Taekwondo World Champs in Little Rock in July

The ATA (American Taekwondo Association) World Championships are coming up! The tournament, which is one of the premier events of the year for the sport of Taekwondo, is July 8-12 in Little Rock at the Statehouse Convention Center. The ATA is the largest martial arts organization in the U.S. and is internationally headquartered in Little Rock, which hosts the World Championship event each year.


An estimated 20,000 visitors are expected to be in town for the tournament and expo, which lays title as the largest annual convention in the city. During the event,  competitors from around the world compete in divisions based on age and belt rank. A variety of forms are showcased including traditional, weapons, sparring, and Xtreme.

On a historic note, Master Richard Reed will receive his 9th Degree Black Belt and the title of Grand Master on July 8 at a Masters Ceremony at the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden. Reed is considered the very first member of the ATA and was instrumental in the startup of the first ATA school.

The H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center on the bank of the Arkansas River, is a landmark of downtown Little Rock. It is named for the organization’s late founder, Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee.

Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee founded the organization in 1969. Lee (who was born in Manchuria, China) began teaching Taekwondo in the 1950s 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.

ATA is also in the process of building a new $13.5 million national headquarters in downtown Little Rock. Construction is expected to be completed by August 2016.

For a look at the complete schedule lineup of the World Championship event, click here.