There are a few different types of martial arts organizations out there. Some, like ours, are multi-style organizations that seek to offer a home for independent martial artists, or those who have been separated for whatever reason from their previous instructor/organization. More often than not, these organizations are paper mills whose sole intention is to sell you documentation and boost your ego, while lining their pockets. What separates the US Association of Martial Arts, along with our affiliates such as the World Organization of Mixed Martial Arts (WOMA) and the Ryu-Sakura-Do Karate Federation (RSDKF), from the others is that while we do offer various levels of certification, paper is just a cool side effect of membership. Our main purpose and mission is to offer our members additional training, and provide avenues for them to network with other members to expand their circle with like-minded practitioners. No, I am not trying to sell you on the USAMA. I'm simply trying to make a point.
The most popular type of organizations are the system-specific governing bodies. These are organizations usually established by the founder or directors of a particular system, and their purpose is to oversee that particular art (or branch of said art). For my system this organization is the International San Budo Federation, and it is in my by-laws that anyone claiming rank or license in the art of San Budo Sogo Bugei that is not affiliated with the ISBF is fraudulent. However, with an art that has been around for multiple generations and has seen numerous splinters before such an organization was established, the same authoritarian statement can't be made. Since 60% of all martial artists in the world practice Taekwondo, let's look at the Kukkiwon.