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Taekwondo sparring has evolved within the last six years. We’ve seen round house kick turn into “monkey kick” and many other funky kicks that score because it’s all about electronics now when sparring your opponent. Am I guilty of adapting to the new style? Yes, but you should be too otherwise you would have been left in the dust. That is not what this blog post is about though, this blog post is about the level of respect that has seemed to slowly fade with the evolution of Taekwondo sparring.

Just recently the World Taekwondo Federation has released its new and revised sparring competition rules regarding competitions under the WTF. One of the most talked about revised rules would be the intent to speed up competition and taking out bowing at the end of a match.  How long does it take to bow? Two to three seconds? As far as I am concerned and I am sure others feel this way too, bowing at the end of a match would be one of the most important aspects of a match. This is the time when you celebrate (win or lose) with each other and really bring out what respect is within martial arts. How many of us have seen in the WTF magazines athletes smiling, holding up each others hands and hugging each other after a match? It’s such a great feeling!

When you take away the opportunity to show respect to each other after a match you not only take away the respect from each other but you take away the hard work you have put into becoming a black belt, the friendship, opportunities and all the celebratory moments afterwards with smiles and handshakes between each other. Will the loss of these practices disappear right away? Probably not but over time they most definitely will. From personal experiences Taekwondo matches are not like they used to be. Many athletes quickly shake hands or abruptly high five each other and shake the opposing coaches hand and the match is over. Back then opponents would fight it out and at the end of the match they would be so quick to show happiness and gratitude towards each other. You just don’t see that much anymore.  This is not only represented within the athletes but governing bodies within Taekwondo as well.

I really think athletes and governing bodies should make a stand against a rule like this and take into consideration where the lack of respect within Taekwondo and governing bodies will lead Taekwondo to in the future. No matter what martial art you practice, a bow will always be a sign of respect and this should be continued and practiced! This is the beautiful part of Taekwondo sparring: no matter the country you represent or what language you speak… a sign of respect, a bow and a smile can be understood by everyone. Keep that in mind. Stay positive my friends.