An estimated 20,000 people, including visitors from most U.S. states as well as South Africa, South America, Europe, Australia and South Korea will attend a week of Taekwondo competition and training when the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) hosts its 24th annual World Expo conference July 7-13 in Little Rock.

This year ATA is celebrating its 45th anniversary, therefore the 2014 World Expo will be a week-long extravaganza filled with martial arts seminars, special training sessions, dynamic tournament competition, and the traditional Master's ceremony.

Though ATA was founded in the United States, it has grown into a global phenomenon with presence in 23 different countries. One of the highlights of this year's Expo will be the launch of the new ATA patch and shield, which will encompass all of the schools and clubs that are part of ATA Worldwide. The ATA name will now not just include America but will stand for "Always Take Action," a mantra of the ATA's founder, Eternal Grand Master H.U Lee. It was his belief that visions are transformed into ideas and it is great ideas, followed through with action, which is the trademark of the ATA.

As part of the anniversary festivities, ATA will bring back some old traditions including the Master's Ceremony. In a private ceremony Wednesday, July 9, 31 new Songahm leaders will culminate their decades of practice and instruction to receive the title of martial arts Master. This year's Masters have been named for the Korean Zodiac, Blue Horse, a rare astrological year, but one that represents spirit, speed and agility.


The highly anticipated Tournament of Champions will be held Friday, July 11. For competitors, these championship events mark the culmination of a year of hard work at regional and national ATA tournaments to earn a coveted spot among the Top 10 students in their respective divisions. Students will compete in divisions based on age and belt rank. They will demonstrate their skills in traditional forms, weapons, sparring, creative and ATA-Xtreme open-hand forms and weapons, and combat weapons sparring.

These competitions will begin at 8 a.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center and is open to the public. A $10 pass will get you in all three days of competition.

Saturday and Sunday will begin the new tournament season and Saturday starts with the dynamic team competitions. The Team Demo and Sync competitions always bring out the high-flying tricks and flips that you see in martial arts movies. This year also represents the 2nd Annual International Team Sparring Competition. Last year, Team USA took the victory but Team Argentina won the Pan-Am title this fall and they are determined to dethrone the champions.

Visitors to Little Rock can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center. This $1.4 million landmark is named for the organization's founder and was carefully designed to share the ATA story and elements of Korean culture.

Also during this year's Worlds, ATA has partnered with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive, which will take place in the Statehouse Ballroom on Saturday, July 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about ATA or the Songahm Taekwondo World Expo, visit

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(Source:Angela Rogers Group)