5 Biggest Mistakes In Taekwondo Competition

Taekwondo CompetitionThe 5 biggest mistakes in Taekwondo Competition are very simple ones. In fact, in Taekwondo competition YOU can actually be your own worst enemy rather than your opponent!

Over the years of watching Taekwondo matches I have seen so many people making mistakes and losing due to their own errors. The reason why I know this on a personal level is because I have made these mistakes myself!

So let’s look at how you can cost yourself the win and see which are the biggest, and most common, mistakes in Taekwondo competition.

1. Projecting – Giving Yourself Away
A lot of players don’t know it but they are actually telling their opponent what they are about to do. If you recall in our past article about Why Do Taekwondo Athletes Bounce?, we said that bouncing was an important part of gauging distance on our opponent and disguising our actions. But a lot of players don’t do this.

If you go flat before an attack, bounce more rapidly or erratically, shift or skip before you kick or feint a kick, then you are telling your opponent what you are about to do. Its just like tells in a poker or chess game where the strongest players look for projections form the weaker ones. If you constantly use the same technique over and over then you are a lot easier to figure out too.

2. Distancing – Kicking Too Far Or Too Short
One of the most important concepts in a Taekwondo match is distance. If you kick too long you’re going to clash, if you kick too short you are going to miss.

You need to use your movement to judge the distance of the opponent and to get yourself in the right position for certain techniques. Kicking off the back leg, front leg, to the head and to the rear all require different distances and timing so use your bouncing and movement to create the optimal distance in order to score.

3. Anticipation – Choosing The Wrong Technique
A lot of Taekwondo athletes get caught because they make the wrong technique selection in a match. This especially happens a lot on the counter. The reason for this is because they are guessing what the other player will do rather than reacting to what the player actually does.

Anticipation in a sense is not always a mistake and when you have the game under control and are comfortable you can do this without many problems. But if you find you are always getting scored on, or clashing, because you pick the wrong kicks, then you need to work on improve your technique selection and reactions.

4. Ring Awareness – Knowing Where You Are And Why During The Match
Ring awareness, or unawareness should I say, can cost a player dearly in a Taekwondo match. When you are competing you need to know where you are in the ring and why and for what reason. The ring is a tool which can be used to a players advantage.

A lot of players don’t know that if they play into corners then they cut out the vision of at least two judges making it hard for the judges to score. This is exactly where you don’t want to be if you need points but exactly where you want your opponent to be if they need points.

Playing on the edges is risky too as every time you put two feet into the warning area you are going to get a kyong-go which is what cost Hadi Saeibonehkhal of Iran a place in the 2007 World Taekwondo Championships finals. Check out the time at 7:55 on the video to see what I mean:


5. Rules – Ignore Them At Your Peril
Not enough players (even those at the elite level!) know the rules of the game. By knowing the rules you can win matches and by ignoring them you can lose.

So many players argue with referees or do not have a proper understanding of the rules and this can cost you points or get you disqualified. By having an intimate knowledge of the rules you then have the grounding to plead your case with a referee and even get a decision overturned.

For example did you know that all of the area above the collar bone including parts of the shoulders and all of the neck is a valid target to score 3 points to the head? Or did you know that in a case of tied score in the judgement of superiority, the judges make decisions based upon match aggressiveness, technical dominance and finally if they are undecided on these competition etiquette?

This basically means the player who bowed the most and kissed the referees butt the most will usually win! So knowing the rules well and in depth can really help you out in big ways. Here is a link to the latest copy of the WTF rules:


Let me know what you think of this article in the comments box below. And as always, let me know if you have any questions. 8)

4 thoughts on “5 Biggest Mistakes In Taekwondo Competition

  1. Tadeu

    Hello, I am an athlete and something in this article caught my attention.

    Anticipation – Choosing The Wrong Technique
    A lot of Taekwondo athletes get caught because they make the wrong technique selection in a match. This especially happens a lot on the counter. The reason for this is because they are guessing what the other player will do rather than reacting to what the player actually does.

    I understood what you are saying, but tell me, as an anticipation is acting right before the start of the opponent’s technique, then how can you react to something it didn’t even start? As I see, if you plan to work on antecipation then you must understand your opponent and actually predict the movement he will make before he even starts it. And you do that by knowing your opponent, figuring him out, or by forcing him to do that through persuasion movements.
    I think what you say of “reacting to what the player actually does” integrates not in a counter movement but a simultaneous movement. I mean, if you want to realize and see what technique is being thrust, then the technique has already initiated, then it’s not an antecipation because you can only understand what is coming to you when it’s in the middle of the technique (possibly a little earlier but not much) don’t you agree?
    What I understand from what you said is that athletes should work on Simultaneous movements rather then Anticipation ones. Do you agree?

    Thank you,

    Best regards

    1. ATC

      Any good fighter will setup his techniques, not just kick to be kicking. So to anticipate is to dictate really. Example. To land the back kick you need to opponent to attack your front side, if you are in a closed stance and he attacks your back with a back leg round kick you cannot back kick as you will collide legs. Knowing that you will most likely be in open stance and give the opponent the opportunity to kick the front side. You can now anticipate this kick and use your back kick counter. You can also do this from a closed stance but you need to make him/her use the front leg to attack your front side. Again you will give this to him by making it look like you are not protecting the front side by maybe being turned forward a little too much. You may also slide in a bit slower than normal or faint a bit slower and softer than normal, giving that appearance of tired or sluggishness, only to be setting up the back kick. Again you anticipate the kick you want from your opponent and then react with your counter when they do it. We call this baiting in our dojang.

      Hope this helps on understanding how to anticipate and react at the same time.

  2. Iennekejee Ma Unes

    I learned a lot Carl thanks! 🙂
    Pls. Post more techniques and points. God bless!

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