Founder of taekwondo in canada
Chong Lee (Jong Soo Lee) was born on April 19 ,1938 in Korea, the only son of a family of four children. Against his father’s wishes, a Black Belt, 2nd Dan in Judo, Chong Lee started to learn Taekwondo with Grand Master Chong Woo Lee, 10th Dan. As Grand Master Lee kept his passion for Taekwondo as a secret, he would be forced to hide his uniform in the trunk of a tree. Unable to wash his uniform at home, Grand Master Lee would wash his dobuk at a friend’s home.
After four years of training and two failed exams, Chong Lee earned his black belt in Taekwondo. Despite this success, he still could not bring himself to face his father with his long-kept secret. His father accidentally learned the truth , when Chong was obliged to bring his uniform home to wash it. The harsh reprimand was a small price to pay to see the pride shining from his father’s eyes. At that time, very few people earned their black belt at such a young age. Subsequently, his father accepted that he focus his efforts entirely on Taekwondo.
While mastering the sport, Chong Lee had yet another dream; to leave Korea to pursue his studies in engineering in the United-States. This time, he informed his family of his plans. In those days, no one was authorized to leave Korea with more than a 100 dollars. In other words, it was a ludicrous idea with few people ever risking it. Once again, without the encouragement of his family, and after long and difficult preparations, he succeeded in fulfilling his dreams.
In 1962, Chong left Korea and headed to Washington, D.C. With little knowledge of the English language, he attended University and worked on improving his linguistic skills. He took whatever work was available to ensure his survival: farmhand, dishwasher, waiter, etc. He spent his free time talking with children to improve his English. In 1964, a series of circumstances brought him to Chicoutimi, Quebec where he discovered the hospitality of the Quebec culture. Soon after, Chong Lee moved to Montreal, where he studied French and familiarized himself with Quebec and Canadian culture. Once more, he accepted what work was available and devoted his evenings to introducing and implanting Taekwondo in Quebec.
This was the foundation of Chong Lee Taekwondo.
Introducing a new martial art in Canada was not an easy task. Martial arts were almost unknown in the occidental culture, often lumped together and mistakenly identified as Karate despite their difference in nature and philosophy. To help clear some of the confusion, competitions were organized where “Taekwondoistes” and “Karatekas” fought each other. It is interesting to note that they did not use any protective gear, fighting only with their bare fists and feet.
As the years passed and Chong Lee’ students accumulated victories, the Master and his art conquered the heart of Quebecois. Passing from combat between styles to combats between provinces, his students were the first Canadian champions.
In 1977, during the first Canadian championship, Chong Lee’s students won gold medals in nine of the ten divisions. They were proud of their performance and more then ever motivated to improve their training. This was followed by the Pan-American and the World Championships in the junior and senior categories. With Grand Master Chong Lee as their coach for twenty tree consecutive years, the Canadian team could boast of a long list of victories.
Integrated with Canadian society for over 60 years, Chong Lee has become a symbol of international performance in the sector of athletic competition. His teaching is renowned around the world and on a par with the Korean tradition. His school is represented throughout Canada, the United-States, Mexico, Lebanon, Spain, Greece, and Africa, making it hard to know the exact number of individuals haveing benefited from his teaching. It is estimated that his teaching was passed onto at least 100,000 students in Canada with more than 3,500 black belts. Over 100 Taekwondo schools worldwide display his crest, and are affiliated members of Chong Lee Taekwondo.