General Questions about ATA FMA
What is Songahm Taekwondo and where did it come from?
Although its roots can be somewhat traced back to ancient Korea, it is a historic fact that Taekwondo as an organized art is relatively modern. In fact, the only documented history begins in the mid 1900's. The actual beginnings of Taekwondo are obscured by time, yet many historians believe it originated from a Korean martial arts form known as t'aekyon practiced over 1,300 years ago.
During its early years, the ATA used the Chahng-hun style of forms (also used by the International Taekwondo Federation). But although this style was widely accepted in the Taekwondo community, Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee felt that its forms did not accurately reflect Taekwondo, particularly the strength and beauty of Taekwondo kicking techniques. As a result, he believed the forms contributed little to the Taekwondo curriculum.
From 1983 to 1990, Eternal Grand Master introduced the eighteen Songahm forms. These forms are part of a fully-integrated curriculum, in which everything a student learns reinforces everything else. The forms contain all or nearly all of the techniques that students are expected to know at each rank, the one-step sparring segments complement the forms, and all of these patterns lead logically to the movements required for each succeeding rank. Read more.
Who can benefit from our training?
It's a common misperception that only physical athletes can participate in martial arts training. While this may be true within other styles, the ATA thrives on it's diversified student body comprised of all ages, genders, and ability levels. Though the personal goals for each student may differ, the universal traits to achieve success in our organization carry over into all aspects of life.
Will every student gain the same benefit from Taekwondo training?
The ATA has developed and refined several programs for a variety of purposes. Over the years, the ATA has come to realize that our vast student body has discovered nearly endless possibilities to apply their martial arts training. It is for this reason that we have worked hard to develop programs that will help actualize these goals rather than forcing our students into one, linear area of study. Taekwondo is always evolving and as such, the ATA will continuously develop and improve our programs to ensure our students have as much access to the different aspects of Taekwondo as possible.
What should female students expect?
The ATA is proud to train the largest number of active female students when compared to every other martial arts organization in the world. Because requirements for rank advancement are not gender specific, males and females are expected to perform at an equal level of proficiency and comprehension. With that said, the training modules designed to teach this curriculum are sometimes tailored for male / female roles to ensure maximum applicability. Regardless, our students can always expect a safe, professional, and respectful environment in every ATA FMA interaction.
What are the belts and what do they stand for?
Our belts reflect a member's proven level of competence and symbolizes an inner journey that never truly ends. In order to achieve a higher rank, students must demonstrate their proficiency in basic techniques, forms, sparring, and eventually board breaks and weapon proficiency. In order, the list of ATA belts are White, Orange, Yellow, Camouflage, Green, Purple, Blue, Brown, Red, Black.
What do the stripes on the end of the belt mean?
Throughout a testing cycle, students earn multiple stripes for their belt by demonstrating proficiency on their material. Each stripe on the belt goes in a specific spot so that all instructors can quickly look at a student’s belt and know what they have already learned. Each stripe is considered a mini “rank advancement” and is a great opportunity to celebrate your student’s success!
How do I advance belt levels?
Belt testings occur every 8 to 10 weeks. The school’s head instructor determines student eligibility by presenting benchmark stripes on the left side of their belt to indicate rank proficiency and class attendance. As the belts progress and the curriculum becomes more challenging, it is common for a full comprehension of material to take longer than a standard testing cycle. White, Orange, and Yellow belts will demonstrate one step sparring techniques while Camo belts and higher must demonstrate actual sparring in addition to board breaks. Generally, testings are comprised of several judges that individually score each student's performance. The sum of these scores determines whether a student passes and moves on to the next belt level. Students that are not promoted to a higher rank are automatically rolled into the next testing cycle.
How long will it take me to earn my first degree black belt?
The black belt in Taekwondo is symbolic of an advanced martial arts skill as well as above average physical, mental, and emotional strength. It is our believe that the journey to black belt is just as important as the destination itself. For this reason, the length of time necessary to attain a black belt varies depending on dedication, comprehension, and overall proficiency. A typical student that attends classes regularly and actively participates in our programs will earn their 1st Degree Black Belt within three years. It is extremely important that the instructors uphold the integrity of our art form by only advancing students that have proven ready to advance. In addition, some black belt levels also require a minimum age for advancement. Each student must first complete the ATA FMA 9-Steps to Black Belt curriculum which they can initiate at the rank of Brown Belt Recommended. Finally, the student must demonstrate proficiency of forms, sparring, self-defense techniques, one weapon selected by the student and head instructor, and board breaks.
What is the ATA FMA 9 Steps to Black Belt?
The ATA FMA 9-Steps to Black Belt outlines the steps each student is required to complete before being eligible to test for First Degree Black Belt.
Who teaches the classes?
One of the greatest benefits ATA FMA has to offer are our charismatic, nationally certified instructors. Many of the instructors that teach within ATA FMA hold state, district, national, and world championship titles and have proven themselves throughout the ATA community as highly proficient martial artists. Before earning an instructor certification, black belts spend 2-3 years as instructor trainees. During this time they are required to teach at least 300 hours under the supervision of a senior instructor. They are also required to earn certifications in CPR and Youth Protection in addition to attending annual instructor camps. All of our training curriculum is carefully structured and tested with a consensuses from lead instructors before implementation throughout the organization. Just as they push and mentor their students every day, instructors are continuously pushed and mentored by their seniors to ensure only the best be given the opportunity to teach ATA FMA students!
Does your school participate in tournaments and competitions?
Definitely! We participate in regional, national, and international ATA competitions and (with permission) open tournaments throughout the various martial arts communities. Region 109, the region ATA FMA belongs to, hosts four local tournaments each year. There are also two or three National tournaments and one World Championship tournament each year that our students frequently attend. Though tournament participation is not required, it is our believe that these tournaments offer an exciting opportunity for our students to gain invaluable insight on their strengths and weaknesses in addition to getting exposure to other competitive styles.
What does sparring entail?
Unlike other martial arts schools, the ATA doesn't throw inexperienced beginners into a fighting ring to learn through their mistakes. Instead, all students are required to earn their camouflage belt (the 4th belt) before being allowed to start sparring. During the first three belts, students are trained on One Step Sparring techniques designed to carefully introduce the fundamentals of combat interaction and reaction drills. Once students master the One Step Sparring techniques and begin sparring, safety is our number one priority. All sparring gear is mandatory to participate and includes feet pads, hand pads, chest protector, mouth-guard, and a padded helmet with reinforced plastic face shield. During a sparring match, the goal is not to harm or inflict pain on the opponent. Instead, a highly controlled point system is in place encouraging and rewarding students that can hit strike points with the most control. This teaching method ensures a safe, fun, and challenging environment while also strengthening speed, power, and control in the event these skills are needed in a real-world setting.
What is involved with weapons training?
At ATA FMA, weapons are used as training tools to help support muscle development, ambidexterity, and hand eye coordination. As one the few sports that work both left and right side of the body equally, we implement this specialized training to facilitate our student's developmental process. Teen and adult students also learn to use weapons in self-defense scenarios. Our weapons program adheres to the ATA Pro-Tech Training System which requires a robust instructor safety education and certification process complete with annual re-certifications. Some of the weapons used our program are Ssahng Joel Bong (nunchucks), Bahng Mahng EE (stick), Jahng Bong (staff), and Oh Sung Do (broad sword). See your ATA FMA location for a complete list of weapon availability.
Does ATA FMA offer training for students with special needs?
We take immense pride in offering martial arts training for students with special needs. By working closely with the caretakers of the special needs child, we can identify custom training modules to fit their ability level to maximize their involvement with other students. Regardless, our program includes communications tactics proven to help these students grow in self-confidence, self-control, and self-reliance. Learn more about impact of our special needs training at Autism Speaks Inc.
Who had a faster kick, Bruce Lee or Jet Li?
It depends on which pants they were wearing.
Questions about getting started
How much are your tuition and membership fees?
Because ATA FMA offers multiple payment plans and programs, we don't provide tuition fees without a personalized, face-to-face consultation. During the initial consultation, we can identify student goals, physical abilities, schedule constraints, number of household participants, and previous experience to generate a tailored monthly membership cost to fit your needs. We believe that ATA FMA offers a unique value for a superior program and we're confident that you'll agree with the other thousands of students that train with us!
Do I have to sign a long term contract?
Unlike many martial arts organizations, ATA FMA doesn't require long term contracts for our Basic and Black Belt Club programs. Our Leadership Program, which entails a more robust training experience in addition to accumulating competition points, requires a longer commitment length. To learn more about these programs and their contracts, please stop by your local ATA FMA!
What if I decide that Taekwondo isn't for me after all?
We understand that martial arts is a multi-layered physical art form requiring a level of commitment that may not be for everyone. Our current Free 3 Week Trial is perfect for students who aren't sure if Taekwondo is something they will want to pursue long-term but want to experience the instructors and fellow students first hand!
What does the "Free 3 Week Trial" entail?
In hopes of exposing more students to our rapidly growing program, we've introduced a commitment-free trial for any student trying the ATA martial arts style for the first time. Students are able to attend two age and rank specific classes per week for three consecutive weeks. If at the end of the trial the student chooses not to continue, there are no strings attached and they are free to leave. If they choose to begin a membership, they are then issued a uniform and their training during their three week trial is automatically applied towards their first rank advancement!
What do I wear to class?
Students participating in our trial program or that haven't received a uniform are encouraged to wear clothing that allows for rigourous body motion and persperation. Once a uniform is issued, the student will recieve pants, jacket, and belt proportionate to their size. In addition, they will recieve the ATA FMA patch. It is important that both the uniform and patch are washed and dryed in hot cycles to ensure all any shrinkage occures before the patch is sewn on. Part of how we show discipline is in how we present ourselves to others so it is important that uniforms are always clean and pressed; especially on testing days! Each school allows ATA FMA t-shirts and ATA FMA workout pants on specific days. Full uniform should be worn on all other days.
Ok, I'm convinced. How do I get started?
Start filling out the Trial Form at the bottom of this page. Once we receive your inquiry, a staff member will get in touch with you within one business day. At this time, they'll schedule a time for you to visit the school for a face-to-face consultation where you can learn more about how to get started with the ATA FMA. Can't wait that long? Then check the class schedule for your location and swing by the school during operating hours! Regardless, we're excited you've decided to take the first step and we can't wait to meet you!