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Contact(s):Jenny O’Connor
American Taekwondo Association
501.568.2821 ext. 2263

Monday, June 9, 2008

ATA World Championships Kicks Up the Little Rock Economy

LITTLE ROCK -- More than 20,000 people will gather in Little Rock this June when the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) hosts its annual World Championships tournament at the Statehouse Convention Center downtown.

During the week of June 23 to 29, ATA members and guests from over 17 countries and five continents will travel to central Arkansas for intense martial arts action. Throughout the championship week, instructors and practitioners will attend martial arts seminars, special training sessions and tournament competition, all in an effort to better themselves as students of Songahm Taekwondo.

While each of these ATA enthusiasts is growing as a martial artist, the economy in central Arkansas will be growing as well. The World Championships event is expected to bring in $4 to $6 million to the central Arkansas economy.

For some of the ATA competitors, this event marks the culmination of a year of hard work at regional and national tournaments to earn a coveted spot among the Top Ten ATA students in each division. That dedication will pay off for the few who walk away with the prestigious title of “ATA World Champion.” 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, one of the biggest highlights of the ATA event is the opening ceremonies, which will be held Friday, June 27 6:30 p.m. at ALLTEL Arena in North Little Rock. Performances by the ATA World Demo team and national team finalists will provide the crowd a unique blend of classic martial arts with modern pop culture flips and tricks. Also taking place at the ATA opening ceremonies will be the traditional Masters’ Ceremony and high rank testing.

The theme for this year’s ATA World Championships is “Vision of the Master.” As pioneers in the martial arts industry, ATA has worked hard to continue the vision of its founders to “change the world one black belt at a time. “ This vision has led to the introduction of two new ATA programs that can positively impact our local communities. The first is the ATA Kidz’n Power Child Safety Program, an educational program for parents and students to learn proactive approaches to keeping our families safe from child predators and impending dangers faced on a day to day basis. The other program is ATA Fit. With childhood obesity on the rise, it is important that we keep our kids active and set positive examples in our homes, schools and beyond to create a healthier tomorrow.

Those attending the 2008 ATA World Championships will be able to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden, located alongside the Statehouse Convention Center on the bank of the Arkansas River. During last year’s tournament, ATA officially opened the exquisite Gate and Garden named for the organization’s late founder, Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee. The $1.4 million landmark is a statement of gratitude by the ATA to the people of Central Arkansas for their support of this event and the organization over the last three decades.

This year marks the 18th year the ATA has hosted the World Championships in Arkansas’ capitol city. ATA has been internationally headquartered in Little Rock for 31 years. Since 1969, ATA has continued its mission of providing students with the highest quality of martial arts instruction available in a safe and positive learning environment that people of all ages could enjoy.

With active membership exceeding 350,000 worldwide, including 53,000 black belts, the ATA is North America’s largest martial arts organization dedicated to the discipline of Taekwondo. Since the organization’s inception, over one million lives have been changed by its Songahm teachings.

The 2008 ATA World Championships competition and opening ceremonies at Alltel Arena are open to the public. For more information on times and ticket prices, please visit


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