In 2005 the World Taekwondo Federation formed the Para-Taekwondo Committee in an effort to develop and promote taekwondo to athletes of all disabilities.
Initially para-taekwondo focused on developing ‘kyorugi’ (sparring) for limb deficiency and arm amputee athletes and the first WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships was held in 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 2009 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships.
Since 2009, the WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships has been held an additional five times, in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2010, in Santa Cruz, Aruba in 2012, in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2013, in Moscow, Russia in 2014 and most recently in Samsun, Turkey in 2015. Participation in the Championships has been growing steadily.
On the occasion of the 4th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in 2013 a Para-Taekwondo Development Task Force consisting of Para-Taekwondo Committee members and invited guests from CPISRA (Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association) and INAS (International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability) met to discuss the future of Para-Taekwondo. Following their recommendations the decision was taken to expand para-taekwondo and make competitions on a world level available to athletes of all disabilities. It was decided that para-taekwondo poomsae (martial art forms) would be the competition format for athletes with Neurological Impairments, Intellectual Disabilities (ID) or Visually Impaired (VI) athletes.
During the 4th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in 2013 the WTF signed Memorandum of Understanding with INAS and CPISRA to work together for the development and promotion of Para-Taekwondo for athletes with Intellectual Disabilities or Neurological Impairments. Para-taekwondo poomsae competitions for Intellectually Disabled (ID) athletes were held for the first time at the 5th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships in Moscow. At the 2015 6th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships Poomsae competitions for athletes with a neurological impairment was included. Para-taekwondo poomsae was also a demonstration sport at the 2015 INAS Global Games and the 2015 CPISRA World Games.
On October 16, 2013, the WTF became an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) recognized IF, reflecting the federation’s progress and ongoing work in developing para-taekwondo.
WTF President Chungwon Choue met with IBSA (International Blind Sport Federation) President, Ms. Jannie Hammershoi, on November 24, 2013, in Athens, Greece, on the occasion of the IPC General Assembly. The meeting resulted in a MoU between the WTF and IBSA which outlined the future cooperation between the two organizations to develop para-taekwondo for athletes with a visual impairment (VI).
In January 2014, the WTF submitted a letter of intent to the IPC to apply for para-taekwondo to be on the 2020 Paralympic Program. The letter of intent concerned both para-taekwondo kyorugi and poomsae. There were a total of nine (9) sports and disciplines who expressed their intent to bid for a spot on the 2020 Paralympic Program. The WTF applied for inclusion on the 2016 Paralympic Program in 2010 but was unsuccessful as para-triathlon and para-canoe were each awarded a place on the program.
On March 5, 2014, the IPC Governing Board met in Sochi, Russia, prior to the Paralympic Winter Games to deliberate on the short list of sports applying for the 2020 Paralympic Programme. The decision of the IPC Governing Board was to put para-taekwondo and para-badminton on the short list of candidates for the 2020 Paralympic Program.
The WTF and the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) signed a MoU for the further development of para-taekwondo for limb deficiency athletes and wheelchair athletes on March 8, 2014 during the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games. This MoU meant the WTF was connected to all four of the International Organizations of Sport for the Disabled (IOSDs) something that is essential to the development of para-taekwondo as an all-inclusive sport. Para-taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the 10th IWAS World Junior Games in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, the birth place of the Paralympic Games, in August, 2014. Para-Taekwondo Kyorugi was also included for the first time as a full medal event on the programme of the 2015 IWAS World Games to be held in Sochi, Russia on September 26 – October 3, 2015.
WTF completed the second stage of the application process for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Program in July 2014. During the second stage of the application 22 Paralympic sports along with para-taekwondo and para-badminton were reviewed. WTF President Chungwon Choue, Vice President, Mr. Phil Coles, and WTF Para-Taekwondo Coordinator, Mr. Olof Hansson delivered a presentation on the bid to the IPC Governing Board at their meeting in Berlin, Germany on October 5, 2014. The IPC Governing Board meeting was held October 5-7, 2014. After the meeting, 16 sports were confirmed for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Program. These sports were athletics, archery, badminton, boccia, equestrian, goalball, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.
The final decision on which of the remaining 8 sports (canoe, cycling, football 5-a-side, football 7-a-side, judo, taekwondo, sailing and wheelchair fencing) will make it onto the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Program was taken by the IPC Governing Board at their meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE on January 30 – February 1, 2015.
On January 31, 2015, the WTF received the historic news that the IPC Governing Board had decided that taekwondo should be included on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games program.
In 2015, the WTF introduced World Ranking for the Kyorugi classes. Six ranking tournaments were held in 2015 with a participation of 141 athletes from 33 countries with a majority competing in more than one event. Since the introduction of the WTF Classification Rules in 2014 a total of 184 athletes from 41 countries have been classified for the K40 classes.
2015 was also the year that Poomsae for intellectually impaired athletes took off. In 2014 two athletes could be found on the INAS Master List and by the end of 2015 that number had increased to 24 athletes from 13 countries.
In 2016, the WTF will continue the World Ranking competitions as well as further develop the Poomsae competitions for athletes with an intellectual impairment and neurological impairment.
On March 2, 2016, Americas Paralympic Committee informed the WTF of para-taekwondo’s inclusion on the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games program.
Since 2009 taekwondo has been included in the official program of the Deaflympics and at the 2013 Deaflympics, taekwondo competitions were held in both Kyorugi and Poomsae. The WTF signed a MoU with the International Committee of Sport for the Deaf (ICSD) on October 25, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the 2nd SportAccord World Combat Games. Taekwondo will be one of the core sports in the 1st European Deaf Martial Arts Championships in 2015..