Jhoon Rhee

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Jhoon Rhee
Born(1932-01-07)January 7, 1932
Asan, Korea, Japanese Empire
DiedApril 30, 2018(2018-04-30) (aged 86)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Other namesRhee Jhoon-goo
ResidenceUnited States
StyleTaekwondo, Jhoon-Rhee-style (founder)
Taekwondo (ITF-Style), Tang Soo Do (Chung Do Kwan), Jun Fan Gung Fu[a]
Teacher(s)Nam Tae Hi,[1] Bruce Lee[b][2][3]
Rank10th dan taekwondo (posthumously)
Notable studentsAllen R. Steen, Rodney Batiste, Marina Kim, John Chung, Bruce Lee[4][3]
Jhoon Rhee
Revised RomanizationYi Jun-gu
McCune–ReischauerYi Chun'gu

Rhee Jhoon-goo (January 7, 1932 – April 30, 2018), commonly known as Jhoon Rhee or Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, was a South Korean master of Taekwondo who is widely recognized as the 'Father of American Taekwondo' for introducing this martial art to the United States of America since arriving in the 1950s.[6][7] He was ranked 10th dan.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Rhee was born on January 7, 1932, in Korea, during the period of Japanese occupation.[8] He began training in the martial arts at the age of 13 in 1945 without his father's knowledge.[9] Rhee received martial art training under Nam Tae Hi and graduated from the Chung Do Kwan.[1] While an officer in the Korean Army, he traveled to attend Southwest Texas State College in 1956, and later returned to attend the University of Texas at Austin for an engineering degree. [1]


During the 1960s, Rhee befriended Bruce Lee—a relationship from which they both benefited as martial artists.[10] Lee taught Rhee an extraordinarily fast punch that is almost impossible to block. Rhee named this the "Accupunch".[3] During his educational years in Texas, Rhee issued his first US-awarded black belt to Pat Burleson, and his first fully US-trained to Allen Steen, who together teamed up to establish the influential Southwest Black Belt Association (later became the American Black Belt Association) resulting in many competition champions. Rhee upon graduation relocated to the East Coast and opened his first U.S. based studio in 1962 in Washington, DC, and over time expanded to 11 studios in the DC Metro area.[11]

In 1973, Rhee made his only martial arts movie, titled When Taekwondo Strikes; he was also in a very small role in Fist of Fury.[citation needed]. In 1975 Rhee met Muhammad Ali before Ali's Thrilla in Manila fight with Joe Frazier. Rhee demonstrated the Accupunch to Ali, who was unable to block it and asked to be taught it. Rhee was Ali's head coach for Ali's fights with Richard Dunn (boxer) and Antonio Inoki.[3]

In the mid-1980s, Rhee operated a network of 11 martial arts studios across the Washington D.C. region.[12] Rhee was well known in the Washington, D.C. area for a television commercial that has a jingle by Nils Lofgren and features Rhee's daughter uttering the catch phrase, "Nobody bothers me," followed by his son saying "Nobody bothers me, either."[13] In 2000, Rhee was the only Korean-American named amongst the 203 most recognized immigrants to the country by the National Immigrant Forum and the Immigration and Naturalization Services.[6]

Rhee was inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame in 2007,[14] in which he is listed as both the 'Pioneer of American Taekwondo' and the 'Pioneer of Taekwon-Do in Russia'.[15] Rhee is listed as a pioneer in the USA (1950s, 1960s, and 1970s) in Chang Keun Choi's list of taekwondo pioneers.[16]


Rhee died on April 30, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia at the age of 86.[11][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bruce Lee's system before 1967 / founding Jeet Kune Do.
  2. ^ By exchange of martial arts knowledge


  1. ^ a b Kang, W. S., and Lee, K. M. (1999): The Modern History of TaeKwonDo Retrieved on 14 October 2007.
  2. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (May 1996). "With Bruce Lee: Taekwondo Pioneer Jhoon Rhee Recounts His 10-Year Friendship With the "Dragon"". Black Belt Magazine. 34 (5): 39–43. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  3. ^ a b c d "Jhoon Rhee, Father of American Tae Kwon Do". www.jhoonrhee.com. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  4. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (May 1996). "With Bruce Lee: Taekwondo Pioneer Jhoon Rhee Recounts His 10-Year Friendship With the "Dragon"". Black Belt Magazine. 34 (5): 39–43. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  5. ^ 조성식 [Jo Seongsik] (2006-08-14), "5세에 송판 깨는 美 태권도 황제 이준구: "내 주먹은 바람, 내가 인정한 유일한 고수는 '싸움꾼' 이소룡"", Donga Ilbo Magazine, retrieved 2011-10-08
  6. ^ a b Grand Master Jhoon Rhee returns home to serve as Youngsan Univ.'s Chair Professor The Seoul Times, September 2004. Retrieved on 28 July 2007.
  7. ^ a b Kang, S.-W. (2008): Taekwondo grandmaster lectures at Yonsei University The Korea Times (10 January 2008). Retrieved on 26 January 2010.
  8. ^ Zia, Helen (1995). Notable Asian Americans. United States: Gale Group. p. 326. ISBN 0810396238.
  9. ^ JhoonRhee.com: Philosophy Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 29 January 2010.
  10. ^ Nilsson, Thomas (May 1996). "With Bruce Lee: Taekwondo Pioneer Jhoon Rhee Recounts His 10-Year Friendship With the "Dragon"". Black Belt Magazine. 34 (5): 39–43. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  11. ^ a b "Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, 'father of American taekwondo,' dies at 86". New York Daily News. Associated Press. 30 April 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  12. ^ Smith, Harrison (May 1, 2018), "Jhoon Rhee, who helped popularize taekwondo in the United States, dies at 86", The Washington Post
  13. ^ Richards, Chris (2012-02-17). "The surprising, rock source behind D.C.'s 'Nobody bothers me' TV jingle". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-04-30.
  14. ^ Taekwondo Hall of Fame 2007 Banquet Retrieved on 12 January 2008. (Although the reference's address contains "2006," the event was actually held in 2007.)
  15. ^ Taekwondo Hall of Fame Retrieved on 12 January 2008.
  16. ^ Choi, C. K. (2007): Tae Kwon Do Pioneers Archived 2008-03-12 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 15 March 2008.
  17. ^ Wright, Kimberly L. "Man credited with popularizing Taekwondo in US dies". Fox 19. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.

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