The New Taekwondo Training Trends

Summary

The constant changes in competition rules has led to similar changes in combat style, as changing the area of ​​competence from quadrangular to octagonal brings some consequences, and electronic sensors in cephalic shields have modified techniques and even the tactical aspect. Using fists, how to decide a winner even if tied in the fourth assault (gold point), the type or brand of the electronic breastplate, coupled with the tendency to kick with the front leg without lowering the foot, bumping the legs constantly and linking two, three or more techniques seeking to impact the rival are aspects that make a general trend. This article will discuss each of these aspects.

Development

The last change to the competition rules took place at the 25th General Assembly of the World Taekwondo Federation, held in Taipei, China, in March 2014. Among the main highlights, we have the change of Article 3, relating to the competition area, where the implementation of octagonal areas was approved, and that the square area must have at least 10x10m and not more than 12x12m. And contained in the area there must be an octagon area of 8 meters in diameter and each side must measure approximately 3.3 m in length. (See Figure 1.)

Áreas octagonales de competencia en Taekwondo

With this change there have been some competitive trends that impact training. For example, athletes want to keep in the center of the area, but to do that there has to be more striking, and this action favors constant clash of the legs. Then this means that the tactical aspect is changing, as competitors become more offensive. Furthermore, the strengthening of the legs not only aims to kick with more power and speed, but it can serve now to withstand the constant pounding, and that undoubtedly changes the methods and content of competitor’s strength preparation.

A trend that had already been observed in recent years is to kick with the front leg, but also without lowering it (see fig. 2).

Pateo con pierna adelantada, una tendencia de la competencia en taekwondo

This condition causes changes in the structure of the training content, because it involves greater mastery of technical elements on the basis of balance, isometric strength and obviously the elastic flexibility or joint mobility, and even further development of adductors and abductors to ensure elevation of the leg and keep standing with one foot.

It is also true that usually an impact on the face is not immediate, but rather after trying two or three previous techniques to the breastplate and even to the face itself. Another noteworthy aspect is that by using electronic helmets, the kick power is not as relevant as the precision and technical ability to connect two straight hits without lowering the leg and achieve six points in an action.

Although kicking towards the breastplate is still predominant, more than ever options and variants to the face are greater. For example, some statistical data derived from skill analysis that we have studied, indicate that from 100% of executed techniques, 69% were straight to the breastplate, while 31% went to the face (see Graph 1).

Combat

Also, from the total of techniques, 68% were of attack and 32% were counterattack. This aspect clearly indicates the offensive trend of most competitors. A technical breakdown reveals that 42% were breastplate attacks, while 26% were hits to the face; 27% were counterattacks to the breastplate, and 5% counterattacks to the face (see Graph 2).

Taekwondo Attack and counterattack trends

Given this data, it should be clear that even though the use of techniques that use the breastplate is still prevalent,the highest score is with kicks to the face, meaning that from 37 techniques executed, the hits straight to the face led to 111 points, while from 58 techniques to the breastplate, only 66 points were achieved. So, while it’s true that there is a trend to kick the breastplate, it is also true that there is more efficiency in kicks to the face. Hence, a current training trend is the constant attack and use techniques that hit the face or the cephalic shield.

Also note that a trend that has been observed is the increased use of fists to achieve points. Many competitors have adopted this technique effectively and have even won more points for gaining points in a fight. It is also true that when electronic cephalic shields are hit is when the highest score are achieved by this technique.

As previously mentioned, the kicking techniques have been modified based on various factors, mainly by competition rules, the type of electronic breastplate and the electronic sensors in helmets, basically. This situation causes some changes, for example, most competitors do all their tactical technical actions covering the breastplate, i.e., preventing the opponent to activate breastplate sensors, which supposes that covering or blocking techniques of the adversary is determinant in measuring performance. This leads to a modification of the techniques structure in the sport. Those who have developed this ability not only prevent getting hit and giving points to the opponent, but also manage to stress the rival and take advantage of this situation to improve their attacks. But it is also worth mentioning that these actions often lead to wrists, fingers and forearm injuries.

Furthermore, we said that kicking techniques have been undergoing interesting changes that are far from the characteristic elegance of martial taekwondo. Now you can see short kickswith the leg bent inwardsto impact the breastplate in a clinch, and also scorpion kicks, which is a kind of tuit chagui but without turning and running it behind the opponent’s back. This and more variants are currently performed by athletes in the combat area.

Other variants

Undoubtedly another aspect that modifies the style of combat in taekwondo athletes is the type of electronic breastplate, and so far two brands have excelled: Daedo and KP&P. In both cases the power level is defined according to the heavyweight division, as indicated by the regulations. But for Daedo breastplates it’s more feasible to connect points, there are even times when the adversary can get points if he/she goes into attack and the other receives it with the instep. These features drastically change the way of fighting.

Otherwise, the KP&P breastplates require more power and precision to achieve the points, and there are even techniques that do not manage to hit or connect with the rival to get points, such as the art of kicking from the side with the front leg either to impact or to push. Similarly it is very difficult to get two points by kicking with the same leg without lowering the foot, which is more feasible to do it to a Daedo breastplate.

Therefore we believe that the competitor must adapt to different styles of fighting when using electronic breastplates, as both are official and can be used in any event can occur. However, technical training suffers appreciable changes that directly impact the tactical aspects of the competitor.

In addition to the aspects indicated above, there are other factors conducive to of the new training trends, and in this case we refer to the constant frequency of participation in competitive events. It is interesting to prepare athletes so they can compete on 8 to 12 events per year, with most of these with qualifying character or to add more points to achieve the ranking. In the following table (see Table 1) we see an example of the competitive calendar of the national youth taekwondo team, corresponding to 2013.

Event Place Event Date
1 International Black Belt Tournamente Aguascalientes February 3-4th, 2013
2 US Open Las Vegas, US February 22-23rd, 2013
3 Campamento Interior de la República (Inner Camp in Mexico) Querétaro March 7 -10th
4 Spanish Open Alicante, Spain March 30-31st, 2013
5 National Olimpics Aguascalientes From May 13 to 21st
6 Training Camp in South Korea Seoul, South Korea From June 16 to July 1st
7 Chuncheon Open Chuncheon From July 2 to 8th
8 Campamento Interior de la República (Inner Camp in Mexico) Monterrey From August 2 to 5th
9 Panamerican Open Championship and Evaluation stage for Youth Panamerican Championship Queretaro From September 14 to 16th
10 Panamerican Championship Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic October
11 National Youth Championship Mexico City, D.F From November 29th to December 1st, 2013

Table 1. Competition Calendar of the Mexican National Junior Taekwondo Team 2013.

This series of several competitive events is very complex, especially when it comes to the design of training plans that meet current competitive needs. However, it is a fact that there are more and more competitors that participate in various events, thus there’s the need to design a preparation plan as real and specific as possible to meet all commitments.

Our proposal, in this sense, is based on the use of the Biphasic Planning Model, which aims to optimize the time of sports training, under the criteria of prioritizing the sports guidelines that the taekwondo competitor requires. This process originated from a thorough analysis of the competitive activity. In that sense, we define in this analysis the guidelines or criteria that will affect performance, such as the case of aerobic endurance, maximum strength, reaction rate,  flexoelasticity and technology, among others; and the directions that will determine competitor performance, and in this case, the main directions are tactical, with the corresponding breakdown of content and special competitive strength, which is the sum of the factors that come together in the act of fighting, resistance to explosive force, and resistance to strength among others.

The biphasic model is also composed of two preparation stages. The first phase is quantitative, in which the conditions for the specific competitor requirements are prepared, and mostly where priority is given to determine the directions that condition athletic performance. Though it is also to be noted that similarly determinant guidelines are developed, but with discrete volumes that gradually allow to strengthen the real demands of combat.

Then the next phase is qualitative, with its emphasis on preparation, in function of tactics and special competitive strength, which are the same, as vital guidelines that determine performance. This is where tactical thinking is perfected and competitive aspect is prioritized. However, the work of conditioning guidelines is maintained, in order to seek the continuation of the preparation for subsequent events and to achieve a better health and harmony before the innate demands of high performance sports. The following scheme (see Scheme 1) allows us to give you some guidance on the guidelines or directions developed in both phases.

Taekwondo Quantitative

Scheme 1.  Biphasic Model Phases

Finally we must note as a summary that current trends of taekwondo training, at our criteria, are:

The specific or special training, many authors agree with this, but we believe that it is still a little-understood subject, as it tends to confuse the specifics with the particular. In this sense, the specific refers to gestures and energy commitments required in competitive situations, whereas the particular refers to the characteristic movements of the sport. So this makes a substantial difference in the training process, where we must achieve the recreation of the psychological sensations, in tactical content, therefore these are conformed to the different techniques under an energy demand that compromises the muscular, bone, joint and respiratory systems.

Taekwondo Software, Evolución Sport Taekwondo

Due to having little time for preparation, it is necessary to combine general with specific or special exercises. This results in more readiness and we save time in the process of functional transfers. While it is true that the trend is specific training, it is also true that, in the case of young athletes who are in training and also in growth phase, this requires to further develop foundations in sports training, mainly of aerobic and muscular character. However, in an effort to favorably resolve their current competitive commitments, we suggest a combination of general and specific exercises, with the intent to gain ground in the preparation of the athlete. This also helps to reduce body weight, avoid injury, and create more solid and functional foundations, among others.

The transfers of explosive power and speed are essential to maintain power in the kicks and withstand high fatigue loads in combat. Obviously it requires previous training designed to withstand maximum strength and fatigue by intervallic efforts. This aspect of transferring gains of explosive strength and speed endurance are essentially in the transit of the quantitative phase to the qualitative phase.

Finally, modeling the competition and controlling performance indicators are equally current trends to guide sports training, and the more knowledge we have of our athletes competitive acts, the better we can model and establish the most optimal workloads and recovery rates.

References

Gómez Castañeda, P & Álvarez, Alain. (2013).  Consideraciones técnicas, físicas, tácticas sobre el Mundial de taekwondo 2013.  http://sobretaekwondo.com  Revista Digital – Miami- Año 2013.

Gómez Castañeda, P & De Lucio, Víctor (2007). Modelo bifásico de planificación del entrenamiento deportivo. http://www.efdeportes.com/ Revista Digital – Buenos Aires – Año 12 – N° 108 – Mayo de 2007

Gómez Castañeda, P. (2004). Taekwondo. Teoría y metodología de la preparación competitiva. México, FMTKD

Authors:

MsC. Alain Alvarez Strength and Conditioner Coach for Paige McPherson and then with Terrence Jennings the London Olympic Games 2012         

MsC. Pedro E. GómezMethodologist of the Junior Mexican Taekwondo National Team

Taekwondo Software, Evolución Sport Taekwondo

Taekwondo Software, Evolución Sport Taekwondo

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