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The Prominence of the Presiding Grand Master Process

Respect, as they say, isn’t given.  It is earned.  But to earn it, you have to show it.

As you know, this year is one of transition for ATA as Grand Master In Ho Lee completes his second term and Grand Master G.K. Lee steps into the role of presiding nominee.  What you may not realize is that there are nine steps that the Grand Master nominee must complete in the journey towards becoming the Presiding Grand Master. They are almost identical to the same steps that Eternal Grand Master H. U. Lee, Grand Master Soon Ho Lee, and Grand Master In Ho Lee followed prior to their inaugurations.  With the full approval of the Masters Council, the steps were formalized and published for all Songahm members to see. Grand Master Gyung Kun Lee is the fourth Grand Master nominee and his journey towards inauguration is outlined below.


Step 1: Choosing the Presiding Grand Master Nominee

The Presiding Grand Master notifies the Masters Council that he will be stepping down from the duties and responsibilities of Presiding Grand Master. The Grand Master would make a recommendation for his successor. The selection of the nominee will come from a pool of eligible candidates. The Grand Master nominee will be selected based on the best leadership skills, physical abilities, vision and goals for Songahm Taekwondo.


Step 2: Approving the Nominee

The Masters Council and the Board of Directors must approve the nominee. Once approved, the Grand Master nominee would be asked to have a complete physical, pass ATA FIT, and go through a vetting process. Once a nominee is approved and the background checks and physical is passed, Step Two would be complete.


Step 3: Petition for the Grand Master Nominee

A petition for the new nominee must be circulated to the Masters of Songahm Taekwondo. Just as a nominee running for public office must have the support of his constituents, often represented by a signed petition, the Grand Master nominee must have the support of the Songahm Masters and membership.


Step 4: Fasting

The nominee will fast for 9 days during the preparation to be Presiding Grand Master. Preparation will be broken down into three training sessions: fasting three days the first quarter, three days in the second quarter and three days the third quarter. Each fasting session would be documented and confirmed. Fasting is a sign of discipline in Korean culture and is seen as a means of producing clarity of mind and body.


Step 5: Korean Temple training

The Grand Master nominee must spend three days at a Korean Temple as the previous Grand Masters did prior to their Grand Mastership. The nominee must participate in the same rituals and meditations, with silence as the goal for the nominee during these three days. Designated Masters will be there to document the first words spoken by the future Grand Master. These first words will be spoken from the same special rock used by past Grand Masters at the Palace of Warriors. It was on this rock, selected by Eternal Grand Master H. U. Lee, that he and most Songahm Masters made a personal pledge of dedication and sacrifice to focus on the future of Songahm Taekwondo.


Step 6: Physical and Mental training

To ensure a “Strong Body and Clear Mind” the nominee will train daily both physically and mentally. In addition, the nominee will train one day as a student with each of the Grand Masters: Grand Master Grand Master Soon Ho Lee, Grand Master Robert Allemier, Grand Master In Ho Lee and Grand Master William Clark. The nominee must also learn and practice the ninth-degree form for his promotion to the Presiding Grand Master. The form is to be practiced in its entirety ninety-nine times throughout the year. The nominee will include a Protech weapon of his/her choice. The weapon must become part of his/her daily routine.


Step 7: Performance of Ninth Degree Form

The nominee will perform the Ninth-Degree Grand Master form at World Championships. He or she may also demonstrate a weapon of choice and board breaks, which they may also choose, to make it personal. The demonstration must be performed with great ceremony and humility.


Step 8: Coronation

The previous Presiding Grand Master and/or the complete Masters Council shall preside over the coronation of the new Presiding Grand Master. The ceremony will include the recitation of all previous Grand Masters names and years of tenure, even if in the future there are hundreds of names. This list will start with Eternal Grand Master H. U. Lee. We cannot truly see the future without a complete and accurate knowledge of the past.


Step 9: Presentation of the new Presiding Grand Master

The presentation of the new Presiding Grand Master in his new ceremonial uniform by the present Grand Master or the complete Masters Council to the masters and students Songahm Taekwondo shall take place at the beginning of the Masters ceremony. 

Join us this year at the National events, on social media and by following online as we celebrate 50 years of ATA Martial Arts and encourage Grand Master G.K. on what will surely be the journey of his life. 



Author: Chief Master Al Dilegge 

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