At the American Taekwondo Association’s (ATA) World Championships, Mr. William R. Taft of Boonville’s The Way Martial Arts acted as the personal bodyguard for Grand Master In Ho Lee, the highest ranking official of the largest martial arts organization in the world, the ATA.
Every year ATA competitors and representatives from all over the world travel to Littlerock, Arkansas, home of the ATA’s world headquarters, to participate in the organization’s premier event, the Songahm Taekwondo World Championships. This annual tournament and conference took place June 18 through June 24 at Littlerock’s Statehouse Convention Center.
Mr. Taft personally escorted Grand Master In Ho Lee to all public engagements throughout the event, providing a watchful eye with deadly seriousness. Mr. Taft’s appointment as personal bodyguard was completed incident free and offered a great opportunity to see the inner workings of the organization which he represents as owner and Chief Instructor of The Way Martial Arts, an ATA affiliated school. Grand Master In Ho Lee personally requested the services of Mr. Taft for this appointment as well as Mr. Justin Hanolin, Co-owner of Liberty, Missouri’s ATA Martial Arts school. Grand Master In Ho Lee lovingly refers to Mr. Taft and Mr. Hanolin as his grandsons.
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“As a little boy I had posters of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee and Grand Master In Ho Lee on the walls of my bedroom. It’s hard for me to put into words what an honor and privilege it is to spend so much time with one of my personal heroes,” said Mr. Taft, about his security detail for the 2012 Songahm Taekwondo World Championships.
The Way Martial Arts is located in Boonville’s Main Street Shopping Center, at 520 Ryan Street. The school instructs students in the discipline of Songahm Taekwondo, “The Martial Art that trains students both Mentally and Physically”. The Way Martial Arts began operating in the Boonville area in the fall of 2011, led by husband and wife team Mr. William R. Taft and Mrs. Sarah Taft. Chief Instructor and owner of The Way Martial Arts, Mr. William R. Taft, third degree Black Belt in Songahm Taekwondo, has been teaching martial arts for over twenty-eight years. The ATA has trained more than one million students and has over 350,000 active members worldwide with 1,200 independently owned and operated schools in five continents.
The ATA was founded in 1969 by Eternal Grand Master, H.U. Lee in Omaha, NE. Taekwondo, which means the way of the foot and fist, is known in the martial arts community for its flashy kicks, with notable students such as Chuck Norris and Bill “Super Foot” Wallace. The ATA trained Noah Ringer, star of the film, The Last Air Bender, and the ATA’s subsidiary, XMA (Extreme Martial Arts), trained both Jaden Smith, star of The New Karate Kid, and Taylor Lottner, from the Twilight series movies.