Until the new body pads equipped for electronic scoring are implemented, points in Taekwondo tournaments are going to continue to be scored by judges using hand held controls. Although, there are a number of good points to this (such as seeing what points are scored immediately), I am still left wishing we could go back to judges scoring the matches on paper.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept of electronic scoring is a good one. The problem however is in the implementation. In order to ensure that a point is seen by 3 out of 4 judges, the judges must all click the same button for the scoring athlete within a fraction of a second of each other. If they don’t, the kick is not scored and obvious points are not recorded.
During the Olympics, I was approached by a number of people both in Taekwondo and not, who were mystified by how the points were scored in the matches. In some situations, it could be explained but unfortunately in many situations it could not.
This affected a number of athletes, including Canada’s Ivett Gonda who lost a match where obvious kicks were not scored. This problem culminated in the worst situation possible where a fighter from Cuba, frustrated by the scoring in a match, kicked the referee in the head.
While this was in no way justified and undid a great deal of good work that we all in Taekwondo attempt to do by educating children in the 5 tenets (specifically in this case, Self Control), some responsibility needs to be bourne by the judges, the referee and Taekwondo generally.
Reform is needed to ensure that Taekwondo scoring is apparent not only to competitors and coaches but also to the audience. Taekwondo rules relating to electronic scoring need to be changed. While the idea of an electronic body pad appeals to me, it remains to be seen how it too will be implemented. Likewise, the rule changes and practices will take a while to filter down through the system.
However, an easy fix may be to change the scoring requirements in matches where there are 4 corner judges so that only 2 need to see the point (and click on it within a second of each other) in order for the kick to count. Judges would still need to see the kick score as they do now before the point is awarded – we would then have more of the obvious points scored.
What do you think?