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Thread: Grand Master Lee on Bok Fu Do history

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    Default Grand Master Lee on Bok Fu Do history

    GM Lee and SGM Par&.jpg

    Developing the system of Bok-Fu-Do has and continues to be my life’s work. When I first opened the Castro Valley school in 1967 I was teaching the Tracy system of Kenpo as taught to him by Ed Parker. The school grew so quickly that I decided to open another in Dublin and shortly thereafter a third in Walnut Creek. By the early 1970’s I was operating eight schools and had many students that earned their black belts with me under the Tracy system of Kenpo. I did not formulate the name Bok-Fu until 1972 when I traveled the world and documented the many different fighting styles of martial arts. I spent the next several years carefully distilling down the best and most effective methods I had gleaned from each and every martial art into one pool of knowledge under the name Bok-Fu. At that point it was my own style but not as yet a recognized system of Chinese martial arts.

    The black belts that I produced after 1972 were the first Bok-Fu black belts. Many of them went into the martial arts business and opened schools under me. Some are still active today. But in the early 1980’s I stepped back from the martial arts business to reflect. The black belts that had been with me inherited the schools they were running and I kept only the Walnut Creek location to operate out of. I remained active in working with the various staff from different schools and held tournaments as much as four times per year. The staff competed against the staff and the students against the students from the various East-West locations. At the time there were eight schools teaching Bok-Fu.

    Over time the heads of the various schools went their own ways. None are still involved with me in anyway and have not been since the early 1980’s. I have recognized those still in the business with appropriate rank but their path is their own. Most if not all have changed the name of their school from East-West to something more personalized. Most if not all have produced their own black belts, some of which I have met and some I have not. I claim no responsibility in developing, testing, or approving/disapproving any of their ranks. That is their own success to enjoy and as such they, along with their teacher, deserve all the credit.

    There are undoubtedly many “sister” schools in existence teaching Bok-Fu. I taught thousands if not hundreds of thousands of students prior to 1980. Since 1986, however, my involvement has been strictly with the Alamo and San Ramon East-West Kung-Fu Schools, run by Master John Buckley and the K.O. Kung Fu School, run by Master John Ozuna. Again, I claim no responsibility for any school teaching Bok-Fu or any sister school teaching Bok-Fu and/or any variation or combination thereof. Any and all business endeavors in opening or closing a location or methods of operation were done without my consultation and remain, whether known or unknown to me, individual entities not associated in anyway, shape, or form with me or Bok-Fu-Do. I would never attempt to take the credit for any black belt student that was trained and developed by a black belt of mine no longer studying with me.

    In 1994, when I became a Grandmaster it was suggested by Grandmaster Al Tracy, General Wu, Hung-chang (International Chinese Kuoshu Federation Vice President), and Grandmaster Huang, Chien-liang that I formalize my style of Bok-Fu by adding the “Do” (meaning way or system) to the end of Bok-Fu. They explained that the success of my Bok-Fu students in national and international competition as well as the content of the style warranted that Bok Fu – my life’s work - become a system. It had long been recognized and respected outside the United States and was distinguished by producing some of the highest quality martial artists, each of whom were tested in the fires of international competition against various countries from around the world. Bok-Fu-Do then officially became an internationally recognized system of Chinese martial arts founded and developed in the west.

    In 2001 at the Gathering of Eagles in Las Vegas, Nevada, I received the Senior Master's Gold Ring, one of only six such rings ever presented. Some other fellow ring recipients included Great Grandmaster Al Novak, Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro, Great Grandmaster Mc Sweeny, Grandmaster Al Dacascos and Grandmaster Larry Tatum. During my Gold Ring acceptance speech I made it clear that it was always out of respect and pride from my Chinese Kenpo roots that the Tracy/Parker system was the base of what I used in taking on the world in not only the 1st ever World Kuoshu (Kung-Fu) tournament but in all other World Tournaments and major International events. I further spoke about the fact that if it were not for Grandmaster Al Tracy I probably would have never gone professional and that I have always thought of my life's work as the international branch of Tracy/Parker Kenpo. I stand by those statements and will forever be grateful for Grandmaster Tracy's guidance.

    Building the system of Bok-Fu-Do is no brief candle to me. At this point in my life I see it as a splendid torch which I’ve got hold of for the moment. I want to make sure it burns as brightly as possible for each of my students before handing it on to future generations of Bok-Fu-Do masters. My time now is spent exclusively with my disciples, masters, black belts, and staff. I waited fifty years before choosing a disciple to carry on the lineage of Bok-Fu-Do. Master John Buckley is the first such disciple and I am confident he will carry Bok-Fu-Do to future generations with the same passion, dedication, determination, and vision that I have given my life to. He has studied directly under my tutelage since 1986 and has helped me organize and write several books on the Bok-Fu-Do system. We have spent countless hours documenting and recording the historical facts of Bok-Fu-Do. He helped me put together the three foundation books of the Bok-Fu-Do system and wrote the book on my fiftieth anniversary in the martial arts. He is currently working on my life story. Our discussions and conversations have brought us closer together than anyone I have ever worked with. It has given John an insight into me that no other has ever understood. I have talked about things with him that I never shared with anyone.

    Up to this point, I have chosen twelve disciples. They are all talented black belt students that have, over many years, demonstrated to me the appropriate character that a leader and potential torch bearer for the Bok-Fu-Do system should possess. They represent the first generation in the lineage of Bok-Fu-Do and bear the responsibility of developing the second generation. As is the custom in traditional Chinese martial arts, I have given them each a Chinese name ending with my name Li (Lee) to represent the first generation of Bok-Fu-Do.

    I want to personally thank Grandmaster Al Tracy for giving me the opportunity to do what I do today. In my opinion, he has done more to promote and advance Kenpo than anyone and without him there would be no Bok-Fu-Do. I would like to thank my dear friend, 64th generation Tien Shan Pai Grandmaster Huang, Chien-liang for his contributions to the Bok-Fu-Do system and his advice through the years. We first met at the World Tournament in 1975 and have been friends ever since. He is on the board of directors for the Bok-Fu-Do system and has been working directly with my first disciple, John Buckley, since 1992 to further enhance the foundation of traditional Chinese martial arts within the Bok-Fu-Do system. I would also like to thank the legendary Praying Mantis Grandmaster Chang, Fu-chen for his friendship and contributions to the Bok-Fu-Do system.

    Grand Master Richard Lee

    Pictures to go with this article may be viewed here:

    Last edited by jdinca; 05-05-2010 at 02:40 PM.

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