Phoenix Taekwon-Do just celebrated its 30th anniversary last October and this March Phoenix held its 25thAnnual Championships. Every single ITF club in the Edmonton area teaching ITF Taekwon-Do can trace its history back to Phoenix Taekwon-do and its Master Instructor, Craig Stanley. In fact in 1985 when Master Stanley (then just a 1st gup), moved to the Province of Alberta there was not a single ITF club in existence in the Province. Master Stanley found a club about 90 minutes away from where he lived that did both ITF and WTF patterns but was an independent club with no affiliation. After joining this club Master Stanley convinced the head instructor to become the ITF representative in Alberta. That instructor only lasted 3 years in the ITF. Like many Taekwon-do practitioners he thought he should be the leader and so created his own organization and has since faded into history. Master Stanley continued his involvement with ITF Taekwon-do and now thousands of students across the Province train in ITF Taekwon-do, albeit in many different ITF Federations.
This past weekend, March 10 and 11 saw 461 Taekwon-Do Athletes come together at Canadian Forces Base, Edmonton in the large field house to compete in Pattern, Sparring, and board breaking competition. As an added benefit there was also an American Ninja Warrior style obstacle course many people challenged. Last year the Championships had 461 competitors as well but this year the make-up was a bit different even though the numbers ended up being exactly the same. Many Taekwon-Do schools have a kids program that is structured a bit differently than the regular main stream instruction that older students will do. Phoenix was the first school to develop this type of program in Alberta and has over 250 kids ages 4 to 7 who are called Shadow Warriors. This year 125 of these Shadow Warriors attended the Championships to run their own obstacle course and do a little board breaking as well (Styrofoam boards). That was down from last year’s record breaking 150 Shadow Warriors.
Beginners to advanced, everyone had the opportunity to test their skills in the ring. The event had 10 rings running during the day with a 10 am start and an efficient 4:30 pm finish. 17 clubs participated in the tournament representing ITF HQ, ITF-C, ICTF, ITFU, and 2 independent clubs. In Canada members from ITF (Spain) are forbidden to participate in any other event or they will be expelled from that organization. ITF (England) (Choi, Jung Hwa) clubs are small and few in number in Alberta and chose not to attend even though they were invited.
A large group from ITF-C expressed an interest in attending the ITF Open World Championships. If they attend they will be a good bunch who are tough competitors.
The basic situation in Canada is that most clubs have settled into the ITF they want to be with. Any real growth for any group will be from within. Where black belts decide to open new schools and spread out from their original instructor. This is driving the growth of the ITF in Canada.