Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Please... Stop with the WTF VS ITF Nonsense!

Ok this is a "rant" and not a serious blog post/ article. You have been warned!

I have been Reading up on Taekwondo/ Tae Kwon Do/ Taekwon-Do (insert Your prefered spelling here) and one thing that I have come to hate these last few weeks is the eternal: "WTF is sport, ITF is Martial Art!"/ "WTF = Sport"/ "WTF = Only sport and leg fencing" (insert similar statement here). More often than not these statements comes from People who Train either under one of the ITF organisations or someone training in an independent Dojang. This is only my personal opinion and as this is a rant everything I say will not be pure facts just my own observations these last few weeks.

What bugs me With the statements above is not the fact that WTF = Sport because it really is:-) It is the fact that all Kukki Taekwondo students are told over and over and over again that they practise only sport and that ITF is what really is a Martial Art. I hope as many ITFèrs as possible will read this and be a little more enlightened on this subject because they are all doing the same mistake.

What they are doing is stating the obvious: WTF = Sport and that is OK but the mistake they are doing is to compare WTF With ITF as organisations. I hate to break it to you but WTF is PURELY A SPORTING ORGANISATION AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MARTIAL ART OF KUKKIWON! It is an organisation that regulates sport competitions, rules etc and it only recognizes the ranks that is registered in the Kukkiwon. But it has nothing to do With ranking requirements, what kind of syllabus Your Dojang has or anything. The Kukkiwon has a minimum syllabus requirement that you teach the Taegeuk and black belt forms and the techniques are to be excecuted in the Kukkiwon standard but that is pretty much it. Your Dojang has a lot more freedom to include stuff in their syllabus than many believe and they frequently do. Many Kukkiwon Affiliated Dojang`s actually teach Taekwondo as a martial art (allthough when it comes to free sparring many revert to the WTF rules). They teach Ho Sin Sul just like the ITF does, Formal 3, 2, 1 step sparring, and breaking just like ITF does. A Kukkiwon Affiliated Dojang can be just as much a traditional martial arts as any ITF Dojang can be.

ITF as an organisation is different to WTF in that ITF is not purely a sporting organisation. Yes they do regulate sport rules and competitions for their Dojang`s but they also refine or keep and teach the syllabus of all their Schools (forms, standard way of moving, self defense requirements etc). So while the ITF is actually a pretty well rounded organisation that governs all aspects of its martial art Taekwon-Do, WTF on the other hand is a sport specific organisation that recognizes the ranks held in Kukkiwon and Kukkiwon takes care of the traditional martial arts side of Things.

Comparing WTF With ITF is therefore like comparing Apples to Oranges. Both are considered "fruit" but which is the best Orange? The Orange is because Apples are not Oranges (not last time I checked anyway). What will happen if (I would rather say "when") the WTF starts recognizing ranks held in different organisations like for instance the ITF held ranks? Will suddenly the ITF become "ITF=SPORT" too? Personally I believe it is just a matter of time before the WTF openes up its competitions to other organisations, but in the meantime I hope that People can stop stating the obvious, and stop making the mistake of saying all Dojang that can compete within WTF tournaments are sport and not martial art no matter if the student chooses to compete or not.

This is simply a "rant" from me so you can take it anyway you want. I have not tried to be political correct or even truthfull. It is simply me airing out my frustrations that have buildt up these last few weeks and let me tell you: It did goooood:-)

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  1. Nice rant, sir! :) As someone who's not affiliated with WTF or ITF (independent and without agenda), I couldn't agree with you more.

  2. Greetings from Greece and congratulations for your excellent blog.I'm an ITF TKD practitioner although i begun with WTF/Kukki TKD.I agree completely with your article.But in my opinion the source of this misunderstanding lies in the WTF/Kukki dojangs.Most of them practice mainly(up to 90% of training in some dojangs)sport TKD.So for most of people(not only ITF practitioners)it goes like this:WTF=Kukki=sport.
    By the way many(not to say most of them) ITF dojangs practice mainly sport TKD as well.
    This ITF vs WTF thing is stupid and must stop.

    1. Thanks for Your input. It is strange how People gets different experiences. You say 90% of WTF/Kukki Taekwondo practise sport. In my city there are about 10 different Dojang`s all compete in the WTF if they want to compete but at the same time all follow the Kukkiwon syllabus (most have a lot of extra material that Kukki syllabus does not cover). Out of these 10 Dojang only 1 has a lot of focus on sport and even that Dojang teach a well rounded syllabus and lets the ones who want to compete practise extra training sessions that focus on competition. But I have been to other areas where all the Dojang I encountered were heavily sport oriented. I Guess it all comes Down to the instructors of the different Dojangs:-)

    2. Well,here in Greece the "sportification"of martial arts is a problem.It's not a WTF/Kukki or ITF problem.It's a problem for many martial arts.Sports bring medals,medals bring students,students bring money for the school.There are okinawan karate schools that practice only sport karate.Forms(kata,hyung,poomsae,tul)are practicing as simple movement copying.No analysis or self-defence applications.In Kukki TKD,Olympics just making it worse.My Hapkido teacher,teaches TKD self defence oriented.But he's one out of ten I know.ITF goes about two out of ten.Or one and a half!


  3. Not sure about the percentages, but I'm sure there are more McDojo's around now there there were 20 years ago that just practice sport oriented TKD (bot ITF and WTF). The Olympics didn't help.

    I started in 1987 with a Master who taught Korean Marines and whilst he was affiliated with the Kukkiwon and the WTF, his syllabus was geared towards self protection. Sparring was hard and about knocking out your opponent, Ho Sin Sul syllabuses were created by him for both the Dan and Gup Belts. SD Scenarios and he even taught the pulling hand principle. He was Bad Ass.

    ITF practioners want to talk "Leg Fencing". Okay. Let me refer them to ITF "Bal Matsogi" as desribed in General Choi's Encylopedia of TKD volume 5 page 259. It is based on Taekkyon and Soo Bak he writes and the concepts describe look a lot like the WTF exercises used to counter kicks during sparring class. It is a great humbling section for most people ignorant of ITF TKD "Leg Fencing".

    This topic is on the same level as "Style X is better than Style Y". It is childish, egotistical and does not help the art move forward. It keeps us from discovering new and lost techniques and frustrates me to no end.

    Now that I am done, I realize I am not even mad. Just late for class. :D

    In honor of bumping into another Greek person on this blog:

    Master Vasilis Alexandris - ITF Taekwon-Do Self-defence class

    I don't know what people think of him, but I think he's pretty awesome.

    - Jerry

    1. Now thats what I am talking about:-) Loved the Clip:-)

  4. Just wanted to clarify:

    1) It all depends on the Master and the School
    2) Whilst this topic may be "immature". The fact that some of us approach it in a more "mature" manner does positively contribute to the art.

  5. 1. In my personal experience I have never had any problem with other martial arts students except ITF people, and a few kung fu poeple. But most often it is ITF people who attack Kukki-TKD and the WTF and make these bogus claims. They start the fights because they follow Choi's grievance towards what the KTA did and it was spread through his art much like a cult instills certain ideas in the heads of its members.

    2. ITF, whichever of the 4 (yes there are basically 4 groups, not 3, I consider the Global Taekwondo federation another ITF offshoot), all govern their people with an iron fist in every aspect of their style and do not allow for progression or free ideas for concepts. The Modern History of TKD even mention thats the KTA leaders did not believe Taekwondo would progress under Choi so they asked him to leave.

    3. ITF is half martial art and half sport. Kukki-TKD is full martial art and 0 sport. Which is a better group? Full martial arts or a half martial arts organization? WTF is the 100% sport organization that Kukkiwon people, if they want to, can participate in. ITF claims it is not a sport but they run all kinds of tournaments all over the world with specific rules. Also, WTF IS IN FACT FULL CONTACT! Whether any ITFer wants to get a clue or not, WTF is full contact and allows knockouts (in fact knocking someone out is the main goal and totally encouraged which makes WTF sparring dangerous and something to prepare for seriously and is one reason why it is an olympic sport because it requires elite olympic athletes to fight in it). ITF is officially light contact as stated in their official rules documents you can find on google. Not one time did I ever find any ITF stating they allow full contact. Knockouts are discouraged and seen as dishonorable and worthy of a disqualification. Choi ALWAYS emphasized touch contact sport karate style sparring. It was the KTA, mostly by the Jidokwan that full-hard-contact was emphasized. Choi would never have went this direction and he never did. Only a few fringe ITF groups have held full contact tournaments which turns into kickboxing with limited punching styles allowed (boring). ITF also holds forms tournaments (tul tournaments). ITF also does wild demos that are not realistic just like the Kukkiwon demo team and WTF teams.
    ITF is notorious for front leg foot fencing kicking. It is totally delusional to state WTF is foot fencing. ITF is the foot fencing TKD style which copies sport karate. Its about tagging for a light touch point. WTF has a lot of front leg kicks too but it has to make hard contact and most often they do more than foot fencing, all though due to the eletronic scoring and new rules since the late 90's a lot of front leg kicks are thrown to pop one on the chest gear for a point which is bad. But ITF is worse in this aspect.

    4. There are many many many ITF mcdojangs. just because someone does ITF does not mean their gym is a real fighters gym. There are many Kukki-TKD mcdojangs, but almost every ITF gym I have seen is a mcdojang as well. They just pretend they are not.

    1. 5. There is no North Korean TKD. Just because Choi went to North Korea does not mean the TK-Do style is North korean. Just becuase the only TKD NK accepts is ITF does not mean its NK TKD. ITF was started by a Korean who formed his tul in Malaysia, then going to North Korea promoting ITF then setting up shop in Canada only to move it to Austria. Its not truthfully Korean Taekwondo in the respect that it was formed in Korea and culturally in Korea as the accepted standard. ITF is not the spirit of the south koreans, Kukkiwon is and always will be. That is truthfully Korean Taekwondo.
      Many ITFers say they train in Korean Taekwondo as if Kukkiwon is not Korean taekwondo and many claim they do traditional Taekwondo as if Kukkiwon is not traditional Taekwondo. These terms are just used to fool people into thinking ITF is elite somehow.

      I have no problem with individual ITF people who train and are good at self defense. I only have a problem with their organization itself as well as Choi and his politics supporting the north korean communist regime.

      ITF people are the ones who bash the Kukkiwon more than anyone else. Many lesser and independent organizations are also offshoots of ITF (because the ITF seems to have plenty of infighting) who also criticize the WTF and Kukkiwon. They smply do it because they have an inferiorirty complex, do not get prestigious internationally accepted black belt ranks, and are taught to hate the WTF through a history of hate going back to Choi. ITF is run like a cult and spread like a cult. It will probably forever be an annoyance to Kukki-Taekwondo stylists and its best just to ignore them. Unless somehow the ITF folds bc of all the infighting. I do not at all think the WTF should ever allow anyone but Kukkiwon style to compete in their tournaments.

      Kukkiwon and WTF also allow freedom. You can be ITF or another affiliation as long as you get a black belt rank in the Kukkiwon to compete. ITF does not allow this much at all. basically you have to trade over to the ITF and submit to their way totally. Nobody cares about ITF tournaments but ITF, but EVERYONE cares about the Olympics...whenever the summer olympics comes on I constantly see facebook pages of random Taekwondo gyms who practice chang hon forms talking about how great it is to watch the Taekwondo event as if the Olympic TKD represents their style as well (it doesnt).

    2. One last thing I have even seen ITF people claim WTF is light contact and just a sport. What the hell?? WTF is full contact!!! Also there are alot of kukkiwon gyms that teach serious fighting and self defense, in fact Kukkiwon is in the military in Korea. People also call ITF TKD military TKD as if Kukkiwon is not. That is nonsense. ITF was never accepted in the military of Korea, but yes the Oh Do Kwan (which always was involved in unification with KTA) was run by General Choi because of the Chung Do kwan giving permission, but once Choi was asked to step down from it his ITF was a new thing and not in the military. but yes some military members at the time had ITF rank and there was crossover. but KTA and Kukkiwon is what is in the military and truly the Military TKD if you want to be technical. ITF is a civilian organization and always has been. But then, if you also want to be technical you could say ITF is accepted by North Korea in their military. okay i can give them that, but screw north korea and their human rights violations and evil, at kleast Kukkiwon is used for good and also in special forces in Korea and adapted and modified and more for serious fighting.

      This entire ITF attacking KKW people was started bu the ITFers. barely any of them are even Koreans, just foreigners all over the internet and locally who talk crap about KKW and WTF out of ignorance and brainwashing. I am so sick of the nonsense and revisionist choi history. They propagandize all of TKD history to make Choi look like a perfect god. They need a reality check.

      ok my rant is done and its more anti-diplomatic than you but that is who I am and i dont care. lol thanks for reading if you did!

    3. Oh I read it allright :-) Thanks for commenting :-)

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