ATA Martial Arts Celebrates 50th Anniversary During Worlds Event

ATA Martial Arts, the world’s largest organization dedicated to teaching martial arts to all ages, is gearing up for its annual Worlds event July 8 to 14 in downtown Little Rock. ATA estimates nearly 20,000 – including visitors from most of the U.S. as well as South America, Africa, Australia, Europe and South Korea – will flock to Arkansas’ capital. They will take part in specialized training and advanced competition when the organization celebrates 50 years of Taekwondo excellence during the global event.

Since 1990, ATA has hosted its international tournament in Little Rock, the place the organization has called home for over 42 years. This year, as part of the golden anniversary, the theme is aptly named “Make It Possible” after the ATA founder, Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee’s, life-long motto “Today Not Possible; Tomorrow Possible.”

Though founded in the United States in 1969, ATA has grown into an international phenomenon with presence in 25 different countries. With so much excitement surrounding the 2019 Worlds, an additional day was added for championship competition and training.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. will help ATA kick off the event with a press conference Monday, July 8 at 10 a.m. at the atrium of the Statehouse Convention Center.

Returning to the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden in the heart of downtown, this year’s traditional Masters’ Ceremony will be held Wed., July 10 at 8 p.m. This year’s ceremony is lined up to be historical with the largest group of Masters ever including four new Grand Masters. The participants in this Ceremony have each trained in martial arts for a minimum of 20 years, displaying the loyalty and dedication that is synonymous with the standards ATA places on its leaders. The event is open to the public.

Following several days of seminars on business, fitness and martial arts, Wednesday will also kick all the highly anticipated Tournament of Champions, which will run through Friday, July 12. During the Tournament of Champions, the Top Ten competitors in each respective division will compete for the prestigious title of ATA World Champion. Divisions are based on age and black belt rank. Competitors will battle it out in traditional, creative, Xtreme and team events. For these elite martial artists, earning a spot in the coveted Top Ten among the best in the world marks a culmination of hard work and passion while competing at national, district and regional tournaments throughout the year.

On Friday at 7 p.m., ATA will host a 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Robinson Center where Little Rock’s own Grand Master G.K. Lee will be inaugurated as only the fourth Presiding Grand Master in ATA history. Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster while available.

Once the World Champion medals have been handed out, it’s time for ATA to begin its new tournament season for 2019 to 2020. Saturday and Sunday competition runs all day for all ages and belt ranks. All five days of competition are held at the Statehouse Convention Center and are open to the public. Each individual day is $15 or you may purchase a $25 pass for all five days of competition. Attendees age 5 and under are free.

Visitors to Little Rock are invited to check out the newly built headquarters at 1800 Riverfront Drive downtown at scheduled tour times. They can also enjoy the beauty and serenity of the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center. This $1.6 million landmark is named for the organization’s founder and was carefully designed to share the ATA story and elements of Korean culture.

While the best of the best martial artists will vie for the respected title of ATA World Champion, the central Arkansas economy will be a big winner as well. The ATA Worlds week-long event represents the largest annual convention in Little Rock, generating nearly $4 million in local economic impact.

About ATA Martial Arts
ATA Martial Arts was founded in 1969 by Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee. They have been internationally headquartered in Little Rock since 1977. With active membership approaching 300,000 worldwide, ATA is the world leader in teaching martial arts to the entire family. ATA is a pioneer in the martial arts industry because of its unique Songahm style curriculum. In addition to Taekwondo, many ATA schools offer ATA Legacy and Leadership programs, advanced self-defense and weapons training. Also, many licenses teach Kidz’n Power child safety and bullying prevention. All ATA schools are individually owned and operated.

For more information about the 2019 ATA Worlds or to see the complete schedule of events, visit