Taekwondo movements: Sparring

Taekwondo Singapore 3

Image credit: Aundry Gan/SportSG

There are several different kinds of sparring formats, which require a range of attacks from players.

Step sparring, also known as pre-arranged sparring, means that both the attacker and defender agree on a predetermined sequence of attacks and blocks. This is the most frequently used format.

One Step Sparring

The one step sparring is one of the easier formats in taekwondo, as it only requires the individual to take one step forward and extend his fist toward the opponent However, the individual has to make a split second decision on how to attack and defend, or risk losing the match.

The most common tactic for one step sparring is for the player to establish a step, attack and defend, and to repeat this set of motions using the other side of his body once the first sequence has been completed. This ensures that both participants will be using the sequence twice.

Before attacking, the starting player has to shout kihap – which means to gather energy –, and wait for his opponent to reply the same, signifying that he is ready to start the match. The rules differ accordingly in various clubs and federations, but for most cases, both participants have to stand at a parallel stance.

Unlike two and three step sparring, one step sparring has no pre-determined attack. Due to the fact that there is largely no agreed techniques and moves, one step sparring is frequently thought to be the most advanced form of pre-arranged sparring.

Two Step Sparring

Two step sparring involves the attacker attempting to attack his opponent twice, with pre-determined moves. Similarly, the opponent will also have to attempt to defend himself, often with pre-arranged blocks. The opponent, upon defending himself, will then have the opportunity to counter-attack once with a previously agreed upon counter-attack move.

Three Step Sparring

Similar to the two step sparring, this form of sparring simply refers to the fact that the attacker has to attack his opponent three times with moves that both parties have agreed upon, at which his opponent will defend himself three times with pre-determined blocks. As with two step sparring, the defender gets to counter attack once.

Free Sparring

Called kyorugi by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), free sparring differs from step sparring as it does not inculcate any pre-arranged moves. Unlike step sparring, free sparring is the type of sparring used during matches, while step sparring is commonly employed during promotion test for ranks.

WTF-sanctioned free sparring is typically dominated by kicks. Free sparring matches usually lasts two minutes, and requires three matches to determine a winner. The player with the highest points at the end of the three matches will be declared victorious.

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