The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
The World Taekwondo Federation is the International Federation [IF] governing the sport of Taekwondo and is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations [ASOIF]. The WTF recognizes national Taekwondo governing bodies recognized by the NOC in the pertinent country, one in each country, as its members.
On January 17, 1971, Dr. Un Yong Kim (a shrewd businessman, not a martial arts master), who was serving as Deputy Chief of the Presidential Protective Forces, was elected president of the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA). He had been instrumental in organizing the building of an advanced Taekwondo training establishment in Seoul, Korea. On March 20, 1971, Korean President Park Chung Hee declared Taekwondo the national sport of Korea and allocated funds to build the "Kukkiwon," which would serve as the central gymnasium and world headquarters for Taekwondo. Construction began in 1971 and it was completed on November 30, 1972. The Kukkiwon became known as the "Mecca of world Taekwondo." On May 28, 1973, the first biennial World Taekwondo Championship was held at the Kukkiwon, with the participation of 19 countries. The success of this event proved that Taekwondo had been internationally recognized as a valid sport as well as being an extremely effective method of self-defense. The event started Taekwondo toward becoming a world sport.
During the meet, several KTA leaders including Chong Woo Lee, Won Kyu Um, and Nam Suk Lee called for establishment of a worldwide Taekwondo organization to help get Taekwondo into the Olympics. Representatives of the participating countries at the meet formed a new, worldwide organization to promote Taekwondo on an international level, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). They elected Dr. Un Yong Kim as president and the WTF absorbed the KTA.
General Choi was not included in this meeting. In 1972, before the completion of the Kukkiwon and before the formation of the WTF, General Choi had left Korea and moved his ITF to Canada.
One of the first things Un Yong Kim did as president of the WTF was to dissolve the WTF connection with Choi Hong Hi. Since then, all Taekwondo activities outside of Korea have been coordinated by the WTF, the only official organization recognized by the Korean government as the international regulating body for Taekwondo. Kim was instrumental in changing the direction of Taekwondo in the WTF from a martial art to a martial sport. He is also one of Korea's representatives to the International Olympic Committee.
The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
The World Taekwondo Federation is made up of Taekwondo national governing bodies (NGBs). The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) is the NGB for Taekwondo in the Republic of Korea. The United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) is the NGB for Taekwondo in the United States. Individuals may be affiliated with the WTF through their NGB, but individuals cannot join the WTF directly.
On January 8, 1977, nine of the largest kwans (Chung-Do-Kwan, Ji-Do-Kwan, Moo-Duk-Kwan, Chang-Moo-Kwan, Song-Moo-Kwan, Han-Moo-Kwan, Oh-Do-Kwan, Jung-Do-Kwan, and Kang-Duk-Won) recognized the Kukkiwon as the sole black belt promotional body for Taekwondo. Before this declaration, most practitioners valued their individual kwan certification more so than "official" certificates issued by the Kukkiwon or the KTA. By recognizing the Kukkiwon's ultimate promotional authority in Korea, the kwan heads voluntarily gave up much of their power and prestige. Also in 1977, the WTF replaced kwan names with serial numbers. The kwan serial numbers are as follows: (1) Song-Moo-Kwan, (2) Han-Moo-Kwan, (3) Chang-Moo-Kwan, (4) Moo-Duk-Kwan, (5) O-Do-Kwan, (6) Kang-Du-Kwan, (7) Jung-Do-kwan, (8) Ji-Do-Kwan, and (9) Chung-Do-Kwan.
Taekwondo is now one of the national sports of Korea and is included in all school grades and as a requisite for military training. It has become so much a sport in Korea that the WTF now comes under the control of the Korean Athletics Association and not the martial arts body, the Ki-Do-Hae.
Since the formation of the WTF as a rival to the ITF, Taekwondo has not been a unified sport. Since the WTF headquarters is located in Korea, Korea has given its support the development of WTF Taekwondo. In the 1980's struggle to determine who would govern Olympic Taekwondo, the WTF won.
Recent Historic Taekwondo Information
Olympic (or Sport) Taekwondo
In 1974, instructors in the United States, such as Ken Min, Dong Ja Yang, Mu Yong Lee, and others, worked for and attained the admission of Taekwondo into the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The newly established WTF technical standards were adopted by the AAU Taekwondo group.
On October 5, 1975, Taekwondo became an affiliate of the General Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF), an association of all international sports, both Olympic and non-Olympic, with direct ties to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). On April 9, 1976, the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) adopted Taekwondo as an official sport event.
In 1979, the WTF President, Kim-Un Yong, was elected chairperson of the World Federation of Non-Olympic Sports. Under the auspices of GAISF, Taekwondo was introduced to the IOC as a sport. On July 17, 1980, the WTF was granted recognition by the IOC at its 83rd General Session during the Moscow Olympics. On July 24, 1981, Taekwondo was one of the primary events in the World Games (non-Olympic events) held in Santa Clara, California.
On November 28, 1981, the United States AAU Taekwondo group changed its name to the National AAU Taekwondo Union of the Unites States. On February 5, 1982, Taekwondo was adopted as a demonstration sport for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games at the IOC Executive Board Meeting. The crowning achievement of Taekwondo as a sport came at the General Session of the IOC held in Berlin in May 1982 when Taekwondo was designated an official demonstration sport for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, and for the 25th Barcelona, Spain, Olympics, in 1992.
On September 9, 1984, the National AAU Taekwondo Union of the Unites States was renamed the United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) and was unanimously approved as a "Group A" member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Today, the USTU is a non-profit amateur sports organization that is the national governing body for Taekwondo, as well as the sole representative of the WTF in the United States.
On July 3, 1986, the First World Cup Taekwondo Championship was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On September 30, 1986, the Tenth Asian Games Taekwondo Tournament was held in Seoul with 17 participating nations. On November 29, 1986, the First World University Taekwondo Championship was held. On August 9, 1987, Taekwondo was included in the Tenth Pan-American Games held in Indianapolis, Indiana. On October 7, 1987, the First Women's World Taekwondo Championship was held in Barcelona, Spain.
On September 17-20, 1988, Taekwondo was a demonstration sport in the 24th Olympiad, with 192 players from 25 nations (male) and 16 nations (female). On August 14-17, 1991, Taekwondo was included in the 11th Pan-American Games held in Havana, Cuba. On August 3-5, 1992, Taekwondo was a demonstration sport in the 25th Olympiad, in Barcelona, Spain.
Taekwondo has consolidated its position in world sports faster than any other martial art sport. It is contested in the World and Women's World Championships, World Cup Taekwondo, CISM Taekwondo Championships, and in the FISU World University Championships. It is now played as an official medal sport in most international multi-sport games such as World Games, Pan American Games, All Africa Games, Southeast Asian Games, and Central American Games. With the announcement that Taekwondo would be a full medal Olympic sport in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Taekwondo gained worldwide recognition as a sport.
The now obsolete United States Taekwondo Union (USTU) "sport logo" appears below followed by the new Official USA Taekwondo (USAT) logo.
Sport vs. Traditional Taekwondo
The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) under the direction General Choi Hong Hi developed along different lines than the WTF. The ITF emphasized traditional Taekwondo while the WTF led in changing Taekwondo into a worldwide sport.
However, it is a misunderstanding to assume that the WTF does not incorporate traditional Taekwondo. They may emphasize sport collectively but many within the organization have practiced as well as begun a resurgence of the traditional aspects.
Before we explore further the relationship between traditions vs. sport Taekwondo we must first understand about Park's Martial Arts (PMA) position and role in this issue.
Grand Master Park made a decision many years ago while still living in Korea to follow the recognized Taekwondo of his birth Nation, Korea. However, this does not mean that he ceased to practice traditional taekwondo. On the contrary, Park's Martial Arts has always taught and continues to teach Traditional Taekwondo based on the synthesis of the WTF and Chang Moo Kwan approaches.
At PMA, sport Taekwondo is seen as an "option" for those who may find interest in pursuing such a venue. For these persons PMA H.Q. has a special competition team known as the Eagles which is designed to fulfill any competitive needs.
PMA recognizes that life is about diversity and freedom to choose according to how you, the individual, sees fit. Therefore, PMA recognizes the social "value" in both sport and tradition. Each has its place and each can be a stepping stone into a fulfilling way-of-life.
That said, let us now take a look at some of the differences between traditional and sport Taekwondo:
Sport Taekwondo stresses that the purpose of performing a technique properly is so you may score more points than your opponent in competition, and thus win. Therefore, it is possible to achieve this purpose during sparring. Sport Taekwondo gives value to the factors of power, accuracy, and strategy, and gives higher value to the use of more difficult techniques. It stresses that to execute a proper technique, you must have a resisting opponent. Because of the rules of sport sparring, it is possible to predict the actions of your opponent and to technically and psychologically manipulate and dominate your opponent.
Traditional Taekwondo stresses that the purpose of performing a technique properly is so it may be used to strike with enough force to disable or possibly kill an opponent-the philosophy of "one strike, one kill." This is why traditionalists say they cannot use their techniques in contact competition, thus they cannot achieve this purpose during sparring. Instead, breaking is used to test the "lethality" of techniques.
Disagreements about what Taekwondo should become, led to a split between traditional Taekwondo (the martial art) and the new competitive Taekwondo (sport). Traditional Taekwondo is based almost entirely on Japanese principles, concepts, and techniques. Its four core training methods, patterns (poomse or hyung), breaking (kyukpa), sparring (kyorugi), and self-defense techniques (hoshinsul), are Japanese in origin. Sport Taekwondo did not develop the philosophies and concepts needed to supplant those that traditional Taekwondo adopted from karate, so it is still perceived as a subset of the original Taekwondo.
Other styles of "Taekwondo"
After the WTF concentrated more on the sport form of Taekwondo, Korean instructors began emphasizing competition techniques rather than traditional fighting techniques. For example, touch block replaced power blocks in sparring.
Korean based Taekwondo Groups
International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), Gen. Choi Hong Hi
American based Taekwondo Groups
As Taekwondo continued to grow in the United States, Taekwondo instructors wanted independence from foreign governing organizations. Instructors began grouping themselves and forming American based Taekwondo organizations. One of the first is the American Taekwondo Association (ATA). Others include, International Taekwondo Alliance (ITA), Taekwondo America (TA), American Korean Taekwondo Association (AKTA), United States Taekwondo Federation (USTF)
Although the numerous Taekwondo organizations would seem to make choosing a Taekwondo dojang complicated, especially for prospective students, things are not as bad as they seem. Compared to most martial arts, Taekwondo is remarkably unified and well-structured. In roughly the same amount of time it took Taekkyon to become Taekwondo and split into two styles, Shaolin Kung-fu evolved into as many as 1,500 different styles. Students should research the different organizations and choose one that best fits their needs.
Grand Master Park teaches us that it is important to choose quality martial arts. But it is equally important, if not more so, to choose a good martial arts Master.
As of 2005 the United States Taekwondo Union is no longer the Official Governing body of the World Taekwondo Federation. The new governing body is U.S.A. Taekwondo www.usa-taekwondo.us/