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When Taekkyon is practiced in competition, it uses a limited subset of techniques, focusing on grappling and kicking only. Points are scored by throwing (or tripping) the opponent to the ground, pushing him out of the ring, or kicking him in the head. There are no hand strikes or headbutts, and purposefully injuring your opponent is prohibited.


(The head kicks are often quite sharp, but usually not full force, and fighters may not attempt to wear the opponent down with body blows as in western boxing or muay thai). Matches are sometimes decided by the best of three falls—the first fighter to score two points wins. However, different modern associations employ slightly different rules. To an untrained eye, the matches are cautious but exhilarating affairs. The contestants circle each other warily, changing their footwork constantly and feinting with low kicks, before exploding into a flurry of action which might leave one fighter flat on his/her back.

In 1987, the most important man for the transmission of Taekkyon, Song Duk-ki who was given national treasure status by the South Korean government, died at the age of 94. Shortly afterward, in the same year, Shin Han-Seung (who was most responsible for the registration of Taekkyon as an intangible cultural asset) also died.

Since this time, several Taekkyon associations have developed.

Written by Conrad Howard — November 21, 2012

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