Chief Master Richard E. Anderson

ATA Chief Master | Class of 2013

Chief Master Richard E. Anderson, an eighth-degree black belt master, became the highest-ranking African American in the American Taekwondo Association (ATA), World Traditional Taekwondo Union, and Songahm Taekwondo Federation. He has dedicated his life to helping inner-city youth and children from all walks of life, providing them with a positive path to gain self-confidence and a stable support system in their lives.

Anderson was born in Dowagiac, Michigan, the sixth of seven children born to Mary Lee Anderson. He graduated from Dowagiac High School in 1969, where he had been an All-State defensive back on the football team. After high school, he attended Southwestern Michigan College. Under the guidance of Alvin Smith, Anderson became involved in martial arts.

After moving to Arkansas from Michigan in 1989, Anderson opened his Taekwondo school and became the pulse behind Anderson’s Taekwondo Center Camp Positive, located in Little Rock, Arkansas. This camp is a nonprofit martial arts school, which runs a high-profile program with about 120 members. Camp Positive offers an outlet to inner-city youth and their families, which strengthens them through the moral standards of the ATA. The emphasis at Camp Positive is its motto: “Go to Church On Sunday, Practice Free On Monday.”

Anderson and the instructors at Anderson’s Taekwondo Center (ATC) reach out to one child, youth, or family and give those individuals life lessons. Those beneficiaries are then able to reach out to and teach others around them who are similarly situated that there is a positive alternative to the streets.

Anderson and his staff specialize in counseling at-risk youth who have discipline issues, who possess low self-esteem, and who are low achievers in school. He teaches discipline through Taekwondo, and he stresses the importance of academic achievement by encouraging good grades and a “Yes I Can” mindset. Anderson is not only concerned with inspiring youths to graduate from high school but also with helping them aspire to graduate from college and to become active contributors to society in general and to their communities in particular.

Anderson has one daughter, and she is a second-degree black belt. He has three grandsons who have achieved varying levels of mastery. Anderson received an Arkansas Community Service Award in 1998. On November 21, 2001, Mayor Jim Dailey issued a proclamation declaring the day Chief Master Richard E. Anderson Day in Little Rock. In 2008, Governor Mike Beebe appointed him as Commissioner of the Arkansas Athletic Commission. In 2008 and 2009, he was named Arkansas Man of the Year; he is a member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

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