Dwarf Sports Association UK Graphic

Dwarf Sports Association UK & British Taekwondo

Over the last few months, Sophie (Manchester Development Officer) and I have been working on a collaboration with Dwarf Sport Association UK.  

I first noticed a gap in the Para Poomsae Performance Pathway with the programme having no representation from the P70 classification. This classification is for people of short stature, it is often a difficult classification to find athletes for as many people with Dwarfism have been told that Martial Arts is too dangerous for them. This is due to the stress and pressure put on their limbs and their back.  

Knowing there was a classification category through World Taekwondo, I decided to do some research on how to best find people with Dwarfism who want to try Taekwondo. Dwarf Sports Association UK are the National Disability Sport Organisation for people with Dwarfism, they offer amazing opportunities, advice and support for coaches and participants. I teamed up with their National Partnership Officer, Mike and their Regional Development Officer, Tom, who were super proactive and keen to be involved with British Taekwondo. Both Tom and Mike expressed their excitement about working with a Martial Art as this is an area of sport they’ve always wanted to get their members involved in but were unsure how to go about it. 

Discussions took place between DSAUK and British Taekwondo to organise a ‘Give-it-a-go’ event for people with Dwarfism of all ages to try Taekwondo in an open, relaxed environment, where they can try Poomsae and learn a little more about Taekwondo. It was decided that the Northwest region would host the event as they have a very active and engaged cohort of people who the DSAUK connect with. As soon as DSAUK announced this to the region’s members, there was a lot of enthusiasm and anticipation for the session.  

After a couple of months of planning, the day of the session arrived. On the 17th of February we had a solid 9 people attend the event in Stockport, which is amazing considering none of them had tried Taekwondo before. Families travelled from as far away as Preston and the Peak District to be a part of the event and were all excited to try something new. Our amazing coaches Russell and Katy were welcoming and delivered a fun session for everyone to try. Katy showed off her skills by performing a series of patterns with poise and precision, which put the participants in ore of what they could one day achieve. Russell brought his experience of being the Lead Coach of the Para Poomsae Performance Squad with him, being considerate of everyone’s abilities and made sure the participants felt comfortable and safe throughout the day. The session was filled with kicks, punches, blocks, running and lots of shouting. Every participant and parent had a smile on their face throughout the session and the feedback received from the day was all incredibly positive. Everyone involved felt included and enjoyed trying something new, with some parents expressing interest in continuing Taekwondo at their child’s local club.

The aim of the session was to offer a sport to people with Dwarfism which they have previously been advised against doing by medical professionals. Using the umbrella term of Martial Arts has meant that the non-contact aspects are missing out on participants who would benefit from these disciplines. We wanted to offer a safe alternative side of Martial Arts to people with Dwarfism by providing a session to engage them, pique their interest and make them realise their potential in the sport. I feel we achieved this during the session as the children were having fun, stayed engaged the whole session and were keen to learn about Korea and more about Taekwondo. We showed them a video of a Swedish athlete with Dwarfism who competes on the World stage, and they were amazed at what someone with Dwarfism has achieved in Taekwondo.

With this session being so successful, Dwarf Sports Association (DSAUK) and British Taekwondo are keen to offer further experiences like this to other regions. Planning is already taking place, so keep an eye out for news and updates about this future opportunity.  

British Taekwondo would really like to thank DSAUK for their amazing support at this event and we look forward to the continued work together providing resources and events like this in the future. 

If you would like to contact DSAUK or find out more information, you can do this by visiting their website: https://www.dsauk.org/

If you’d like to speak to me about this event and potential opportunities to do with Dwarfism and disabilities, please email me: disability@britishtaekwondo.org