Contact Levels

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do' started by divine spiral, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. divine spiral

    divine spiral shiiiiiiiiiiiiii-zack!!

    inspired by stu's article in totally tkd i thought id make a thread about contact levels in competition. personally i think that more needs to be done to standardize contact levels for all competitions and in some cases even within the same competition.for example,i recently competed in the UKTF open in scotland and although it was billed as a light contact competition, it was almost full contact for the most part. another occasion was the INTA open in ireland. the contact levels varied greatly between different rings depending on the referee. the ring i was sparring in had a belgian referee and he wasnt enforcing any sort of contact restraints.i started off with light contact as always but my opponent was using full contact so i stepped it up and gave as good as i got. i ended up breaking my opponents nose (he was spinning as i punched so it was 50/50 contact). it wasnt bleeding at this stage but it was quiet obviously out of place so i called a time-out and pointed this out to the ref.he glanced at it briefly and told us to continue. i tried to avoid his nose but inevitably i hit it and only when it started bleeding did the ref stopped the fight. personally i think that it is beyond belief that something like this was allowed to occur in a supposedly 'light contact' competition. although many of the referees at the competition were enforcing the rules properly i feel that all referees at a competition should be enforcing the same contact restraints and there should be very little variation between the contact levels between competitions that advertise themselves as having the same contact level ie: light contact should be uniform across different countries along with every other sparring type

    what are your views?
  2. Geordiegirl

    Geordiegirl Valued Member

    Ive never seen a specific light contact competition and personally would only expect it in training session. Its debatable whether these sort of competition should exist as it is a MA however I do agree that if they do happen then it should be enforced that only light contact is allowed.

    Scratches head does anyone know how common these light contact comps are would be interested in doing some as a way into normal competitions.
  3. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I tend to find there are two types of competitor in "light/semi contact" tournaments: those who hit hard through lack of control, and those who hit hard through a desire to win. I find it's best to be the latter.
  4. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    You see, I have a problem with people who fight full/hard contact under semi or light contact rules.

    If you kick me full contact with a nice turning kick, would it be wrong for me to crash to clinch, nutting you on the way in, knee you repeatedly (preferably in the face) then try for ground and pound or a submission/break?

    Cheating's just cheating isn't it?

  5. StuartA

    StuartA Guardian of real TKD :-)

    This should make an interesting thread. its nice to see my article has sparked some interest. Heres where I stand:

    I see TKD competitions as sport.. to me these days they are a bit of fun.. some take them a bit too seriously, but I understand that as well. What i dont agree with is exactly as I said in the article, billing a competition as one thing, then running it as another.

    Im happy if in the rules it says "Heavy Contact" or "Full Contact".. but not when they state one type and allow the other. Its not fair on the fighters for a start, as they train in a different way to how they have to perform.. except of course those that know they can already push the boundries and capitolise in that.

    I dont wanna repeat the article too much, but Im fine with heavy contact.. if its billed that way. Thats how the BB division were in my old org.. but most Ch'ang Hon/ITF comps bill it as 'Light Contact' and allow heavy to full contact to go. In a Kick Boxing event I went to years ago run by Frank Bowen (BIKMA).. they had light, heavy and full contact divisions and enforced them well.. fighters entered what as appropriate for them.

    Also, ALL referee's should know what the rules are simply by reading them.. if it says 'Light Contact' thats what they should be enforcing. Variations across rings is just as bad and denotes not only poor refereeing but also a poorly run tournament, when they can't enforce their own rules.

    There are many examples of groups that need to get their act togethor on this really, I have many more examples than those Ive listed in the article!

    As a student I didnt mind the heavy contact in the BB divisons as I knew that was what they were like, I was younger and it was all part of the game. As an instructor very few of my students take tournaments that seriously as they know its not the be all and end all of TKD, they give their best in them, do well and most can step up to the levels if needed - but should they need to? I'm more concerned with those that enter on/off, a bit of fun or an occasional test!

    ITF events are stilled billed as 'light contact' but most are heavy to full contact.
    Not sure on actual events, but the advert for the TAGB world champs had a video that had KO after KO in it - not exactly a shining example of 'Light Contact' as it was billed - and I still remember the Kenny Walton vs Steve Babbs fight at the Clash of the Titans event where they said "we are gonna show everyone how proper light continuous should be done" - and they did!
    At the AIMAA World Champs in 2004 (billed as light continuous sparring) the contact went heavier as it went up, until the BB divsions were bordering on full contact - in the BB Teams event, half way through they announced over the microphone that the teams had "gamely agreed to fight full contact".. eh! The match was already underway anyway and was already there!

    Now, everyone knows my views on sport - I dont confuse it with SD or fighting, but still enjoy it for what it is and I do like the light continuous format myself (horses for courses), and it should be 'exactly as it says on the tin' should it not!

  6. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    What about, say, TAGB squad members who never seem to pick up a warning? Andrew Deer springs to mind, a great fighter who hits damn hard and gets away with it. Not singling out the TAGB in general, just seems some refs were intimidated by the profile of some fighters.
  7. StuartA

    StuartA Guardian of real TKD :-)

    Scratches head too as light continuous are normal competitions! Seriously, decent light continuous done properly isnt as easy as it sound - everything is full speed and can be full power, just pulled at point of impact - doing that is a real skill in itself. Don't confuse the light part with slow, tappy tappy! BTW.. 'Light Continuous' is the standard sparring format of virtually all Ch'ang Hon/ITF based orgs - so in theory, extremely common!

    Personally I like to be the one who can fight within the rules and step it up only if I have too (which sadly, is often all too frequently - well, my students anyway as Im kinda retired)

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2009
  8. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

  9. Geordiegirl

    Geordiegirl Valued Member

    Im going to get out now as im way over my head ive always thought light contact was tappy. Tho i do train in a WTF club
  10. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I've seen Andy fight with little contact and with a lot. My own feeling was that he followed the level he was confronted with.

    I train with a chap from the Ivory Coast who is hard as nails. A two hour class is his idea of a warm up getting ready for sparring and you can bet that his sparring is hard contact. I remember the combined sucking of teeth during the sparring at his bb grading.

    He stepped into the ring with Andy and got taught a severe lesson.

    Having said all that I've not sparred Andy myself so can't comment directly, but I have also seen squad members warned for contact.

    I'd also warn Warren for his hairstyle.

  11. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Ah ok, thanks for clarifying.
  12. StuartA

    StuartA Guardian of real TKD :-)

    No.. dont go. Ill post a video for ya below if you've not seen it before.

    The whole idea of 'light continuous' is that contact is light (touch/pulled/whatever) to allow the fight to flow (the continuous part). If people are getting dropped with shots, injured or KO'd - there is no continuous as the fight is stopped, one way or another.

    Rember, in Ch'ang hon theres no hogus.. hand and foot pads only and punches to the head/face are allowed.

    Heres a couple of vids - the first is an event I run (TKD Explosion) and the second is of my students in one of the more decently controlled comps. Scroll about a third in to see the sparring.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Taekwon-do Explosion 2007[/ame]

    [ame=""]YouTube - Rayners Lane TKD at the South East Opens, 2009[/ame]

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2009
  13. Geordiegirl

    Geordiegirl Valued Member

    Ah im not familiar with this thought you guys where on about the sparring with hogus we do.
  14. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I'm not denying what you're saying at all Superfoot, if you or someone you know has sparred Andy and been on the receiving end of unjustified contact then you should say so.

    He's certainly one of the people in TAGB who is quite capable of standing toe to toe with people if required and I've seen him do it. But I have also seen him spar with control, or what looked like it from my comfy seat in the crowd :D

  15. TKDstudent

    TKDstudent Valued Member

    The problem as I see it is not the center referee. It is the person at the top. That translate to the host or Chief Umpire. I think it makes little sense to say light contact, as that is such a hard term to define from person to person. In the 1987 WCs it was a bloodbath. Then in the 1988 WCs they were afraid of the fallout, as it was going to recieve wide TV coverage in Europe. At that time they were still hoping to somehow get into the Olympics as NK was trying to co-host the summer Olympics. So in 1988 the word went out, no contact meant NO CONTACT. So the Tournament chair & committee members along with the Chief Umpire & his committee members went ring to ring to insure the rules were enforced. Unless that happens, things can & do get out of control. One must remember that many officials say this is an international event or it is BBs fighting & they have to be tough, so they let things fly. The problem is as we see from the original post, one goes easy, the other bangs. if the rules are not enforced, the other than must step it up a couple of notches. Then the opponent does the same & so on, till you have a problem.
    It is easier when it is just full contact. However then you have to adjust the rules & equipment used. I think 2, if not all 3 of the ITFs may be doing something with full contact ITF sparring. The ITF-NK held 2 in Croatia in back to back years, with a large cash prize, maybe $50,000USD - which I understand was a success.
  16. aaron_mag

    aaron_mag New Member Supporter

    Stuarts videos looked pretty much like our tournaments. We don't wear the footgear or the helmets and it is often referred to as 'light touch'. And I'd say the overall level of contact is similar.

    But like everyone else I have seen some matches where it seemed to be a straight out street fight. Where the matches had to be stopped because people were almost knocked out in a 'light touch' tournament. And I'm with Mitch on the whole, 'cheating is still cheating'.

    And here is something I have found to be true...when your opponent is going heavy it does not have to mean things escalate. I take tournaments a point. My health and my good looks I take even more seriously. There is no reason for me to lunge in for that point when I might break my nose. A big part of TKD is footwork. Avoiding power. Setting up an angle so you can get your technique in without taking a hit yourself. To use the popular phrase, 'being elusive'.

    For a time I did an MMA class. My brother was in the class and convinced me to take it. My brother was a good wrestler and used to do very well on the ground. I, on the other hand, completely sucked on the ground. Lets just say it was frustrating....I'd do better now. :)

    At any rate they would also have us spar with these MMA gloves. No head gear just a warning to go '50 percent'. Well I knew right away, the male ego being what it is, that there would be no 50 percent. So I decided to use footwork and be 'elusive'.

    Sure enough '50 percent' was swinging for the fences. Within no time I saw my brother dropped on his ass from punches. But I never took a shot. And I would stick with a few kicks and punches (but I was very controlled. I didn't want to make enemies...especially with my crappy ground game! :) )

    My point is that I think one of the strengths of TKD is that we don't train to stand and deliver. We're not like Kyokushin proving our toughness by standing toe-to-toe trading thigh kicks and punches to the body (and of course I respect that. Very commendable).

    But we're all about damage avoidance. Getting an angle or catching our opponent off-guard. So, in a way, you can control the level of contact by deciding how much to focus on defense versus offense.

    And to clarify I don't just mean running around. That isn't being elusive. As I often tell the students zero offense equals zero defense. But I mean being smart about the shots you choose to pick.
  17. StuartGee

    StuartGee Valued Member

    Ahhh, contact levels in competition!! I will always remember my first ever competition as a 5th kup (blue tags) about 4 years ago, was the UKTC Scottish Championships in Edinburgh and my first ever competitive sparring experience. So the ref calls "sijak" and I go in with some combo we'd been working on in class, it was all looking good till I took a punch square in the chest which put me on my ass!! At 6' 1" and a shade over 14 and a half stone (at the time) "touch" contact shouldn't put me on the ground!! Get back up, after a warning for loss of balance no less, and continue on, only to be punched again in the chest which this time pushed me out of the ring and on my ass!! Warnings for travelling (leaving the ring) and loss of balance and I'm beginning to think to myself "this isn't really touch contact now is it??"!!!!
    I also remember a small "local" competition down in Brechin a few years ago and the referee for the adult male sparring gathered all of the competitors together to let us know that he would allow a "higher level of contact", but to try to keep it down as he didn't want blood flying everywhere!
    This year I went to the UKTA Scottish up in Inverness and the contact levels were unreal!! It was the first time I've ever been told I had to wear a head guard (they said it was compulsory for all other than BB's which I wasn't at the time due to grading the following day!!) and this was then punched off of my head in the first round! There was also a fair bit of work for the Paramedics on duty during the BB sparring, suspected broken ribs, a few bust noses and a possible fractured wrist were just a few of the injuries they had to deal with!
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2009
  18. StuartA

    StuartA Guardian of real TKD :-)

    Exactly the sort of stuff the article was about!


  19. Ironized

    Ironized Valued Member


    i have been a 3rd gup for longer then you have been attending. [4-5 year break]

    i remember my first ITF tournament, was a small one maybe 8 clubs attended. it was because tournament competition is part of our syllabus.

    was light continuous, i jabed, he droped his guard and moved forwards...
    He ran out of the square and i won by default >.<
  20. AndyT

    AndyT Valued Member

    I remember an open competition many years ago where prior to starting we spent a good hour going over the rules and stressed very light contact, we started.... the contact was very light.... within a few minutes it was all our war and nothing short of full contact. The referee’s etc. all supported the increased contact... for those that were happy to step it up, it was interesting and many of us enjoyed it, but as it was promoted as semi/light contact competition many people were not at all happy and quite rightly so.

    I’ve also competed in a number of very well run semi/light contact competitions that stayed that way, and they were superb. Agreed at black belt the contact goes up, it’s expected, but not over the top.

    A good semi/light contact competition really demonstrates skill and technique, rather than wild swinging techniques thrown with a kind of ‘throw and hope’ attitude.

    It would be nice to see more well run semi/light contact competitions where excessive contact is stopped immediately. It’s a much better introduction for youngsters and novices, and personally better to watch for seniors as you see some lovely techniques.

    Just my 2p.

    All the best,


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