Grandmaster Chun Tae Kwon Do historically hosted the All American Open Martial Arts Expo.

Tournament Commitee 1996

Above is the tournament committee for that first California tournament. Back row (l-r) Casey Abano, Aaron Villa, Joyce Reyes, Nancy Schaible, Simon Lee, Dusko Pantovic, Ryan Maynard, Jeff Desorbo, Morgan Hege. Font Row (l-r) Don Weeks, Allen Johnson, Corkey Mizer, Grand Master Chun, Brian Pierce, Bill Tinsman

You must ask permission from your sabanim (coach) to participate in tournaments. We participate in both open and Taekwondo only tournaments. Below are some of the guidelines for official USTA Taekwondo tournaments. Keep in mind other systems may have very different rules. It is important to be aware of the specific rules governing competition before participating.

Taekwondo Basics


Traditionally, taekwondo competitions consist of 16 weight classes, eight for men and eight for women. In the Olympics, there are only eight classes — four for each gender — because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) limits the total number of taekwondo entrants to 128 (64 men, 64 women). The weight divisions in Beijing are broader than those used in other competitions and are therefore labeled as Olympic classes.

Men's Weight Divisions

  • Olympic Flyweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 58kg (128 lbs)
  • Olympic Featherweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 68kg (150 lbs)
  • Olympic Welterweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 80kg (176 lbs)
  • Olympic Heavyweight: Competitors must weigh more than 80kg (176 lbs)

Women's Weight Divisions

  • Olympic Flyweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 49kg (108 lbs)
  • Olympic Featherweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 57kg (126 lbs)
  • Olympic Welterweight: Competitors must weigh no more than 67kg (148 lbs)
  • Olympic Heavyweight: Competitors must weigh more than 67kg (148 lbs)


To ensure that a competitor is eligible to compete in his or her weight class, weigh-ins are held the day before the scheduled competition. Athletes wear underwear during the weigh-in, but can choose to be weighed in the nude. To help eliminate disqualifications, athletes are given access to replica scales so they can check their status in advance of the official weigh-in.


The Olympic Taekwondo tournament for each weight class follows an elimination format, with a random draw determining the main bracket. There will be roughly 15 entrants per weight class, with byes used to fill out the bracket as needed. After each match in the main bracket, the loser is eliminated from gold-medal contention, while the winner advances. The last two undefeated athletes meet to determine the gold and silver medallists. Beginning with the 2008 Games in Beijing, the number of bronze medals awarded will be expanded from one to two. Since the 2000 Sydney Games, the World Taekwondo Federation has conducted a single elimination tournament system with double repechage to determine one third-placed winner.


The Start

A taekwondo match involves two competitors, "Chung" (blue) and "Hong" (red). Before the match begins, the two competitors stand at attention and bow to each other on the referee's Korean commands of "cha-ryeot" (attention) and "kyeong-rye" (bow). The referee will then shout out "shi-jak" to start the match.


As inferred from the definition of taekwondo — "the way of the hand and the foot" — each athlete tries to earn points by landing kicks to the opponent's head and body, or punches to the body.


A men's match consists of three rounds of three minutes each with a one-minute rest period between rounds. A women's match consists of three, two-minute rounds, with one-minute rest periods between rounds.

Determining the winner

Most matches are won and lost on the scoreboard — the athlete who tallies the most points (less deductions) is the winner. Other means of determining a winner include:

  • Superiority (SUP). Other than in the final, if competitors are tied after three rounds, victory goes to whichever athlete scored more points (penalties are ignored). If the tie remains, the judges determine the winner based on initiative shown during the match.
  • Default (if the opponent earns four penalty points)
  • Referee Stopped Contest (RSC)
  • Knockout (KO) (uncommon)
  • Disqualification (DQQ)

Tie-breaker system in the final

If a tie occurs in the gold-medal match, superiority is not initially used to determine the winner. Instead, the two competitors will go into a fourth, sudden-death round, with whoever scores the next point being declared the winner. If neither athlete scores a point in the extra round, the referee will decide the winner based on who was superior in the round.


A referee and three judges are present for a taekwondo contest at the Games. The referee controls the match, declaring its start/end, winner/loser, plus suspensions and resumptions during the course of competition. The referee also declares warnings, penalties and deductions of points, but does not award points. All of the referee's decisions are announced when the results are confirmed. The judges are responsible for immediately tallying all of the valid points used to determine a match's winner.


In competition, a taekwondo athlete wears a white, v-neck uniform called a "dobok." The style of the dobok is based on traditional Korean peasant garb. All contestants compete barefoot. For protection, competitors must wear a red or blue chest protector, headgear, shin and forearm guards and mouthpieces. Male athletes must also wear a groin-area protector. The headgear is worn mostly to protect against injury to an unconscious athlete falling to the mat, and the forearm and shin guards are to prevent nerve damage to the designated areas.

Competition area

Taekwondo contests take place on a 12-meter by 12-meter square mat (roughly 39-feet by 39-feet) with a surface similar to that of a wrestling mat. There is a 1-meter wide border marked at the edge of the mat and shaded a different color to alert contestants that they're nearing the boundary line. If a contestant steps across the boundary line, the referee stops the match. If a contestant unintentionally crosses the boundary line, the referee will declare "joo-eui," or a verbal warning. The second time this occurs, "kyong-go," or a half-point penalty, is declared.