By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
With the British International Open being held in Manchester this weekend it seems only natural that taekwondo is the latest Olympic sport we concentrate on.
Taekwondo is a relatively new sport to the Olympics, having made a full competitive debut at Sydney 2000. It had previously being shown as a demonstration sport in Seoul 1988.
Along with judo, taekwondo has been selected above a number of other martial arts to be contested in the world’s premier sports event. The growth of both sports needs to be sustained if they are to keep other worthy disciplines such as karate and Muay Thai at bay.
There are four weight bands for both sexes, meaning there is a maximum eight gold medal haul available.
The taekwondo action will be shown at the multi-purpose ExCel for both the men’s and women’s competitions.
The aim of taekwondo is to score points by landing kicks and strikes on your opponent’s body. The location of these hits determines the points scored – one for body, two for a spinning kick and four for a successful turning kick to the head.
Contests last for six minutes, split into three rounds of two minutes. Competitors wear a standard white uniform (dobok) with coloured protective equipment. The competitor in red is known as hong, while the blue fighter is known as chung.
The format for the competition is a simple knockout leading to the gold medal contest in each event. The two losing semi-finalists have one last chance at a medal in the repechage fight.
Tony Grisman is a Team GB hopeful for London 2012. He has won gold twice at the British Open which is happening this weekend.
He said: “A lot of different people can enjoy taekwando. You can keep fit and have fun.”
“There’s also the self-defence side. Also, if you’re good enough you might be selected for Team GB – and you get to travel the world if you get to that stage.”
There are many locations across Greater Manchester where you can try taekwondo. Check local listings for detailed info. Here we give you a starting point.
Martial Arts Active in Didsbury offer a wide range of disciplines including taekwondo. They offer ladies only classes as well as mixed and kids classes. www.martialartsactive.co.uk
The Oldham Tae Kwon Do Club offer your first lesson for free . They train on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Martial Arts Centre on Waddington Street. http://www.oldhamtaekwondo.co.nr/