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Brian Karas wrote (concerning ITF/WTF history):
The first official organization for Taekwon do was the KTA (Korean Taekwon do Association). This was the organization first formed by the original kwans and the Korean government. This occurred in 1961, I believe. The name Taekwon do was of course, credited to General Choi.

I think this is the basis for the ITF's belief that they are "Tae Kwon Do" and the WTF is something else. (Whether or not any of us agree with that statement is a different issue! ;-)

Choi formed the ITF in 1967, as a competitor to the KTA.

I heard the ITF was a branch of the KTA (or vice-versa)... oh well.

He eventually established his world headquarters in Canada. He did so in an effort to make TKD a more international art/sport/style. He had fallen out of favor with the Korean government, because he sent a demo team to North Korea on a goodwill mission.

See my post for other possible reasons. As it turns out, ITF is strong in North Korea; I've seen the "Official ITF Forms Videotape" and all the people doing the forms are, apparently, North Korean 8th Dans.

There may have been other reasons for his fall from grace, but this was what put him over the edge. The WTF was formed in 1973 as a replacement to the KTA.

I thought the KTA was still around, as the South Korean branch of the WTF. My info on this is not completely reliable, though. ;-)

addition, the WTF is the organization that is officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. To compete in the Olympics, you have to be a member of the WTF.

I believe this is going to change. The story I hear is that when the IOC found out about all this TKD political stuff, and realized that the WTF had arranged the Olympic competitions so as to effectively exclude approx. half the TKD people in the world, they said "Nope, you're not going to do that." The upshot of this being, I think TKD is still a demo sport until 2000 - but it's out of the Olympics after that, unless the competition is open to all TKD groups.

In addition, if you are a US citizen, you also have to be a member of the USTF.

OK, here's a correction - minor typo, major politics. The American branch of the WTF is the United States Taekwondo Union (UST_U_, note the last letter). It is true that you must be a member of the USTU to compete in Olympic tournaments.

The UST_F_ (United States Taekwondo Federation) is a branch of the ITF under Master Chuck Seriff, based in Broomfield, Colorado. Originally intended to be _the_ American branch, it's now one of two, the other one being KATU (KoreAmerica Taekwondo Union) under Master K. S. Hwang (based in Manchester, Ct).

BTW, I live in Colorado (Master Seriff's back yard, so to speak) but I'm a member of KATU. This is causing no end of trouble, which will hopefully be resolved in April when we all meet with Gen. Choi.

As I understand things, the WTF puts a heavy emphasis on the sport aspect of TKD. The ITF seems to place more emphasis on the self defense aspect of TKD. I am not sure what philosophical differences separate the two organizations.

The WTF emphasizes the sport aspect because they're connected with the Olympics. The ITF's emphasis on self-defence I don't know about - it seems to me (from what I've seen) that the emphasis is on the _art_; correct execution of techniques, etc. Master Hwang is _very_ strict on this point - the forms should be done _this_ way, and none other.

Philosophical differences are hard to nail down. The few WTF schools I've ever been associated with seemed to have a strong philosophy about making money; but that's really just a conflict between me, my instructor, and the WTF people we worked with.

In addition, the WTF officially recognizes the Taeguek forms, while the ITF still uses the original forms that were developed by General Choi.

It would be nice if they could reconcile their differences, and have all TKD practitioners recongnized under one body, but I doubt if that will happen any time soon. This is not the time or place to get on a soapbox anyway. If anyone has anything to add to this, or if I have said anything in error, please let me know.

Master Hwang did an interview for TKD Times; I don't know exactly when, it was in the last year or two. He discussed this topic, and basically said, "We [ITF/KATU] would welcome the WTF with open arms, but they don't seem interested." (Of course, there are probably WTF masters saying the same thing about the ITF! ;-)

I don't think it's likely to happen anytime soon - or at all - but the IOC's reaction to all this - removing TKD from the Olympics until things get straightened out (I think the 2000 games are the last ones to have TKD in them) - may force some kind of reconciliation. We can hope, at least.

Dave Steffen                      No, his mind is not for rent
Dept. of Physics                  To any God or Government
Colorado State University         Always hopeful, yet discontent
steffend@lamar.colostate edu      He knows changes aren't permanent-
                                      But change is...
"Speak softly...
... and carry a black belt!"              -Neal Peart / RUSH