Arkansas’ Tie to Martial Arts

Zoie Clift
Several well-known people
have roots in Arkansas. The list runs the gamut from Johnny Cash to Jermain
Taylor. Check here every Monday as we highlight a new Famous Arkansan each
week. Today,

Meet: H.U. Lee

Many might be surprised to
find that Arkansas has a strong martial arts connection. The International
Headquarters of the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) have been based in
Little Rock since 1977. The Songahm style of Taekwondo was introduced to the
world in 1983 atop Songahm Mountain and the world championships of the sport
are held annually in the city each summer.

If you have strolled downtown, you’ve walked passed the H.U.
Lee International Gate and Garden
, which honors Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee,
the founder of the ATA, the World Traditional Taekwondo Union, and Songahm
Taekwondo Federation.  Lee was a
main influence in bringing martial arts to the U.S. and by deciding to make ATA’s
international headquarters in the state, he sealed Arkansas’ role in
martial arts history.

Lee was born in Manchuria,
China in 1936. Beginning his martial arts training in 1953, he received his
first degree black belt the following year. In 1969, he founded the ATA with
Taekwondo schools opening across the nation. Lee is the first and only Master
in history to acquire the rank and honor of 9th degree Grand Master. 

Posted in Travel Arkansas
5 comments on “Arkansas’ Tie to Martial Arts
  1. Lisa Brecht says:

    I work with foreign exchange students in Arkansas and I take them to the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden. They love seeing the international flair in Little Rock. A lot of my exchange students request that they be placed with families that will allow them to participate in maritial arts. It’s a great program!

  2. Zoie Clift says:

    Sounds like an amazing program Lisa! Thanks for sharing~

  3. Travis Nevels says:

    I have lived in Arkansas just a few years . I also love martial arts.

  4. Zoie Clift says:

    Awesome Travis-Thanks for the note!

  5. Well to me Martial Arts means respect and discipline.
    I have trained in different Martial arts now for well above 21 years.
    I have seen several people come and go but one other thing that I have
    noticed is the respect and discipline that has definitely changed those peoples perception
    of life.
    Infants that have started that have been on the wrong side of the tracks, always in trouble and
    no idea how to respect other kids. Place them in a controlled environment with discipline and
    fighting and they soon start to understand.
    Martial arts is one way for children and adults to get rid of their aggression
    without hurting or bullying anyone.

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