From ATA World Volume 20, Number 1 Spring 2013
Interviewed by Suzy Frisch
Chief Master Cesar Ozuna left his native Paraguay for college in California, where he sought to continue training in Taekwondo. He met Master Clint Robinson, who invited him to train at his ATA school in 1976. It was the beginning of a lifetime relationship with martial arts.
Along the way, Ozuna earned a masterís degree in international business administration and economics, as well as a doctorate in marketing and finance. When he returned to Paraguay in 1980, he started several businesses, including a school to teach Songahm Taekwondo. Soon after, he co-founded the Songahm Taekwondo Federation with Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee.
In 1992, Ozuna decided to focus his career on martial arts. He moved to Miami in 1997 to open his own schools, Martial Arts System. Today he has more than 600 students in Miami alone (many more in South America), serves on the Masters Council, and continues to provide leadership and mentoring to the STF.
What was Eternal Grand Masterís vision for bringing the ATA to people in other countries?
He had the goal to become global because it can benefit a lot of people in many countries. He would say, ďWe have something good. We want to spread it to other people,Ē and thatís how I feel too.
How would you like to see the ATA grow around the world?
I would like to see it in every country. We have 13 now. There are about 300 countries in the world. Thatís how many we should look at. If weíre going to act, letís act big.
What are the challenges and opportunities of being an international organization?
There are differences in every country, in culture and language. You have to be willing to travel and make certain sacrifices. But for the students in Miami [for instance], where there are 2.5 million people from Latin America, itís comforting to know that if I go visit my family in another country there is a school where I can train martial arts. We can meet people from other countries and train with them.
What about as an individual?
As a person, [international training] makes you stronger. It takes you to new countries and cultures, and it makes you humble knowing that the world is so big and has so much variety. We canít be close-minded. Iím blessed doing what I do and love having people work with me, love having the opportunity to do this as a living. Itís very rewarding.
Why has the ATA succeeded as an international organization?
We had the right people, and people who were looking for a way to make a living from martial arts. Not many organizations offer that, and the ATA does that very well. Other organizations are based on tournaments and thatís about it. The instructors donít know how to teach, and they do it as a hobby. We teach people how to teach, and those people do this so they can make a living and support their families, and because they love Taekwondo. ATA