I keep hearing of talks between the various ITF bodies and WTF. Some speculate on the joining of the two organizations, others about competing in the Olympics “together”. There are meetings and pieces of paper signed that actually say absolutely nothing. There are those that will agree or disagree, but I think that talks about either of these things happening are a load of crap and a waste of time. In fact I think that if either of these things were to occur it would be an injustice and detrimental to the ITF.
I think that Olympic competition is for sports. It has always been my belief that ITF Taekwon-Do is not a sport – it is a martial art. Yes, it has a sporting side to it, but this should merely be a game played within the art – something used for fun and a tool used to hone certain skills. Once focus is lost and the sporting side takes priority over the art, we have a problem.
When it comes to the Olympics and the WTF version of Taekwondo, the WTF is not going to make any compromises, and why should they? They have an organization that is well funded, has a huge membership and is Olympic recognized. They don’t need to bring anything to the table. If ITF wants to share in WTF’s Olympic recognition, then it is the ITF that needs to make concessions. In my opinion, ANY concession is too high a price. To compromise a martial art for the sake of something as insignificant as Olympic recognition? To give up a true martial for the sake of a handful of competitors attending a sports festival every four years? A martial art does not need this type of recognition, sports do. Sacrificing a martial art in this way is like killing a lion to make way for a pussy cat.
ITF and WTF are not the same! All they share is a name. They may have similar roots, but they have both evolved in their own way. To go in one direction and then to try to cut across a mountainous jungle to follow someone else’s path is a question of futility. All it does is inhibit one’s own growth. When the line gets blurred, sometimes it is time to re-evaluate and refocus.
I never started Taekwon-Do because I had Olympic dreams. I started because I wanted to be a martial artist and to learn an effective way to defend myself. 99% of prospective students that walk through my dojang doors ask me about self-defence and about the life benefits of training in martial arts, not about the Olympics. The odd person that does come in with the Olympics in mind is most often not suited to my club or training methods.
WTF is already an Olympic sport. Its rules are accepted by the International Olympic Committee. If the ITF wants to climb on that band wagon, the WTF is not going to change their competition rules to suit it, so ITF will have to change theirs. What’s the point? If you want to focus on sport and compete under particular rules, then join that sport – which is exactly what will have to happen in the end. The ITF will have to join the WTF as a subsidiary and phase itself out. You don’t get American football players trying to compete in football (soccer) just because they are both called “football”, so why should it be any different in Taekwon-Do (Taekwondo)? ITF and WTF Taekwon-Do are different martial arts. They have evolved differently, and but for a few of the kicks, they barely even resemble one another.
The way it stands, I honestly believe that the ITF stands nothing to gain from the Olympics and the WTF has nothing to gain from including the ITF in them.
I have been a proud member of the ITF since the day I started Taekwon-Do. I have always loved the fact that we are a family traditional martial artists. It would be a sad, sad day to see our proud, strong association and members sell out to an Olympic dream.
As for the ITF and WTF joining together as one big happy family, that is another joke unto itself. It doesn’t event warrant talking about.