Taekwondo Sparring – Top 3 Steps to Staying Injury Free

Sparring in TaekwondoTaekwondo Sparring is central to Taekwondo training. If you’re training for a competition, or keeping fit, or just doing normal Taekwondo Classes, you’re going to be involved in sparring one way or another.

But the problem with Taekwondo is that doing lots of sparring, or even doing a little, can end up with lots of injuries for people. Injuries hamper your training and don’t allow you train anywhere near as much as you should do.

So here is a guide for you with the top 3 tips you can use to stay injury free in your Taekwondo Sparring:

  1. Wear Protective Pads
    Use of protective arm guards, shin guards, groin guards, head guards and gum shields are common place in the Taekwondo Dojang/School. They are there for a reason – to protect you! This is your first line of defence in a sparring situation. They can protect your arms and leg (and even your head and face) which means you can spar more longer and more often.

    As well as your standard shin and arm pads, you can also wear foot pads. The most common injury in Taekwondo is damaged toes and insteps. Protecting them will help reduce and eliminate this type of injury and help you train more. You can also wear standard Taekwondo shoes in training too. They may not provide as much protection as foam pads, but they still work better than no protection. If you’re working kicking pads and then going straight to sparring, then this would be your best and fastest option.

  2. Relax And Not Stick Out Your Elbows
    One of the biggest issues experienced Taekwondo athletes have when sparring less experienced people is the less experienced person’s use of elbows and knees to protect themselves. This not only injures the person, but it also gets annoying for the person sparring them as they keep injuring people through lack of experience.

    When sparring, it’s not like a real competition, where you have to protect yourself because your opponent will score a point. You can allow your sparring partner to hit you when they kick. This also has the benefit of conditioning your body to receive kicks in competition so you won’t be winded if you get kicked hard.

    There are some “experienced” athletes who use elbows as a way to injure their opponent, but you don’t want to get into that habit. Use your ability and talent to out kick and out smart your opponent rather than getting a win through injuring them.

    So relax when you’re sparring. Let the person kick you, or learn to avoid so you don’t get hit at all. Keep your elbows out of the way and if some does that to you, you can tell them to relax the let you hit them.

  3. Don’t Train Or Spar Too Much
    Overtraining and tiredness causes a lot of injuries in athletes, not just Taekwondo. Being tired and over trained causes you to lose concentration, which can end up you kicking wrong, or not having your guard up, which could end up with you being Knocked Out!

    If you feel tired while sparring tell your partner that you are tired and that you want to go easy. Wanting to push through your tiredness only causes you to get more tired, increasing the risk of injury.

    You can also sit out that session, or do every other spar. It’s up to you. Being a hero doesn’t win you any medals. Taking a break and stretching out your muscles can help you recover. Obviously you need to look at your training and Taekwondo nutrition, so this is short term action you can take.

Improving Your Training
Now, these are just some tips to make sure you reduce or eliminate injuries while sparring in Taekwondo. Another way that we didn’t cover is you actually improving your technique and overall ability.

There is plenty of information covering that here at The Taekwondo Coach. What Taekwondo Training tips are you looking for?  Let us know below and we will do our best to get it to you. 8)

8 thoughts on “Taekwondo Sparring – Top 3 Steps to Staying Injury Free

  1. Strong

    Tell me how can I do full split and in how many days it is possible? How many years a Taekwondo student get black belt? And how many belts are in Taekwondo some say 8 some say 9 and some say 10 but the truth is what?

    1. David Post author

      Hi Strong,

      Ok, to answer your first question – how many days to get into full splits, it depends on many things, like if you’re male or female, what age you are, how flexible your muscles already are and how much training you do and how fast you recover. It’s almost like asking how long is a piece of string…

      Females are typically more flexible than males, because they have less muscle mass, so they have better range of movement. Yes, there are guys who have better flexibility than a lot of girls, but on average, girls have better flexibility.

      What I can tell you is, if you are average flexibility (you’re not struggling to tie your shoe laces), are training regularly and you are following a stretching routine that will stretch your muscles every day, you can do it in 30-60 days. I’m not saying you will, but you can. It all depends on how dedicated you are to getting to full splits. The beauty about stretching is that you can do it every day, unlike a lot of other training.

      As for how many years to get your Black Belt, that can vary also. For an average person, they can do it in about 3 years. If they are exceptionally gifted and they “double grade” a lot, then they can cut it down. It will also depend on when the examinar has the black belt grading… Again, it’s like asking how long is a piece of string. So it can be anywhere from 2.5 to 4 years depending on how often the examiner grades the students.

      As for the number of belts… If someone is following the traditional Kukkiwon syllabus from Korea, then there are 10 belts before Black Belt. I have seen schools with different belt systems other than the one I’ve gone through, so it will depend on the school. But if they go through the standard Kukkiwon training, there are 10 belts before Black Belt.

      I hope that answers your questions… If you have any more feel free to ask them.

      If you have any questions you would like answered about Taekwondo Training, Kicking or anything else, let us know you’re alive and go ahead and ask us 😉


      1. Gary mclaine

        I am 55 years old and have my green stripe. I spar quite a bit with someone who is quite a bit taller than me. I’m not as fast as I used to be and he kicks the shit out of me. I am in pretty good shape. His extra reach is a big advantage. Should I be watching his feet or hips to see when he makes his next move. He is very good at faking.He is very smart but I would love to be able to avoid his kicks. Help

  2. mark

    After doing some research regards an injury to my toe. I seem to think I have caused a ‘stub toe’, just as if you were about to kick a ball at football, missed and kicked the ground. This injury has been ongoing for over a year, it is painful and there does not seem to be a cure.

    Have you any ideas to protect the toe even more during training or any cure, or any professional I should seek advice from?

    I do wear protective dipped foam boots.

  3. Susan

    Hi Mike,

    I have a deep bruise on my foot from kicking someone’s elbow without a footpad..painful. How long do you think it’ll take to totally heal? Any suggestions on how to make it heal faster besides ice packs?

    Thank you!

    1. David Post author

      Hi there,

      I know what that feels like… Don’t you just hate it when that happens!

      The best thing to do with it is to keep it moving. Walking around as normal helps get the blood into the area to take away the bruising.

      Ice packs only do a little. You need to alternate the ice packs with warm water or heat so that the blood moves around the area to help recuperation.

      Ice packs are only good for up to 15 minutes. After that, they don’t work.

      So ice and heat are needed, and keep it moving. And next time you’re training with that person again, tell them to not block with their elbows! 😉


  4. Loic

    Aarg elbows!!!
    I will never forget how I got my calf bone cracked, just two days before my first national level competition, because of a strong impact on my opponent elbow. It took me months to get over it 🙂
    Nice post David 😉

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