LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- If you visit downtown Little Rock this week, you may notice a few more black belts than usual.

ATA International, the martial arts organization dedicated to the discipline of Taekwondo, celebrates its 26th anniversary of hosting its World Championships in Little Rock.

After a long travel day, Ralph Reimondi finally reached his destination

"I was looking forward to this event two months ago, three months ago," exclaimed Reimondi.

Reimondi lives and teaches taekwondo in New Jersey.

He is in Little Rock for the ATA World Expo.

The week-long event includes martial arts seminars, training sessions and a highly-anticipated competition.

"It brings people together."

It's how he and now Little Rock resident Adam O'Connor became friends.


O'Connor decided to make Little Rock home after many visits to the ATA event.

"This is something I moved from Florida to Arkansas to be a part of. The World expo has been part of my life since I was a kid."

A tradition that brings countries together through a common bond.
"I have friends literally from around the world. I have friends from South Africa, Portugal, Brazil, India and they really are friends. I see them every year and I can't wait to see them again for the competition. It's going to be amazing.”

For Reimondi, it's a special year, as his father will become a chief master, which is one of the highest distinctions in taekwondo, at a special ceremony on Wednesday:

"I turned four years old and he's like, alright you're taking classes and I've been doing it since,” said Reimondi proudly.

The general public is invited to any competition, and admission ranges from 10 to 20-dollars for the entire weekend.