What does ‘gamjom’ mean in Taekwondo?

In Taekwondo sparring, ‘gamjom’ means ‘deduction of points’ or ‘penalty’. If one of the competitors in a sparring match does an illegal technique or steps outside of the area, points will be taken away, indicated by the referee shouting ‘Gamjom!’.

A lot of people hear this as ‘gamjon’, but it’s actually ‘gamjom’.

감점 gamjom is a command that’s mainly used in World Taekwondo sparring matches. It’s not really used in International Taekwon-Do Federation sparring matches, though there are actions in ITF sparring matches that will result in points being taken away.

What do you lose points for in a sparring match?

In a World Taekwondo sparring match, you can lose points for:

  • Crossing the boundary line
  • Falling down
  • Avoiding or delaying the match
  • Grabbing or pushing the opponent
  • Kicking below the waist
  • Attacking the opponent after you have been told to separate
  • Hitting the opponent’s head with the hand
  • Attacking with the knee
  • Attacking the opponent after they’ve fallen down

… and other things. This is not a complete list and it is not necessarily up-to-date. For a complete list of rules for when you lose points in WT sparring matches, look in the most recent official World Taekwondo competition rule book.

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Want to learn more?

If you'd like to learn more about the Korean terminology used in Taekwondo, consider buying this book: Taekwondo Terminology. It contains an extensive dictionary of terms used in Taekwondo, as well as explanations on how to pronounce Korean words, and aspects of Korean grammar.

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