SPECIAL ABILITIES COMPETITION

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Introduction

Since the time when Eternal Grandmaster Lee formed the Special Ability divisions for tournament competition and afforded them the opportunity to earn the title of World Champion, the intent has always been to offer safe and fair competition for those who were unable to compete with others of their age, gender, and rank. The tournament Department has faced the dilemma of determining who can fairly compete in the Special Ability divisions at regional, national, and world tournaments and accumulate points for the Special Ability State and World Champion divisions. The following information should answer many questions or lead one to the person (or people) who can. The last few years of competition has seen a significant growth not only in the number of Special Abilities competitors, but also in the involvement of Instructors, parents, and interested members. We are very pleased to have so many involved with actual participation, support, and input. This facet of the ATA membership cannot grow and succeed through the efforts of just a few; it takes everyone.

Special Abilities Competitor Eligibility

Those eligible to compete in the Special Abilities divisions must have either of the following:

  • Meet the general requirement to compete in an ATA tournament.
  • Permanent Physical Limitation.
  • Impaired Mental Acuity.
  • Autism Spectrum

Definitions of Permanent Physical Limitations / Impaired Mental Acuity

Permanent Physical Limitation: This permanent physical limitation would put the competitor at an extreme disadvantage against non-physically challenged peers.
Some examples of a permanent physical limitation that would deem the competitor eligible for a Special Ability division:

  • Has a bone, muscle, or nerve disorder that severely limits the physical mobility of the competitor.
  • Is missing a limb both legs or both arms.
  • Has an artificial leg(s).
  • Is forced to use a wheelchair or other device to maintain mobility.
  • Is blind.

Some examples of physical limitations that would not make the competitor eligible for a Special Ability division:

  • Muscle pulls, strains, or tears, recovering from a surgery or procedure that temporarily limits the physical mobility.
  • Is hearing impaired.
  • Has a seizure disorder.
  • Minor arthritic conditions, or joint replacement.


Impaired Mental Acuity: By impaired mental acuity, the intent is that the competitor is at an extreme disadvantage against non-challenged peers due to the inability to comprehend all aspects of the competition. Some examples of impaired mental acuity would include (but not be limited to):

  • Cognitively disabled (impaired ability to function independently).
  • Low functioning Autism.
  • Down syndrome.

Some examples of conditions that would not make the competitior eligible. These disabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Learning disabilities.
  • Dyslexia.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
  • Psychiatric diagnoses.


Autism Spectrum: By autism spectrum, we are referring to individuals that have been placed on the autism spectrum by the accepted two step evaluation process, (developmental screening and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation). Some competitors with autism will be in this category, while it is possible that lower functioning autistics may be place in the cognitive division. Where an individual is placed on the spectrum will help the committee decided whether a competitor belongs in Special-A or Special-C (please see eligibility procedures for how this will be determined)

Special Abilities Eligibility Procedures

Any competitor wishing to compete in the Special Abilities division must be approved by the Special Abilities Eligibility Committee. The committee is a multidisciplinary group made up of medical and psycho-social professionals that review each application and the supporting information provided to ensure that competitors are appropriate for the division. The chairperson of this committee is appointed by the International Chairman of Tournaments. The current director of this committee is Ms. Susan Winter.
The following is required to be done for any competitor to enter into a Special Abilities division:

  • Download the Special Abilities application from ATAonline.com
  • Complete the application and email along with any support information to: specialabilities@princetonata.com. If one is unable to email the application, it may be faxed to 609-430-2893. Special-A competitors MUST include their IEP (Individualized Education Programs) in addition to any other supportive documentation that will help the committee better place the competitor based on the placement on the spectrum.
  • The committee will review the application and support information and render a decision. If additional information is required, the applicant’s instructor will be contacted.
  • The applicant will receive the committee determination in writing.
  • An approval does not have to be renewed each year; . Special-A competitors must resubmit their application annually. Some individuals on the autism spectrum can have their needs change as they grow and develop; however all parties involved should remember that there are times when individuals, especially younger competitors, will outgrow their need to be in the special abilities division, and they may be asked to resubmit their application.
  • Once a competitor has been approved to compete in a Special Abilities division, he/she should not compete in a non-Special Abilities division for that tournament year. Failure tom comply may result in Special Abilities status being revoked.

Any Top Ten points awarded to someone who is inappropriately placed in the Special Abilities division for competition will be forfeited.
Please remember, the intent of these divisions is to providing opportunity for those who qualify to earn the self-respect and self-esteem they could not have previously earned. The goal is that the competition be fair and safe for all the competitors involved regardless of their level of function and/or disability.

Special Abilities Divisions

There are separate divisions for those with cognitive challenges and for those with physical challenges. These divisions are for each gender and age group. To determine which division a member should compete in, the competitor’s diagnosis that requires the most adaptation for daily life will be considered.

"EXAMPLE:" A competitor has been diagnosed as autistic, but because of that autism, the competitor has become physically challenged, the competitor will be included in the cognitive division. The assignment of proper division will be done by the eligibility committee on a case-by-case basis with the necessary input from the competitor, parent or guardian, Instructor, and doctor where needed.

In the Special Abilities divisions, the Junior and Adult divisions are divided by age and whether the student is a Black Belt or Color Belt. These divisions are different from the regular ATA competitor divisions because of the limited number of participants.

The following Special Abilities divisions will be at all ATA sanctioned events:

Cognitively Challenged
Boys 12 & Under 13 to 17
Girls 12 & Under 13 to 17
Men 18 to 29 30 & Over
Women 18 to 29 30 & Over
Physically Challenged
Boys 12 & Under 13 to 17
Girls 12 & Under 13 to 17
Men 18 to 29 30 & Over
Women 18 to 29 30 & Over
Autism Spectrum
Boys 12 & Under 13 to 17
Girls 12 & Under 13 to 17
Men 18 to 29 30 & Over
Women 18 to 29 30 & Over


In the Special Abilities divisions, the Junior and Adult divisions are divided by age and whether the student is a Black Belt or Color Belt. These divisions are different from the regular ATA competitor divisions because of the limited number of participants.

Special Abilities Rule Adjustments

Traditional Form / Traditional Weapons Competition

Traditional Form and Traditional Weapons competition for the Special Ability divisions will be run the same as other divisions with one exception; all the judges will watch the entire form quality and the intent of the technique rather than the original assignments. The logic behind this rule is as follows:

  • There are competitors that cannot perform kicks and stances; therefore it is not reasonable to expect a judge that is assigned to judge kicks and stances to give a fair score.
  • There are competitors that cannot perform hand techniques; therefore it is not reasonable to expect a judge that is assigned to judge blocks and strikes to give a fair score.
  • By allowing the judges to evaluate all aspects of the form and weapon performance the judges, while taking into consideration the intent of the technique shown and what they are capable of doing, can fairly judge and score the competition.

Traditional Point Sparring Competition

For Special Ability- Autism sparring, the standard point rules will apply.
Sparring competition for the Special Ability-Cognitive and Special Ability-Physical divisions will run the same as other divisions with one exception; all scoring techniques will be awarded one point. The logic behind this rule is as follows:

  • A person confined to a wheelchair would never have the opportunity to score a two or three point technique.
  • It would give an unfair advantage to a standing competitor to be able to score a two or three point technique to a seated opponent.
  • The variety of the competitors’ individual mobility to evade a two or three point technique could also put a competitor at an unfair disadvantage.

This is not meant to discourage competitors that are capable of using any head level or jumping type kicks. They are still allowed and encouraged. They simply will only be awarded one point. All legal techniques and legal target areas remain the same.