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The competitive events in which it is possible for a black belt to win the title of World Champion are Traditional Forms, Traditional Weapons, Traditional Free-Sparring, Combat Weapons Sparring, ATA-Xtreme Forms, ATA-Xtreme Weapons, Creative Forms and Creative Weapons.

World Champion Eligibility Requirements

Only black belt students who are members in good standing may earn World Champion Top Ten points.

Divisions for World Championship Program

The age and rank division for the World Championship program follow these black belt Divisions.
Rank Placements Rank changes during the tournament season can make a difference as to where a competitor’s points will be applied. The following guidelines apply to rank changes during a tournament season:

  • If a person changes rank during the tournament season and that rank change places them in a different division, that competitor cannot gain any further points in the previous rank division.
  • All subsequent points will be awarded to the new rank division.
  • If a competitor is serious about trying for the title of World Champion, they should plan their rank changes accordingly.
  • The one exception to points being carried over to another division after a rank change is if the competitor tests and competes at World Championships.
  • If a student knows that they are going to test during the current tournament season, they can compete in the higher rank division before they achieve that rank. It is permissible to enter what may be considered a more “difficult” division. It is not permissible to enter a lower rank or “easier” division. The competitor must successfully test to the rank of the "higher" division by the TOC to be eligible to compete in TOC.
  • All the competitors that qualify for the "Tournament of Champions" to compete for the title of World Champion in Traditional Forms MUST perform one of the standard forms for the division in which they are competing during that final competition. A 2nd Degree Recommended Black Belt that has qualified to compete for the title of World Champion in traditional forms must successful test and be awarded the rank of 2nd Degree Decided by the Tournament of Champion.
  • It is possible to earn sufficient points to be in the Top Ten rankings in two rank divisions, but a competitor can only compete for the title in one. This rule applies regardless of the event in which the person qualifies. When the time to compete for the title of World Champion arrives, the competitor must compete in the higher rank division.

Example #1: Mary (an adult) is a 1st degree and after consulting with her instructor, plans to test for 2nd degree in November. Mary can compete in the 2nd & 3rd-degree division at World Championships. This would allow her to have all her points awarded in the same division throughout the year. If she competed in the 1st-degree division at World Championships and changed ranks in November, all points she earned from World's to November would be in the 1st-degree division and all points she earned after November would be in the 2nd & 3rd-degree division. This could have a major impact on her World Champion chances.
Example #2: Alice is a 33-year-old 3rd degree testing for 4th degree at the World Championships. Alice shall compete in the Women 30-39 4th&5th-degree division. Regardless of the outcome of her testing, her points will be awarded in the appropriate division per the outcome of her testing. I.e. If she advances in rank, the points will be awarded in the 4th & 5th-degree division. If she is unsuccessful, the points will be awarded in the 2nd & 3rd-degree division.
Example #3: A person qualifies to compete in traditional forms competition for the TOC as a 1st Degree, and also qualifies to compete in traditional sparring as a 2nd/3rd Degree. This person's only option is to compete in the 2nd/3rd-degree division for the sparring title. They may not compete for forms champion in the 1st Degree division. They may not earn a title in two separate rank divisions in the same tournament year.

Qualifying for the Tournament of Champions

The tournament year culminates with the crowning of ATA's World champions. Qualified competitors will compete in the “Tournament of Champions”’ (TOC) which will be held at World Championships at the end of tournament season. Starting with the 1999 Songahm Taekwondo World Millennium Expo, competitors from the STF (Songahm Taekwondo Federation) and the WTTU (World Traditional Taekwondo Union) were included in the finals to determine the World Champions for each division. Those competitor’s names are provided to the Tournament Department at the end of the tournament year, and will not be posted with the Top Ten standings.The Top Ten standings will be made up of competitors from the United States and Canada. In 2012, black belts who won the tiltle of District champion for the current competition year were also eligible to compete in TOC for the event(s) in which they won.
To qualify for the Tournament of Champions, a competitor must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Earn a spot on the Final World Champion Top Ten standings for the current competition year.
  • Win the title of District Champion for the current competition year.
  • Earn a WTTU or STF nomination for current competition year.
  • Registration will be online only. See for the registration window. Onsite registrations will NOT be allowed. All registration fees are the responsibility of the competitor.

The result is that potentially there will be more than ten competitors vying for the title of World Champion.

Tournament of Champions (TOC)

TOC ends the tournament year and is always a highlight of World Championships. After all qualifying competitors are announced, the tournament will be run in the following way:

  • The competition order for traditional form, traditional weapons, creative forms & weapons, and ATA Xtreme form & weapons will be as follows:
    • Random for all places up to the top four placements.
    • The final four to compete will do so in the reverse order of their ranking (starting with the competitor in fourth place and ending with the top ranked competitor)
  • During the TOC in Traditional Forms competition, a competitor MUST perform one of the standard forms for the division in which they are competing.
  • Must be the rank of the division in which they will compete.
  • The placement in the competitors in the bracket for traditional point sparring and combat weapons will be as follows:
    • Awarding of Byes: If any byes are necessary, the top 4 ranking competitors will receive byes based upon his/her ranking on the top ten list. If additional byes are needed, they are placed based on the ATA current bye system.
    • The top 4 ranking competitors will be place on the bracket according to their ranking.
    • All other competitors will be placed randomly.
    • Previous World, District or State Champions in sparring will not have any bearing on the determining of byes for this event.
    • Once the sparring brackets are drawn, they will not be redrawn for "no-show" competitors. The "no-show" will forfeit the match, and their opponent will be advanced.
  • After the World Champion Top Ten standings are announced, if one or more of the competitors are unable to compete in the final competition (for whatever reason), those empty slots will not be filled.
  • Points toward the next year’s World Champion Top Ten are not awarded for results of this final competition.

Example #1: James earns the number ten position in the Men 18-29 2nd & 3rd-degree division. Due to his work obligations, he cannot attend the World Championships and is unable to compete for the title of World Champion. Sam, who is the number eleven finisher, will not move up to the number ten position because of James’s inability to participate. Sam did not earn the number ten position. James will remain in the number ten position. Whomever James would have fought in the during the TOC in the first round will be advanced because James did not show.
Example #2: Emily is a 3rd Degree Black belt competing in forms competition during the TOC in the 2nd & 3rd Degree division, She may perform the 2nd degree from, however if there is a tie run-off she must again perform the 2nd degree form.

Tournament of Champions Awards

Certificates and jacket pins are given to all the Tournament of Champion competitors. There will be one gold medal winner, one silver medal winner, and one bronze medal winner in each competitive event. The competitor who wins the Tournament of Champions will gain the title of World Champion in his/her division and can wear a special lettered uniform making this distinction. This uniform is ordered through the student’s instructor from World Martial Arts and is done so at the student’s expense.