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Galope
7/25/2013 6:21pm,
So I was lurking again on another MA forum, when someone posted this story of WTF president changing tourney rules to attract the UFC crowd


WTF President
Choue Chung-won
"It’s probably not a good sign for taekwondo’s health as a combat sport when detractors continue to compare it with ballet. World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Choue Chung-won vows to do something about it. In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Choue shared some dramatic ideas aimed at rewiring the DNA of the sport, including rewriting the rules to give more points to punches and discarding the mat in favor of an octagon-shaped ring enclosed in a wire mesh cage. If he has it his way, the new version of taekwondo will look a lot like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the planet’s most popular mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, but without the grappling part.

Choue is even mulling retiring taekwondo’s traditional ''dobok’’ clothing and introduce innovative uniforms like the ones used in basketball or football, which promote a larger range of motions and reduce heat and moisture. ''Taekwondo has been all about tradition and pride, its heritage as a martial art deeply rooted in Korean culture and history. But for it to have staying power in the Olympics and reinvent itself as a spectator sport, it needs to make larger strides in its evolvement as a combat sport,’’ Choue said.

''The ‘kwon’ in taekwondo means the fist, but the fist has disappeared in the current form of competition because we reward more points to kicks. We need to narrow this gap to encourage hand-to-hand combat. I love how other sports are experimenting with octagon-shaped rings or round-shaped rings because they seem to give judges better views and allow them to make more accurate decisions on the hits that landed and didn’t.’’ At this point, Choue’s suggestions are just that ― suggestions. The ideas will have to be run through the decision-making process at the WTF. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants its combat sports competitions to be more exciting but also safer to athletes.

There will also certainly be resistance from the purists of Korea’s previously-homogenous taekwondo circle, who have been in a difficult relationship with Choue, criticizing him for removing taekwondo too far from its traditional form. Choue has conviction about what he’s trying to do. He takes the IOC executive board's decision earlier this year to keep taekwondo as an Olympic sport ― a vote of confidence it didn’t give wrestling ― as an important victory in his ongoing efforts for change.

The IOC executive board decided on Feb. 12 to include taekwondo in the list of 25 ''core’’ Olympic sports for the 2020 Summer Games. The final decision will be made at the IOC general assembly in September at Buenos Aires. The process has fueled Choue’s urgency to hasten the development of taekwondo as a 21st century spectator sport. ''My goal from the beginning was to fully integrate taekwondo as a global sport. The purists had criticized that the Korean dominance in taekwondo was slipping under my reign at the WTF, counting increasing number of the gold medals that went to other countries in recent Olympics. But I take that as the ultimate compliment,’’ he said.

At the London Olympics, taekwondo athletes competed on a mat inside an eight-by-eight-meter zone, over three rounds of two minutes. The aim of the sport is to land accurate kicks and punches on the scoring area of their opponent. A kick or punch to the torso is rewarded with one point. An additional point is awarded if the attacker has his back to his opponent at the point of contact, making the spinning kick the most important skill in the sport. Choue considers the two-point spinning kick as a mistake that practically eliminated punches from the sport, which killed ebb and flow and frequently making matches look like badly choreographed puppet shows.

''Hand skills will continue to be irrelevant when spinning kicks continue to be everything, so we need a new point system to narrow the differences. Punches to the head have been illegal, despite that kicks landed there are awarded three points, and this difference has to be ironed out as well,’’ Choue said. ''We used sensors in the head and torso gears of athletes, and to be valid, all shots must be of sufficient force. To fully integrate punches again, however, we will also need to reward weaker hits.’’

Judging controversies had marred taekwondo in the Olympics since it became a medal competition in the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. However, the employment of an electronic scoring system — enabled by sensors embedded in the body pads, socks and helmets of the fighters — and instant video replay eliminated most of the problems in the London Games. Taekwondo’s lowest moment came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Cuba’s Angel Matos and his coach kicked Swedish referee Chakir Chelbat in the face over a disputed call in the men’s 80-kilogram bronze medal match.

While the violent meltdown by a high-profile athlete may have dealt irrevocable damage to the public image of taekwondo at the time, the WTF managed to recover by being proactive in the acceptance of technology. Taekwondo athletes now wear socks and clothing fitted with electronic sensors to accurately detect impact and instant video replay was introduced. The results have been positive. Bad decisions and scoring inconsistencies that were previously predictable were non-existent in last year’s London Olympics.

Excitement seems to be the next quest for taekwondo and Choue seemed serious about hanging his legacy on it."




I have been noticing a trend with TMA's who originally bashed MMA trying to scramble to lure back all their money...I mean "students". Any thoughts?

Permalost
7/25/2013 6:27pm,
TKD's attempts to recreate MMA (like the ATA's MMA program) are likely to just end up with bad MMA, and bad MMA isn't a product that the MMA community really approve of. Also I don't see anything about grappling, just standup with a point system. Maybe it'll be as popular as American Kickboxing or World Combat League (that is to say, not very popular at all).

Having said all that, isn't TKD already like the most popular martial art in the whole damn world?

Galope
7/25/2013 6:41pm,
Having said all that, isn't TKD already like the most popular martial art in the whole damn world?

This^ Is why I am wondering why they are even doing it. I mean the got the corner market for martial arts. Maybe it's pre-emptive attempt at trying to keep their place at the top. Like a king realizing he is about to be dethroned by the up and comer (sp?). If he is so worried that MMA will take his place, why not just make it full contact again?

DKJr
7/25/2013 10:44pm,
They should just adopt Sanda Rules if they want to stay relevant. (TKD Black belt so it's cool if I post here right?)

slamdunc
7/25/2013 11:20pm,
If he is so worried that MMA will take his place, why not just make it full contact again?When it comes down to it, this is all about cashing in on the popularity of MMA and not about improving TKD. I spent my time in this system and learned that it is very much about the almighty dollar.

It will take more than a superficial change of the rule-set to put it where it needs to be.

http://i1261.photobucket.com/albums/ii595/slamdunc1/MilitaryBanner_zpsd361578d.png (http://s1261.photobucket.com/user/slamdunc1/media/MilitaryBanner_zpsd361578d.png.html)

Andrew WA
7/26/2013 1:48pm,
I like this idea of changing TKD minus a cage like ring. The shape of the ring could change but the cage idea is not important. In fact they should just make it a boxing style ring instead, or a flat surface like WEC.

I do not like his idea of uniform changes. I think that is annoying and will end up looking as stupid a "sport kroddy." Just make heavier stitched doboks with the same WTF approved style and allow leg kicks and face punches. Stop the chest only and kicks to the head only strikes.

I do agree that spin kicks should not be awarded more points. All strikes should be the same point like it used to be in the 90's.

TKD may be popular but almost every dojang is some off brand or random organization. Or just a very popular mcdojang chain like ATA or Tiger Rock. There are less authentic Kukkiwon gyms per city. And so many groups like ITF keep boasting about how they are the "real TKD' and "real fighting" when they are not.

The popularity of UFC and MMA or the understanding that the world is super violent is showing the average person that self defense is the reason people want to sign up. It is not going to be Taekwondo Dance or musical forms. Such things will be riducles and bought in by soccer moms and other yuppie rich people who dont care. Basically a culture like where I currently live in Alabama is all about shows and parents love things like Dance and Twirl and competition shows for dancing. Taekwondo dance, demos, musial forms fall into that and impress parents. But the majority of the fight crowd despises such things,

If TKD wants to stay relevant they need to allow a wider target area such as leg kicks and punches to the face and keep the spirit of martial arts and tradition in that. The critics saying this guy is going against tradition is wrong. He is actually going back to it allowing TKD to be more combative. I really hope the change the rules, or the WTF sets up a pro-league or a kickboxing league for TKD people, as well as the Kukkiwon creating a "fight team" that does mro than olympic rules fights to keep Taekwondo relevant or "proven."

Permalost
7/26/2013 2:21pm,
The whole octagon cage thing seems to be a huge logistical problem when you consider most TKD tournaments are a huge bunch of kids competing on a rented highschool gym floor, where the spectators are mostly there just to see their own kids/relatives compete.

Andrew WA
7/26/2013 5:36pm,
The whole octagon cage thing seems to be a huge logistical problem when you consider most TKD tournaments are a huge bunch of kids competing on a rented highschool gym floor, where the spectators are mostly there just to see their own kids/relatives compete.

Great point. I was thinking that as well. No everyone can afford such a ring or let alone set it up correctly.

Permalost
7/26/2013 6:13pm,
Great point. I was thinking that as well. No everyone can afford such a ring or let alone set it up correctly.

The martial arts tournaments I've been to generally manage to get through all of the competitors by setting up multiple rings (usually with tape squares). Even by doing this, it still takes all day for a tournament to finish. So, you wouldn't just need to set up the cage- you'd need to set up several (and the octagon shape has a lot of wasted space compared to the square ring when you line several in a row).

dougguod
7/26/2013 6:45pm,
Having said all that, isn't TKD already like the most popular martial art in the whole damn world?

How are we defining popularity? TKD may be the most widely practiced martial art in the world but it's by no means the most watched or commercialized (commercialized,that is, outside of its own students). I'm sure a lot of instructors make a comfortable living running daycare dojangs full of nine-year-old black belts but think of how much money is being lost without TKD pay per view bouts and Tapout-esque t-shirts and caps being sold to the basement-dwelling knuckle dragger demographic. President Choue has apparently noticed how well Dana White is making out these days.

Gluckmann
7/26/2013 7:59pm,
I'm super excited for this. I think he's got the right idea - WTF taekwondo needs to abandon the dancing and become something more martial than foot tag.

Head punches and leg kicks are a good start. Getting rid of the dobok might help too. And 4 points for a jumping-spinning headkick is just silly.

Olympic taekwondo is the ultimate representation of taekwondo to the world. It needs to be a more impressive sport than it currently is. WTF taekwondo isn't commanding the respect it deserves.

OwlMatt
7/26/2013 9:30pm,
I agree that the WTF rules need changing, particularly to de-emphasize acrobatics and encourage more punching, but TKD also needs to protect its identity. Something that is like MMA but not really MMA will appeal to neither MMAers nor traditionalists.

If anyone cares what I think, I think Kyokushin is a much better model for a change to TKD than MMA. Kyokushin manages to be a hardass fighting art, a traditional kata art, and a widely accessible international sport -- everything that TKD wants to be -- and it does all that without a special octagon ring, without modern sport uniforms, and even without punches to the head. How does it do that? **** if I know, but someone in TKD should be trying to figure that out.

yieldingbamboo
7/26/2013 11:29pm,
I agree that the WTF rules need changing, particularly to de-emphasize acrobatics and encourage more punching, but TKD also needs to protect its identity. Something that is like MMA but not really MMA will appeal to neither MMAers nor traditionalists.

If anyone cares what I think, I think Kyokushin is a much better model for a change to TKD than MMA. Kyokushin manages to be a hardass fighting art, a traditional kata art, and a widely accessible international sport -- everything that TKD wants to be -- and it does all that without a special octagon ring, without modern sport uniforms, and even without punches to the head. How does it do that? **** if I know, but someone in TKD should be trying to figure that out.

I care, because you mirrored my thoughts exactly! I've actually started working out ideas and rules about how to go about it. Here are some unfinished notes I made a while ago just trying to come up with something tougher and which would make TKD more viable as a serious striking system. I have no idea how realistic any of this is -- they're just random ideas.

Striking – Will consist of long, medium, and short range kicks, punches, and hand strikes, including joints such as the elbow, knee, and wrist. Finger-stabbing or single-knuckle strikes are not permitted. Kicks to the head are permitted; hand strikes to the head are not. Groin, spine, eyes, neck, and knee joints are illegal targets. Knock outs result in an instant win. Technical knock outs are subject to the arbitration of the referee in conjunction with a medical professional. Strikes will only score points when they land solidly and/or displace the body.

Clinching – Knees and low punches can be made from the clinch so long as they do not hit the face or the base of the skull or the rest of the head. Various takedowns, trips, and throws are also permissible from the clinch.

Sweeping – Standing sweeps reminiscent of Shotokan and Kyokushin competitions are permissible. However, merely sweeping the opponent does not cause a contender to win or gain a point. The contender must follow him to the ground and pin him there.

Throwing – The lapel, sleeves, and jacket of the contenders are permissible to grab with one hand during striking, and with two hands for a 5 second window when attempting a throw. Some throws and mid-technique takedowns are permissible, but not all. Contender must follow opponent to the ground and pin him there to receive a point.

Ground Grappling – Once on the ground, the aggressor must try to pin his opponent, while the opponent must try to escape, reverse the attack, and/or get back up. Submissions and strikes are not permissible on the ground. Positional dominance for a short period of time is the goal. If the pin is successful in holding the competitor for more than X seconds, a point is awarded to the one who made the successful pin. If the one trying to pin is swept/reversed and pinned, his opponent is awarded a point. Wrestling is limited to 30 seconds.

Andrew WA
7/26/2013 11:36pm,
How are we defining popularity? TKD may be the most widely practiced martial art in the world but it's by no means the most watched or commercialized (commercialized,that is, outside of its own students). I'm sure a lot of instructors make a comfortable living running daycare dojangs full of nine-year-old black belts but think of how much money is being lost without TKD pay per view bouts and Tapout-esque t-shirts and caps being sold to the basement-dwelling knuckle dragger demographic. President Choue has apparently noticed how well Dana White is making out these days.

Some may disagree but possibly TKD could benefit from such things and it might force the WTF or KKW to promote more combative stuff. We live in a MMA world right now pretty much. That is what i see as popular.
Not to mention that a ton of random organization or independent TKD gyms are starting MMA programs or now claim to teach muay thai (fraudulently or not).


The martial arts tournaments I've been to generally manage to get through all of the competitors by setting up multiple rings (usually with tape squares). Even by doing this, it still takes all day for a tournament to finish. So, you wouldn't just need to set up the cage- you'd need to set up several (and the octagon shape has a lot of wasted space compared to the square ring when you line several in a row).

If the WTF did start an octagon type ring, I am sure that local tournaments will still be square tape on a gym floor and if they are rich enough will have mats. It would be that just the major tournaments have that ring shape while small ones might not.

It would be interesting to see if dojangs would make an octagon pattern in their training space with the mat colors like they do the square ring shape with red and blue mats.

Andrew WA
7/26/2013 11:41pm,
I agree that the WTF rules need changing, particularly to de-emphasize acrobatics and encourage more punching, but TKD also needs to protect its identity. Something that is like MMA but not really MMA will appeal to neither MMAers nor traditionalists.

If anyone cares what I think, I think Kyokushin is a much better model for a change to TKD than MMA. Kyokushin manages to be a hardass fighting art, a traditional kata art, and a widely accessible international sport -- everything that TKD wants to be -- and it does all that without a special octagon ring, without modern sport uniforms, and even without punches to the head. How does it do that? **** if I know, but someone in TKD should be trying to figure that out.

You know what I pretty much agree with you man. And we should keep the V-neck doboks and just make them more heavy stitches like a heavyw eight gi and not light weight.

OwlMatt
7/27/2013 1:11pm,
Throwing – The lapel, sleeves, and jacket of the contenders are permissible to grab with one hand during striking, and with two hands for a 5 second window when attempting a throw. Some throws and mid-technique takedowns are permissible, but not all. Contender must follow opponent to the ground and pin him there to receive a point.

Ground Grappling – Once on the ground, the aggressor must try to pin his opponent, while the opponent must try to escape, reverse the attack, and/or get back up. Submissions and strikes are not permissible on the ground. Positional dominance for a short period of time is the goal. If the pin is successful in holding the competitor for more than X seconds, a point is awarded to the one who made the successful pin. If the one trying to pin is swept/reversed and pinned, his opponent is awarded a point. Wrestling is limited to 30 seconds.

I think this would be going too far. TKD is not a grappling art, and does not need grappling to validate itself. No one is calling boxers, muay Thai players, or Kyokushin karatekas frivolous players for points because they don't grapple.

Your new "grappling taekwondo" would essentially be taekwondo with second-rate judo and BJJ mixed in. TKD players who want to grapple should be cross-training, not trying to create some new all-encompassing teh deadly TKD.