Taekwondo sparringAs the study of martial arts became more widespread and more and more martial arts were being “founded,” the concept of free-sparring became an integral part of martial arts training. Some type of free-sparring is now used by all fighting arts, taekwondo included.
Taekwondo was originally developed as a Korean martial art, but it has transformed into an international sport. One of the factors in this transformation was changes in the way taekwondo conducted free-sparring.
Taekwondo from its roots in Korea up until the late 1960s was purely a martial art controlled by the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF). It had Korean aspects, but it was primarily based upon the concepts of karate (many called it Korean karate). Then, factions within the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) thought taekwondo should be more unique to differentiate it from karate and other martial arts. So, through the auspices of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF, now called World Taekwondo) they made numerous changes. The developed new taeguk patterns to replace the older palgue patterns to remove their karate connections, although traditional taekwondo associations still use the traditional patterns. They promoted taekwondo as a purely Korean martial art that, unlike karate, specialized in using kicks. To make taekwondo more appealing to the international public, they began using continuous sparring, using sparring safety equipment, and promoting taekwondo as a safe sport in which anyone could participate.
In the early 1970s, they developed sport fighting techniques and tactics that were designed to increases efficiency, while maintaining speed and power. Running kicks replaced the older one punch, one kick techniques, and new stances were developed to accommodate the new sport techniques. Traditionalists say the new stances are too high and that the kicks lack power, while sport practitioners say the old ways are too slow.
Some taekwondo organizations strictly adhere to traditional taekwondo methods, others adhere to the sport methods, while in some organizations, the two types have blended.