ITF Vs. WTF

In Arts

ITF TaeKwon-Do and WTF Taekwondo

 

In the world of TaeKwon-Do there are two main styles practiced around the world. One being International TaeKwon-Do Federation and the other being World Taekwondo Federation.

WTF Taekwondo was established on May 28th 1973 in South Korea.  It is considered by many to be the sport version of TaeKwon-Do due to its focus being more on competition. However like all martial arts it does have its self-defence elements. It is also the style of Taekwondo that is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

ITF TaeKwon-Do was established on March 22nd 1966. ITF TaeKwon-Do was created by Major General Choi Hong Hi. Who is considered to be the founder of TaeKwon-Do as he developed it in the 1940s and 1950s in the Korean army. He suggested the name “TaeKwon-Do” on 11th April 1955. It is considered to be the “martial art” version of TaeKwon-Do.

The main differences between WTF and ITF are mostly their techniques and the rules of their competitions. WTF taekwondo practice “poomsae”.  There are 17 Poomsae in WTF and are considered to be similar to karate “Kata”.

ITF TaeKwon-Do practice “patterns”. There are 24 patters in ITF and they utilise the scientific principle which is known as “sine wave”. This is to increase the power of the techniques using gravity to add power as the body drops into the technique.

In competition WTF uses mostly legs to score points and only punches to the mid-section are allowed. They wear protective body armour and helmets. They also wear fingerless gloves and sensors on their feet to register points when there is contact on the body armour. This style of sparring makes their students extremely proficient in kicking techniques.

ITF TaeKwon-Do consists of both leg and hand techniques in sparring as punches to the head are legal. ITF practitioners wear sparring gloves which are similar to boxing gloves and leather shoes for protection. Helmets are optional. Points are registered by judges placed on each corner of the ring.

The two styles also differ in their apparel. A WTF dobok pulls over the head and has a black trim around the collar at black belt and black stripes down the arms and legs when you become a master which is at 4th Dan. An ITF dobok zips up at the front and has a black trim around the waist once you reach black belt and also down the arms and legs once you reach 4th dan black belt. Which in ITF TaeKwon-Do is considered “Expert” as you are not a Master until you reach 7th Dan.

Both styles of TaeKwon-Do are widely respected around the world and are practiced by millions of people.  Both styles teach life qualities such as Courtesy, Integrity and Perseverance.

 

Andrew Ure (An ITF practitioner)

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Showing 2 comments
  • Jonny G
    Reply

    your article isn’t complete in my opinion. How can you say WTF is the “sport version”. Any style of taekwondo, ITF or WTF could be “sport” if that’s how you train it. Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Karate it doesn’t matter. If you have the mindset of fighting in competitions and winning medals then tbh you don’t even need a master, go get a coach.

  • Jonny G
    Reply

    I train “WTF Style” Taekwondo but the REAL AND TRADITIONAL WAY. my master says many “masters” focus on winning medals and trophies for their school and Olympic sparring. Yes, I do Olympic sparring “competition style” under WTF rules, but we also train hand strikes, throws, sweeps, takedowns, elbows, knees, and strong shin and knuckle conditioning. Train hard.

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