AN INTERVIEW WITH
MASTER CHARLES LEE
JAN / 2012
My Name is Eddie Morales and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. The subject I’m introducing in this interview has been training for most of his life. He has deep knowledge and insight of Martial Arts and understands the true meaning of the words “Mind Set,” which will be explained in this interview. I enjoyed speaking with him and learned a few things about positive affirmations. His Karate lineage is powerful and he passes on his knowledge as all great teachers do. We here at Martialforce.com hope you enjoy a look into this Karateka’s life, thank you.
Interview by Eddie Morales
Martialforce.com: Where are you originally from?
CHARLES LEE: I was born in Cincinnati Ohio, now I live in Boca Raton, Florida.
Martialforce.com: When did you begin your Martial Arts practice?
CHARLES LEE: I began studying the Martial Arts in 1959 with my uncle in the art of judo, which he learned while serving in the army. I would practice on and off situation until my family moved to Newark, Jersey in 1963. My family relocated around the city of Newark until we settled in North Newark: we lived on Chester Avenue. The neighborhood community center is where I had my first taste of Kung Fu. The instructor at the time was Sifu Robert Wilson and his teacher was Grand Master Alan Lee of Kung Fu WuSu.
I remember after that I was hooked! The year was approximately 1966. I asked my mother if she could buy me a karate gi for Christmas. From there I trained everyday in the house, community center or the side of the highway where I lived. I would buy popsickles just to use as breaking sticks to practice my shuto-uchi (karate chops). I studied with Sifu Wilson for a number of years. Sifu Wilson would take me over to New York City’s Chinatown to the Chinatown Cut Rate Martial Arts supply store on Canal Street.
I would see all these photos on other martial artist like GrandMasters: Aaron Banks (Goju Ryu), Fred Miller (Goju Ryu), Alan Lee (Kung-Fu WuSu), George Cofield (Shotokan), Joe Hess (Goju-Ryu), Prof. Moses Powell (Sanuces), Frank Ruiz (Nisei Goju-Ryu), Peter Urban (American Goju-Ryu), Thomas LaPuppet (Shotokan), Toyotaro Miyazaki (Shotokan), Sifu Moy Yat (Ving Tsun), Sifu Chiu Leun (Northern Preying Mantis), Gin Foo Mark (Southern Preying Mantis), Yeuang Kai (7th Star Northern Preying Mantis Kung-Fu) and after seeing Miyazaki, Sensei’s yoko geri (side kick) I was hooked on Shotokan.
It was not until 1968 that I enrolled in Miyazaki, Sensei’s dojo in Queens, New York. I would see Muhammad Rahman, Kyoshi formerly Donnie Collins, Marvin Farmer and Paul Vizzo. I stayed with Miyazaki, Sensei for about eight months because of the commute from Newark to Queens was to far.
I studied with Master Mayard Miner (Shotokan) and with the Late GrandMaster Albert Gossett of Goshin-Ryu, Master Lee Moy Shan (Wing Chun Gung-Fu) and with the Late Charles C. Hillman in (Western Boxing). I trained with Kyoshi Chester Miller (Goju-Ryu), the Late Master Larry D. Scott (Shito-Ryu/Wing Chun), the late James “Taheed” Davis (Daito Ryu Aiki-Jitsu), Master Kevin (Little KA) Brown (KA System/American Karate-Do), Master Gerard E. Robbins (Tae Kwon Do/Founder of the Tae Know Do Hall of Fame).
I studied Wing Chun Gung Fu before Wing Chun ever became poplar in New Jersey, plus I was studying 7th Star Northern Preying Mantis with the Late Sifu Chiu Leun. I would leave from the Wing Chun School at 7:30 pm to be at the Northern Preying Mantis School by 8:00 pm. I would jog most of the time to the Mantis School in Chinatown on Mott Street from the Wing Chun School on Chambers Street. I did that for a few years until money ran low. I would always practice Wing Chun until this day, and my love had always been for Shotokan. Traveling to New York four times a week to train became costly, so I began looking for a dojo closer to where I lived.
There were many dojos (Karate Schools)in the Newark area, GrandMaster Karriem AbdulAllah (KA System), GrandMaster Bill Wilson (Goshi Shun), GrandMaster Bernard Truesdale’s (Jui-jitsu), but I wanted Shotokan. So I bought a few books on Shotokan and remembered the basics from Miyazaki, Sensei, and I’d practice Shotokan while still practicing Wing Chun, 1969. Back in the day, the early 70’s: Kevin (Little KA) Brown and I would go to the park sometimes at 1:00 am in the morning and train under the street lights, then I would go down to Master Gerard Robbins dojang sometimes at 6:00 am to train, then Gerry and I would go jogging for about 6 miles. Back then, I would go jogging in the snow barefooted for about 3 miles with shoes tied around my waist.
Back in the year 1971 while I was revisiting relatives in Ohio I went into a book store in downtown Cincinnati and found these two Kata books on Shotokan. The instructor is my present day instructor Hirokazu Kanazawa, Kancho, Founder and Chief Instructor of Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation. The two books were my Shotokan Bibles! Kanazawa, Kancho is one of the last living students who trained with the Father of Shotokan Karate-Do, GrandMaster Gichin Funakoshi. I can honestly say that I started training with Kanazawa, Kancho since 1971. I have trained all over with Kancho even in Hong Kong.
Martialforce.com: What rank did you earn with Kanazawa?
CHARLES LEE: I am now a 5th Dan under Kanazawa, Kancho. Our research shows you were an avid competitor.
Martialforce.com: Who are some of the people you competed against?
I have competed against Masters: Billy Blanks, Larry Kelly, Russ Mapes, Larry Curaton, Reggie Goode, Lamar Thornton, John Longstreet, Ralph Passaro, Darrin Woodridge, Darryl Gaston, Abdul Mutakabbir. I have also competed at Henry Cho’s All American and the Battle of Altanta. I fought GrandMaster Karriem AbdulAllah in a set match in 1978...to a draw!
Martialforce.com: How did you get involved in celebrity bodyguard and security in general?
CHARLES LEE: In 1972 I began intensive study in the field of personal and celebrity protection. While being employed with numerous security companies. I attended classes and seminars in the field of executive and dignitary protection, counter-terrorism sponsored by the Essex County Sheriff's Department conducted by the United States Secret Service at Ramapo University in New Jersey.
Martialforce.com: What is/was your title in regards to the security profession?
CHARLES LEE: I am a Certified Master Celebrity Protection Specialist Instructor.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell us who were some of your clients?
CHARLES LEE: I have protected some of the biggest names in the entertainment world: The Jackson's, with Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, and Jermaine Jackson; Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston; Colonel Abrams; Ready For The World; Usher Raymond (Known as Usher); Rebbie Jackson, Melba Moore; Sister Sledge; Freddie Jackson; The Temptations Revue with Dennis Edwards. John Edward of Crossing Over with John Edwards; and I have worked on the set of Curtis Court and People’s Court.
The former Director of Security for a United States Oil Company; Former Administrative Director of Investigations and Executive/Dignitary Protection Training; former Celebrity Protection Consultant and former Celebrity Protection Instructor in Atlanta, Georgia. I hold a Degree in the Science of Vibrations.
Martialforce.com: What exactly does that entail and can you tell us about the Dojo Masters game?
CHARLES LEE: I conduct seminars on the vibrations of “MONEY” a program I’ve created that teaches people how to change their feelings about money to change their circumstances, and I promote the martial arts game that I’ve created titled: “DOJOMASTERS/The Game of Traditional Martial Arts (Budo), and I write books on Spirituality. I still practice Shotokan, Wing Chun and I practice Zhan Zhuang (Standing Tree) a form of Qi Gong (Chi Gong).
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training was like back when you began?
CHARLES LEE: My training in the dojo back then was: Kihon after kihon after kihon (basics), Sanbon Kumite(three step fighting), Gohon kumite (five step fighting), Jiyu Nippon Kumite (free sparring) to ensure that we had a strong foundation of Kime (focus). I trained seven days a week. I had set up a dojo in my basement as we all did back then. I had a 300 pound sandbag that I would work on developing my skip Yoko Geri (side kick) and spinning Ura Mawashi Geri (back roundhouse kick) with a Gyaku Zuki (reverse punch) combination. I had made a 2 pound sandbag used to work on my Jodan Mawashi Geri (high roundhouse kick), Haito Uchi (ridgehand). I used the makiwara daily.
I viewed a video of you fighting years back at a New York in tournament. You are an excellent counter puncher as well as an aggressive and effective kicker.
Martialforce.com: My question is what were some of your favorite techniques and why?
CHARLES LEE: My favor technique back then was the Ashi-barai (foot sweep) followed by a Fumikomi geri (stomp kick). I would charge forward knowing my opponent was going to move backwards dragging his front leg close to his back leg, and here comes that Ashi-barai in the air he went, and sometimes just before he would hit the floor Fumikomi geri followup. Why: because it felt good catching my opponent with a perfectly executed Waza (technique).
Martialforce.com: Do you believe Kata is an essential part of training and if yes or no, why or why not?
CHARLES LEE: Yes I do believe kata is very essential, because kata develops your hip coordination with waza (technique), Kime (focus), Paranayama (breathing control) Ki (power) and Mushin No Shin (Mind no mind). Mushin develops the mind to be reactive out of stillness.
Martialforce.com: Do you train in weapons and is such training necessary and why?
CHARLES LEE: Yes, I use weapons to develop coordination. Using weapons is a preference yes or no.
Martialforce.com: What is your opinion in regards to the state of Martial Arts as its practiced today?
CHARLES LEE: Today: martial arts are watered down to fit the needs of the students for the purpose of business, and it is up to the student if they want to train as we did. Then they will! I prefer the students to train as we did to get the full experience of real martial arts training.
Martialforce.com: Do you think that training in the Martial Arts played an important role with who you are today?
CHARLES LEE: I do, because martial arts have developed a focus in me to get things done what I want to create.
Martialforce.com: What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
CHARLES LEE: Training my sons and now waiting to train my grandson. Working in the entertainment field for over 35 years without getting hurt, developing DojoMasters, seeing my students open up dojo’s and keeping the same principles of training that I was taught: Teaching and writing books on spirituality.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on cross training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
CHARLES LEE: Back then we all crossed trained. I love cross training, because every style of martial arts has something to offer. Do what you like to do and be good at it.
Martialforce.com: Do you think the respect for Tradition is important and why or why not?
CHARLES LEE: Yes, I do think the respect of tradition is very important, because tradition is our foundation of what we do. Tradition builds character, tradition builds disciple, and tradition builds respect for something and others, tradition builds value: Take your pick and tradition with help create it!
Martialforce.com: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
CHARLES LEE: Opening centers for spiritual and vibrational development: Teaching more on the essence of spirituality in relations to changing the vibrations in people to create a better them to create more: finances, better health and having fun.
Martialforce.com: Master Lee, thank you for accepting this interview and good luck in all future endeavors.