Get Ready For The New Breed Of Leadership In ITF Taekwon-Do | ITF Taekwon-Do

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Gen Choi Leadership - ITF Taekwon-Do - 1 TKD

Before the death of General Choi, the ITF was one.

However, even while he was in charge there were many instructors who fiercely loved ITF Taekwon-Do but left anyway because they were forced to deal with whoever happened to be in charge of their national organization or Masters that they had fundamental disagreements with. For those of whom that what was the case, the only alternative was to leave the ITF.

It was leadership by force and was tolerated by many. History has shown us time and time again that this type of leadership cannot endure. It was proven again by what occurred in the ITF’s leadership following General Choi’s death. You could say that his death was a catalyst for what might have eventually happened.

In Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich” he spends a great amount of time on the subject of Leadership and defines it as such:

“There are two forms of leadership. The first, and by far the most effective, is leadership by consent of, and with the sympathy of the followers. The second is leadership by force, without the consent and sympathy of the followers.

History is filled with evidences that leadership by force cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators and kings is significant. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely.

Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler were all examples of leadership by force. Leadership-by-consent of the followers is the only brand which can endure!”

The future of ITF style Taekwon-Do is in your hands. Yes, I mean you, the one reading this, the one in your underwear – YOU. As in instructor it is in your hands and a new breed of LEADER will be required moving forward.

Rank no longer is the determining factor in who should run organizations and who should be making all the decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, rank matters and one should be respected for what they have earned… but being a Master or Grand Master doesn’t automatically mean that you have any idea how to manage an organization, run a business or even effectively teach.

Napoleon Hill also addresses this specific phenomenon in his “10 Ten Major Causes of Failure In Leadership”. Numbers 9 and 10 seem as if they are written specifically for martial artists.

#9. Emphasis of the ‘authority’ of leadership.

The efficient leader leads by encouraging, and not by trying to instill fear in the hearts of his followers. The leader who tries to impress his followers with his ‘authority’ comes within the category of leadership through force. If a leader is a real leader, he will have no need to advertise that fact except by his conduct – his sympathy, understanding, fairness, and a demonstration that he knows his job.

#10. Emphasis of title.

The competent leader requires no ‘title’ to give him the respect of his followers. The man who makes too much over his title generally has little else to emphasize. The doors to the office of the real leader are open to all who wish to enter, and his working quarters are free from formality or ostentation.

Today in ITF Taekwon-Do, people have options. For the most part, instructors have realized that they have options and have gone with the organization that they feel most comfortable with, for whatever reason.

The important part of all this is that the instructors now have the all the power. They have the opportunity to choose which organization they wish join and that puts the pressure on the leaders of those organizations to start providing more than IIC’s, international competitions and certification. Eventually instructors will grow tired of constantly sending money to organizations while receiving very little in return.

As far as I know, there are now 4 different organizations that have enough member countries to host a World Championships and these organizations (and others) are now competing for members. They are all committed to preserving and following General Choi, Hong Hi’s legacy and they are all doing it in slightly different ways, but they are doing it.

If the leaders of these organizations don’t wake up to the fact that it’s not all about them, that they’re not the center of attention and that they DON’T know what’s best for the instructors of their organization (the instructors do), then they are ultimately going to dwindle, becoming weaker and weaker, eventually falling by the wayside regardless of who their president is.

The organizations who are able to adapt to the wants and needs of their instructors and who recognize that their instructors are the foundation, the lifeblood, of their organizations) are the ones who will thrive.

Finally, the day’s of complaining about your organization are over. As instructors you can’t control what the leaders of your organizations do, but you do have control over what organization you want to belong to. So if you don’t like your organization, SHUT UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Now there’s still the question of what to do about leadership regarding the splits in the ITF and unification.

As an instructor, the first thing you can do is BE INCLUSIVE.

When you host a seminar, a tournament or large event, be inclusive. Allow other ITF schools that may not be in your organization to participate. Most of you have friends in different organizations and it’s ridiculous to exclude them, avoid them, or to not allow someone to train or compete with you because they belong to a different organization that practices exactly what you do.

When this spirit of cooperation runs rampant at the grassroots level, if the leaders of the organizations are paying attention to who they claim to serve (the instructors) they will have to consider ways of working together at the organizational level.

And as a final note on the subject of leadership, I want to address a small part of a very long comment I received from someone in leadership of one of the ITFs that clearly demonstrates their state of mind. This was in response to my article “Is ITF Taekwon-Do Just Dying A Slow Death?”. He believes that the ITF needs to be one again and that everyone should come together under his leader, his organization.

Finally, Mr. Karstadt, I would like to describe a vision of mine. I envision TKD as a sapling OLIVE TREE, roughly 60 years old, an infant really, given that olive trees can live for thousands of years. As such it needs to be nourished, cared for, given his yearly pruning, sprayed upon to kill pests, loved and encouraged to grow and reach its full potential so that its multiple fruits can bless its farmers and their families and humanity. But next to it stand two farmers, who also happen to be brothers and sons of their great father who had planted the sapling before his passing, brothers at odds with each other because they have different opinions and plans for the fledgling olive tree. On the LEFT stands the brother who prefers not to work for the benefit of the little olive tree on the excuse that he chooses to become rich so that he can BUY his olives, olive oil, and olive tree sprigs to make a wreath out of to place on his ‘glorious’ head. On the RIGHT stands the other brother, who REALLY loves the sapling and advocates that both brothers should bent over the sapling with love, and, by uniting their energies and wisdom, they can help the sapling grow, reach maturity and its beneficial to all fruitfulness. WHICH BROTHER ARE YOU MR. Karstadt???
With respect, Yours in TKD

This was about 1/10 of the actual comment. Obviously the inference is that I’d like to exploit the tree (TKD) for profit which will eventually lead to it’s demise and he is the loving brother. Earlier in the comment he assumed that I have some sort of agenda, that I am making great sums of money giving advice inconsistent with the tenets and morals of Taekwon-Do from consulting and that I am only doing what I’m doing with 1 TKD to make money.

I find his groundless assumptions hilarious. Not only because they are not true, but because I’ve been helping instructors, writing articles and promoting 1 TKD for over a year now and have not earned a single penny for over a year’s worth of work.

I’m sure he loves Taekwon-Do, as do I. But in my opinion, the current reality of ITF Taekwon-Do is inconsistent with his analogy of the olive tree.

It seems to me that the tree planted by the father of the two farmers started from one seed and as it has grown it has begun to branch out. For 12 years now, those branches have been trying to grow and flourish in all directions from the trunk of this tree.

One farmer is upset that the tree has grown branches in different directions. His preference is that those branches be reigned in and forced to grow straight up, pinned to the trunk of the tree. He wants control of the tree and attempts to achieve this by claiming that it’s required for the tree’s survival. He fears an unknown future that allows freedom for those branches to grow and flourish in their own unique way. The other brother sees the current condition of the tree and acknowledges that although the branches may look different and are growing in different directions, the branches have all come from the same source, all have the same intentions and are free to grow how they see fit. After all, he knows that no matter how many branches, no matter what direction they grow, they are all still part of the same the olive tree. He then, not bothered by the differences between branches, goes to work for the benefit of the entire tree.

His last sentence, “…by uniting their energies and wisdom, they can help the sapling grow, reach maturity and its beneficial to all fruitfulness” sounds great. I even agree with it, but when “uniting” really means having to join his organization because he thinks its best for me, I’m out.

Again, there are many organizations (branches), but there is one Taekwon-Do.

Okay, enough with the farmers.

I’ll leave you with one more quote from Napoleon Hill.

Those who belong to the old school of leadership-by-force, must acquire an understanding of the new brand of leadership (cooperation) or be relegated to the rank and file of the followers.

There is no other way out for them.

Keep in mind that these quotes are as true today as they were when they were written. In case you didn’t know, these quotes are from 1937!

OH! In case you were wondering, YES I do intend to make money with 1 TKD. I’ve got nothing to hide here. And when I have something that I know will make a real difference for ITF instructors, something that I know will make their lives easier, something that will assist them in running a successful school without having to worry about figuring out the business side of things freeing them up to concentrate on what they love (teaching and training Taekwon-Do), then I’ll let the world know.

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About the Author:

taekwon-do phoenix, taekwon-do arizona, taekwondo phoenix, Phoenix taekwondo, itf taekwondo, taekwondo itf, tkd phoenix, taekwondo az, taekwondo Arizona, martial arts phoenix, martial arts Arizona, martial arts az, Phoenix Martial Arts, Arizona Martial Arts, Phoenix Karate, arizona taekwondo, karstadt, karstadt taekwondo, ITFJohn Karstadt

Senior Instructor – Karstadt Taekwon-Do

Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt.  He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline,  leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world.  He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do.  He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy.  Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children.  Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at

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