Sparring - Kyorugi

Composition of Kukki-Taekwondo Kyorugi (sparring)

By Al Cole
President, Ohio State Taekwondo Association
Team Leader - 1999 USA National Team (World Olympic Qualifier)
Graduate - World Taekwondo Academy Instructor Course at Kukkiwon

What is Kyorugi (Sparring)?

Kyorugi or Sparring is a term whose popular use usually brings to mind the Taekwondo sparring competition event in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. In reality, Kyorugi is a term that covers a wide array of many different sparring training methods found within Taekwondo. Kyorugi means ''confrontation'', namely with the self and is the essence of the whole of Taekwondo.

Aim of Kyorugi training and practice

Challenges can bring out the best and the worst in people. Kyorugi is a method of self realization with the aim to overcome internal obstacles such as fear, frustration, hate, anger, indecision and all forms of ignorance that act as road blocks on our path to a successful life.


Taekwondo Kyorugi is divided into main groups. Macho Kyorugi (arranged sparring) and Chayu Kyorugi (free sparring).

1. Macho Kyorugi

Pre-arranged sparring applying a pre-determined set of basic Taekwondo skills. Macho Kyorugi is usually the first attempt to apply the techniques contained within
1. Poomse (forms)
2. Chayu Kyorugi (free sparring) or
3. Mom-pulgi Kyorugi (Body loosening techniques - against grabs, holds, sometimes called Hoshinsul). Macho Kyorugi is an introduction to space management, timing control, accuracy, familiarity of target, focus and the base for confidence development.

In Macho Kyorugi there are four methods of training:

1st - Saebon Kyorugi (3 step sparring)

2nd - Dubon Kyorugi (2 step sparring)

3rd - Hanbon Kyorugi (1 step sparring)

4th - is Hanbon Macho Kyorugi, a one step sparring with medium contact and undetermined target area.

The above four methods of training are applied to fifteen distinct types of Kyorugi practice which are composed of three (3) types of ''standard kyorugi'', five (5) types of "special kyorugi" and seven (7) types of Kyorugi against weapons.

Three types of standard Macho Kyorugi for attack and defense of the body and head area.

Techniques from:

1. Poomse - quality of action-shape, forms.

2. Chayu Kyorugi - contact sparring, competition training.

3. Mom-pulgi - holds and grabs. AKA Hoshinsool.

Five types of special Macho Kyorugi for attack and defense of the body and head area. These types of Kyorugi are rarely practiced and it is unusual to find them in a Dojangs regular curriculum.

Special positions:

1. An-ja Kyorugi - sparring from sitting on the ground

(6 illustrations shown*)

2. eui-ja Kyorugi - sparring from sitting on the chair

(5 illustrations shown*)

3. tak-sang Kyorugi - sparring from sitting at a table

4. nu-weo Kyorugi - sparring from lying down

5. mom-pool-ki - sparring against various grabs, holds, etc.

Seven types of Kyorugi against weapons. More popular than five special positions Kyorugi, most of these are well known and practiced at wide based curriculum Dojangs.

1. zzaleun-mak-dae-matseogi - sparring against a short club/stick

(4 illustrations shown*)

2. kin-mak-dae-matseogi - sparring against a long bar/club/stick

(3 illustrations shown*)

3. zzaleun-kal-matseogi - sparring against a short knife

(3 illustrations shown*)

4. kin-kal-matseogi - sparring against a sword

(4 illustrations shown*)

5. chang-matseogi - sparring against a spear

5. kwon-chong-matseogi - sparring against a pistol

(5 illustrations shown*)

6. chong-kum-matseogi - sparring against rifle with bayonet

(2 illustrations shown*)

* These types noted with (*) have the stated number of illustrations demonstrated in the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Textbook ISBN# 89-7336-735-8 (1996), even though all of the names I listed of Macho Kyorugi were taken from the **TAEKWONDO INSTRUCTOR COURSE TEXTBOOK, World Taekwondo Academy - Kukkiwon (1998) - not for sale

2. Chayu Kyorugi (free sparring)

Type of free sparring governed by strict set of safety guidelines. The main elements in Chayu Kyorugi are; will power/ tenacity, tactics/strategy, choice/decision, fitness/stamina, strength/explosiveness, agility/quickness, technical skills, psychological development and training philosophy.

The two types of Chayu Kyorugi are: Yonsup Kyorugi and Shihap Kyorugi.

A. Yonsup Kyorugi (contact sparring)

Contact training method that requires both players to attack, defend and counter/attack using a planned series of techniques for beginners and an unplanned series of techniques for more advanced players, utilizing constantly changing distance, time and tempo elements. There are two sub categories of Yonsup Kyorugi: Harmonized Kyorugi and Preparation Kyorugi.

1a. Harmonized Kyorugi (habitual synthesize sparring)

Harmonized Kyorugi utilizes offensive and defensive techniques of Chayu Kyorugi in a prearranged fashion, commonly referred to as "Hogu Drills". It is the foundation of "Preparation Kyorugi" and is the early training stage for beginners as well as a conditioning method for advanced players. Harmonized Kyorugi improves all areas of Taekwondo as it is especially focused on timing, space control, body motions, combination techniques, mental focus, and confidence.

1b. Preparation Kyorugi (conditioning & application sparring)

Preparation Kyorugi directly refines all components of competition such as quickness, agility, footwork, explosiveness, body motions, will power, etc. by using the situation of a real competition allowing Chayu Kyorugi techniques used against an actual opponent. Preparation Kyorugi develops will power and tenacity ultimately improving self-defense capabilities, the creation of strong self-confidence and a fighting spirit.

B. Shihap Kyorugi (match/competition sparring)

Shihap Kyorugi is the part of Chayu Kyorugi that was accepted as an official event at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. In this Kyorugi it is mandatory for competitors to wear headgear, trunk protector, forearm, shin and groin guards. Electronic score boards with simultaneous scoring system are used at
National and International Games, and the rules of the World Taekwondo Federation are followed. All the elements of Chayu Kyorugi come together to combine with the support of the Master, Trainers, Coaches, Team mates, Family and Officials in a contest of physical and mental abilities where opponents face each other in the ring to test themselves and all that has went into their development.

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