The full contact sparring discipline of Taekwondo is the most widely known and watched form, and is an Olympic sport. Olympic, World, Continental and elite competitive Taekwondo is prescribed according to the the rules of World Taekwondo (WT) (formerly the World Taekwondo Federation). In this discipline both hand and foot attacks to the body are permitted but only kicks to the head are allowed in competition. The scoring system differentiates points based on the weapon and target area, awarding them as follows :
- One (1) point for a valid punch to the trunk protector
- Two (2) points for valid kick to the trunk protector
- Three (3) points for a valid turning kick to the trunk protector
- Three (3) points for a valid kick to the head
- Four (4) points for a valid turning kick to the head
Competitors wear chest protectors, arm, shin, groin and head guards. Bouts of 3 x 2 minutes of continuous sparring are scored electronically by the judges or by an electronic Protector Scoring System built into the chest and head guards. Competitors win by points (higher total points at end of bout), points gap (having more than a 20 point lead in the third round), TKO (cannot continue or knocked out opponent), and golden point (the first to score in a deciding 4th round). Penalties are given as points to the opponent for infringements including stepping out of the ring, falling down, holding/grabbing, attacking a fallen opponent, inaction, and punching to the face.
As an Olympic sport WT rules Taekwondo is widely practiced and participation is growing rapidly throughout the world. With a highly competitive elite competition circuits there are routes for talented players to become full time professional athletes.