How to Become an Olympic Fighter in Taekwondo
Taekwondo has been an Olympic sport since 1988 and has quickly gained worldwide recognition. Becoming an Olympian in the Korean martial art of self-defense involves intense concentration, mastering techniques, practicing diligently, and sparring frequently. And while only a few select athletes ever make it to the Olympics, with the right training and mindset you could be on your way to becoming a taekwondo Olympian.
Sign up for a taekwondo class.Choose a USA Taekwondo affiliated school which teaches Olympic style taekwondo. These are recognized by the US Olympic Committee and the National Governing Body for taekwondo in the United States. This body educates coaches and checks their background for safety, so you can be sure that you are being trained safely and conscientiously.
- Use the Team USA taekwondo club locator app on the Team USA website to find a local school.
Determine your weight category.The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Ranking has 8 senior weight divisions for male and female, respectively. The WTF Olympic Ranking is broken up into eight weight categories: 4 for the male and 4 for the female divisions. You can find out which category you fit by visiting the WTF website.
- Weight categories will differ for juniors. To check junior weight divisions, visit the Team USA taekwondo site.
Learn attack methods.There are three main advanced attack methods. Each technique requires being in a strong physical condition and having flexibility, power, coordination, agility, and fast reflexes. In addition, one must exercise judgment as to which technique is optimal at any given point depending on the fighting conditions. The techniques are:
- Direct attack. There are three main types of direct attacks: the in-place attack, the incline attack, and the sliding attack. Which one you use will depend on the distance and stance of your opponent.
- Indirect attack. There are three types of indirect attack: cutting, feinting, and footwork. These mislead the attack of your opponent.
- Counterattack. There are direct and indirect counterattacks. The latter type of attack involves footwork followed by an attack, whereas the former involves staying in place.
Training to Compete
Practice regularly.The more diligent you are about practicing, the better you will be at the sport. To get to the elite level, you will need to put in at least 20 hours of practice per week.
Wear the appropriate gear.Make sure you're fully equipped with the proper protective gear. Fighting without it could lead to injury. This gear includes a trunk protector, head protector, groin guard, forearm guards, shin guards, hand protector, gloves, and a mouthpiece.
Get a coach.A coach can help you improve your skill and perform the best you can while also being an encouraging and motivating presence. The best way to find a coach is through a taekwondo class you are taking, especially because the coach will already have been checked for safety and expertise.
Get enough sleep.Training does not just refer to practicing and sparring - it extends, for example, to obtaining an adequate amount of sleep. Olympians sleep an average of 8 hours every night, so aim to sleep this same amount. In addition, consider taking a 30-minute nap in the early afternoon to refuel your energy levels.
Maintain a healthy diet.Observe your current dietary habits and consider whether there are changes you could make to reach your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight but you eat huge portions for dinner, you might want to space out your meals throughout the day so that you can burn off more calories while sleeping.
- Consult a nutritionist to create a balanced diet plan that is tailored to your specific needs and health concerns.
Vary your exercise routine.While sparring and practicing taekwondo techniques are important parts of training to become an Olympic fighter, you will also want to spend time in the weight room and working on core strength and flexibility. These are areas you must be well-rounded in in order to compete at an elite level.
- Consider signing up for a yoga class - you will get both physical and mental benefits that could complement your training.
Prepare mentally.Aside from physical practice, Olympic athletes prepare psychologically for matches. Pick a mantra that motivates you before you step on the mat, read inspirational quotes or books, and, most importantly, develop a routine that you do not stray from. Successful Olympic athletes create and stick to a physical and mental preparation routine that will be reassuring when in a new setting for a match.
- Visualize your routine. Imagine all of the sensory input you will be getting, like the cheers of the crowd, the approach of your opponent, or the impact of your attack. This will motivate you as well as allow you to anticipate some of the surprise elements of the big day, which otherwise could work to your disadvantage.
Build a support network.Family, friends, and teammates can boost your energy when training is not going as expected and can also be your #1 source of support when you win a tournament. Keep them informed of your progress by checking in with them regularly.
Be passionate.Taekwondo is a full-physical sport that requires a tremendous amount of effort, dedication, and self-discipline. Remind yourself every time you step on the mat that your goal is to become an Olympic fighter and that this is a sport you are passionate about. You could even develop a motivating mantra that you repeat to yourself prior to any sparring matches.
Qualifying for the Olympics
Practice in tournament-like conditions.Becoming an Olympian will be an easier feat if you have increased your comfort level and sparring ability by practicing under different conditions and with different people. Try going to different low-stakes tournaments, mixers, or interschool workouts to get a feel for what it is like to fight a variety of people.
- You could also ask your coach to help you visualize different combat situations or even create game-like situations to help you practice under different conditions.
Set realistic goals.Look at where you are right now and establish a reasonable time frame for becoming an Olympic fighter in taekwondo. You will know if you are ready by listening to the opinion of your coach, gauging your performance at low-stakes matches, and speaking with fellow taekwondo fighters about their experience and readiness levels. If you need a few more years of training, allow yourself that time to improve and eventually compete with your best foot forward.
- If you are ready to compete, it is time to sign up for tournaments.
Develop a competition strategy.Alongside your coach, create unique offensive combinations that will allow you to score points while also keeping within the rules of the competition and thus avoiding penalties. The more unexpected your strategy, the greater the chance that you will take your opponent by surprise, which might just be the deciding factor for determining a winner.
Participate in national tournaments.If you are sufficiently prepared, you can participate in tournaments as a means of getting scouted or simply as a way to practice under different conditions.
- The American Taekwondo Association hosts tournaments throughout the U.S. which you can sign up for online.
- The WTF also maintains an updated list of national and international tournaments which you could inquire further about.
QuestionCan I get a direct black belt if I know a lot of techniques and kicks, as well as advanced kicks?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Becoming a black belt requires formal training, and not just advanced kicks.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I choose between Taekwondo and swimming?Community AnswerTry Taekwondo and see if you enjoy it. Then choose whichever of the two activities you prefer. Remember, just because you do one sport as a profession doesn't mean you can never do the other again.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to be a black belt to qualify for the Olympics?Sanyukta123Community AnswerYou need to be a dan belt as well.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get into the Olympics?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou must train hard and qualify at your national level.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I become a black belt?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJoin classes, and do promotion tests every few months.Thanks!
QuestionIs it possible for me to get into the Olympics if I will be a black belt before I am a teen?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You can pursue the Olympics only after reaching DAN belt rank (not Poom), USA Taekwondo requires all athletes to be at least 16 years old, and WT requires Kukkiwon belt rank certification. Keep training!Thanks!
QuestionI'm 22. Is it too late to start running?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo! It's never too late to start running.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I get tips from Olympic coaches and players?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWatch Olympic fights and European championships and other big competitions. Make sure that you not only watch knockouts and best bits but full fights because it is important to watch how pro fighters use footwork and effective counterattacking.Thanks!
QuestionIs it too late to become an Olympic fighter in Taekwondo if I am in my 20's already?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStephen Lopez is almost 40. It all depends on how good you are, but it is proven to be possible.Thanks!
QuestionWill I qualify if I am a second degree black belt in Taekwondo?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can qualify to compete, but that will not guarantee you a spot to be in the Olympics.Thanks!
- Be aware of the rules and regulations of each tournament you attending. You are responsible for staying up-to-date on the specific requirements of each tournament. The best way to do this is to consult the WTF website on a regular basis to check for any potential changes.
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