My memory of the first tournament I attended as a Taekwon Do novice, about 10 years ago, is of a senior organiser reminding those students who were engaged in sparring, that although the aim was to win it was just as important to look after their opponents. This philosophy is the essence of good Taekwon Do wherever it is practiced. New Zealand has a great record for fostering the competitive side of Taekwon Do, with tournaments that cater to our youngest members through to our main National competition. In addition to the goodwill and camaraderie that these competitions engender, our tournaments provide the stepping stone for those students who wish to pursue more demanding High Performance competition (http://www.itkd.co.nz), culminating with international championship. Our tournaments begin at the Club level, moving through the Peewee Series (under 12 years of age), Under 18 Series, Regional Tournaments and The Nationals.
Autumn in New Zealand is the time when 83 clubs within the 6 main regions (5 in the North Island and one covering the entire South Island) conduct their tournaments (April 13 to May 31) (http://www.itkd.co.nz/events/tournaments/). Students that do well, whether they win Regional competition medals or not, can attend the New Zealand National Competition that this year will be held in Tauranga (east coast North Island).
Training to spar begins at the grass-roots level – our clubs. Our national Technical Advisor Group, has recently standardised the use of protective gear not only at tournaments but at gradings as well. The ruling has generated some interesting discussion in our community but the primary rationale is the national Taekwon Do organisation’s (ITFNZ) desire to develop a more consistent sparring style from club level right through to the World Champs. Only those techniques permitted in ITF tournaments can be used during free sparring at gradings (this applies to all ranks), rather than the ‘anything goes’ approach; the latter is reserved for self defence.
Article by Brian Ricketts