Senior Grandmaster Lee began his martial arts training in pugilism in 1946. In 1953, seven years into his boxing training, Lee began studying Jujitsu and later that year, Shotokan. In the early 1960’s, Lee began studying Chinese Kenpo with Al Tracy. Lee went on to become one of Tracy’s first five black belts and went professional at the school with Al shortly thereafter.
In 1967, Senior Grandmaster Lee opened his first Chinese Kenpo school in Castro Valley, California. The school grew rapidly and soon had to expand. He opened up two more schools in Dublin and Walnut Creek. By 1974, just seven years after he had opened the Castro Valley school, Senior Grandmaster Lee was operating eight locations and literally had a tiger by the tail. His schools had quickly become a popular operation but he understood that it was far more important in real martial arts to be respected than liked. He decided then that he needed to know just how effective his style of martial arts was compared to the rest of the systems in the world. Senior Grandmaster Lee talked to Ed Parker and Al Tracy in depth about his plans for this trip and what he hoped to accomplish.
In 1972, Senior Grandmaster Lee began an around the world mission to study and research the various fighting systems of martial arts. The black belts that he produced after 1972 were the first Bok-Fu black belts. Many of them went into the martial arts business and opened schools under him. Some are still active today. But in the early 1980’s, Senior Grandmaster Lee stepped back from the martial arts business to reflect. The black belts that had been with him inherited the schools they were running and he kept only the Walnut Creek location to operate out of. Senior Grandmaster Lee remained active in working with the various staff from different schools and held tournaments as much as four times per year.
Over time the heads of the various schools went their own ways. None are still involved in anyway and have not been since the early 1980’s. Senior Grandmaster Lee has 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 he has met and some he has not. Senior Grandmaster Lee claims 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.
In 1994, in one of the most impressive Black Belt presentations in the history of Martial arts in America, Lee received his tenth degree black belt from Senior Grandmaster Al Tracy in the presence of an international who’s who in Chinese martial arts. Among those in attendance included General Wu, Hung-chang, Vice-President of the International Chinese Kuoshu Federation in the Republic of China and Senior Grandmaster Huang, Chien-liang, President of the United States Chinese Kuoshu Federation. Witnessed by dignitaries, grandmasters, and masters from around the world and only his top students, Lee and his style of Bok-Fu-Do were globally recognized officially as a system of Chinese martial arts.
Senior Grandmaster Lee would love nothing more than to see people he has taught over the last 40 years get back into the fold and be brought up to speed with the standard of what Bok Fu Do is doing today. In the 1970’s, the formalization of the IBFDA began, and now more than 40 years later, the IBFDA is the vehicle for which this wish will be possible.
You can find more information on Senior Grandmaster Lee HERE (http://www.bokfudo.com/grandmaster-richard-lee/)