Eric Lee
by TMAN Freelance Writer Ben Smith

Eric Cover'sIn the study of Martial arts, one has the ability to strengthen the physical body and develop the awareness of the mental mind,  both of which can be achieved through various techniques.  Some choose to deal with the survival aspect while others express their training through the path of the competitive field.  In this particular interview, we are given an inside look into how one becomes the "King of Kata" through the master himself,  Eric Lee.


Eric Lee,  who held the title of "King of Kata" from 1970 - 1974 was born in Chung Shan Village, Canton Province, China.  During his four year reign of this title Eric amassed over 100 World Titles in the field of competition.  Known as "The most influential musical forms performer of his time",  The Original Martial Arts Encyclopedia states "Before the advent of form ratings,  Eric Lee was unofficially the number one forms champion in the US"  As the interview with Eric Lee progresses,  one also learns he is quite adept in the field of herbs and natural medicine in conjunction with the brutal art of self defense.

Growing up in China and coming from a traditional background borne from respect of others and of one's self,  the study of martial arts seemed only a natural way of life.  Eric's discipline in the martial arts came from his father who was a student of Choi Li Fut .  Eric was influenced
by  his father's style although he never formally studied it.  As a child,  Eric watched in admiration those who practiced kata and also the World Renowned Chinese Opera for their incredible grace and beauty with the ability to have complete mastery over their body. "My background is kind of  interesting because I have a tendency to stay open minded. When I was in college our martial arts club was varied and every style was welcome ranging from Tae Kwon Do and Karate as well as forms of Kung Fu."

Eric's family owned two herbal shops in Hong Kong,  and the family doctor/drug store was conveniently in the same location.  Eric watched eagerly as his family made the herbal remedies according to the doctor's orders for all the patients,  thus gaining the knowledge and seeing the results first hand of how herbs are naturally a part of healing.  This knowledge has only strengthened through the years as he learned  "How to hit ... how to heal".

Continuing on with his training in the external art,  Eric entered his first competition in the late 60's,  ... and won,  thus the birth of the Champion forerunner of Kata competition. "As a green belt my instructor said go and compete in the black belt division so I entered and won! I just enjoy it.  I consider myself a fellow martial artist rather than a competitor". During this time period,  from 1968 - 1972,  Eric maintained his own club in which everyone was welcome.   It was a pretty diverse club as it offered training in Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Praying Mantis, Choi Li Fut and also a Japanese man teaching Aikido.  It is difficult to study Empty Hand techniques and not be enticed to it's weaponry.   Thus,  over the years,  Eric has employed the use and proficiency of 35 different weapons to his training.   While training for kata competitions,  it was  6-8 hour practices ...every day.  He always tried competing in 3 divisions:  Kata,  Weapons Kata and Sparring.


In the early 70's,  Eric added music to his Katas and the judges seemed to like it due to it's much more spectacular forms... thus sparking a whole new dimension in the competition world.  He remembers; "In Hong Kong there is music everywhere with the Lion Dance, etc. so I started using music to create drama and showmanship.  I believed the music really added more flavor to the competition.  I ultimately developed andchoreographed my own musical forms for competition. Eric's excellence and innovation within the competitive world has gained him entry into the Black Belt Hall of Fame,  and two time winner of the Golden Fist Award, to name just a few of his honors.

Since retiring from the competitive world of the external arts,  Eric has concentrated more of his efforts into teaching others of the internal art :  meditation,  healing and herbal remedies. It is vital that we maintain a balance between how we treat our bodies physically, and at the same time not allowing our emotions to run amok,  in order to maintain synchronicity.   When the mind is not at peace within itself and the chemical balance within our bodies is not in tune,  it opens the door to disorder within the physical body,  thus allowing disease and cancers to set in.  During the course of The Healing Arts Seminars,  Eric Lee focuses on how our emotional mindset is just as influential on our physical bodies as regular physical exercise contributes to our well-being.

B.S.- So you still continue to train physically  as well?
E.L.-I train physically, I do meditation and make sure the right nutrition goes into the body.

B.S.-You are now conducting seminars in locations around the world,  can you explain?
E.L.-In my seminars I concentrate on personal achievement not only in the physical but also the mental.  As I relate my experiences to the students they understand what is really necessary for sustaining the proper attitude for excellence as well as physical well being.  I explain about the importance of  working on your energy channels (i.e. stretching, chi kung breathing and rest).  Resting is more important than anything.   Proper rest helps chi flow. Chi leads your blood to the proper organs for development.   Flowing chi helps you heal.  I'm also helping people learn about limitations.  Reducing stress is important. Remember there is no way you can be relaxed and stressed at the same time. When you relax your chi will flow and when your chi flows everything heals. Learning about  healing sounds is another important aspect of the martial arts.

ERIC LEE PORTRAITB.S.- Healing sounds?
E.L.-It's originally from the Taoists.  Each sound heals a different organ.  Many people become very interested in this side of the arts once it is brought to them.  Most people study the external arts and are not aware of this side.  If some people have excess emotions such as stress, wrong diet, drinking alcohol, anger, sadness or pushing yourself too hard, it  causes what the Chinese call "Internal Heat" in your organs.  By performing a certain sound one can help eliminate the stress on certain organs such as heart, liver etc. For instance the liver sound is subvocal shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the kidney sound would be woooo etc. It must be done in a certain posture.  This will help make a person balanced emotionally and they will feel better.  When they feel better they look better.  All this is part of the internal art that I teach in my seminars.

B.S.-You also help people find out how to get into action films.
E.L.-Yes, that is a different part of the seminar but if you do not have the proper balance emotionally and you are trying to get into the film industry, you'll go crazy. In the seminar I show you the proper way to get into movies.  It's not hard to get into the film industry you just have to know how to find the contacts. To be very successful however IS the hardest part.  There are a lot of actors and not enough good jobs waiting.

B.S.-Where do you see the action film industry going?
E.L.-It's actually very cyclical.  Titanic has taken over the film world right now being THE Romantic film everyone is seeing.  It will change again.  The great action film stars right now must continue to find new and interesting ways to get involved in projects.

B.S.-Are you personally involved in doing more in film?
E.L.-I am involved in focusing on my 25 video tapes coming out on broad sword and Kung Fu Self defense as well as a total work out series.   There will be a tape on the healing art forms as well as Chi Kung. and of course the seminars tour. I will also get involved in directing a film after I take a much needed rest.

One cannot separate the physical from the internal well -being.  Back in the 60's and 70's,  when Bruce Lee stunned the world with his "One-Inch Punch",  it sparked a frenzy to become as physically capable as Bruce Lee.  Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal have continued the tradition,  but now, as we have become much more physically capable,  we also need to know that martial arts is not only a physical art,  but that the spiritual capabilities have a tremendous effect and can greatly enhance the physical body.  In  his "Healing Art" Seminars,  Eric Lee teaches breathing techniques and channeling your energy to maintain proper balance.   Eric holds seminars all over the US, Germany,  Sicily and the rest of the world.  You can contact him through his Web site at

Eric Lee teaches us that life must be a full circle,  the Yin and Yang must be in proper balance, the Body and mind is One ... not two separate entities.  We are of the earth,  here is where we find our healing,  through nature and within is within our reach,  but it must be our own decision to grasp it...

One cannot possibly be the "Kata King" and not have both body and mind working synergystically...!
 Visit Eric Lee's Website at  
TMAN would like to thank Eric Lee's Webmaster for loaning us his pictures.

Ben Smith has been involved in martial arts (both hard and soft styles) for over twenty years and can be reached at