Taekwondo in the Modern era

México - 2014/04/23 - In the Spanish Edition of , we have a weekly column written by , (a former Mexican Taekwondo athlete) who, in an ironic and incisive way, analyzes all issues related to Taekwondo today.  We share with you this week´s column.

COLUMNA_Chava-PerezWhen speaking of the modern times, three questions invariably arise: first, what the hell is the modern era? Second, when did the modern era begin? And third, how long will the modern era last?

It is a rather complex issue and it certainly could lead to a gut-wrenching debate did not study nothing at all, then there is a good chance that you did not understand anything I’ve written up to this point. I did not study anything at all about what I’m talking about, but I discovered, long time ago, that Internet is useful for many more things than just visiting porno pages or visiting the FB.

If we look for the definition of “modern” in the Merriam-Webster, the result is:


Modern depending on the discipline you have studied. For example, if you studied art, maybe I could say that the current Taekwondo period is the postmodern; if you studied anthropology, you might say that the correct expression is contemporary Taekwondo; if you


: of or relating to the present time or the recent past : happening, existing, or developing at a time near the present time

: of or relating to the current or most recent period of a language

: based on or using the newest information, methods, or technology

Full Definition of MODERN


a :  of, relating to, or characteristic of the present or the immediate past :  CONTEMPORARY

b :  of, relating to, or characteristic of a period extending from a relevant remote past to the present time


:  involving recent techniques, methods, or ideas :  UP-TO-DATE


capitalized :  of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the present or most recent period of development of a language

2 modern


: a person who has modern ideas, tastes, or attitudes

: a modern artist or writer

Full Definition of MODERN


a :  a person of modern times or views

b :  an adherent of modernism :  MODERNIST


:  a style of printing type distinguished by regularity of shape, precise curves, straight hairline serifs, and heavy downstrokes



Additionally, it says that the “Modern Age” is the “time between the Middle Ages and the Contemporary times”

If we base our analysis on the definition of “modern age”, then “modern Taekwondo” is virtually the entire history of TKD as a sport, however, as none of us are good with dates, we will analyze the “easy” numbers…

The 2000 Sydney Olympics were categorized as the first Olympic Games of the modern era, why? I don´t know and I was too lazy to investigate, but for the purposes of this weekly column and to avoid busting our brain with dates and historical events that none of us care about at this point, let´s consider the Taekwondo of the modern era from 2000 to today: that is, since it became official in the competition of the “Rings” logo.

Undoubtedly, Taekwondo has evolved over time and each year the fights look a bit less similar than the ones of the previous year and, if we watch the fights over each Olympic Cycle, it may appear that the sport has completely changed.  Of course it’s to be expected since each year the rules are changed and every so often the electronic scoring system, too.

If we compare combats from Sydney 2000 with fights from London 2012, it may seem that we are watching different sports, starting with the uniforms. But, let´s continue:   let´s compare videos of 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012;  comparing the four Olympic Cycles, we can see the changes undergone in the scheme of competition in a very short period of time (Well, so short, it isn´t).

Taekwondo is going through a period of change, but one day it will reach its final form. This happens or has happened to most Olympic sports. While there are sports that never change or go through minimal changes every four years, there are others (like ours) that are still in the process of development and changes are almost mandatory to give it a twist and, by the way more oxygen for four years to remain within the official program of the world’s most important games.

It strikes me when people see fights and say they are “too boring and that Taekwondo fights are no longer the same as before”, that the “fights seem more like girls playing with dolls” and so on.  You would be surprised to know that these comments are not new; people said the same when we started using the headgear in the official events, when the bamboo protector was changed to synthetic materials, when the electronic protector was introduced, and the list continues. We also have to take into account that the physical skills are changing in each period.  In the past, force was a determining factor, then the speed and explosiveness, and today it seems that flexibility is a skill required in a modern athlete.

They say current Taekwondo is a disaster because it is not as great as it used to be.  Do you want to know my opinion?  (I know you don´t, but as this is my Column, you will have to read it)  In fact, I think the new system has diminished in the spectacular show; I also believe that this is a transition period. I mean, most people who are fighting right now is the same who  were fighting with the old system, they are within an adaptation period;  these people care more about winning a fight than giving a spectacular show.  In fact, I think everybody care more about winning a fight than being applauded by the public. Imagine that you have a lifetime running with Nike tennis, those with rubber soles and aerodynamic support;  then suddenly someone  comes and tells you “if you want to keep running, now you must wear high heels”.  Furthermore, in addition to changing the tennis shoes for high heel shoes, they change the length and form of the heel every year.  It is natural then that your performance is not as spectacular, but you’ll look more handsome in the eyes of the IOC and you’ll be able to stay within the Olympic program.   Now imagine  that you have been running with high heels during ten years or that you have done so all your life,  you will surely be able to do tricks, acrobatics and without any difficulty you will do the “KameHameHa” shortly.   We must give these “heroes” of the spectacular show, some time and, soon I’m sure  we will have a Gabriel Mercedes or a Chu Mu-Yen fighting with this new electronic system.

Bear in mind that the spectacular Taekwondo, the “mannish” Taekwondo, the Taekwondo of people who work to the ground in each competition, the Taekwondo of people giving 1,200 kicks per round…that was the Taekwondo of the end of an era.

The current Taekwondo is barely the beginning of something new, but with the same people.

To those who say that the current Taekwondo is a mess, I’ll give you an advice:  Don´t watch it.  You´d rather not watch it than making negative comments about it…at the end of the day it would be like spitting into the sky.  All the changes our sport has experienced during the last years have been for the sake of it, although  you can hardly believe it.

You know what would be a tragic disaster? The real disaster would be that Taekwondo would be removed from the official Olympic Games program … So yes, then, even the “real men”, will mourn and cry.


Trivia: do you want to know when leap years are? All Olympic years are.






Free translation by  masTaekwondo.com Team




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