"Jong Sae Lee"

Jong Sae Lee was born in 1942 in the small village of Songnam in what is now known as the Republic Of Korea.  He was 8 years old when the communists threaten to take over the entire peninsula. As a young boy he saw the horrors of war up close and personal. When the fighting stopped he continued with his life in the now divided country. At the age of 10 he began his training in what was the predecessor of what is now the national sport of Korea.  He began studying under a local master of Tang Soo Do / Moo Duk Kwon.  His instructor in fact was a disciple of the Grand Master Hwang Kee. By the time J.S.Lee was 18 after 8 years of training he earned the rank of third degree Black belt.  His fighting skills and discipline were known through out the region.  He gained tremendous respect among his peers as well as his seniors.


In 1961 at the age of 19 Jong Sae Lee entered the Korean military.  He became a member of the peninsula's elite ROK Marines.  Demonstrating his abilities in the warrior's art was soon recognized and he was made one of the martial arts instructors training the Korean Marines  in unarmed combat skills. He received an honorable discharge for his military service fulling his national duty and responsibilities. In 1969 he left his home for the United States.  Arriving with not much more than his knowledge and the ability to teach, one thing he did have was the respect of others that had come to the USA from Korea before him.  He was now a sixth degree black belt, a Master Instructor.  He saw an opportunity to put his experience to use in America and settled in the Philadelphia area.  

Master Lee had a sister and brother-in-law living in the Philadelphia suburb of Bensalem.  His brother-in law Ky Chung Yu was himself a fifth degree black belt in what was now known as the unified sport of Tae Kwon Do.  He had a small school where he was instructing the local community members that were interested in learning TKD.  Ke Chung Yu invited Master Lee to join him in teaching at that small store front school.  Yu showed Master Lee what it took to start a school on his own.  With in one year he struck out and opened the J.S. Lee Tae Kwon Do/Moo Duk Kwon in Philadelphia.  The school/gym was not much to look at but when you saw Master Lee teaching and demonstrating the proper form and technique you came away impressed. Some of his first students came with him from Bensalem.From these beginnings the school began to grow both in then number of students and in reputation. 


From the early days members like Taro Landis, Jack Beetle, Phil Marcella, Scott Levin, Pacifico Palimari, Jacob White and Tabe Hence were the core around which the school continued to grow. By 1971 there were just a few black belts under Master Lee's tutelage including Ozzie Wright, however the number of blue, and red belts was growing. By then there were the group of students that would make the core of the Old York Road School. They included Charles Maurone, Billy Fouchee, Gary Lungsford, Greg Cothern there were the young guns.  Jonathan Levin Scott's younger brother. Johnny Grossman, Steve Schaybacker. There were others that came and stayed  some that came and went. The school's reputation grew there were tournaments up and down the east coast that were attended always by the core. It became a common site to see the tournament contestants shake there heads and curse under their breath when the J.S. Lee students entered the arena.  J.S. Lee had trained ROK Marines and his training methods changed little when he taught in his school.

By this time Master Lee decided that there were others in the city that were looking to find a school that actually taught the traditional fighting skills.  This was the era of Bruce Lee and schools were popping up on every corner it seemed.  It was hard for Master Lee to see what was being taught in the name of martial arts.  He found a suitable location in the northeast section of Philadelphia on Frankford Avenue. There he opened his second school.  His black belts were charged with getting the school up and running and he would split his time between Old York Road and the Frankford gym. The  school also had a core group of students  including Bob Leach, Tony Marabella and Barry Mancus.

In1972 Jong Sae returned to Korea to find his bride.  He stayed gone for for months and returned with Keung a beautify young woman that was now his wife.  It was not long after that when they started a family.  By 1973 the schools were training students both day and night. About this time Yong Chul Hong arrived on the scene.  Y.C.Hong was a fourth degree in Hap Kido the Korean art of grappling and a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do.  Mr Hong had left Korea to come to America to make a better life for his family.  He basically came as did Jong Sae with nothing but skills and knowledge and a dream.  Master Lee opened up the school to Hong and it was not long before he was part of what had become the Family.   He spoke no english when he arrived and lived in what amounted to a closet.  He studied and learned english so quickly that he was fluent with in two years.  He eventually was able to bring his wife Grace and their three children to America.  They worked hard to achieve what they have today running a successful business and still in Philadelphia.

Around 1975 Master Lee branched out once again as he and his black belts developed another location to teach Tae Kwon Do.  That school was in Abington Pennsylvania.  A warehouse was turned in to a school with large training area for the students.  Master Lee continued to develop students in the art of Tae Kwon Do at the three locations into the 1980s.  He finally decided he had to branch out into a new area of life. He had three children by this time and it was important to think of them as they grew.  

Through the blood, sweat and tears of training and fighting, bonds were formed that have lasted a life time.  More than forty years later those bonds of friendship still hold tight.  This web site is dedicated to  Master Instructor Jong Sae Lee, Yong Chul Hong and every student that ever trained under them. 

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