Many caregivers and those who are involved with special needs would appreciate the effort it takes to get ready for an event in Taekwon-Do locally but how about travelling internationally with some who might have the biggest challenges yet?

There were 4 nations who supported the first event in history. Argentina brought one competitor 1st degree called Julian. USA brought two competitors, one 1st Degree Called Jessie and the other 5th degree called Eric. UK had two competitors, one 1st degree called Julian and the sole female competitor called Angel who was a 1st Kup. New Zealand brought 5 competitors. Three 1st degrees: Johann, Tupuna and Aaron. Two 1st Kups: Aidan and Nesta. A total of 10 special needs competitors competed in individual patterns and mixed abilities.

Prior to the divisions, the New Zealand Special Needs Taekwon-Do students performed a heart hitting demonstration lead by Special Needs Taekwon-Do Director Ben Evans. “My goal through this demonstration for ITF was to inspire, capture everyone’s hearts and see more countries jumping on board to help fulfil greater goals and opportunities for the special needs community in all countries.”

The students started off with performing Team Dan Gun Tul. This highlighted the full possibilities students of all intellectual combined with physical disabilities could work together in unison and learn Patterns maintaining their memory. The boys continued with breaking demonstrating the various techniques such as a middle punch, palm strike, downward strike, front snap kick and jumping front snap kick. Tupuna displayed the very tricky jumping reverse turning kick. For the mainstream training in Taekwon-Do, these breaks could be taken for granted, as for special needs demonstrating these techniques, it takes a lot of effort and mental preparation under such pressure in front of a large audience. The highlights with regards to performance would have been Choong Moo Tul which the team demonstrated the full capabilities of special needs working together with not only basic sequences but the use of domino effects and collaboration.

By the end of the demonstration the team came out with the flag and the whole stadium cheered along with everyone standing up. President Choi Jung Hwa stood up clapping and all of the ITF Executive watching all came over congratulating the teams performance. President Choi Jung Hwa told the group he would like to come to New Zealand and thanked them for all the work they have done.

"This shows that everything is possible. Everybody is special.

We love you so very, very much, and we hope you continue to be good ambassadors of Taekwon-Do to the world and also our friends out there.

I hope to see more of this. I would like to go to New Zealand and give a seminar for yourselves if you want. Keep up the good work."

The patterns division for each of the abilities and age groups was very heart wrenching and inspiring for the entire stadium to witness the faces of the competitors trying so hard and earning their place.

The mixed abilities event was another great event which encouraged mainstream to work together with special needs to show their skills of self defence, a pattern or any kind of aspect they could perform to the best of their ability.

The event ended with President Choi Jung Hwa and all ITF Officials, along with all of the competitors and all of the coaches, having a group photo by the medal stand which all competitors received a medal of either Gold, Silver or Bronze for their excellent well deserved results.