PROFESSOR CHARLES LEE
Photo courtesy AJI
Professor Charles Lee was born in Hakalau, a small sugar plantation
town 30 miles from Hilo, Hawaii. The Lee family moved to Honolulu
when Charles was still an infant. He grew up in a tough district
called Palama. As a young man he faced tough circumstances and
occasionally was involved in altercations. His teen years were
spent at the Palama Settlement, similar to the YMCA, where one
of his friends was the late Edmund Parker, who introduced Kenpo
to the mainland. Much of the arts in those days were secretive
and Lee and his friends would peek through windows regularly to
watch the elders train. This was his first introduction to Kung
Fu and Karate. He and his friends would try to emulate the elders
by practicing on their own.
Lee began his Kenpo training under the tutelage of Prof. Simeon
Eli, a student of James Mitose. Mitose, considered the father of
Kenpo Jujitsu in the U.S., was the first to teach his family art
(Koshoryu Kenpo) to Westerners. Eli awarded Charles his Shodan
in 1968 and he was brought into the folds of the AJI administration
as the Karate Division Registration Chairman. During the early
1950's Mitose decided to dedicate his life to religion and relinquished
the Koshoryu Kenpo Jujitsu Official Self Defense Club, turning
it over to his senior student, Thomas Young. A year later, Young
in turn relinquished the Koshoryu Kenpo Jujitsu Official Self Defense
Club to Simeon Eli. After the death of Prof. Eli on July 4, 1971,
tree was appointed to the position of vice president of the Karate
Division. As a tribute to Eli, Lee asked and received approval
and authority from Eli's widow, Betty, to adopt the original Koshoryu
logo as the official logo of the AJI Karate Division. With this
authority, Prof. Lee is the official caretaker of the original
Koshoryu Kenpo Jujitsu logo.
In 1975, Sensei Lee was elected vice president of the Karate Division,
and has been re-elected every year since. In 1990, Charles Lee
was awarded the title of professor. He was promoted to Hachidan
in 1994, and is now ranked as a Kudan, 9th Degree Black Belt. He
is a member of the AJI's Board of Professors and is its official
technical director of Kenpo Jujitsu/Karate.
One of his most significant achievements is the design and adoption
of the official logo of the AJI patch that is worn on the gis and
apparel by the members of the institute.
Prof. Lee is a veteran of the Korean War and is a recipient of
the Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman's Badge. He is married
to the former Alyce Ching. They have two children and 3 grandchildren.
Their daughter is a teacher in a senior high school and their son
is a practicing Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon.