The term “style” is widely used in martial arts circles. Its meaning is very wide and this often leads to confusion.

In modern everyday life, the word “style” describes the personal representation of the   individual and his uniqueness. Each practitioner has his own “style” of performance. Eventually, this practitioner will become a black belt and develop his own unique “style” of performance. Technical “style” is “individuality of the performance of each instructor”. In this sense, the term “school” is also often used.

The basic meaning of “style” in martial arts is directly related to the implementation of techniques. It can be defined as “visible differences in the way techniques are executed” relative to another “style” of execution.

The broader meaning of “style” as “a set of principles, techniques, methods and rules of practice that together form a system” applies when the differences in techniques are not obvious. A system is “all creation; the universe” and comes from the Greek “systema” (organized whole; whole composed of parts).

The broadest meaning of the term “style” overlaps with “martial art.”

In comparison of Taekwon-do “ITF style” described in the Encyclopedia of Gen. Choi with modern ITF-V, ITF-NK, Advanced, GTF and WTF/WT, we get the following table:

Char. / Org. ITF ITF-V ITF-NK Advanced GTF WTF/WT
Dobok Enc. Enc. + Enc. + Free GTF V-neck
Techniques Enc. Enc. Enc. Enc. Enc. + WTF
Patterns Enc. Enc. Enc. Enc. Enc.+ GTF Poomsae
Exam req. Enc. Enc. + Enc. + Enc. + GTF WTF
Comp. rules Enc. ITF-V ITF-NK none GTF WTF
Style/Techniques ITF ITF ITF ITF ITF WTF
Style/System ITF ITF-V ITF-NK Advanced GTF WTF
Style/MA Taekwon-Do Taekwon-Do Taekwon-Do Taekwon-Do Taekwon-Do Taekwondo


It can be seen that the techniques of ITF are completely identical to those in ITF-V, ITF-NK and Advanced, conditionally identical to these GTFs and completely different from WTF. Thus, in a technical sense, ITF-V, ITF-NK, Advanced and GTF are “ITF style” and WTF is another style.

In the broader meaning of “style” as a system including techniques, forms, exam requirements, etc. The “ITF” system definitely differs from the systems ITF-V, ITF-NK, Advanced, GTF and WTF.  The special thing about this comparison of “styles” is that the differences between ITF and WTF are “total” and, according to the broadest definition of “style”, are different martial arts.

Advanced Taekwon-Do technically overlaps with ITF Taekwon-Do – the techniques and forms are identical to those described in the Encyclopedia. The differences between Advanced and ITF are mainly organizational – the lack of competition rules and the allowing of different doboks. With regard to the exam requirements, Advanced applies technically identical to ITF requirements from the Encyclopedia, but the system of degrees has been extended with children’s degrees Kids levels and Poom. At the level of the organization, Advanced delegates the right to the instructor to test up to one degree on his own, as early as 1 Dan can test and award student degrees Gup.

In recent years, there has been a new phenomenon – martial arts, systems and styles are disappearing. They just become 100% sports…



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