H.U. Lee

Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee strived to make the world a better place by teaching the values of life through martial arts, and was one of the original pioneers to bring martial arts to America by founding the American Taekwondo Association, the World Traditional Taekwondo Union, and Songahm Taekwondo Federation, all of which preside over 300,000 members worldwide including schools in South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States.

The students of Eternal Grand Master Lee include over 53,000 black belts and over 3,000 certified instructors in more than over 1,000 schools and clubs in the U.S. alone and more than 1,500 internationally. Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee passed away on October 5, 2000 after a hard fought battle with cancer. He left his legacy to the hundreds of thousands of Songahm students across the world.

​Lee was born in Manchukuo (now northeast China) after his family had left Korea, returning after World War II. From 1956 to 1959, Lee taught taekwondo to members of the Republic of Korea military. He started a commercial school to teach civilians in 1959. He later opened a school near a U.S. Air Force base, where he instructed and befriended an American serviceman, Richard Reed, who in 1962 sponsored Lee's emigration to the United States.

Lee moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where in 1969 he co-founded the American Taekwondo Association. Omaha remained the organization's headquarters until Lee relocated it to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977. In 1990, the ATA Master's Council awarded Lee the rank of 9th degree black belt and the title of "Grand Master".  Lee's brother Soon Ho was later promoted to 9th degree. H.U. Lee was posthumously promoted to 10th degree black belt, and awarded the title "Eternal Grand Master". He is the first ever to attain this rank in the ATA.