On May 24, 1970 in Washington, D.C. Bruce Lee was invited to be a judge at the National Karate Championships. Later he would be awarded a plaque by Jhoon Rhee as a special guest of honor.

It was at the 1964 Long Beach Karate Championships where Bruce Lee first met taekwondo master Jhoon Rhee. The two developed a friendship — a relationship from which they both benefited as martial artists.

Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee was a South Korean master of taekwondo who was widely recognized as the ‘Father of American Taekwondo’ for introducing this martial art to the United States of America since arriving in the 1950s. He was ranked 10th dan.

Rhee was born on January 7, 1932, in Korea, during the period of Japanese occupation. He began training in the martial arts at the age of 13 (1945), without his father’s knowledge. Rhee received martial art training under Nam Tae Hi and graduated from the Chung Do Kwan.

During the 1960s, Rhee befriended Bruce Lee, a relationship from which they both benefited as martial artists. Lee taught Rhee an extraordinarily fast punch that is almost impossible to block. Rhee named this the “Accupunch”. Jhoon Rhee taught Lee the side kick in detail, and Lee taught Rhee the “non-telegraphic” punch.

Rhee’s relationship with Bruce Lee began in August of 1964, when they met at the late Grandmaster Ed Parker’s International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California. Rhee was 32 years old; Lee, 23. Both men performed demonstrations, and each was impressed with the other’s skill. They started a friendship, regularly visiting each other and exchanging letters for nearly a decade. Lee also attended the Jhoon Rhee Nationals every year from 1966 to 1970.

Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce Lee’s widow, says, “Bruce had great respect for Jhoon Rhee’s martial arts and the way he ran his schools. He always considered Jhoon quite a groundbreaker in putting on these highly regarded tournaments. They shared a goal of wanting to expose the American public to real martial arts—more than just the kicking and punching—the discipline and the underlying philosophy.”

The death of Bruce Lee was devastating for Rhee. He mourned not only the loss of his friend, but the loss to the world of martial arts. Rhee knew that Lee would have continued to make invaluable contributions to the philosophy and influence of their shared passion. So it was with special satisfaction that Rhee was later able to pass along part of Bruce Lee’s legacy to one of the greatest athletes of all time, Muhammad Ali.

1970 National Karate Championship plaque, awarded to Bruce Lee. Although Bruce Lee never participated in any martial arts tournaments other than demonstrations, this is one of the few awards he accepted. Plaque reads in full, ”Presented to / Mr. Bruce Lee / Guest of Honor / at / 1970 National Karate Championship / Washington, D.C. / May 24, 1970 / Presented by / Jhoon Rhee”.

Jhoon Goo,

Enclosed please find [Chuck] Norris’ ad. This is the most recent one. I’ll try to save them for you in the future. Also, I have included other ads of similar nature, which might be of help.

[Bruce Lee included this poem, which he wrote to help encourage his old friend, advising him not to let adverse circumstances affect him and to realize that each individual controls his own destiny.]

WHO AM I?

Who am I?

That is the age-old question

Asked by every man

At one time or another.

Though he looks into a mirror

And recognized the face,

Though he knows his own name

And age and history,

Still he wonders, deep down,

Who am I?

Am I a giant among men,

Master of all I survey,

Or an ineffectual pygmy

Who clumsily blocks his own way?

Am I the self-assured gentleman

With a winning style, The natural born leader

Who makes friends instantly,

Or the frightened heart

Tiptoeing among strangers,

Who, behind a frozen smile, trembles

Like a little boy lost in the dark forest?

Most of us yearn to be one,

But we fear we are the other.

Yet we CAN be

What we aspire to be.

Those who cultivate

Their natural instincts,

Who set their sights

On the good, the admirable, the excellent,

And believe they can achieve it

Will find their confidence rewarded.

And in the process,

They will discover the true identity

Of him who looks back from the mirror.

WHICH ARE YOU?

The doubters said,

“Man cannot fly,”

The doers said,

“Maybe, but we will try,”

And finally soared

Into the morning’s glow,

While non-believers

Watched from below.

The doubters claimed

The world was flat,

Ships plunged over its edge,

And that was that!

Yet a brand new world

Some doers found,

And returned to prove

This planet round.

The doubters knew

‘Twas fact, “of course,

No noisy gadget

Would e’er replace the horse”

Yet the carriages

Of doers, san equine,

Came to trame to traverse

All our roads in time

But those who kept saying

“It can’t be done,”

Never are the victories

Or the honors won.

But, rather,

By the believing, doing kind,

While the doubters

Watched from far behind.

In conclusion, may I warn you that negativeness very often unknowingly creeps up upon us. It helps to occasionally to stop all thoughts (the chattering of worries, anticipations, etc. in your head) and then once more refreshingly march bravely on.

Just as the maintaining of good health may req the taking of unpleasant medicine, so the condition of being able to do the things we enjoy often requires the performance of a few we don’t. Remember my friend that it is not what happens that counts, it is how you react to them.

You have what it takes, I know you will win out one way or the other. So damn the torpedo, full speed ahead! Remember what this Chinaman says, “Circumstances? Hell, I make circumstances!

Peace and harmony.

Bruce Lee

Jhoon Goo,

Thank you for your wonderful gift to my son, he sleeps with the bear nowadays.

Enclosed I’m rushing the ad & information where you can obtain the gain weight food supplements. Be sure to order it from York, PA, instead of from Los Angeles, California, as there is a difference in postage.

Add peanuts, eggs (with shells) and bananas into the powder with milk and mix them in a blender. If you really want faster results use “half and half” instead of ordinary milk.

The postman is here, I better mail this. Talk to you later.

Your friend,

Bruce Lee

Jhoon Goo,

Here are some thoughts that enter my mind after our phone call conversation.

Background for Program

A) Light Oriental background music which becomes louder before and after program.

B) The setting has to become Oriental design with mats and all – most important your own school emblem (big!) in the background.

Costumes

A) You the head instructor wear gi at all time.

B) The lady wears different street clothes.

Situation

A) Realistic duplication of actual attack (Note: whoever the attacker, he must be fierce and rough toward his victim).

B) Provide props as much as possible to capture the street scene – like chair, phony car., etc.

Lessons

1. Take one technique at a time and show it from different angles and perspectives so as not to make the lesson monotonous.

2. Needles to say, the program has to be both educational and entertaining – realize the fact the [being] too educational will make the show to dull; on the other hand, too entertaining will decrease the martial art spirit. However, though a happy medium is desired, for a TV program, do learn toward showmanship.

3. Besides your usual lesson plan, do give brief lectures on safety at home, in car, walking alone on the street, etc., etc.

4. Do take advantage of current [news] paper clippings of attacks so as to instill fear that will lead to taking on actual lessons. Get as much statistics as you can on crimes, attacks, etc. and report it on the air.

5. Definitely encourage the viewer to write in.

6. As the program goes on, you should sell some of your products – books, or whatever items you feel would help the ladies.

Some Things to be Considered

1. You must secure ownership of your film pilot no matter [if] it sells or not.

2. Make your program a package deal with you as as the hiring force for whatever assistants you have on the show.

3. I would recommend – if it does not conflict with policy – that you have the girl plus the attackers so that you become the principle of the show while those two are demonstrators. Of course you will occasionally demonstrate on the attacker as to the proper and correct way of execution.

4. Have [the ] lawyer consult the Screen Guild as to [the] Unions’s policy on your type of show. Do this when concrete deal is being made.

What more can I say at this time but to wish you the best and hope the show will materialize. Should I come up with any more ideas, I’ll write you.

See if you can make pilot here in the West coast. I should be of help.

Bruce

Tuesday, March 4, 1969

To Mr. Jhoo Goo,

The purpose of this letter is twofold; First, to show off the typewriter; second, to keep you up on the latest here in the West.

We had a meeting on Project “Leng” last Friday, Coburn, Stirling, and I. Project “Leng” is a code name for our martial art motion picture. Leng is a Chinese word meaning beautiful. Anyway, there is a big breakthrough. Stirling didn’t mind his nephew Mark being taken off the writing job, and him and Coburn are both in [agreement] to hire a professional to do the job. We will speed up the process as soon as the writer comes up with the treatment.

We will have another meeting this coming week. Everything is going big gun. Also, Stirling is preparing another film, and he wants me to be his associate producer and technical advisor for the picture – a Japanese samuria picture. Coburn might be in it, too. It will be three months work in Japan. If things go smoothly, the picture can start in six months, then after that, our picture “Leng,” beautiful, beautiful indeed.

I might go on that publicity tour for MGM yet, though they are not too happy with the money I asked. We will see. If I should go, I will get you on with me for publicity for your school, especially on National TV.

Remember my friend, everything goes to those who aim to get. Low aim is the biggest crime a man has. One will never get more than he thinks he can get. You have what it takes. Look back and see your progress – damn the torpedo, full speed ahead!

By the way, Black belt called and asked me for additional information on your school. You can rest assured that what I filled in had to make your school the greatest dojo there is. The fact that you are the most generous furnisher of decorations, ‘around’ three thousand dollars rent, etc, etc., I can’t even remember what I told the secretary.

Delgado opened a school here. He will compete in Parker’s tournament next week, so is Joe Lewis. Lewis’ latest wish is to become a professional boxer.

Well my friend, take good care and my best regards to Han Soong and the family.

By the way, how is the little “abagee?”

Bruce




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