Beginning in June 2018, WT-style scoring is as follows:


  • One point for a strong punch to the opponent's torso.
  • Two points for a regular kick (a non-spinning kick) to the opponent's torso. (In 2016, this was just one point.)
  • Three points for a regular kick to the opponent's head.
  • Four points for a spinning kick (i.e., a technical kick) to the opponent's torso. (In 2017, this was just three points.)
  • Five points for a spinning kick to the opponent's head. (In 2017, this was just four points.)


  • All penalties are a one-point add to the opponent. In other words, there are no more half-point penalties, as there were in 2016 and before, and penalties now add a point to the opponent, rather than deducting a point from the offender. Penalties include:
  • Grabbing, holding, or throwing your opponent
  • Pushing is allowed, but pushing may not be used to stop an attack. Pushing an opponent out-of-bounds is a penalty on the pusher, not on the person who steps out of bounds.
  • Falling to the floor (so that a body part other than your feet touch the floor). 
  • Attacking with the knee or leg (rather than the foot)
  • Targeting hits below your opponent's waist (although kicks to the buttocks are often less likely to be penalized)
  • Turning your back on your opponent to evade
  • Kicking your opponent's spine-area, including the back of the head
  • Punching your opponent's spine-area, including the back of the head
  • Prolonged inaction (not attempting any kicks or strikes for too long a time); in WTF taekwondo, this rule was added to make the sport more exciting for spectators. More recently, for the same reason, some tournaments also declare a penalty if an athlete's foot is held in the air for more than 3 seconds (i.e., to avoid "foot fencing").

Definitions and Clarifications

  • A kick must have some force behind it to score a point. A light tap does not yield a point.
  • The kick must use the foot below the ankle. A kick with the shin or knee does not count.
  • Note that if electronic sensors are being used, most systems have sensors only on the top (instep) of the foot, so kicks with the bottom or side of the foot are less likely to score.
  • Kicking along the spine itself is not allowed, but otherwise kicks on the back are allowed.
  • Kicking below the waist is not allowed. Kicking to the head is allowed (but generally not for child competitors).
  • Intentional kicks below the waist or to the spine will result in a penalty. 
  • A punch must use only the front knuckles, not the side of the hand or other striking surfaces on the hand or wrist. In order to score, the punch must demonstrate sufficient force and be thrown through a distance (short jabs do not score).
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