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My kids currently train under UKTF, which follows ITF guidelines and techniques. Will this cause problems if they move to a WTF trainer? They aren't quite at black belt yet, so I'm hoping that if they do transfer it won't be too much of a problem.

Are there differences in technique or style that would make this a difficult transition?

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I know the main difference in the two different Tae Kwon Do bodies in the UK is one is aimed at Sport and the other Self-defence. But I don't know which is which, so I can't really answer. –  Pureferret Feb 1 '12 at 0:17
    
WTF is oluympic TKD, while ITF is not. The Self-defense oriented variation is WTTU (World traditional TKD Union). –  Juann Strauss Aug 24 '13 at 19:05

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The main difference between WTF and ITF is WTF is South Korean and ITF is North Korean. The forms are different, kicks are the same. Attitude in ITF may be geared more towards self-defense and WTF is certainly geared more towards sport sparring in most dojos.

ITF Wiki WTF Wiki

Actually to better answer your actual concern, would it be difficult for your kids to transition:

This depends. The new things that they would have to learn in WTF, such as forms and one step sparring, will be easy to pick up. Things that they have already learned, like kicking and blocking, may be difficult if the WTF instructor teaches those moves with a different variation. Its always harder to change a habit. (Or the teacher will see it as something to fix) Best bet is to go to the WTF school/s you're interested in, talk to the instructor, see if they can take a class, and see if it fits. A good instructor will be able to tweak things that aren't consistent to his style over time.

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"The main difference between WTF and ITF is WTF is South Korean and ITF is North Korean" This is partially true now, but wasn't always. Both ITF and WTF originated in South Korea, ITF is now the name of at least three different legal bodies, one of which originates from North Korea (the others being located in Kanada and Germany). To learn more about the history of Taekwondo read A killing Art by Alex Gillis –  Sean Patrick Floyd Feb 1 '12 at 9:21
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And: "kicks are the same". I'd challenge that as well. There are subtle differences in both technique and terminology. That's like saying Karate and Taekwondo Kicks are the same. They are similar, but far from the same. E.g. ITF distinguishes between thrusting and piercing variations of a side kick (as in Shotokan Karate), WTF doesn't have that distinction. –  Sean Patrick Floyd Feb 1 '12 at 9:24
    
Well if you mean doing side kick with the heel vs the blade of the foot, then I have learned both of those at my school which is WTF. Then again my teacher takes here and there from other arts. –  riotburn Feb 1 '12 at 18:40
    
Same here. I had a master who formally belonged to the WTF but had learned traditional TKD way back in the old days. But I'm talking about official techniques, not individual interpretations. –  Sean Patrick Floyd Feb 1 '12 at 19:58
    
The scoring in ITF is also different from WTF. In ITF, punching is emphasized more and kicks are for "finishing moves," while WTF is all about kicks. –  Russell Mar 14 '12 at 23:31

ITF is the original style of taekwondo. ITF teaches use of hands AND leg/feet techniques in self defence, while the WTF style is less geared towards realistic situations, and teaches just the use of the legs. I would suggest watching a few videos on youtube of both styles, and talking to the trainers- go with whom you like the best. There is no replacement for gut feeling!

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My kids currently train under UKTF, which follows ITF guidelines and techniques. Will this cause problems if they move to a WTF trainer? They aren't quite at black belt yet, so I'm hoping that if they do transfer it won't be too much of a problem.

It depends on your kids, really. It will take them time to get familiar with the WTF style of Taekwon-do. I was a WTF kid before joining the ITF as an adult. I was a red belt then, now a 2nd Dan in ITF. I did not transfer my rank and worked my way from white belt in ITF. The transition was OK for me, because I went in with an open mind.

Are there differences in technique or style that would make this a difficult transition?

Yes there are differences in technique. For instance in ITF style Taekwon-do there is the sine wave technique to utilize body potential in strikes and blocks. In WTF Taekwon-do there is no sine wave, which you may say is more similar (than ITF) to traditional karate.

This may not be a technique but the spelling of Taekwon-do reflects your side of the coin. ITF spells it Taekwon-do and WTF spells it Taekwondo.

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The International Taekwondo Federation is the traditional style of taekwondo as founded by Gen.Choi Hong Hi April 11 , 1955 he based the art on a combination of karate (in which he held a black belt which specific style im unsure) and had extensive training in a traditional korean art known as teakkyeon which dates back 2000 year which is why some people confuse it with teakwondo incorrectly thinking taekwondo is just as old with the combonation of Gen.Choi's karate and teakkyeon training along with his own personal tastes and out look as a martial artist as well as a long time soldier in the korean army lead to the creation of traditional taekwondo while spreading the art world wide he travled to many other martial artist karate in particular teaching his taekwondo techniques which is why they are so many taekwondo schools itf is still the tradtional art and is now under the leadership of Gen.Choi's son Grand Master Choi Jung Hwa

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wtf is in the olympics and is much faster paced and looking for point scoring, while itf is traditional and follow slower paced rules. itf might practice forms everyday while wtf fights everyday and practices forms only for test. if the school is high on fighting it could be uncomfortable to change

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Will this cause problems if they move to a WTF trainer? They aren't quite at black belt yet, so I'm hoping that if they do transfer it won't be too much of a problem.

Answering the other half of the problem: what problems will the kids face?

Techniques problems: no. There are differences in technique and forms. If the kids are nearly at Cho Dan, they'll know how to accept direction from the new instructors. The different viewpoint might make it more interesting.

Advancement problems (very important to some kids): It's going to depend on the school. There are some schools that could get sticky about a non-black belt retaining their rank and insist that they start over at white belt. My instinct would tell me that such a school would be great at accepting my money and not so great at instructing my children.

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I think there is definitely more depth to the differences between ITF and WTF than the country of origin (which in this case is actually both South Korea although ITF is known as North Korean because of General Choi Hong Hi's exile from South Korea).

It really depends on what type of martial ART you are truly looking to learn. I would definitely say that WTF has a more aesthetic, fast-paced, and flashy art aspect to it whereas ITF is more about the art of how the human body could generate maximum power with the TKD techniques that ITF teaches. If you are interested in learning martial arts as a sport, try WTF. If you are looking for a martial art to teach you how to defend yourself properly, give ITF a shot.

Cheers!

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I am a WTF practicioneer, only a 1st Dan, atleast for the next 3 months! I was reading Gen Choi's encyclopedia (literally reading it) whom I accepted as the father of Taekwondo and realize when he got to the patterns part and self defence and controlled sparring, that they are ITF and foreign to me, well more weird than foreign really! So while looking for a WTF type specific Encyclopedia of sorts I came across this site! ! ! ! If u wanna learn Taekwondo Indept, Philosophy and way of life, and everything, ITF is the way! If u wanna do spectacular yet realistic fast paced sparring taekwondo, the martial art sport, the one that gives u attention, then, WTF is the way to go! So I'm practicing WTF in the dojang and Learning ITF philosophy from the father himself, (through the Encyclopedia of course) Grand Master Choi!

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-1 this answer does not even reference the question the OP asked. probably the poster does not understand the stack exchange model of Q&A –  The Wudang Kid Jan 10 at 15:19

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