a competitor is knocked down and is unable to rise before the referee counts to eight, the competitor loses that round, as it counts as a knock-out. In order to score a point, a competitor must strike his opponent with enough force to abruptly move either his head or his body from where it was before the strike.
There are some areas which are considered out of bounds for hits. These include any area below the waistline, and the back of the head and body. The front of the head, the torso and chest are all legal strike zones, and protective gear is worn in these areas to protect the competitors from serious injury. Strikes are delivered both as punches and kicks, with the goal being to knock the opponent out of place or to the ground.
Both power and control are essential to Tae Kwon Do sparring, due to the force required to move an opponent, as well as the specific areas allowed for striking. The competitor must be able to deliver his strike as powerfully and accurately as possible. Much training must take place before the Tae Kwon Do competitor is able to spar with strength and accuracy, and to defend himself from the blows of his opponent.