Susan Lennon MSW, LCSW Content Strategist
Communications Consultant
Specializing in Thought Leadership and B2B/B2C Marketing Communications

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In Focus: Making a Million
ATA World, Winter, 2006
by Susan T. Lennon

 Tanya, Amanda and Brittni Praest are avid ATA Ambassadors – even while waiting for dinner at their local Taco Bell. When a customer there asked them about their t-shirts touting Team Zapata Martial Arts, mom Tanya and her nine-year-old identical twins leapt at the chance to explain. They told the interested woman what they’ve learned through Taekwondo, and described how much they love training. The woman later spoke with an instructor at Team Zapata Martial Arts and enrolled her son in classes there. Score one for the Praests and the One Million Lives campaign!

The blue-belt Praests, participants in their school's leadership program, have brought more than 140 buddies into training since January and won a trip to Disneyland in the process.

“Everyone is an ATA Ambassador,” exclaims Grand Master Lee. “I am so proud of the dedication of the Praests for being such a crucial part in helping us reach this goal.”

You an be an ATA Ambassador, too. Read on to learn about the campaign and find out how you can help the ATA achieve Eternal Grand Master H. U. Lee’s founding vision: to make the world a better place, one black belt at a time, through Songahm Taekwondo.

Campaign History

At World Championships 2005, Grand Master Lee announced that the ATA and its international affiliates -- the World Traditional Taekwondo Union (WTTU) and Songahm Taekwondo Federation (STF) -- had registered nearly 900,000 member since the organization's inception in 1969. Since 2006, it's become an ATA mission to reach 100,000 more students and bring that total to one million.

When the organization began, Eternal Grand Master hoped the spirit of Songahm would someday touch everyone. To edge the ATA closer to that goal, Grand Master Soon Ho Lee and the Masters Council launched the "Changing One Million Lives" early in 2006 and introduced its exciting Ambassadors program to ATA members.

“A goal this big takes lots of perseverance and hard work," says Grand Master, "but it helps so much that this isn’t just my goal or the Masters Council’s goal; it’s EVERYONE’S goal.”

Student Involvement

During the past year, ATA members have been bringing buddies to class in record numbers, earning prizes and serving as ATA Ambassadors. And all year, Ambassadors have gone to the ATA Web site ( ) to watch the member tally climb toward that goal.

As 2006 comes to a close, the countdown continues. If you’re already involved, like Tanya Praest, a Sacramento kindergarten teacher, and her enthusiastic twins, congratulations – keep up the good work! If you’re just beginning, you still have time to contribute. Just bring a buddy to class and you, along with all the other ATA Ambassadors, can help the ATA make martial arts history.

"Start today and re-master your own training while making a difference in the lives of those you love,” counsels Grand Master Lee. “Each one of you has worked so hard during the past year, and now, it's time to finish what we started!"

Instructors: How You Can Help

The Praests’ instructor, Mr. Joe Zapata, developed several creative buddy-raising ideas to motivate his students. Embracing the campaign from the beginning, he teamed up with his own instructor, Master Fernando Jaime, and his nearby ATA Black Belt Academy, to sponsor a three-month challenge with spectacular prizes: trips to nearby Disneyland, Marine World and Sunsplash Water Park; a work out with Jaime; a pizza party for the winning school.

“For every five buddies you brought in, you got a raffle ticket, Zapata explains. “We held the drawing at our tournament in July, and the Praests won the grand prize.”

Zapata's four schools also have a constant renewal program: Bring one buddy and get a school patch; bring two buddies and receive Ambassador Challenge sweatpants; bring three or more, and a water bottle is yours. He also runs an incentive program – if one of your buddies signs up, your next testing fee is free.

Team Zapata Martial Arts attracts new members when it gives out free t-shirts and balloons and performs demos at community fairs and PTA carnivals. Zapata, a 4th Degree Black Belt, also places professionally designed posters at local schools, offers free workouts and provides “mini boot camps” during the holidays, where parents drop their kids off for five hours and go shopping.

Zapata credits his school manager, Mr. David Kincannon, a 2nd Degree Black Belt, for the successful community outreach. Despite Zapata's humility, he’s a role model, says Grand Master Lee.  “I am proud of Mr. Zapata for making this goal a priority in his school, and how he’s encouraged his students to be part of this journey of making history.”

Susan T. Lennon, a 2nd Degree Black Belt, writes about health-related topics for various national publications.

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