2020 Armor and Its Impact On Athletes and Coaches

Dear fellow athletes and coaches,

My name is Ali Ghafour, a former Canadian national taekwondo team member (2003 – 2007) and international competitor (2007 Pan Am Games, 3 World Championships, 2 University Games).

When I stopped competing in 2007 after the Rio Pan Am Games, I saw a shift in the sport as it moved to electronic chest guards. I am sure you experienced this shift as well.

Although the sport has progressed in removing human error and bias, the sport has digressed by limiting certain body types (tall and lean) and limited techniques (the cut kick) to only win. As athletes, we want all body types, and all techniques to have an equal chance of winning since it makes the sport more fun to play and watch.

Also, training with electronic systems is difficult. It takes a while to setup, and you need a computer for each pair of fighters.

We have a solution that will make taekwondo more fun to fight, fun to watch AND fun to train.

There are three ways we are making the sport of taekwondo fun to fight again.

  1. Allow different body types and techniques an equal chance to win. Currently, fighters who have power or can throw many combinations do not get rewarded in a match versus players who are taller and throw cut kicks. By opening up to allow more fighting styles we can see more techniques and get rewarded for taking these risks. This makes the sport more fun to play as an athlete.
  2. Wider variety of strategies. When you have different body types and fighting styles (tall, short, fast, combinations, power, cut kicks) you have a lot more strategies you can use. This variety of tactics makes the sport more fun to play as well.
  3. New scoring method. The rules of the new scoring is very simple. Below is the entire rule set in 5 bullet points:
  • You win a match by winning 2 out of 3 rounds. You win a round by having more health on your “health bar” than your opponent’s at the end of a timed round. If you deplete your opponent’s health bar before the round time is done, you win the round. This is similar to how scoring is done in popular video games such as street fighter.
  • For any single attack to the body, the impact energy will be removed from the opponent’s health bar.
  • Kicks to the head score for double the impact.
  • Attacks delivered in succession (i.e. combinations) will deplete the opponent’s health bar more than their simple sum.
  • Penalties will be given by the center referee and simply remove points from the health bar. A minor infraction costs 10% health, and a major infraction, 25%.

In 2020 Armor energy scoring, if an infraction happens the referee takes away health, but only up until the point it would determine a round winner. For example, if a player has 5% health left and gets a minor warning (where they would loose 10% health and thus loose the round), the infraction would give 10% health to the other player instead. This way, a referee can never outright determine a winner, but make it harder for the athlete who committed the infraction to win the round.

By making the above changes to the scoring method and equipment, we allow different techniques and fighting strategies to succeed and this variety makes the sport more fun to watch for spectators. Also, the general public is familiar with health based scoring as it is similar to how popular video games are designed. They can instantly understand how a game is scored and won without anyone explaining the rules to them.

Lastly, we are making training with electronic chest protectors more fun. By embedding your health score physically on the equipment, you do not need a computer to run the scoring. You would simply bump chests with your opponent so your gear syncs up and you can start fighting and see each others health right on your chest guard. Once you are finished with one partner, you can go to the next one, bump chests and reset your score and start fighting again. You do not need a computer for each pair of fighters, no need to set up the weights or the length of the rounds. You can now truly train with an electronic chest guard for your whole practice.

In future versions, we also want to introduce a helmet camera so you can record your training from the fighter’s perspective. This will improve your training since you can share your perspective with your coach and make adjustments to your game. We also want to introduce earphones in your helmet so you can listen to music while you train, or listen to your coach when you are fighting in a really loud stadium.

Other future enhancements include:

  • Heart rate monitor so you can keep track of your heart rate during training to maintain optimal levels for conditioning training.  
  • Concussion detection system to warn coaches or athletes if a significant concussion was detected during practice or a fight

Thank you very much. Your friend in sport,

Ali Ghafour