I have been teaching for free and use an organization that's growing and is also free; it uses Chang Hun patterns. I was thinking of getting evolved with the ITF. An ITF instructor offered to train me on my patterns to get up to ITF standards, but he lives very far away. To switch to the ITF I would have to start charging for lessons. My main reason for switching is that I do not want to cheat my students of any opportunities TKD may offer them. What is you opinion of this?
Martial art organizations are a confused mess, TKD organizations included. Due to egos and the desire for power, there are probably a hundred or more TKD organizations in the US. Most had humble beginnings with noble reasons for their creation, but as they grew in membership, the people in control began to see that there was more money to be made if you rip-off students with exorbitant organization, school, testing, and tournament fees. Since there is no central TKD organization (the ITF is even split into two warring factions), there is no one organization that is necessarily better than the others. Each has its pros and cons, but most want a lot of money from member schools so the organization’s officials may gain even more money and power.
Organizations do have a purpose; they furnish member schools with a central rank certification point and common rank requirements, offer a way for like-minded schools to hold tournaments, and possibly offer ways to help each school grow. Other than that, they are not needed for students who stay in one location for their martial arts career.
Membership in a widespread or worldwide organization is good for people who change geographic locations regularly. It makes it easier for them to find a school affiliated with the organization in different locations around the US and world. If a person hopes to compete in the Olympics some day, then they must be certified by the WTF. To compete in AAU events, they must be certified in the AAU. I live in Winston-Salem, NC and there are no ITF schools in the city or country; there are a few WTF schools. The most successful group of TKD schools in the area are all owned and operated by a Korean-American who has his own organization.
I train at a school that is affiliated with Taekwondo America, which also uses the traditional Changhun pattern set. Taekwondo America schools are mainly located around the southeast but there are a few schools all around the US. The organization is owned and operated by school owners, who elect one of their own to serve a term as the organization president. The organization itself has minimal costs so the school owners retain their own profits. Students pay no organization membership fees and they know that any money they pay for fees goes to the school owner. If they have a loyalty to the instructor, then they don’t begrudge the fees for they can see where their money is going. However, if a student moves to location where there is no Taekwondo America school, then the student may have to start over from the beginning in a different organization.
Choosing an organization to be affiliated with is a personal choice that requires taking all the circumstances into consideration. Students tend to be loyal to their first school and organization, so change can be difficult. Many organizations require any new member to start over at white belt; that’s what I had to do in Taekwondo America.
If you think your students will benefit from the ITF, then it may be good for you to affiliate with one of them, otherwise, I think you should stay where you are.