Black Belt Academy
The roots of Taekwondo can be traced back to the third century; although, the name itself wasn't official until 1955. At that time, General Hong Hi Choi organized a movement to unify the various styles and presented the name "Taekwondo" to the committee formed to select a name for the new art, and on April 11 1955, Taekwondo was officially recognized as the name for the Korean art. The word Taekwondo is made up of three Chinese/Korean words: Tae, meaning to kick or jump; Kwon, meaning fist or hand; and Do, which means "the way".
In 1968, General Choi met with then Master Haeng Ung Lee, who at the time was teaching the Pyeong Ahn forms (pre-Taekwondo, Japanese-based forms) to his organization of followers. General Choi quickly taught Master Lee the first 16 Cheon-jee forms in only four days and three nights. This system of forms was the first set of forms developed under the new Taekwondo of Korea.
The American Taekwondo Association was founded in 1969 in Omaha, Nebraska USA by then-Master Haeng Ung Lee. Grandmaster Lee, born in Korea on July 21 1936, began his martial arts training in 1954 as a teenager. He taught Taekwondo to Republic of Korea military intelligence personnel from 1956 to 1959, opening his first commercial school in Osan after leaving the military. Grandmaster Lee then opened several "branches" to his commercial school, including one at a U.S. Air Force base. This is where Master Richard Reed began training with Grandmaster, and the two forged a friendship that would ultimately result in the ATA.
When Reed returned to the United States in 1962, Grandmaster joined him on a "visitor" visa, and began teaching in Omaha. Grandmaster Lee had to return to Korea in December 1963, while awaiting a "resident" status visa, but he returned to the U.S. in 1965 and began working toward a national Taekwondo organization that would be based on good martial arts and sound business practices. As it grew from a regional organization to one of national - and ultimately international - scope, the ATA began to establish standards that would ensure consistent instruction. The ATA held "closed" tournaments and shared marketing acumen with its instructors, helping to build a stronger organization by presenting a consistent, professional program and message to the public.
The history of the ATA was set on a new and unique course in 1983 when, at a Certified Instructor Camp in Little Rock, Grandmaster introduced the Songahm system of Taekwondo. The Songahm system represented the culmination of years of study by Grandmaster Lee. The ATA had used the Chang Hun Taekwondo forms since 1969, and the "Pinan" forms prior to, but Grandmaster Lee noticed something missing in the forms.
With the assistance of senior instructors, including Robert Allemier, Bill Clark, In Ho Lee, and Jee Ho Lee, Grandmaster ad developed a unified teaching system in which, for the first time, White Belts learned kicks in their Taekwondo forms, and one-step sparring was closely integrated with the forms to aid in student development by establishing a more logical system for beginners. But even more than that, the entire system of Songahm forms worked together with balance and harmony, reflecting the essence of the art.
For example, the "Songahm Star" is the pattern that is formed on the ground if all 18 forms of the Songahm system are completed. In a perfect Songahm Star, the distance from the center point of the star to the top point is nine feet ("feet" being the student's foot length). The total distance from the top point to the bottom point equals 18 feet, representing the number of forms in the Songahm system.
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