Walkden-Shiyun controversy

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do' started by Mitlov, May 26, 2019.

  1. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    In a gold medal match at World Championships 2019 (World Taekwondo), there was a VERY controversial match. Bianca Walkden of Great Britain was up against Zheng Shiyun of China. Down 10-20, but realizing that her opponent had already generated several fouls, Walkden proceeded to focus on pushing her opponent instead of striking, forcing a few more exiting-the-ring fouls that led to Shiyun being disqualified and Walkden being awarded the gold by default.

    The response from Shiyun's camp was fierce. Many have called for the referee to be barred from refereeing World Taekwondo matches and for Walkden's championship to be taken away. Walkden's response boils down to "a win is a win." This video shows Walkden's switch in tactics that led to Zheng Shiyun being disqualified.

    I'm torn. On one hand, there's plenty of combat sports where forcing your opponent out of the ring is a valid tactic (sumo, sanda, fencing). But on the other hand, in these competitions, I think it always generates points for the person pushing, not fouls for the person being pushed, clearly showing that it's intended to be a legitimate offensive technique. The fact that pushes don't generate points in taekwondo, and that a few points couldn't have overcome the ten point lead that Shiyun had generated, suggests to me that pushing was never meant to be used this way in taekwondo.

    I have trouble saying that Walkden's victory should be taken away, but I do think the rules should be clarified to prevent this tactic from being used again.

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  2. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    If it wasn't against the rules, then it is valid.

    1. a person should know how to deal with any legal situation in a match. If they have no proper controlled response to it, that is on them.
    2. If the one person hadn't started off with several fouls to begin with, then the tactic would not have been attempted. A high level martial artist in any style should have control. Again, it was on her.

    That said, it was sort of a cheap maneuver that I am presuming goes against the heart and soul of what a TKD competition should be. If it was a loophole exploited, then I imagine this bout will cause a change in the rules to fix it. And it shows a lack of confidence by the winner in the "winner's" skill set to win in the way a match is intended. It isn't an impressive win. I wouldn't be proud of winning like that personally. Much less jumping around like that. I expect she will have a target on her back in future competitions from now on. Where opponents will be motivated to go all out against her. And she probably has lost the respect of many in her community.

    Just in my school's tournament, I watched a match way back when I was a beginner. The one person was a black sash who exploited the rules to win. She purposefully kicked the opponent in the head twice. We don't have head contact in our sparring rules. So she took two points against her. 3 makes for a DQ. The opponent, who is not a professional fighter in our school's, decided to not continue. The "winner" was all jumping around and proud. I thought she exploited the rules in bad faith. And I personally think a head shot shows a lack of control- whether purposeful or not - to play by our intended rules. The fact that she was obviously proud of that win was disgraceful IMO. Black sash having to win in that manner was cheap. Valid I guess. But nothing to be proud of. I think the rules have changed and if it looks on purpose, a person can be DQ'd on the first shot. I have to double check that.
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  3. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    The phrase 'pyrrhic victory' would seem apt here.
    Yeah Walkden 'won' but at such a cost to her reputation and standing as a competitor it seems counterproductive to me.
    She would have been better taking the loss (against someone that was beating her), keeping her integrity intact and competing again the next time.
    This event will stay with her, she'll be remembered more for this than her other wins and I think she'll realise a win is not a win if it is gained by underhand means.
    It's not a 'win' I'd do myself, coach someone to do and I do think it goes against the spirit of what martial arts competition should be about.

    And for sure don't start jumping up and down and doing a victory lap after such a win and your opponent is in tears on the floor. That just looks crass and lacking in class.
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  4. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I've lost in similar fashion. In Freestyle Wrestling, when you step out of the ring, your opponent gets 1 point. So it's totally valid, if you're on the edge and then give the oppo a quick shove, it's a quick 1 point. And then restart in the middle.
    (this has since been amended a little, but its still essentially the same).

    Now, I'm not saying that's the same scenario here. Walkden was full on pushing from the centre, all the way out. It's a rubbish way to win and I'm torn.
    You can argue that Shiyun should have the skillset or corner could've given advice on how to counter it. Or the Ref could've given advice.

    But at the same time....it's legal.
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  5. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    What confuses me is that at least according to what I can find online, pushing for the sake of getting someone out of the ring is not actually legal. Only pushing to make space to kick is. I could be wrong on that though.

    The link is a summary of rule changes in 2016, including adding the "pushing to make space to kick" exception to the general rule against pushing.

  6. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    If that is the case, then that is different. Then it was blatant horrible reffing and then the outcome should be adjusted. And the ref should suffer some repercussions.

    I assumed it was legal, because I can't imagine a ref to allow that to go on and the judges to award points if it was not legal. But hey, bad reffing and judging happens I guess.

    I think we need a high level TKD practitioner commenting on here. Someone who knows competition rules better?
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  7. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    It seems it was within the rule set. According to this analysis. Look around 2:50-2:55ish.

    Seems the way the person acted who lost has some critics as well.

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  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    According to Alex Wong (World Taekwondo competitor and YouTuber) the pushing was a legal gray area, not clearly illegal but not clearly permissible either. (Jump to 3:30 to skip her thoughts on other fights at the championships).

    The one thing I don't get about GNT's explanation is that that page of the rules he flashes up at 2:50 says that pushing is allowed in four contexts, and I personally don't see how this fit into any of those four contexts.

    I entirely agree that the silver medalist displayed very poor sportsmanship in defeat, even though the call was questionable.
  9. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    I guess I agree with everyone else really.

    It's legal, and not meant as a style war thing, but isn't gaming the points kind of a consistent issue with competitions? I'm not sure that, beyond how it looks, its too much more egregious than gaming the system any other way. A BJJ example is a training partner had a match where his opponent kept putting himself back in half guard because he knew he had a better pass, and he's keep racking up points. It's gamey and it's a bit cheap, but I draw up a hair short of saying you're doing something wrong.

    It's complicated for me by the fact that, as aaradia said, it worked because Shiyun had already got herself fouls and that's on her. If she hadn't made mistakes that got her punished, this tactic wouldn't have worked as well.

    A counter to that, however, is that for what I understand to be a striking art with no grappling, or at least the bare minimum, its unfair in the sense that Shiyun isn't going to have any style answers for that. Plus I'm not too sure what you can really do against someone just shoving you back a couple feet, yet alone when you're not trained for it and its not a normal part of the style.
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  10. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Unfortunately you see this in all sports , competitors get that tied up on winning at any cost , they make dubious decisions that they don’t realise will affect their long term professional reputation.
  11. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I also think this is indicative of a combat sport that has lost its way and is patching one broken thing up with another.
    I had no idea pushing was allowed in WT Taekwondo before this event. IIRC it's no allowed in ITF style sparring and would be heavily penalised.
    It seems to me pushing is allowed because they need something to prevent clinching. They realise that one way to prevent kicks landing is by to getting into clinch range and stalling and they need something to counter that (which is why you can push to set up a kick).
    You can see this sort of stalling clinch (where each competitor is adamant it's not THEM doing the clinching!) happening a lot in any kick based sparring. But seeing as there are no face punches, knees, grabs or throws allowed it's much easier to get into that sort of "safe" clinch range in WT Taeknondo without risk.
    Getting punched in the face is a counter to a fighter clinching. Being allowed to fight in a clinch means it's used less as a stalling position (but obviously that can still happen). Add those things and clinching becomes a much more risking decision to make.
    So...they've allowed pushing to happen but without then realising, in a mat based sport, that means you can push the person out of the arena and create this sort of exploitable situation.
    Put it in a ring with ropes or a cage and that wouldn't be able to happen.
    On the face of it it seems a good rule (being able to push someone away to create kicking range and opportunities) but obviously it can be badly exploited.

    It's the same with the electronic equipment. Add in a variable that rewards essentially touch contact rather than a hit with real impact (but removes a lot of judging ambiguity) and you get people exploiting that by front leg fencing with minimal impact and lots of flicky kicks. The sport changes completely.
    WT seems to be veering from one change to another.
    I wouldn't be surprised if WT introduce an inner circle marking on the mat and you outside that (near the actual edge) you can't push (or something like that).
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  12. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Is this the start of a TKD wrestling style? :)

    They should just have a travel violation for pushes. You can push to break a clinch but not take a step while pushing.
  13. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    This seems like an easy fix to the rules. If you're pushing to make space to kick, you shouldn't be taking a half dozen steps before you kick.
  14. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    I wouldn't agree with that. Fencing has had rule refinement after rule refinement for a century, and I really wouldn't call it broken. I think with any points-based competition, you're going to have a series of revisions after a major role change (and introducing electronic scoring is a major rule change), and while those revisions may be sorely needed sometimes, that doesn't mean the sport is broken.
  15. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    I used to see this a lot in Sanda. The rule used to be that if you went off the mat/leitai twice in a round you lost the round and 3 times in a match you lost the match.
    So many times you would have a poor sumo match. The caveat in that rule set used to be that it didn't score of you were still holding on (i.e. clinch) yet poor reffing meant that the sanda/sumo techniques continued.

    It happened to me and I remember being angry about it, won the first round, lost second (by sumo despite being in the clinch) was winning the last round, but they got one more sumo push in and I lost.

    With grey areas like that it is down to the referee.
    The length of time they spent on that push, you could consider it a clinch?which I'm assuming is not allowed in WT ruleset.

    Always the danger of sport, the gaming of the ruleset, and I expect you see it most at the highest level when so much more is on the line, and they have a deep understanding of the rules.
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  16. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    I reckon the issue clearly lies with the rules, because other competitors were doing exactly the same as Bianca Walkden.

    Commentating on BBC, Sarah Stevenson (World Champion in 2001 and 2011) said she’d have done exactly the same thing as Bianca. Sarah went on to say that spectators who don’t like it don’t know the rules.

    In short, it’s the rules.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I feel for the girl though. All that hard work, and you lose like that.
    Altho my conspiracy theory hat says, the over dramatic reaction was to probably provoke some form of emotional reaction to call for a investigation.
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  18. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Been getting into sumo lately and there can be some parallels.
    Occasionally a wrestler will win a match by side stepping or dodging at the start (the tachi ai).
    It's not illegal to do it but it's seen as a poor way of winning and looked down on by the fans and the governing body of sumo (who decide things like performance or technique prizes and promotions).
    The spirit of sumo is to meet the tachi ai full on in a test of strength and spirit. Dodging is seen as less honourable as far as I can tell.
    It's a way of winning but it's an underhand way of winning.
    Smaller fighters get more leeway to use this tactic as they are seen as the underdogs but any fighter using it regularly will be very poorly received.
    There also seems some leeway for a wrestler to use the tactic when faced with an important match. In the recent basho one rikishi (Tochinoshin) needed one more win to secure promotion. On the last day he side stepped rather than go into the tachi ai full on (against a yokozuna no less) but it was almost like he was given a pass because of the context. Earlier in the basho it would have been a bad look.
    Not sure where I'm going with this really? Perhaps how a combat sport plays out is an interplay between the fighters, the rules, the ref, the intended spirit of the sport and the fans that are watching it?
    And in this instance that balance has not played out satisfactorily?
  19. Monkey_Magic

    Monkey_Magic Well-Known Member

    Others used the rules to their advantage. Bradley Sinden, for example, chose to take a penalty for walking off the mat, rather than fight the final seconds of the gold medal match. It was a deliberate choice to avoid giving his opponent the chance of scoring last-minute points. Bradley calculated that a penalty was preferable.

    Incidentally, there’s a recent interview with Bianca Walkden about all her win.
  20. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    It's just gaming the rules as everyone has said. It will happen in any sport with rules. This match won't be remembered as a classic, but I'm not sure it will be remembered much at all in 5 years.

    The reaction of the opponent, even on the podium, seems contrived to me, deliberately done to generate controversy.
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