Although different in their Taekwondo philosophies, the two associations have several similarities. Due to their common origins, both place a heavy emphasis on graceful, but powerful, kicking techniques, and both use wood breaking as a test of both concentration and technique.
Some differences between traditional Taekwondo and sport Taekwondo are as follows:
- Traditional Taekwondo seeks self-development and spiritual improvement, while sport Taekwondo seeks superiority over an opponent—winning.
- Traditional Taekwondo reflects Eastern values while sport Taekwondo reflects Western values.
- Traditional Taekwondo is process-oriented, sport Taekwondo is result-oriented.
- Traditional Taekwondo is formalized, sport Taekwondo is not.
For true traditionalists, such as myself, the real Taekwondo is the one that developed in the major kwans throughout South Korea after World War II. It was combination of the Shotokan that had been learned by the kwan masters in Japan and what the masters had been able to learn about the ancient Korean art of Taekkon (of which little is known). All the kwan masters were equally responsible for the development of this new martial art; however, due to his positions and contacts within government and his ambition, Choi's version of Taekwondo became the most popular version used in the early years. Choi later declared himself the founder of Taekwondo. Although he certainly helped make Taekwondo the most popular martial art worldwide, he was not its sole founder.