Some of Dr. Joo Bang Lee’s earliest memories go back to the teachings of his father who studied the art of judo, kendo and boxing under the occupation. His father was an educated man graduating from Kwan Suh University in Osaka, Japan. Dr. Lee recalls that he and his brother began learning the martial arts the moment they started walking.
Prior to the end of World War II, his father brought him and his brother to the So Kwan Temple near Hamnam Province, which is now part of North Korea. His father asked Su-Ahm Dosa, a monk from the temple and also a close friend of his, to accept his two sons as his students. Dr. Lee was only 4 years old at the time and his brother, Joo Sang Lee, was five.
Monk Su-Ahm Dosa was a hermit monk living in the temple and happened to be an heir to a particular form of martial arts combat skills referred to as um-yang kwon. This was a very secret form of combat that had been passed down from generation to generation. It is a unique fighting methodology that was practiced by the Hwa Rang warriors, an ancient Korean warrior class of knights. These knights were considered the greatest group of warriors in Korean history. The style included both hard and soft techniques, joint manipulation, grappling, power development and a wide assortment of weaponry.
Dr. Lee recalls that monk Su-Ahm Dosa was an extremely strict instructor with no personality. In over the ten years they training under him, he never cracked a smile. He hardly talked and only showed a technique once and they were expected to memorize it and practice it correctly.
Typical training with the monk was a full-day affair. Waking up as early as 5 am each day with warm-up training for at least an hour. He and his brother were then required to serve their master by bringing breakfast and cleaning up until 8 a.m. Training for four hours, cooking and eating, then training again for another four hours. After which he would learn the mental skills and the ancient healing methods of the art called Shin gong.
Altogether, they trained from 8 to 9 hours a day. Monk Dosa didn’t have studio or training center so all their instruction was taught in the mountain on leaf covered ground.
Following World War II, the American’s and Soviets divided Korean across the 38th parallel. North Korea became communist and the government began confiscating land and property from the middle and upper classes. One day his father got everyone together as though they were going on a picnic. In reality, it was an escape to South Korea. The family also took monk Su-Ahm Dosa with them.
Upon their arrival, instead of remaining with the family, monk Su-Ahm Dosa choose to make his home further away at Yang Mi Ahm Temple on O-Dae Mountain.
O-Dae Mountain was too far for the brothers to travel to continue learning from monk Su-Ahm Dosa, so their father had arranged for them to be taught by private instruction under Choi, Yong Sul. Cho is considered the starting point for the Korean art of Hapkido. Training became natural for the brothers because of the skills taught to them by the monk.
In 1956, his family moved to Seoul, South Korea which was now closer to O-Dae Mountain, where Su-Ahn Dosa had been living. This allowed Lee and his brother to resume their training with him. Their relationship was more of a father and son relationship which lasted for almost 30 years, from 1942-1969 until Su-Ahm Dosa passed away.
By this time, Lee had earned a degree in oriental medicine and was eager to teach this rare artform.
On April 15, 1960, Dr. Joo Bang Lee and his brother Joo Sang Lee created and founded their martial art system and opened their first school. They combined the spirit and philosophy of the ancient Silla Hwarang warriors with the secret combat skills knowledge that was passed to them from Su-Ahm Dosa. They called the art, Hwa Rang Do, which is translated as “The Way of the Flowering Manhood.
Monk Su-Ahm Dosa actually didn’t want them to open the art to the public but to keep it only within the family. Monk Dosa believed that these combat skills were too dangerous to be taught openly because they would inflict great harm if people with evil minds learned them. Dr. Lee and his brother felt that they could teach the art in an honorable way. Therefore, they proceeded in opening a school teaching both Hwa Rang do and Hapkido.
In time, after witnessing how Dr. Lee faced disappointments, he believed that Dr. Lee would not be a disappointment in his teachings and Monk Dosa finally agreed to permit him to teach the combat skills to the public.
In July of 1969, before Su-Ahm Dosa passed away, he named Dr. Lee as his successor.
Dr. Joo Bang Lee and his brother learned an intense art form from Su-Ahm Dosa. Unfortunately, the combat skills were never put into an instructional manual nor were there charts or characters representing the movements. Dr. Lee was charged with putting all they had learned from memory into a step-by-step instructional format and integrate a belt ranking system. As it was with tradition, there were no such things a belts back then, only information and training. It was someone’s skill level that allowed them to be considered a master of the art.
In 1972, Dr. Joo Bang Lee immigrated to the West to bring awareness to the art.
Coming to America was very difficult. He left his family back in Korea for two years in order to establish a better life in America and spread the art he loved so much. He didn’t speak the language and when he approached special events and tournament directors to perform, he was denied because no one had every heard of him or the art of Hwa Rang Do. It was a challenge for him but he knew he couldn’t give up. Today, Tustin is the home of the very successful World Hwa Rang Do Association.
Dr. Joo Bang Lee has become a legendary pioneer by opening the doors of Hwa Rang Do to the public and ensuring the art will continue for many generations. Through his schools, his students, his books, television appearances and more, he has brought awareness to the beauty of the Korean culture and the positive influences the arts have to offer.
In 2001, Dr. Joo Bang Lee was inducted in the Black Belt Magazine Martial Arts Hall of Fame and in 2002, was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame and honored during a ceremony in 2012 where he finally formally accepted this recognition, alongside his son and 2012 inductee, Grandmaster Taejoon Lee.
Grandmaster Taejoon Lee is an 8th Degree Black Sash in Hwa Rang Do® with a title of ‘Kuksanim’ (Grandmaster), President of the World Hwa Rang Do Association and the eldest son of the art’s founder, Supreme Grandmaster Dr. Joo Bang Lee, who integrated the martial techniques and warrior spirit of the Hwarang into a unique martial art system in the 1960s known as Hwa Rang Do®. Hwa Rang Do® captures the sacred doctrines and honorable principles the Hwarang Knights lived by centuries ago. Today, Grandmaster Lee continues that tradition and abides by the same principles — he is bearer of the ancient tradition of the Hwarang Knights.
He received his Black Belt at the age of seven, and taught Hwa Rang Do most of his life. While most kids were busying themselves with video games and shopping at the mall, then “Master Lee” operated clubs and schools during his middle school and high school years.
While he was studying for his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Southern California, he taught at various Southern California universities. And in 1994, he opened the first dojang (academy) in Los Angeles as the West Coast Headquarters of the World Hwa Rang Do Association (WHRDA), in West Los Angeles, California.
Grandmaster Lee is one of the world’s finest martial artists, in a style that spans an unusually broad skill-set of striking, kicking, joint locking, throwing, grappling, and wielding weapons. His speed, precision, power, and encyclopedic knowledge of body mechanics converge into a beautiful yet lethal blur of movement, which can only be appreciated by seeing him in action.
Not surprisingly, his talents have been recognized by industry press, which has featured him in nearly two dozen articles including two covers of Black Belt magazine (World’s Leading Martial Arts Journal). He has trained many members of the Elite U.S. Military & Law Enforcement, and has performed celebrated demonstrations in the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
Grandmaster Lee has been involved in the film industry since 1990. His reputation as a respected and established martial artist has earned him roles in such action films as “The Finest Hour”, a Navy S.E.A.L. film with Rob Lowe. Grandmaster Lee also worked as stunt coordinator/fight choreographer.
In 1992, Grandmaster Lee starred in the main role in a feature film, “American Chinatown,” which was theatrically released in Korea as “Chinatown II.” In 1996, he also co-produced and starred in a feature film with a Korean Actor, Shin Hyun Joon, “K.K. Family List.” It was released theatrically in Korea in 1997. In 2004, Grandmaster Lee also played “The Monk” in the film ‘Almost Guys’ produced and directed by Eric Fleming.
Above all else, what truly sets Grandmaster Lee apart as a martial artist is not his aptitude as a martial artist, nor his interest in the film industry. What truly sets him apart and make him standout is his philosophy when it comes to teaching and mentoring.
To understand what and how Grandmaster Lee teaches, it is important to first recognize that Hwa Rang Do’s purpose is not to manufacture unruly brawlers brimming with ego. Instead, the goal is to guide individuals to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual balance that allows their full potential to flourish, in the service of humankind.
To expand Hwa Rang Do’s exposure and influence, Grandmaster Lee has leveraged the internet releasing hundreds of videos which have garnered over 3 Million views online and currently owns and operates, Cyberdojang.com, an online training portal for the public. He has also authored a detailed book on Hwa Rang Do philosophy and technique, Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, and Submit (Black Belt 2005).
In August 2012, Grandmaster Taejoon Lee, alongside his father and many other martial arts legends, was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame.
Master Yongsuk Kim is a 7th Degree Black Sash in Hwa Rang Do®. He has been a student of Supreme Grand Master Dr. Joo Bang Lee for over half a century. As President of the Korean Chapter of the World Hwa Rang Do® Association and member of the Board of Directors for the World Hwa Rang Do® Association, Master Kim is currently working to establish a South Pacific Regional Chapter of the Association to further spread the spirit and many teachings of Hwa Rang Do.
Master Kim is an experienced executive with over 35 years experience in the specialty areas of international trade in connection with oil industries, residential and commercial real estate development, environmental protection engineering and general project organization. He works with multinational companies in the private sector to facilitate joint venture projects often with government entities based on trade and infrastructure demands. Throughout his career, Master Kim has lived in 4 different continents and has successfully established many such projects throughout the globe, including in USA, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Uganda, China, Chile and Papua New Guinea.
Master Kim is the founder and Chairman of KR Development PNG Ltd, a company that aims to transform individuals and communities through the power of business. Master Kim considers himself a Christian missionary focused on promoting “Business as Mission” through Joint Venture Projects with PNG landowners. The company is responsible for fostering financial growth and independence through the development of environmentally friendly and sustainable joint venture economic projects.
In 2007 when Master Kim became a born-again Christian, he sought to spread the word of God through alternative forms of missionary work. To achieve his missionary goals, Master Kim uniquely tailored several business models focused on empowering indigenous groups within developing nations.
Together KR Development and Hwa Rang Do® of the World Hwa Rang Do® Association have developed “Bamboo Initiatives”, using the bamboo industry as a means to promote a heightened realization of one’s self-worthiness, self-confidence and to create positive hope building measures throughout communities. Through implementation of the ancient Korean Martial & Healing Art of Hwa Rang Do®, Master Kim furthers his missionary aspirations.
Andrew Weil was born in Philadelphia in 1942, received an A.B. degree in biology (botany) from Harvard in 1964 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing a medical internship at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco, he worked a year with the National Institute of Mental Health, then wrote his first book, The Natural Mind. From 1971-75, as a Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Dr. Weil traveled widely in North and South America and Africa collecting information on drug use in other cultures, medicinal plants, and alternative methods of treating disease. From 1971-84 he was on the research staff of the Harvard Botanical Museum and conducted investigations of medicinal and psychoactive plants.
At present Dr. Weil is Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Lovell-Jones Endowed Chair in Integrative Rheumatology and is Clinical Professor of Medicine and Professor of Public Health. The Center is the leading effort in the world to develop a comprehensive curriculum in integrative medicine. Graduates serve as directors of integrative medicine programs around the United States, and through its Fellowship, the Center is now training doctors and nurse practitioners around the world.
Dr. Weil maintains a popular website, Dr. Weil.com (www.drweil.com) and appears in video programs featured on PBS. He also writes a monthly column for Prevention magazine. Dr. Weil serves as the Director of Integrative Health and Healing at Miraval Life in Balance Resort in Catalina, Arizona. A frequent lecturer and guest on talk shows, Dr. Weil is an internationally recognized expert on medicinal plants, alternative medicine, and the reform of medical education. He lives in Tucson Arizona, USA.
Richard Downie is senior partner of Delphi Strategic Consulting, which assists private sector businesses market products and services throughout the Americas. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of OMNITRU, a diversified consortium of companies that develop programs, strategies and rapid technical and operational solutions for government agencies and private industries worldwide. A graduate of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point (Class of 1976), he also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Previously, Dr. Downie served for nine years as the Director (SES-3 equiv) of the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, the Department of Defense’s regional security center for the Americas. At the Perry Center, he led a wide variety of courses, seminars and conferences on security and defense topics, as well as dialogues and workshops for ministries of defense and cabinet-level national leaders.
During a distinguished military career, he held a wide variety of command and staff positions, serving as an Infantryman and as a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Latin America. Dr. Downie had several assignments in Germany; was an exchange officer in Colombia, where he completed the LANCERO (International Ranger) School as the distinguished graduate; worked at both the U.S. Army South and the United States Southern Command in Panama; coordinated Western Hemisphere affairs on the U.S. Joint Staff; served with the Multinational Specialized Unit in Bosnia; and was the Defense and Army Attaché in Mexico. His final U.S. Army assignment was in command of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), where he served as the Institute’s first Commandant.
Dr. Downie authored Learning from Conflict: The U.S. Military in Vietnam, El Salvador and the Drug War, Greenwood Press, as well as numerous scholarly articles and other publications. His military education includes the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Course and the Defense Strategy Course. He was also a Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI Program.
His numerous US and foreign awards and decorations include: the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious and the Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service and Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, the Army Expeditionary Medal, the Inter-American Defense Board Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Colombia), the Bosnia/ Former Yugoslavia NATO Medal, the Order of Military Merit (Mexico), the Order of the Peruvian Cross (Peru), the Order of Merit for Democracy, Grand Knight level (Colombia), the Superior War College Medal (Colombia), the First Medal of Laws (University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico), and the Order of St. Maurice (Commander-level).
Master David Kijek introduced Hwa Rang Do to the Midwest in 1989, currently holds a 5th Dan ranking in Hwa Rang Do, and serves as the leader of the Midwest Region for the World Hwa Rang Do Association. He is directly trained by the Founder of Hwa Rang Do, Supreme Grandmaster Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Grandmaster Taejoon Lee. Mr. Kijek began his martial art training in 1979 and has been teaching since 1982. Through his initial work and dedication to Hwa Rang Do, the Midwest region has grown from a single program to a significant presence across many states. The Midwest is considered the heartland of America, but also the heartland for Hwa Rang Do as a direct result of Master Kijek’s leadership. In addition to teaching regular classes, he also conducts lectures, training seminars, and demonstrations.
Master Kijek also has a distinguished professional career that brings a wealth of assets to the WHRDA’s operations and non-profit mission. He is the President and CEO of WEA Trust Member Benefits. WEA Trust Member Benefits is a group of entities providing personal lines insurances, retirement programs, and financial planning services to Wisconsin public school employees and their families. He is responsible for the insurance and investment programs for WEA Member Benefit Trust, WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company, WEA Financial Advisors, Inc., and WEA Tax Sheltered Annuity Trust.
Master Kijek joined Member Benefits in 1993 and has held a variety of leadership roles with his most recent promotion to President and CEO in July 2005. Prior to joining Member Benefits, he worked for Metropolitan Insurance and American Family Insurance. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a Masters of Business Administration from Edgewood College.
John Marcus was born in Los Angeles in 1953. After High School he traveled around the world visiting such places as Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, India, Thailand, Iran and Afghanistan. Seeing first hand other cultures and learning about their views of the world. Returning home he spent two years at the University of Colorado Boulder. Transferring to UCLA, he then received a BA in Philosophy. Looking for different answers about the universe he pursued the study of quantum mechanics thru experimental investigation of Superfluid Helium and received a PhD in Physics from UCLA.
On the lighter side he spent time doing Tae Kwon Do, Bicycling and Sailing. After navigating a sailboat from Los Angeles to Honolulu in the Transpac race, he earned his USGC Captains License. He fished and delivered boats along the West Coast from Costa Rica to Alaska. Being active in the local boating community, he served multiple terms on the board of directors of a local yacht club, as well as, serving as Port Captain, Secretary and chairing the Long Range Planning Committee and By-Laws Committee.
Joining with a friend and his father in a startup manufacturing company, he was responsible for developing products for sale to General Motors and implementing the required quality control programs. He was involved in taking out several US patents relating to the manufacturing business. During this time period he was a frequent visitor to Japan interfacing with several contract manufactures in Osaka. He also served on several National Standards committees developing product safety standards. This business was sold to a large fortune 500 company and was moved to the Detroit area.
He was then hired by Pacific Transducer Corp. (PTC) in West Los Angeles which he then acquired. He has been there for the last 25 years developing products as well as forming and running an ISO 17025 accredited calibration laboratory, PTC Metrology. PTC has customers around the world and continues to manufacture instruments of the highest quality.
In the meantime John married his wife, Jacklyn Marcus PhD and they had two children. Along with other activities he studied kick boxing for 5 years (as much as the body would allow), is a volunteer at the local police station as a reserve officer, holds a Private Investigators License and pursued firearms training as a martial art. Current interests beyond Hwarang Do include machinery design and fabrication, knife making, gunsmithing, target and combat shooting and archery.
In 2009 he meet Grandmaster Lee while enrolling his son in the green belt program. Having a lifelong interest in martial arts he began training in Gumtoogi under Grandmaster’s watchful eye. After a bit of a bumpy start he became fully enthralled not only with Gumtoogi but the ideals and mission of Hwarang Do. John and his wife Jacklyn have been made to feel very welcome by the entire Lee family and the Hwarang Do family. He has become close friends with Grandmaster Lee often exchanging both philosophical and practical ideas for the future of Hwarang Do.