Do Teams Change Directions After Each Quarter In Professional Football World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Vs International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)

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World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Vs International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)

WTF fighters are “sloppy”, “lack control”, “fight with their hands down”, “focus too much on the game”, “never throw a punch”, “unrealistic”, etc, etc. etc. So what do you hear? ITF? Nothing! Because the ITF is a perfect system? No, because most World Taekwondo Federation practitioners have never seen an International Taekwondo Federation match. ITF is not practiced like WTF, so it does not provide the same exposure.

I can tell you the downside of ITF, not because I’m a WTF supporter, but because I have several black belts in both styles. I currently have 2 dojangs and they are WTF. I will reveal later why our school chose to affiliate with the World Taekwondo Federation over the International Taekwondo Federation.

First of all, I’m a Taekwondo supporter, not a WTF supporter. I read a blog comment somewhere and the gentleman said it’s all Taekwondo. I believe it takes a mature mind to truly understand and believe it. The World Taekwondo Federation is essentially a modified version of the International Taekwondo Federation. If you remember, one was created from the other.

We all know General Hong Hye Choi. If you’re a WTF practitioner, you’ve probably never heard of him. The reason you’ve probably never heard of him is because the South Korean government viewed him as a traitor. Korea adopted a new system of Taekwondo. Interestingly, WTF does not mention General Choi.

WTF or not, General Choi is the father of Taekwondo and is responsible for helping to coin the name Taekwondo and should always be remembered for that. Why he was excommunicated is a completely different topic and will not be discussed in this article.

Most of the techniques created by General Choi are practiced in all Taekwondo, whether it is WTF, ITF or even ATA. As I mentioned earlier, the practitioners of the World Taekwondo Federation evolved. It is important to understand that WTF did not create what you see today. The contestants made it. Certain rules created it. Masters and Grandmasters of the World Taekwondo Federation recognized it, but they did not create what we see today.

The traditional roundhouse kick was no longer good enough. A powerful sidekick was rendered ineffective in Olympic-style competition. Punching… well, it’s WTF or ITF, it’s frustrating for a lot of people. I will come back to that. Please, don’t say, “I could use an effective roundhouse kick or sidekick.” Considered the same as a point style fighter in the ITF. I decided I wanted to take a shot at an Olympic style competition (WTF). I was successful locally, when I competed in my first WTF tournament, I went to the US National Championships.

I’ll admit, my opponent was confused, but it didn’t last long. Here’s what I quickly learned. WTF practitioners can cover several meters in any direction, in a split second. My kick was too short, imagine… I’m 6’3, and I didn’t have the footwork or training to move across the mat fast enough to hit my opponent. Sure, I had fast roundhouse kicks and sidekicks. I can land on my hind legs and land multiple kicks to the body and head.

If you think about it, the ring in an official WTF match is 12 meters square. It is about 40 feet wide and is used as a ring. Here I am a very successful point style fighter, winning first place in every tournament I’ve competed in. Then, in San Jose, California, I got knocked out with a swift roundhouse kick to the ribs.

There are several variations of the WTF roundhouse kick to be more effective. Why raise your knee straight and reverse all the way when you can cut your distance and time by going diagonal. This way the kick has less power, but it hits your opponent much faster. Another plus is that it sets your opponent up for another kick in which you can spin your roundhouse kick all the way around. Other stylists consider this method lazy. WTF practitioners believe it to be effective.

Think of a WTF competition like boxing. It’s exactly the same, only with your feet. At WTF, we throw several “fast kicks” or “quick kicks”. In the ITF, the closest version would be the “skipping roundhouse kick”. This is a very quick move, usually created from a skip, followed immediately by a front leg roundhouse kick. The roundhouse kick and 45 degree kick are similar to the boxer jab. They are not meant to knock out the opponent, just to set up another attack.

In the World Taekwondo Federation, you will find other forms of roundhouse kicks such as the bada chagi (counter roundhouse kick) or the AHP bal chagi (front leg kick – usually a front leg roundhouse kick). Then there is Lateral Bada Chhagi and Lateral AHP Bal Chhagi. Then there are double roundhouse kicks and triples and “quads”. Most of these kicks make ITF practitioners vomit just watching them. I know, the first time I saw Double Kick I thought it was a joke.

The double kick is actually a very powerful kick that requires strength, timing and balance. Note- WTF is in double seamless fashion with alternate legs. It’s impressive in competition, and that’s it! If I was attacked today, the last thing I would do is a double or triple kick. So why practice? Are you ready for my answer? Because it’s fun! People don’t enter fencing competitions because they want to learn how to defend themselves. They do it because it’s an art form and it’s fun. I don’t know any WTF competitors who compete so they can get better at self defense.

I’ve been studying martial arts for over 30 years and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t need to tell or convince myself or others that WTF competition is a great self defense practice. I’m mature enough to know that no competition is good self defense practice, and that includes the UFC.

Oh, punching should be in your arsenal if you ever get attacked on the street. In the WTF competition, we pull no punches and it’s not because we don’t know how. Because the dang judges will never score them. Why waste energy throwing them away? It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game and that’s what fighting is all about. Fighting is a game.

In ITF and WTF, a grappling match is nothing more than a game of tag, with kicks and punches. I disagree that ITF is more realistic than WTF. For the record, they are both unreal, competitive, in their own way. WTF practitioners learn to feel what a devastating blow feels like. Strikes are real and they hurt, and if you’re careless, you’ll go home with serious injuries.

On the other hand, we usually put our hands down and sometimes down. By the way, when your arms are down, your body is more relaxed and you can increase your body speed and kick. Instead of blocking with our hands and risking them breaking, we use footwork to simply move away or stall our opponent.

In an ITF match, practitioners will fight with more care and precision, usually because they are not wearing gear or have limited protection. A wrong kick will jam your toe in a hurry. I liked how we switched between kicking and punching in the ITF tournament. I was also pleased with the accuracy and control over my kicks that I gained.

On the other hand, starting and stopping a match to award points will break the momentum of the match and not allow for further strategy development. This allows you and your opponent to catch their breath—unlikely to happen in real life.

All competitive things aside, the WTF and ITF are wonderful systems. They have great practitioners, Masters and Grandmasters. WTF is the most practiced style in the world, therefore, you will find flaws in the nature of the athletes just by the number of people competing. You will find dojangs who have completely lost the meaning of taekwondo and martial arts as a whole. I have seen dojangs who have lost 100% of their manners and respect for martial arts.

Mind you, I’ve also seen karate schools and kenpo schools that have lost the same elements. You rarely see them, because those styles aren’t in the Olympics and get less exposure.

So, why are we WTF and not ITF? Years ago, I got very involved in the competition. My dream was to go to the Olympics one day and the only way I would have a chance was to go to WTF. I think I came close. I made it to the quarterfinals at the US National Championships. I lost to a great fighter and individual, Michael Tang. Michael Tang was a member of the US team at the time and was my only obstacle from making the US team trials that year. The match is close, very close! On the other hand, Michael also had a dream!

Having been a part of the ITF for so long, I started my competitive career late as a WTF competitor. This was essentially my one shot before my priorities shifted to raising a family. I understand that it’s not the style of Taekwondo or the style of martial arts that you practice, but the experience you get from it.

At our academy, we don’t train like Olympic Taekwondo competitors. We teach students how to punch. We also teach our students how to box and grapple. We also teach them practical self-defense tactics, as opposed to 3-step fighting methods.

For students who are looking to compete, train them individually in class to prepare them for Olympic style competition. I remain attached to WTF because it gives athletes a chance to dream, especially young athletes who get a chance to train for the Junior Olympics, an exciting competition for kids.

WTF or ITF, it doesn’t matter. How the curriculum is presented as well as the additional information you provide to the students about martial arts is important.

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