html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: How to conduct yourself in a formal* taekwondo fight.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to conduct yourself in a formal* taekwondo fight.

The ring will be set up with a ref in the center, and judges on at least two corners. There will be a chair just outside the ring on two sides, halfway down the side, facing each other. Before your fight, you may sit in the chair, waiting for the ref to call you in. Your coach will stand beside you.

When the ref calls you in, make sure that you are at the middle of the side of the ring. You should only enter the ring at a perpendicular, and walk straight forward to your starting position. Pause to bow as you cross the line marking the ring. This bow is to the space itself. Bowing to the judges now isn’t wrong, but it is a trifle obsequious. Walk to the spot the ref is pointing to, facing your opponent, with your coach now sitting in the chair behind you.

The ref will direct your next sequence of bows, which may include to the American flag, to the Korean flag, to each judge, to the ref, to your coaches, to your opponent. At the minimum you will bow to the ref and to your opponent. The ref may remind you of the rules (no hands to the face, all strikes above the waist) or check that your finger and toenails are cut short. The ref will give the signal for the fight to start.

As soon as the ref signals for the fight to start, both fighters will immediately switch sides, so that they are looking at their own coach behind the opponent. An experienced coach will be mimicking his fighter’s stance throughout the fight. Fighter has right leg back, coach’s right leg will be behind the left. The coach will be signaling attacks with hand gestures that look like the kicks.

During the fight, it is the fighter’s responsibility to fight according to the rules, but it is the ref’s responsibility to keep the fighters safe. Do not pull your kicks or pause your attack if your opponent looks injured; it is up to the ref to make that decision. Stop instantly on the ref’s command. It is the judge’s responsibility to get out of the way (and take her chair with her), so do not look behind you if the fight is backing you into a judge. The ref may pause the fight and return the fighters to the center at any point.

At the end of the round, the ref will return you to the center, and may or may not have you bow out. Back out of the ring to your chair, bowing as you leave the ring. Your coach will give you the chair and water. She will crouch in front of you, and may prop your legs on her thighs, to massage them while she coaches you on strategy. Next round will be like the first. You probably won’t have a third round unless you are in the semis or the finals.

If the other fighter gets injured during your fight, immediately walk to a point in the ring a few feet in front of your coach (on the line between the center and your chair). Turn your back to the center, kneel, and bow your head. Do not look around. Stay motionless until the ref comes for you, or your coach signals you to stand. In one motion, spring gracefully to your feet. (Just kidding. If you’ve been left in a kneel for too long, your feet will have gone to sleep. Be careful not to fall over as you stand up.)

At the end of the fight, the ref will take both your hands, and raise the hand of the winner. She will then bow you out, in the reverse order of whatever bows she required at the beginning. Shake hands with your opponent; this may be informal. If you shake hands with your opponent’s coach, however, remember that she is of higher rank than you. Support your right elbow with your left hand and bow your head to make the handshake more respectful. Walk backwards out of the ring, stopping to bow to it on your way out. Rejoin your coach.

A word on bowing:
Bow slowly, spine straight all the way through the neck, about halfway down to waist level. Do NOT look at your opponent. That is extremely rude, implying that he has no honor and would attack you during a bow. Stay at the bottom of the bow for a beat, long enough to take it completely out of gear, and straighten at the same speed you descended. (Yoga bows, which are a full fold at the waist and wait there for forever, feel like groveling to me. I can’t do them and always straighten first. That makes me the rude one, I guess.)

Also, if you are just practicing or joking around with a blackbelt, it is extremely rude to flinch, as it implies that she doesn’t have the control to slow her kick or not hit you. Take the kick if you have to (rarely happens), but never duck, pull back, wince or block.

*This is probably overkill for most local tournaments. I was trained very formally, and notice that the kids these days weren’t ever taught good manners and are uncouth savages. Still, even the ornate stuff becomes second nature after a while.


Blogger Jens Fiederer said...

> Your coach will give you the chair
> and water. She will crouch in front
> of you, and may prop your legs on
> her thighs, to massage them while
> she coaches you on strategy.

This sounds REALLY good to me. Should have taken it up. Maybe just as well that I didn't, seeing I might have a hard time concentrating on strategy. At least TKD strategy....

2:18 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Believe me, there is nothing on your mind except what you are going to do in the second round to counter that combination or setup that other technique.

Come on. You have better stuff to say than that. Innuendo is too predictable.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit different from football, where, if you're a center (offense), you lead the line up to the ball, postion the ball so that the laces will hit the QB's hand properly (non-shotgun formation), size up the defence without giving away the direction of the play, keep one hand on the ball and one on your knee, and call out any changes in blocking assignments if the QB sets up an audible. You snap the ball into the QB's hands a millisecond before the count (as you've practiced all season) and either fire out after your primary assignment (run) or set up and block your area (pass). You knock over/wrestle down your target (D-line or linebacker)and look for another one. Use head, arms, and hands freely, but don't get caught holding. If your man is beating you, you stick with him and crack him low, but don't get caught. After the play, get up and find out where the ball is. Go to the hash marks or mid-field 10 or 12 yards behind it, turn your back to the line of scrimmage, hold up your arm, and call the huddle -- the QB should be nearby. Happy Super Bowl week!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I went to a few football games a couple summers ago and was entirely surprised by how hard it was to follow the ball. I hadn't realized that was a learned skill, and the camera operator was doing it for you.

I like reading what you do in your sport.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having done a few martial arts as a kid (Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Kung Fu, Judo, etc), I think the same is true for most martial arts competitions.

When I got to high school, I joined the wrestling team. While my previous experiences in martial arts were extremely helpful when it came to wrestling, I noticed one of the biggest differences was the etiquette.

I guess since my first sports experiences were martial arts, I've always approached competitions like this with a mutual respect for my opponents. I think one of the reasons I've always had such a tough time getting involved in team sports like football or basketball is because I don't see the same level of respect between opponents as in martial arts competitions.


7:17 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'm fascinated by little details like this. There's something about it that makes the topic immediately real and interesting to me.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mark. -K.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

So, how do you conduct yourself in an informal TKD fight?

My guess:

1. Say "You killed my father, prepare to die!" whilst moving your lips in a manner uncoordinated with your speech.

2. Kick arse.

3:59 AM  

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