Taekwondo is one of the oldest forms of martial arts in the world has recently become one of the fastest growing sports since officially being added to the Olympics in 2000 and has been on full display at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Their uniform and equipment have branched out from the traditional white garb that most are used to seeing when watching these matches. The first change, which is also the non-tech related one, is the competitors’ ability to wear colored pants. This year, each country had the opportunity to pick a color (including white if they wished) to represent their country, just like most of the rest of the sports. While it may not seem like a big change, it’s something that many traditionalists were not too thrilled about.
Another change is the use of sensor-equipped headgear that will team up with the vests that were introduced in 2012. These new technological changes will assist in matches and help decrease the chance of controversial issues like the one back in 2008 where the result of a quarterfinal match was overturned because officials missed the winning kick. The electronic sensors that the headgear and vests are rigged with are part of the Protective Scoring System (PSS) and work with the socks the competitors wear to “measure the impact of any strikes delivered and automatically record valid points for those strikes”.
“Especially at the Olympic Games, the fair and transparent result is very important. That is why we tried very hard to introduce the electronic scoring system in London,” said World Taekwondo Federation president Chungwon Chou.
A few more changes to the sport includes switching to an octagon-shaped mat rather than a square, the ability to have music playing as the competitors walk out and a slight change in scoring (more points for spinning kicks).
The medalists of the first day of taekwondo competition in Rio !#taekwondo #Olympics #Rio2016 #Medalists pic.twitter.com/cWT5KIJuLE
— WTF (@WorldTaekwondo1) 18 August 2016
“London 2012 was a landmark moment for our sport, but we want to build on that momentum and deliver an unforgettable experience for athletes and fans in Rio. This means delivering the optimum conditions for our elite athletes to be able to compete at their best, providing fair and transparent competitions and ensuring that fans are entertained before, during and after competitions,” said Chou.
Taekwondo started yesterday (August 17th) and will continue until the 20th so make sure to catch a match or two and see the new attire and tech in action. If you have any difficulty, the WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) created an app that can help fans keep up-to-date on major international competitions and events.