Olympics 101: Taekwondo

Taekwondo is one of two martial arts disciplines in the Olympics.
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Lisa Horne

Lisa Horne is entering her fifth year as a correspondent for FOXSports.com. She is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and a frequent guest on sports radio shows. Follow her on Twitter.


Taekwondo is a martial arts sport that originated in Korea. There are progressions of mastery within Taekwondo and as a number of disciplines are mastered at one level, a belt or degree is awarded and the athlete moves on to the next level. Taekwondo became a full medal sport starting in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

In Olympic competition, there are four different weight classes: Flyweight, lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight. The athlete scores points with his feet or hands when full contact occurs on a valid scoring zone. If an athlete lands a valid kick or punch on his opponent's torso, he receives one point. If the athlete has full contact with a spinning kick, he is awarded two points. If an athlete has full contact with his opponent's head while doing a turning kick, he is awarded four points.


Want a refresher course on the sports in the Summer Olympics? We’ve got you covered. OLYMPICS 101

Each round is two minutes long and there are three rounds per contest — competition is in knockout format with the winner advancing to the next contest. Losers to the finalists will contest for the bronze medal through repechage.

Some terms used often in Taekwondo are chung, hong and dobok. The dobok is the uniform worn by the athlete. In competition, each athlete wears a protective colored-padding around his chest and a colored padded headgear. The athlete who wears the color blue is called "chung" and the one who wears red is "hong."

Why should I care?

Since this sport came from Korea, it's almost incumbent on that country to do very well in this competition but hold on a minute — Team USA has an excellent team and should medal and perhaps pull a few upsets.

OK, so who should I watch?

Diana Lopez finished first at the 2012 Olympic Trials for her weight class (featherweight). Lopez won a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Her brother Steven Lopez is also on the Olympic team — he won gold in both the 2000 and 2004 Summer Games and bronze in the 2008 Summer Games.

What chance do the Americans have to win?

The Lopez siblings look very good and should medal in their respective divisions but the South Koreans are going to be tough to beat in several divisions.

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