WTF Competition Rules
 
 (WTF Membership:
 182 as of end of July 2006)
 2 New members:Kiribati, Zambia
 1 Associate member: Isle of Man
 
WTF General Assembly Designates Sept. 4 as Taekwondo Day

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam --- The World Taekwondo Federation designated Sept. 4 as the official “Taekwondo Day” at its extraordinary General Assembly here on July 25, 2006.

In line with the WTF’s ongoing reform programs, the General Assembly approved a package of proposals for amendments to the WTF Rules and Regulations and the WTF Poomsae Competition Rules.

Korea Clinches Both Male, Female Team Titles at World Junior Taekwondo Championships
WTF Sanctions 4 International Referees, 1 National Team Head in 2 Days at World Junior Championships
WTF Approves New Referee Uniforms for Gyeorugi, Poomsae Competitions
Manchester Earns Bid for World Olympic Taekwondo Qualification Tournament
Interview : Mr. Truong Ngoc De of Vietnam
Interview: Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, President of the Taekwondo Federation of Iran
Interview: Mr. Kyaw Than Oo of Myanmar and Mr. Chaminda Punchihewa of Sri Lanka
WTF General Assembly Designates Sept. 4 as Taekwondo Day
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam --- The World Taekwondo Federation designated Sept. 4 as the official “Taekwondo Day” at its extraordinary General Assembly here on July 25, 2006.

In line with the WTF’s ongoing reform programs, the General Assembly approved a package of proposals for amendments to the WTF Rules and Regulations and the WTF Poomsae Competition Rules.

Under the changed WTF Rules and Regulations, the term “regional” will be changed into “continental,” thus the regional taekwondo unions shall be continental taekwondo unions. Article 2.4 on Amateurism was also deleted to help activate professional taekwondo.

The WTF Executive Council will be renamed into the WTF Council, with the creation of the Executive Committee consisting of the president, six vice presidents, the secretary general and the treasuer.

Under the new WTF Rules and Regulations, the General Assembly shall be held every year at the same location where the WTF World Taekwondo Championships and the WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships. The fiscal year of the WTF shall commence on Jan. 1 and end on Dec. 31 of each year.

The General Assembly also approved the creation of the Paralympic Committee within the WTF, in line with the WTF’s policy to include taekwondo in the official sport of the Paralympic Games in the near future.

In a show of solidarity among the global taekwondo family members, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on recent terrorist incidents in Iraqi, condemning the kidnapping of Iraqi taekwondo athletes two months ago and wishing them an early return to their homes.

The Assembly approved three new memberships: Kiribati in the Oceania region and Zambia in Africa as full members, along with Isle of Man as an associate member.

With the new memberships, the WTF has a total of 182 member national associations.

At the Assembly, Izmir of Turkey was chosen as the host site for the 7th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships on May 8-11, 2008, with Incheon of Korea the venue for the 2nd WTF World Poomsae Taekwondo Championships in the fall of 2007.

On July 24, the WTF’s Executive Council approved the new referee uniforms for Kyorugi and Poomsae competitions.

At the Council meeting, Manchester of Great Britain outbid Baku of Azerbaijan to win the bid to host the World Olympic Qualification Tournament.

On a more heartwarming note, the Pakistan Taekwondo Federation offered its heartfelt appreciation to the WTF for offering condolences and monetary support to the National Olympic Committee of Pakistan during the devastating earthquake that struck Pakistan on October 8, 2005. The WTF was the only federation that offered such support

Korea Clinches Both Male, Female Team Titles at World Junior Taekwondo Championships
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- Korea won both the male and female team titles at the 6th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships, which wrapped up its five-day run here on July 30, 2006.

Korean male contestants clinched four gold medals and two bronze medals to top others in the overall medal tally, followed by Iran with two golds, one silver and two bronzes, Thailand

with one gold, two silvers and one bronze. Chinaand France shared fourth place with one gold, one silver and one bronze in the male divison.

In the female division, Korean female athletes won four golds, two silvers and two bronzes for the overall title, followed by Vietnam with three golds and two bronzes, Thailand with one gold and two silvers, China with one gold, one silver and two bronzes, and Turkey with one gold and two bronzes.

The World Junior Championships, which took place at the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, attracted 1,158 athletes and officials from 77 countries around the world.

During the closing ceremony of the championships, the Good Fighting Spirit Prizes went to Vietnam, Turkey and China, while the Active Participation Prizes were given to Mexico, Egypt and Australia.

Korea’s Jeon Jin-su, the gold medalist in the male lightweight category of the just-ended championships, was chosen as the Best Male Athlete, while Thailand’s Buttree Puedpong, the gold medal winner in the female finweight class, was named the Best Female Athlete of the championships.

The Best Referee Awards were given to five international referees:
Chen Chun-feng of Chinese Taipei, Nazmdeh Mojtaba of Iran, Myung-ok Yu of Canada, Klay Thomas of Switzerland, and Benali Youssef of Morocco.

In the closing ceremony, WTF President Chungwon Choue thanked the Vietnamese organizers for the successful event.

“Through the course of the championships, we have confirmed once again that fair judgment is of the essence in the sport of taekwondo. For this reason, I wish to thank the referees for their hard work during what has been a difficult situation,” WTF President Choue said in his speech during the ceremony. “I trust your continued passion for and commitment to taekwondo.”

He continued to say, “I believe that our new Competition Rules at the World Juniors have contributed immensely to a more dynamic and exciting championships. I am especially excited to see matches won by point gap and point ceiling.”

The next WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships are scheduled to take place in Izmir, Turkey in May 2008.

WTF Sanctions 4 International Referees, 1 National Team Head in 2 Days at World Junior Championships
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- In a strong show of its determination to fair judging and refereeing at taekwondo competitions, the Competition Supervisory Board of the World Taekwondo Federation has sanctioned four international referees and one national team head in two separate cases in two days at the just-ended 6th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships here.

On July 30, the Competition Supervisory Board sanctioned a Canadian team head for undesirable action.

Mr. Min Hyung-keun, the head of the Canadian delegation for the championships, received a six-month suspension from all WTF-promoted or sanctioned championships as he was found “responsible for pushing an international referee in the Referees’ Section.”

A day earlier, the Board announced its official sanctions of four international referees related to a July 27 protest from the Spanish team.

After receiving a protest from the Spanish team on the second day of the championships on July 27, the Competition Supervisory Board conducted a thorough investigation into the charges and announced four international referees responsible for their undesirable action on July 29.

In the WTF’s 33-year history, it could mark the single, stiffest official sanctions on international referees, reaffirming the WTF’s strong determination to fair judging and refereeing at taekwondo competitions, as well as establishing an orderly competition venue culture.

The four international referees found responsible were Myeung Gon Moon of Hong Kong, Sang Soon Lee of Spain, Jose Molero Lopez of Spain and N. Da Christophe Ediemou of Cotedvoire.

Mr. Moon was immediately suspended from the ongoing 6th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships and received a two-year suspension from all WTF-promoted or sanctioned- World or Continental championships.

The Board announced that Moon was sanctioned as he “who upon receiving the decision of superiority sheets from the judges, declared the Hong contestant as the winner, despite the fact that three sheets favored Chung while only two sheets favored Hong; a decision that resulted in a protest, which the Competition Supervisory Board had to reverse.”

In a related case, Mr. Sang Soon Lee received a unanimous suspension and non-invitation to officiate at one WTF-promoted championship for his lack of professionalism and undesirable comments to other international referees in the Referees’ Section.

The Board announced, “According to several eye-witness accounts, the referee (Mr. Lee) had conversations with the president and delegation of the Spanish team in an animated and excited manner that is unprofessional for an international referee.”

N. Da Christophe Ediemou received a strong warning from the Board as he, who upon receiving the decision of superiority sheets of the referee and judges, did not interfere when the wrong contestant was declared the winner.

A strong warning was also given to Jose Molero Lopez for “making undesirable comments and acting in an animated and excited manner to the international referees in the Referees’ Section, and to the public.

Under the WTF Rules and Regulations, the Competition Supervisory Board shall make corrections of referees’ or judges’ misjudgments in accordance to the board members’ decisions on protests, and take disciplinary action against officials who make such misjudgments or engage in any illegal behavior.

To ensure fairer judgment and refereeing at taekwondo competitions, the WTF plans to introduce an electronic protector system at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Besides the sanctions, the WTF announced a list of five recipients of the “Best Referee Awards” of the championships during the closing ceremony on July 31. They are Chen Chun-feng of Chinese Taipei, Nazmdeh Mojtaba of Iran, Myung-ok Yu of Canada, Klay Thomas of Switzerland, and Benali Youssef of Morocco

WTF Approves New Referee Uniforms for Gyeorugi, Poomsae Competitions
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - The World Taekwondo Federation approved new referee uniforms for gyeorugi and poomsae competitions at its Executive Council meeting here on July 24, 2006.

It marked the first change to the design of referee uniforms for gyeorugi competitions since the establishment of the WTF in 1973.

The new referee uniforms for gyeorugi competitions will be used as early as at the 1st WTF World Cup Team Teakwondo Championships scheduled for Sept. 14-17 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The newly designed costumes for international poomsae referees will be used for the first time at the 1st WTF World Poomsae Taekwondo Championships in Seoul on Sept. 4-6, 2006.

International referees of the WTF have long called for the change to the WTF’s decades-old yellow uniforms.

The referee uniform for gyeorugi competitions is composed of a jacket and a shirt of both sky-blue color, a matching blue tie and trousers of deep navy blue, while the uniform for poomsae competitions consists of a deep-navy-blue jacket, an ivory shirt, a purple tie and gray trousers.

Able Fashion, a Korean company in Seoul, Jorea, designed the new uniforms.

The WTF’s ad-hoc committee on referee uniforms made a final approval of the new designs of referee uniforms on June 7, 2006, at their meeting at the headquarters of the WTF.

Among the members were Mr. Eui-min Ko, chairman of the WTF Technical Committee; Mr. Hong-ki Kim, chairman of the WTF Refereeing Committee; and Mr. Manuel Colmenero Firvida, member of the Refereeing Committee.

For further information on the uniform manufacturer, you can contact Mrs. Sun-mi Lim of Able Fashion at 82-(0)16-703-2071 or soojung617@hanmail.net. The company's fax number is 82-2-771-3696.

Manchester Earns Bid for World Olympic Taekwondo Qualification Tournament
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam --- Manchester of Great Britain has won the right to host the World Taekwondo Qualification Tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The decision was made during the Executive Council meeting of the World Taekwondo Federation held at the Equatorial Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on July 24, 2006.
Manchester outbid the other candidate city of Baku, Azerbaijan. Bangkok of Thailand withdrew its bid at the last moment for the world qualification tournament.

During their 10-minute presentation before the Executive Council members, the British bidders cited four reasons for their choice for the world qualification tournament: full support of IOC Member Princess Anne, full support of the British government, London 2012 preparations and BBC coverage.

According to the WTF event calendar, Ho Chi Minh City is scheduled to host the Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament in late November 2007.

Bogota, Colombia, is scheduled to host the Pan-American Taekwondo Qualification Tournament in mid-December 2007, while Istanbul, Turkey, is to host the European Taekwondo Qualification Tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in late January 2008.

The venues and dates for the African and Oceania Olympic qualification tournaments have yet to be decided.
China Pushes for Introduction of Taekwondo as a Compulsory Subject at Elementary Schools
BEIJING -- The Olympic sport of taekwondo has been promoted as a required course in elementary schools in Sichuan Province, southwestern China, reported the Internet edition of the Chengdu Daily on June 4, 2006.

The idea of taekwondo as a required course in elementary schools has already passed the first session of discussions and it will be officially

implemented soon, according to the educational personnel of the province.

According to the newspaper, the sport has been rapidly developing since its official introduction in China in 1992. Within the past decade, up to 10,000 gyms have been set up all over the country, and the result is an impressive count of over one million taekwondo practitioners.

China's recent golden successes in taekwondo at the Olympic Games have greatly fueled the popularity of the sport among the younger generation. China won three gold medals in taekwondo at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

In this regard, the introduction of taekwondo as a required course in elementary schools would serve to further heighten the popularity of the sport, as well as enhance the lives of millions in China.

(Story from the Chengdu Daily in China on June 4, 2006)

Kidnappings in Iraq Turn Hope Into Despair

By Alan Abrahamson

LOS ANGELES, U.S.A.----- Three years ago, under a brutal midday sun in Baghdad, I bore witness to a scene that, I thought at the time, proved that sports matter.

Eighty men showed up for a taekwondo tournament. There were just two sets of acceptable uniforms for all 80 participants.

There was no fancy hall to compete in, no foam pads to fight and fall onto. So the tournament was held outside, with the temperature soaring over 120 degrees, on a concrete basketball court, and the competitors took turns putting on the sweat-soaked uniforms and helmets, and kicking and falling.

These were the behind-the-scenes goings-on as Iraqi sports officials prepared for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Just weeks before, the rush to Baghdad by U.S.-led forces had ousted Saddam Hussein; his violent son Uday had headed the Iraqi Olympic Committee.

My thoughts are once again with the Iraqi athletes and coaches who so impressed me in Baghdad, in particular with one taekwondo entrant, Raid Rasheed, who competed at the Athens Olympics in the under 176-pound (80-kilogram) division, losing to the eventual gold medalist, American Steve Lopez. My thoughts are also with Ahmed al-Samarrai, known in some accounts as Ahmed Hajiya, the president of the reconstituted National Olympic Committee of Iraq.

Al-Samarrai was kidnapped Saturday. He and his colleagues had been at a sports meeting at a cultural center in downtown Baghdad. In all, dozens were seized. Reports say they were taken by heavily armed men dressed in camouflage and police uniforms.

In May, meanwhile, 17 members of an Iraqi taekwondo squad, including four on the national team, were kidnapped on their way to Jordan, where they had hoped to obtain visas for a tournament in Las Vegas --- all 17 disappeared into the desert, with no word since. It remains unclear whether Rasheed was among them.

The head of the Iraqi taekwondo association, Jamal Abdul Karim, was among those kidnapped Saturday.

The abductions Saturday followed the killing Thursday of the Iraqi wrestling team's Sunni coach, shot dead in a Shiite district of Baghdad.

Also in May, gunmen killed the coach of the Iraqi national tennis team and two of his players in western Baghdad; some reports have suggested the gunmen were religious extremists irate at the sight of tennis shorts. Last July, the director of a karate association was killed, his body found in a river southeast of Baghdad.

The director general of the new Iraqi Olympic committee, Tiras Odisho, was himself kidnapped last year; he was released after being ransomed. Odisho was not among those taken Saturday; he could not be reached this week for comment.

Alarmingly, no one has heard anything since Saturday about where al-Samarrai and the others might be. No motive. No ransom demands. Nothing.

As I watched that taekwondo display three years ago, I remember thinking that sports --- and in particular the lure of the Olympic Games --- represented hope, maybe just a glimmer, even when everything else seemed madness.

In the wake of kidnappings in Iraq, I wonder whether there is still hope for each of them.

I have interviewed al-Samarrai, president of the Iraq Olympic committee, many times. We have shared meals together, including one memorable dinner in Baghdad where we ate outside at a cafe that specialized in mezgouf, a grilled fish that is an Iraqi specialty. The crack of gunfire in the distance punctuated the conversation.

At another meeting in Athens, al-Samarrai told me he had just the month before survived a head-on car crash --- just days after his car came under attack in what he called an assassination attempt. Each time he had escaped unscathed.

Another episode on my trip to Baghdad in 2003 sticks with me now too. Al-Samarrai, a Sunni, was among those watching an election one night at the al-Walaa sports club. The club's modest facilities are in Sadr CITY, the Shiite slum in northeastern Baghdad.

The election was among the first steps in re-forming an Olympic committee; each of the nearly 200 sports clubs in Iraq had to chose new, Saddam-free leadership; those representatives formed a general assembly; that assembly elected the leadership of the new Iraqi Olympic committee.

What transpired was a gentility, a decency and a community democracy that would stand as an example in any civics class in any U.S. high school. Each of the 14 candidates took a few moments at the microphone. One of the 14 was a huge man missing most of one leg; he hobbled to the mike on crutches. Another was a woman who guided her wheelchair to the front of the room.

After the speeches, yellow ballots were passed out, marked and counted, and a 12-year-old boy, Saif Ali Kassem, told me, "The new regime is better. Saddam's regime prevented everything, even for children. Now we have freedom."

Now I wonder: Is that enough?

(Story from the Los Angeles Times on July 19, 2006)

World University Taekwondo Championship: Always a Success

The following is a press release by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) on the 2006 World University Taekwondo Championship held in Valencia , Spain , on May 16-20, 2006 -- Ed.  

BRUSSELS , Belgium --- "This is an excellent meeting; it provides an opportunity to see how

we stand in comparison to the competition, which is getting tougher and tougher – we are really very happy to be here."

Taekwondo is a martial art that attracts a growing number of students and adds a lot to the success of the FISU World University Championship.

At FISU, taekwondo is very popular. The 2006 edition of this WUC proved it again when 40 countries, a new record, were accredited for a total of 217 athletes (123 men and 94 women). This was not really surprise, when we observe that Taekwondo has never stopped growing since the first FISU competition that took place in 1986 in Berkeley, USA, proving its popularity as a University sport.

For this ninth addition, the city, and more particularly the University, of Valencia have done everything to provide participants with the best possible infrastructures for the tournament. Here we must also mention the excellent organization of this World University Championship. The Organizing Committee has shown unequalled professionalism, among other things proposing a very large number of cultural activities participants.

In Patras (GRE), in 2004, Korea went home with a handsome collection of medals as usual: five in gold, four in silver and five in bronze. The result is exceptional, but it should not cloud the fact that other countries are also beginning to make a breakthrough.

The trend was confirmed in Valencia, which marked the end of total domination by the Korean team, in any case for the men.

The Men's Tournament

Two other countries, Iran and Thailand, were also sensational in Spain. Iran pocketed three titles as well as three silver medals and one in bronze, while Thailand won two gold medals. Korea of course, was still very present – with two gold medals, two in silver and three in bronze, it was hardly on the sidelines, but the days when the Koreans systematically won every title seem to be over.

The number of nations on the various podiums is getting larger as well, and this is a very good thing. In any case it shows that the sport has attracted a growing number of enthusiasts and that the policies for developing taekwondo in certain countries are beginning to be effective.

The Women's Tournament

For the ladies, the story was quite different. The Korean tradition still weighed heavily on participants from other countries. The Korean team collected five gold medals out of eight (as well as one in silver and one in bronze), broadly dominating the field. Worth mentioning too are good performances of the teams from Brazil and Spain.

On the whole, this tournament drew very high-level contestants, often on the point of being selected for the next Olympic Games (in Beijing in 2008). As Carlos Negrao, coach of the Brazilian team put it: "This is an excellent meet, with athletes from all over the world. … It provides an opportunity to see how we stand in comparison to the competition, which is getting tougher and tougher – we are really very happy to be here – and, in addition, the organization is really first-class…"

The next World University Taekwondo Championship will take place in Belgrade in 2008.

Interview : Mr. Truong Ngoc De of Vietnam

"Taekwondo's Popularity Further Heightened on Occasion of World Junior Championships"


HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – The popularity of taekwondo has further heightened in Vietnam on the occasion of the just-ended 6th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships, says a high-ranking Vietnamese official.

“The popularity of taekwondo, the number two sport after soccer in Vietnam, has further enhanced on the occasion of the World Junior Championships in my country,” said Mr. Truong Ngoc De, vice president of the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation.

In an interview with the WTF shortly after the conclusion of the five-day championships, Mr. De, who also works as secretary general of the federation, said that he was very satisfied with his country’s competition results at the championships.

Vietnamese female contestants clinched three gold medals and two bronze medals to rank second in the overall medal tally in the female division after Korea. Vietnamese male players won one bronze medal at the championships.

“For Vietnam, it was the first ever gold at the championships,” Mr. De said. “The Vietnamese were really excited as their players won two gold medals on the opening day of the championships.”

The World Junior Championships attracted 1,148 athletes and officials from a record 77 countries. The previous World Junior Championships, which were held in Suncheon, Korea, in June 2004, attracted 643 athletes from 70 nations.

Mr. De said that the popularity of taekwondo started to rise on the occasion of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, in which taekwondo debuted as an official sport.

At the Sydney Olympic Games, Vietnam’s Tran Hien Ngan clinched the silver medal in the female –57kg class. A national hero in Vietnam, she now works for the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation as the secretary for financial affairs.

“Taekwondo will be further developed in Vietnam as the Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is scheduled to take place in Ho Chi Minh City in late November next year,” said Mr. De.

He said, “Vietnam has about two million taekwondo practitioners and the number is rapidly increasing.” “Ho Chi Minh City has about 100,000 taekwondo practitioners, compared with 250,000 in Hanoi.”

As part of the federation’s efforts to further promote taekwondo in Vietnam, he said, the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation, in cooperation with local business companies, will build the Vietnamese version of the Kukkiwon, the world’s taekwondo training center in Korea.

Mr. De said the construction of the 22-story, $30-million apartment building, tentatively called “Viet Han,” will “start around September this year and be completed after one and a half years.”

“The first three stories will be used as a training center for taekwondo, while two other stories will be used for other martial arts,” he said. “Gold medalists at championships can buy the apartment houses at a special price.”

Interview: Mr. Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, President of the Taekwondo Federation of Iran

"I am married to taekwondo first and then to my wife"


Iranian contestants won two gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals to rank second in the male division’s medal tally after Korea at the just-ended 6th WTF World Junior Taekwondo Championships held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

At the 9th World University Taekwondo Championships, which were held in Valencia, Spain in May this year, Iran also ranked second after Korea with three golds, three silvers and one bronze in the overall medal tally.

Iran boasts of about 1.2 million taekwondo practitioners. Among taekwondo heroes today is Hadi Saei Bonehkohal, who won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and obtained several other medals in major international competitions.

What has made Iran that strong in taekwondo?

“The secrets behind Iran’s success in taekwondo are hard training and discipline, among others,” said Seyed Mohammad Pouladgar, a member of the newly renamed WTF Council and president of the Taekwondo Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran.

He said there are also several other reasons. “The taekwondo spirit strongly resembles with the Iranian culture, such as respecting the elderly, and treating your friends and enemies with honor.”

Furthermore, Iranian women are allowed to practice the martial art-turned sport of taekwondo, which seems to contradict with the beliefs of Islam.

In hindsight, it could be due to the reason that women could wear the dobok, or taekwondo uniform, which has long sleeves and trousers. As such, women are allowed to participate in open championships and are praised to learn the art of self-defense.

Seyed Pouladgar said that Iranians started having a great interest in taekwondo during the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988. Such interest reached the national secret police agency and the National Guard.

Taekwondo’s popularity became high when Iran won medals at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games - one gold and one bronze medal. Iranian teenagers aligned themselves to the victories as restoration of their self-confidence, especially after years of international isolation and war.

There was a renewed hope in sports, especially through taekwondo.

The unique characteristic of taekwondo in Iran is the organization of the “League” – official competitions for individuals and business teams in Iran – that is being held weekly and is compulsory for all professional athletes.

There are now 45 teams and numerous individuals who participate in the League.

“The reason why Hadi Saei Bonehkohal became our strongest player is because he had to participate in the League every week,” said Seyed Pouladgar. “For instance, after winning the gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games and a gold medal in the World Taekwondo Championships in Madrid, Hadi had only two weeks of rest time before playing again in the League. This tough condition made him the Hadi of today.”

“Our League can become a model for other countries,” he said.
Last year, a League for women was introduced, which started with four teams but expanded to eight teams. “Women are not always weak. While having family responsibilities, they are also strong and have a fighting spirit,” said Seyed Pouladgar.

Besides the Iranian government’s strong support for the development of taekwondo, Seyed Pouladgar never fails to thank the WTF for its hard work for further globalizing the sport of taekwondo.

He said Iran plans to organize an international camp in February 2007 to help foster taekwondo leaders. “This plan is still in the works, but it will greatly help make Iranian taekwondo more popular in the world.”

“When the WTF President visited Iran in early March this year, he motivated us to initiate taekwondo studies in our universities with the help of our government.”

Seyed Pouladgar first learned taekwondo when he was 13 years old. His master was a person who lost an arm during the war between Iran and Iraq.

“My wife says that I am married to taekwondo first and then to her. I am always busy doing these taekwondo affairs,” said Seyed Pouladgar.

Interview: Mr. Kyaw Than Oo of Myanmar and Mr. Chaminda Punchihewa of Sri Lanka

Mr. Kyaw Than Oo of Myanmar , Mr. Chaminda Punchihewa of Sri Lanka Participating in Asia Taekwondo Families Friendship Program in Korea

The head coach of the Myanmar Taekwondo National Team and a taekwondo instructor from the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation are following the Asia Taekwondo Families Friendship Program in Korea , which kicked off in April and is to last until October this year.

Mr. Kyaw Than Oo from Myanmar and Mr. Chaminda Punchihewa from Sri Lanka are the two students, who came to Korea for Asia Taekwondo Families Friendship Program, which was organized by the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation. They receive lessons on taekwondo, the refereeing system and the Korean language, among others.

They were selected as they belong to those countries that need international assistance the most. The friendship program was initiated as taekwondo could help develop the countries as well as improve the health and education of the people.

After staying more than three months in Korea, the two students now can speak Korean quiet well. They seem happy with the program and want to redo it if another chance is given to them.

Mr. Kyaw Than Oo, 38, is a second-dan black-belt holder in taekwondo, and hopes to become an international referee. He started learning taekwondo more than a decade ago and has since worked as a national coach.

He visited the Kukkiwon in Korea in 1986 with the conviction that taekwondo is more exciting than any other martial arts he had ever practiced.

“There are about 300,000 registered taekwondo practitioners in Myanmar, but only 30 hold Kukkiwon dan certificates and only two hold a certificate of second dan or higher,” said Mr. Kyaw. “We have no international referee in our country.”
Mr. Kyaw said, “My country’s immediate tasks are to foster taekwondo athletes with more foreign experiences and to produce international referees. In other words, more Myanmar athletes should obtain the third- or fourth-dan certificates.”

He said that there have been only foreign taekwondo students and amateurs in his country actively working as instructors of the sport. If Myanmar could have more professional taekwondo masters with international experiences, Mr. Kyaw sees the future of taekwondo in his country is bright.

The other student form Sri Lanka, Mr. Chaminda Punchihewa, 31, holds a third-dan, black-belt certificate.

He started practicing taekwondo in 1992 under a Korean master. His father also practiced the martial art of taekwondo.

Sri Lanka has a short taekwondo history, but it is now progressing fast. Because taekwondo has the “Olympic status,” it guarantees the rapid growth in the popularity of the sport in the country.

Given its “small” population, it is amazing to have more than 20,000 taekwondo athletes, he said. Mr. Punchihewa dreams of becoming a national team coach.

“Our country needs building more national team training centers, more proper infrastructure, and more investments in the public relations sector,” said Mr. Punchihewa.