Sensei James Lee – President of James Lee’s Karate Schools
5th Degree Black Belt in the Art of Korean Karate
United States Karate Alliance Hall of Fame member
8x National Instructor of the Year
8x National Team of the Year
National Champion in Kata and Kumite
Former United States Karate Alliance Vice President
Current National Board Member and Colorado State Representative
Sensei James Lee’s love and desire to learn martial arts started early at the age of 7, when he took his first karate class. However, he credits his formal beginning of his Martial Arts Training to start in 1987 at the age of 14 in Mandeville, Louisiana. The Art of Korean Karate is under the Jhoon Rhee / Attlee Chittim / Dr David Jordan lineage, brought to the USA from Korea in 1956. Lee trained diligently for 5 yrs in Louisiana before moving to Colorado. As a 1st Kyu Brown Belt he lived in Vail Colorado working as a lift operator and a chef while discovering the beauty in the rocky mountains and the love for snowboarding and all of the exciting outdoor activities Colorado has to offer. Still needing martial arts in his life, in 1996 Mr. Lee decided to move back to Mandeville, LA with ONE GOAL IN MIND. The Goal was to get back in the dojo and achieve his long desired Black Belt motivated to move back to Vail to open a school and begin teaching Karate in the place he loves the most, Colorado.
In 1997 he achieved his goal of making 1st degree Black Belt. Shortly after he did exactly what he aimed for, he moved back to Vail and started Vail Tae Kwon Do. Teaching only a handful of adults at the Vail recreation center, in 1999 he and two of his students traveled to Albuquerque, NM to the USKA National Championships. The two yellow belt students, including Lee all won first place in their respected divisions, so began the James Lee’s Karate School of Champions. Since that weekend in 1998 Mr. Lee has never missed a year of attending the National Championships. He has taken hundreds of total students around the country traveling and competing in many State, Regional, National and International events. The Team has grown into a top ranked National championship school. Now JLK has two locations, Eagle and Glenwood Springs. Our Glenwood Springs location is owner operated by Sensei Dean Sarver a 2nd degree JLK Black Belt. Both are championship schools that produce top quality Martial Artist! 2017 Sensei Lee is married to Mrs. Amanda Lee, 1st degree Black Belt and the backbone of the JLK Business. They have four kids Matthew 15yr, Junior Black Belt, Joseph 13yr, Youth Black Belt, Annika 13yr, 1st Kyu Brown Belt, Savanna 11yr, purple Belt. It’s a True Karate family!
Over the past few years The JLK Competiton Team has expanded their competitive experience competing in multiple martial arts world wide organizations as the World Karate Federation (WKF) International Martial Arts Association (IMA) United States Karate National Karate Federation (USANKF) which is the Olympic Governing body for Karate in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Sensei Lee has trained formally for many years in the arts of Korean Karate, Okinawan Goju Ryu, Okinawan Kobudo, and Judo. He has also fought professionally in full contact Mauy Thai Kickboxing, although Karate Tournament point fighting has been his expertise. Sensei Lee has hosted the Colorado State Championships since 2000. He has also hosted the USKA National Championships in 2014 & 2015 in Las Vegas, 2016 in Denver, CO.
Sensei Lee, a seasoned competitor himself, has won many titles in different organizations nationally and internationally. As an Instructor, he has taught many students from 1st day beginner bringing them to the National Championship and black belt levels. His school has been the #1 school in the Nation under the United States Karate Alliance for eight years! Over the past 20 years Sensei Lee has promoted 37 students to the levels of Black Belt from Junior Black belt (under 16yr) to 1st – 4th degree Black Belt. Many of them families who started together, mom, dad, brother and sister. He has brought as many as 90 competitors at one time to compete in the USKA Nationals. The team travels together to different states enjoying competing against the Nations Best in many State, Regional, National and World Championships events. James Lee’s Karate has proven to have the highest skill levels and quality standards that any traditional Martial arts have to offer. Now that Karate will be in the Olympics Mr. Lee has a few Elite hopefuls that may have what it takes to one day take it that far!
“We are a family dojo that produces Elite athletes inside the ring and in life”!
In addition to training highly skilled competitors, James Lee’s Karate program heavily installs character development in each lesson, teaching life skills such as having respect for all things and people, good manners, self discipline creating a more independent person, ultimate focus to make good grades in school, goal setting for future success, loyalty to friends and family. Each class they discuss these things and learn in more detail the importance of why we train in martial arts is “TO BE A GOOD PERSON”!