The ITF considers itself a traditional martial art while WTF considers itself a progressive martial sport with the Olympics as its primary goal. The traditionally oriented ITF uses the "chonji" forms originally established by General Choi Hong Hi. The WTF originally used "palgue" colored belt forms. There was one form for each of the eight-trigram patterns, called "gwe" (four of the eight gwe are shown on the Korean flag). Later, a new series of eight color belt forms called "taeguk" was developed (named after eum-yang symbol on the Korean flag). While the taeguk forms are now the standard in the WTF, many schools also teach the palgue forms.
ITF kicks are characterized by a wide trajectory with maximum reach (the classical or traditional technique). The movements and the exercises are performed with the typical ITF "sine wave" (an up-and-down body movement aiming at the increasing of power). When executing a technique, a characteristic hissing sound made by a sudden breathing out through the teeth to tighten the abdominal and protect inner organs in case of counter-attack. The ITF practices semi-contact sparring where hand attacks to the face and kicks to the groin are allowed, however, little or no contact is used.
WTF kicks are oriented toward sparring. The foot trajectory is as short as possible to increase speed and the moment of surprise. There is no "wave" movement. The exhalation is often soundless to hide the moment of attack. The WTF emphasizes full-contact competition style sparring, which is why many people call WTF Taekwondo a sport rather than a martial art. In the WTF, participants are not allowed to attack the face with hand techniques, to attack below the waist, or to grapple. Otherwise, they use full-contact techniques. They use a scoring system that emphasizes the real delivered power of the technique. Both organizations require competitors to wear protective equipment while training and competing.
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