Eternal Grand Master’s Legacy
In Celebration of Founder’s Month and 50 Years of the ATA
The history of ATA all started with Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee 50 years ago after he met Korean General Hong Hi Choi – who had originally standardized Taekwondo in 1955. Eternal Grand Master learned the first 16 Cheon-jee forms of Taekwondo from General Choi and that set the stage for the founding of The American Taekwondo Association.
When H.U. Lee began his martial arts journey in America, he partnered with Grand Master Richard Reed in opening a school in Omaha, Nebraska and formed the ATA only seven years later when he relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas because of the similarities to his Korean homeland. Lee then made a commitment to improving Arkansas and going beyond the state borders to spread the values of a life dedicated to martial arts.
He developed and introduced Songahm Taekwondo in 1983 to include styles of Taekwondo that were a better representation of athleticism and instilled strong character and positive self-esteem. Lee continued making improvements to the curriculum of Songahm Taekwondo for the rest of his life.
Eternal Grand Master Lee not only wanted to share the values of a life dedicated to martial arts, but a life dedicated to giving. He led the ATA into supporting an abundance of charities, such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), Susan G. Komen for the Cure, D.A.R.E Program, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Special Olympics.
His giving spirit earned him many awards, including Key of the City Awards from Omaha, Nebraska: Corpus Christi, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Evansville, Indiana; Tallahassee, Florida and Panama City, Florida. He also received the Kaleidoscope Award and the Crystal Award from the Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the most prestigious Highest Profile Award of any Korean outside of Korea by the President of the Republic of Korea, the Korean Broadcasting System’s (KBS) Cultural Promotion Award and the Arkansas Business of the Year Award by the state of Arkansas.
Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee passed away on October 5, 2000 due to cancer, but his 64 years of good deeds, accomplishments, and goals continue to make an impact on the world today and be carried out through his followers in our ATA family.
Author: McKenna Stephens