WTF vs. ITF vs. ATA

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do' started by missn44, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. missn44

    missn44 New Member

    My 6 yr old just started taking Taekwondo, his school is affiliated with the WTF. FYI - he is having a blast, we're very happy with out school choice. It has a great kids program.

    It seems that there a a number of Taekwondo associations out there. Could someone give me a rundown of the various associations? There seems to be 3 main ones. The World Taekwondo Federation, American Taekwondo Association and International Taekwondo Foundation, are there real differences between the 3 on how they teach or what they require or is Taekwondo the same regardless of association?
  2. blindgod

    blindgod Valued Member

    Schools within organizations can vary greatly. You could go to two different schools in the same org and find them to be run very differently. Some organizations give instructors more leeway with what they teach than others, so aside from some essiential parts of the curriculum (usually the forms), there's going to be differences.

    With that said, from what I've observed:

    ITF: Large scope of different techniques. Great emphasis placed on theory.
    WTF: Tends toward Olympic style. Probably not as many different techniques. Probably less emphasis on hand techniques than an ITF.
    ATA: stands for "awful taekwondo association."
  3. DEATHskull

    DEATHskull TKD Bearfighter

  4. TKDGUY76

    TKDGUY76 Valued Member

    OK, for a slightly more non-biased ATA explanation . . .

    The ITF and WTF are more loosely structured than the ATA. While the ITF and WTF have set curriculums, rank standards, and competition circuits, that is about it. The ATA on the other hand, is much more like a franchising body than just a martial arts organization.

    Truthfully, there are probably as many really bad ITF and WTF schools as there are ATA schools. However, because of the marketing tools and instructor support, a sub-par instructor has a much better chance of being able to make a decent living as an ATA school and thus stay open.

    Also, undertstand that the ATA is about making TKD have a widespread appeal. As a result, there aren't many "hardcore" ATA schools. Expect to see a lot more grannies, overweight men, or 7 year olds with black belts than you see at your average ITF or WTF school.

    On the flip side, the ATA program is probably going to be much more kid-friendly than many ITF or WTF schools. Expect instructors who have had at least some training on how to teach kids, rather than ones who are learning as they go.
  5. Custom Volusia

    Custom Volusia Valued Member

    Why did you not mention the ITA TKDGUY?

    Much more rigid instructor certs and school reqs
  6. mangoman

    mangoman Valued Member

    Not just 7 year olds with black belts, but 7 year olds with 2nd and 3rd degree black belts!!!
  7. TKDGUY76

    TKDGUY76 Valued Member

    I was responding to the ATA stuff.

    But yes the ITA has a very strong presence in the Southern US, with a rapidly growing presence in the Midwest and to an extent the West Coast.

    In some ways, the ITA is more similar to the ATA than it is to the WTF or ITF. The ITA is also more like a franchising body than a ranking body. Instructors and schools must meet numerous requirements to open and continue to operate their academies. The key difference being that the ITA is not nearly as concerned with growing academy numbers as it is with maintaining quality academies.
  8. B3astfrmthe3ast

    B3astfrmthe3ast Warning:Extreme power!!

    i am a Current WTF Instructor Former ATA Instructor and yes everything here said is true the ata and ita are very similar they used to be one then the split to form two seperate organizations the WTF is the way to go because the WTFs Ranks are recognized EVERYWHERE ATA ranks are only recognized in the ATA same for ITA The ITF is very similar to the WTF so ITF is good ive never trained In the ITF but please for your sake my sake and the sake of your kid and the martial arts world STAY AWAY FROM THE ATA
  9. Custom Volusia

    Custom Volusia Valued Member

    I would NOT say that the ATA and ITA are similar. I say this simply because of the STANDARDS that the instructors are held to.

    here's an excellant write up by an ATA instructor

    Note the standards at their black belt camps. Not even required to know previous forms????? Also, their sparring is almost ENTIRELY point continuous at all!!!

    I'm not saying the ITA is perfect, but at least the Instructors are held to a fairly high standard and I think that this dramatically improves the quality of the schools in general.
  10. tkdbb3

    tkdbb3 Valued Member

    "WTF is the way to go because the WTFs Ranks are recognized EVERYWHERE "

    Ummm not Everywhere... A year or so ago i had a WTF guy come to my school (black Belt) couldn't sparr or throw a side kick to save his life, now i know that's one out of thousands but no ranks are not recognized everywhere, skill is.
  11. Liam Cullen

    Liam Cullen Valued Member

    I think the point was more that if you hold a Kukki Dan cert its something that people recognise the world over as an official document. A cert from the ATA in contrast isn't really worth anything outside the ATA. Now whether or not the hold is up to the level you'd expect is a different matter...
  12. Paul Oxtoby

    Paul Oxtoby Valued Member

    I have certification from Kukkiwon, however the certificates I received from the actual examiner mean more to me, it was them who actually graded me.
    As long as your examiner is a legitimate and recognised then I regard this as the most important issue.
  13. B3astfrmthe3ast

    B3astfrmthe3ast Warning:Extreme power!!

    the ATA and ITA are similar not in the way they are ran, but Ho-am and Sonhgam Taekwondo Look alot alike and they used to be one organization then they split so they are sister organizations is what i meant and yes liam that was the point i was making sorry to be confusing but to sum it Up STAY AWAY FROM THE ATA
  14. Custom Volusia

    Custom Volusia Valued Member

    OK, I would agree there...they do look similar due to the split (in 2000 I think?)

    I also would agree STAY AWAY FROM THE ATA!
  15. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Too much emphasis on certificates and legitimate ranks instead of actual training. I've gone back to white belt at new clubs dozens of times, and even when the instructor has said "You can assess for black belt in x months rather than go through the whole process again", I've turned it down. I know clubs which deliver some of the hardest training sessions I've ever taken part in, and they only ever wore a uniform and belt at official association events (tournaments, gradings, etc). Other than that they didn't really care about who had what grade, and from where.

    My advice to the OP: Don't worry too much about the other organisations and just keep your kid where he is. Obviously, as you pointed out, he's having a blast. Good luck to you and him (TKD associations can be a mine field!)
  16. DEATHskull

    DEATHskull TKD Bearfighter

    But the most important point is to stay from ATA. :)
  17. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    It is not the organisation that determines the quality of the art; it is the practitioner, and his/her level of dedication and effort, that determines the quality of the art*.

    *And determines how much the organisation wants to charge him/her for it :D


  18. TKDstudent

    TKDstudent Valued Member

    I am not sure if you realize that the WTF does NOT issue rank certificates. They are merely a sports governing body for olympic TKD, nothing more. They do train & certify officials for the sport, but not BBs. The kukkiwon, which is the Korean National Training center, which acts as the international center does issue BB certs.
  19. TKDstudent

    TKDstudent Valued Member

    There will be similarities in all MAs. The best thing is to find a good instructor by doing your homework in researching & selecting a MA school. If you are sold on TKD, don't worry about the alphabet organizations, look for a good instructor period, end of story.
    All TKD goups have things in common. They charge money & give you things.
    The ITF:
    established in Seoul Korea on March 22, 1966, they oversee all aspects of the Chang Hun style of TKD developed in the military gym, the OhDo kwan, which was opened in 1954, a training center was established at the TKD Palace in 1992 in Pyongyang Korea, they have several worldwide
    The WTF:
    established in Seoul Korea in May of 1973 at the 1st world TKD championships, they are a sports governing body only concerned with olympic TKD, whose rules originally came from the JiDo kwan
    The KKW:
    established in Seoul Korea in 1972 & serves as the training center for Kukki TKD as a MA that has a strong emphasis on the sport aspect, they certify instructors & BBs, requiring attendence there for some levels
    The ATA:
    established in the USA in the 1960s, (late 60s?) with the 1st president being GM Kang Suh Chong, it is one of the most successful MA organizations, even registering the forms, they have numerous schools throughout the USA & some others outside the States as well

    The KKW/WTF have the most members, with the independents being larger than all the groups. Their common link is the sports fighting rules, with more of a deviation seen in many schools methods & effectiveness. I think the ATA has a strong business model program that may call for some standardization. The ITF has a strict set of standards with much focus on uniformity in the movements. All, including independents have good & not so good schools.

    Pick the instructor, not the school or art, there is simply no substitute for a good instructor, they are also unfortunately hard to find especially in the watered down commercial world of what many call TKD! Buyer beware!

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