Should I Compete?


The 2016 Tournament season is upon us. Many of our students are now preparing to compete in the Maryland State Qualifiers this weekend, in preparation for this summer’s USA Tae Kwon Do National Tournament in Richmond, Virginia. Our students are not formally required to compete in tournaments. However, to ensure thorough training prior to achieving black belt status, it is strongly recommended that students compete at least a few times during their journey.

Why Should I Compete in Tournaments?
At East West, we compete in local, regional, state, and national tournaments. We view tournaments as an important supplement to training. It’s not just about winning medals. The main purpose of entering a tournament is to give the athlete the opportunity to face their fears and conquer them. Whether students compete in poomsae (forms), board breaking, or sparring, the competition setting allows students to further challenge themselves and grow – technically and mentally – in a friendly and controlled environment. This environment cannot be mimicked in any studio. Some of our students love to compete and we are here to help them take their training to a higher level in competition. However, we recognize that many students aren’t interested in competing, and that is fine too.

Who is Eligible to Compete in a Tournament?
For local tournaments, such as the Captain’s Cup in November, we encourage all of our students to compete. Tigers are eligible to compete in poomsae (forms) and board breaking, while students yellow belt and above can compete in poomsae, board breaking, and sparring. For State and National competitions, students must be evaluated and given permission to compete by Master Sharma.

How Do I Compete at the USA Tae Kwon Do National Tournament?
To compete at the USA Tae Kwon Do National Tournament in July, students are required to compete at any state qualifying event to be eligible. Students must become a member of USA Tae Kwon Do (USAT) prior to event registration. We also require students who would like to compete in States or Nationals to also compete at local tournaments prior to the State qualifying events.

*Please note, to compete in poomsae for State Qualifiers and USAT Nationals, all students must compete with the WTF Taeguk forms. For purposes of more practical application toward self-defense, East West students are taught the original forms, known as ITF forms.

What About Head Contact? 
When sparring in competition, we follow USA Taekwondo Kyorugi Junior Competition Rules. Junior safety rules states that athletes:

  • 7 and under (all belts), and ages 11 and under (colored belts): NO HEAD CONTACT
  • 8-11 (Black Belts), 12-14 (Grass Roots Cadet Black Belts and Cadet Colored belts), and 15-17 (colored belts): LIGHT HEAD CONTACT
  • 12-14 (World Class Cadet Black Belts): FULL HEAD CONTACT
  • 15-17 (Junior Black Belts) and 17 and up (Senior all belts): FULL HEAD CONTACT

All competitors are required to wear WTF sanctioned protective gear, including, head, chest, groin, shin, feet, arm, and hand protectors.


How Long Do Tournaments Last?
Tournament length can vary depending on the number of competitors at the event. While they will typically separate the tournament into sections, either by age or event, it is not unusual for tournaments to run over their allotted time. Plan on spending the entire day at the tournament.

What Should I Bring?
At every tournament, bring the following:

  • Full set of sparring gear:
    • Hogu (chest protector)
    • Sparring helmet
    • Shin guards
    • Foot guards
    • Mouth Protector
    • Arm Guards
    • Sparring gloves
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Focus items (training paddles, music, re-breakable boards)
  • Cards or entertainment

What if I’m Not Sure if I Want to Compete?
If a student is unsure if they would like to compete, we strongly recommend that they attend a tournament to see what it is about before making any final decisions.