How Energy Scoring Fixes the Monkey Kick

Since our launch a few days ago, one of our most received questions was how our system deals with the Monkey Kick (as well as the other “cheating” kicks.)
The Monkey Kick has been a matter of great controversy in the competition world, known for being a manipulation of the PSS systems. The 20/20 Armor team has given a lot of thought on how the Monkey Kick has come to be, and what the role of the rules and PSS both are and should be in deterring ugly attacks and scoring strategies.

In our opinion, the weakness that the Monkey Kick really exploits comes mostly from current rules, and then how those rules interact with the PSS. I’ll explain.
Under the current rules, any attack to the body that’s over the threshold and doesn’t spin gets one point. This seems to make a certain sense at first glance, but let me demonstrate what this really implies in practice.

Let’s say that Chung is a “foot fencing” fighter. He likes to lift his leg and flick his foot on the protector with just enough vibration to trigger the PSS.
Now let’s say Hong has a strong round kick technique. He has trained for applying impact to the body with ferocity and speed. He tends to score with severely more force than is required by the PSS.

The current rules consider these two players and their techniques to be equal. We score them both for one point for being over the threshold. But we know that they are NOT equal. We, as humans, know to value one of these kicks over the other, even when the PSS settings and rules do not.

Now apply this idea specifically to the Monkey Kick. In an attempt to account for the range of kicks that have to count for a point, the weak and the strong and everything in between, the thresholds have to be set very low for the PSS. Most of us have found that even children can generally score on adult settings with current PSS setups. This low threshold combined with the ruleset offering the exact same point value are what make the Monkey Kick possible and even successful.

This is the real source of our frustration. We experience a major disconnect with the way we know fighting works.

So how do we give the scoring system, in both the rules and the PSS, the same set of values which humans apply when deciding whether or not we like a certain style of fighter?


  1. We judge each hit by its own merit. Humans know that stronger hits create more effect in the opponent. This is a fundamental rule of fighting that seems to have been forgotten. Let’s call this the Magnitude factor.
  2. We take into account the amount of time a fighter has to recover between taking blows. Fighters know that taking two hits in succession is far more damaging than taking a single hit, being allowed to recover, and then taking another blow. Let’s call this the Combo factor.

One of the reasons that people call the Monkey Kick ridiculous is because it cannot generate real power (Magnitude factor) and does not fit well into chains of hits (Combo factor). We, as humans, would call this kick “impractical” or “ineffective”, and Energy Scoring does not reward the use of ineffective kicks based on those two criteria. When you don’t reward it, the Monkey Kick fades out of use as a tactic, and taekwondo as a sport finds its basis in reality again. If someone finds a way to use a crescent kick styled technique to the body with the Magnitude factor and Combo factor, then you have created a new viable and practical kick, and we, again as humans, would respect it just like we would any other taekwondo kick.

This is how we repair that disconnect I mentioned earlier. We introduce sliding scale human values into the mix, instead of being confined to a detached and rigid point system.

Doesn’t it just make sense?