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Martial Arts & Judo

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Both Martial Arts and Judo are available for individuals with Intellectually Impairment's. Both sports are competed in at social, club & Provincial level, as well as at International level. These sports are not only  a source of fun, but great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people.

Martial Arts

MARTIAL ARTS AND GAMES COMMITTEE OF SOUTH AFRICA (MASA) Is the official Governing Body for Martial Arts in South Africa, as sanctioned by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. MASA caters for a variety of disabled including The Intellectually Disabled. This not only is a source of fun, but is great exercise, a challenge, teachers discipline, & is a great way to meet new people, not to mention, learning a way to defend yourself. Criminals do not discriminate!

Martial Arts and the Disabled

The life-lessons imparted by Martial Arts are applicable for all ages, teaching important skills like self-control, discipline, and perseverance. But the standard image of a martial artist does not always reflect the capabilities that many students possess. The key pillars of martial arts are: they are for everyone, regardless of physical or mental abilities. One of the greatest aspects of modern martial arts is its accessibility for people of many different lifestyles and range of challenges.


Some Special Challenges With Which Martial Arts Has Been Successful:

  • Autism - One of the more notable organizations for its work with autism is the American Taekwondo Association (ATA). The ATA has worked closely with Autism Speaks to understand how Autism affects individuals and how best to work and train those affected by Autism. This association has provided ATA with a means to educate instructors looking to get additional training in how to teach students with Autism. To become certified, an instructor must complete 300 hours of supervised training, a CPR course, and fulfill numerous other qualifications. Because of the ATA’s instructor training, ATA instructors have been successfully working with special needs individuals for over 45 years. The ATA has partnered with Autism Speaks to raise awareness and funds by creating charity events such as “Walk Now For Autism Speaks.” Taekwondo teaches self-confidence and self-reliance, useful skills for those with special needs of all kinds. Not ALL ATA Taekwondo instructors have this specialized training. It is individual to the school, so make sure you ask if the school you are interested in attending has specially trained and certified instructors if this would be helpful to the prospective student in question. To learn more about Autism Speaks, go to
  • ADD/ADHD - Studies prove a complex and multifaceted physical activity, like martial arts, strengthens the brain and enables those with ADD or ADHD to practice basic motor and behavioral control. Movement helps them develop coordination while building strength. Martial arts also teach consistency and ritual, which can calm and focus students on one task.
  • Down Syndrome - Martial arts instructors tailor techniques to fit the student instead of molding the student to fit the technique. Individuals with Down Syndrome tend to have some degree of cognitive and muscle impairment, which is why improving strength and coordination is important and exercise is invaluable. The National Down Syndrome Society plays a large role in advocating for those with Down Syndrome. Find them at



Due to MASA being an organization for all martial arts, it is in fact a multi-coded sports organization, which concerns itself with martial arts specifically.

As a result of this, MASA has opted to adopt a unique structure which accommodates even the smallest group and ensures that all groups have equal input and voting rights, thus large individual styles cannot use MASA as their individual powerbase to control the other groups.


MASA does not have provincial organizations as this could cause some smaller groups from being excluded in various decision making processes, but instead MASA has opted for a block representation system, ensuring that all organizations through their democratically elected representatives form part of the National Executive Council of MASA.

When a new affiliate becomes part of MAASA, they are placed in a "block", which is a committee specifically concerning itself with the functioning of martial arts that has its origin in a specific region.

The following blocks exist in MAASA at present:

  • Japanese Weapons
  • Japanese Throwing Arts
  • Korean Martial Arts
  • Mixed Martial Arts
  • Sports Martial Arts
  • Pankration
  • Amateur Kick Boxing

Each affiliate which forms part of these blocks has two members that are democratically elected at the annual congress of MASA) who then form part of the executive of that specific block insuring that all affiliates have equal representation and voting privileges.

All the executive members of the various blocks (two per affiliate) then in turn elect two members (at the annual congress of MASA) from their blocks, to represent the block on the National Executive Council of MASA.  These elections take place annually.

Thus MASA in conjunction with the SASCOC sets the guide lines and assists the various blocks to comply with the criteria.

Any application for National Colours are evaluated according to the selection criteria, as well as the compliance to the set overall criteria. 


MASA was created in 1994 with the guidance of the South African Government, the prime objective of the organization is the unification of various Martial Arts under one organization, which is managed using the fundamental principles of integrity, fairness and non-discrimination.

As a result of this approach the Martial Arts & Games Committee SA has developed into an organization which assists smaller groups with administrative training and guidance, so that they ultimately conform to the recognition criteria as stipulated by the SASCOC and the constitution of MASA.


Judo was created as a physical, mental and moral pedagogy in Japan, in 1882. It is generally categorized as a modern martial art which later evolved into a combat and Olympic sport. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the objective is to either throw or takedown an opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue an opponent with a pin, or force an opponent to submit with a joint lock or a choke. Strikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defenses are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms & are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori, 乱取り).

The philosophy and subsequent pedagogy developed for judo became the model for other modern Japanese martial arts that developed. The worldwide spread of judo has led to the development of a number of offshoots such as Sambo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Paralympic judo is an adaptation of the Japanese martial art of judo for visually impaired competitors. It is not available for other disabilities at the Paralympics, but is available for the Intellectual Impaired at the Special Olympics.

Special Olympics

The Special Olympics focuses on the individuality of each athlete so that coaches can train and encourage growth in skills and accomplishment. The coaching materials, rules and other resources on this page have been specially prepared for coaches working with people with intellectual disabilities. Coaching Special Olympics athletes calls for the same skills and experience that many coaches are familiar with. The extra information in our coaching guides about working with people with ID is what makes our materials helpful and valuable.

Every athlete aims to prevail over the opponent by using special techniques, in the standing position by grappling his uniform, otherwise the judo gi, trying to throw him down, and in the ground position by trying to pin him down for a certain time, or by applying chocks or arm locks, which however is not allowed in Special Olympics. Judo is a sport demanding physical capabilities along with spiritual discipline.

Rules at Special Olympics

Judo rules at Special Olympics: Link to Rules



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