Hmmmm.... ITF to WTF

Damian Mavis

Master Black Belt
Mar 21, 2002
Reaction score
Bangkok, Thailand
Hi TKD people, I have no one else to talk to about this yet since I don't want my students to know until anything is definate so feel like sharing here.

For those of you that don't know I am in Thailand and have been for almost 3 months now and will be going back to Canada in 9 days. I run an ITF school in Canada but have gotten a job offer here to teach a WTF branch in Bangkok. The one school this Master runs already is EXTREMELY successful and he wants to branch out and wants me to run one...... honestly the competition back home is so stiff that I would have to move anyway if I ever wanted to run a successful school. If I am going to move it might as well be to Thailand. I've spent 8 years teaching for next to nothing and running my school in such an anti-business like way that at this point I wouldn't mind keeping my ideals but try to be successful for once. For those of you wondering, yes my school is succesful in the "good students and really helping people" sense but I have lived like a pauper long enough and am getting too old to teach for such a low rate forever. Honestly if people actually appreciated my lower rates I might keep it the way it is but people often look at my rate and then go right down the street to the school that charges 4 times my rate just because "more expensive means better right?" I love Thailand and even before I got the job offer I was thinking of moving here to open an ITF school (and I might still do that instead) but the WTF branch would be a sure thing. Whatever I do I know I will be happy teaching TKD because that is what I love to do. Doesn't matter to me what federation I would teach under really, but if I can be affiliated with both than I will do that.

If I do move I have assistant instructors (all black belts of various degrees) that can take over the branches in Canada so I'm not too worried about that.

Anyway, just needed to talk to some anonymous people since I don't want to talk to anyone back home about this yet.

Damian Mavis
Honour TKD
Hiya Damian,

Follow your heart. Does this move "feel right?" Does the new dojang "feel like home?" You have 9 days to think about it.

As far as the cheap tuition goes, my TKD school is expensive. And it's much to be desired. Some people do think if they pay more they get more. But it's definitely not the case in my dojang. They usually find out leave anyways.

I wish you the best on whatever you deside to do :)
Follow your heart!!I teach in Denmark, and the money earned here is 0,00 $ !!We have a special club siciety in DK which is unique and almost noone earns lots of money here, no matter how high the rank(I`m 5th dan WTF)
Get going, and if you can find a living in Thailand then do it.Maybe you can be one of the primus motors in getting Thailand good going on the international scene, but only do it if you FEEL for it.
The weather and the girls are good in Thailand, and it is not expensive to live there.You might never get such an offer again and when returning home it will be known that you have been instructor overseas!

Lars Bo Berg
For you Damian, I wouldn't think that the shift from ITF to WTF would be that big a deal. It sounds like you've got the experience and training to successfully teach TKD for both combative and sportive purposes, no matter what organization you're in.

So you really have been loving Thailand that much, huh? I hope you have good fortune in whatever you choose do. :asian:
Hi Damian,

I run a "freestyled" TKD school in Poland. Most students here are WTF based when it comes to patterns and techniques, but we really prefer ITF/Kickboxing type sparring. But I also have a very succesful branch in my school which is purely ITF styled (even if still ITF-independent ;) ) and exchanging ideas with the instructor, who came to my school as 1st Kup and passed his Black Belt test in our group, is just great. As I always say, our "combined" experience is not simply 1+1...:D

So, go ahead with your new challenge, and enjoy every minute of it!

Best regards,

Wow! I think if you can, come back to North America for a month or so and view Thailand again from the comfort of home before deciding/ What a fascinating option to have!

Will you have a solid contract at the new school or might you be "expendable" (say, when a local student reaches the right rank).
Oh yes I am coming back to Canada for at least 10 months before anything permanent happens. I will make my decision over the next month or so but I keep acting like I pretty much already decided to do it so unless something major occurs to me in Canada I think it's probably going to happen.

He has other people he could use to run branches but he doesn't think they can do it or have much faith in them. I know that sounds awful but he seems to really know what he is doing and knows the formula for success in Thailand. He really likes me for a bunch of things that he feels will gaurantee a successful school. Some of the things are obvious but the culture is a little different here so you would be surprised what he considers factors to make a good school. I'm very impressed with what he is doing so trust and believe he knows what he is talking about.

Damian Mavis
Honour TKD
Thailand would probabily be better for you since there are so many crazy Canadian business regulations.
Be very, very, very sure of your feelings. But, I feel I must add a CAUTION. Be mindful of the mindset of the orient, "The end justifies the means". Don't underestimate the fact that you could be throwing away something positive (Your own school), for the promise of something that belongs to another. There are many old sayings like "The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence", "You never know what you've got until you lose it", etc.

Remember, you will be an outsider. You may not get negitive reactions rightaway, but given time it will more than likely rear it's ugly head. There comes a point in time in every man's life, when he must step back from desire and embrace stability. Age and responsibilities are determining factors. I wish you well with whatever choice you choose to make
Yes the business regulations in Canada are actually a major reason for wanting to leave... trying to be successful in Canada is kind of a joke.

Thankyou very much Disco for your warning.

Damian Mavis
Honour TKD
Since you're an ITF practitioner and the offer is to teach in a WTF affiliated school wouldn't you have to be certified by the Kukkiwon? What would be the process for that? I know that the bottom line is that Taekwondo is still Taekwondo irrespective of affiliations, organizations or politics, but, small details such as our WTF poomse vs ITF Hyungs are different and there are so many to learn. Wouldn't they expect you to teach completely from the WTF's prospective?

In any eveny, from reading your profile I see that you are still a young man. So now, IMO, would be the time to do what you long to do. Teach our Art in the Orient. I wish you the best in whatever you decide to do, good luck Mr. Mavis... :asian:
Getting certified by the Kukkiwon isn't a problem and I've already learned alot of WTF curriculum and will continue to learn it all. Alot of things that aren't already exactly the same are so similar there really isn't any new learning involved, just modification.

My instructor I came up under was WTF, then independant, then ITF, then GTF and now that I'm no longer with him I hear he is independant again. (not because of me) So I've been trained in various ways and this change wouldn't be too big for me. Did I mention my instrucotr took Kung Fu for 8 years before he started his TKD training? haha after a while you figure out what is from what style but at first I thought everything was just a single entity called Tae Kwon Do!

The guy who wants me to run a school for him is hoping I can remain ITF affiliated and WTF affiliated. In the past this would have been a problem but under Master Choi I don't think this will cause any problems.

Thanks for calling me a young man.... I'm going to be 30 in 2 months so am feeling very old.... especially with my fight scheduled tomorrow night and my opponent is going to be younger and fitter.....

Damian Mavis
Honour TKD

Congrats on your opportunity! Please consider finding a good business attorney that you can trust and cover yourself completely. I am going through an interesting experience, presently, involving my GM. It involves breach of contract, fraud and bankruptcy. I had to put a stop to a man I once trusted like no other. My situation is not yours, but I have great respect for you and the short bit of time we all have on this planet. I am coming out on top, but I must admit some of it is dumb luck. Agendas change as do people we trust. Please consider my suggestion if you have not thought of legal backup yet.

Best wishes,
white belt
Just for devil advocate purpose
What about your school? What will happen to it? Do you have any students who would be capable of taking it over so that the other students still have a place to train at?

Wonderful opportunity to have though. Good luck with your decision and whichever path you take.
Yes of course, I wouldn't even consider it if I didn't have several very capable second degree black belts to take over for me. I have been grooming them to teach for years now and they are actually the ones teaching my classes for me right now while I'm here.

Damian Mavis
Honour TKD

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