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Grandmaster John Buckley

Grandmaster John Buckley


  • First Generation Disciple and First Disciple of Grandmaster Richard Lee. Disciple Name: Li Zhi Rui
  • 8th degree Richard Lee black belt.
  • 2nd Degree Black Sash in Tien Shan Pai under Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang
  • 7th Tuan (Black Sash) under The World Kuo Shu Federation.
  • Inducted into the prestigious United States Kuo Shu Hall of Fame in 2011.
  • Inducted into the Kenpo International Hall of Fame – Charter Member 2007.
  • Appointed United States Team Coach for the National Kuo Shu Lei Tai Team Six Times:
      • 2018 – 6th TWKSF World Kuo Shu Tournament, USA
        2015 – 5th TWKSF World Kuo Shu Championships, Argentina.
        2012 – 4th TWKSF World Kuo Shu Championships, Malaysia.
        2009 – 3rd TWKSF World Kuo Shu Tournament, Germany.
      • 2006 – 2nd World Kuo Shu Tournament, Singapore.
      • 2003 – 1st World Kuo Shu Tournament, Brazil.
  • United States Coach of Full Contact (lei tai) Teams:
      • European Kuoshu Championships, Germany 1998, 2003, 2005, 2006.
      • European Kuoshu Championships, United Kingdom, 2003.
      • 1st TWKSF European Kuoshu Cup, Germany 2004.
      • 2nd TWKSF European Kuoshu Cup, Switzerland 2006.
      • 4th TWKSF European Kuoshu Cup, Poland 2010.
      • Americas Cup, Brazil 2011.
  • Vice President of the United States Kuo Shu Federation (USKSF).
  • Director of Instructor Committee for The World Kuo Shu Federation ( TWKSF).
  • Certified International Referee ‘A’ by The World Kuo Shu Federation since 2002
  • Member of The World Kuo Shu Federation Ranking Committee
  • Member of The World Kuo Shu Federation Executive Committee
  • Member of the United States Kuo Shu Federation Executive Committee
  • Member of the United States Kuo Shu Federation Hall of Fame Committee
  • Official of The World Kuo Shu Federation:
      2011 – Current – Director of Instructor Committee
      2002 – 2011 – Deputy Referee General
      2011 – Current – Ranking Committee Member
      2011 – Current – Executive Committee Member
  • Official of the United States Kuo Shu Federation:
      2011 – Current – Vice President
      2006 – 2011 – Referee General
      2006 – Current – Executive Committee Member
      2006 – Current – Hall of Fame Committee Member
  • Official of the United States Chinese Kuoshu Federation:
      2004 – 2006 – Referee General
      2000 – 2004 – Deputy Referee General
      2001 – 2005 – Western Regional Director
      2005 – 2006 – Executive Committee Member
  • Represented the United States National Lei Tai teams in World Competition:
      1996 – 8th ICKF World Kuoshu Tournament, Republic of China.
      1992 – 7th ICKF World Kuoshu Tournament, Republic of China.
  • Represented the United States National Lei Tai teams in International Competition:
      1996 – European Kuoshu Championships, United Kingdom.
      1995 – South American Cup, Brazil.
      1991 – 4th Asia Kuoshu Cup, Hong Kong.
      1991 – 1st American Kuoshu Cup, USA.
  • Awarded the Class A Chinese Kuoshu Medal from I.C.K.F. President, General Chen, Shou-shan – 1995.
  • United States Chinese Kuoshu Federation’s Judge of the Year – 2006.
  • Assistant Tournament Director for the International Kuo Shu Championships – 2009
  • Head coach of Grandmaster Lee’s West Coast Team that has won the overall team grand championships at the International Kuoshu Championships in Baltimore, Maryland, twelve years in a row (2001-2012).
  • President, Mentor Enterprises, Inc. and Head of Richard Lee’s Five Star East-West Kung-Fu Schools in Alamo (West Coast Headquarters), San Ramon, and Lafayette, CA.

John Buckley began his journey in Bok Fu Do in 1986. He walked into Grandmaster Richard Lee’s East-West Kung Fu School in Alamo, California, and immediately felt like he was at home. His first meeting with his teacher confirmed that he had found something very special.

Mr. Buckley immediately dedicated himself to Bok-Fu-Do and quickly became one of the top students in the school. In 1989, he made an important decision to enter into the subject full-time and became the first to commit his life to following in the footsteps of his teacher, Grandmaster Lee. He quickly achieved his black belt in 1991, but that was only the beginning for Mr. Buckley.

Master Buckley’s competition experience is extensive. He has traveled all over the globe to compete with some of the best Chinese martial artists in the world. Master Buckley has represented the United States in world and international competitions including: The 7th and 8th World Kuoshu Championships in the Republic of China (1992 and 1996), London (1996), Brazil (1995), Fourth Asia Cup, HongKong (1991), and 1st American Cup, USA (1991).

In 1989, Mr. Buckley was one of four people in the first group of students that Grandmaster Lee sent to the National Kuoshu Championships in Baltimore, Maryland. Hosted by Grandmaster Huang, ChienLiang, this tournament is regarded as being one of the most prestigious Chinese martial arts tournaments in the world. By chance, one of Grandmaster Lee’s students had come across an article in Inside Kung-Fu Magazine announcing Grandmaster Huang’s 2nd Kuoshu Championships. Grandmaster Lee remembered Grandmaster Huang from their first meeting at the 1975 World Kuoshu Championships in the Republic of China. Although they had not spoken since, Grandmaster Huang invited Grandmaster Lee to bring some of his top students to the tournament that year to try out for a spot on the National Team that would go on to represent the United States in the 6th World Kuoshu Championships in Las Vegas later that year. With only three other teammates, Buckley went on to represent his teacher and the system at the national tournament.

Master Buckley is a pioneer of the Bok-Fu-Do system. Since that first small group in 1989, each year the team that travels to the national tournament in Baltimore has grown. Now the West Coast Team consists of well over 100 people, much to the delight of Master Buckley. This impressive team is in a large part due to his leadership and example. He has been the head coach of Grandmaster Lee’s West Coast Team that has won the overall team grand championships at the International Kuoshu Championships in Baltimore, Maryland, twelve years in a row (2001-2012).

While Master Buckley’s accomplishments and martial arts ability are remarkable, what is more impressive is his ability to influence the students of the system. He has affected the lives of thousands of students in a positive way. He has consistently encouraged the students to gain tournament experience, to obtain their ranking, referee status and certifications through the international governing bodies, in an effort to help them to better their understanding of the martial arts. For the decade he served as Deputy General Referee (2000-2004) and Referee General (2004-2010) for the United States Kuo Shu Federation as well as Deputy General Referee for The World Kuo Shu Federation (2006-2010), Master Buckley took the responsibility to heart by teaching and developing potential referees within the Bok Fu Do organization. Because of his efforts, an unprecedented number of TWKSF International Certified A and B level referee’s are Bok Fu Do men and women. The list of A level referee’s today include: Master Norma Futini, Brandi Piacente, Morgan Newman, Michelle Sosa, Aimee Jurewicz, Dr. Art Panella and Mitch McKay. The list of B level referee’s include: Morgan Malone, Angie Dominguez, Meghan Mannion, Sean Gray, Ryan Hodge, Jennie Mitchell, Bobby Cusack and Joan Murakami.

For more than two decades, Master Buckley has dedicated himself to producing the highest quality martial arts students. He has trained and coached many students that have become national, international and world champions. In 2003, Master Buckley followed in the footsteps of his teacher, Grandmaster Lee, when he was selected as the United States National Lei Tai team’s head coach for the 1st TWKSF World Kuo Shu Championships (Brazil). Out of the seventeen member USA team, eight were from Grandmaster Richard Lee’s East West Kung Fu School in Alamo, California, and trained personally by Master Buckley. The United States team did remarkably well overall with a 2nd place finish, behind only the host country of Brazil. In 2006, Master Buckley was appointed for the second time to coach the United States National Lei Tai team at the 2nd TWKSF World Kuo Shu Tournament (Singapore). The team had their best performance ever and for the first time took the gold medal in the overall team standings. As in 2003, eight of the seventeen USA team members were Bok Fu Do men and women. The entire United States Team came away from the Singapore world tournament with seven world champions, five of which were personally trained by Master Buckley. In 2009, Master Buckley was appointed the United States National Lei Tai team coach a third time for the 3rd TWKSF World Kuo Shu Tournament (Germany). Eight of the fifteen team member squad were Bok Fu Do men and women. This was the best performance yet, both by the United States and the students of Bok Fu Do as the USA placed first overall in the team standings with seven world champions. All seven world champions were Bok Fu Do students and trained personally by Master Buckley. His students regard him as simply the best.

In 2012, Master Buckley was selected to be the United States National Lei Tai team Head Coach for the 4th TWKSF World Kuo Shu Tournament. It was his fourth time coaching the USA national team. Says Master Buckley, “I owe it (coaching) to my teacher, first and foremost. Without his pioneering efforts, these opportunities would have never been possible. Additionally, the simple fact is over the past twelve years our students have consistently produced incredible results. That as much as anything is why I’ve been the US coach.”

The 4th TWKSF World Kuo Shu tournament, held in Malaysia, continued to see the United States team excel on the world stage. Of the thirteen member national team, eight were Bok Fu Do men and women that were coached and trained personally by Master Buckley. In fact, the US produced a total of six world champions – all Bok Fu Do students – and established the widest margin of victory ever for a US team in Lei Tai competition.

In 2003, Grandmaster Lee celebrated a tremendous milestone in his martial arts career. Master Buckley was honored to be able to document that milestone by writing and compiling a 50th anniversary book in honor of his teacher. This impressive manuscript includes letters of congratulations from not only colleagues, students, and some of the best martial artists from around the world, but also many of the most well known political figures of our time. Additionally, Master Buckley helped Grandmaster Lee put together the three foundation books of Bok-Fu-Do, as well as several other manuscripts documenting the system. He is also the architect behind the historical posters that stylishly document the heritage of Bok Fu Do in world competition, cultural exploration and milestone events.

In 2011, Master Buckley was inducted into the prestigious United States Kuo Shu Hall of Fame. He was extremely honored to join a short list of inductees since the Hall of Fames inception in 2000. Preceding members of the United States Kuo Shu Hall of Fame are: Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang (2000), Grandmaster Richard Lee and Master Joe Dunphy (2000), Grandmaster Steve L. Martin (2002), Grandmaster Chan Pui and Grandmaster Wai Hong Eng (2003), Grandmaster Henry Look and Master Kevin Preston (2004), Grandmaster Wai Lun Choi (2005), Master He Wei Qi (2006), Grandmaster Jiang Jing Sun Baek (2007) and Master Calvin Chin (2009).

Master John Buckley is a first generation disciple and the first disciple of Grandmaster Richard Lee. He currently holds the rank of Sixth Degree Black Belt in Bok-Fu-Do and Seventh Tuan in Chinese Kuo Shu. He is a Tien Shan Pai Second Degree Black Sash under Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang and has studied Praying Mantis under Grandmaster Chang, Fu-Chen since 1991.

Here are some words from Master John Buckley:

Hard work is often associated with accomplishing extraordinary results, large levels of success, or even achieving greatness. But I believe that hard work to the one who eventually accomplishes big things or becomes great is merely a perceived interpretation of those around them. To the actual person engaged in their work I believe they are simply carrying out an action fueled of desire and love. Their actions are not forced; they are, in fact, natural because the person headed towards success is driven by an intense sense of purpose. I believe it likely there are few people who have ever achieved high levels of success that did not – at least at some point – love their toil. Such individuals have surely been described as workaholics and while this is probably true by strict definition, the person who loves what he/she does not feel as though they are working at all. It is true that when we love what we do we have found success after all. I learned this from a man I met when I was in my teens, a man who exemplified this concept in his daily work, everyday of his life. His name is Grandmaster Richard Lee.

I have been studying under Grandmaster Lee’s tutelage since January of 1986. During that time we have spent hours discussing many trains of thought. I feel fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity over the decades to “pick his brain” so to speak, and it has left me with a treasure trove of knowledge that has, over time, rewarded me wisdom through my own experiences. Of course, the learning is infinite, a road that has no determined end, only determined goals and as such never completed. And while early on in my training much of what we discussed surly did not settle, I now fully appreciate my teacher’s wisdom in first planting the seed inside me, then patiently nurturing and cultivating that seed until one day it had what it needed to flourish and grow. I now see Bok-Fu-Do as the most beautiful garden – the garden of Grandmaster Lee’s life.

To My Teacher,

With Bok-Fu-Do you have laid the foundation pure and true. Each of our schools might be seen as the soil to the seeds that are our students, providing first and foremost an environment and opportunity to grow. We can liken each of our staff to the nourishment for the soil, providing the essential elements necessary for each of the seeds to blossom in their own right. Water acts as knowledge might to the student, and is essential to the seeds growth. Too much to0 fast and the seed can drown, overwhelmed by the abundance that lies in wait. Too little too slow and the seed can dry up, lose its way, or simply cease to exist. Just the right amount gives the seed what it needs and allows it to neither want for too much nor expect too little. As in all things in nature, the seed will be challenged and must persevere to reach maturation. But the garden is well tended by your many disciples, black belts, and staff that each work tirelessly everyday to make sure that maturation is given every conceivable chance to be realized. And in the garden there remains a solitary figure standing tall and proud, carefully watching it all play out in an endless dance between teacher and student. It is you, Grandmaster Lee – at times the lone warrior, at times sole champion of the art, at times the forgotten father, at times the lonesome explorer, at times the underestimated giant. Through it all you have tended your garden through the ravages of time and today it flourishes as a one of a kind masterpiece. But your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed by those closest to you. Appreciation, gratitude, thankfulness – they are words that can never express the true indebtedness we feel for your kindness, your time, and your teachings. You are the caretaker of this dramatic landscape we call Bok-Fu-Do, the guardian of its wondrous secrets.

Your efforts have brought new standards of honor, prestige, and excellence to the field of martial arts in America and they are words now synonymous with Bok-Fu-Do.

Thank you for providing the soil upon which we now all stand.

Your student – John Buckley