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Hive Martial Arts & The History of American Taekondo

You probably don’t know this, but Hive Martial Arts shares an incredible history and close ties with some of the greatest martial arts in American history, including those resonsible for the explosion of martial arts popularity in the United States.

We start our history with the late Grand Master Jhoon Rhee:
Jhoon Rhee is a prominent figure in the history of Taekwondo, particularly in the United States. He is often referred to as the “Father of American Taekwondo” due to his significant contributions to popularizing and spreading the art in the United States.

Early Life and Trainig
Jhoon Rhee was born on January 7, 1932, in South Korea. He began his martial arts training at a young age, studying various styles including Taekkyeon, Judo, and Karate. In the early 1950s, Rhee began training in Taekwondo, which was still a relatively new martial art at the time.

Emigration to the United States
In 1956, Jhoon Rhee moved to the United States to attend the University of Texas at Austin. He continued to practice and teach Taekwondo while in the U.S., making him one of the earliest pioneers of the art in the country.

Promotion and Popularization
Rhee worked tirelessly to promote Taekwondo in the United States. He emphasized the art’s practical self-defense techniques, its philosophy of “Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit,” and its focus on physical fitness and mental discipline.

One of Jhoon Rhee’s significant contributions was adapting Taekwondo to the American culture and education system. He introduced innovative teaching methods that made Taekwondo more accessible and appealing to a broader audience, including children and women. He also advocated for Taekwondo to be taught in schools and universities.

Innovations and Achievements
Jhoon Rhee is known for introducing the concept of “one-step sparring,” which became a fundamental teaching method in Taekwondo schools worldwide. This method focuses on practical self-defense applications and helped students develop their timing and reflexes.

In 1962, Jhoon Rhee opened the first martial arts school in Washington, D.C., and he continued to expand his schools across the country. He became a respected instructor and a mentor to many Taekwondo practitioners.

Jhoon Rhee’s efforts were instrumental in the growth and acceptance of Taekwondo in the United States. He played a vital role in establishing Taekwondo as a popular martial art and a recognized sport. His dedication to teaching and his innovative teaching methods left a lasting impact on the development of martial arts education.

Jhoon Rhee passed away on April 30, 2018, but his legacy continues through the countless students he taught and the martial arts community he helped shape. He is remembered as a trailblazer who bridged the gap between Korean martial arts and American culture, making Taekwondo a widely practiced and respected art in the United States.

Personal Note
While I never had the pleasure of training under Grand Master Jhoon Rhee, I’ve had multiple opportunities to work with those who earned thier Black Belt ranks direclty under Grand Master Jhoon Rhee…

I remember rolling with Grand Master Pat Worley during a BJJ (Brazillian Jui-Jitsu) session and thinking “Master Worley is too old. I’ll out muslce him and outlast him..” Boy was I wrong. I spent 5 minutes laughing as he tied me into one pretzle after another, put me in about 150 different choke holds, and ultimately taught me that youth really doesn’t match experience.

His dedication to the martial arts is responsible for helping us create exceptional Black Belts, and his emphasis on technique and how to teach is what has made Hive Martial Arts what it is today.