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Admissible Competition Forms

Color Belts

Color belts that participate in the form portion of the competition will demonstrate the form selected by their instructor. For integrity reasons, the instructor should not have a color belt student do a form that would be considered below his/her current ability level. However, competitors will not be questioned by the judges about the appropriateness of the form a color belt demonstrates. There will not be any special consideration given regarding the color of the belt the students are wearing and the form with which that they compete (neither higher scores for a higher level form nor lower scores for a lower level form). The students will be judged according to their performance in comparison to the others in their division that day.

Black Belts

Black Belts may not compete with a form designated for a rank higher than their current rank, even if they are “competing up” for the tournament season.
1st Degree Black Belt competitors:

  • Must compete with Shim Jun form after six months from the date of their successful decided rank test. This is commonly referred to as the “6-month rule”.
  • The lowest form that can be performed in a 1st Degree Black Belt ring is Choong Jung 2.

2nd Degree Recommended Black Belt competitors:

  • Must compete with Shim Jun.

2nd Degree Decided Black Belts and higher competitors:

  • May choose to do any of the black belt forms up to and including the form designated for their rank during the regular tournament season.
  • The lowest form that can be performed is Shim Jun.

Note: Please see District and World Championship for additional information on selecting the appropriate form for your competitive goals.

Judges Area of Concentration

Scoring of traditional forms is divided into three judging aspects. Judge A, Judge B, and Center Judge. Each judge is scoring a different aspect of the competitor’s presentation. An important aspect of judging forms is not letting personal preferences concerning techniques influence scoring. It is not feasible to expect every member of Songahm Taekwondo to do every technique the same. Differences in body styles, age, and other criteria can make a difference in how an Instructor may teach a student certain techniques. Form judges must base their score on the overall look and effectiveness of the techniques. The best “rule of thumb” is to watch the competitor as a judge and not as an Instructor. When seated, Judge A will be on the left hand side of the Center Judge and Judge B will be on the Center Judge’s right hand.
While judging your respected areas, scoring should be based on the following ten attributes. The competitor who can demonstrate the highest quality and the most consistent of these attributes should be given the highest score.

  1. "Base"- Foundation of every technique (Base foot when kicking, starting point for hand techniques.)
  2. "Trajectory"- The path a technique will take from point A to point B.
  3. "Follow Though"-Going beyond the target. (full extension of technique).
  4. "Joint Position"- Proper setup of all joints for a technique.
  5. "Balance"-Body alignment, posture, proper base, and eye contact.
  6. "Precision"-Hitting the exact target with the proper point of contact.
  7. "Speed"-Time it takes for your technique to go from point A to Point B. Relaxing the muscles and exploding.
  8. "Reaction Force"- The counter balance. to each movement.
  9. "Power"-Body rotation and input of the body mass through acceleration.
  10. "Automatic Reflex"-Proper repetition allows you to react effortlessly.

Corner Judge A

Will grade only stances and kicks.
For stances, the judge should look for:

  • Proper Base to include correct
    • Length
    • Width
    • Weight distribution
    • Foot position

For kicks, the most important things to judge are proper:

  • Trajectory
  • Follow through
  • Joint position
  • Balance
  • Power

The height of the kicks should match the competitor's body dimensions. (i.e. their solar plexus for mid-section kicks and head level for high section kicks)
Judge A will only judge the techniques that are shown and will not make point deductions for moves left out, the wrong type of kick or an incomplete form. Those areas are the responsibility of the center judge.

Corner Judge B

Will grade only hand techniques.
For hand techniques, the most important things to judge are proper:

  • Trajectory
  • Joint Position
  • speed
  • Reaction Force
  • Power

Judge B will only judge the techniques that are shown and will not make point deductions for moves left out, the wrong type of block or strike, or an incomplete form. Those areas are the responsibility of the center judge.

The Center Judge

Will grade the overall form presentation.
The center judge will score overall presentation of the form.
In addition to the criteria Judge A and B criteria, the most important things are proper:

  • Memory (Automatic Reflex)
  • Rhythm & Timing
  • Attitude & Enthusiasm

The quality of technique is being judged by the corner judges hence the center judge can focus on the showmanship of the presentation.

Score Keeper / Time Keeper

The scorekeeper and timekeeper at an ATA tournament play an important part in the overall running of a ring. While these volunteers are not considered to be judges, they have responsibilities and obligations that must be followed. The Center Judge should select a student who is in dobok to fill the role of the scorekeeper or timekeeper. Street clothes are not considered appropriate attire for this position.
The Scorekeeper/Timekeeper should:

  • Make sure that his/her duties in the ring are understood, and ask the Center Judge for any clarifications necessary.
  • Be appropriately dressed in a white or black ATA uniform.
  • Write legibly and completely fill in any and all scores given by the Center Judge.
  • Repeat the score back to the Center Judge in a loud, clear voice.
  • Make every effort to get the Center Judge's attention if he/she becomes unclear with a score or time issue at any point during the competition.
  • Pay complete attention to the ring in which they are working.
  • Refrain from cheering for any particular competitor. He/she should remain unbiased as if he/she were one of the three judges.

Traditional Form Competition Procedures

The following procedures are indicative of how each ring is to be run at every ATA tournament:

  • The Center Judge will turn the cards face down and shuffle them so that the competitors are called in a random manner. At national and world events, the scoring sheets are pre-printed. The order of the competitors called will be based upon the directions given by the National Tournament Director the day of the event.
  • To begin form competition, the center judge will draw one card at a time and call the competitor’s name. He/she will hand the card to the scorekeeper so the scorekeeper can record the name while the person is doing his/her form. It is not necessary to fill in all of the competitor names before starting the competition. The scorekeeper will do this while the competitor is demonstrating the form to the judges. As an additional courtesy to the competitors and their families, the Center Judge should also announce the competitor “on deck” (meaning the next competitor up for competition).
  • When their name is called, the competitors will answer, “Yes, Sir/Ma’am”, run to the center of the ring, stand at attention, and wait for the judges’ directions. They will follow the judges’ instructions, and when given the command to begin, will demonstrate their form on their count.
  • They will hold the position of the last movement until given the command to return and will not leave the ring until dismissed.
  • In every division, the first three competitors will demonstrate their form and then be dismissed to the side. This will allow the judges to evaluate the ring by determining the general ability of the competitors. At the conclusion of the third competitor's demonstration of his/her form, all three competitors will be brought back and given scores. Every subsequent competitor will be scored immediately following the performance of their form.
  • The Center Judge will announce scores from his/her left, calling out Judge A’s Score, then the Center Judge's score, and finally Judge B’s score. Judges should keep their scores visible until the scorekeeper has repeated the scores back to the Center Judge for verification.
  • When the scores are recorded on the score sheet, the only number recorded is the number following the decimal. These scores given will be added to determine the winner.
  • After every competitor has had an opportunity to demonstrate his/her form, the center judge will check the addition of the scores and determine if there are any ties.
  • If a tie in scores should occur for first, second or third place, use the run-off system. (See Resolving Ties.)

Determining and Administering a Score

It is important to understand how to determine a competitor’s score.

  • The first three competitors will complete their form before being scored. This gives the judges a base for their scores.
  • Each judge will give a score ranging from 9.0 through 9.9.
    • The score is a comparison score based on the competitors in the ring, and not based upon the excellence of the form itself.
    • It is highly possible that the scores from each judge may greatly vary because each judge is scoring a different part of the performance and the scores do not have any relationship to each other.
    • This method of scoring also gives the competitors instant feedback on what part of their form may need improvement.
  • There are no boundary restrictions during forms competition. Competitors will not be penalized for stepping beyond the ring boundaries, nor will they be penalized for adjusting their position to avoid obstacles, people, or the ring boundaries. Competitors may not realize that they will not be penalized for stepping beyond the ring boundaries and may adjust to prevent this. It is also possible that equipment bags, spectators, etc., may be in their way and they should be permitted to adjust to avoid these obstacles.
  • There are no specific time restrictions during forms competition. When forms are described and taught, the written material has a suggested time frame in which the form should be performed. This suggested time frame is there for the purpose of helping the student understand the speed and flow of the form. It is not included as judging criteria to be used for tournament competition.

Score Range & Meaning

The meaning of the scores are as follows:

  • 9.9 = Considered among the best of the group.
  • 9.6 thru 9.8 = Better than the average of the group.
  • 9.5 = The group average.
  • 9.2 thru 9.4 = Below the group average.
  • 9.1 = Complete, 2nd attempt (Black belt competitors are not allowed the 2nd attempt, so this score is for color belts only, and must be given by all three judges).
  • 9.0 = Incomplete (only to be given by the center judge on the incomplete first attempt or all three judges on an incomplete second attempt).


  • An incomplete form will receive a score of 9.0 from the Center Judge only if it is the first attempt, and from all three judges if it is the second attempt.
  • All color belts are allowed two chances to complete their form. The highest score they may receive on the second attempt is 9.1 which should be given by all three judges.
  • Black belts are not given the opportunity of a second attempt.
  • If any black belt competitor fails to complete the form, he/she should receive a score of 9.0 from the Center Judge for an incomplete form. Corner judges should always base their score based on the quality of technique shown in comparison to the other competitors that day in that ring.

Incomplete Form

An incomplete form is defined as a competitor leaving out at least an entire segment or stopping any time during the form and not finishing. If competitors leave out a technique or two, turn the wrong direction, or does an incorrect technique, this would NOT be classified as an incomplete form. The emphasis of the organization’s teaching is on the quality of technique rather than solely memorization. Only the Center Judge will deduct points based on presentation and the corner judges should not deduct for this type of mistake.

During form competition, the Center Judge may assist a competitor in completing their form through verbal cues and possible physical demonstrations if the competitor is unable to complete their form. This is done solely to help the self-esteem of the competitor by giving them the opportunity to finish their form in front of their peers and audience. The Center Judge must then score the form as if it were incomplete (with the score of 9.0) which would be the same as if the judge did not offer assistance and the competitor had not completed their form. The corner judges should not deduct for this assistance. They only judge the techniques demonstrated.

Example: A competitor demonstrating Songahm #3 leaves out both knifehand high blocks, or does sidekicks in place of the two round kicks, but does correct techniques during the rest of the form. The Center Judge may make score deductions for the competitor doing the wrong techniques or leaving out techniques, while Judge A and Judge B should give scores that reflect the quality of the techniques demonstrated when compared to the other competitors.

Resolving Ties

Should two or more competitors have the same score for first, second, or third place, there is a tie in the division.

  • Ties are to be run off rather than decided in conference.
  • The tied competitors will be asked to do their form again, individually.
  • Each competitor must do the same form they did originally.
  • All three judges will now be judging the entire form overall rather than their original assignments.
  • All ties will be decided by the judges pointing to the best form instead of giving scores.
  • If there is a tie for more than one place, the judges will decide the highest place first.

The following method for determining the winner is in place:

  • After all the tied competitors (for that place) have done their form, they will line up facing the judges.
  • On the command of the center judge, all judges will point at the competitor they felt did the best.
  • If at least two judges pick the same person, that person wins and will receive that place in the competition.
  • If more than one place were at stake, the judges would immediately decide the next best form, and so on, until all the positions are filled.
  • If all three judges point to different competitors, those three will step forward one step.
    • Next, the two competitors on the right (the judges’ left) will take one more step forward. The Center Judge will now ask the judges to pick the better form from those two.
    • This winner now steps forward with the competitor on the left, and the judges will again point to the better form. This person is the winner.
    • If more than one place were at stake, those competitors eliminated by the original vote would now be brought back, and the judges will point to the one they felt deserved the next place. This procedure will be used until all places have been determined.
  • A judge will remain consistent with his/her choice for best form when deciding ties. If a judge points for “Competitor A” in his/her initial voting, that judge must continue to vote for competitor A in all subsequent voting until competitor A places or is eliminated.

Example #1: There is a two-way tie for first place and a two-way tie for third place. The Center Judge would have the two competitors tied for first place demonstrate their forms again and a decision would be made as to the victor. Then the two that tied for third place would perform next and a decision made.
Example #2: Sue, Mary, Jane, and Betty tied for first place. All four competitors demonstrate their form a second time. All four competitors’ line up in front of the judges and at the direction of the Center Judge, each judge points to the competitor they felt earned first place. If each judge points to a different person, one competitor is eliminated from the first place voting (for this illustration Mary was eliminated). Once the first place has been decided per the above procedures, the second place needs to be determined. To do this, Mary would be brought back to be eligible to earn second place. This procedure would be used if there are four or more tied for first or second place; those eliminated in the deciding for one place will be brought back for the next place.
Example #3: There is a three-way tie for 1st place in one a divisions. The top finishers are Ellen, Sally, and Jane. After all three competitors have completed their form a second time, the center judges call for the judges to point to the competitor they feel should win 1st place for the best form and Judge Brown votes for Ellen. The other judges each vote for Sally and Jane. When the Center Judge calls Ellen and Sally to step forward and the judges to vote, Judge Brown must vote for Ellen again. If Ellen wins that vote and then goes against Jane, Judge Brown must vote for Ellen again.