Jhoon Rhee introduced Taekwondo in the USA, where he came for the first time in 1956, thanks to a program of the Korean army. He returned permanently to America in 1957.
He teaches his art, sometimes under the name of Karate, and executes numerous demonstrations. He opens many schools throughout the country. Around 1964, he founded his own karate tournament, which he renews every year.
According to the February 1973 Black-Belt Magazine, Pat Worley and Byong Yu are the first to use protections for the feet and fists, created by Jhoon Rhee, at the 1972 National All-Star Team Karate Championships. It is reported that most participants did not wear these protections during their match. Each protection weighs 3 ounces.
Pat Worley (left) and Byong Yu are the first to try theses protections in 1972.
In 1973, his protections, sometimes called Safe-T, are used for the first time, during the US Team Championships in Dallas/Texas, which take place with an authorized, but retained contact.
Jeff Smith vs. Demetrias Havanas, 1973 US teams Championships.
According to other sources, they are used for the first time during the Top Ten Nationals, in St. Louis, also in 1973. This competition was called "semi-contact" by a journalist.
These protections are manufactured with foam blown and are much lighter than the boxing gloves, sometimes used by Joe Lewis, in his first fights.
On September 14th 1974, these protections became famous during the first full-contact World Championships. They have been used for many years in this sport. Thereafter, the gloves are slowly replaced by boxing gloves. In fact, if these protections are handy for projections and returned blows, they are very minor and do not protect the hands of the fighters, or their body.
Gloves open on the bottom and very light.
The helmet was lighter than the boxing headgear. It has been used mainly during the evening of 1976, at the Palais des Sports/Paris/France. It should be noted that Dominique Valera, the only French fighter of the meeting, refused to wear it.
Apparently, even the "Greatest" was interested in these protections.
Right, Jhoon Rhee.
These protections are the trademark of the full-contact, even though they were first used in traditional karate. It is not surprising that a Korean has invented them, because Taekwondo has always been innovator for protections (plastron and helmet), used since the first world championships in 1973.