By Dale Page (One of Johnson's TaeKwonDo & Jiu-Jitsu Blackbelts)
There are three distinct styles of free sparring in Ho-Am TaeKwonDo; Testing, Championship and Personal Protection sparring. These styles are bound by general rules and protocols that are in place to protect the participants, but they each have uniquely different rules and protocols that define each style.
The general rules and protocols that govern the three styles of sparring lay the ground work for how the styles are to be performed along with participant conduct and protection. Rules that dictate how sparring is to be performed are as such: no one below the rank of green belt may spar, sparring should be very controlled, no sparring before or after class and that an instructor is on the floor to supervise. Rules that dictate participant conduct are as such: always show respect by bowing to your partner, if you make a mistake you should apologize, if your partner falls you should extend a hand to help them up, never spar or continue to spar if you or your opponent becomes upset or frustrated, never gloat if you demonstrate a good move or have greater skill than your opponent and the most important rule is to be courteous to your partner. The rules that are in place for participant protection are as follows: no hard contact, never hit your opponent in the face, neck, back or below the belt, never strike or block with elbows, knees or head, do not use blind techniques, stop sparring if your partner falls or is injured and stop sparring if you feel that your well-being is threatened.
Testing sparring is the basic style of sparring in HoAm TaeKwonDo. This is the style in which the TaeKwonDo artist learns how to incorporate all types of techniques; blocking, striking, kicking, jumping and spinning into various combinations. During this style of sparring the participants goal is to learn and to demonstrate what they know along with assisting their partner in learning and showing their abilities. The general rules of testing sparring are as such: the higher rank throws the first technique and sets the pace, listen to the instructor, answer up and modify behavior, maintain control and when the instructor starts or ends the match, answer up and start or end.
Championship sparring is the competitive style of sparring in HoAm TaeKwonDo. This is the style in which the TaeKwonDo artist uses various techniques and combinations they have mastered. During this style of sparring the participant's goal is to score points against their partner and to win the match. The general rules of championship sparring are as such: the match is for two minutes or when one competitor scores five points, after two minutes the competitor with the most points wins, no hard contact, points are awarded when two or three judges call the point, competitors must show courtesy and not “showboat” and competitors must bow before and after each match.
Personal Protection sparring is the “street” style of sparring in HoAm TaeKwonDo and is generally not used in the classroom setting. This is the style in which the TaeKwonDo artist uses all techniques and combinations they have mastered. During this style of sparring the participant's goal is to protect themselves in a threatening situation. The general rules of personal protection sparring is as such: there are no rules except those outlined by Local, State and Federal statutes, maintain proper mental attitude, know your surroundings, be aware of your attacker, be ready to do whatever is needed and to stun or disable attacker to facilitate escape.
While each style is different they are linked together and build upon each other to help develop the TaeKwonDo artist.
Dale A. Page
July 29, 2009