How Do You Score In Taekwondo? (Methods and Rules Explained)

Taekwondo is a martial art that has recently been brought into the Olympics, garnering international attention.

How Do You Score In Taekwondo?

But for viewers and potential students, it’s a good idea to know the basics behind this martial art and the scoring system that goes along with it! 

As with every type of sport, there are always slight variations from country to country, or even school to school on particular rules and regulations.

For ease of understanding, we’ll be sticking to the Olympic-approved rules and scoring system throughout this article. 

What Is Taekwondo?

So, what exactly is Taekwondo? Before we get into the rules and scoring of the sport, let’s take a moment to talk about this martial art style. 

Taekwondo is a Korean form of martial art that is now practiced in over 60 countries across the world.

It has its origins in ancient Korea and has been adapted to be one of the longest-standing martial arts in the world, taking influence from across Asia, and forming into a combat sport that took a lot of influence from Japan and China after martial arts was taught there to combatants during the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to the 1940s. 

Since 2021, it has been an internationally recognized and celebrated sport in the Olympics, garnering even more recognition and students keen to embrace it. 

It is incredibly disciplined and rigorous and is one of three Asian martial arts played at the Olympics including Judo and Karate. 

It is noticeable for its focus on head-height kicks, punches, and full-body movements. 

How Do You Score In Taekwondo?

Taekwondo is a sport of two opponents in the same weight category, and each wears a dobok (a traditional white uniform), trunk protector, head protector, and male athletes must wear a groin protector.

For the strict Olympics, contestants must also wear shin guards, gloves, mouth guards, and feet protectors.  

The competition is performed inside a 26-foot diameter octagonal area. 

All matches last 3 rounds, which are 2 minutes long, with a minute break between each one. 

Opponents score points by landing kicks or hits to their competitor’s torso or head. It’s the one with the highest point, or who knocks out their opponent, who wins the match. 

For the Olympics, valid points are mainly determined by the electronic devices implanted into the trunk and head protectors, though they are also given by judges for good technique, specialist kicks, and punching technique. 

The scores for valid points are as follows:

  • 1 point for hitting the trunk
  • 2 points for kicking the trunk
  • 4 points for a turning kick to the trunk
  • 3 points for a head kick
  • 5 points for a turning head kick
  • 1 point is awarded for every penalty the opponent is given

If opponents are drawn, they fight in a Golden Point Round, where the first point scored wins. And, a contestant can win the whole match if their opponent scores three penalties in a Golden Point Round. 

Alternatively, if there are no points scored in the Golden Point Round, it can be considered a win by superiority, or SUP, the contestant who landed the highest total points on the electronic system in their gear wins. 

What Are The Penalty Points In Taekwondo?

What Are The Penalty Points In Taekwondo?

For the Olympics, penalty points given are for punches at an opponent’s face, or punches and kicks that land below the waist. 

You are also not allowed to use your head or knees to attack an opponent. 

If you use your leg to block or kick an opponent’s leg to prevent a kick, you are also penalized.

As are you if you keep your leg in the air for more than three seconds whilst waiting for an opponent to strike, or if a kick is judged to have been aimed for below the waist whether or not it lands. 

Delaying or avoiding the fight, crossing the octagonal boundary with both feet, falling to the ground, or grabbing opponents are all causes for penalization. 

As Taekwondo is built around 5 tenets of respect, misconduct or unsportsmanlike behavior is seriously frowned upon. Whether this is by the player or their coach, it can lose them valuable points. 

5 Tenets Of Taekwondo

Though there are currently three main governing bodies that all operate separately from one another in practicing Taekwondo, there are five universal principles that govern taekwondo, though the wording, of course, changes from place to place.

They are as follows:


You must show respect towards those whom you practice with, and those that you meet outside of Taekwondo.

This tenet involves observing correct social etiquette and manners to not bring disrespect to your fellow students, teacher, or yourself. 


This tenet focuses on standing up for what you know to be right and having strong moral principles that you do not waver from. This includes not just knowing the difference between right and wrong, but acting on this and calling out corrupt behavior. 


As with most martial arts, Taekwondo takes hard work and this tenet is simply a measure of someone’s willingness to power through hardships to achieve their goals, both in the sport and in their personal life. 

Self Control

The adage of great power and great responsibility. This tenet requires you to control your emotions and body, to keep yourself in check even when faced with difficult situations throughout your life.  

Unbeatable Spirit

Focus on what you can do in your life, and do not get misled by others in your life. This tenet focuses on ‘fighting spirit’ and putting 100% of your effort into everything that you try to achieve, whether that be your fighting, your ethics, or any other area of your life. 

Final Thoughts

A fascinating sport that combines combat, stylistic kicks, and rigorous training is a blast to watch, so look out for it at the next Olympic games.

If you are keen to get involved in the martial arts, it is a good idea to try, involving technique, willpower, and discipline to succeed.

Christopher Anderson
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