Para Taekwondo is a martial art designed for athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities. It is based on the traditional Korean martial art Taekwondo, but with adapted rules and requirements to meet the needs of athletes with disabilities.
Para Taekwondo’s history dates back to the 1980s, when the sport was first introduced as a form of martial arts for people with disabilities. In 2009, the first official World Para Taekwondo Championships organised by World Taekwondo (WT) took place and in 2020 it made its debut at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Para Taekwondo competitions are divided into different disciplines and categories, depending on the nature and degree of the athlete’s disability. There are currently competitions in the discipline sparring (K) for athletes with physical disabilities (including amputation or paralysis of upper limbs) and for the hearing impaired. In the Poomsae (P) discipline, in addition to the aforementioned categories, there are also competitions for the visually and mentally impaired, among others.
At the European Para Championships, the scheduled matches will take place in the K44-category. In this new K44 category, athletes with disabilities below the elbow of 1 arm and athletes with disabilities below the elbow of 2 arms can participate.
Matches consist of a five-minute round. During the match, athletes must wear protective equipment, including a helmet, chest protector and shin guards. The athletes try to score points by hitting their opponent with kicking technique on the bodyguard. Depending on the technical difficulty of the technique, it is worth 2, 3 or 4 (for twisted execution) points. Kicking techniques to the head are not allowed in Para Taekwondo.
Some important terms in Para Taekwondo are:
– Kyorugi: the name for the discipline of sparring in Taekwondo
– Poomsae: a prescribed series of movements to practise techniques
– Dobok: the uniform worn by Taekwondo practitioners
Para Taekwondo is a sport that requires physical and mental strength, as well as discipline and determination. It allows athletes with disabilities to develop and compete at a high level.