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Previous logo, using the name 'World Taekwondo Federation'


WT Taekwondo is associated with the Kukkiwon, Korea's government-sponsored national academy for taekwondo.

World Taekwondo (WT, formerly the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)) is the international federation governing the sport of taekwondo and para-taekwondo. WT is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). A National Governing Body (NGB) governs the sport in each country. For example, the NGB in South Korea is the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), while the NGB in the United States is USA Taekwondo.

Within the WT, groups of NGBs are organized geographically into unions, with one union each for Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceana, and Pan-America. The Pan-America union, for example, has 42 member NGBs. The WT's Korean headquarters are in the Sujeong-gu district within the city of Seongnam in the province of Gyeonggi in South Korea. A second WTF office is maintained in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Colloquially, the term WTF-style taekwondo refers to the style of taekwondo used in WT-sanctioned competitions. This style is defined by the Kukkiwon, so technically the more correct name for this style is Kukkiwon-style taekwondo.


WT was established on May 28, 1973 as the WTF at its inaugural meeting held at the Kukkiwon with participation from 35 representatives from around the world. There are now 205 WT member nations. Since 2004, Chungwon Choue has been the president of the WT, succeding the first president, Un Yong Kim, after he retired. On July 17, 1980 the International Olympic Committee recognized the WT at its 83rd Session in Moscow. First, Taekwondo was adopted as a demonstration sport of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, 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 WT, "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."

Kukkiwon/WT-style taekwondo is unique among martial arts in that it is sponsored a major government agency; specfically, it is supported by the government of South Korea via its sponsorship of the Kukkiwon. The Kukkiwon is supervised by the International Sports Division of South Korea's Ministry for Culture, Sports, and Tourism and essentially defines and promotes Kukkiwon/WTF-style taekwondo. Note that the World Taekwondo Federation, as an international sports federation, is organizationally distinct from Kukkiwon, but adheres to the style of taekwondo defined by Kukkiwon.

Style Name[]

Technically WT (WTF) is not a "style" of taekwondo; it is a sporting organisation managing a specific competition ruleset. It's more technically correct to call the style primarily competing in WT-sanctioned competitions Kukkiwon-style taekwondo, since Kukkiwon is the organization that defines the style. In common vernacular however, it is not uncommon for people to refer to WTF-style, Sport-style, or Olympic-style when referring to the Kukkiwon style, since the WT adheres to the Kukkiwon style.

People outside the world of taekwondo may have heard about the WT (because it is associated with the Olympics) whereas they may be less familiar with the Kukkiwon. For this reason, it is quite common to hear people speak of "WT/WTF-style" taekwondo, even though this is not technically accurate. (To avoid this confusion, on this wiki we often refer to the style as Kukkiwon/WT or Kukkiwon/WTF style.)

Forms (Poomsae)[]

Kukkiwon/WT-style taekwondo currently uses taegeuk forms ("poomsae") for color belts (below black belt). These are:

Previously (from 1967 to 1971), this style (at that time defined by the Korea Taekwondo Association, KTA) used the older palgwae (also spelled palgwe) forms. These are still taught at some schools. This change in forms occured when the final members of the original kwans joined the KTA/Kukkiwon/WT umbrella. These older forms are:

Kukkiwon/WT Taekwondo uses the following series of forms (called the Yudanja series) for Black Belt forms:

  • Koryo (고려) - first dan, also spelled Goryeo and Koryeo ("learned man", symbolizing a wise person)
    • An older, deprecated form called Original Koryo also exists, but it isn't considered so by the Kukkiwon (for gradings or the Master Instructor Course) or by WT (for the World Poomsae Championships).
  • Keumgang (금강)) - second dan ("diamond", symbolizing hardness, unbreakable)
  • Taebaek (태백)) - third dan ("sacred mountain", symbolizing spirituality)
  • Pyongwon (평원)- fourth dan, also spelled Pyeong-won ("open plain", symbolizing peacefulness)
  • Sipjin (싶진)) - fifth dan, also spelled Shipjin ("eternal 10", symbolizing health and longevity)
  • Jitae (지태) - sixth dan (symbolizes mankind as the connection between heaven and earth)
  • Cheonkwon (천권) - seventh dan, also spelled Cheon-gwon ("sky", symbolizing piety)
  • Hansoo (한수) - eighth dan, also spelled Hansu ("water", symbolizing adaptability)
  • Ilyeo (일여) - ninth dan (symbolizing the Buddhist concept of oneness of the mind and body)

Each of the yudanja forms has a floor pattern that traces out a Chinese character or other symbol. Each character is said to represent a characteristic that should be exhibited by a taekwondo master: wise, unbreakable, spiritual, peaceful, long-lived, pious, adaptable, etc.

Yudanja Meanings

Poomsae Competitions[]


iPoomsae Basic - Poomsae Scoring Software for the iPad


A Taekwonsoft poomsae scoring device. Taekwonsoft is one of the WTF-approved poomsae scoring systems.

Traditionally, WT-style taekwondo tournaments (especially smaller, regional tournaments) might incorporate as many as four different types of poomsae competitions:

  • For Open Poomsae events, you know ahead of time which form you will be demonstrating. The form you will be demonstrating is usually determined based on your belt rank.
  • For Sport Poomsae events, you do not know ahead of time which forms you will be demonstrating. At the time of the event, you will be asked to performed any of the standard forms on-the-spot. So for Sport Poomsae events, you essentially need to practice your style's entire curriculum.
  • For Team Poomsae events, you perform poomsae as part of team of people who all perform the same poomsae at the same time. In addition to all the usual judging factors (see below), in this event your team is also evaluated in terms of how well the team can stay synchronized during the performance.
  • For Creative or Freestyle Poomsae events, you perform a poomsae that you yourself have designed. See Freestyle Forms for more detail.

At national and international levels, a more modern approach that is often seen is to offer just two types of poomsae competitions: traditional and freestyle. Competitors are typically scored on a ten-point scale; 4 of the ten points are based on accuracy (technical), and 6 points are based on presentation. Poomsae competition is usually performed in front of 3, 5, or 7 judges.

Divions are seperated by age and gender. The recognized poomsae divisions for black belts are as follows:

Individual - seperate male and female divisions[]

  • Cadet (12-14 years old)
  • Junior (15-17)
  • Under 30 (18-29)
  • Under 40 (30-39)
  • Under 50 (40-49)
  • Under 60 (50-59)
  • Under 65 (60-64)
  • Over 65 (65+)

Starting 2018 the Under 60, Under 65 and Over 65 divisions will be consolidated into the Over 50 (age 50+) division.

Pairs - One male and one female perform together[]

  • Cadet (12-14)
  • Junior (15-17)
  • Under 30 (18-29)
  • Over 30 (30+)

Team - Three males or three females perform together[]

  • Cadet (12-14)
  • Junior (15-17)
  • Under 30 (18-29)
  • Over 30 (30+)

Freestyle poomsae divisions are as follows:

Individual - seperate male and female divisions[]

  • Under 17
  • Over 17

Pairs - one male and one female perform together[]

  • Under 17
  • Over 17

Mixed Team - five people perform together (3 males and 2 females or 3 females and 2 males)[]

  • Under 17
  • Over 17

The compulsory poomsae for each division are:


  • Cadet - Taegeuk 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang
  • Junior - Taegeuk 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebek
  • Under 30 and Under 40 - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebek, Pyongwon, Shipjin
  • Under 50 - Taegeuk 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Chonkwon
  • Under 60, Under 65, Over 65 - Koryo, Keumgang, Taebek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Chonkwon, Hansu

Starting 2018 the new compulsory individual forms will be [1]:

  • Cadet - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Bee-gak 1
  • Junior - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Bee-gak 1, 2
  • Under 30 - Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Cheonkwon, Hansoo, Bee-gak 1, 2, 3
  • Under 40, Under 50, Over 50 - Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Cheonkwon, Hansu

​Pairs and Teams[]

  • ​Cadet - Taegeuk 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang
  • Junior - Taegeuk 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek
  • Under 30 - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin
  • Over 30 - Taegeuk 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Chonkwon

Starting 2018 the new compulsory pairs and teams forms will be [1]:

  • Cadet - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Bee-gak 1
  • Junior - Taegeuk 6, 7, 8, Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Bee-gak 1, 2
  • Under 30 - Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Cheonkwon, Hansoo, Bee-gak 1, 2, 3
  • Over 30 - Koryo, Keumgang, Taebaek, Pyongwon, Shipjin, Jitae, Cheonkwon, Hansu

The latest information we got this weekend from the WT vice president is that at the 2018 world championships competitors will be able to choose for the traditional (taegeuk, poomsae koryo - poomsae hansu) or modern (Bee-gak 1-3) forms. Starting 2019 the modern forms will be compulsory. [2]

The vice president also advised the organization of the Belgium Open to maintain the current traditional compulsory forms as the tournament is only 3 months away. But expect tournaments later in the season to adhere to the new regulations.


WT-style sparring is full-contact sparring, meaning that opponents must hit each other with a strong impact in order to score, and knockout is legal. This distinguishes WT-style sparring from many other styles of taekwondo where players are penalised for excessive contact, and knocking out your opponent results in disqualification. Conversely, WT-style sparring incorporate much more padding than other styles of taekwondo: torso padded-armor is called hogu; padded helmets, mouth guards, and padding for shins, forearms, feet, and hands are also used. Other styles of taekwondo generally require less protective gear, due to their light-contact nature.

WT-style sparring takes place between two competitors in an area measuring 8 meters square. A win can occur by points, or if one competitor is unable to continue (knockout) the other competitor wins. Each match consists of two or three rounds with 30 second rest between rounds. 

Points are awarded for permitted, accurate, and powerful techniques to the legal scoring areas. One point is awarded for a regular kick to the body, two points is awarded for a spinning kick to the body, three points are awarded for a regular kick to the head, and four points are awarded for a spinning kick to the head. Knocking out ones opponent results in an instant win.  

There is one type of deduction: gam-jeom (full point is added to the opponents score).  A competitor with 10 Gam-jeon will end the match and the win will be awarded to the opponent. 

At the end of the rounds, the competitor with more points wins the match. In the event of a tie, a sudden death round, called the Golden Round, will be held to determine the winner. In this round, the first competitor to score two points 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. 

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Poomsae Competition Rules and Interpretation", World Taekwondo Seoul, Korea, June 24, 2017
  2. Poomsae “Bee-gak” may be included in the 2018 World Championships as a separate demonstration event, and included as parts of recognized items from the 2020 World Championships.
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