World Taekwondo (WT) is the highest sanctioning authority and international governing body for the popular martial arts and combat sport of Taekwondo. The International Olympic Committee recognises the sport, which also forms part of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic programs. As a result, WT is a member of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). WT has a sharp vision to be the most inclusive and accessible sport in the world. To achieve that, the federation is constantly working on developing and promoting the sport from a grass roots level to elite levels.
Taekwondo features in every nation in the world and WT currently has over 200 national associations as members, spanning over five continents. Collectively there are several hundred thousand athletes and officials affiliated to these national associations. With that in mind, WT have a task to ensure the integrity and values are passed down throughout the federations and practiced by every participant. The headquarters are based on Seoul, South Korea, with the European branch in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The origins of taekwondo are Korean, characterized by head-height kicks and fast kicking techniques, which includes jumping spinning kicks. The important aspect is that you strike your opponent above waist height only. Shortly after World War II and particularly after the Japanese occupation, several new martial arts schools opened in Seoul. These were called kwans, which means building hall. The martial arts experts who opened these schools were all trained in Japanese and Chinese martial arts. The indigenous discipline of Taekkyeon had by that time been forgotten. By the beginning of 1955, the leaders of each kwan began to discuss among themselves to create a martial art unique to Korea.
During this time, the sport was adopted by the military, making it popular among all the kwans. In 1959 the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was established. What followed was a difficult period for the sport marked by several separate federations being established with slight variations in style. In 1972 the KTA and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the South Korean government established the Kukkiwon, the official home of taekwondo. A year later Kukkiwon and KTA approved the establishment of the World Taekwondo Federation, later renamed in 2017 to World Taekwondo.