Inclusion in the Paralympic programme will help grow worldwide interest in this power-packed martial art.
Tokyo 2020 competition animation "One Minute, One Sport"
We will show you the rules and highlights of taekwondo in one minute. Whether you are familiar with taekwondo or want to know more about it, "One Minute, One Sport" explains the sport and how it works. Watch the video below.
Taekwondo is one of two new Paralympic sports at Tokyo 2020 — the other is badminton. In fact, a version of the sport for people with disabilities is itself relatively new. It was created as recently as 2005, with the first World Championships held in 2009.
There are two forms: Gyeorugi for athletes with upper limb impairments and Poomsae for athletes with intellectual impairments. Only Gyeorugi will be practised at the Tokyo Games. Events are divided into four sport classes, K41 to K44, with K41 being for athletes with the greatest degree of impairment. K44 and K43 will be integrated as the only sport class at Tokyo 2020. Men and women will each compete in three weight classes — from -61 kilos to +75kg for men, and from -49kg to +58kg for women. Head and trunk protectors are worn.
Matches take place on the same octagonal court as the Olympic competition, over three two-minute rounds with one-minute intervals. Athletes are awarded between two and four points for valid attacks. If the scores are tied after three rounds, an extra round is held.
- K44 -61kg (Men)
- K44 -75kg (Men)
- K44 +75kg (Men)
- K44 -49kg (Women)
- K44 -58kg (Women)
- K44 +58kg (Women)
Essence of the Sport
Spinning for victory
A rule specific to Paralympic Taekwondo is that only kicks to the trunk count as valid attacks. Any kick to the head is a foul.
There are three types of kick to the trunk. Two points are awarded for a valid kick, three points for a kick involving a 180-degree turn, and four points for a spinning kick which pivots from a rear kick to total 360 degrees.
The decision to award four points for 360-degree spinning kicks came in 2017, a bold move purely for Paralympic Taekwondo. Mastering this exciting new move may enable athletes to turn entire matches around.
While dynamic kicks are the essence of the sport, defensive skills to guard against and stop opponent's attacks are also vital. With athletes having different degrees of impairment to the arms, individual methods of using the body for defence and attack will emerge.
The validity of a move is determined by an electronic protector worn on the trunk; a kick delivered strongly and accurately will ensure points are awarded.
Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games
Striking out for gold
Currently, Turkey, Iran and Azerbaijan have the greatest number of athletes. France and Mongolia have smaller numbers of competitors but their quality is considered to be high.
Among them, Mongolia's Bolor-Erdene Ganbat has dominated the men's K44 -61kg class at international level. His style involves quick movements and flurries of powerful kicks.
What is certain is that Taekwondo's rapid and exciting growth is set to continue thanks to the visibility afforded by its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Three members of a review jury watch from outside the field of play and add points using a judging console. The points are only awarded if at least two of the three review jury members record them. Video decisions are also used where a judgment is disputed.