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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org edu He knows changes aren't permanent- But change is... "Speak softly... ... and carry a black belt!" -Neal Peart / RUSH