The American Taekwondo Association World Championship Tournament is held every year in Arkansas. The Tournament features thousands of competitors from around the world. The competition and expo ( July 8-14) will be taking place at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
Students will compete in divisions based on age and belt rank and will show off their skills in traditional forms, weapons, sparring, ATA-Xtreme open hand forms and ATA-Xtreme weapons.
Each year, a highlights of the event is the opening ceremonies held at Simmons Arena in North Little Rock ( July 13). There will be performances by the ATA World Demo team and national team finalists will provide the crowd a blend of classic martial arts with modern flips and tricks. Also, for the first ever time it will be the scene of the World Wide Sparring Competition. The World Expo includes conferences July 8-11 and tournaments July 10-14. If you attend the ATA World Championships, be sure to check out the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center on the bank of the Arkansas River. ATA opened this landmark, named for the organization’s late founder, Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee, as a statement of gratitude by the ATA to the people of Arkansas for their support of the organization.
The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is the largest martial arts organization in the U.S. and is internationally headquartered in Little Rock, Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee founded the organization 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.
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. Songahm is a Korean word whose literal translation is pine tree rock. As to the philosophy behind this: A pine tree is ever growing. It can grow anywhere, it doesn’t matter the geography or the climate and is green all year round. So it was picked as symbolic of the student. A student can come from anywhere and is constantly growing and learning. A rock is the strength and the foundation. The organization is the foundation for the student. The organization grows by its students and the students have the strength of the foundation of the organization.
What started with a handful of students in Omaha has grown to an organization that now includes around 350,000 members worldwide and training schools across the globe. For more details visit ataonline.com or call 501-568-2821.