Overview of the ECTC
The Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference has a proud heritage and history. Over the course of the last two decades, much has changed about the ECTC, including a re-naming of the league from the Ivy Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League (INCTL) to the ECTC in December 2008, but one thing has remained constant - the league has always provided a great venue in which collegiate Taekwondo athletes grow, learn and compete together. The league has fostered the growth of collegiate Taekwondo tremendously. Not only is the competition fierce, with many national level competitors participating, but it provides a great environment for beginners to enter the competitive world of Taekwondo. Competitors not only gain competition experience by participating in ECTC sanctioned events, but they also make life long friendships.
Competition within the league consists of 5 tournaments held throughout the course of the academic year - currently 3 in the fall and 2 in the spring. Tournaments consist of poomsae (forms) and kyeorugi (sparring) events. Athletes earn points for their teams by medaling in their particular poomsae or kyeorugi division. Sparring in the league is performed on a team basis; that is, athletes from the same school form 3-person teams, with each competitor at a different weight division. In order to advance in the single elimination draw, a team of 3 competitors must win at least 2 matches over another team from an opposing school to advance in the draw. Team sparring has fostered a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie over the years, and is a big part of what makes the ECTC so special to its members.
Overall standings at each tournament are determined by the number of points earned by individual poomsae competitors and team kyeorugi competitors. Furthermore, a year-long points race is contested by all member schools consisting of the total number of points earned by each school across all tournaments. The team with the most points at the end of the year wins the ECTC League Championship and take the ECTC League Cup home until the next season.
Origins of the INCTL (now known as the ECTC)
By Master Sung Chul Whang and Master Jun Chul Whang
The Origins of the Ivy-Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League date back to the winter of 1983, when members of the Dartmouth Team (which at that time was still a Karate Team, not having officially changed over to Taekwondo), led by Sung Chul and Jun Chul Whang, arranged a weekend trip to compete against Yale’s Taekwondo team and Princeton’s Tangsoodo team.
The first stop on that inaugural tour was Yale, and with the most unceremonious of beginnings could not have predicted the success that was to ensue for the League over the next two decades. The Dartmouth team arrived about two hours late with a speeding ticket, keeping the entire Yale team and what seemed like hundreds of Yale fans and spectators, as well as a very gracious Grandmaster Hwang Senior, waiting for about two hours. As there were no rules, which had been previously agreed upon, an additional half hour was spent negotiating the rules. Surprisingly, the competition at that first meet turned out to be quite spirited (Dartmouth won 4 of 7 matches), and the Dartmouth team parted with a renewed sense of mission for the following day’s match with Princeton. At Princeton, again after lengthy negotiations about competition rules, an equally spirited day of competition was shared, with fans for each side cheering loudly for the teams. Again, Dartmouth won a majority of the matches. This trivia of history is highlighted to point out the rather humble beginnings of the League, so that the hundreds of students currently enrolled in League member college programs, and the thousands of others for whom the collegiate Taekwondo experience played a big part of college life, can appreciate how far the League has come along in nearly two decades.
The next year, in the winter of 1984, Dartmouth hosted its first tournament, and teams from both Princeton and Yale participated. This was the first tournament in which competition was fought in the 5-man A and B team format. Competition was point sparring, with two, three-minute rounds or matches ending when one side scored three points. There were no female competitors as yet. Forms competition was introduced in the ensuing years, as was women’s competition.
Columbia and MIT began to participate in informal League competition. Columbia, whose program has been under the under the leadership of Master B.M. Lee (currently of Honda Martial Arts) for decades, began hosting tournaments as well.
In the mid 1980’s, competition format was changed to conform to WTF rules. Several factors led to this change, including the growing popularity of WTF style competition, the switchover of the Dartmouth Karate program into a Taekwondo program (and its leadership in implementing rules for competition) and the presence in the League of Master Javier Arizmendi, former member of the Mexican National Team (Pan Am Silver medallist, among numerous other accomplishments), and the League’s original “Superstar”.
Several other changes were instituted in the mid to late-1980’s, including the expansion of the League to include the Cornell program (begun in the fall of 1986 by Han Don Cho and Sung Chul and Jun Chul Whang), and the requirement that headgear be worn. League membership was further expanded by inclusion in competition of a very young but very strong program at U. Penn.
By the late 1980’s, the tradition of yearly competitions became established at Yale and Columbia, followed by competitions hosted at Cornell for the first time in 1989, and NYU the following year. By this time, many other schools began participating, if only infrequently, in League competition. The Taekwondo club at Yale University has continued to host an annual tournament since the Dartmouth team's first visit in 1983, and will soon be hosting the 20th Yale invitational.
Although several more years went by without formally incorporating, that meeting was the genesis of the INCTL in its current form. Since then, the INCTL has been formally organized as a non profit corporation whose tax-exempt status has been recognized by the IRS. The National Collegiate Taekwondo Association, as the first collegiate Taekwondo league in the US, has formally recognized the INCTL. The INCTL also named their Board of Directors: Masters Han Don Cho (Cornell), Sung Chul and Jun Chul Whang (of formerly of Dartmouth and Cornell and currently of West Side Taekwondo), Mark J. Lesly (NYU and the New York Jidokwan Center, and currently the NCTA Northeast Regional Director) and Rex Hatfield (Princeton and the NCTA Secretary General for many years). While not in attendance at that initial meeting, Dan Chuang (of Cornell, University at Buffalo and MIT) recently has been elected to the Board of Directors of the League.
National level competitors, including US and other countries’ National Team, Junior National Team and Collegiate Team members such as Javier Arizmendi, Mark Simmons, Peter Lee, Jennifer Huang, Ani Ahn, William Palmieri, Tom Lynn, Jr., Kenia (Sosa) Lynn., Chinedum Osuji, Jin Suh and Antony Graf, Leslie Grogan, Christina Park, Dan Chuang, Andrea Velasquez, Charity McClay and Richard Sinn, among others, have participated in our League competitions. Ms. Lynn, Ms. Grogan, Ms. Huang, Mr. Chuang, Mr. Palmieri and Mr. Osuji are among the competitors who began their Taekwondo careers during their college years at League schools, while many others arrived on the scene with years of experience in the competition circuit.
Through all the changes over the past two decades, one thing has not changed since that first trip by the Dartmouth Team in 1983: the excitement and the fervor which League competition arouses. Go to any League competition today and you still feel the nail-biting excitement of the final matches where the Men’s B-Team championships, the Women’s A-Team championships, or the A-Team finals, will be decided. You will see teammates encouraging their own and cheering wildly when points score.
The League and its individual members have gained in experience and accomplishment since the early days of its formation.
In the 2001-2002 season, a new dimension was introduced into League competition in September 2001 with the INCTL All-Star Selection tournament, held at Temple University. This competition was open to all members of League schools, currently enrolled in university, for the selection of a 4-man 4-woman All Star Team to go to Puerto Rico and train at the P.R. Olympic Training Center with Puerto Rico’s finest TKD athletes. The team was comprised of members from Cornell, NYU, U. Penn, MIT and Princeton (with coaches from Princeton and MIT) and came away from the trip with a sense of having gained invaluable experience as TKD competitors. Perhaps more importantly, the team came back having established even firmly the ties that bind our League together. The second INCTL All-Star Selection tournament held at West Point Military Academy in October 2002 had some revised rules and a much larger turnout, which provided for a great tournament. The 2002 – 2003 team consists of players from Cornell, MIT, Pratt and Princeton.
The League has come far in 20 years. In the next 20, the League is sure to accomplish even more.