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ITF future after March 8th 2013 March 10, 2013

Posted by taekwondofuture in Uncategorized.

Just went through this interesting communication on Facebook. Hope this text is not copyrighted or can create problems to the author. If so, please advice to remove it from this blog:


ITF future



Tectonic changes are obviously happening on the world ITF scene and none of the organizations or people are managing them.


On the one hand ITF keeps flourishing and on the other hand it keeps atomizing. When our founder Gen Choi died, the only cohesive ITF factor was gone.


Martial art orientation of most ITF clubs also contributes to atomization. If one master has enough followers, he does not have any real, material reason not to be his own boss and deal only with martial art activities.


Atomizing of ITF into small fractions is not acceptable to those who are more oriented towards sport. They seek for cooperation, bigger organizations, because if ITF organization is not big enough, then these competitions without actual competing have no meaning.


This is where we come to the key problem. What ITF Taekwon-Do really is. Mainly sport or mainly martial art. Many, perhaps even majority of ITF organizations will say that we are primarily martial art. Big minority will define as a sport. Distinction is quite precise with ITF under the presidency of Prof Chang: 70% we are martial art and 30% sport.


On the other hand there is WTF. They define themselves as 100% sport organization. They mention martial art only as history, roots of Taekwon-Do.


Thanks to that 100% sport orientation WTF has developed o respectable sport, IOC member, member of Sport Accord and all other international sport associations. Simply, in a modern world on official, institutional level Taekwon-Do sport represents World Taekwon-Do Federation and there are no indications that will change in the future. And it cannot change, because the base is Sport Accord membership. Rules of Sport Accord can be reduced to ban admitting new organizations which would endanger exclusivity of existing members. In practice it comes down to WTF needs to give its consent for ITF admission. WTF will never give such consent. Other sport organizations also don’t want emancipation of one sport discipline while sport federation of that sport exists. The reason is because that would be a precedent for many disciplines who wish emancipation.


In conclusion, ITF will never be recognized by Sport Accord, and consequently not by other international federations. We shouldn’t waste any more time or hope here. It simply is reality of international sport system.


The question is whether it would be fair to equalize someone who only practices sport with 30% of its power with one of two biggest sport organizations in the world – WTF which is 100% sport.


Entire world Taekwon-Do community and TKD activists should be satisfied and proud that Taekwon-Do is nowadays recognized as a sport, it has Olympic status and that it is, next to football, the biggest organization in the world.


We shouldn’t oppose or fight that fact, we should support it.  


WTF, on the other hand, with its membership in all international sport associations and with its Olympic experience should naturally gravitate towards universality. WTF has historical mission to gather, organize and represent entire Taekwon-Do sport in the world.


It is a well known fact that at least two ITF federations are organizing respectable world competing system and they have been doing so uniquely and regularly since 1974 (1st World championship, Montreal, Canada) and separately and regularly since 2002.


These organized competing systems with combat rules, according to many, are even more attractive than WTF rules, represent part of entire sport TKD world and if WTF wants to be a universal sport Taekwon-Do discipline, it has the right and duty to include the entire sport TKD.


ITF and WTF combat rules have been developing separately since 1973. Both rules have their high quality and they should be kept.


Therefore, if we know WTF is 100% sport organization and ITF 70% martial art organization, then there is no actual competition between the two organizations. These federations in the biggest part do not cover the same activity.


The solution of world TKD problem which lasts for 40 years is relatively simple if we only and entirely follow interests of Taekwon-Do.


Entire world sport TKD should be organized within internationally recognized sport Taekwon-Do organization and that is WTF.


Conclusively, another sport discipline, which we today call ITF sparring, should be added to WTF. Since WTF organizes competitions in free patterns, ITF sportsmen can directly join that discipline.

ITF organizations which perform sport Taekwon-Do become members of WTF NGB.


With joined effort from ITF and WTF officials we would try to expand the Olympic program for one more discipline – ITF sparring.


Details about usage of ITF doboks in ITF sparring, training of umpires, competition committee members and everything else important for functioning of the new discipline, would be set in an agreement between ITF and WTF.


ITF still remains organization which performs martial art 100% (issuance of black belts, seminars, exams etc.). Organizations wishing to keep both their sport and martial art activity will have membership in WTF sport federation and in ITF martial art federation.


Question of several ITF’s who perform martial art could be solved with an agreement between all ITFs, WTF and Kukiwon. This agreement would regulate transition of ITF athletes to WTF, but it would also define who is recognized as a world martial art organization.


In such system there would be no need for unification of different ITF organizations, but for acknowledgement of those who have legitimacy and quality so their learning and issued belts must be accepted. The criteria remains to be determined but size, worldwide spread and presence of original and recognized Grand Masters are very important. It is understandable that self promoting as a „Grand Master“ should not be recognized. Direct relation from Gen Choi until today must be determined.


Which steps should be taken to solve a 40 year old problem?


It is quite simply for people with good will.



Following steps would be necessary:


1. WTF founds new combat discipline and votes out current ITF sparring rules as their own.


2. WTF and ITF (both), Seoul HQ make agreements on regulation of TKD:

–          ITF will be recognized as a part of entire Taekwon-Do Legacy

–          ITF and other organizations as legitimate heirs of the Korean martial art

–          WTF as the only sport Taekwon-Do organization in the world

–          right to be a member of sport (WTF) and martial art (ITF) organization at the same time


All of this is achievable legally, technically and sportily. It all depends on which interest will overcome, general TKD interests or some other.


It is up to us, TKD instructors, umpires, fighters and officials to decide.



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