The ITF rules sparring is a continuous, semi-contact sparring discipline promoted by three large organisations all known as the International Taekwondo Federation, which split from their original body ca. 2002, as well as a number of other offshoots worldwide. The scoring and penalties vary slightly between the different organisations, but competition generally allows hand and foot attacks to both the head and the body, with the points awarded differentiated based on the weapon and target area, awarding for example:
- One (1) point: any valid hand technique to a target area, or foot technique to the mid-section area
- Two (2) points: any valid jumping hand technique to a target area, jumping foot technique to the mid-section area, or foot technique to the high-section area
- Three (3) points: any valid jumping foot technique to the high-section area
Competitors wear foot and hand protection equipment, as well as groin and head guards. Bouts are typically 2×2 minutes of continuous sparring, scored by three to five judges. The level of contact must be controlled, with full-force blows prohibited and knockouts resulting in a disqualification of the attacker. At the end of the bout judges declare whichever competitor scored the most points the winner. Fouls in ITF rules sparring include heavy contact, attacking a fallen opponent, leg sweeping, holding/grabbing, intentional attack to a target other than allowed for example, attacks below the belt. The precise rules vary depending on which organisation’s rules are used.
ITF rules Taekwondo is hugely popular, with a wide variety of organisations offering an enormous number of national, continental and world events. Experienced competitors in this discipline often also compete in semi contact kickboxing rules tournaments which share a similar rule-set.