21 May 2016

Methodological Regulations for Talents in Taekwondo

This study presents regulations meant to detect talents in taekwondo. It is based on several tests applied to Junior Mexican Taekwondo National Teams as well as an analysis of height in Junior and Senior Olympic Champions. These regulations have served in our country for the detection of sport talents, thereby achieving have successful athletes in international events and positioning Mexico as a world power. This is the first specific regulations for our sport that have been validated with the best athletes in Mexico


The programs for Sports Talents and National Reserves in Mexico are essential for creating a solid base of high performance athletes, which is why it is crucial that those participating in them have specific characteristics according to the sport they practice; in this case, Taekwondo.

Coaches, as the main actors in the development of these programs, should select and look after the right athletes. Because of that, this proposal comes from the present need in the country of standardizing all the information regarding the formation of high performance taekwondo athletes. Thus, methodological guides are established for the first time in Mexico meant to help coaches optimize the process of selection and follow-up of those kids who comply with the previous requirements to be considered “talents”.

It is important to consider at all times, while applying the contents proposed in this article, that every athlete evolves and matures on his or her own way, and that each sport and divisions determine different requirements. Therefore, it is fundamental to optimize the process of detection of children who comply with the specific characteristics required in order to be considered taekwondo athletes aimed to high performance.

Presented in this article are also the procedures for the application of tests that will provide physical parameters to locate the evolution of the taekwondo athlete during his or her formation.

Hopefully, the effort put into this proposal related to the formation of taekwondo athletes results in one of the first steps taken to strengthen the sport’s preparation system in Mexico.


Sports talents in Mexico

We consider a sports talent an athlete who is located between the phases of basic initiation and specialization in sports that presents characteristics and/or standards regarding somatotype, cognitive abilities, physical and functional abilities, as well as the technical-tactical ones required for taekwondo, including compliance with the World and Olympic requirements demanded at those levels. On the other hand, we identify as a national reserve those athletes with physical, physiological, and technical-tactical conditions who have had positive results at National events, which makes them members of the Junior and Senior National Teams.

In making this study, our goal is to guide coaches who are part of the Sports Talents and National Reserves Programs by explaining how to comply with the regulations for a taekwondo athlete’s formation based on attainable protocols that will measure the level of physical performance on each phase of the athletes’ formation according to the technical specifications of the National Olympics.

Nowadays, Mexican taekwondo has had a lot of success in major international events, in cadets, junior, and senior categories. Up to now, our sport has Olympic, world and Pan-American medalists, among others.

The latter points to the need of a more in depth systematization on the formation of high performance Mexican taekwondo athletes. In México, taekwondo has had an exponential growth in such a way that in the most important national competition, called the Olimpiada Nacional[1], 1600 athletes of 35 states participate in the final phase.

Hence, this investigation presents methodological guidelines with the purpose of forming taekwondo athletes oriented towards accomplishing the highest results in events of the Olympic cycle as they transition to higher levels.

It is well known that high performance is a long-term process divided in different development phases, each one concatenated and arranged in sequence from the next, with perfectly defined objectives.

Each phase of development by age has physical regulations and methodological guidelines for a technical, tactic, and physical preparation. It is a requirement for coaches to interiorize the content of each phase of development and for it to be clear that although the different ages pointed out in this document already compete for medals in the national Olympics, and these medals come with an economic reward from state governments, we must not forget that these are phases of sports formation, thus being partial to the total time of the athlete’s career since the expected final result is an Olympic Games medal.

The following table (1) shows the height of every winner of every division on the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Table 1. Height of Olympic medalists in 2012 London Olympic Games

Athlete Category Division Country Result Height (m)
Joél González Bonilla Men -58 Kg Spain Gold 1,85
Lee Dae Hoon Men -58 Kg South Korea Silver 1,81
Oscar Muñoz Oviedo Men -58 Kg Russia Bronze 1,78
Aleksei Denisenko Men -58 Kg Colombia Bronze 1,80
Servet Tazegül Men -68 Kg Turkey Gold 1,80
Mahammad Bagheri Men -68 Kg Iran Silver 1,81
Terrence Jennings Men -68 Kg USA Bronze 1,78
Roullah Nikpai Men -68 Kg Afghanistan Bronze 1,80
Sebastián Eduardo Crismanich Men -80 Kg Argentina Gold 1,82
Nicolás García Hemme Men -80 Kg Spain Silver 1,88
Mauro Sarmiento Men -80 Kg Italy Bronze 1,97
Lutalo Muhammad Men -80 Kg United Kingdom Bronze 1,88
Carlos Molfetta Men +80 Kg Italy Gold 1,83
Anthony Obame Men +80 Kg Gabon Silver 1,90
Robelis Despange Men +80 Kg Cuba Bronze 2,00
Liu Xiaobo Men +80 Kg China Bronze 2,01


Athlete Category Division Country Result Height (m)
Wu Jingyu Women -49 Kg China Gold 1,68
Brigitte Yagüe Women -49 Kg Spain Silver 1,62
Chanatip Sonkham Women -49 Kg Thailand Bronze 1,66
Lucija Zaninovic Women -49 Kg Croatia Bronze 1,70
Jade Jones Women -57 Kg United Kingdom Gold 1,69
Hou Yuzhuo Women -57 Kg China Silver 1,75
Marlene Harnois Women -57 Kg France Bronze 1,74
Tseng Li Cheng Women -57 Kg China Taipei Bronze 1,68
Hwang Kyung Seon Women -67 Kg South Korea Gold 1,75
Nur Tatar Women -67 Kg Turkey Silver 1,75
Paige McPherson Women -67 Kg USA Bronze 1,72
Helena Fromm Women -67 Kg Germany Bronze 1,75
Milica Mandic Women +67 Kg Serbia Gold 1,80
Anne Caroline Graffe Women +67 Kg France Silver 1,76
Anastasia Baryshnikova Women +67 Kg Russia Bronze 1,72
María del Rosario Espinoza Women +67 Kg Mexico Bronze 1,73

From this table, we may identify that current Taekwondo is oriented towards height as a conditioning variable of result in a competition; the latter answers to diverse changes in regulations, fostering a greater reach in competitors. This situation is not exclusive of adult competitors; if likewise, we analyze the size of juvenile competitors who participated in the Youth Olympic Games 2014 where we may observe a considerable height in every weight division as shown in table 2 and 3.

Table 2. Maximum and minimum average values for male athletes in each division of the Youth Olympic Games 2014.



 -48 kg -55 kg -63 kg -73 kg + 73 kg
Average size 1,70 1,70 1,79 1,84 1,86
Max size 1,80 1,86 1,85 1,94 1,98
Min size 1,56 1,40 1,71 1,70 1,70
Gold 1,78 1,79 1,85 1,94 1,98
Silver 1,77 1,85 1,81 1,86 1,82

Table 3. Maximum and minimum average values for male athletes in each division of the Youth Olympic Games 2014.




 -44 kg -49 kg -55 kg -63 kg + 63 kg
Average size 1,64 1,68 1,72 1,73 1,72
Max size 1,72 1,71 1,82 1,83 1,82
Min size 1,50 1,62 1,63 1,70 1,60
Gold 1,72 1,68 1,70 1,80 1,70
Silver 1,64 1,70 1,74 1,83 1,80

From the latter, one may infer that the average height for the men’s category throughout the different divisions of weight for the medalist athletes in London 2012 is 1.86 m, whereas for the female category is 1.72 m. It may also be inferred that within the total of weight divisions in juvenile Olympic competitors, winners were taller than the average of the group; also, in the case of men’s category in three out five divisions the tallest competitors were also the victors.

Therefore, we propose charts of correlation between height and weight division according to the Technical Annex of the National Olympic.

In Mexico, there is a relationship between the categories described in this manual with ages and school degrees as seen on chart 1.

Chart 1.  Stages of academic formation for Tae Kwon Do students in Mexico.

High School 12 17 In-depth specialization National Olympic


School Games, Central-American and Caribbean Games, and Pan-American Games Junior WTF Category, Youth Olympic Games
11 16 – 17
10 15 – 16
Middle School 9 14 – 15 Basic Specialization
8 13 – 14
7 12 – 13
Elementary School 6 11 – 12 Sport Initiation
5 10 – 11
4 9 – 10 Start Taekwondo


3 8 – 9
2 7 – 8
1 6 – 7
School degree Age (years) Stage of formation National Competitions Central -American


World Category

In regards to the last chart, this manual will discuss two formation phases in taekwondo athletes: the 10-12 year-old phase and 13-15 year-old.

The latter regarding Taekwondo in Mexico, a Sports Talent is considered within the first phase whereas a National Reserve comes at age 13. Every athlete of this discipline must be Black Belt in order to enter the Sports Talents and National Reserve programs.

Characteristics of Athletes between the ageS of 10 and 12

Athletes between the ages of 10 and 12 years old become aware of no longer being kids when they notice important physical changes on them. Their brain still thinks as that of a child, but their bodies start working as one of an adult. This may vary on each child, but starting from this point their bodies and movements will become clumsy as because of the changes they are undergoing.

The end of childhood always becomes a challenge for every kid. They will start to create their own identities; because of this they will start breaking away from their family group, even though this varies on every child.

During the phase of growth motor tasks possess the following traits:

  • On motor development, they achieve coordination and balance dominating different basic tasks such as jumps, slides, and kicks. This happens as the neurological system matures.
  • Towards the end of this phase they have learnt preference of stance as well as time and space perception.
  • While their strength, resistance, speed and agility improves they start losing flexibility, this is why we suggest the latter is often practiced.
  • They will acquire an independent and more analytic thought, as to cognitive development.
  • Their attention will strengthen and they will be able to classify and keep goals in mind.
  • On the other hand, they present difficulties referring affective development because of the egocentrism that suddenly becomes present. They have also trouble accepting and following rules. But as this stage goes on, they attain stability as well as balanced emotions.
  • Gradually, they will acquire more confidence. They will be able to relate with adults and accept regulated competitions.
  • Their bodies will suffer a series of anatomic and physiological changes as they slowly enter puberty. Because of this, there will be a difference between their height and muscular strength.
  • The nervous system matures and their speed reaction improves.
  • Regarding cognitive development: on the first level, the operational thinking[2] reaches its fullness. On the second level though, the formal and logical[3] thought begins its development.
  • They become interested in new activities and their critical capacity increases. Coaches must set technical sort out tasks during training.
  • During this stage, adolescence might begin, if so their love life will be unstable and intense. They might then, act and manifest in contradictory ways.
  • They will start to pull away from their parents and as they gain independence, their reputation in sports will be quite important for the judgment they will start making on themselves.

International competitions begin at this stage, mainly the Cadet World Championships.

Weight Divisions of Athletes between the ageS of 10 and 12

Table 4. Weight categories according to the National Olympics’ technical specifications are as follows[4]:

Divison Female Male
Fin -27 kg -27 kg
Fly -30 kg -30 kg
Bentham -33 kg -33 kg
Feather -36 kg -36 kg
Light -39 kg -39 kg
Welter -42 kg -42 kg
Light Middle -46 kg -46 kg
Middle -50 kg -50 kg
Light Heavy -54 kg -54 kg
Heavy +54 kg +54 kg

Matches for these divisions will be of 3 rounds of 1 minute and a half with a 30-second break between rounds (3 x 1´30” x 30”)

Regulating Charts

Table 5. Relation between height and weight for taekwondo athletes between the ages of 10 to 12





Range of optimum height (meters)  


Range of optimum height (meters)
Fin -27 kg 1.45 to 1.47 -27 kg 1.40 to 1.42
Fly -30 kg 1.48 to 1.51 -30 kg 1.42 to 1.45
Bentham -33 kg 1.52 to 1.55 -33 kg 1.46 to 1.48
Feather -36 kg 1.56 to 1.59 -36 kg 1.49 to 1.52
Light -39 kg 1.60 to 1.65 -39 kg 1.53 to 1.56
Welter -42 kg 1.66 to 1.68 -42 kg 1.57 to 1.60
Light Middle -46 kg 1.69 to 1.71 -46 kg 1.61 to 1.65
Middle -50 kg 1.72 to 1.74 -50 kg 1.66 to 1.68
Light Heavy -54 kg 1.73 to 1.75 -54 kg 1.66 to 1.68
Heavy +54 kg Over 1.75 +54 kg Over 1.68

 Physical Evaluations (Parameter Range)

Results come from previous evaluations done to different National and State Teams. The following methodological regulations are meant to guide the physical preparation of taekwondo athletes based on these values.

Table 6. Physical Parameters for taekwondo athletes between the ages of 10 to 12

Tests Men Women
% Fat 6.2 -10.5 8.1 – 16.1
agility (sec) 5.46 – 4.91 6.15 – 5.52
speed 36 m (sec) 5.52 – 5.01 5.91 – 5.35
Long Jump (cm) 200 – 235 185 – 207
VO2 max 51.26 – 58.46 46.44 – 58.37
Upper body flexes 70 -120 84 -127

Characteristics of athletes BETWEEN THE AGES OF 13-15

This age is characterized by the beginning of adolescence. It is marked by many physical, mental, emotional and social changes. At the beginning of this stage (called puberty) there are many hormonal changes. In the majority of the males, pubic and facial hair appears, and their voice deepens. While in the females, pubic hair appears, breasts grow and they begin menstruating. Pre-teens may become worried by these changes and the way other people see them. It is also a period in which athletes could feel pressure while introduced to alcohol, smoking or drugs by their friends, as well as being convinced into having sexual relations. Other challenges that they might encounter are eating disorders, depression and family issues. At this age, athletes rely on friends, sports and school when they take decisions. They become more independent having a personality and interests of their own, even though parents are still important at this stage.

Characteristic aspects of the athlete´s development between the ages of 13 to 15:

  • Their physical image, the way they look and dress worries them.
  • They think a lot about themselves, they go through periods of lack of confidence and high expectations
  • Changes in humor
  • They become interested and influenced by other kids their age.
  • They become less affectionate with their parents; they may behave at times, rude or in a bad mood.
  • They become anxious by school tasks.
  • They develop eating disorders.
  • Sadness or depression can affect their scholar and sports development making them consume prohibited substances or dragging them into other problems.
  • They do complex reasoning.
  • They express their feelings better with words.
  • They understand more clearly the difference between right and wrong.

The girls’ annual growth decreases and generally stops at the age of 15. Approximately, between the age of 14 and 15 the growth spurt occurs. At 15 years old, males become different from females in height and weight.

Studies have shown that females grow until they are 17 years old, beginning on average to menstruate at 13 years old. Males on the other hand keep growing until they are 19. Strength exercises must increase as soon as they become biologically mature.

Coaches must know that before working with sports talents many aspects should be considered such as: an understanding of each athlete´s constitution based on their biological age, the nutritional need to replace the energy expenditure as well as that of physical activities and stage of growth, and the basic qualities that must be developed in each stage with the proper planning and methods of training.

On this stage, the main taekwondo international competitions are the Central American and Caribbean School Games, the Junior World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games.

Weight Divisions of Athletes between the ageS of 13 and 15

Table 7. Weight categories according to the National Olympics’ technical specifications:

Divison Female Male
Fin -38 kg -39 kg
Fly -40 kg -42 kg
Bentham -42 kg -45 kg
Feather -44 kg -48 kg
Light -46 kg -51 kg
Welter -49 kg -55 kg
Light Middle -52 kg -59 kg
Middle -55 kg -63 kg
Light Heavy -59 kg -68 kg
Heavy +59 kg +68 kg

Matches for these divisions will be of 3 rounds, 2 minutes long with a 1 minute break between rounds (3 x 2´x 1´)

Regulating Charts

Table 8. Relation between height and weight for taekwondo athletes between the ages of 13 to 15





Range of optimum height (meters)  


Range of optimum height (meters)
Fin -38 kg 1.65 to 1.67 -39 kg 1.57 to 1.60
Fly -40 kg 1.65 to 1.67 -42 kg 1.61 to 1.63
Bentham -42 kg 1.68 to 1.71 -45 kg 1.64 to 1.68
Feather -44 kg 1.68 to 1.71 -48 kg 1.69 to 1.72
Light -46 kg 1.72 to 1.75 -51 kg 1.73 to 1.76
Welter -49 kg 1.72 to 1.75 -55 kg 1.77 to 1.80
Light Middle -52 kg 1.76 to 1.79 -59 kg 1.81 to 1.85
Middle -55 kg 1.80 to 1.81 -63 kg 1.86 to 1.88
Light Heavy -59 kg 1.80 to 1.81 -68 kg 1.88 to 1.90
Heavy +59 kg Over 1.8 +68 kg Over 1.90

Table 9. Physical evaluations (Parameter ranges for 13-15 year-old athletes in Taekwondo)

Tests Men Women
% Fat 5.5 -10.5 16.1-19.2
agility (sec) 4.63 – 4.15 4.88 – 4.27
speed 36 m (sec) 5.56 – 4.54 5.75 – 5.00
Long Jump (cm) 251 -282 203 – 224
VO2 max 54.10 – 59.23 49.48 – 58.37
Upper body flexes 87 -126 90 -127


The Albergues Escolares[5] (School Shelters) protocol will be used to measure height and weight using the following procedure:

Weight measurement technique. The equipment must always be prepared before the measurement. Avoid the use of bath scales or similar equipment because springs lose elasticity with use.

Lever and platform scales

Set the weigh beams on zero, for this you must remove any object from the surface of the scale (platform). If the child will be measured over a mat, lay the mat first and then set to zero. Use the fitting screw and the fitter until the scale’s arrow is set on zero. (Fig. 1)

Before a weight measurement it is important to identify any physical disability or deformity on the child, in order to prevent mistakes and obtaining an accurate measurement. If the child shows any resistance towards being weighed or measured, he/she should not be weighed or measured. When a measurement is strictly necessary, a notation will be made on the record’s appendix.

Scale and lever

Fig. 1 Scale and lever

Next, prepare the child to be weighed or measured.  Before the child climbs on the scale make sure there is not extra clothing, such as sweaters, jackets, hats or caps; nor money, keys, or other heavy objects in their pockets that may increase the weight. The measurement should take place preferably before food intake or after bowel movements.

The scale must be set in a flat, horizontal and firm surface for any weight measurement. Make sure the scale works properly and exactly before you start.

  • Check both lever beams are set to zero and the scale is properly balanced.
  • Place the child in the middle of the platform. The child must stand facing the beams, straight, shoulders down, heels together and toes apart. (Fig. 2)
  • Make sure the child’s arms lay relaxed to his/her side, without any pressure.
  • The head must be held firmly, eyes looking straight ahead.
  • The child must stand still to avoid any variations in the reading.
  • Slide the beam downwards (20kg graduation) towards he right approximating the child’s weight. If the arrow of the lever goes down, adjust the beam to the immediate lower number.
  • Slide the beam upwards (for kg and 100 gram graduations) towards the right until the arrow on the lever marks zero without any oscillation. Sometimes several movements are required until the arrow is fixed in zero. (Fig. 3)

measuring heightScale graduation



Fig. 2 Posture for measuring height                     Fig.3 Scale graduation

Height measurement technique

Setting the stadiometer

  1. a) Find a flat and firm surface perpendicular to the floor (wall, door).
  2. b) Place the stadiometer on the ground with the window facing forward on the angle formed by the wall and the floor.






Fig. 4 setting the stadiometer

  1. c) Check that the first marking on the tape (corresponding to 0.0 cm) matches with the marking on the window.
  2. d) Hold the stadiometer to the ground, on the angle formed by the wall and the floor, pull the measuring tape upwards until reaching two meters.

Pull the tape









Fig. 5 Pull the measuring tape

3) Attach the measuring tape to the wall with tape and slide the angle upwards, make sure the measuring tape is set on a straight line (tin end perpendicular to the horizon).

Before making any measurements, the child must remove any footwear or headwear, make sure their hair do’s such as ponytails, etc. do not tamper with the measurement.

The person measured must be standing up and free from any head accessories that hinder the reading.

  • Place the subject to carry out the measurement. Head, shoulders, hips, and heels must be touching the wall under the stadiometer. Arms must hang loosely to the sides.








Fig. 6 Place the subject to carry out the measurement

  • Keep the person’s head still his/her eyes must look straight ahead. Request the subject to contract his/her gluteal muscles and when in front of him/her put your hands on the lower end of the lower maxilla, then exert a minimal traction upwards as if try to stretch the neck.
  • Make sure the subject does not stand on his/her toes by slightly tapping the knees; check that his/her feet form a 45º angle, and legs are straight and heels together.
  • Slide the stadiometer downwards until touching the subject’s head, slightly pressing against the head to press down the bulk of hair.
  • Once again, verify that the subject’s position is correct.
  • Rely on someone else to read the measurement; check that the stadiometer lays flat to the wall and horizontal to the ground.
  • Read the measurement horizontally at eye-level with the stadiometer’s window and record the measurement to the mm: for example, 147.6. The reading is taken from the top down.



  • 70 m sports track Minimum
  • Two hurdles or posts
  • One chronometer

Initial position:

  • Standing start position, waiting for the signal to start.


In the acceleration zone, without stepping on the line, the runner will start with the aim of reaching the maximum speed when reaching the 50-meter finish line.



  • The taekwondo student leaps forward with feet together without an impulse sprint. It is measured to the body part closest to the starting line. The best mark of 3 is recorded.

Jump test





Fig. 8 Long jump    


  • The tae kwon do student goes around four points make by cones separated 2m away from each other, in a T formation. The test valid when the student reaches for the top of each cone in the shortest time possible. The best time of 3 is recorded. The layout of the cones goes as follows.


For aerobic resistance, a 1000m run against the clock will take place on a 400m track.

Track test






Fig. 9 Running track


The athlete stands on a step, toes at the end of the step, and flexes the hip without bending the knees; fingers must be outstretched and one hand lying on top of the other; hold position for 3 min with maximum flex.








Fig 10. Upper body flexes


Colectivo de Autores (1999) Sistema mexicano de selección de talentos para la iniciación deportiva, Departamento de Atención y Evaluación de Talentos, Comisión Nacional de Cultura Física y Deporte.

Comisión Nacional de Cultura Física y Deporte (2014) Anexo Técnico de Olimpiada Nacional 2014, from: http://www.conade.gob.mx/Documentos/Eventos/Eventos_Nacionales/on2014/Tae%20kwon%20do%202014.pdf el 12 de marzo del 2014.

Coordinación de programas y proyectos especiales (s/a) Técnicas de medición para la toma de peso y estatura, digital document from: http://www.cdi.gob.mx/albergues/medicion_peso_talla.pdf el 12 de marzo del 2014.

De la Frontera Jerez (s/a) Pruebas de valoración de la condición física, digital document from:

Gómez Castañeda Pedro (2004) Taekwondo, teoría y método de la preparación competitiva, E-book from:

http://esportivo.wikispaces.com/file/view/TEST+DE+VALORACION+DE+LA+CONDICION+FISICA.pdf March 14, 2014.

https://www.sobretaekwondo.com/media/www.sobretaekwondo.com.pdf March 14; 2014.

Ortega Toro Enrique & Sainz De Baranda Andujar Pilar (2002) Propuesta metodológica para las tareas en la iniciación deportiva, online article: http://www.efdeportes.com/ Digital Magazine- Buenos Aires – Year 8 – N° 54 – November.

Ruiz Ortíz Manuel Ricardo (2001) Tablas antropométricas infantiles, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Artes, digital document: http://www.bdigital.unal.edu.co/3488/1/Ruiz_Manuel,_tablas_antropometricas.pdf on March 13; 2014.

[1] The Olimpiada Nacional is the main sports competition that gathers around 200,000 athletes of diverse disciplines during the final national phase.

[2] The goal of operational thinking is to solve real problems with real actions.

[3] Formal and Logical thinking involved relationships between objects and develops from the individual’s own elaboration. It arises from previously created coordination between objects.

[4] Technical Annex of the 2014 National Olympic Games , taken from:


[5] Protocol taken from http://www.cdi.gob.mx/albergues/medicion_peso_talla.pdf

Autor: Dr. Pedro Gómez Castañeda

Exclusivo para www.sobretaekwondo.com

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