50th Anniversary of Martial Arts World Championships in Little Rock

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ATA World Championships
ATA World Championships

ATA International is the largest martial arts organization in the U.S and is internationally headquartered in Little Rock, which is home to the ATA World Championships every year. This year is the 50th anniversary of these championships, which are slated for July 8-14. 

When people think of martial arts, more than likely they are picturing Taekwondo. The discipline comes from Korea and is considered the most popular martial arts in the U.S. A main draw of the sport is the wide range of kicks used. While some other martial arts include kicking techniques, Taekwondo’s strength is founded in it.

Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee founded ATA in 1969. Lee (who was born Manchuria, China) began teaching Taekwondo in 1955 and opened a training school in Korea a few years later. He came to the U.S. in the early 1960s and started teaching in Omaha, Nebraska. After founding the ATA, he relocated headquarters to Little Rock in 1977.

Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee

The training taught at ATA is known as Songahm Taekwondo and the practice has an interesting tie to the state in that there is a symbolic Songahm Mountain close to the 4-H Center in Ferndale.

With the passing of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee in 2000, his wife Mrs. Sun C. Lee (ATA's Chairman of the Board) continues the legacy of her husband. The ATA opened the H. U. Lee International Gate & Garden in downtown Little Rock during the 2007 ATA World Championships. The South Korean structure honors the ATA founder, salutes martial arts and serves as a symbol of friendship between South Korea and the U.S.

ATA International has headquarters at 1800 Riverfront Drive in Little Rock. The 45,300 square feet ATA International Headquarters has a training center and also  a museum on site that tells the story of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee and the history of the ATA. For more details on the World Championships visit ataworldexpo.com.