Sifu John S.S. Leong
Sifu John S.S. Leong, originally from Kwantung Province China, began his kung-fu training at the age of 12. He later studied Hung Gar Kung-Fu in Hong King under the late Master Wong Lee. In 1963, Sifu Leong began teaching in Seattle and established the Seattle Kung-Fu Club where he continues to pass on the tradition of Hung-Gar Kung-Fu.
The founder of Hung-Gar Kung-Fu, Hung Hei-Kwun, studied Kung-Fu at the Fukien Shaolin Temple. After the temple's destruction by the Ching Dynasty Government, Hung Hei-Kwun fled to Kwantung province, China. He continued to spread Shaolin teachings, but to avoid persecution by the Ching Government he used the name Hung Gar Boxing. Hung-Gar refers to the House of Hung-Mo Chu, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty.
Throughout the Seattle Kung-Fu Club's over fourty-year history, Sifu Leong has emphasized the discipline, morality, honor and respect which characterize Hung-Gar Kung-Fu. When one enters the school, it is as though one has stepped into another time and place. Students treat each other as an extended family where students are referred to as older brothers and sisters.
Over the years, the Seattle Kung-Fu club has reached out to the community by organizing martial arts demonstrations and large-scale exhibitions. As early as 1968, Sifu Leong began building the school's reputation by hosting Kung-Fu events that delighted audiences and attracted martial arts experts from around the world.
Sifu Leong has produced major Kung-fu / Martial Arts tournaments almost every year, many of which have toured other parts of the United states. Proceeds from these events have always been donated to charitable organizations. In 1973 and 1975, Sifu Leong hosted international Kung-Fu exhibitions that drew over 6000 spectators. In 1980 and 1981, Sifu Leong hosted several international exhibitions, one of which was covered in a featured article in Inside Kung-Fu magazine.
In 1984, the Seattle Kung Fu club presented the All Masters Exhibition Tour in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. In 1987 he hosted the Can-Am Northwest Martial Arts Benefits, and in 1988 the Seattle Kung Fu Club opened the first U.S. exhibition of Chinese Imperial artifacts called Son of Heaven: Imperial Arts of China at the Seattle Center.
Sifu Leong has organized a number of excursions to China, both as cultural exchange ventures and as educational endeavors for his students. In 1985 Sifu Leong and the Seattle Kung-Fu Club traveled to Hong Kong and took third place in Hong Kong's annual International Lion Dance competition. Later that same year, Sifu Leong represented the United States as a member of the U.S. Kung-Fu Team at the International Chinese Wushu Invitational Championships. In 1989, Sifu Leong was invited by the Government of Kwantung Province, China, to participate in numerous ground breaking ceremonies and the opening of a new educational television station. Members of the Seattle Kung-Fu Club accompanied Sifu Leong and performed lion dance and kung-fu exhibitions as part of the celebrations.
In 1990, Sifu Leong visited the Shaolin Temple in Northern China. The Monks, descendants of the original Shaolin Temple disciples, made Sifu Leong their honorary adviser. In 1992 Sifu Leong organized the 1992 U.S. Shaolin Monk Tour. This was the first time the monks from the Shaolin Temple had ever performed outside their home country. The monks performed live for the media at the Seattle Kung Fu Club and participated in an interview which was translated by three Chinese dignitaries who accompanied them on the tour. They performed phenomenal Chi Kung demonstrations and forms never seen before. A video containing live footage of the Shaolin Monks Exhibition was produced by the Seattle Kung Fu Club and is available at the Seattle Martial Arts Equipment Store.
Sifu Leong presented the Northwest Open Championship Tournament and Exhibition in 1993, was elected Chairman of the United States Kung Fu Federation of North America in 1994, and in 1995 presented the 1st Annual United Kung Fu Federation of North America's Open Kung Fu Championship. Masters and students from all over the world united to demonstrate their martial art skills.
In 1996, Sifu Leong brought the famous Taoist healer Dr. Hok Ting Chu to Seattle for a seminar. Dr. Hok Ting Chu is recognized as a "Living Treasure of China" with his tremendous knowledge of Taoist medicine, acupuncture, herbs, and healing. Sifu Leong also translated one of Dr. Hok Ting Chu's many books into English. The book, entitled "The Ancient Esoteric Art of Health Improvement and Longevity" has Chi Gung exercises and diet and herbal formulas for all seasons.
The "Little Fighting Monks" exhibition in March 2000 at the University of Washington brought the Shaolin Monks to Seattle once again. Spectators of all ages marveled at the group of eight performers, aged 5 to 14, seen for the first time outside China. In 2001, twenty-five masters from around the world gathered for a charity Kung Fu exhibition presented by Sifu John Leong. In 2002, Sifu Leong was honored at the Qing Dao International Wushu Championships in Shan Dong Province, China.
Sifu Leong has contributed to and has been featured in numerous martial arts publications. In 1976, Real Kung Fu magazine featured an article called "Five Elements and Five Figures, Ten Patterns from Hung Gar." In 1982 and 1983, he received honorable mention as one of the "Top Ten Instructors of the Year" from Inside Kung Fu Magazine's Hall of Fame Awards Yearbook Special. In 1984, Sifu Leong authored a book called "Beginning Shaolin Hung Gar Kung Fu" and was featured on the cover of the May issue of Inside Kung Fu Magazine's Hall of Fame Awards Yearbook Special. In his interview, entitled "John Leong: The Moral Power of Hung Gar," Sifu Leong stated, "In the Seattle of 1959, no one knew what Kung Fu was. They thought it was something to eat!" In 1985, Sifu Leong received special mention in the Inside Kung Fu Magazine's March Yearbook Edition. In 1988 and 1996, he was honored as "Humanitarian of the Year" in the Inside Kung Fu Magazine's yearbook. "I always wanted to help out charitable causes," said Sifu Leong in the article, adding, "Kung Fu is not just fighting, not just a skill. It is also a philosophy, the teaching of respect, honor, and dignity." In 1998, he wa featured in an article balled "Master John S.S. Leong: In a Class by Himself" by the same magazine.
In 2003, Inside Kung Fu Magazine featured an article entitled "30 years - 30 masters," in which Sifu Leong was heralded as one of the most influential martial artists of the past 30 years. New Martial Arts Hero Magazine featured Sifu Leong on its cover in an article called, "John Leong - Hung Gar Hand Techniques."
Today, Sifu Leong continues to represent the consummate example of humility, honor, and respect which underlies the practice of the martial arts. He is happiest when his students are working out and healthy. As a dedicated humanitarian, Sifu Leong passes down the knowledge, discipline, and positive ways he has acquired after years of training and experience. In this spirit, the students fo the Seattle Kung Fu Club strive to follow his example by respecting others and living a healthy life.
The Seattle Kung Fu Club has several branch schools around Seattle.