Ki Ha Rhee

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Rhee.
Rhee Ki Ha
GM Rhee Wiki.jpg
K. H. Rhee, 2004
Born (1938-03-20) 20 March 1938 (age 77)
Seoul, Korea
Residence Glasgow, United Kingdom
Style Taekwondo
Rank 9th dan taekwondo (ITF)
4th dan in Judo
2nd dan in Karate
Notable students Robert Howard

Rhee Ki Ha (born 20 March 1938) is a South Korean master of taekwondo who is widely recognised as the 'Father of British Taekwondo' for introducing this martial art to the United Kingdom since arriving in the 1960s,[1] as well as the 'Father of Irish Taekwondo.'[2] He is one of the twelve original masters of taekwondo of the Korea Taekwon-Do Association.[3][4][5] Following a career in the South Korean military, Rhee emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1967. He was a notable officer of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) during Choi Hong Hi's leadership.

Early life[edit]

Rhee was born on 20 March 1938 in Seoul, Korea,[6][7] during the period of Japanese occupation. He is the eldest of seven children of Rhee Yung Ei and Ahn Soon Rae.[6] Rhee's martial arts training began when he was around 7 or 8 years of age, learning judo from his father,[2] and he was the only one of his siblings to pursue the martial arts.[6] He later learned karate from one of his schoolteachers.[2]

When Rhee served in the South Korean military forces, he came into contact with Choi Hong Hi and learned taekwondo in the 35th Infantry Division.[2] Rhee was a key figure in the introduction of taekwondo across the world, contributing to demonstrations in many different countries.[4][8] He later taught taekwondo to the US 8th Army and, in 1964, travelled to Singapore, where he trained Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel at RAF Changi.[2] Through the late 1960s and 1970s, Rhee was a key member of the taekwondo demonstration teams that accompanied H. H. Choi around the world.[9]

United Kingdom[edit]

In 1967, some of his students in the RAF, who had returned to the United Kingdom, invited Rhee to travel there to teach.[2] He arrived at Heathrow Airport, London, on 2 July 1967, and was ranked 5th dan at the time.[6][7] Reportedly, Rhee only planned to stay for two years, but ended up settling there.[2] Rhee Ki Ha founded the United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association (UKTA) in 1967,[10] the Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association in 1972,[2] at which time he was ranked 5th dan,[11] and the All European Taekwon-Do Association in 1979.[2] He was promoted to the rank of 7th dan either by 1973[12] or in 1974,[6][7] according to different sources. Rhee attained the rank of 8th dan in 1981, and was the first person ever promoted to 9th dan by H. H. Choi on 1 July 1997 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, taking from that point onwards the honorific of "First" Grand Master Rhee.[2][6] Rhee was also described by Choi as "the best ever student of Taekwon-Do."[2]

Rhee is currently Vice President of one of the three ITF organisations.[13] He is listed as the "Founder of Taekwon-Do in Great Britain and Ireland" in the Taekwondo Hall of Fame.[14] He is listed as a pioneer in Europe (1950s, 1960s, and 1970s) in Chang Keun Choi's list of taekwondo pioneers.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Rhee married Heather Morris, sister of the UKTA's official photographer, in 1969.[6] Their eldest son, Andrew Kang-Hae Rhee (born 1970), is a 7th dan taekwondo instructor based in Sydney, Australia.[16][17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha, 9th Dan Retrieved on 29 July 2007; link has expired, as at 25 January 2010. New version retrieved on 25 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Republic of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association: Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha, 9th degree black belt Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  3. ^ Choi, H. H. (1972): Taekwon-Do: The Korean art of self-defence. Mississauga: International Taekwon-Do Federation.
  4. ^ a b Park, S. H. (1993): "About the author." In H. H. Choi: Taekwon-Do: The Korean art of self-defence, 3rd ed. (Vol. 1, pp. 241–274). Mississauga: International Taekwon-Do Federation.
  5. ^ A tribute to the original masters (c. 2007). Retrieved on 13 June 2007; link has expired, as at 1 July 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Rhee, A. K.-H. (2011): First Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha Retrieved on 18 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b c Derby School of Taekwon-Do: Forty years of Taekwon-Do in the United Kingdom Retrieved on 13 January 2010; link updated on 25 January 2012.
  8. ^ Vitale, G. (2009): A history of Taekwon-Do demo's (sic) Totally Tae Kwon Do, 5:41–45.
  9. ^ Cox, S. (c. 2004): The history of Taekwon-Do and its founder Retrieved on 3 February 2010.
  10. ^ United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association Scotland Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  11. ^ Irish National Tae Kwon-Do Association: Mr. Thomas Connor IV degree Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  12. ^ International Taekwon-Do Association Slovenia: ITF history Retrieved on 3 February 2010.
  13. ^ ITF - GM Rhee's Message Retrieved on 3 October 2009.
  14. ^ Taekwondo Hall of Fame Retrieved on 12 January 2008.
  15. ^ Choi, C. K. (2007): Tae Kwon Do Pioneers Retrieved on 15 March 2008.
  16. ^ United Kingdom Taekwon-Do Association: Other Masters Retrieved on 4 November 2009.
  17. ^ Anonymous (2010): Training under the best Goulburn Post (8 January 2010). Retrieved on 30 January 2010.
  18. ^ International Taekwon-Do Federation of Australasia: Master Andrew K. H. Rhee, VII Dan (2011). Retrieved on 18 August 2011.

External links[edit]