Benjamin Evans is a 6th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. He considers his most important job teaching Taekwon-Do to those who are physically or intellectually disabled. "I started teaching the special needs students when I was 16 at Havelock North High School, I was based at for the last 3-4 years of my time at high school. It’s been my lifelong passion with my job and my work to see Taekwon-Do spread to more with disabilities. I’ve written a book which serves 2 tasks, to help instructors around the world learn how to teach those with disabilities and the students with disabilities can also benefit from this book which is interactive to help them practice."
His other work is teaching Taekwon-Do in the community. "I like working with all walks of life, I have a lot of kids who have nothing in terms of what privileged kids would have access to who are from low socio economic backgrounds, I teach kids at schools, after school, I even take kids under my wing to mentor and teach them Taekwon-Do, many of them have had great opportunities to travel and compete on the world stage, some of them would have never been on a plane before even in our country, we have had kids do really well bringing back gold, silver and bronze too."
Photos courtesy of Benjamin Evans and www.inclusivetaekwondo.org
What is Inclusive Taekwon-Do?
Inclusive Taekwon-Do is a program that embraces diversity, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to participate and excel in Taekwon-Do.
What was the inspiration to start this program?
The inspiration to start this program stemmed from a commitment to providing accessible Taekwon-Do training for everyone, promoting inclusivity and empowerment. My work started, unknowingly at 16, seeing those with intellectual and physical disabilities learn Taekwon-Do at Havelock North High School, in Hawkes Bay. It wasn’t until 2008, my last year at school, I started to see the concept of Inclusive Taekwon-Do and to develop a safe program many around the world could adopt and become a part of. This is where my concept of working with the special education teachers and being the author of the book, Inclusive Taekwon-Do, came about, it’s been in a working progress since 2013 and has evolved, each edition by edition, the current has 13 parts which covers a wide range of understanding the various disabilities instructors might encounter to tactics and how to teach, an interactive part for those with disabilities, rules for competition and many more topics to think about. It is the world’s first book.
Tell us about the organization in New Zealand and in other countries?
In New Zealand and other countries, organizations supporting Inclusive Taekwon-Do are dedicated to creating inclusive environments, fostering unity and understanding through martial arts.
What are some of the challenges in teaching with various students with disabilities physically or intellectually disabled?
Teaching with various disabilities presents challenges, but it also offers unique opportunities to adapt and tailor instruction, promoting individual growth and achievement.
Is this work being done at other places?
Yes, similar programs exist globally, reflecting a shared commitment to making martial arts accessible to individuals with disabilities. We would like to feel we are most active and want to best support all who want the opportunities in the future.
Tell us about some success stories?
Success stories abound, showcasing the positive impact of Inclusive Taekwon-Do on participants' physical and mental well-being, highlighting their achievements and personal growth.
Is Tae Kwon Do the only martial arts form you teach in this program?
While Taekwon-Do is a primary focus, the program may explore incorporating other groups supporting those with disabilities to broaden its inclusivity.
How can we get more involved?
To get more involved, consider reaching out to local Inclusive Taekwon-Do organizations, volunteering, or participating in awareness and fundraising events.
What's the future look like for IITA?
The future for IITA involves expanding its reach, creating more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to experience the benefits of martial arts training.
What is your end goal or mission for IITA?
The ultimate mission goal for IITA is to create a global community where Inclusive Taekwon-Do is widely embraced, breaking down barriers and promoting empowerment for all participants.
The organization, NZ ITF is with the International Taekwon-Do Federation in Vienna, Austria. President Prof. GM RI Yong Son.