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Kukkiwon, also known as the World Taekwondo Headquarters, is an organization in the Gangnam-gu district of Seoul, South Korea. It was established on 1972-11-30. The Kukkiwon serves as the issuing body for taekwondo dan rank (black belt degree) promotion and certification. In addition, the Kukkiwon conducts research and instructional seminars and is home to the World Taekwondo Academy, which trains and certifies Taekwondo instructors through its leadership course. The Academy is also entrusted to conduct two instructor courses by the Korean Ministry of Culture and Sports. One is the course for 2nd class coaches and the other is the one for 3rd class instructors of sports for all. Nearly 5,400 people have become instructors and coaches registered with the Korean Ministry of Culture and Sports through these courses.

Only a small number of selected practitioners (non-Koreans) can participate in these programs. In 1998 fewer than 20 Americans (93 non-Koreans, from 32 countries) were issued Graduation Certificates by the Academy at the 1st Foreigner Instructors Course. The first American graduates of this historic course were given this opportunity and brought to this event by Grandmaster Al Cole of Cleveland, Ohio. They were Ran Zohar, Mike Snisky, Andy Bouloutian, from Pennsylvania; Dennis Enberg, Rob Cleek, Al Cole from Cleveland, Ohio; Wes Dees, Christina Bailey, from Dayton Ohio; Marika Powell from Palm Beach, FL; and Mary Zeller from Utah. The curriculum for belt promotion is specified and certified by the Kukkiwon, including required and compulsory poomsae (or forms), sparring, and breaking techniques.

The Kukkiwon is the only taekwondo organization whose dan ranks are recognized by World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The WTF governs the competition aspects of Taekwondo as the International Federation of Taekwondo of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The WTF does not issue dan ranks or black belt certifications. The Kukkiwon and the WTF are separate organizations, although the two are often confused with each other.[Who said this?] As a result, the term "WTF" is sometimes used to refer to the Kukkiwon-style taekwondo.

The Kukkiwon was the bridgehead to promote taekwondo sparring as an international sport, now having made it an official sport of the 2000 Summer Olympics after participation in the 1988 Summer Olympics and 1992 Summer Olympics as a demonstration sport. It is also involved in technical development and research of taekwondo, the collection of related materials, public relations and publications, and the training of coaches and students.


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