Thursday, November 10, 2005

How hard do you hit?

There's an interesting debate I've been hearing about recently.


ITF and WTF are two Tae Kwon Do organizations. They are slightly different in their approach to the martial art. One big difference is in sparring.

If you learn ITF style Tae Kwon Do, as I am doing, you learn what's called point sparring. That means when you spar someone, you get points for touching a target area--front of torso is 1 point, head is 2 points.

If you learn WTF style, sparring is "full-contact." That means you wear a chest pad (hogu), and you only score a point if your opponent shows the impact of your blow. I believe this is the kind of Tae Kwon Do that's done in the Olympics.

I have absolutely no interest in doing full-contact sparring. Like Justin, who wrote about this issue in his Xanga, I think that point sparring allows us to work on technique, speed, and intuition. For us, those are just as important as strength . . . or pure bulk. For me, that's extremely important. I'm not very gifted in the strength and bulk areas.

Point sparring emphasizes that Tae Kwon Do is an art as well as a sport. It levels the playing field and allows people like me to spar against a wide variety of opponents, including men (even though I'm not always crazy about doing that!)

However, according to what I've read in a discussion about this topic on
ITF schools are "rare"compared to WTF. I feel lucky to have found one.

For you martial artists out there, how hard do you hit? Are there advantages to WTF that I'm missing?

1 comment:

TKD Rocker said...

Hey! I train at a WTF dojang, and although we go full contact, we don't emphasize "bulk" that much and we go light contact when there is a major weight/height difference. A good example: I went to a competition when I was about 10, and my sparring opponent was a guy who was about a foot taller than me, and weighed at least 4 times more than I did. I ended up winning the match, not because of the impact of my blows (my most powerful kicks couldn't even budge the guy), but because of the fact that I did hit him in the places that would score a point. The only thing he did with his "bulk" was push me (every time I scored a point, he pushed me and I went sliding on my back out of the ring!) I think that WTF sparring gets a reputation as a hard-core sport because of the Olympics, but our school definitely emphasizes technique, speed, and intuition, just like yours. But they vary from school to school, so I'll be interested to hear some other responses.