How is taekwondo scored? A guide to the Olympic sport

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that emphasizes kicking.

Fully padded fighters compete to see who can land the most kicks. The head and body are legitimate targets and all kicks are scored electronically; fighters wear special sensor socks and kicks to their opponent's body protector are recorded only if they are executed with sufficient force, which is calibrated differently for every weight division.

For safety reasons, kicks to the head are scored whenever the fighter's foot simply touches the opponent's head guard or face - no force is required. Punches to the body are allowed, but not to the head.

A match consists of three two-minute rounds and will go into a ''golden point'' round if the score is tied at the end of three rounds. At that point, the first fighter to score - with any technique - wins. Here's a quick guide to taekwondo scoring.

1. Body shots. Kicks to the body score one point. But if they incorporate a spinning technique, like a back kick, they can score three points. Punches to the body score one point.

2. Head kicks. Kicks to the head score three points, unless they involve a spinning technique, in which case an extra point is awarded.

3. Penalties. Fighters can be penalized if they withdraw from a fight, are inactive for 10 seconds or fall, even if that's the result of being kicked. Fighters cannot grab their opponents and no kicks below the belt are allowed. Referees have significant leeway, however, on handing out penalties and are encouraged to keep the fight active rather than constantly stopping and starting the action.

4. The 12-point gap. Taekwondo fights are automatically suspended if one fighter gains a 12-point lead on the other. That gap is considered too big to claw back and fights will usually be stopped at the end of that round.

5. Video replays. Coaches may request a video replay if they feel their fighter's technique hasn't been scored or if they think their fighter's opponent was improperly awarded points. The decision is made by a panel of taekwondo judges who watch an instantaneous video replay. If coaches lose the challenge, they must surrender their video replay card to the referee.

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