Lee style Tai Chi was popularized for Westerners by Chee Soo who learned the Taoist Arts from an elderly Chinese gentleman called Chan Kam Lee who was working in Hatton Garden and had a class in Red Lion Square in Holborn.
Chan Lee was from Weihai which was a small town on the peninsula of Shandong in Northern China. Weihai actually means Sea Fort and Weihaiwei was originally a military garrison and walled city which was used to defend Northern China against Japanese pirates. Shandong was also a famous area for Taoism because it contains the most sacred of the holy mountains of China known as Mount Tai. Shandong is also home to the Kong family mansions and the burial site of Confucius a famous Taoist philosopher from the warring states period. Shandong is also a famous area for martial arts and contains the legendary Water Margin the home of the heroes of Liang Shan Po.
According to Chee Soo the Lee family style originated from Beijing and traveled to Shandong in the Zhou dynasty around 1000 BC when Ho Hsieh Lee settled in Weihaiwei.
Chan Lee was living in Weihaiwei in the 1930s and was also trading gemstones in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and London which was the centre of the world diamond trade at the time. In 1930 he left Shandong and moved to London and it was there that he met Chee Soo for the first time in 1934, and because Chee Soo was an orphan he adopted him and started teaching him the Taoist Arts like Tai Chi and Ancient Chinese Medicine healing methods. Chee Soo went on to teach the Lee style in Britain and all over the world, and during the cultural revolution when Tai Chi was banned in China the Lee style was the most popular style in the world with many classes throughout Europe and the Commonwealth countries. You can read more about the Lee style and it’s origins and development in Chee Soo’s own words, you can find all his books at the Seahorse Books site.