Michael Sirota: “My sightless students have helped me to see”

Michael Sirota is a pioneer in teaching Taekwondo to people with physical and intellectual disabilities. He will be in Aruba giving lectures and workshops on Para-Taekwondo. Knowing the importance of this subject, we talked to him to know more about it. ESPAÑOL

Sirota is from Vancouver, Canada, and for many years he has been dedicated to the introduction of Taekwondo as an important element for the development for people with all types of disabilities.

For twenty years, Sirota has been the Director of “Sirota’s Alchymy – Martial Arts & Life Skills Centre” and most recently he founded the “Global Para Taekwondo Consultancy”, attracting the attention of many people around the world, including, of course, WTF´s attention. During the World Taekwondo Championship in Korea in 2011, he was invited to make a presentation of his programs to all MNA´s represented at the General Assembly.

During the “3rd WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships” in Aruba, Michael Sirota will give the “Para-Taekwondo Workshop”, but first, we wanted to know a little more about his important work and decided to talk directly with him in an exclusive interview.



Hello, Michel. Thanks for taking the time to talk with and congratulations on your excellent work! What was your motivation to devote your time and efforts to teaching people with different disabilities?

My initial motivation in working with people with disabilities was to evolve as a person. As I overcame my own barriers and fears, I realized that this is my ‘Path’. A way to facilitate transformation in our citizens and our community. I am fully devoted to manifesting my vision of globalization of Taekwondo for people with all types of disabilities. I am grateful to all my special students as they have taught me great lessons. I always tell others, my sightless students helped me see.


 What changes have you seen in people with disabilities after they started to practice taekwondo?

I view Taekwondo as a form of therapy, thus calling our programs Therapeutic Martial Arts.

Changes have occurred on many levels. On the physical plane, improvement in coordination, balance, strength, flexibility, mobility and overall gross and fine motor development. I have been fortunate to witness children not knowing how to jog without support to sprinting without any assistance. Another example would be working with an individual who is restricted to a wheelchair develop the skills and will-power to walk independently. The transformations may not be visible to the outside world, but to each of these individuals, it is monumental.

On the mental plane, our students, especially the ones with intellectual disabilities develop greater focus, self-control, attention span and concentration. All these life skills assist them in their life outside of our Taekwondo Centre; thus improvement in their overall quality of life.

Emotionally our students develop a greater sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and inner strength. When a child experiences growth and results via Taekwondo, their belief in themselves tremendously rise to a higher level. We strive to have our Para-Taekwondo students be fully integrated into our broad spectrum of programs instilling equality and fairness for all.

One other inspiring change I have witnessed is the transformation in the families, parents becoming more proud of their children who have disabilities. Our intention is to show the World of everyone’s Abilities rather than disabilities.


How does your organization work? How is it structured?

Global Para Taekwondo Consultancy’s (GPTC) mandate is to bring awareness of Taekwondo for people with disabilities, develop programs, offer educational platforms and consult organizations on all aspects of Para-Taekwondo.

The first step in developing a relationship with Taekwondo organizations is for them to complete an intake form. Once it is received by us, we can assess it and provide the association a proposal. Once all the terms are agreed upon, we will work on implementing it.

GPTC has developed relationships with various experts in the field of Para-Sports, disability awareness, coaching education, classification creation, etc. Based on the work that is required, we can sub-contract our work to our colleagues.

We are also in the process of developing a subsidiary where it will assist taekwondo instructors in running programs at their taekwondo dojangs. This will be an online educational system to reach Para-Taekwondo instructors in all regions of the World.



What is your opinion on the WTF´s position towards Para-Taekwondo?

I have been blessed with enormous support from the WTF; and especially President Choue and Expansion Committee Chairperson Mr. Hoss Rafaty. The upcoming workshop in Aruba is a result and belief of WTF’s Leadership towards a common goal.

My Para-Taekwondo Vision is to be fully inclusive, to provide opportunities for all disability groups; this includes physical/ambulatory (including people in wheelchairs), Sensory (Blind/Deaf) and athletes with Intellectual Disabilities. I envision that the WTF will expand their current scope of Para-Taekwondo to include all groups. I strongly believe that for Taekwondo to become a Paralympic Sport, this must be created and delivered.

To prevent history from repeating itself, GPTC’s directive is to do things differently. I believe there must be great changes and open mindedness fasting positive growth within the Movement for Para-Taekwondo to be a sport in the 2020 Paralympic Games.


You will be responsible for conducting Para-Taekwondo seminars in Aruba, what can be expect from them?

The seminar is open to all individuals who wish to acquire greater understanding of Para-Taekwondo and what it could be. Various components will appeal to different individuals, depending on their role within Taekwondo. Topics covered will be Introduction to Para-Sports and Para-Taekwondo, overview of disabilities within Paralympic Sports, How to start a Para-Taekwondo Program at a club level and Association level, teaching methodologies, plus opportunities for discussions on this topic.

My goal is to bring greater awareness of Taekwondo for people with disabilities so Taekwondo coaches, masters and association officials will have a starting point. My workshops are also interactive, providing platforms for development, group discussions and creation.



Would you agree that more categories should be added in Para-Taekwondo Regulations?

Absolutely! I strongly believe that all people with disabilities should have the right to train in Taekwondo and compete in championships at all levels. Para-Taekwondo must also expand and offer competitive opportunities in both sparring and Poomsae. This will not only benefit our society but also enhance our position as a future Paralympic Sport.


What is your main objective as a pioneer in the teaching of Taekwondo to all people with different abilities?

To promote inclusion and integration by removing fear, stigma and prejudice in our World towards people with a disability. I am on a global mission to facilitate Global Empowerment and to promote Oneness.


Would you like to add some more information?

I look forward to sharing my passion and vision with the Taekwondo Family and meeting everyone in Aruba during the workshop.

In closing, I take this opportunity to thank for their contributions in the promotion of Para-Taekwondo.



Claudio Aranda, Exclusive

Official Sponsor of the 7° WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championship 2012




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