Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. -Thucydides
Although not of the same caliber as Ida Amin, there are plenty of power hungry martial art "masters" and their accompanying organizations to take advantage of gullible students. Although most students are not directly involved with the power struggles within organizations, they do end up being indirectly affected. The stress put upon school owners and instructors may result in a lower quality of instruction. The changes may result in increased costs to students, and, if conflicts cause the school to change organizations, there may be problems in converting rank from one organization to the other.
The following are some recent martial art organization power struggles.
United States Taekwondo Union (USTU)
Governing body for Olympic Taekwondo in United States
Agreement saves Taekwondo federation. January 28, 2004. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/more/01/28/bc.oly.usoc.Taekwondo.ap/
CHICAGO (AP) -- The U.S. Taekwondo Union agreed to a restructuring plan Tuesday, sparing it from being stripped of its powers as the sport's national governing body by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Under the agreement, president Sang Lee and the rest of the USTU's officers resigned immediately. The USOC's executive committee will appoint a five-person board to run the USTU, and also choose a new executive director for the federation.
Had the USTU not agreed to the remediation plan and been decertified, the USOC would have taken over the sport -- including selection of the team for this summer's Athens Olympics. "Solving this battle now is in the best interest of USTU, especially for the athletes," said Tim Connolly, interim executive director of the USTU. "I'm very confident this remediation plan will be able to set things in the right direction. I'm sure there's going to be struggles along the way, but it's a much faster way to come to some resolution."
The USOC recommended decertifying the USTU in October after an investigation found financial mismanagement, including $206,000 owed to the USOC. The USOC also criticized the organization for having four executive directors and five finance directors since 1997. The USOC had already cut off base funding to the USTU early last year, making performance payments directly to the athletes instead.
Attorneys for the USTU and USOC agreed in November on a re-organizational plan that would have allowed the USTU to retain its Olympic charter. But the USOC's executive committee rejected it because it allowed Lee, a lightning rod for controversy, to stay with the USTU in a lesser role.
Lee announced his resignation last Friday, but said it wouldn't take effect until April 30. That wasn't good enough for the USOC, which said it was going ahead with the decertification process.
Attorneys for both sides spent most of Tuesday morning trying to reach an agreement that would spare the USTU, finally settling about three hours after the decertification hearing was scheduled to begin. Under the agreement, the USOC's executive committee will name a five-person committee to run the USTU. One member will be an athlete, and the other four will be at-large. The USOC also will name an executive director, who will then hire a financial director. "We are clearly a dysfunctional organization," said Christo Lassiter, an attorney who appeared on behalf of the USTU's board of governors. "This dysfunction has gone back 10, 12 years, and we very much appreciate what the USOC staff has done to right the ship."
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF)
Governing body for Olympic Taekwondo
Sports Body Probes Vice-President. January 10, 2004. Associated Press
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has asked its Ethics Committee to investigate a financial scandal surrounding IOC vice president Kim Un-yong, who resigned on Friday as a Korean lawmaker and also world Taekwondo chief.
Kim has been questioned by South Korean prosecutors about allegations he collected illicit money from former South Korean Olympic officials and embezzled funds from Taekwondo organizations.
"The situation is that we have written to the Ethics Committee and asked them to look into the matter and give us their advice," IOC spokesman Giselle Davies said Saturday, "The letter went out yesterday and we haven't had a response yet."
Friday's developments have put Kim's position as IOC vice-president in jeopardy. In an emotional resignation speech in Seoul on Friday, Kim said he was quitting as head of the World Taekwondo Federation, which he has headed for three decades.
"I made this decision while feeling a heavy sense of responsibility for causing controversy in connection with my sports diplomacy," he said, reading a prepared statement.
Kim also gave up two posts he held in South Korea: national lawmaker affiliated with the opposition Democratic Millennium Party, and head of the World Taekwondo Headquarters, a Seoul-based institute that issues Taekwondo credentials.
"While doing this, I sometimes got careless, and I admit that I did things wrong," he said. "I bow my head and offer my deep apologies."
Last month, South Korean prosecutors raided Kim's house and offices, seizing a private safe and documents. Prosecutors suspect Kim of embezzling funds from the World Taekwondo Federation and the World Taekwondo Headquarters. He also faces allegations that he received money in return for helping two men become members of the Korean Olympic Committee. Prosecutors in Seoul said that they had seized about 6.5 billion won ($ 5.4 million) from Mr. Kim's home and office.
Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA)
Governing body of WTF
Taekwondo Head Koo Gets Suspended Jail Term. January 15, 2004. http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/nation/200401/kt2004011517024611990.htm
SEOUL, South Korea -- Koo Cheon-seo, former president of the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), was sentenced on Thursday to a one-year suspended jail term for mobilizing gangsters and offering bribes to KTA officials during the 2002 election for the top post of the association.
The Seoul District Court handed down the sentence to Koo, 53, saying that he was found guilty of illegal activities during the election. He once served as a lawmaker of the minor opposition Untied Liberal Democrats (ULD) during the 1996-2000 period. In December last year, Koo was indicted on charges of mobilizing gangsters to prevent supporters of his rival candidate from casting ballots on Feb. 5, 2002, and providing 20 million won to the KTA’s then vice president in a bid to buy votes. According to the prosecution, Koo won votes from 17 delegates, but other eligible voters could not enter the polling place at a hotel in Seoul because some 300 gangsters blocked the door.
Koo immediately quit the job following the indictment. He was to serve the remaining three years of Kim Un-yong’s term after Kim was forced to step down in the face of growing dispute within the local Taekwondo circles in November 2001.The court delayed the ruling on three Taekwondo officials, including Lee Seung-wan, who were involved in the case. Lee, 63, concurrent head of a right-wing group, was indicted for collaborating with Koo in wielding violence against supporters of the rival candidate.
International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)
Major competitor of WTF
From a November 2003 Tae Kwon Do Times interview with Master Trân Triêu Quâ, new president of ITF.
Question: General Choi’s last words included that he wanted Chang Ung to be his successor. I understand your position to be that Mr. Ung should stood for election in Poland. Is that correct?
Answer: I was not present, so I cannot be sure what General Choi said. If General Choi did name someone to succeed him as President of the ITF, the transition should have been conducted according to the democratic process set out in the ITF constitution. The nominee should have presented himself as a candidate for the presidency, as General Choi did. Then the delegates at the Congress Meeting could have voted for the new president, able to choose freely the candidate they believed was best capable of leading the ITF for the next four years. By trying to impose a president on the ITF, the North Koreans have shown a complete lack of respect for the constitution of the ITF, for its democratic rules, for its members, and particularly for General Choi, who submitted himself to that process at each Congress Meeting. This attempt to bypass our democratic process is absolutely unacceptable.
Although we may never learn exactly what General Choi said on his deathbed, we can be sure that his true last wish and words of guidance for us for the future were expressed in the introduction to his last book Moral Culture. This book was written when General Choi was in good health and able to freely express his ideas. He had come to realize that most of the emphasis had been placed on the teaching of the technical aspects of TKD and felt it would be up to the next generation to give equal importance to the teaching of the Do. With the support of the senior members of the ITF, I will do my best to implement a well-balanced program to teach both the technical and the mental aspects of ITF-TKD at all levels. In the circumstances, those of us who are responsible for the future of ITF TKD are called upon to use our discretion and make decisions
Question: In the confusion that followed the Special Congress in Pyongyang, Mr. Tom MacCallum was accused of stealing 60,000 and a computer. Mr. MacCallum was described by General Choi as one of his most trusted friends. Will you describe for our readers what happened.
Answer: It is regrettable that the North Korean organization has circulated rumors and made accusations as a smokescreen for their actions. Here is what happened:
The Directing Committee of ITF authorized Master Tom MacCallum, as Secretary General, to withdraw 60,000USD from the ITF account and to take his computer, in order to preserve the assets and the information database of the ITF. Following an agreement between the lawyers, Master MacCallum returned the funds to the account, minus the amount approved to pay for operating expenses. The North Koreans did not respect their side of the agreement. Using a fraudulent registration certificate, they withdrew all of the funds in the ITF account (160,000USD) and have not returned it.
Question: What is the status of the ITF in the courts?
Answer: The Austrian court has declared that these three people: Chang Ung, Rhee Ki Ha, and Hwang Kwang Sung, do not have a statutory position based on the ITF constitution. I am very pleased to inform you that we have recovered the legal registration of the ITF issued by the Austrian authorities in Vienna. The four legally recognized members of the Executive Committee of the ITF are: Master Pablo Trajtenberg, Senior Vice- President; Master Tom MacCallum, Secretary General; Master Willem Jacob Bos, Treasurer; and myself as President. Also, we have started legal action to take back the headquarters building and to recover the 160,000USD withdrawn illegally from the ITF bank account.
Question: Both Mr. Chang Ung and Mr. Choi Jung Hwa have announced that they are having talks with the WTF. Do you also plan to have meetings with the WTF?
Answer: This is not a priority for me. My chief concern is to modernize and structure the operations of the ITF so that it can better serve the needs of its members. Obviously, I will be very busy in the next few months supervising the revision and implementation of the ITF manual of operations. I will also be visiting each of the continents to meet with our local ITF leaders for discussions on strategic development and to allow our members to tell us what they need and want from ITF. This is how we will ensure that our action plans meet the expectations of our members.