What is the Kukkiwon?

Miles

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In a recent thread there was some discussion about the differences between the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) and the Kukkiwon (KKW). It might be interesting to explore what people's perceptions of the KKW are.

The KKW is a building ("won" literally means "building") which houses the central administrative offices of Taekwondo (please, not trying to flame anyone else's style, I am only referencing Kukki-TKD). The Kukkiwon is the "World Taekwondo Headquarters." In many pictures, it is on top of a high hill. Today, that area of Seoul-Kangnam is very urban-lots of hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. If you didn't know where to look, you could very easily not locate Kukkiwon-gil-the uphill road to KKW.

KKW was built specifically to train instructors, develop and refine techniques, and issue dan ranking (KKW is not concerned with guep ranks). KKW rank is used by the WTF in international competitions as a minimum requirement.

There are 3 classes of instructors training courses. The lowest class is the 3rd class. This is for instructors who are ranked 4th and 5th dan. The Course is 40hrs and the overall objective is to standardize basic movements/poomsae, teach instructors what a positive impact they can have on their students, and to teach them how to teach. Anyone with at least a 1st dan can take the course, they are just not certified as an instructor until they've attained 4th dan.

In order to open a TKD school in South Korea, you need to have at least a 3rd class instructor license. To date, there have been numerous 3rd class instructor courses for Korean instructors, but only 11 for "Foreigners" (i.e. non-Koreans). I was priveleged to attend the 10th Foreign Instructor Course.

The 2nd class instructor course is for 6th and 7th dans who have already completed the 3rd class course. The first 2nd Class course for non-Koreans was just held 2 weeks ago.

The 1st class instructor course is for 8th and 9th dans who have completed the 2nd class course. So you can see even in the home of TKD, being an 8th or 9th dan is not the end of one's journey, there is a course to teach them how to be better administrators.

The KKW issues standardized dan ranks. Well, the idea is that it is supposed to be standardized. There are requirements for 1st dan, 2nd dan, etc. which are minimums. An instructor can require more from his/her students, but should not require less. The universal practice of TKD has lead to instructors who have altered basic motions/poomsae. The KKW seeks to standarize TKD.

TKD is unique in that there is a "standardized" way of performing and a unified dan rank. The goal of the founders of TKD were to put aside their own egos/fiefdoms/schools for the betterment of all. The primary source of revenue for most of the Kwans/schools was the shimsa or dan testing fees. When the Kwans agreed to recognize KKW rank as the standard, they essentially sacrificed their income for the betterment of TKD.

My experience at KKW was overwhelmingly positive. The instructors, support staff, interpreters, etc. were extremely accomodating. TKD is a source of national pride in Korea-it is their gift to the world. I would highly recommend anyone who has the opportunity to take a course at KKW to do so.
 

TigerWoman

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So if a master, 4th+ has a genuine Kukkiwon certificate stating such but has not completed any Kukkiwon course, is an American, does he have the credentials then to teach, have his own school, and issue recommendation for students to get Kukkiwon certification, but not in Korea? TW
 
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Miles

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TigerWoman said:
So if a master, 4th+ has a genuine Kukkiwon certificate stating such but has not completed any Kukkiwon course, is an American, does he have the credentials then to teach, have his own school, and issue recommendation for students to get Kukkiwon certification, but not in Korea? TW
TW, let's use the term "instructor", shall we? "Master" seems so haughty.:)

Yes, in the US (though not everywhere) a KKW 4th dan holder can recommend a student get their KKW certification. Successful completion of the Instructor Course is not required at this point.

Miles
 

TigerWoman

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Miles said:
TW, let's use the term "instructor", shall we? "Master" seems so haughty.:)

Haughty. Yes, I agree with that. I used to sort of argue that point with my "instructor". That the connotation of master in the US, is one like master of the slaves, or Master Thomas, an old address of the very young and affluent. Not even the masters in education want to be addressed as master until they get a Ph.d and then boy, do they want that appended then. But my instructor wants to be called master and that has been drummed into me. Actually now he is a 6th dan.

But, I as recently as six months ago, got redressed for not emailing with the term Dear Master______. Every once in a while, we get a lecture in class about that. He wants us to bow to him when we first see him. No, I don't do that. I bow to him in class and that's it. And I address him as Sir to get around the Master ______. He has come to accept that and alot of students call him that also. "Sir" said this. I accept it as a rank title in TKD, not a master of the universe title. As far as being my instructor, he is rarely. He is the conductor of the class usually. Sorry for getting off topic.

Thank you for your reply, Miles, just wondered about that how it stood with Kukkiwon. TW
 

terryl965

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The kukkiwon is are govening body of TKD, it is not the all in mighty that once was. The Kwon's where able to set aside ego's if only for a few years to help promote the sport aspect of tkd, I'm Kukkiwon certified but I would love to go and take there course for instructors. As we are instructor we must remember they are a organization with there own agenda and that is sport for the most part, WTF is all about the sport and ITF is just another group with there own agenda. My personal beliefs are train, train hard and maybe one day we can touch someone life and make a difference in there life as TKD has done for me.

Terry Lee Stoker
 
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Andy Cap

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Sorry for the resurrection of this thread, but it was a great post. I am trying to learn more abou the Kukkiwon and the relationship to WTF. I know for example that if you win a medal you can skip a rank in the Kukkiwon. Som this tells me that WTF competitions have some weight with Kukkiwon. I am also curious as to who the Kukkiwon judges are, or who the people are that sit on the testing boards? Are they completely non affiliated?

Oh and as fat as the testing fees all going to the Kukiwon - I know the WTF does collect a fee for dan testing.
 

Ronin Moose

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MILES: Great post! Very interesting that you had the priveledge to attend this and let us know about it from an insider's point of view. Thanks for sharing your experience.
 

TX_BB

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Andy Cap said:
I know for example that if you win a medal you can skip a rank in the Kukkiwon. Som this tells me that WTF competitions have some weight with Kukkiwon.

Yes, Winning the Olympics or the World Championships can advance you once in your life, but that's pretty rare air.

Andy Cap said:
Oh and as fat as the testing fees all going to the Kukiwon - I know the WTF does collect a fee for dan testing.
The testing Fee's aren't that large (normally in the low 100's). You may have this confused with the instructor's testing fee which can include anything plus the KKW fee.
 
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Miles

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Andy Cap said:
I am also curious as to who the Kukkiwon judges are, or who the people are that sit on the testing boards? Are they completely non affiliated?

Oh and as fat as the testing fees all going to the Kukiwon - I know the WTF does collect a fee for dan testing.
The Judges for the physical test of the Instructor Course were all high ranking Grandmasters. The one whose name may be recognizable was Grandmaster Lee, Kyu Hyong who organized the demonstration at the 1988 Olympics. The others were Grandmasters Song, Sang Kuen (Kukkiwon Vice President) and Kim, Chul Oh (Kukkiwon Secretary General).

TX BB mentioned the Kukkiwon fees, but to be exact, it is $70 for 1st dan, $90 for 2nd, $120 for 3rd, and $150 for 4th dan.

The cost of the week-long instructor course (40+ hours) was $150. At the end of the course, the Kukkiwon sponsored a farewell banquet for the participants at a local hotel-all you can eat! :0) They gave us huge 2 photos of the group participants, a towel, sweatshirt and very nice wrist watch. The Kukkiwon is definitely not a "for profit" institution.

Miles
 
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Andy Cap

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Just to clarify - I never said the Kukkiwon was out to make money. I think it is funny that TKD schools charge $650 for a Kukkiwon E-dan certificate though.


One more question...those names mentioned that are teh judges, what organization are they from other than Kukkiwon? Are they WTF grandmasters?
 
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JanneM

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WTF is a sports aorganisation.
There is no WTF masters there can only be Kukkiwon masters.
ANyway I believe that all those masters are somehow afiliated with WTF and KTA too.
 
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Miles

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Andy Cap said:
Just to clarify - I never said the Kukkiwon was out to make money. I think it is funny that TKD schools charge $650 for a Kukkiwon E-dan certificate though.


One more question...those names mentioned that are teh judges, what organization are they from other than Kukkiwon? Are they WTF grandmasters?
No problem Andy-I have seen some crazy prices for dans, but I want folks to know how much is really going to Kukkiwon (and conversely how much is not).

The judges I mentioned are all affiliated with Kukkiwon. There is essentially only 1 Taekwondo in Korea (though I understand the ITF is starting a fledgling organization there). As JanneM mentioned, the WTF is a sports organization, just like USA Basketball. The Kukkiwon is an institution for developing Taekwondo and Taekwondo instructors.

Hope this helps!

Miles
 
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Andy Cap

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Miles said:
No problem Andy-I have seen some crazy prices for dans, but I want folks to know how much is really going to Kukkiwon (and conversely how much is not).

The judges I mentioned are all affiliated with Kukkiwon. There is essentially only 1 Taekwondo in Korea (though I understand the ITF is starting a fledgling organization there). As JanneM mentioned, the WTF is a sports organization, just like USA Basketball. The Kukkiwon is an institution for developing Taekwondo and Taekwondo instructors.

Hope this helps!

Miles
Well it helps a bit. It also confuses me further. If the WTF is a sports organization, how is it they have rank at all? Do I have to have WTF/Kukkiwon black belt to compete? I am not trying to be sarcastic, but USA Basketball does not have black belts in basketball. Also, why then would a WTF school teach poomse?

See, this is my problem in understanding the whole thing. It seems like the WTF is seen as a sports organization by most people, but at the same time they are seen as a martial arts organization too. Then the Kukkiwon is just a martial arts building, but they do not have an official organization - it is only a building. So, who teaches martial arts in Korea? I certainly do not mean this as a slam to any WTF practitioners as I know some of them are rather serious about doing TKD as a martial art, adn are fairly good too. I simply want to understand.

The Kukkiwon is a building that houses the art of Tae Kwon Do and maintains the standards, but the WTF is the tool to implement that art, and WTF is sport? That is what I see and hear?
 
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Miles

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Andy Cap said:
Well it helps a bit. It also confuses me further. If the WTF is a sports organization, how is it they have rank at all? Do I have to have WTF/Kukkiwon black belt to compete? I am not trying to be sarcastic, but USA Basketball does not have black belts in basketball. Also, why then would a WTF school teach poomse?
Let's back up and maybe that will help you see the entire picture. The WTF is an international sports federation. Individual people like you and I are not members of the WTF, only national organizations such as the USA Taekwondo or the Korea TKD Association are members of the WTF.

The WTF uses Kukkiwon rank as one indicia of qualification for international competition. Basketball does not have a tradition of ranking, but Judo does. If you wish to compete internationally in Judo, you may need to be recognized as a black belt (I am making an assumption here, I don't know what the requirements are).

As far as poomsae is concerned, until recently, sparring was the only format for international WTF competition. However, there is a movement for poomsae to be performed as well.

Andy Cap said:
See, this is my problem in understanding the whole thing. It seems like the WTF is seen as a sports organization by most people, but at the same time they are seen as a martial arts organization too. Then the Kukkiwon is just a martial arts building, but they do not have an official organization - it is only a building. So, who teaches martial arts in Korea? I certainly do not mean this as a slam to any WTF practitioners as I know some of them are rather serious about doing TKD as a martial art, adn are fairly good too. I simply want to understand. ?
The perception you mentioned above is not limited to just you. That is why it is important for folks who do know and understand the difference between the WTF and Kukkiwon to speak clearly.

Andy Cap said:
The Kukkiwon is a building that houses the art of Tae Kwon Do and maintains the standards, but the WTF is the tool to implement that art, and WTF is sport? That is what I see and hear?
:) you got it now!

Miles
 
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Andy Cap

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Thanks Miles.

WTF = sports organization
Kukkiwon = building where WTF gets their players tested.

So, people that get black belts awarded by Kukkiwon are WTF black belts? Are there other organizations that use Kukkiwon? For example - Moo Duk Kwan
Does Kukkiwon test only Tae Gyuk poomsae?

What strikes me as odd is that I cannot find this information anywhere. I wonder why it is so well hidden.
 
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Miles

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Andy Cap said:
So, people that get black belts awarded by Kukkiwon are WTF black belts? Are there other organizations that use Kukkiwon? For example - Moo Duk Kwan
Does Kukkiwon test only Tae Gyuk poomsae?
No, there is no such thing as a WTF black belt. There is a Kukkiwon-certified black belt.

The "Kwans" exist separately as fraternal organizations (for lack of a better example). They issue black belt certification, but that is not recognized by WTF or Kukkiwon.

There are many organizations which may use the Kukkiwon's facilities-I saw several dojangs' vans parked behind Kukkiwon-not sure what they were doing-likely practicing for demonstrations. The facilities are also used by the Seoul-city TKD Association as well as provincial associations for their testings.

Yes, the Kukkiwon only recognizes the Taeguek series for guep ranks.

Miles
 
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Andy Cap

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Miles thank you very much for answering my questions.

I have another.

Do you have to belong to the WTF to test @ the Kukkiwon? The reason I ask this is that people say there is no such thing as a WTF black belt, yet who does the Kukkiwon test if not WTF people?
 

TX_BB

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No, on do you have to be a member of the WTF to test

The WTF recognizes NGB's (National Governing Body) in general. Certain NGB's have the ability to petition the Kukkikwon for Dan certification. NGB's certify their fighters for competition.
 
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Andy Cap

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So, what is a "National Governing Body"? Does this mean Any organization that has over a certain number of members?

BTW - where do you all get this info? Is it something some guy told you once, or does the Kukkiwon actually have this information posted somewhere? I don't mean that sarcastically at all - I am seriously wondering where to reference this stuff.

Thnx again.
 
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