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Taekwondo Step Sparring

Step Sparring (also called Pre-Arranged Sparring) is a sparring drill in which an attacker and defender pre-arrange a sequence of attacks and blocks. Step Sparring can be run as drills of 1-Step, 2-Step, 3-Step or more.

Different schools implement and categorize Step Sparring differently, but the following example is fairly typical:

  • 3-Step Sparring - the attacker attacks three times with pre-arranged attacks, the defender defends three-times (usually with pre-arranged defenses), then the defender counter-attacks once (usually with a pre-arranged counter-attack). The attacker may be required to measure the distance for the attack before attacking
  • 2-Step Sparring - same as 3-Step, but with only two attacks/defends before the counter-attack. The measurement aspect may be removed to show progression in judging distance
  • 1-Step Sparring(pre-arranged) - same as 3-step but with only one attack before the counter-attack. Sometimes known as Traditional 1-Step Sparring. May be required to perform on both sides (ie left and right side)
  • 1-Step Sparring (not pre-arranged) - there is only one attack, which may not be pre-arranged. This type of sparring is considered the most "advanced" version of Step Sparring.
    • the attacker may attack with any technique he or she chooses, though they may be limited eg to those from previous Step Sparring
    • the defender defends using any technique which may be unlimited or drawn from a fixed list eg those learned from patterns thus far
    • the defender then counter-attacks once using any technique

Not all taekwondo schools use Step Sparring in their training. ATA-style schools, as an example, do incorporate a predefined set of Step Sparring routines into their structured curriculum. In schools that do use Step Sparring, a typical sequence of instruction would be:

  1. Initially, beginner students practice 3-Step Sparring in order to learn basic techniques and to get a better understanding of distance, timing, and range for techniques. The initial drills use basic techniques repeated several times within a drill, then more advanced drills introduce more complex combinations of techniques.
  2. Students then progress to 2-Step Sparring, and then to 1-Step Sparring.
  3. Intermediate students then progress to Semi-Free Sparring
  4. Advanced students then progress to Free Sparring

The idea is that the students work their way up to Free Sparring by iteratively decreasing the amount of pre-arranged structure in the sparring drills.

Kukkiwon/WTF-style taekwondo schools generally (but not always) tend to use this iterative approach less often; because the sparring gear in sport taekwondo provides so much padding and protection, students immediately begin Free Sparring once they've learned some basic techniques.

ETKDA Lauri Fellman ja Mikko Lehikoinen, taustalla Team Jansson vyökoevalvojat