Engineers give GB Taekwondo a performance boost

Taekwondo vests undergoing stress testing
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 BAE Systems 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 £2.4m 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.

UK Sport - Taekwondo
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.

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.”

Under the Technology Partnership with UK Sport, BAE Systems has already helped 30 different sports teams and 250 individual athletes including taekwondo, track cycling, skeleton bobsled, sailing, short track speed skating, athletics, canoeing (slalom and sprint), badminton, wheelchair basketball, equestrian three day eventing, wheelchair racing, swimming, modern pentathlon and shooting.

The defence and security company continues to provide expertise in structural and mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, mathematical modelling and simulation and materials science to some of Britain's major medal winning sports.