Black Belts Bring Greenbacks To Little Rock

Jul 8, 2019

A group of martial arts teachers receive training as part of the ATA World Expo in Little Rock.
Credit David Monteith / KUAR News

Martial artists from around the world began gathering in Little Rock Monday for the annual ATA World Expo. Little Rock’s largest annual convention is expected to draw roughly 20,000 visitors per day over the next week for a variety of Taekwondo events.

The convention includes two days of training and seminars followed by four days of competitions, which are open to the public.

"We call it TOC, Tournament of Champions," says Tiffany Lewis. She coordinates the events throughout the week. "It's different age group and different rank black belts that'll be competing in their division for the title of world champion."

Five thousand competitors will participate in team and creative events, in addition to traditional martial arts demonstrations. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the organization, which has been based in Little Rock since 1977.

"Year after year they bring thousands of people from across the globe," says Gretchen Hall, president of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The estimated economic impact in this one week is over $4.8 million to Arkansas's capital city."

Little Rock Grand Master G.K. Lee will be inaugurated as the organization's Grand Master as part of the events. At the opening ceremony, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. proclaimed this ATA Week in Little Rock.