In 2005 the World Taekwondo 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 WT World Para Taekwondo Championships was held in 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan on the occasion of the 2009 WT World Taekwondo Team Championships.
Since 2009, the WT 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, Samsun, Turkey in 2015, London, Great Britain in 2017 and Antalya, Turkey in 2019. Participation in the Championships has been growing steadily.
On the occasion of the 4th WT 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 now Virtues) 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 WT World Para Taekwondo Championships in 2013 the WT 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 Impairments (II) athletes were held for the first time at the 5th WT World Para Taekwondo Championships in Moscow. At the 2015 6th WT 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 became a full medal event at the 2019 INAS Global Games.
On October 16, 2013, the WT became an International Paralympic Committee (IPC) recognized IF, reflecting the federation’s progress and ongoing work in developing Para Taekwondo.
WT 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 WT 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 WT submitted a letter of intent to the IPC to apply for Para Taekwondo to be on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Program. The letter of intent concerned both Para Taekwondo Kyorugi and Poomsae. There was a total of nine (9) sports and disciplines who expressed their intent to bid for a spot on the 2020 Paralympic Program. The WT 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 Program. 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 WT 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 WT 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 birthplace 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 and was also on the program for the 2017 IWAS World Games.
WT completed the second stage of the application process for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Program in July 2014. During the second stage of the application 22 Paralympic sports including Para Taekwondo and Para Badminton were reviewed. WT President Chungwon Choue, Vice President, Mr. Phil Coles, and WT 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 Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games 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 Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games 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 WT received the historic news that the IPC Governing Board had decided that taekwondo should be included on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games program.
In 2015, the WT 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. As of March 2020, 571 athletes from 82+1 countries appear on the World Para Taekwondo Ranking, a testament of the rapid development of Para Taekwondo.
2015 was also the year that Poomsae for intellectually impaired athletes took off. In 2014 four athletes competed at the 5th World Para Taekwondo Championships. As of January 2020, there are 90 athletes with an intellectual impairment competing in the world and the number is rising with every competition. Since 2016 Para Taekwondo Poomsae for athletes with an intellectual impairment or neurological impairment has continued to develop with introduction of the sport classes at several continental level events.
On March 2, 2016, Americas Paralympic Committee informed the WT of Para Taekwondo’s inclusion on the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games program. On October 8, 2019 WT received the confirmation from Asian Paralympic Committee of Para Taekwondo’s inclusion on the 2022 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou.
The Para Taekwondo Committees (Para Taekwondo & Classification) appointed in 2017 have been working to further expand Para Taekwondo with additional sport classes for Visually impaired, short stature, wheelchair, and deaf to be introduced in 2021. The Committee has also identified education as the main factor for growth of Para Taekwondo and are making available several Para Taekwondo specific programs starting in 2020.
On January 25, 2019 WT was informed that Para Taekwondo Kyorugi had been included on the program for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The same year on October 8 Para Taekwondo was confirmed for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games. On June 3, 2020 Para Taekwondo was also confirmed for the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games.
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 WT 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.