In 1962, for the first time, the 43rd National Sports Festival in Taegu included a full-contact sparring event, and the following year, ‘taekwondo’ (at that time called ‘t’aesudo’) became an official sport. Afterward, a variety of competitions were launched at the high school and university level. In 1973, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was founded, and that same year the first World Championships were held in Seoul. Supported by the South Korean government, Korean taekwondo leaders were
aiming for taekwondo’s inclusion as an Olympic discipline. Subsequently, taekwondo was aggressively promoted over the following decades as an internationally recognized sport, to be first included at the 1986 Asian Games, held in Seoul. Two years later, taekwondo earned its debut as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It was included again as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Games in Barcelona and, at last, taekwondo gained the status of an official, medal event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Chapter 6 examines the roots and causes for the evolutionary direction of
taekwondo as a sport, over the past sixty years. The foremost characteristic of Olympic taekwondo is that it is a combat sport which, almost exclusively, uses kicking techniques in sparring. Moreover, the preferred sparring tactics keep changing along with revisions in the rules, as well as advancements in protective gear and innovations in scoring technology. However, the current competition system was not only the result of technical rule and equipment changes, but also of political decisions and struggles among Korean taekwondo leaders. During sport taekwondo’s infancy, there was much trial and error in the devel-
opment of new rules and regulations. This chapter will seek to demonstrate how these rules were formulated, and examine how improved equipment and further rule modifications have affected the technical direction of sport taekwondo. Finally, this chapter will conclude by discussing the most recent developments regarding the issues mentioned, above.