Reasons why ITF is better than WTF

As I have previously said, there are two main types of Tae kwon-do (TKD) practised in the world: ITF and WTF. The main differences between the two are:

Personally, I don’t see why WTF is an Olympic sport. It gives TKD a bad name and when my friends ask what I do, I specifically say not Olympic TKD. They spend most of their time bouncing on the spot, waiting to use a counter-attack knock-out turning kick. It just seems like a lot of pointless noise and not much action. ITF has a greater variation of techniques, and thus is better to watch.

Something not mentioned in the above table is that WTF predominately focuses on kicks, whereas ITF uses hands as well. I would say ITF is a more traditional Martial Art, whereas WTF has developed into a sport due to its Olympic participation.

However, a good point about WTF is its full-contact nature. I wish ITF did more full-contact and according to TKD Times magazine, a merger between the WTF and ITF will happen in the next few years. As a style, TKD has been taking a beating from other martial arts who have been trying to discredit it as a legitimate form of self defence or fighting. I think unification would help strengthen the style and help fight back against this bad publicity. My other future hopes for TKD, is to see a stronger ITF or kickboxing influence in the Olympics and less politics within the two major organisations.

2 thoughts on “Reasons why ITF is better than WTF

  1. Yakattack

    Hey man, understood where you coming from – just a few things: I would partially agree with you about ITF being more traditional and broadly focussed than WTF, but this is a bit generalized.. It depends on the club/instructor in my opinion.. I practice WTF TKD and our sabumnim has strict emphasis on self-defence, forms, all hand strikes and punches, etc. .. The full traditional approach. However, many clubs just focus on the sport part and neglect the martial art part.. This is one problem with WTF Tkd, or what the olympic part has brought to the table, but I guess it depends on what the student desires: if he wants to box with his feet and doesn’t have much interest in traditional training, those clubs are for him.. I would not join a club like that as my wants and needs are different. one of our neighboring town’s clubs is like that. Sparring under Olympic rules they are incredible..if we follow more ITF or Karate rules when we spar with them, they very very often loose.
    ITF may be better than WTF in your opinion, but everyone has their own.. in my opinion, both have general pro’s and con’s, but it all depends on what you as a student want & what your club and instructor focuses on. It takes one idiot with a club to start a chain of poorly trained people. I’m lucky have a great instructor in that aspect.

    WTF Taekwondo as an olympic sport, I see your point as well – as far as I know, they wanted a kicking martial art in the olympics (as an opposite to boxing), but needed rules to make it more visually pleasing for people that have no clue about tkd – these rules are constantly being changed to make more pleasing: too much evasion gives points to your enemy!.. more points for spinning and head kicks .. etc..The big guys of kukkiwon didn’t make up these rules but accepted them nonetheless as it would promote the sport..
    Keep in mind though, that WTF tkd is not synonymous with the Olympic sport part – it is just a part of it (depending on club). A lot of good clubs train two days traditional and 1 day sparring Olympic style.. Olympic part is optional, and a good wtf club will also do non-Olympic rule sparring too. I see it as a fun part of the martial art, that may seem stupid to you, but is alot of fun taking part in.. trust me, i had my doubts about it at stages too and I understand where you are coming from, but I see it as simply another section of tkd that has many fun aspects and fitness/reflex challenges.

    The bad publicity you speak of, I’ve seen too, but pretty much just on youtube and a site or two. However, i’m sure every martial art has a group of haters out there.. mostly people that have a mis-conception of the art.

    Merger would be great! any news on that?
    Sorry for such a long post.. just sharing another perspective – not dissing yours
    Nice blog dude.
    Peace and love

  2. JC

    Many thanks for your comment – I agree and learnt a thing or two from it (and it’s prompted me to keep my blog more up to date).

    I think it’s good to be versatile and be proficient in many different disciplines (so take the “best bits” from WTF and ITF and other martial arts). Not to sound cheesy, but to quote Bruce Lee “The highest art is no art – The highest form is no form.”

    I think a merger is a great concept, but would never be practical due to the politics involved. I’ve come across a great book describing Tae kwon-do’s modern history and politics etc


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