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Engineers give GB Taekwondo a performance boost

09 July 2012

BAE Systems has been applying some of the same techniques and principles used to develop fighter jets and military tanks to help give the GB Taekwondo team a marginal gain in competition. Engineers and scientists from the company’s Advanced Technology Centre in Bristol have been helping the GB Taekwondo team to evaluate the electronic scoring vest which is used in major international competitions.

The special project is part of a £1.5m Technology Partnership with UK Sport, which sees BAE Systems’ engineering and technology expertise channelled directly into the areas of elite sport where it is needed the most.

With the new system introduced into Taekwondo just a few years ago, fighters wear special electronic socks that deliver a coded signal when they strike sensors on the opponent’s vest, but the sport has never fully understood how this functions and how to fully optimise appropriate tactics. 

As a result, BAE Systems has spent over six months testing the electronic scoring vest using sophisticated equipment, usually used to test composite materials’ resistance to impact. This has allowed the GB Taekwondo team to adjust their training style to maximise methods needed to score on the vest.

Kelvin Davies, BAE Systems Project Leader of the UK Sport Technology Partnership said: “We found that different parts of the vest behaved in different ways. The differences are small, but they are there. As a result, we have been working with the GB Taekwondo team to validate the results, as the controlled test conditions we create in the laboratory need to be qualified in real world situations. We are confident that the work we have done with the team will make a real difference in future competitions.”

Gary Hall, GB Taekwondo Performance Director said: “The new technology is all about electronics and engineering and from the outset we didn’t really understand how it worked and how tactics should be optimised. However, thanks to BAE Systems’ world-renowned engineering skills we have adjusted our tactics to reflect the different forces that are needed to score on certain parts of the vest. It certainly looks to have worked very well in training and we look forward to putting what we have learned into practice.”

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