Forms practice enables a student to go through series of movements to develop sparring technique, improve flexibility, master body
shifting, and build breath control.
Free-Sparring is the physical application of attack and defense techniques gained from forms and fundamental exercises against
actual moving opponents. It is necessary to promote the fighting spirit and courage, and to train the eyes to read the opponent’s
tactics and movements not gained from forms or exercises.

There are certain types of opponents in sparring who are very difficult to defeat including those who are very aggressive, those who are good at closing the distance quickly and those who hit
and run. This article will provide a few simple to use counterattacking solutions for these types of opponents.
Against an Opponent who is Good at Closing the Distance
Slide back round house kick (dwiro pajo momtong dollyo chagi: dwiro pajo means sliding back step and dollyo chagi is roundhouse kick) against the opponent who is good at closing the
distance by footwork or pushing kick.
When you are frustrated, always stick to fundamental techniques that you are very familiar with. The first step is to retreat to avoid the attack. The second step is to do your roundhouse kick
as soon as his attacking kick begins to fall.
Be careful not to back up too far when you retreat. If you do you will lose your distance to counterattack or you will give the distance for your opponent to come in and attack again.
Against a Hit and Run Opponent
Sliding back and double kick against a hit and run opponent who comes in, kicks and quickly backs away. Against any opponent who comes in quick and goes out quick, you need to chase
him down. For this type of opponent, you can use moolo doobal dangsang chagi. Moolo is back step, doobal dangsang chagi is double kick.
The first step is to read your opponent's initiative and move your entire body backward just enough to avoid the blow. The second step is to hit him with double kick before he runs away.
In competition, don't back up too far. Since quick kicks are mostly short in nature, you need to move back 2/3 of usual sliding back distance. Then you can hit your opponent right on target.
Against an Aggressive Opponent
Technique is a back kick counterattack against an aggressive opponent. When your opponent attacks you aggressively, you have two choices: Either move away or stop the attack. For
slipping away, you need excellent footwork. To stop it, you need good dwi chagi(back kick).
The first step is to catch the moment of your opponent's initiation for launching an attack. Usually, his shoulders turn more than usual or he sinks deeper into his stance just before an
aggressive attack. The second step is to adjust your distance according to his intensity so your kick lands on target. If you do not adjust the distance well, you will be too close or to far away
to counter. The third step is to make a short counter back kick. Don't step back too far and don't kick too high. Relax and stay within your range not his range.
Against a Clinching Opponent
Sliding back and double kick (moolo doobal dangsang chagi: moolo is back step, doobal dangsang chagi is double kick) at open stance against an opponent who abruptly comes into your
zone or tries to clinch.
The first step is to read your opponent's initiative and move your entire body backward. The second step is to stop his movement by kicking with your rear foot and then finish with the other
leg with power. Use your front leg to cut off his kick and use your hands to maintain the appropriate kicking distance against the opponent.
Sparring Strategies
by Sang H. Kim
Strategy is a method to defeat the opponent through analysis of the situation, judgment of the available options and immediate execution of the most appropriate action. The purpose of using strategy is to
manage the course of the match while conserving energy and moving wisely.
To execute an effective strategy in the match the fighter must be thoroughly familiar with the rules and regulations of the game, as well as the strategies in use by the current top international fighters, and have
mastered fundamental skills that work in every situation. In the ring, the fighter also must be able to rely on his coach to evaluate the opponent and formulate strategy based on this evaluation.
Competition taekwondo is a game of strategy. The result of the match often hinges on the strategic proficiency of the competitors.
Developing a Competition Strategy
Before developing a competition strategy, each competitor must consider the following elements essential to taekwondo competition:

1) Technical structure and variations according to the competition rules. Every competitor must be able to win within the established framework of the competition rules. He must create unique offensive
combinations designed to score points while avoiding penalties.

2) Economical use of energy over the duration of the match. A fighter must plan his strategy over the course of the full nine minutes of the match. He must clearly decide when it is appropriate to conserve
energy and when it is necessary to press the opponent.

3) Judicial application of feinting skills. Feinting should be used wisely and sparingly, so as not to be detected by the opponent.

Once the competitor has a general plan, the following process is necessary for the accurate formulation (psychological) and execution (physical) of an individual strategy:

1. Psychological formulation of strategy

concentration (attention to the opponent's every action)
information collection (accumulation of information)
data selection (sorting of the important information)
analysis of the situation (projection of future events)
decision making (selection of appropriate action)
immediate execution (implementation of chosen action)

2. Physical execution of strategy

adaptation (change of techniques according to situation)
economic distribution of energy (conservation and assertion of energy at the proper time)
timing (attack/defend appropriately)
execution of plan (carry out planned strategy)
score management (score enough points to win)
Offensive Strategy
Offense, in taekwondo competition, is the strategic application of skills to the target area of the opponent. It is most commonly applied with forward footwork and explosive movements. To be successful,
offensive skills must be executed with good timing and an accurate sense of distance.
There are three methods of offense: direct attack, indirect attack and counterattack. A direct attack is an initiative attack, an indirect attack is a deceptive attack and a counterattack is a reflexive attack.
Direct attack
There are three types of direct attacks according to the distance and stance of the opponent.
1. The first is an in-place attack where the distance to the opponent is perfect for a single kicking attack and no footwork or deception is required.
2. The second is an incline attack where the distance is slightly beyond the reach of an in-place attack. Therefore the competitor must shift his body forward without moving his feet, and launch the attack from
the inclined position. Timing, distance and speed are essential.
3. The third is a sliding attack where the distance is even greater than that of the incline attack. The competitor must slide his front foot in as he shifts his body weight forward to attack. Speed is essential for
covering the distance in a sliding attack. For maximum efficiency, the competitor must execute the technique before the opponent recognizes his intention.
Indirect Attack
There are three types of indirect attack: feinting, cutting and footwork.
Feinting: To create an opening, feint first and then attack according to the opponent's reaction.
Cutting: Cut the opponent's attacking movement and follow with a counterattack.
Footwork: According to the distance and stance of the opponent, initiate with footwork and attack.
There are two types of counter attacks: direct and indirect.
A direct counterattack means countering the opponent's attack without changing position. Speed, agility and fortitude are important for direct counterattacking.
An indirect counterattack means avoiding the opponent's attack with footwork and then following with a counterattack.

Summary of Offensive Options:

Direct Attack
in-place attack
incline attack
sliding attack
Indirect Attack

Strategic Tips for Winning
Counterattacking has a better chance of scoring than attacking for advanced competitors.
Beginning and intermediate competitors are most likely to score with single direct attacks.
In a close match, an attacking fighter is more likely to win that a counterattacking fighter unless the counterattacker can score a knockout.
The most frequently used attacks are roundhouse kick, back kick and axe kick.
Successful competitors can effectively counter these kicks.
The side kick and front kick are rarely used in competition any more and are highly unlikely to score points.
The roundhouse kick is the preferred kick for scoring, followed by the back kick and axe kick.
Taekwon-Do Sparring

Pre Arranged
  • Three Step Sparring
  1. One Way
  2. Alone
  3. With a Companion
  4. Two Way
  5. Alone
  6. With a Companion
  • Two Step Sparring
  • One Step Sparring
Semi Free
  • One Against One
  • Two Against One
  • Two Against Two
  • Other Combination
Foot Technique
Pre Arranged Free
  • One Against One
  • Two Against One
  • Three or More Against One
Prearranged Sparring (Yaksok Matsogi)
The players decide what kind of attacks that will be used, how often and how many steps are allowed before an attack must be made. All the variables can be adjusted, only kicks to a particular target, or a particular
attacking tool must be only be used, or attackers must alternate between "one attack one defence one attack one defence and so on".
E.g. Only High Kicks to the temple are allowed
Three Step Sparring
There are two methods of practice.
One Way
The attacker steps forward with the attack (three times), the defender defends (three times) and then counters.
Two Way
The attacker steps backwards and attacks (three times) while the defender steps forward and defends (three times), then counters.
Either method can be practiced alone or with a partner. When alone you should perform both the attacks role and then the defenders. The players should note that the position of the feet in prearranged sparring is of
particular importance. It is no use performing a perfect punch if your forefist never reaches the target because your feet are in the wrong place.
Walking Stance Punch - You should step to the outside of your opponents foot. Your toes next to his heel. The next step forward should be to his inside, the next step to his outside.

L-Stance Punch - You should step to the inside of your opponents foot. Your toes next to his heel. The next step forward should be to his outside, the next to his inside.

Two Step Sparring
As above but with different techniques.
One Step Sparring
This is one of the ultimate goals of Taekwon-Do, to win with a single seasoned blow. The attacker signals that they are about to attack and once the defender has signalled that they are ready the attacker may attack
using ANY technique. The defender should block, dodge or intercept the ttack and then counter, preferably whilst only stepping once.
Semi Free
The attacker starts in a Guarding stance and performs three random attacks, the defender must block the first two and then has the option of blocking or dodging the third. The defender must then counter.
When you are alone the attacking role is the same, when defending you must block the attacks that you used. This is much harder than with a companion in that you have to remember which attacks were used and
imagine them coming towards you.
With a Companion
This is the standard, it is quite easy so long as your partner gives you a chance to block, you should gradually build up your speed rather than starting off at one hundred percent.
Semi Free Sparring (Ban Jayu Matsogi)
Students start in an L-stance Guarding Block, at the command of commence one will attack with only one series of attacks, the other will defend, and then they swap roles, this continues for a short period only. The
distance between the practitioners types of attack/defence, targets etc can all be adjusted including the number of steps taken. It is the last step before the student begins Free Sparring.
Free Sparring (Jayu Matsogi)
Any attack or defence is allowed and should be executed to an appropriate target - BUT the attacking tool must always stop short of the target to prevent serious injury or death. Normally in competitions and in practice
only attacks above the belt and to the front of the opponent are permitted.
Hints for Free Sparring
A good defence will mean that your opponent only has a few targets that he is capable of attacking to. This gives you the advantage as you know where he is likely to attack to and can be ready to counter when he is
vulnerable - i.e. during his attack. To guarantee victory every time you must know your opponent as well as oneself.
Instant Attack and Counter-Attack
Do not telegraph that your are about to move. This tells your opponent that you are about to do something and that he should be ready. This is commonly done in an L-Stance preparing to perform a side piercing kick, the
student will often move the forward foot slightly forwards just before he begins to move. This should be avoided. If your opponent scores with a technique you should instantly try to regain those points by performing a
counter-attack as he will still be vulnerable.
Trying to break a guard requires brute force or skill (or both). You should always practice trying to break someone's guard by skill (there is always someone bigger than you). To break the guard you can either move
quickly and create an opening that way or you can try to deceive your opponent. You do this by starting to perform one technique when in actual fact you are going to perform a different technique.
Selecting A Proper Target
it is of no use to kick to the eyeball with knee as you have no chance of achieving your goal. You should select an appropriate attacking tool otherwise the technique will not work, in competition you will not be awarded any
points. Also you will find that it is easier to use the correct technique rather than an inappropriate one in many circumstances. An upset punch at close range is easier than a side piercing kick.
Direction of Attack and Defense
Some techniques are more suited to being used in a particular manner E.g. Side piercing kick is very useful for attacking an opponent to the side, Back Fist for an opponent to the rear etc. Using the appropriate technique
is not only easier but it is faster and more powerful than trying to attack with the wrong technique.
Technique Experimentation
It is very important to be able to use more than just your favorite techniques, they will not always be the most appropriate so you should always practice those techniques which you do not like. This way when sparring you
will be able to use more than just a few techniques. Often when sparring an instructor will see a hand full of techniques being used (punch, turning kick, reverse turning kick, back piercing kick, side piercing kick and low
block), rarely will he see twisting kick or flying techniques executed to a target. These techniques are difficult but very effective. Blocking a twisting kick is very hard.
By experimenting with new techniques you give yourself an advantage and also you will find which work well for you and how well you can work them in a realistic situation.
Development of Tactic and Manoeuvre
When sparring you can move in any direction (like a real situation) so tactics become an important factor. This comes with experience and by fighting DIFFERENT people, the more you fight the more you will recognise
their style.
Dodging Technique
This is very useful as it allows you to attack the opponent and reduce his chances of scoring a counter-attack. It also has the element of surprise
Counter Attack
It is always a good idea to try to recover yourself after being attacked by putting in a well placed/timed counter. This way you do not always need to retreat when being attacked.
E.g. opponent executes a left side kick to your left ribs, you in a right L-Stance can perform a reverse turning kick while he s open to attack.
Flying Multiple Techniques
Many people tend to duck, bob or weave an attack rather then actually blocking it, by performing multiple attacks you can catch them out with the second or third technique. Especially with flying techniques people do not
expect more than one attack so you gain a significant advantage by being able to perform more than one attack in the air.
Position Change
By flying past your opponent and landing on the other side in a stance you are forcing him to change his stance, at this point you have the advantage by being able to attack him, also when flying you have the choice of a
surprise attack. By using this technique you are creating openings in your opponents guard. This can also be a tactical manoeuvre, if your opponent has a weak side then by flying past you can force him into using that
side instead of his stronger side.
Foot Sparring
This is used to improve foot techniques by forcing the player to use only his feet for both attack and defence. There is no time limit or other restrictions (apart from usual free sparring techniques).
Model Sparring (Mobum Matsogi)
This is chiefly used for demonstration purposes but it is also very useful for students to see how techniques, how they should be used and if the techniques is actually the correct one for the particular situation. Model
Sparring is performed between two people, the moves will be agreed previously. The attacker and defender performs the demonstration at normal speed first then  repeats the demonstration in slow motion.

Pre-Arranged Free Sparring
This is very similar to free sparring except that all the attacks and defenses are prepared in advance and as such the participants have no fear of injury. This kind is very impressive to watch can require a great deal of
work previously to get it exactly right. You can be fighting against one or many opponents.
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Sambo Matsogi
Ilbo Matsogi
Ibo Matsogi
System of Sparring
ITF Taekwon-do Pre Arranged (traditional) Sparring Hungary
Model Sparring - Traditional ITF Taekwon-do