World Taekwondo Federation

Not to be confused with International Taekwon-Do Federation.
For other uses, see WTF.
World Taekwondo Federation
Abbreviation WTF
Formation May 28, 1973
Purpose Martial art and sport
Headquarters Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
  • South Korea
Region served
Official language
Choue Chung-won[1]
Flagpoles and flags of the World Taekwondo Federation and of the Korean Taekwondo Association at the Kukkiwon in Seoul, South Korea

The World Taekwondo Federation, commonly known by its abbreviation WTF, is the international federation governing the sport of taekwondo and is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).[2] The WTF was established on May 28, 1973 at its inaugural meeting held at the Kukkiwon with participation of 35 representatives from around the world. There are now 205 member nations. Since 2004, Choue Chung-won has been the president of the WTF, succeeding the first president, Kim Un-yong, after he retired. On July 17, 1980 the International Olympic Committee recognized the WTF at its 83rd Session in Moscow, Soviet Union. First, Taekwondo was adopted as a demonstration sport of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea; later, on September 4, 1994 Taekwondo was adopted as an official Sport of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games at the 103rd IOC Session in Paris, France. According to the WTF, "Taekwondo is one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts, that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind. Today, it has become a global sport that has gained an international reputation, and stands among the official games in the Olympics."[3]

Organizational structure

The main constituents of the WTF are the following: The General Assembly (GA); the WTF Council; the President and the Secretariat. In addition to its main constituents the WTF also encompasses other organizations that have been duly authorized or recognized by the Council and the GA and that operate under the auspices of the WTF. WTF-recognized or authorized organizations include but are not limited to the Continental Unions. The General Assembly is the general meeting of the Council and representatives of MNAs of the WTF. The GA is the WTF’s supreme decision making organ. Its decisions are final, whereas the Council consists of the President, the Vice Presidents, the Secretary General, the Treasurer and the Council members. Responsibilities of the Council are for example planning and management of WTF organization and operations and the control over the financial budget and financial reports. The President is elected by the GA from among its members for a term of four years. The President must lead and represent the WTF; concurrently lead the GA and the Council as its chairman, and preside over meetings and other activities as well as designate official duties to Vice Presidents on an ad-hoc basis for the betterment of the development of the sport of taekwondo and the WTF operations. Furthermore, the President appoints the chairmen and members of the WTF Committees. Lastly, the Secretariat of the WTF is installed at the location of the WTF headquarters for the execution of the secretarial affairs and duties of the President and the Secretary General.[4][5]


The World Taekwondo Federation was established on May 28, 1973 at the inaugural meeting held at the Kukkiwon with participation of 35 representatives from the world. At that time Un Yong Kim was elected president for a four-year term. One of the main Constituents of the WTF, the Secretariat was formed on June 3, 1973 and began operating. On October 8, 1974 the WTF was affiliated to the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), now SportAccord. Until the 1980s, the European (May, 1976), the Asian (October, 1976), the Pan American (September, 1978) and the African (April, 1979) Taekwondo Unions inaugural meetings were held, while Oceania’s Taekwondo Union was not recognized as the 5th Continental Union of the WTF until July 16, 2005. The recognition of the IOC towards the WTF at its 83rd session in Moscow on July 17, 1980 was the cornerstone for their Cooperation. Thereupon Taekwondo participated in the 24th Olympic Games at Changchung Gymnasium in Seoul, Korea as well as the 25th Olympic Games at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona, Spain as a demonstration sport. In recognition of his contribution to the Olympic Movement Un Yong Kim was awarded the Order of Commander by Prince Rainier of Monaco on September 21, 1993. Moreover, Taekwondo was adopted as an official sport of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games at the 103rd IOC session in Paris, France on September 4, 1994. Half a year later, on February 15, 1995 the WTF was affiliated to the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) as a provisional member. After the first appearance of Taekwondo as an Olympic Sport in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the IOC executive board confirms Taekwondo as an Olympic Sport for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games on December 11–13, 2000. Furthermore, the inclusion of taekwondo in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was confirmed on November 29, 2002 at the 114th IOC session held in Mexico City. On February 15, 2004 the Vice President (Italy) Sun Jae Park was elected as Acting President of the WTF due to the resignation of the founding President Un Yong Kim from the presidency of the WTF. Four month later Chung Won Choue was elected as new President of the WTF at the extraordinary General Assembly on June 11, 2004. Taekwondo was confirmed as program of the 2012 London Olympic Games on July 8, 2005.[6]

Mission and objectives

The mission of the WTF is to provide effective international governance of Taekwondo as an Olympic sport and Paralympic sport. The envisioned objectives of the WTF are to promote, expand, and improve worldwide the practice of taekwondo in light of its educational, cultural, and sports values (the “Taekwondo movement”) and to promote fair play, youth development, and education as well as to encourage peace and cooperation though participation in sports. Moreover, the WTF wants to promote or sanction international taekwondo competitions and relating to those the WTF resolves to constantly improve technical rules regulating taekwondo competitions and poomsae competitions sanctioned or promoted by the WTF, including the taekwondo event of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Furthermore, the WTF wants to take action in order to strengthen the unity and protect the interests of the WTF and the Taekwondo Movement as well as to engage in other activities in support of the above objectives. The WTF undertakes its missions and objectives in cooperation with independent affiliated organizations including the WTF Academy, WTF Taekwondo Peace Corps, WTF Demonstration Team, WTF Pro Taekwondo Federation, Global Taekwondo Support Federation and WTF International Federation.[7]


As of 2015, the global membership of the WTF stands at 206 national member associations, spanning five continents.[8]

Continental Federations

44 national member associations
50 national member associations
50 national member associations
43 national member associations
19 member national associations

National Associations

Pan America [9]
 Antigua and Barbuda (1998)  Argentina (1976)  Aruba (1992)  Bahamas (1997)
 Barbados (1986)  Belize (1997)  Bermuda (1983)  Bolivia (1977)
 Brazil (1975)  British Virgin Islands (1998)  Canada (1975)  Cayman Islands (1989)
 Chile (1989)  Colombia (1976)  Costa Rica (1984)  Cuba (1993)
 Curaçao (2012)  Dominica (1999)  Dominican Republic (1983)  Ecuador (1973)
 El Salvador (1987)  Grenada (1995)  Guadeloupe (2011)  Guatemala (1991)
 Guyana (1995)  Haiti (1992)  Honduras (1979)  Jamaica (1977)
 Martinique (2011)  Mexico (1973)  Nicaragua (1991)  Panama (1989)
 Paraguay (1982)  Peru (1977)  Puerto Rico (1977)  Saint Lucia (1998)
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1992)  Saint Kitts and Nevis (1998)  Suriname (1977)  Trinidad and Tobago (1983)
 Uruguay (1990)  USA USA Taekwondo (1975)  Venezuela (1976)  United States Virgin Islands (1981)
Europe [10]
 Albania (1995)  Andorra (1987)  Armenia (1996)  Austria (1973)
 Azerbaijan (1995)  Belgium (1975)  Bosnia & Herzegovina (1993)  Bulgaria (1990)
 Croatia (1992)  Cyprus (1982)  Czech Republic (1995)  Denmark (1975)
 Estonia (1998)  Finland (1979)  Republic of Macedonia (2001)  France (1975)
 Georgia (1995)  Germany (1973)  Greece (1985)  Hungary (1989)
 Iceland (1991)  Ireland (1983)  Isle of Man (2006)  Israel (1981)
 Italy (1977)  Kosovo (2013)  Latvia (1992)  Lithuania (1992)
 Luxembourg (1993)  Malta (1995)  Monaco (1996)  Montenegro (2007)
 Netherlands (1976)  Norway (1977)  Poland (1979)  Portugal (1976)
 Republic of Belarus (1992)  Moldova (1995)  Romania (1991)  Russia (1991)
 San Marino (1994)  Serbia (1975)  Slovakia (1994)  Slovenia (1993)
 Spain (1975)  Sweden (1977)   Switzerland (1977)  Turkey (1975)
 Ukraine (1993)  United Kingdom (1977)
Africa [11]
 Algeria (2004)  Angola (2001)  Benin (1978)  Botswana (2012)
 Burkina Faso (1981)  Burundi (2010)  Cameroon (2002)  Cape Verde (2000)
 Chad (2000)  Comoros (2003)  Congo (1993)  Côte d'Ivoire (1975)
 DR Congo (2005)  Egypt (1979)  Equatorial Guinea (1997)  Ethiopia (2003)
 Gabon (1978)  Gambia (2007)  Ghana (1981)  Kenya (1990)
 Lesotho (1990)  Liberia (2001)  Libya (1979)  Madagascar (1993)
(1993) Malawi (2007)  Mali (2000)  Mauritania (2014)  Mauritius (1978)
 Morocco (1981)  Mozambique (2005)  Niger (1999)  Nigeria (1988)
 Central African Republic (1999)  Guinea (2001)  Rwanda (2011)  São Tomé and Príncipe (2004)
 Senegal (1995)  Seychelles (2012)  Sierra Leone (2012)  Somalia (1997)
 South Africa (1991)  South Sudan (2012)  Sudan (2003)  Swaziland (1985)
 Tanzania (2003)  Togo (1996)  Tunisia (1978)  Uganda (2007)
 Zambia (2006)  Zimbabwe (1997)
Asia [12]
 Afghanistan (1993)  Bahrain (1977)  Bangladesh (1999)  Bhutan (1985)
 Brunei Darussalam(1973)  Cambodia (1995)  China (1995)  East Timor (2009)
 Hong Kong (1978)  India (1979)  Indonesia (1975)  Iran (1975)
 Iraq (1984)  Japan (1981)  Jordan (1979)  Kazakhstan (1993)
 South Korea (1973)  Kuwait (1977)  Kyrgyzstan (1993)  Laos (1996)
 Lebanon (1978)  Macau (2002)  Malaysia (1975)  Mongolia (1991)
 Myanmar (1990)    Nepal (1983)  Oman (2010)  Pakistan (1977)
 Palestine (1989)  Philippines (1973)  Qatar (1977)  Saudi Arabia (1977)
 Singapore (1975)  Sri Lanka (1983)  Syria (2000)  Chinese Taipei (1974)
 Tajikistan (1995)  Thailand (1975)  Turkmenistan (2000)  United Arab Emirates (1994)
 Uzbekistan (1992)  Vietnam (1989)  Yemen (1988)
Oceania [13]
 American Samoa (2007)  Australia (1975)  Cook Islands (2011)  Fiji (1983)
 French Polynesia (1975)  Guam (1986)  Kiribati (2006)  Marshall Islands (2007)
 Micronesia (2011)  Nauru (2011)  New Caledonia (2010)  New Zealand (1975)
 Palau (2011)  Papua New Guinea (2003)  Samoa (1997)  Solomon Islands (1999)
 Tonga (2001)  Tuvalu (2011)  Vanuatu (2004)

WTF Promoted Championships

Rules and Regulations

The World Taekwondo Federation established the statutes to fairly and smoothly manage all matters pertaining the organization at all levels and its Continental Unions and member National Associations, ensuring the application of standardized rules. The WTF Statutes state very accurately every detail that has to be considered to successfully govern the organization. It includes the duties of the governing bodies as well as the officials; the organization's mission and objectives; rules regarding membership; it presents the WTF promoted championships etc.

World Taekwondo Federation Statutes Table of contents:[15]

  1. World Taekwondo Federation: Presenting the Organization, their mission and objectives
  2. Organization: Mainly stating the duties of each of the governing bodies as well as those of the officials
  3. Membership: Explains how to become a member as well as their rights and responsibilities
  4. Continental Unions: Recognition and requirements
  5. Activities and Resources: Mainly presenting WTF promoted championships and financial agreements
  6. Committees: A list of all the existing committees
  7. Sanctions: Discussing sanctions and dispute resolutions
  8. General Provisions: Most importantly declaring the way of modifications as well as abbreviations and definitions


Official WTF trunk protector (hogu), forearm guards and shin guards

Under World Taekwondo Federation and Olympic rules, sparring is a full-contact event and takes place between two competitors in an area measuring 8 meters square.[16] A win can occur by points, or if one competitor is unable to continue (knockout) the other competitor wins.[17] Each match consists of two semi-continuous rounds of contact, with 30 second rest between rounds. There are two age categories: 14–17 years and 18 years and older.

Points are awarded for permitted, accurate, and powerful techniques to the legal scoring areas; light contact does not score any points. The only techniques allowed are kicks (delivering a strike using an area of the foot below the ankle) and punches (delivering a strike using the closed fist).[18] In most competitions, points are awarded by three corner judges using electronic scoring tallies. Several A-Class tournaments, however, are now trialing electronic scoring equipment contained within competitors' body protectors. This limits corner judges to scoring only attacks to the head. Some believe that the new electronic scoring system will help to reduce controversy concerning judging decisions,[19] but this technology is still not universally accepted.[20]

The competition sparring rules were updated by the WTF General Assembly in November 2016 in order to upgrade the sport so that it "dazzles and excites." Changes include encouraging more offensive actions with modifications to some of the point scoring and by disallowing certain leg blocks, elimination of mid-game interruptions, and improvements that simplify penalty assessment and foster better officiating.[21] These new rules take effect in January 2017.

Beginning in 2009, a kick or punch that makes contact with the opponent's hogu (the body guard that functions as a scoring target) scores one point; if a kick to the hogu involved a technique that includes fully turning the attacking competitor's body, so that the back is fully exposed to the targeted competitor during execution of the technique (spinning kick), an additional point is awarded; a kick to the head scores three points; as of October 2010 an additional point is awarded if a turning kick was used to execute this attack.[22] Punches to the head are not allowed. As of March 2010, no additional points are awarded for knocking down an opponent (beyond the normal points awarded for legal strikes).

The referee can give penalties at any time for rule-breaking, such as hitting an area not recognized as a target, usually the legs or neck. Penalties are divided into "Kyong-go (warning penalty)" and "Gam-jeom (deduction penalty)". Two "Kyong-go" shall be counted as an addition of one (1) point for the opposing contestant. However, the final odd-numbered "Kyong-go" shall not be counted in the grand total.[23]

At the end of two rounds, the competitor with more points wins the match. In the event of a tie at the end of two rounds, a third "sudden death" overtime round, sometimes called "Golden Point", will be held to determine the winner after a one-minute rest period. In this round the first competitor to score a point wins the match. If there is no score in the additional round the winner shall be decided by superiority as determined by the refereeing officials.[22]

Until 2008, if one competitor gained a 7-point lead over the other, or if one competitor reached a total of 12 points, then that competitor was immediately declared the winner and the match ended. These rules were abolished by the WTF at the start of 2009. In October 2010 the WTF reintroduced a point gap rule. Under the new rule if a competitor has a 12-point lead at the end of the second round or achieves a 12-point lead at any point in the third round then the match is over and the athlete in the lead is declared the winner.[22]

The WTF-sanctioned events allow any person, regardless of school affiliation or martial arts style, to compete in WTF events as long as he or she is a member of the WTF Member National Association in his or her nation. These National Associations are open for anyone to join.

Poomsae (Recognized)

Poomsae competition has skyrocked in participation since the 1st WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in 2006.

Athletes wear the y-neck WTF poomsae uniform, as opposed to the traditional WTF v-neck.

Competitors are assigned compulsory poomsae depending on their age division. The compulsory poomsae are as follows:


Pair and Team


Competitors are given the designated poomsae at least one week prior to the competition. One or two poomsae is performed in each round: preliminaries, semifinals, finals 1, finals 2, and finals 3. After the preliminary round, the top half advance to the semifinal round. The top 8 in the semifinal round advance to finals 1. In the final rounds, competitors are seeded and compete head to head against an opponent. The player with the higher score moves onto the next round. Finals 2 decide the bronze medalist, and finals 1 decide the gold and silver medalists.

Competitors are given a score out of 10.00 using an electronic scoring system or by hand. The score is composed of accuracy (4.00 points) and presentation (6.00 points). Competitions are judged by 3, 5, or 7 judges. If using a 5 or 7 judge format, the highest and lowest presentation and accuracy scores are dropped.

In May 2016, the WTF began world poomsae rankings. Poomsae competitors are awarded points at G ranked tournaments. These points determine their seedings in WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.

Freestyle Poomsae

Freestyle performance is based on taekwondo techniques, with the addition of music and choreography.


  1. "Choue re-elected as head of taekwondo federation". USA Today. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
  2. "Breakthrough deal to allow N. Koreans to compete in Olympic taekwondo competitions". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  3. "introduction". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  4. "Organizational structure". Farrell’s US Martial Arts and Fitness. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  5. "Organizational structure". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  6. "History". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  7. "Mission and Objectives (Article 2)" (PDF). World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  8. "Membership". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  9. "PATU". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  10. "ETU". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  11. "AFTU". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  12. "ATU". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  13. "OTU". World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  14. "Championships (Article 22)" (PDF). World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  15. "The statutes" (PDF). World Taekwondo Federation. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  16. "Competition rules & interpretation" (PDF). World Taekwondo Federation (2010). 2 March 2010. p. 5. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
  17. "Article 18" (PDF). Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  18. "Article 11" (PDF). p. 26. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  19. Gomez, Brian (August 23, 2009). "New taekwondo scoring system reduces controversy". The Gazette. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  20. Archived March 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. "Taekwondo Competition Rules Altered to Make Sport 'Dazzle and Excite' Changes Adopted at WTF General Assembly in Canada". WTF. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  22. 1 2 3 World Taekwondo Federation (Oct 7, 2010): Competition rules & interpretation (7 October 2010, pp. 31–32). Retrieved on 27 November 2010.
  23. "WTF World Taekwondo Federation". Retrieved 29 December 2014.
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