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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

Grand Master Johnny Kwong Ming Lee


Master Lee poses in his Shreveport school in the 70s.

Fifty years of achievement and recognition

If you’ve been a Shreveport resident for any length of time, you are most likely familiar with the iconic dragon façade of Lee’s Kung Fu and Tai Chi Center at 134 E. Kings Hwy., where thousands of students have learned various disciplines of martial arts over the years. came from Hong Kong, China to Shreveport, Louisiana after being discovered by Shreveport businessman Parker Turnere. With Turner’s sponsorship, he opened Lee’s White Leopard Kung Fu School in 1974. Its official grand opening was held at the “Meeting of Masters” tournament, with world-class kung fu masters from Hong Kong, San Francisco and Denver in attendance. It was the first kung fu and tai chi school in Shreveport.

In 2023, one of Grand Master Lee’s longtime students and a current “sifu” (teacher) at the school, Doug Opbroek, published “Footsteps of the Masters: Following in the Path of My Jhong Law Horn,” which records the cultural context, folklore and oral tradition of the kung fu style, “My Jhong Law Horn.” The book documents three grand masters carrying on this tradition, with Grand Master Johnny Lee being one of them. “It was important to me to document the history of this tradition,” Sifu Opbroek remarked.

Grand Master Lee boasts an impressive record of awards and accomplishments. He was one of the first Chinese masters to introduce traditional Chinese martial arts to mainstream America and has been inducted into both the Louisiana Black Belt Hall of Fame and the North American Black Belt Hall of Fame. In 1991 he was elected as the AAU National Chairperson of Chinese Martial Art, Traditional Northern Shaolin. The World Kung Fu and Wushu Masters Association awarded him the 10th degree blackbelt onin 2001 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. When asked about these and other accomplishments, Grand Master Lee stated, “I am also proud to be recognized as a personal student of some very important teachers in kung fu, tai chi and pa kua. I take pride in the accomplishments of my students who have won national and international championships.

They have earned gold medals in Beijing and Shaolin Temple in kung fu, and Shanghai for Wu’s tai chi.”

Sifu Douglas Opbroek and Grand Master Johnny Lee holding the Meeting of the Masters Kung Fu Exposition poster.

Lee with some of his Shreveport students: Sifu Sheila Guerin, Master Glenn Guerin (current owners of the Shreveport school, Lee’s Kung Fu & Tai Chi Center), Sifu Douglas Opbroek and Sifu Mark Warner.

In 1995, Grand Master Lee moved to Florida to open another school, leaving his Shreveport school in the hands of its new owners, Master Glenn Guerin and Sifu Shelia Todd Guerin. The school is now a member of Lee’s White Leopard Kung Fu Schools association and is sponsored by Grand Master Lee.

Today, Grand Master Lee continues to teach at Lee’s White Leopard Kung Fu School in Dallas, Texas. “I teach Monday through Saturday and practice myself between lessons,” he said. Currently, there are schools in Louisiana (Shreveport), Florida, Arkansas, Washington state, Texas (Dallas, Irving) and Quebec, Canaday, all of which were opened by sifus and masters trained by Grand Master Lee.

When asked about his exceptional career and his hopes for the future of martial arts, Grand Master Lee stated, “There seems to be fewer teenage boys enrolling in kung fu and [they are] less willing to put in the time, effort and hard work to achieve the skills. I hope that more students will be champions in competitions so that more people can see our martial arts,(…) and [so that we can] have more schools to share the knowledge of our art. Martial arts teaches good discipline, concentration and focus.

It also teaches a way forward in coping with difficulties and learning to understand your body and mind. Martial arts provides good conditioning and balance, so it is good for overall health and, if needed, self-defense. I wish to show that kung fu and tai chi can be good habits to accompany your whole life.”

In July of this year, a private celebration will be held in Dallas celebrating Grand Master Lee’s 50th anniversary of teaching.

For information about classes at Lee’s Kung Fu and Tai Chi Center in Shreveport, visit their website at leeskungfu.com or find them on Facebook.

To order a copy of Sifu Opbroek’s book, visit Plum Publications at plumpub.com.

Grand Master Johnny Lee celebrates his 50th anniversary of teaching in July


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