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Grandmaster Eric Lee

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Offline John Bishop

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Grandmaster Eric Lee
« on: February 07, 2003, 10:55:01 PM »



Born in Canton, China, Master Eric Lee began his Martial Arts training under Chung Ball and later with Master Al Dacascos.
Nicknamed "The King of Kata" he went on to excel in the field of Martial Arts and is accredited with winning more national and international awards than any other Martial Artist in the United States.
Of Eric Lee, Black Belt Magazine is quoted as saying  "Without a doubt, the most influential forms performer of his time … "The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia states, "Before the advent of form ratings, Lee was unofficially the number one form champion in the U.S."
He has been featured on the cover of just about every major Martial Arts magazine throughout the world.
After retiring from the competitive scene, Master Lee continues to distinguish himself in the field of Martial Arts instruction and the entertainment industry. 
Perhaps Eric Lee's best-known movie is "Big Trouble in Little China." He has also had major roles in: Blood Sport II., Ninja Busters, Weapons of Death, Fist of Iron, The Shinobi, and The Game. Over the past twenty some-odd years his cinematic career has taken many other exciting turns. He has either starred, co-starred, or been featured in many other major motion pictures and television series. Some on the most memorable include: Ring Of Fire I & II, Death Match, Rambo, Misfit Patrol, License To Kill, Strong City, Smoke on the Water, Hanoi Hilton, Talon Of The Eagle, Steel Justice, Future Kick, Death Machine, Falcon Claw, Good Guys Wear Black, Shame Shame On The Bixie Boys, Uncommon Valor, Into The Night, "A" Team, General Hospital, Bob, Call To Glory, Airwolf, "V", Tales of the Gold Monkey, Kung-fu Series, Fall Guy, L.A. Nightlife, For Love And Honor, Joe And The Colonel, Beauty And The Beast, Hollywood Beast, Creature Features, Me & Mom, Incredible Hulk, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, Hunter, Gavalan, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Greatest American Hero, Gong Show, Rousters, Price Is Right, World Martial Arts Challenge, Just For Kicks Television, Evening Magazine, Kitt And Rene Show, This is Hollywood, A&E’s Martial Arts Special, and the Hollywood Reporter. He just completed work on Lethal Weapon IV and recently starred in The Master Demon.
Eric was promoted to 9th degree grandmaster in July, 2004, by Sijo Emperado.
 
 
« Last Edit: March 24, 2008, 02:27:58 AM by John Bishop »
John Bishop  8th Degree-Original Method 
Under Grandmaster Gary Forbach
K.S.D.I. # 478, FMAA


"You watch, once I'm gone, all the snakes will start popping their heads up!"  Sijo Emperado

Offline MARK GERRY

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Re:Professor Eric Lee
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2003, 03:43:21 AM »
Sid Campbell's Opening Roast Speech
For Eric Lee

Kung Fu Extraordinaire Eric Lee
…A Warrior For All Seasons


By Sid Campbell

  It's rare in a world where "high-tech specialist" and single-career vocations that you find such a diverse individual as legendary kung fu extraordinaire Eric Lee. Whereas many may know of him as the "Ambassador of Kung-fu" personified, it just barely scratches the surface of the many-faceted dimensions of this unique individual. What is even more difficult, even for those that think they know him fairly well, is in discovering that this renowned martial artist whom, has been dubbed "The King of Kata" by his peers, is a vastly complex person with knowledge that abounds on many different subjects. And, it's refreshing to know that he's still learning and growing with the passing of each season.


What I'm about to say will undoubtedly give you reason to wonder how one individual can pack so much action, excitement and adventure in the span of a singular life time? And he's still in the fast lane and busier than ever.

Should you NOT be acquainted with this incredible  "Ball of Fire" we call Eric Lee perhaps a brief crash course in order.

It all started when he decided to train in kung fu and master this elusive art of kung fu in his teen years. It was a journey that would ultimately change his life and certainly one that was little known in the western world at the time.

In those early days the word "Kata" was hardly known outside the cliquish closed doors of the secret kung-fu kwoons (schools) in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York or Seattle. These Chinatown schools were typically only known to those that frequented Chinatown or had Chinese friends that knew or studied with a "Sifu" (teacher) in these environs. In Fact, it was at a time when Bruce Lee was just starting to break the traditional barriers of "secrecy" of only teaching Chinese.

For you newcomers attending tonight, or ones that are relatively new to the lexicons used in martial arts terminology we should clarify that "Kata" is essentially the encyclopedia of movement, tactics and techniques of any given traditional martial arts system. If you are doing the original, compulsory form, then you are training in the original traditional movements. Eric took to this aspect of martial arts because he felt that he would improve his overall physical abilities. For one that stood a little more than five and one-half feet tall and weighed about one hundred twenty pounds at the time it's easy to see why he would want to improve on his physical attributes And, not to mention to learn and defend himself!
Looking back in retrospect, Eric has said before, "It has given me strength, endurance, coordination, balance, timing, flexibility, focus and much more because it helps your cardiovascular system. I think it's beautiful that there is so many positive values found in kata that most novice practitioners seem to overlook. Once one explores the deeper aspects of any martial arts they will undoubtedly come to the same conclusion I did almost forty years ago. Besides it keeps you youthful both physically and mentally"
    Thus spoke Eric Lee, who reigned as " The King of Kata " from 1970 to 1974. During this time, he amassed over 100 world titles in Kata competition. Of Eric Lee, Black Belt Magazine is quoted as saying … "Without a doubt, the most influential forms performer of his time … "The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia states, "Before the advent of form ratings, Lee was unofficially the number one form champion in the U.S."

    Looking yet further back into his history we learn that Eric Lee was born in Chung Shan Village, Canton Province, China.  Eric reminisces, "I was influenced to take up martial arts by my dad in China. After dinner, they would hit the gong (the signal that the evening workout was about to begin). My dad was one of the students at the time. He studied Choi Li Fut. "Everybody wanted to know Kung Fu in China", says Eric. It's culture. The Sifu is much more respected in China. In America, when you are 18, they expect you to take care of yourself; when you are 65 you are expected to go into a convalescent home … but in China the martial arts are so ingrained into the culture that when the Sifu grow old, they are greatly respected. In martial arts, we carry on a legacy; we pass on our system to our children.

    As a youth, Eric remembers, "My family owned two herb shops in Hong Kong and we lived in the back of one of them. In Hong Kong, the herb shop and the family doctor/drug store were in the same location. We would cook the herbs for the patients according to the doctors instructions." While in Hong Kong, when he had time on his hands, Eric went to the movies. "I was impressed with the beauty and the incredible power and strength of the martial arts. The Kung Fu movies in Hong Kong were in Black and White. I used to watch the legendary WON DUCK HING. I got a lot of inspiration from watching these old movies. As a young teenager, Eric was sent to school in Nicaragua and stayed with some friends of his grandparents. "I didn't know anybody there," says Eric. "That was before Nicaragua became communist. Everyone spoke Spanish and English. I had lived in Hong Kong and learned a little English there but not enough to communicate with the local people.

By the time he reached his mid-teen years, Eric shares, "My dad, grandparents, and everybody resided in California where they had moved the family business to Oakland." In spite of his rich heritage on the periphery of martial arts in China, it was in California, at about age 15 or 16, that Eric Lee started his formal martial arts training. Eric tells his story, "I was in Oakland, in Junior High School, and the biggest guy in the school said, "Eric, look at the bird," I looked up and he hit me with a chop in the throat. I was choking for a long time. The next day, I sought out a martial arts instructor so that I could learn how to defend myself. I went to two or three schools at the same time when I first started studying Southern Hunang Ga system and also some Wing Chun.


   He studied with AL DACASCOS intensively from 1968 to 1973."  "His style was unorthodox." The style was Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu (way of the combined fists). Eric states of Dacascos, "We have a similar kind of mind you have to be open to accept new and original things. Al lives in Oregon now. We still stay in touch. I learned a lot from Mr. Dacascos and from all my instructors. They will always be my instructors."

    "From 1968 to 1972, I had my own club. It was an open mat situation that anybody was welcome to share. We had Tai Chi, Aikido, Tae Kyan Do, Praying Mantis, Choi Li Fut, and many others came and went. We were all martial artists and attending the same college. We would spar, have outsiders come, share, and learn together. Some of the people that were there included: Alex Feng (Judo), Luther Secrease (Tae Kwon Do. Patrick (Praying Mantis), and Harry (a Japanese man who taught Aikido). Those days, I was mainly interested in learning. Eric continues, "Bruce Lee had a school in Oakland with his partner James Yimm Lee and they had a major influence in my life. I met Bruce but never studied with him directly by I learned a lot from James Lee at his Gung Fu School at house there on Monticello Avenue in Oakland.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do

Offline MARK GERRY

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Re:Professor Eric Lee
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2003, 03:45:14 AM »
    In addition to his diverse open-hand karate and kung-fu training, Eric was developed an intense fascination with traditional Far Eastern cultural weaponry. "I have mainly studied in Chinese weaponry. he says. Indeed he has over the years become proficient in over 35 different weapons. Eric states, "There's basically four categories of weaponry: Long Weapons (Kwan-Do, like spear, stick, etc). Flexible Weapons (whip chain, three section staff, nunchaku), throwing weapons (throwing stars, darts, knife), and Swords (hook swards, tiger hook swords, broads swords, double edged straight swords). Once a person masters the four categories, then it's just a matter of adapting to the nuances of the individual weapons. For me, "say's Eric. "It just came naturally. I had the patience for it and just adapted to it." In Kata competition, Eric mostly used the Chinese single or double swords. "They were easy to control," he says.
    A consummate competitor, Eric remembers, "I always tried to compete in three divisions: Kata, Weapons Kata and sparring. As a Black Belt, I was undefeated in kata and weapons kata. I competed in tournament point fighting. I actually took a few Grand Championships and I also lost some … I competed against Benny Urquidez.

His Season as a Stage Performer
    Needless to say, back in the late-1960's before Bruce Lee's superstar presence was about to be felt around the world, Eric was having a huge impact in tournament kata competition on the National and International circuits.  He was the first to start using music along with his demonstration katas in early 1970. This breaking with tradition was so new that in the beginning, they (the judges) would not accept it. He was met with obstinate resistance when I tried to use the music. Sometimes he would have to change a movement in a kata to adapt to the music. Notably, the traditional teachers felt that I bastardized the traditional value of the forms that was suppose to represent the nucleus of their respected style of martial art.

    But Eric marched to the beat of a different drummer, as he only got more elaborate with his performances. He introduced strobe lights, black lights, fog machines, sound effects, comedy, flash, and whatever else he felt would sensationalize his performance. Little did the "King of Kata" was planting the seeds that would open up a whole new season in his life. That of a kung fu stage performer and entertainer. This was certainly timely enough because Bruce Lee's dynamic screen presence and his extraordinary fighting talents were tearing down the doors of the movie theaters.  Shortly there after, Eric was in demand around the world for his mesmerizing stage shows. Literally, in a mere matter of three years or so he had single-handedly redefined what martial arts kata was and what it could become. Beautiful, intensely artistic, powerful, explosive, hypnotic to watch, and it gave spectators a reason to believe that their fighting could be greatly improved should they be able to synthesize those similar qualities and skills and integrated them into their own fighting repertoire. Essentially, Eric had pioneered the resurgence of traditional kata, through his luminary stage performances and brought an entire generation of martial arts practitioners around the world back to wanting to perfect the kata of their respected style.  You could say this is how Eric Lee garnered the title "Little King of Kata."  It would be remiss if it weren't mentioned that he has performed his kata magic in virtually every major martial arts event in the world. Major Sport's arenas like Sid Campbell's historical Coliseum Martial Arts EXPO and World Tournament in Oakland, California, and hundreds of other world-renowned karate and kung fu championships.  In toll, Eric reveals that he has traveled around the world thirty to forty weeks a year and has done so for the better portion of thirty years. If one had to air-mileage it would undoubtedly total ten million miles or more.

He was also among the very first to integrate an array of costume changes into his martial arts stage performances. Today, it is the standard for almost every martial arts performing troupe.


Looking back on those kata competition days from the vantage point of his current career, Eric comments. "I am a film maker myself. Who would make a movie in black and white with no sound? Nowadays, nobody would be interested. It would be boring." For Eric, he prefers to have the impact of the entire spectrum, of the audio and visual effects available for his use in kata performance.

Naturally these hundreds and hundreds of performances attracted the attention of many film producers and directors. So it seemed almost a natural that Eric Lee's professional career would take the next logical turn. That of bringing his talents to the silver screen. And that it did which began another season at another time.



His Season as a Film Star
    While Eric remains an active martial arts practitioner to this day, his career ambitions changed modes after he realized his kung fu talents could be used in movies. "I retired from active competition in 1974. "Says Eric." I had always been interested in films but never had the opportunity. I auditioned for, 'The Killer Elite' starring James Caan, in San Francisco and that opened the door for many, many opportunities that I had only dreamed of when I was younger."  Soon thereafter he moved from Oakland, California to Los Angeles and the rest of that is pretty much history.
Perhaps Eric Lee's best-known movie is "Big Trouble in Little China." He has also had major roles in: Blood Sport II. Ninja Busters co-starring (Myself) Sid Campbell, Weapons of Death, Fist of Iron, The Shinobi, and The Game. Over the past twenty some-odd years his cinematic career has taken many other exciting turns. He has starred, co-starred, or been featured in many other major motion pictures and television series. Some on the most memorable include: Ring Of Fire I & II, Death Match, Rambo, Misfit Patrol, License To Kill, Strong City, Smoke on the Water, Hanoi Hilton, Talon Of The Eagle, Steel Justice, Future Kick, Death Machine, Falcon Claw, Good Guys Wear Black, Shame Shame On The Bixie Boys, Uncommon Valor, Into The Night, "A" Team, General Hospital, Bob, Call To Glory, Airwolf, "V", Tales of the Gold Monkey, Kung-fu Series, Fall Guy, L.A. Nightlife, For Love And Honor, Joe And The Colonel, Beauty And The Beast, Hollywood Beast, Creature Features, Me & Mom, Incredible Hulk, Bring 'Em Back Alive, Hunter, Gavalan, Scarecrow & Mrs. King, Greatest American Hero, Gong Show, Rousters, Price Is Right, World Martial Arts Challenge, Just For Kicks Television, Evening Magazine, Kitt And Rene Show, This is Hollywood, A&E's Martial Arts Special, and the Hollywood Reporter. He just completed work on Lethal Weapon IV and recently starred in The Master Demon.
    As a renowned martial arts performer Eric Lee has been a "starring attraction" in literally hundreds of shows around the world. He has been billed on and performed in some of the largest martial arts shows in the world including: The Coliseum Martial Arts EXPO and World Tournament, The Second World Martial Arts Expo, The British Martial Arts Extravaganza, The Las Vegas Martial Arts Show, The South America World Martial Arts Tour, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Fitness EXPO'98, Ed Parker's

   


Internationals Martial Arts Tournament, Hawaiian Tournament of Kings, and hundreds of regional, national and International karate, kung-fu, Tae Kwon do and Kempo tournaments.

He has also been featured on the cover of virtually every martial arts magazine in the world. With the exception of Bruce Lee, Eric has perhaps been featured more than any other kung-fu practitioner in the 20th century. His educational and instructional Seminars have been attended by thousands of martial arts "Devotees" around the world.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do

Offline MARK GERRY

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Re:Professor Eric Lee
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2003, 03:45:39 AM »

His Season as an Author

It must have been fate for the seasons to change so naturally for this martial artist.  As a writer he penned several noteworthy books and is featured in numerous video instructional programs. His martial arts instructional books and videotapes include: Fight Back... A Self-defense Guide, The Chinese Broad Sword, Black Belt Magazine Video series KUNG FU WEAPONS (Three Sectional Staff) and (Double Broad Sword), and an entire array educational video series (over 50 titles) that include Health, Chinese Healing, Vitality, Martial Arts Acting, Exercise & Conditioning and other martially related subjects. Eric relates, "That teaching and passing along the many things I have learned about life and education in general through my many educational programs. I feel that in sharing this wealth of knowledge can perhaps help many newcomers to the arts fulfill their dreams and become the greatest they can be. What a better way than to walk in the shoes if someone that has been up those mountains and brought that knowledge back down to share with their fellowman"


His Season as a Celebrity
With publicity brings recognition. With recognition brings celebrity status. Eric chooses not to dwell too much on his celebrity status or the fact that he is good close personal friends with some of the biggest names in show business. He is content more so to view himself as just a down-to-earth person that has been very fortunate to have lived the dream he has and have the friends he has had over the years. He says, with quite candor, " The best things you can have in life are good health, good friends and good karma. And ones that seek those things in their life will never really have to worry about anything else."

Though Eric would not elaborate on his recognition and celebrity status we did a little research on our own and discovered some rather interesting tidbits of trivia for the ones out there among you who wish to know more about the "King of Kata," He has been inducted into more than a dozen "Hall of Fame" organizations around the world. He has received numerous awards for his many contributions to the "World of martial arts" from humanitarian to contributory efforts. . He has been honored as the Crystal Award (lifetime achievement), inducted into the Gallery of Fame, received the Southern California Motion Picture Council's GOLDEN STAR HALO AWARD, Bob Wall's WHO'S WHO in the MARTIAL ARTS, and many other special honors that embrace the epitome of "Martial Arts Excellence."  Eric is also featured inclusion in virtually every martial arts reference book in the world. Some of the more notable include: MARTIAL ARTS: Traditions, History, The Martial Arts SOURCE BOOK, The BLACK BOOK, MASTERS, FOUNDERS, LEADERS of American Martial Arts, WHO'S WHO in the Martial Arts Elite, and WHO'S WHO in Karate and honors such as Black Belt Hall of Fame, Armed Forces Appreciation Award, 2 Golden Fist Awards (Best Weapons Champion, Best Kata Champion), to name a few. Eric humbly says, "I just want to continue to learn and improve in the area that I like. As in anything, we must have a beginner's mind. I believe we should never stop learning anything. Martial arts is a way of life, it is much more than kicking and punching. It gives you a good feeling when you can share what you have learned."  He is on the Board of Directors of numerous martial arts organizations and recently will be "Roasted" at the Celebrity Roast that will be held in Burbank, California.    

His Season as a Motion Picture Producer

Just when many would assume that this multi-talented martial artists would be quite content to sit on his laurels and bask in the success of their life's accomplishments Eric continues to grow and expand with the changing of the seasons.
"Lately," Eric says, "I have been really interested in directing. I have always been fascinated with the creative part of the (film) industry. Martial art are very creative for me because it takes the mind to move the body." Eric Lee's body is still moving as he continues to train in his beloved martial arts, stating, " I train for a different purpose. I train for flexibility and energy. Depending on what project I am working on, I train in moderation in that area. I didn't know the balance when I was younger: How much to rest, how much to eat, etc " Eric reveals the anchor of his balance when starting.  Using the knowledge learned from the experiences he has been exposed to has kept him motivated and filled with vitality that most would have been happy to have had ten years previously. He feels that the change of seasons is only a passing of time and how one uses their time artfully and creatively is what gives them longevity-should they take good care of themselves and continue to grow.


His Season as a Movie Choreographer

This abounding energy and vitality has taken another turn in Eric's life. Over the years he has had opportunities to share his fighting and form skills with producers and directors on numerous film projects. As a choreographer, Eric finds content and enjoyment in teaching the younger actors the ways of the martial arts that have been adeptly suited for the cinematic arts. Today, he is in constant demand for his professional talents on the set of major motion pictures. In addition to staging hundreds of fight scenes he has been a Technical Director and even been responsible for providing the voice-overs for actors in these Hollywood productions.


His Season as an Teacher

    As to the role that martial arts has made in Eric's personal development he says, " A lot I've been able to contribute to other people and they have been able to contribute to me. It has certainly given me a lot of richness in my life. From the physical point of view, it has helped me keep my health together. I am in pretty good health because of the training involved. It has broadened my mind with culture: the history and culture of the arts. Mentally, it has helped me with discipline because, in the martial arts you have to train and stay motivated. Martial arts have given me a lot of incentive to keep going."

    Currently, Eric does occasional seminars and continues to teach a small number of his advanced students. As for his future in the martial arts he says, " I would like to get more educational tapes out there. I wouldn't mind giving motivational talks for other martial artists all around the world."



His Season as a Healer
Looking back to the season of his youth with his family being involved in the "Herbal" business for so many decades, it's natural to assume that Eric Lee would someday return to his roots in that regard. Actually, Eric Lee has always been health conscious but it's only just within the past decade that he has pursued it with great depth. The study of Chinese healing (and even Western methodologies) has become a primary preoccupation and Eric has sought out some of the best healers in the world to learn from them. Whether it is massage, herbal curatives, nutrition, physical therapy or exercise, he has concerned himself with its importance and how it can be best be used by those that have been physically impaired.
 
His Season as a Martial Arts Ambassador
Perhaps no martial artists in the world has given so much of their time, effort and self to promote the values of the martial arts at so many levels on a global scale as Eric Lee. His life's journey and the many seasons that has come and gone have been touched by his ambassadorial goodwill and genuinely sharing nature. But, again, that's what a "Warrior for all Seasons" would be expected to do if his journey was intended to discover himself and simultaneously share with others the talents he's been blessed to learn on a journey through live.


END-END-END
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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do