How do you make regular sports more accessible and interesting to gamers? Easy! Simply slap a Tekken-style health bar over proceedings, and suddenly watching something like Taekwondo becomes a nail-biting endeavor that we can all easily follow. That’s exactly what happened in South Korea recently, as a martial arts match was turned into a real-life fighting game.
As reported by Kotaku, the Korea Taekwondo Association recently debuted an incredible new piece of technology aimed at making the ancient sport easier to follow and engage with for newcomers. As you can see via YouTube channel TKDNEWS, two fighters battled it out with an impressive display of martial art’s prowess. But it was the display in the background that was the real star of this show.
Behind the fighters was a large screen that displayed a photo of each combatant. Along the side of each photo, was a genuine “health bar” that worked exactly as you’d expect it to. Anytime a fighter was hit, their corresponding health bar would be chipped away at. If it got too far down, it turned red, just as it would in a fighting game.
So how on Earth does it work? The new system involves equipping the fighters with wearable sensors that actually measure the “power” of each attack. A certain amount of “health” is then deducted from the health bar according to the points to attributed to the power of the attack. Both fighters start off with 100 health points, and the first to drop to 0 is the loser.
Twitter user AMurderOfBears explains that this is all in aid of Korea experimenting with the way in which Taekwondo is scored. Currently, it seems points are typically given for any contact with valid areas – even those hits just barely make contact. This approach has drawn criticism from fans of the sport, who argue that it encourages a slower style of play in which fighters simply attempt to defensively “poke” each other in an effort to gain the most points.
This has been around since the advent of the 20/20 Armor System that was indeed directly inspired by fighting games. Really hope competition starts moving towards this because the current meta is garbo and it’s directly because of the current scoring system
– Wimp Lo (@WimpLoTweets) January 13, 2020
But with a new system that rewards more points for more powerful strikes, it’s hoped that it would place an emphasis back on a more engaging style of play. As an added bonus, it’s also expected that the new system will make the sport more exciting for longtime fans, and more accessible for newcomers. Seems like a win for everyone, really.
Personally, I hope Taekwondo goes full Tekken and people start dressing up like Eddy Gordo and King to really complement those health bars.