Taekwondo Grand Master Jhoon Rhee

Taekwondo (tkd) was popularized in the USA by Jhoon Rhee, who started teaching there around 1960. Jhoon Rhee taught martial arts for his entire life, with students that included many prominent congressmen. He founded a network of Martial Arts centres in Washington D.C., promoted by TV adverts in which he and his children appeared. He made only one taekwondo film, but was connected to the film industry through several celebrity friends, including the famous martial artist Bruce Lee. He died, aged 86, in April 2018.

Jhoon Rhee always remained a tireless ambassador for tkd, promoting it to a broad audience. His philosophy of Martial Arts was part of the reason why approached such a large portion of the population. He focused on Taekwondo as a means of fitness and discipline, not as a ‘means of beating people’. He did not emphasis winning; he was more concerned with endurance, perseverance, timing, and knowledge.

Born in Korea in 1932 Jhoon Rhee secretly started studying Taekwondo in 1945, when the practice finally became legal at the end of the Korean War.  He graduated from one of the earliest Taekwondo schools, amid the first of his generation to do so. Eager to re-establish both their cultural heritage and the good reputation of Korean martial arts after the Japanese occupation these early Taekwondo schools emphasised honour and self-improvement.

Jhoon Rhee moved to the USA in the 1950s, founded several Taekwondo schools and made many social connection in the martial art and film scenes. He appreciated how much the USA did for him and his family, and to return the favour he taught Taekwondo to more than 250 members of congress free of charge. He continued Martial Arts teaching until he was almost 80 years of age.

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It is good to understand that the philosophies of martial Arts, the emphasis of honour and discipline, was preached and practiced by such famous founding members as Jhoon Rhee. Even those taking marital arts of self-defence benefit from these ideologies.


Safety For Karate and Other Martial Arts

All sports, especially a contact sport or martial arts class, carry some risk of injury. This risk and the extend of any injuries can be reduced with some good safety habits.

  • Do warm up exercises. This increases circulation, gets oxygen into your system, loosens muscles and tendons.
  • Do stretching exercises every day, not just in the Taekwondo or martial arts class. This is especially important for adults who have to work to retain their flexibility.
  • Drink water to keep hydrated. Dehydration will cause poor thinking, low blood pressure and rapid heart rate.
  • Mouthguards are highly recommended.
  • Let your instructor know if you have any condition like asthma.
  • Avoid horseplay or ‘mucking about’.  More injuries are caused by this that anything done while training.
  • Seek medical advice if there is any injury, even if it seem mild.
  • Do not practice if you suffer any injury

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Self Defence emphasises techniques to avoid injury. This mostly means avoiding injury from the attacker, but also how to disarm an opponent without causing serious damage.

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Martial arts classes should limit the techniques practices by children, and only match sparing partners of similar ability. The attaching individual should only use martial arts techniques that the defending individual has been taught to parry. Instruct children not to step outside of these parameters. Explain that the other person is not ready for the advance moves, and neither are they. 


Karate in the East and West

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The Karate that exists today is the most recent development in a long history of martial arts. There are really multiple versions of karate. Every Japanese school has its own slightly different take on the methods and training. In some ways there is an even bigger difference between Karate in the Western countries and the Karate taught in the East. Comparisons on these differences can be interesting.

  1. Orientation to Process or Goal.

There is the old question- it is about the journey or the goal?

In the West we are more concerned with the goal. Or we are concerned with reaching the goal and overcoming the obstacle. This does have some relevancy in all cultures. But in the Eastern countries it is more about the journey. Martial arts are about the path. The suffix ‘-do’ that is affixed to so many martial art practices (Judo, Aikido …etc.) means ‘path’ or ‘way’. This refers to a spiritual journey, and that is the point of a lot of martial arts practice.

  1. Questions vs. Practice

Our culture in the west likes to ask questions. And this is usually a good thing. But the East is more focused on simply doing something because they trust that the teacher. They expect the practice of martial arts exercises to lead to good technique, and don’t ask how or why first. This is the path to self-discovery. We discover the answer by doing.

As the Ancient Greeks said – there is no royal path to learning. This means that actually doing something is necessary to gain an understanding. Personal insight is very valuable, and questions have a place. But progress requires participation.

  1. Culture vs. company

Martial arts is part of the culture in the east, and is learnt as one might learn manners, language and other aspects of culture. Hiring a professional teacher is rather like us hiring a professional mentor. It is a little odd. The martial arts are certainly taught, but the schools do not have a ‘pay for the qualification’ mentality as known here.

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Children who practice karate can acquire the respect for authority, hierarchy and dedication that is behind the martial arts practice. This is less something that it directly enforced than it is a mental or spiritual attitude acquired through participation in a group.

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The self-discovery and progress made while on the martial arts path are good spiritual practices that can be applied to all parts of our lives.

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Consider Taekwondo (TKD) or Karate as a means of self-improvement.


Left Handed Sports and Martial Arts

TKD and Martial Arts

About 10% of the population is left-handed. Being left-handed affects daily life in some way that are not obvious, with many devices being designed for right-handed people. It can also affect participation in some sports, sometimes being an advantage and sometimes causing an disadvantage.

An advantage for left-handers in martial arts, and some confrontational sports like boxing, is that most competitors are used to fighting right handers. A left handed opponent will often move in the mirror reverse way to what is expected, leading with a different foot or hand. This can be unexpected and slightly awkward to fight against. Even other left-handed fighters find a left-handed opponent takes some getting used to. Occasionally a right-handed individual will train to box left handed because they believe there is an advantage to be had. In martial arts this advantage does not appear to be pronounced as it is with boxing.

Really, to be effective fighters we should learn to use either side of our bodies, blocking and striking with either hand as the situation requires. The advantage of using the opposite approach to what our opponent expects will not hinder us if we are used to fighting equally well with either hand and foot.

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The gap between left and right handed use may partially close in modern society. Typing on a computer is becoming more common than writing with a pen, and typing requires the use of both hands. Over time we tend to develop some proficiency with the previously weaker hand. Musical instruments and some video games further this trend. Martial arts training may both benefit from and contribute to the development of using our left and right sides.


Avoid Confrontation

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  • Avoid dangerous situations. We rarely need to be in a high risk neighbourhood unless we actually live there. And there is usually no need to go down a dark alley. We may not be able to avoid all risks, but we can avoid most risky situations.
  • Keep away from intoxicated, drug affected or emotionally unstable individuals. Standing to close to anybody will violate their personal space, and that personal space might be line of sight if the person is not in their right mind.
  • Occasionally an upset person that threatens you can be reasoned with; this is worth trying before fighting. Try to show them you are not a threat. But sometimes the threatening person cannot be deterred because they want to start a fight.
  • Ignore insults. Your opponent probably doesn’t believe what they are saying any more than you do. Sometimes words are just ugly sounds that mean nothing if ignored.
  • Walk away if you can, but do not turn your back on them. You don’t want to risk being hit from behind.
  • If you are being mugged it is better to surrender money and possessions than to risk injury in a fight.
  • Stress, anxiety and the effect of adrenaline will affect behaviour in a crisis. This applies to both the attacker and the intended victim. Different individuals will react in different ways in these circumstances – some withdraw, some grow violent and find it hard to withdraw. Individuals use to competitive fighting, like martial arts, have some advantage in these situations as they are used to the anxiety and adrenaline.
  • Having a clear head is an advantage in a fight. This is not easy, but if we are used to adrenaline we have some indication of how we might react in a crisis.
  • Reflex reactions are another advantage. If we are used to blocking a strike as a knee jerk reaction we have a better chance of avoiding injury.
  • Legal situations tend to look at perceived threat and justify self-defence on that basis. This mean if an assailant threatens you with a gun you are justified in presuming the gun is loaded and reacting to this. Even if it turns out that the gun was not loaded your earlier reaction is still justified.
  • Warn others of potential danger whenever necessary.

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Martial Arts training can help us deal with the adrenaline of a crisis and act in a manner than reduces the chance of injury.


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Ethics Sydney Martial Arts

Ethics is about a high level of social consciousness. About concepts of the idea character and duties to all others. Put another way, is it about behaving rightly in both word and action.

The origin of ethics in martial arts stem from early tradition and cultural background. At the same time modern martial arts and ethics recognizes modern society and its laws. It is important to understand that a social convention is not enough for understanding ethics. If convention or law defined ethics then slavery would be justified if the law allowed it. But many people objected to slavery (say in 18th century USA) despite the fact it was legal at the time. Tradition and convention can be mistaken. Sometimes ethics requires a radical change form convention.

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New student undertaking Taekwondo training may well take their instructors as role models. Hopefully they have other role models too, including their family. These role models need to be aware of their social responsibilities. Students often mirror the instructor’s behaviour and attitudes, perhaps even unconsciously. This can be beneficial if the instructor or role model is advanced and commendable, but a disaster if the role model is seriously flawed or clashing with another influence.


This is never a popular notion except for those already humble. But understanding what humility means, understanding that we are all one individual in a large community in an infinite Cosmos, allows some to embrace and feel release with their acquisition of humility. Humility is essential for any learning, else we feel we know everything already. Recognizing how little one knew in the recent past, and how much they could still learn, is a good sign of humility. Learning and watching others practice martial art class can be very beneficial here.

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Taekwondo (tkd) or Karate can benefit c person in many ways, far beyond the defensive skills, levels of fitness and ability to respond in a crisis. Social skills, ethics and knowing the best way to conduct yourself are all part of martial arts training. It about the best way to approach life, realized at many levels.


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A Shaolin Monastery in China developed Martial Arts in about 477 AD.

The monastery was and still exists today, but martial arts in one form or another have existed as long as there has been warfare, and warfare has been here since the beginning of civilization. This monastery might have been an important turning point in the developing history of martial arts, but it could not have been the origin. . Martial arts predate 477 AD by many centuries. The Chinese has a legend about their martial arts being developed by the Golden Emperor dating back to 2000 BC.

Karate developed as a way for the Poor peasants in Japan to fight the Aristocracy

This appears to be just plain untrue. The earliest practitioners appear to be the warrior class, who were in the lower levels of the aristocracy. This myth does have an underdog appeal, but is apparently untrue.

Military Martial Arts are the Real Thing

Martial arts probably did have a military origin, with the earliest techniques being appropriate for that particular time. But unless you are fighting armoured opponents on horseback these early techniques will be of very little use today.

The origin of anything is not the final word on the subject, and certainly not the latest version. The original martial art forms would be of great historical interest, but like the first computer they would no longer have much use today. Marital arts that developed for a particular situation may have elements or an underlying attitude that is not appropriate today.

Military fighting is about defeating the opponent quickly, as well as tactics and strategies. Older military attitudes were about killing enemies; more modern approaches are about immobilizing threatening individual. Immobilizing an enemy might apply to a mugging or bullying situation, but the rest of the military approach to martial arts is no longer appropriate.

You need Years of training to defend yourself adequately

It may take years of training to look like a Hollywood performer, but a year or two of training can do a lot for self-defence. After that year or two most people find they would like to develop it further.

With Karate Lessons Sydney You don’t need to Complete.

You can just train without competing in competitions, and you will reap a lot of benefits for health, discipline and concentration. But competition helps us deal with stress and our ability to handle adrenalin. This is a huge factor in real life, especially when threatened. Training is great, competition is even better.

Black Belt is the goal, the highest Rank.

Really, Black belt is the level where things start to get serious. It is the demarcation between beginner and serious disciple. The person who has just turned serious still has a lot to master. Getting the black belt sounds impressive, but it is about the same as a young adult who has just graduated past the ‘P’ plates on the driver’s licence.

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Learn some martial arts for the sake of developing yourself. It’s not about setting yourself above others, but learning that you don’t need to. Embrace the paradox where you increase your abilities but are more modest about your achievements. Be better for approaching your potential.


Improving Karate and other Martial Arts

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One on one training has always been useful in any discipline. Just getting feedback and correction is enough reason to justify a private lesson or two. The lessons are costly, but you will improve much faster. The cost is at least partly offset by the fact you will benefit more from your regular lessons.

Seminars and Camps

Perhaps the opposite approach to private lessons, but this is very different to regular classes. You learn from a different teacher, you interact with different people; you won’t get stuck in a routine. And you tend to get quite a lot from one weekend away.

Teaching Karate

Ok, this presumes you have some level of competence, but teaching others can help us learn. Teaching helps puts things in perspective.

One problem is that beginners can pick up mistakes from the instructor There is a tradition of professors often teaching the introductory tertiary class, partly to prevent the beginners acquiring misconceptions, but also to let the teacher keep some perspective. All teacher benefit when they remember what it was like to acquire these skill the first time; they remember that the subject does not exist in a vacuum. Teaching reinforces the foundations of knowledge.

Martial Arts Books

One issue with books is finding the good ones. Recommendations help; read Amazon reviews. Then there is sustaining motivation. Many of us steadfastly read the first two chapters and run through the exercises, then a week later we just end up watching television.

The cost of a book is often less than a lesson or two. And even if you only get a few solid ideas out of a book it was worth the price. If you already have some martial arts competence the book might add a few good ideas.

On line Karate Training.

If you already have the internet, and most of us do, it doesn’t cost anything to look up some instructional advice. Again, there is good advice and mediocre, so finding the worthwhile karate videos is a hassle. But this is far better than 99% of the time we spend surfing the net. If you find a good site, tell us about it. Again, this is often best when you already have a substantial martial arts foundation to build on.

Group Karate lessons Sydney, 

Tradition learning takes place in classes. It is a tradition for a good reason, it works quite well. Class size varies with the subject, but having other students present will help many individuals learn, and it is obviously less expensive than private lessons.

Two or three lesson a week seem optimal. Doing more does not speedup the learning process. Combining a few group classes with the occasional private lesson can be a good option for many.

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Just about anything is learnt better when we are younger. Kids do well with martial arts. It is at least as good as any other sport, and if it teaches discipline


Karate for Kids Sydney

Karate for Kids Sydney

There are benefits to children learning a martial art like karate. Some of these benefits are the same as learning any sport – the child has social interaction with peers, learns to be competitive with ideas of good sportsmanship, the child can gain confidence in witnessing their own progress, the child learns some discipline. But we believe that a martial art has additional benefits. Self defence is a fairly obvious benefit, all the better if you can defend yourself without injuring your assailant. Dealing with stress and adrenalin in a crisis is another benefit.

Things to consider for Karate classes for Kids Sydney:

  • The teacher and the school may be more important that the particular martial art being taught. Consistency and interaction with others is important. But we have both taekwondo or Karate to choose from, and a few other options like wrestling.
  • A good instructor should be able to connect with the child, and be able to handle children in a group. There is more to teaching than being a skilled practitioner. A few practitioners are poor teachers. Some individuals can teach children as well, teaching adult students.
  • Martial Arts like Karate and Taekwondo that emphasises respect for parents and authority figures will be beneficial for many children, especially if individual child has a problem in this area. Children learn that the teacher is there to help the child improve, and to keep things organized. Many sports do this to some extent, but martial arts does it more than most others.
  • Martial arts instruction often has the effect of reducing bullying within its ranks, in contrast to the Hollywood stereotypes. Competitors in a fight identify with their opponent, and tends to stop them from seeing others as an enemy. Rivalry is friendly competition, different from the desire to conquer and control.
  • The physical skills from Martial Arts can help a child avoid accidents in many situations. Goal orientation is important in Martial Arts. This is encouraging for children.
  • Motivation is a tricky thing, But Martial arts can motivate many children.
  • Children learn the mental aspect of anything is at least as important as the physical. Competitive martial arts fights help the child deal with adrenalin and stress. This is important, and often the overlooked issue in a life threatening situation.

Karate classes for Kids Sydney

Martial art classes can benefit a child for character development and physical development.  We have classes for all age groups.shutterstock_96292529

Martial Arts

Breathing is probably the most fundamental thing we do. No breath, no life.

Yet it is easy to fall into bad habits and breathe poorly, or just take breathing for granted. Bad breathing habits compromise our health and reduce ability to do almost everything.

Two of the most important factors in breathing are regularity and breathing through the nose.

Breathing through the nose help our body create nitric Oxide. We need nitric oxide to function well, and feel run down without it. If we breathe through the mouth we miss out on this nitric oxide, which compromises our energy and health. Some of us are in the habit of mouth breathing at night. This is something we must avoid; it leads to poor sleep and daytime tiredness. If you wake with a dry mouth or suffer snoring you are almost certainly mouth breathing. Talk to a doctor, dentist or specialist about mouthguards or nasal strips to rectify the issue.

Regularity of breathing looks to be an important issue. We might breathe rapidly when exerting ourselves, and slowly when meditating, but our breathing must always be regular. Irregular breathing compromises pulse and heart regularity. And we know that a regular pulse and heartbeat is extremely important. Practice even, regular breathing.

Martial Arts Breathing

Correct breathing is a factor in all martial arts, something we must get right from the onset.

Exercise spends energy. The only ways to make more energy is by eating and breathing. Exercise will give us an energising effect by improving circulation; it utilizes the energy already in us. And in the long term the cumulative effects of exercise will allow us to have more energy at our disposal. But correct breathing and healthy eating are part of the foundation for energy.

Karate Breathing Exercises

– Find an area free from air pollutants.

– Find a comfortable position, preferably lying down or sitting in a chair. Stand if you have no other option.

– Place your hands below your navel, so you can feel your abdomen move. The idea is to breath with all of your lungsYou should feel your abdomen expand as you breathe, not just your chest.

– Breathe in slowly through your nose, then hold the breath. Feel your lungs up completely.

– For this exercise breathe out through the mouth, taking 50% longer to breathe out that it took to breathe in.

– Some people advise a 1-4-2 rule for this breathing exercise – Hold the breath 4 times as long as it took to inhale. Then take twice as long to exhale as it took for the inhale.

– Try to do this breathing exercise three time a day.

When not doing this exercise we should breathe in a smooth and regular pattern through our nose.

As you learn some more advanced karate you will learn to exhale at the right time in order to optimize your strength.