A Brief History of Tae Kwon Do & Current Olympic Status
www.bctaekwondo.org       Edit March 09, 2010
Tae Kwon Do TAE - Kicking or Jumping Feet

Warrior temple, Korea

KWON - Punching or Hand Strike
DO - Method, Path, or Art of

Tae Kwon Do as it was spelled in the mid 50's by the Korean Kwan (martial art school system) leaders has separated into several large bodies over time with varying priorities and method. Despite these differences the family root cannot be denied and the original value system has persevered in common with all. It should be stated these values may be worded in slightly different fashion, but universal concepts such as Respect, Integrity and Indomitable Spirit are the core  philosophy.
It is the responsibility of each school head to ensure these values remain in focus.

Distinctive Spellings by Tae Kwon Do Versions  (All TKD organizations not represented here)

Original/generic ~ "Tae Kwon Do"  ITF ~ "Taekwon-Do"  Songahm & Kukkiwon-WTF ~ "Taekwondo "

Am I WTF or Kukkiwon?

Kukkiwon Stats

British Columbians & Canadians Canada M.A. Density

Problems in the Identity and Philosophy of T'aegwondo and Their Historical Causes     By Steven D. Capener

Tae Kwon Do is a martial art form that evolved over many decades starting in Korea. It's method is primarily kicking, although various blows by hand, head, foot, knee, and elbow may also be applied. It has four main components of practice and demonstration: Form (Poomse), Free Sparring (Kyorugi),
Self-Defense (Ho Shin Sool), Breaking (Kyukpa). Tae Kwon Do has developed into both a traditional Martial art and Olympic medal sport. Olympic sport rules limit blows by closed fore-fist and feet only. No punching above the throat base is allowed, although kicks to the face are legal. Today only sparring is demonstrated at the Olympic level.

Christened in 1955 as a new martial art, Tae Kwon Do eventually developed into an Olympic medal sport. The ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) had considerable success in bringing it to the world through the 60's and early 70's. They currently maintain millions of members in 120+ countries worldwide. Beginning in 1972-73, Kukkiwon and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) became the first  (1980) Tae Kwon Do organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In 1987 Taekwondo was included as an official sport at the Pan Am Games and quickly became the first event to be sold out. In 1987 the first Women's World Taekwondo Championships were held. In 1988 and 1992 Taekwondo appeared at the Olympics as a demonstration sport. Taekwondo was adopted as an official medal sport of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and is a confirmed participant in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  At present Olympic rules for Taekwondo are derived from the WTF, headquartered in Seoul Korea. Although WTF currently recognizes only Kukkiwon certification, events sanctioned by the BC Tae Kwon Do Association do not discriminate nor restrict based on TKD style, focusing on access for all, introducing the Olympic rules to a larger audience. This concept is a constant in Olympic games and global sports in today's world.

Martial Arts ~ A definitive description, courtesy Wikipedia ...
(a word of caution, data at Wikipedia is not subject to verification as a condition of posting and some errors in fact are significant, please cross reference)
"Also known as fighting systems, are bodies of codified practices or traditions of unarmed and armed combat, often with the goal of developing both the character of the practitioner as well as the mindful, appropriate, controlled use of bodily force.

The martial arts, due to a century of exaggerated, exoticized portrayals in popular media (see orientalism), have been inextricably bound in the Western imagination to East Asian cultures and people, but it would be incorrect to say the martial arts are unique to Asia. Humans have always had to develop ways to defend themselves from attack, often without weapons, so it would not be correct to think that unarmed combat originated from East Asia. But what differentiates the martial arts from mere unarmed brawling is largely this codification or standardization of practices and traditions, many times in routines called forms (also called kata, kuen, tao lu, or hyung), and above all, the controlled, mindful application of force and empirical effectiveness. In this sense, boxing, fencing, archery, and wrestling can also be considered martial arts. More... "

Why is Taekwondo so popular?
Perhaps because it is so much more than self-defense skills. Joy in executing the motions, belonging and security in it's structure. It is a life-style of physical and mental training proven to develop the complete being - physical and mental, joined by an indomitable spirit.
In today's world, the values taught in Martial Arts are a cherished weapon against the negative influences our children face each day. It is the individual Instructors and Students at the classroom level which have given it life above and beyond the promises the style holds.


  • Kukkiwon Dan/Poom certificate holders [as of April 2003]: 5.46 million Worldwide

  •   Korea:
    Outside Korea:
    5.15 million
    0.31 million
  • Holders of Kukkiwon 4th Dan or higher
  •   Worldwide:
    Outside Korea:

     Dan ~ Black Belt ~ 15 yrs and older


     Poom ~ Junior Black Belt ~ Under 15 years (Belt black on top, red on bottom)


    Gup ~ color belt, odd levels striped ~ Kukkiwon keeps no records, only schools

    White Yel. Stripe Yellow Gre. Stripe Green Blue Stripe Blue Red Stripe Red Black Stripe
     10gup  9gup    8gup   7gup    6gup  5gup    4gup  3gup    2gup  1gup  
    Poom/Dan Kukkiwon
    Fee USD
    Foreigner Rate
    Minimum Time
    Required for Promotion
       Age Limits for Promotion   
    Start from Dan Start from Poom
      1st Poom   $   70 N A N A Less than 15 Years Old
      1st to 2nd Poom   $   90 1 year N A Less than 15 Years Old
      2nd to 3rd Poom   $ 120 2 years N A Less than 15 Years Old
      3rd to 4th Poom   $ 150 3 years N A Less than 18 Years Old
      1st Dan   $   70 N A 15 years and above N A
      1st to 2nd Dan   $   90 1 year 16 years and above 15 years and above
      2nd to 3rd Dan   $ 120 2 years 18 years and above 15 years and above
      3rd to 4th Dan   $ 150 3 years 21 years and above 18 years and above
      4th to 5th Dan   $ 300 4 years 25 years and above 22 years and above
      5th to 6th Dan   $ 350 5 years 30 years and above 30 years and above
      6th to 7th Dan   $ 450 6 years 36 years and above 36 years and above
      7th to 8th Dan   $ ? 8 years 44 years and above 44 years and above
      8th to 9th Dan   $ ? 9 years 53 years and above 53 years and above
      9th to 10th Dan   $ ? N A 60 years and above 60 years and above

    More on the KukKiWon & World Taekwondo Federation
    The Symbiosis Which Forms Olympic Style Taekwondo

    Kukkiwon Building, Seoul, Korea

    Body in charge

    The Kukkiwon is World Taekwondo Headquarters. It serves as the sole registry and determination of CLIK to enlargecertification for Poom and Dan promotion. It is the Kukkiwon which researches, designs, develops, and modifies curriculum for the student and Instructor alike. Kukkiwon conducts and assigns instructor seminars. The Kukkiwon decides what the requirements for promotion are, and if things such as poomse interpretation are involved, then the Kukkiwon has the final say. When one is promoted to Dan or Poom rank, one receives a certificate and number registration from the Kukkiwon, not the WTF. There was a brief period during the mid 1980's when Dan certificates were issued with the WTF logo at the top. That practice was quickly discontinued. It is worthy to note, the Kukkiwon requires a  4th Dan to recognize one as an instructor or as a recommender for Poom and Dan rank. Instructors may promote to one rank below their own current grade. Kukkiwon has no member countries and beyond issues of registration and curriculum, typically does not involve itself outside, relying on the WTF for this.

    Article 3 : Rights
    Kukkiwon shall be the supreme executive organ to exercise its exclusive rights over Dan Promotion tests, e.g. approval of promotion tests, test performance, supervision of promotion tests including screening of Poom or Dan applications, certificates and sanctions of Poom or Dan certificates.
    Article 5 : Recommendation
    1) Submission of Dan promotion test applications should be made only via the President of the Member National Association (MNA) of the WTF in nations where the MNA controls at least 70% of Taekwondo bodies and private instructors. It is not allowed to be recommended by the individual instructors in those countries. Individual instructors are not permitted to make personal recommendations.
    2) In those countries which do not fall into this category (herein after called "the 1st category"), applications can be submitted by both the Member National Association and independent instructors.
    * Canada is not a 1st category member of WTF (nor the USA)
    Sport Taekwondo

    The WTF or World Taekwondo Federation on the other hand serves as the current International Federation (IF) for purposes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As the IF for Taekwondo, the WTF regulates all aspects of sports competition for Taekwondo. It is the WTF that hosts the World Taekwondo Championships, and all other World events. It is the WTF that certifies the people who serve as International Referees and conducts International Referee training. It is the WTF who institutes the changes, if any, to the competition rules. It is also worthy to note, the WTF requires a  4th Dan to recognize one as an International Referee and only recognizes Taekwondo Dans registered at the Kukkiwon. Although the WTF has many member countries it primarily allows individuals enforcement and adjustments in their domains without interfering. Hence the inconsistency of issues such as rank for instructor (4th Dan Korea-USA-etc, 5th Dan Canada, 6th Dan Britain) Problems initiating in a member country, appealed to the international body are generally referred back to the source country, at times creating confusion and frustration.

    WTF TKD style ?...
    The only style of Tae Kwon Do the WTF recognizes is Kukkiwon. Most people say they are WTF style, but they are actually Kukkiwon-Taekwondo. WTF style sparring is truthfully the Kukkiwon-Taekwondo's Yonsup Kyorugi (contact confrontation).

    Quoted from the Website of The World Taekwondo Association January 2003...
    "DAN GRADING ~ All matters about black belt Poom/Dan certification are dealt with by the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters). Dan/Poom promotion tests are conducted according to the Regulations for Promotion Tests of the Kukkiwon." 

    Individuals cannot be WTF members...
    So what we have then is that the WTF is an organization which governs all international sport aspects of Kukkiwon-Taekwondo’s Yonsup Kyorugi (contact confrontation, or the method of full contact sparring). As such, only National Associations may be members of the WTF. Individuals are not members. For example, the New Zealand Taekwondo Federation Inc is the Member National Association for Taekwondo in New Zealand, and as such the New Zealand Taekwondo Federation Inc is a member of the WTF. Students who train in our Taekwondo school in New Zealand are members of the New Zealand Taekwondo Federation Inc, and not members of the WTF.

    Now just to make things even more confusing, the headquarters of the World Taekwondo Federation was actually located in the Kukkiwon building until February 19, 2002. But as we have seen, it is definitely separate from World Taekwondo Headquarters (Kukkiwon). 

    * Credit for the primary excellent compilation  "More on the KukKiWon - World Taekwondo Federation" goes to:
    Mr. Mike Heeney, Chief Instructor, Waikato Taekwondo Club Hamilton, New Zealand

    FAQ WTF World Headquarters... the source...www.wtf.org

    Q: Can International Referees and Individual Dojans use the WTF logo?

    The WTF is an International Sports Federation consisting of 179 member National Associations that govern Taekwondo in their respective countries. The WTF recognizes only one governing body per country.

    The WTF name and logo are properties of the WTF; thus, the WTF is the sole proprietor of the copyrights to its name and logo.

    According to Rules and Regulations, the WTF logo can be rendered only to the national member associations.
    It is not allowed even to the International Referees and Individual Dojangs and clubs.

    Rules & Regulations ...

    Article 3. Headquarters and Official Language
    1. The headquarters of the WTF shall be located permanently in Seoul, Korea.
    2. The official languages of the WTF shall be English, French, German, Spanish and Korean.
    3. In case of disagreement over interpretation or translation, the English version shall prevail.
    In case of disagreement over interpretation of technical matters of Taekwondo, the Koreanoriginal version shall prevail.
    4. Any member National Association shall have the right to speak in its mother tongue, but the speech shall be translated into the five official languages.

    Canadians & British Columbians...
    Although you may be ranked by the Kukkiwon, well trained and dedicated to the style, this will not ensure your admittance, acceptance, nor recognition at WTF competitions or organizations, aside from the few events labeled simply as "Open". When the word "Invitational" is used in a tournament title we recommend you call ahead.

    Opportunity denied, promises broken, different rules for different people ...
    Depending on the source, it is generally agreed Taekwondo was introduced to Canada 40-45 years ago. WTF/Kukkiwon has been here over 30 years. To this day we know of no Canadian citizen born and raised in this country, let alone in BC, that has been promoted to and/or universally recognized as "Grandmaster" (above 7th Dan). In fact the few Canadians who now hold 4th Dan or above only achieved this in the past 5-10 years. Time lines for rank are posted clearly in manuals and on the internet. There have literally been tens of thousands of Taekwondo students trained in Canada, many dedicated Taekwondo career professionals with long standing schools. The few Canadian born sons and daughters achieving legitimate Dan ranking where entitled by Provincial or National societal  bylaws to be addressed as "Master" are often not recognized by the local old guard, who instead substitute titles such as Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc. However as mentioned above, here in BC you must be at least 6th Dan or be sponsored (?). Moving up to 6th Dan may be a real challenge, so what happens in the mean time? If you could actually accomplish recognized school membership, questioning authority in any productive, democratic sense may have you facing severe punitive measures or excommunication.

    "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
    Martin Luther King Jr.

    We have "something", but there could be so much more...
    All Sport bodies in Canada who enjoy government recognition and support must accept government scrutiny and public accountability. They must serve the population objectively and broadly, to include and not to exclude legitimate interested parties. For all of us, this truly is in the best interest of Taekwondo as a Sport and as an enduring Martial Art.  It must be done through the participation of all or at least, by many. Contribute. It's your Taekwondo, your BC, your Canada

    How ? ...speak, meet, phone, email, write, educate others, send your thoughts, give some time.
    Ask a question... then ask another...