WTF-Taekwondo or ITF-Taekwondo, What should I choose?

Markku P

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(My latest Taekwondo blog )



This is one question I get every month from all over the world. Now, you must understand that my main style is WTF-Taekwondo but I have been training ITF style too. I also have many friends in the ITF side. Now, I speak from a European perspective and you have to understand that we dont have many other styles to if I compare how it is in the USA.

So what should you choose?

So, first you should look at the experience and level of education of the schools instructors, and remember, even if the teacher has a black belt, thats not a sign that he is a good teacher. Then, you should know what the motivation is for you and your child in your training. If its a competition, then I recommend WTF-Taekwondo. The reason is very simple. WTF-style competitions are far more advanced and superior because of its Olympic status. This means that there will be more opportunities for competitions and many countries also invest more money in their competition organisations.

With the ITF-Taekwondo, it is a little easier to become successful (because they have less fighters and money) but you cant go to the Olympics. Even if you are with the WTF, it will be very hard to achieve that level. Also, many countries dont invest any money in to ITF-Taekwondo so it is important to check how things are in your country.

In Sweden the situation is very simple. If you like to compete at the highest level and perhaps, in the future, in the Olympic Games, then your only choice is WTF.

But what about if you are not interested in competitions? Then the question is a little harder. In the past, I have felt that ITF-Taekwondo has helped better with the so called traditional Taekwondo but my view has changed in the last few years because many WTF-Taekwondo instructors have been focusing more on the traditional style of training too. Perhaps I would go with ITF for this. So, my advice? Go and check the training and talk with the students and the instructors. Then make up your mind.

The problem I see with ITF Taekwondo is that they have so many federations and everyone claims that they are teaching original Taekwondo. The future of ITF taekwondo as I see it is a little dark. I believe that there will be more independent groups and more fights to come (mostly about money and power).

The WTF-Taekwondo problem is that perhaps some schools are focusing only on the competitions and that might bring some problems in the future. But the future belongs with the WTF-Taekwondo. The ITF Taekwondo started its decline when its founder, general Choi, died.

OK, I will continue with this subject in the future. Of course, just remember that it is because of my background that I am more for the WTF-taekwondo.

Yours,

Master Markku Parviainen
 

igillman

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It depends upon what you want out of your TKD training. If all you want to do is learn a bit of self defence and keep fit then the choice of ITF vs WTF does not matter as long as the school you pick teaches those things. If you want a long and illustrious career in TKD then the choice is a little more important because you want a group that will still be around in 30 or 40 years.
 

bluewaveschool

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In the past 2 years I've trained with instructors associated with the ITA and one with the AKA and Benko's ITA. It's the instructor that makes the difference, not the group they are with. Unless you want to go to the Olympics, then it's WTF.
 

Earl Weiss

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It's the instructor that makes the difference, not the group they are with. .

Exactly. If you are asking the question "WTF-Taekwondo or ITF-Taekwondo, What should I choose?" I think you first need to understand what you want. If you don't know where you are going any road will get you there.
WTF only governs a particular sport aspect of TKD \. It is a stu\yle of competiton sparring. It's sister org. the Kukkiwon sets technical paramaters for the style.
 

ralphmcpherson

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It depends upon what you want out of your TKD training. If all you want to do is learn a bit of self defence and keep fit then the choice of ITF vs WTF does not matter as long as the school you pick teaches those things. If you want a long and illustrious career in TKD then the choice is a little more important because you want a group that will still be around in 30 or 40 years.
which of the two wont be around in 30 or 40 years?
 

bluewaveschool

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I don't think that the ITF will die completely. Certainly the splintering of the group isn't exactly helping them along, but those that are involved in it seem to pride themselves on it's traditions, which is not a bad thing at all. If they instill that same pride in their students, they can keep it going.
 

Cyriacus

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I don't think that the ITF will die completely. Certainly the splintering of the group isn't exactly helping them along, but those that are involved in it seem to pride themselves on it's traditions, which is not a bad thing at all. If they instill that same pride in their students, they can keep it going.
Its certainly not going anywere. Even if all 3+ governing bodies disappear, Youll still get organisations popping up teaching ITF Taekwondo.
I dont even know why people try to predict one not being around. Theres no invisible martial war here - I could just as easily point how how radically different WTF Sparring will be in 30-40 years time, considering all the alterations its been undergoing since it came into existance. Didnt I read in another thread that they were considering reducing head strikes to semi-contact only?
 

Marcy Shoberg

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I know so very little about ITF that I'm not sure I should even say anything. But, it is my opinion that one advantage of WTF is that it's easy to pick up at another school if one moves to a new city or goes away to college. Would others agree that ITF schools have more differences between other ITF schools and WTF schools tend to all be similar enough that it's easy to transfer from one to another?
 

Cyriacus

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I know so very little about ITF that I'm not sure I should even say anything. But, it is my opinion that one advantage of WTF is that it's easy to pick up at another school if one moves to a new city or goes away to college. Would others agree that ITF schools have more differences between other ITF schools and WTF schools tend to all be similar enough that it's easy to transfer from one to another?
If You go to the same ITF, no. But theres more than one ITF. Thats the problem there. For example: Some ITFs teach roundhouses with the instep. Some teach it with the ball of the foot. Others teach it with both.
Some ITFs teach a certain method of barraging punches thats quite effective, others just dont teach it at all.
So, it isnt hard to go from one to the other. The changes are small most of the time, and those that arent are easy to pick up. But the way they use what they have is different.
 

Earl Weiss

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If You go to the same ITF, no. But theres more than one ITF. Thats the problem there. For example: Some ITFs teach roundhouses with the instep. Some teach it with the ball of the foot. Others teach it with both.
Some ITFs teach a certain method of barraging punches thats quite effective, others just dont teach it at all.
So, it isnt hard to go from one to the other. The changes are small most of the time, and those that arent are easy to pick up. But the way they use what they have is different.

#1 the above statement about the ITFs and the "Roundhouse" is incorrect.

Unless perhaps the org. is some distant ITF knockoff. All 3 teach it both ways.

Being in Chicago near O'Hare airport, I get lots of Chang Hon Stylists and ITF people from all orgs that train with me while on vacation, Job Travels, school re location, permanent re location etc.

One day I had students do a pattern for one such visitor from the east coast of the USA who was a Chang Hon but non ITF person. The differences in what he did were noticeable. He frequently visited and trained at Chang Hon schools when he traveled for work. I then had them say where they learned the pattern. I don't recall exactly who was on the floor at that timne but the responses were something like: Siberia, The Czech Republic, Canada, Argentina, Poland, Ireland, Connetticut.

The visitor was stunned. He said that he had thought they were all my students since white belt. The differences were and are nominal.
 
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Markku P

Markku P

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I don't think that the ITF will die completely. Certainly the splintering of the group isn't exactly helping them along, but those that are involved in it seem to pride themselves on it's traditions, which is not a bad thing at all. If they instill that same pride in their students, they can keep it going.

I agree with this. I believe that there will be more smaller ITF-Taekwondo organizations and also from ATA when times goes by.

/Markku P.
 

Cyriacus

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#1 the above statement about the ITFs and the "Roundhouse" is incorrect.

Unless perhaps the org. is some distant ITF knockoff. All 3 teach it both ways.

Being in Chicago near O'Hare airport, I get lots of Chang Hon Stylists and ITF people from all orgs that train with me while on vacation, Job Travels, school re location, permanent re location etc.

One day I had students do a pattern for one such visitor from the east coast of the USA who was a Chang Hon but non ITF person. The differences in what he did were noticeable. He frequently visited and trained at Chang Hon schools when he traveled for work. I then had them say where they learned the pattern. I don't recall exactly who was on the floor at that timne but the responses were something like: Siberia, The Czech Republic, Canada, Argentina, Poland, Ireland, Connetticut.

The visitor was stunned. He said that he had thought they were all my students since white belt. The differences were and are nominal.

Huh. Thats not what ive seen. Ill take Your word for it, but.
 

chrispillertkd

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I know so very little about ITF that I'm not sure I should even say anything. But, it is my opinion that one advantage of WTF is that it's easy to pick up at another school if one moves to a new city or goes away to college. Would others agree that ITF schools have more differences between other ITF schools and WTF schools tend to all be similar enough that it's easy to transfer from one to another?

Quite the contrary. I know people in all 3 of the ITF's and the technical differences between them are pretty small, though they are present. On the other hand, I have seen WTF/KKW schools that teach radically different when it comes to technical standards. Not so long ago people here were talking about how the KKW was trying to shore up technical uniformity since there is such a variation (at least here in the U.S.). This seems particularly true regarding poomse performance and, thus, the underlying fundamental techniques.

Pax,

Chris
 

chrispillertkd

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If You go to the same ITF, no. But theres more than one ITF. Thats the problem there. For example: Some ITFs teach roundhouses with the instep. Some teach it with the ball of the foot. Others teach it with both.
Some ITFs teach a certain method of barraging punches thats quite effective, others just dont teach it at all.
So, it isnt hard to go from one to the other. The changes are small most of the time, and those that arent are easy to pick up. But the way they use what they have is different.

Master Weiss is quite correct that the ITF (all of them :) )teaches that the attacking tool for tollyo chagi can be either the instep or ball of the foot (as well as the knee and the toes if shoes are worn). But I'd be interested in which of the ITF's appear to teach one to the exclusion of the other. The instep will certainly be more popular in tournament sparring, but in the patterns tollyo chagi is executed exclusively with the ball of the foot.

Regarding the "barraging punches" that's really more a matter of sparring strategy than anything else. I know ITF-NK has recently moved to limit the number of punches a person can throw in combination (to 3, IIRC; something I think isn't good despite seeing people throw unfocused flurries of punches at times) but other than that the ITF doesn't really teach how much one should or shouldn't punch in sparring.

Pax,

Chris
 

Jaeimseu

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I know so very little about ITF that I'm not sure I should even say anything. But, it is my opinion that one advantage of WTF is that it's easy to pick up at another school if one moves to a new city or goes away to college. Would others agree that ITF schools have more differences between other ITF schools and WTF schools tend to all be similar enough that it's easy to transfer from one to another?
In theory, this might be the case, but it hasn't been my experience. At least in the states, I've seen Kukkiwon Taekwondoin who do things radically different, especially concerning poomse. In Korea, things are very standardized from what I've seen, but I've seen some wacky stuff from people who trained elsewhere first.

I have a feeling that many people think Kukkiwon/WTF schools are more similar than ITF schools. I think this misconception may stem partly from the large number of independent schools and smaller organizations who do the Chang Heon forms. There is certainly lots of variety found between these schools, but most of them are probably not really ITF.
 

bluewaveschool

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I have a feeling that many people think Kukkiwon/WTF schools are more similar than ITF schools. I think this misconception may stem partly from the large number of independent schools and smaller organizations who do the Chang Heon forms. There is certainly lots of variety found between these schools, but most of them are probably not really ITF.

This is likely true. I teach Chang Hon forms, and I'm not in the ITF. I don't teach sine wave. I'm sure if I had the time and money to travel to Chicago, Earl would be quite happy to explain it to me. I absolutely love Chicago, so maybe one day.
 

Cyriacus

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Regarding the "barraging punches" that's really more a matter of sparring strategy than anything else. I know ITF-NK has recently moved to limit the number of punches a person can throw in combination (to 3, IIRC; something I think isn't good despite seeing people throw unfocused flurries of punches at times) but other than that the ITF doesn't really teach how much one should or shouldn't punch in sparring.

Pax,

Chris
Of course its a sparring strategy - Its also a pretty good one :)
 

bluewaveschool

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Of course its a sparring strategy - Its also a pretty good one :)


Please explain this to me. I'm not sure what you mean, and using my hands well is my biggest weakness in sparring. When you are 17 and can snap kicks at any height off with ease, you don't think about using hands. When you are 32, 50 lbs over your high school weight and lost considerable flexibility and some speed... you wish you had made yourself more complete back in the day.
 

Cyriacus

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Please explain this to me. I'm not sure what you mean, and using my hands well is my biggest weakness in sparring. When you are 17 and can snap kicks at any height off with ease, you don't think about using hands. When you are 32, 50 lbs over your high school weight and lost considerable flexibility and some speed... you wish you had made yourself more complete back in the day.
Ive never been much of a fan of using many kicks.
Even when i was younger.
It works pretty well because its really hard to get out of.
 

bluewaveschool

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Ive never been much of a fan of using many kicks.
Even when i was younger.
It works pretty well because its really hard to get out of.

When you've got long legs and not a ton of upper body mass to absorb blows, keeping your opponent far away becomes the name of the game. Side kick and occassional hook kick keeps the hard charging short people at bay. Or it did.
 
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