Northwest Asian Weekly
Master John S.S. Leong celebrated the 50th anniversary of his Kung Fu school, the Seattle Kung Fu Club, on June 29 at the Seattle Westin Hotel with over 500 guests.
A pioneer in the Pacific Northwest, Leong founded the school in 1962. Then, it was the first Kung Fu school in Seattle, and now it has grown into nine branches of martial arts schools in Asia, Canada, and the United States.
Over the past half century, the Seattle Kung Fu Club has ingrained itself in Seattle, hosting international competitions, demonstrations, and attracting visiting martial arts masters from around the world.
“In the Seattle of 1959, no one knew what Kung Fu was. They thought it was something to eat!” Leong said in a 1984 interview with Kung Fu Magazine.
The anniversary celebration attracted students — some of them well-known entertainment professionals — from all over the world.
As part of the anniversary celebration, Mayor Mike McGinn issued a proclamation declaring June 29 Master John S.S. Leong Day. Seattle City Council member Nick Licata was present at the event with a proclamation from the city council, honoring Leong for his exemplary work. Lt. Gov. Brad Owen spoke at the event about Leong’s contributions, which, according to Owen, gives something positive to youth and lets them take pride in their rich Chinese cultural traditions.
His four children and their families returned home from China, the east coast, and Hawaii to help celebrate the occasion. The event featured martial arts demonstrations by 20 masters of various styles, including a demonstration duel between Leong’s son, Robin, and Leong’s two-year-old grandson, Lucan.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of a painting of a Red Dragon to Leong by his students, who are from many different ethnic backgrounds and many of which have been training with Leong for over 20 years. Many started as children and now have grey hairs.
A philanthropist who has often used his demonstrations to raise and give funds, Leong again used the occasion to give back to the community. He presented $5,000 donations to both Kin On and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. (end)
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