Advances in Physical Education
2012. Vol.2, No.1, 28-31
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Match Analysis in a University Taekwondo Championship
Coral Falco1, Raúl Landeo2, Cristina Menescardi1, José Luis Bermejo3, Isaac Estevan3
1Department of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Catholic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
2School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia
3Department of Management and Applied Sciences, Catholic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
Received December 5th, 2011; revised December 28th, 2011; accepted January 15th, 2012
The aim of this study was to analyze the performance of medallists’ taekwondo athletes in University lev-
el Championship. Kicking actions were grouped into three categories; circular, linear and with a previous
spin kicks. Performance was evaluated based on 1) the type and height of the kicks employed, 2) the at-
tacking and counterattacking nature of the kicking actions and 3) the scoring profiles of these. Forty-five
matches from the four Olympic weight categories were notationally analyzed in male and female popula-
tions. Kruskal-Wallis tests revealed that the reading scores in the four weight categories differed signifi-
cantly in males for linear kicks, and in circular kicks to the chest, attacking kicks and total actions (p <
0.05) for females. A greater number of circular kicks was recorded in male and female taekwondo athletes;
this was followed by linear kicks and those with a previous spin. Kicks to the chest were also more com-
mon than kicks to the head as well as attacking kicks were used more frequently than counterattacking
kicks. Given the new competition rules, coaches are encouraged to induce athletes to increase the fre-
quency of kicks to the head and with a previous spin to maximise the point scoring rate per kicks deliv-
Keywords: Notational Analysis; Taekwondo; Attack; Counterattack; Kick
Over the past few years, notational analysis research has
developed many sport analysis systems to describe in detail the
actions of athletes in competition (Liebermann, Katz, Hughes,
Bartlett, McClements, & Franks, 2002). This method of ana-
lyzing athletic skills is valuable in helping coaches improve their
athletes’ performance and increase the likelihood of success.
Correct interpretation of notational analysis data allows coaches
to provide appropriate feedback, motivate athletes, monitor
improvements throughout the entire season (Byra & Scott, 1983),
and provide valuable insight into the athletes’ strengths and
weaknesses in order to allocate practice time effectively.
Notational analysis has been used extensively to study the tac-
tical aspects of squash (Hong, Robinson, & Chan, 1998; Hughes,
1993; Hughes & Franks, 1993), football (Hughes, 1993), basket-
ball (Miller & Bartlett, 1994), rugby (Hughes & Clarke, 1994),
netball (Palmer, Hughes, & Borrie, 1994) and badminton (Hong &
Tong, 2000). In taekwondo, notational analysis systems has
traditionally been used to analyze injury rates during competition
(see Lystad et al., 2008 for complete review), to observe phy-
siological demands of the match (Bouhlel, Jouini, Gmada, Nefzi,
Abdallah, & Tabka, 2006; Butios & Tasika, 2007) or to describe
athletes’ technical profiles (Kazemi, Waalen, Morgan, & White,
2006). Limited research on different taekwondo styles champi-
onships (i.e., Matsuhigue, Hartmann, & Franchini, 2009) was
found while research on competitive taekwondo as general match,
tactical (i.e., Santos, Franchini, & Lima-Silva, 2011) or technical
indicators (Luk, Hong, & Chu, 2001) is lacking.
Taekwondo is a combat sport where male and female athletes
compete in different weight divisions. Taekwondo matches are
contested in three two minute rounds with one minute rest.
Points are awarded when a successful kick makes contact with
an allowed body region. The location of the kicks determines
their scoring; one point for a valid attack on trunk protector,
two points for a valid spin kick to the trunk protector, three
points for a valid kick to the head and four points for a valid
turning kick to the head . For example 4 penalty points results
in a default of the athlete that scored the penalty points. When a
gap of 12 points is reached at the time of the completion of 2nd
round and/or at any time during the 3rd round the match is
stopped and the winner is declared (WTF, 2011).
Thus the kicking action is the most important component of a
match. Kicking actions in Taekwondo can be classified as being:
circular, targeting the lateral side of an opponent, linear aimed
to the opponent’s anterior end, and rotational which are per-
formed with a previous spin (Serina & Lieu, 1991). Under-
standing the various strategic approaches used in taekwondo
competition as well as the physiological, psychological, tech-
nical and tactical demands of the sport is of importance to
broaden the knowledge of coaches and to train athletes more
effectively for competitive situations. The aim of this study was
to analyze the number of kicking actions of male and female
taekwondo athletes in the semi-final and final contests using the
four Olympic weight divisions in a university level competition,
with emphasis on the type of kick, and height of the kick, in
both attacking and counterattacking actions as well as points
obtained in the match.
Sixty one, male (n = 30) and female (n = 31), taekwondo
athletes aged from 18 to 33 years (
= 22.26; SD = 3.41)
signed a consent form and participated in the study. Matches
from the Spanish University Championship (May, 2011) were
recorded. This competition counted towards the participation in
the Universiade Championship, Shenzhen, China, 2011.
Following criteria by Matsushigue et al. (2009) and Santos et al.
(2011), for the reporting of results the eight weight divisions
were grouped into the four categories of the Olympic competi-
tion: Fin and Fly; Bantam and Feather; Light and Welter; and
Middle and Heavy. A total of 45 matches from these groups:
male: 58 kg (4 semifinals and 2 finals), 58 - 68 kg (3 semifinals
and 2 finals), 68 - 80 kg (4 semifinals and 2 finals), and 80 kg
(3 semifinals and 2 finals) and females: 49 kg (3 semifinals
and 2 finals), 49 - 57 kg (4 semifinals and 2 finals), 57 - 67 kg
(4 semifinals and 2 finals) and 72 kg (4 semifinals and 2 finals).
Three semifinals, two in male (one from 58 - 68 kg and another
one from 80 kg) and one in female (one from 49 kg), were
not contested because of injuries.
A total of nine kicking parameters were defined: total num-
ber of actions, type of action, type of kick, area of kick and
punctuation. Type of action was defined as attacking or coun-
terattacking. The movement of the athlete, who started the se-
quence, was defined as an attacking action. The movement of
the athlete to defend against an opponent’s attack was defined
as a counterattacking action (Luk et al., 2001). Type of kick
was categorized into three variables: linear (i.e., pushing), cir-
cular (i.e., roundhouse) and with a previous spin (i.e., back)
(Serina & Lieu, 1991). The section of kicking was classified
into chest and head, which are the only scoring areas in Taek-
wondo. The official videotapes from all the matches at the
Spanish University Championship in 2011 were recorded onto
DVD and analyzed using the Kinovea Software. Following
standard procedures in combat sports analysis (Kazemi, Waalen,
Morgan, & White, 2006; Matsuhigue, Hartmann, & Franchini,
2009; Salvador, Suay, Martinez-Sanchis, Simon, & Brain, 1999;
Santos et al., 2009), a trained investigator analyzed all videos to
determine the pre-defined parameters. Previous research em-
ploying the same analysis reported reliable measures with an
intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of 0.93 (Salvador et al.,
1999). From a total of 5 randomly selected rounds an ICC =
0.85 was obtained, revealing that the analysis conducted in this study
was highly reliable for all variables investigated, with values
ranging from 0.79 to 0.89 (p < 0.01).
Statistical Analysis
Using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test data were found not nor-
mally distributed, therefore non-parametrical tests, i.e. Kruskal-
Wallis test followed by a Mann-Whitney U test, were used to
assess the nine variable differences between weight divisions.
The level of significance was set at p < 0.05.
The results of this study in the four weight categories rev-
ealed significant differences in males for linear kicks [χ2 (3) =
8.57, p = 0.04] and in females for circular kicks [χ2 (3) = 22.57,
p = 0.01], kicks to the chest [χ2 (3) = 14.99, p = 0.01], attacking
kicks [χ2 (3) = 10.62, p = 0.01] and total actions [χ2 (3) = 14.23,
p = 0.01] in the match.
Linear kicks were performed significantly less by male fly-
weight compared to heavyweight (U = 18.0, p = 0.01), and to
welterweight (U = 18.0, p = 0.02) divisions. Results are
presented in Table 1.
The number of attacking kicks performed by female heavy-
weight athletes was significantly higher than that of feather-
weight (U = 21.5, p = 0.01) and flyweight (U = 29.5, p = 0.04)
divisions, while the number of attacking kicks of featherweight
was significantly higher than that of welterweight (U = 36.5, p
= 0.04). Athletes of the female heavyweight division used sig-
nificantly more circular kicks than athletes of the welterweight
(U = 26.5, p = 0.01), featherweight (U = 1.0, p = 0.01) and
flyweight (U = 8.5, p = 0.01) divisions, while the number of
circular kicks executed in the welterweight category was sig-
nificantly higher than that in the featherweight (U = 31.0, p =
0.02). The occurrence of kicks to the trunk of heavyweight was
significantly higher than that in the welterweight (U = 31.5, p =
0.02), featherweight (U = 15.5, p = 0.01), and flyweight (U =
14.5, p = 0.01) divisions. There were in total significantly more
kicks executed by athletes of the heavyweight division com-
pared to the welterweight (U = 37.0, p = 0.04), featherweight
(U = 13.5, p = 0.01) and flyweight (U = 19.5, p = 0.01). These
esults are presented in Table 2. r
Table 1.
Descriptive Mean (
) and Standard Deviation (SD) of the male taekwondo athletes: total of actions, type of action (attacking or
counterattacking), area of kick (chest or head), type of kick (circular, lineal or spin) and obtained points.
58 kg Feather
58 - 68 kg
68 - 80 kg Heavy
80 kg
(n = 8) (n = 7) (n = 8) (n = 7)
Total 32.00 5.51 31.00 5.099 34.25 11.08 28.40 7.73
Points 4.67 2.31 3.80 2.044 4.33 3.14 5.00 3.33
Attack 24.83 6.75 23.70 5.143 25.75 10.22 20.40 7.07
Counterattack 7.17 4.37 7.30 2.908 8.50 5.04 8.00 5.64
Chest 28.25 6.08 27.30 5.618 31.00 9.95 26.30 7.12
Head 4.08 2.54 3.90 2.685 3.42 2.78 2.90 3.70
Circular 17.67 6.26 21.20 6.730 25.17 8.45 21.80 6.46
Linear 12.08 6.05 a, b 7.50 5.622 6.67 4.91 a5.30 3.20 b
Spin 2.17 2.69 1.30 1.947 1.67 2.06 0.90 1.10
Note: The letters “a” and “b” show differences between weight categories for each of the notational variables of the study (p < 0.05).
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 29
Table 2.
Descriptive Mean (
) and Standard Deviation (SD) of the female taekwondo athletes: total of actions, type of action (attacking or counterattacking),
area of kick (chest or head), type of kick (circular, lineal or spin) and obtained points.
49 kg Feather
49 - 57 kg Welter
57 - 67 kg Heavy
67 kg
(n = 7) (n = 8) (n = 8) (n = 8)
Total 30.50 11.33 a 26.50 13.30 b 36.25 10.42 c 45.17 8.35 a, b, c
Points 4.60 3.81 3.50 2.51 3.13 3.68 6.33 3.65
Attack 23.40 10.00 a 18.58 10.91 b, c 27.58 8.76 c 32.42 10.16 a, b
Counterattack 7.10 3.90 7.92 6.42 8.67 4.87 12.75 6.34
Chest 27.30 9.29 a 24.00 12.17 b 32.58 9.33 c 41.75 8.14 a, b, c
Head 3.60 2.88 2.67 2.35 4.00 3.77 3.75 3.89
Circular 23.50 8.13 a 17.08 9.09 b, d 27.67 9.27 c, d 37.25 6.86 a, b, c
Linear 4.70 2.54 6.67 5.37 7.50 4.62 7.00 3.10
Spin 2.50 3.06 3.50 2.71 1.83 2.13 1.25 1.22
Note: The letters “a”, “b” and “c” show differences between weight categories for each of the notational variables of the study (p < 0.05).
The purpose of the present study was to analyze the perform-
ance of medallists’ taekwondo athletes in a University Champi-
onship among the four Olympic weight divisions in semi-final
and final contests. The performance indicators have been ana-
lyzed for male and female taekwondo athletes according to the
total of actions, type of action, type of kick, area of kick as well
as points obtained in the match. To that end, 45 taekwondo
matches were analyzed. On average male taekwondo athletes
performed thirty actions meanwhile obtained four points per
match. This suggests that the efficiency of the kicks in terms of
scoring points is rather low. Moreover, the number of total ac-
tions performed (attacking and counterattacking) is higher than
what was found in previous studies. For example, Santos et al.
(2011) reported that the flyweight division performed in average
8.6 kicks (SD = 2.7), feather performed 6.6 kicks (SD = 1.9),
welterweight 7.5 kicks (SD = 2.7), while heavyweight per-
formed 6.8 kicks (SD = 3.1) per match, meanwhile Matsuhique
et al. (2009) reported that the number of kicks per athlete per
match was found to be 27 (SD = 13). This discrepancy in find-
ings can be attributed to lower tactical awareness and reflexive
behaviour in university level athletes from the present study
compared to athletes in open competitions.
From the total actions performed, and in line with previous
studies (Matsuhique et al., 2009; Santos et al., 2011), male
taekwondo athletes used more attacking than counterattacking
kicks in order to win the match. This suggests that to win the
match, the performance of the taekwondo athletes must be mo-
tivated by attacking rather than counterattacking. However,
results from the present study cannot be related to how points
were obtained from specific kicks. Future studies should iden-
tify which types of kicks are used to obtain points and further
address whether the attacking performance is motivated by the
macth condition; winning or loosing a match.
It was previously also reported that male athletes from heav-
ier weight divisions show typically slower fighting rhythm than
lighter competitors (Butios & Tasika, 2007). This was attrib-
uted to the higher energy expenditure of heavier athletes com-
pared to lighter weight divisions (Santos et al., 2011) during a
fighting bout. The available evidence however is indicative of
homogeneity in performance between all male weight divisions.
No differences in movement patterns and choice of kicking
actions between heavier and lighter divisions were found, with
the exception of the use of linear kicks. The use of linear kicks,
in the flyweight division, was significantly higher than that of
heavyweight and welterweight. Although no data on the power
profiles of these kicks are available in this study it may be sug-
gested that the power posed by linear kicks suffice to score
points in lower weight divisions.
Despite of the action performed; attacking or counterattacking,
and in line with previous studies (Luk et al., 2001; Matsuhique et al.,
2009), it was also found that male taekwondo athletes prefer to
use circular kicks followed by linear kicks and kicks with an
initial spin. Research on kicks to the chest (Serina & Lieu, 1991)
has determined that circular kicks are faster than linear kicks,
with the roundhouse kick being identified as the fastest kicking
technique of all (Pieter & Pieter, 1995) which may explain the
preference for using circular kicks in competition.
Data from this study also revealed that taekwondo athletes
preferred to use kicks to the chest more than to the head. That is,
while athletes are more inclined to target the chest ahead of the
head while performing a circular kick, kicks delivered to the
head may pose higher injury risks for the receiving athletes. The
concussion rate in taekwondo matches arising from roundhouse
kicks (Koh et al., 2004) may partially be explained by this pref-
erence. No data on the fighting conditions that facilitate the
execution of circular kicks are available in this study. It seems
however that there are no timing differences in execution of a
roundhouse kick to the chest or the head (i.e., Estevan, Molina-
Garcia, Falco, & Alvarez, 2010; Falco, Estevan, Menescardi, &
Ruiz, 2011; O’Sullivan et al., 2009) or the timing of between
roundhouse kicks and kicks with a previous spin (i.e., Falco,
Estevan, & Vieten, 2011). Factors such as athlete position within
the fighting area and relative to the opponent, scoring situation
and their influences on triggering the execution of a given kick
are yet to be explored. In light of the preference for lower kicks
found in this study and given that the new competition rules
reward kicks to the head and kicks initiated by a spinning mo-
tion, coaches are encouraged to guide athletes to increase the
frequency of kicks directed to the head and those with an initial
spin to maximise the action to scoring ratio.
The review of the current literature suggests that this is the
first study that analyzes female taekwondo athletes; therefore,
data on female athletes cannot be compared to other studies. It
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
can be observed that female taekwondo athletes also used more
attacking than counterattacking kicks and further more circular
than linear kicks or kicks with an initial spin. Moreover, kicks to
the chest were more common than kicks to the head. However,
the four weight categories differed significantly from each other
in; circular kicks, kicks to the chest, attacking kicks and total
kicks performed in the match. That is, the female heavyweight
category also preformed a higher number of actions compared to
their lighter weight counterparts. Moreover, the heavy and wel-
terweight categories developed a higher number of attacking
kicks than their counterparts of the featherweight category.
Similarly, the welterweight category performed a higher number
of attacking kicks than their counterparts of featherweight cate-
gory. The heavier weight divisions performed higher number of
circular kicks, kicks to the chest, than their lighter counterparts.
This is in contrast to what was observed in the male divisions,
where athletes’ behaviour and choice of kicking techniques
seem to be independent of weight categories.
These data reveal that the technical and tactical characteris-
tics of male and female competition are vastly different. These
findings implicate that male and female competitors should
train differently, at least during the tactical phase of training.
On the other hand it may also be suggested that female compe-
tition is to some extent predictable, as the choice of kicking
actions was observed to be highly dependent on weight division.
This level of predictability, from the tactical point of view
represents a disadvantage as the opponent can capitalize on that
information. It is suggested that coaches of female competitors
work on equipping their athletes with greater kicking repertoire
to reduce the predictability of their actions.
Although in many university level competition world class as
well as Olympic level athletes are competing, gathering data
from a Spanish University level competition represent a limita-
tion to the study. Limiting the population to those competing at
university level, limits the generalizability of the study. Another
limitation of the study is that player displacements were not
analyzed, nor the match conditions when a particular kick was
executed. It is still believed that these data can provide an in-
sight into the tactical traits of Taekwondo matches and consti-
tute a basis for future research.
In conclusion, male and female taekwondo athletes used
more circular kicks, followed by linear and with a previous spin,
and kicks to the chest were more used than kicks to the head as
well as attacking kicks were used more than counterattacking
kicks. It may be that in international high-level taekwondo
competitions and national contests (Heller et al., 1998; Santos
et al., 2011), effort is often interrupted by low-intensity move-
ments or inactivity. Therefore, athletes in these competitions
spend more time studying, approaching, and preparing a new
attack on their opponents than on executing attacks. More re-
search is warranted to better understand the dynamics of taek-
wondo matches across different countries as well as within
different levels of competition. Also, it is of importance to
study the type of attacking and counterattacking actions per-
formed in order to know the quality of the kicks developed and
how they relate to the tactical consideration based on when in
the match they are performed.
This research was supported by the Catholic University of
Valencia (2011-007-002).
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