After several test events, the Competition Rules were revised. The first official event that used this set of rules was the Panamerican Championship. What have we learned from watching this event?
In this episode, Coaches César Valentim and Peter Nestler discuss the new rules as they were enforced at the Panamerican Championships. The changes and the challenges we now face are different from what would arise from the first published version.
In this 20 minutes chat, you can get some important information about the new rules, what changed and how these impact the game and training of Olympic Taekwondo.
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Have you been looking for a Taekwondo Podcast with qualified people, who know what they're talking about, who help you keep up with everything going on in the Taekwondo World? Well, you found it. This is the Taekwondo Podcast. Taekwondo news, competitions and other events, training, and sports science keeping the fans, coaches, and high-performance athletes up to date with the latest news and trends in Olympic Taekwondo. Let’s do this! This is the Taekwondo Podcast. And now your hosts Coach César Valentim and Peter Nestler.
Coach César Valentim (00:42):
Hello and welcome to the Taekwondo Podcast. We are a Podcast based out of Austria in English language for everyone out there who likes Taekwondo. In this episode, we talk about the new changes to the new rules, especially after observing the matches at the Pan American championships this week. These new rules will only be enforced after June at the Grand Prix and we now have a clear idea how it’s gonna be.
Welcome to our podcast. I’m César Valentim and with me is Coach Peter Nestler. Hi Peter, how are you?
Coach Peter Nestler (01:13):
I’m fine today, how’re you César?
Coach César Valentim (01:15):
Good, good. It has been a few episodes since I’ve heard you. What’s new on your side?
Coach Peter Nestler (01:20):
I was at the Poomsae World Championships as a referee. So eight days or even more not in Austria, so busy, busy.
Coach César Valentim (01:34):
It has been almost 10 years since you have been to Korea. Any new changes? Not only from Korea but also about the World Championships. How do you feel about the new directions that Poomsae is taking?
Coach Peter Nestler (01:45):
In my opinion, they made a great event, a really big event with the most players ever in a huge hall. The organization went well, with helpers every 10 meters. Their English has improved, by the way, so everyone is speaking English fluently. That’s very good for the foreigners coming there. Everybody went. It was a good event.
Coach César Valentim (02:02):
So here we are again, talking about the new rules, the new-new rules. They published the rules in February. They did some test events in Puerto Rico, Spain, and the Belgian Open. Now they came to the decision that some stuff needed to change. The input from the coaches, and from the referees led to some interesting decisions and interesting upgrades to the rules. For those who are not aware to the new changes, I'll probably make a little crash course on the new rules. The new system that will start with the Grand Prix in Rome counts with the best of three system, meaning you have to win 2 out of 3 rounds to win the match. If you win the first and the second round the match is over. Also some clarifications for the technical points for the back kicks. Basically, if you don’t turn your head on the dwit chagi and just kicking with the back leg without turning your head and shoulders it’s just 2 points, no technical point for the turning kick. The head kicks: everything that is above the collar bone will be allowed for the coaches to ask for on the video replay. Not the referees but the coaches can ask for any contact to the head that didn’t score, but the referees can only ask for the video replay if they counted, if they did the safety counting to 8 or 10 when they perceive a strong impact. That didn’t change. Now there’s also the big difference of the “no gamjeong for falling down” for the player who has scored a turning kick falls down after the score. Some procedures regarding that: the gamjeong for kicking more than 2 times with the same leg in the air is something that is really being enforced. The rules don’t say that. The rules say that if you kick 2 times in the air without scoring you get a gamjeong on the third kick. The interpretation of the referees right now is that if you are kicking 3 times, even if the second scored, you’re still getting the gamjeong. That is something that is destroying a little bit of the game, especially the fast techniques with the front leg that we see in the European and North American style. And I think that is something that is designed to bring Taekwondo more to the old style, old school very fast kicks and not too long leg fencing. That might work. It might not work. Funnily enough, they let you score twice with the same leg on the head with one kick. So if your contact to the helmet scored 6 points because it scratches the helmet twice, they still let the six points stay. That’s something that probably should have been changed, but that’s not what they’re doing. The original rules said that you would get into the clinch and you would get 5 seconds passivity, then they would say “fight” and then you would have to start fighting or get out of the clinch. They changed that to make sure that the clinches are not so long, as we mentioned. Before the rules were applied, in our podcast we mentioned this would make the clinch longer. The rules are actually trying to make the clinch more active were going to backfire with those rules. They realized that. So after 3 seconds in the clinch, you get a “fight” command you have to leave the clinch in one second. The interesting introduction into the clinch situation is the moment you start pushing in the clinch, you have to kick. And if you are the attacking player, going into the clinch for a push, you have to immediately follow a kick, otherwise, you will get a gamjeong, while the athlete that is just defending their position and standing their ground doesn’t get a gamjeong. That’s a very good decision. Again, the funny kicks in the clinch that are not really a crescent kick, not really an an-chagi, just touching the helmet are going to be removed. But they decided not to remove the scorpion kicks and some of the other kicks. Those are some of the good changes and, as I mentioned before, we should not penalize the athletes that are flexible and have the ability to do that. We should make the game clear. I still think that the clinching situations and the kicking on the clinch should be done in a different way. They also changed the way you are pushing on the clinch. We watched them as the Pan American championships and when we saw that the situation of the superiority in the end of each round, to avoid complication in the third round when one would play tactically. Especially the coaches that are very tactical would allow the player to play the second and third round in a passive way after winning the first round, counting the points to avoid the 3rd round being the deciding round, even disqualifying themselves with 4 gamjeongs would be less points than a superiority of 5,6 points gained from the first round.
We mentioned all these things and WT listened to our podcast, they listened so much it was actually published in one of the newsletters from WT that linked to one of our episodes. Thank you, World Taekwondo for paying attention to what we’re doing. But when it comes to the rounds, they decided to decide the superiority at the end of every round. And we saw now at the Pan American Championships, I think it was the match with Caroline from Brazil, the second round was tied and there were still 10 second left. I think it was a gamjeong from the American girl, so the superiority came into effect in the end of the second round, allowing the player to win the match by winning the first and second round, while the second round was basically a superiority decision.
Interestingly enough, the gamjeongs, of which we previously said they give too much power to the referees, because now everything is a gamjeong, everything is a penalty, they did increase the number of allowed gamjeongs. The logic behind the 3 gamjeongs allowed would follow up the previous rules, where you would have 9 gamjeongs per match, that you would still be allowed to do, and being disqualified only on the tenth. The 3 gamjeongs per round would be the conversion of that system, but they realized that 3 gamjeongs per round gives a lot of power to the referees and a lot of passivity you would impose in the match because the players would not risk so much, being afraid of getting the fourth gamjeong. So now they allow you to have 4 gamjeongs per round. That means that you only get disqualified with the fifth gamjeong. Those are some of the changes imposed by the new rules. They also changed the superiority system. The superiority system used to be decided first by the number of spinning kicks and then the players with less gamjeongs. They did change that. And that’s something important. Most coaches out there don’t understand that. The first rule is the tiebreaker, in case you have the same score at the end of each round, the first rule is still the one with more spinning kicks, doesn’t matter if it’s on the vest or on the head. But then if it’s the same number it is counted by the higher point value techniques. That means the second superiority decision is e.g. if one of the players has 5-point techniques and the other does not, the 5-point technique leads to the superiority decision. Then you go down from there. Did anyone make 4 point techniques? Did anyone make 3 points? So basically if I punched and you only made one point due to a gamjeong, the one who made the punch will be the winner. So yes, they changed the superiority rules. The gamjeongs are not taken into consideration anymore, ut the missed hits are still there. If you had some touches on the vest that didn’t score or didn't pass the threshold enough to score a point, those will still be inside the superiority criteria. But it is just the third criterion and then we go to the woo-se-girok. That makes the matches more interesting. I hope the systems will get ready for that. I know that when we are recording this episode the PSS system doesn’t recognize those systems yet. That means that the technical assistant needs to be very careful when writing down these things for the competitions that are going to use it. For the Rino Grand Prix, that’s not a WT Grand Prix, that’s the US-American Grand Prix, they will have these rules, but they will not have the system ready. So they will have to use a paper to apply those rules. But yes, the rules changed, the superiority procedure, the match dynamic and again, when I look at what they did at the Pan American championships I do see way more dynamic first rounds. So that’s the good thing about these new rules. Very strong first rounds, but I think some of the rules, as you mentioned before, especially the video replay requests, they break the game a little bit. Have you seen the matches? What do you think about these things, Peter?
Coach Peter Nestler (10:53):
Yeah, I watched some of the matches and I agree that we have much less tactics in all of the rounds. So athletes have to score their points immediately. They have to go for it. In general, the more rules you have, the more complicated it gets. Also as you said, the systems have not followed yet, so we have to write everything down on paper, which brings the risk of errors. So everyone really has to focus and concentrate on the matches, to not commit errors. For me it’s there are too many rules, it’s too complicated. Not only for those outside, who don’t know anything about Taekwondo, but also for the game itself. They are trying to get back a style from years ago. I don’t know if you can get it with rules, to be honest.
Coach César Valentim (12:00):
I think they are trying to go back in time and limiting the players’ creativity and the fact is that today’s players are way more prepared for the modern matches and for the dynamic matches. And trying to introduce old-school techniques and old-school fighting styles has been proven to be wrong. We know that we have mentioned it in the last episode, if you have better techniques you are going to use the new style and win. There is a reason why the new style exists. Because it beat the old style in the last 10 years. In the last 10 years, you have still seen players trying to come with old-style, even some of the big names or some of the beginners that come from trainers that prefer the old style. They never match up to the new rules. So trying to change the rules to bring back a style that nobody wants to use for winning is going back in time and is not going to work. I do agree that the best of three is good, I do agree that the pushing in the clinch was getting ridiculous, without any kicks and just pushing. Yet, they didn’t do anything about the punches. They made a lot of improvements on the computer side, but not enough on the helmet and the vest side. So basically we are trying to catch up with the lack of technology by changing the rules. That’s something that should not be done; I think we can understand the reason why you can now ask for video replay as a coach. Me, as a coach, I love the fact that I can protest impacts on the head that didn’t score. It’s fair. I did it. It happened to me in training today three or four times, that one player hit on the helmet and it didn’t score. The sensor was not there, or the helmet was devoid of sensors on that part, we never know if it’s the software or the hardware. But again, having the coach ask for the video replay all the time is bringing something counter-productive for the spectators and the match management. And I think we can all agree that the matches are not interesting if we spend half an hour waiting for the video replay to be decided.
Coach Peter Nestler (14:07):
Yeah, that’s true. It was ridiculous. Some of the video replays really took long at the Pan American championship. And one other thing I am wondering is, why we do not have a sensor on the gloves for the punch, because that would give the organizers the possibility to reduce the number of referees, You could get rid of the corner referees.
Coach César Valentim (14:34):
Yes, I am sure we mentioned that in the podcast with Ali Ghafour. The technology is there. We have gyroscopes and accelerometers that will allow you to understand whether the player was turning or not, therefore the technical kicks do not need to be scored by the corner judges. It could be done by the equipment itself or could even be used as a fail-safe by the center referee or by the technical assistant. The second thing is the punches. I’ve seen the true score system being used with the new model that has a scoring area for the punches and different sensors for the hands, but we came to a point where the players wilöl play with that too much and that will not be the dynamic game that we want. I’m even up for removing the punches altogether in modern Taekwondo. That would probably be a hard decision to understand. Some of our listeners will say I’m crazy and, well, if you think I’m crazy just leave a comment on Instagram or our Facebook site. But it is something that could actually be accepted, take the punches away from Taekwondo. In the same way, there are no kicks in boxing, why should we have punches in Taekwondo? Especially if they are so subjective.
Coach Peter Nestler (15:42):
Yeah, that’s true. You could either completely cancel them or you could set a time frame, for example, 5 seconds you can only do the punch now and then again in 5 seconds. To not let the players play with this thing. But also, the ideal punch with the outstretched arm we don’t see very often so technically are not to be given, so to cancel them is ok.
Coach César Valentim (16:15):
The impact of the rules also impacts the training systems. And we were all discussing the endurance part of Taekwondo now with the new rules, but after what we have seen at the Pan American championships I think my mind is going in a different direction. I know that other coaches have expressed the same feelings. I have talked to coaches all across the world about the same feelings and about the training plans and all about the endurance part of the Taekwondo training and I think we will take a short break and we will, after a short commercial break, talk about the training preparations for the new rules.
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You're listening to the Taekwondo podcast. Now back to your hosts, coach César, Valentim, and Peter Nestler.
Coach César Valentim (20:30):
Welcome back. Here we are talking about the new rules and how they changed the training part and how we as coaches and as trainers change our training plan. Honestly, when I looked at the new rules and I tested the new rules the way they were written without the video replay in the club, I noticed that the energy the players were spending was much higher. They had 3 rounds that were much, much more dynamic. They had to fight each round as if it was their only match. So there was way more action, way more active periods, and making the athletes use way more energy for the competition. Therefore, making the endurance part of the training much more important. But now, after watching the Pan American and seeing how long the matches stop because of the video replay, even if the video replays are fast, the fact that you ask 3 or 4 times per round, in some cases, means that the players have enough time to rest.
So the rounds are no longer as active as they used to be. And we were at the point where Taekwondo had for each active second, 1 or 2 seconds that were not active. Now the breaks are so long that we go back into, almost base endurance level in some of the matches. And I think that is something that only with time and analyzing your players and their fighting styles will be able to adapt in training, but it’s definitely not the heavy, hard, action-packed rounds we were expecting from the new rules. What do you think about that?
Coach Peter Nestler (22:03):
As we saw, the number of rounds has decreased, so many games are only two rounds and we have a lot of stops in between. So, we first thought that the load is getting bigger, that we need better endurance training or a different one, but at the moment not. That’s clear.
Coach César Valentim (22:30):
Yes, 12 points gap in some cases was very fast. I saw some players at the Pan American championships and you will see even more at the G-tournaments, where the level is very different between the players and the rounds end very quickly. You have a lot of breaks, shorter rounds, and shorter matches, as you mentioned, and we definitely need to change the focus of training. The part of the clinching, that was so important in the training, was that you had to train almost like rugby players and push, push, push for endless periods. Now you don’t have that anymore. You have to push and kick, you are not allowed to do the crazy kicks on the clinch anymore, making the clinch more stable with both legs on the floor. Pushing for shorter periods of time, working on the boundary lines. The game changed and the training is going to change a lot. What is, for you, now the biggest challenge?
Coach Peter Nestler (23:27):
To be honest the biggest challenge right now is to read where the rules will lead us in the next times. So, as you mentioned, there will be further adaptions at the next big events, which then will set the framework for the Olympics, in my opinion. So the Europeans and the Worlds will set the rules for the Olympics. Until then, we have to see how it goes.
Coach César Valentim (24:03):
I see that the Grand Prix will be the biggest test. You will see that most of the referees nominated are very good referees and it’s not the same as a continental championship, therefore you will be able to see how the new rules are affecting the game. It is interesting to see how things change at the Pan American championships, but it’s still a little bit further away from what it’s going to be at the Grand Prix. At the Grand Prix, we will see the top players, top coaches, and top referees and the game will be way closer to the Olympics. As we know, in a sport like ours the professional players and professional coaches are not matched by professional referees and it’s very hard to see fair and consistent refereeing, except at the Olympic games, but the Grand Prix is close enough and I’m quite excited to see how Rome is going to be. What are your plans regarding the Rome Grand Prix?
Coach Peter Nestler (24:57):
My plans regarding Rome? Quite easy. I mean it’s quite close to Vienna so I might be going there as a spectator. But to once more get back to the rules, the rules are not only set for the Olympics, but also for all levels of games, so I hope we will soon have a fixed set of rules.
Coach César Valentim (25:22):
Well, that’s as far as we can go. Until the Grand Prix, we cannot see much more of them. The European championships are still going to be with the old rules. So we have to wait a month and come back and we will analyze how the rules were implemented and a few months after that, how the training changed. And I think until then you just have to stay tuned and listen to our podcast. Thank you, Peter. It was nice being here with you and everyone who was listening. This was the Taekwondo Podcast. If you haven’t already listened to our other episodes, they are available online, wherever you listen to your podcasts. We are releasing new episodes every Tuesday. Stay tuned, subscribe to our podcast, leave us a positive review and share it with your friends. See you next time!
You've been listening to the Taekwondo podcast, keeping the fans, coaches, and high-performance athletes up to date with the latest news and trends on Olympic Taekwondo your host coach César Valentim has all almost 20 years of experience with high-performance Taekwondo and has worked all around the world. As a Taekwondo trainer. Peter Nestler has been teaching Taekwondo for more than 20 years, and he's currently one of the top referees in Europe. We hope you enjoyed the show, make sure to like, rate, and review and we'll be back soon. But in the meantime, find us on Instagram @taekwondopodcast on Facebook @taekwondocast, and the website taekwondopodcast.com. See you next time.