Taekwondo changes rules to make sport safer

Published Apr. 10, 2012 5:31 a.m. ET

Taekwondo officials are changing the rules to protect fighters from the impact of head kicks.

At the London Olympics, fighters will score points for head kicks as soon as any part of their foot touches their opponent's head - without regard for impact, as was previously the case.

World Taekwondo Federation sports director Jeongkang Seo says the change will make scoring more uniform and encourage athletes to try for more head kicks without demanding extreme force.

The change will likely have little effect on head kicks that most often result in knockouts, since those usually involve a spinning technique that are almost always delivered with significant power.