New WTF rules attempting to turn Sport into MMA?
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
"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?