The term Para-Taekwondo specifically refers to a type of Sport-style (i.e., WTF-style) taekwondo in which competition rules have been established in order to accommodate fair competitions among athletes with disabilities, specifically within the Paralympics. For ITF-style taekwondo, the similar term is Special Needs Taekwondo, which is geared toward the Special Olympics. Similarly, for Jhoon Rhee-style taekwondo, the term Adaptive Taekwondo is used for Special Needs students.
Taekwondo as an Inclusive Martial ArtsEdit
Generally speaking, taekwondo tends to be a very inclusive martial art: various schools tailor the art for younger students, older students, disabled students, etc. Essentially all of the major taekwondo associations are affiliated with special needs training in one way or another. On the other hand, some martial arts schools tend to be more exclusive, focusing their training only on those who are very physically fit. Taekwondo is sometimes criticized for its inclusivity (the so-called, "Could you win a bar fight?" argument) but generally those involved in taekwondo view its inclusivity as a strength.
Background: Paralympics vs. Special Olympics Edit
Disability Categories: Both the Paralympics and the Special Olympics adopt disability categories to divide athletes into groups based on similar disabilities. The two organizations used different disability categories however. The focus of disability categories is generally on the functional consequence of the disability, rather than the underlying cause. For example, vision-impaired athletes would be put in the same category, regardless of the underlying medical cause of the impairment. Athletes within a category are further grouped by the severity of the impairment.
Focus: The focus of the Special Olympics is intellectual disabilities rather than physical disabilities, though athletes with both may participate in the Special Olympics. Conversely, the Paralympics encompasses a broader array of disabilities from six main categories: amputee, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, visually impaired, spinal injuries, and Les Autres (a category that includes all other conditions that do not fall into the previous categories).
Participation: The Special Olympics does not exclude any athlete based upon qualifying scores, but rather groups the athletes based on those scores for fair competition against others of like ability. On the other hand, to participate in the Paralympic Games, athletes have to fulfill certain criteria and meet certain qualifying standards in order to be eligible. These criteria and standards are sports-specific and are determined by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) Sports Chairpersons, the Sports Technical Delegates and the relevant international sports organizations.
In 2005 the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) formed the Para-Taekwondo Committee in an effort to develop and promote Taekwondo to athletes of all disabilities. On October 16, 2013 the WTF became an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) recognized International Federation (IF), a recognition of the ongoing work to develop Para-Taekwondo. In January of 2014 the WTF submitted a letter of intent to the IPC to apply for para-taekwondo to be on the 2020 Paralympic Program.
Unlike the Olympics which includes only one taekwondo discipline (sparring), the WTF conducts Para-Taekwondo competitions in two disciplines: Kyorugi (sparring) and Poomsae (forms). Disability classifications are referred to as Classes. Classes competing in Kyorugi have a “K” prefix. Classes competing in Poomsae have a “P” prefix. The following Classes are used for Para-Taekwondo:
|Limb Deficiency / Impaired Muscle Strength (LD/Prom)||K40||Kyrorugi|
|Deaf||KP60||Kyrorugi / Poomsae|
Within each major 10s-digit Class category, the 1s-digit is then used to describe the specific impairment. For example the K40 sparring-class is further subdivided as follows:
ITF Special Needs TaekwondoEdit
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- Paralympics sports on Wikipedia
- ITF Special Needs Taekwondo at http://www.specialneedstaekwondo.org and http://www.snitf.org
- ITF Special Needs Book at http://www.specialneedstaekwondobook.com
- USA Taekwondo for the Disabled at http://usatad.weebly.com
- Jhoon Rhee Adaptive Taekwondo http://www.adaptivetkd.com