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Bob Duggan

December 10, 2000  

                                                                                                                                                      Other Links on this subject:
                    LINK TO WORLD HWA RANG DO CONTRACT cir. 1990-92


    As all the readers of this Web site know, I have been critical of the World Hwa Rang Do Association as directed by Joo Bang Lee and his son, Henry Lee.  I have a different memory of early events and the Associations formative years and how the art evolved.  Many of the devote followers of the Lee family have reacted to the discussion as an act of betrayal.  During most of the years of my estrangement from the World Hwa Rang Do Association, I have avoided personal attacks or attacks on the organization. However, in the last two years the WHRA posted a number of personal assaults on my character on their Web Site that caused me to be more explicit regarding my disagreements.  What I once kept private, I now adopt as a crucible.

    The few True Believers remaining in the organization, John Huppuch, Carsten Jorgensen, Tim Elliot and other younger and more naive proselytes use words like Honor, Loyalty, Justice, Respect and a whole list of high sounding moral virtues to denounce me and others who have abandoned the organization.   For the first time, I have decided to explain in some detail why I walked away from what is and was a great art form, .  

    The wake-up call began about 1974 or 75 when the Lee Brothers launched their campaign to open a hundred schools nationwide over a five year period. The ambitious prospectus proffered that Joo Bang Lee seed schools in Los Angeles area, followed by a plan to head northward, opening a school in Oxnard with dreams of moving up the coast to Seattle and across the country to New York while Joo Sang Lee opened his second school in Phoenix, Arizona and then he was to head eastward, meeting his brother in New York five years later. An unrealistic plan, but who were we to question the great wisdom of the Supreme Grand Master.

  Joo Sang Lee took Gil Kim along with him to open the Phoenix school and Joo Bang took me to Oxnard where we underlings ran the schools without compensation while they plotted their expansive campaign to conquer the continent. Immediately after Oxnard,  Joo Bang opened a school in La Habra and put a recent arrival, Mike Echanis, in charge of the school.  At the time, Echanis was Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, but knew nothing of Hwarangdo.  It was my understanding from Randy that Joo Bang ordered Randy to teach Echanis the system.  Jim Mohoff, the big Russian, was ordered to run a school in a suburb near Downey.   There were other grand openings such as the one in Santa Anna, and plans for national demonstrations and tournaments to promote the business venture.  

    But within a year, the plans began to unravel.  Joo Sang Lee organized and a self-financed exhibition in the large sports stadium at Arizona State University.  Joo Bang and Joo Sang Lee put on an impressive demonstration. I was there as a throw dummy which I had done a fair amount during those early years of promotion.  The demonstration turned out to be a financial disaster and put Joo Sang Lee deep in debt which followed a similar debacle in San Diego the year before.  The financial stress began to feed internally and the brothers set to fighting among themselves. I was not present for the final feud, but it was clear to all of us that the brothers were splitting up the partnership and the grandiose continental prospects dimmed.  Joo Sang Lee walked out of the Phoenix school, leaving Gil Kim in sole charge of the school and returned to Los Angeles where he opened a furniture store on Western Avenue in "Little Korea Town".  He never taught the martial arts another day in his life.  

    For Gil Kim, Ken Corona, Vicente Montenegro and I,  it was a terrible loss.  Joo Sang Lee was the most skilled teacher I have ever seen or known. The others felt exactly the same.  It was from Joo Sang Lee that Gil Kim, Montenegro and I learned Hwarangdo.  He had a precise eye for every detail of a technique, and while he never taught from a syllabus like his brother, he was magic on the mat.  He taught us how to fight, stripping the style of its extraneous exhibitionist techniques, and built speed and power. We all enjoyed the systemic and comprehensive material introduced to us by Joo Bang Lee, but Joo Bang, while wondrously skilled, he was never the teacher that his older brother was. 

    In 1973, I was invited to form a partnership with other martial artists to run a two month camp in Colorado called The Aspen Academy of Martial Arts.  The other ten months of the year I ran the Oxnard school, but the Aspen Academy was pivotal for me personally as it invited such notable martial artists as Marshal Ho, Dan Innosanto, Toichi Tohei, Joo Bang Lee, Fred Degerberg and many others.  As founding member and eventual president, I stayed with the Academy for ten years, until 1980 when I founded ESI, the country's first degree granting training academy for professional bodyguards and protective intelligence.    

    Joo Bang Lee's pursuit of the continental business plan for Hwa Rang Do continued, but it began to burn out the staff as none were paid for their efforts and none of the schools  were financially successful.  In 1977, after a very short period of training, Mike Echanis abandoned the La Habra school and took up a training contract at Ft. Bragg with the Special Forces.  Joo Bang Lee was dumb-struck at what he considered a betrayal. No instructor acted out the role of obedient coolie with more flare and obsequious behavior than Echanis during his short stay in Hwa Rang Do. (I will write more on the Echanis phenomenon elsewhere.  Echanis's return from Ft. Bragg and Special Forces is another story).  Joo Bang ordered Randy Warner and George Thomas to take over the school.   After vainly attempting to make the school a financial success, Randy Warner abandoned the school, and headed for the Mojave Desert where he lived for many years.  The La Habra school was closed.  Then Jim Mohoff gave up after trying to live on nothing for nearly five years.  By the mid 1980s, almost all the schools were closed except Downey and the first and second generation instructors began to leave.

     We were also disheartened at  the failure of the prospectus, but we knew that it couldn't work without diluting the art.  For many of us, it was the first realization of the concrete meaning of the commercialization of martial arts.  In the 1970's, I was in close association with Joo Bang Lee, I observed him burn with a single minded ambition to open as many schools as he could despite the human cost or the price that the art had to pay in the loss of skill and depth of the system.  There was simply no way to maintain the quality of the system and the teaching of techniques with an his expansive agenda when we lacked trained instructors who could run these schools.  Despite the obvious fact, he immediately began handing out rank and diluting the system.  In my personal case, I was taught the original syllabus through Second Degree, but in 1981, Joo Bang handed me my Fourth, plus a certificate for School and State Certificates.  In 1982 or 83, he offered me my Fifth Degree without testing. I refused it. (Huppuch was handed his at the same time, but he welcomed the "Master" status, and accepted his new rank). 

     I returned to Colorado further disheartened when I learned that the original syllabus was watered down so that techniques that were originally required in First Degree Black were thinned out into Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Degree.  I remember Joo Bang Lee's unfettered envy of his Tae Kwon Do buddies who were operating ten or twenty schools and making enormous amounts of money (compared to him) on a martial art style that was a simple kick-punch style.  It egged him onwards with his ambition despite the loss of his brother. He had us as his coolies; as far as he was concerned, a Half-Black was sufficient to be an instructor.   

    Disappointed with the lack of "Loyalty" of the Americans as they departed, Joo Bang sponsored six Korean martial artists immigration into the U.S., including his right hand man in Korea,  Hjin Lee.  Joo Bang installed these instructors, some of them were Tae Kwon Do instructors, into Hwa Rang Do schools and pressed on with his goal.  But within two or three years everyone one of these instructors abandoned their schools and left the organization.  The departure of Hjin Lee was particularly bitter and the two Lees no longer speak to one another.  

    During this time, I was in Aspen, estranged from what was happening and glad to be focused on building ESI.   I was still in the organization, but living in Aspen trying  to build a very different concept of the Hwarang than the one conceived at WHRDA in Downey.  But as ESI achieved success there was an exchange of some letters between myself and Henry Lee, Joo Bang's eldest son, that caused the complete severing of ties that bind one to the WHRDA.  

    I will quote extensive sections from these letters for the historical record and for the novice who is unaware of the trap that awaits them.  Henry Lee and I had exchanged several acrimonious letters that had their origin in an article he wrote in Black Belt magazine in which he claimed Mike Echanis was the first American student of Hwa Rang Do. This, of course, irritated me immensely since the truth was that he was with Hwa Rang Do a very brief period and perhaps more importantly, I despised his mercenary morality.  I not only dressed Henry down for the this public error, but I circulated the letter to all the other remaining Black Belts.  

    Henry responded with a non-sequitur excuse and then proceeded to lecture me on my lack of Loyalty to my Master, his father.  He then got to the heart of his  discontent.   In a letter by Henry Taejoon Lee dated June 7, 1986, he writes, ...."You continue because Do Joo Nim allows you to and so do I.  I have no bad feelings for you your organization.  If you founded ESI and placed Grandmaster as the President of the Board of Directors, I would have said that ESI was our organization but you failed to do this and maintain the "Me Generation" ideas.  I would like to talk to you sometime in the future, but before I do, you must ask yourself one question, "Where does my loyalty lie?"

    I wrote back. "God only knows where you derive the authority to lecture me on my past mistakes, my duties and obligations, and I must not forget the admonition to "share my great fortune".  When I began the study of Hwa Rang Do with your father, you were barely four years old; when I wrote the book on Hwa Rang Do for your father, you were not yet ten, and now at the grand age of 22 you presume to say that I continue Hwa Rang Do at your behest.  YOU PRESUMPTUOUS ASS! 

    What I have acquired in Hwa Rang Do, nobody can take from me. What I have accomplished with ESI, I sure as hell don't owe to you.  And since you left me with something to think about, I'll leave you with something.  Why is Hwa Rang Do so small? Why, after almost two decades, we have almost the same number of instructors as we did when we began?  Let me suggest that you start looking for the answer in the mirror.

    This has not been a pleasant letter to write, but I fear that if someone does not throttle your ego, it will destroy Hwa Rang Do completely, and Finally, I am not interested in being a member of a family where young boys strut about calling themselves "Master".


Bob Duggan
June 25, 1986


    As you might imagine, this letter caused my sudden excommunication  from the graces of  the Supreme Grand Master Dr. Joo Bang Lee.  It suited me just fine. I never heard another word from any one from WHRDA for several years.  But in 1989, I and several associates launched a new venture as collateral to ESI in direct mail catalog business.  It was called Life Force Technologies.  We took this company public and raised several million dollars on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. The catalog was modeled after Shaper Image and its theme was a commercial blend of clothing and spy products that Mr. and Mrs. James Bond might like to have in their closets. We published a quarter million catalogs per issue. It was a great commercial idea. 

    In 1990, as the Life Force Technologies was in full force and receiving widespread media attention, I received an unexpected call from the Supreme Grand Master Dr. Joo Bang Lee.  He was solicitous, even effusive with compliments about the new catalog and my good fortune.  Someone, Huppuch I believe, had given it to him.  His intentions were transparent, but I seized the opportunity to suggest that we meet and discuss our difficulties.   I flew to Los Angeles and in the company of Jesus (Jessie) Lechuga, a student and instructor under Vicente Montenegro, drove to his herbal storefront on Western Ave.  

    I talked frankly with him. I told him that I had utterly no respect for his son, Henry, and that Hwa Rang Do appeared to be in jeopardy of relentless decline.  I didn't want to see this occur, but I could do very little to change what was happening.  In the course of this conversation, Jessie committed the mistake of mentioning that he was aware that Henry Lee had a serious alcoholic drinking problem, had been arrested for driving under the influence . One of those incidents included Joe Nepomuceno who was a student of Jessie Lechuga but at the time studying at the headquarters. For the past ten years, Nepo was a member of LAPD's gang unit in South Los Angeles, CRASH, and currently he is with the Mounted Unit. 

     SGMD Joo Bang said nothing to Jessie in response, but a week later he excommunicated him and attempted to close his school.  No one was about to physically challenge Lechuga, particularly not John Huppuch who had the unsavory task of going to Jessie's school and meekly demanding that he close it because of Jessie spoke disrespectfully of Master Henry.  (This incident occurred exactly the way I describe it. If you care to verify the details, Jessie Lechuga's e-mail is [email protected] )

(John Huppuch this April 2001 wrote me his interpretation of this incident; it is ludicrously humorous. Although, he was not present so I assume that Joo Bang told him his version, Huppuch claims that I "got down on my knees to beg forgiveness of the Grand Master for my transgression".  Now, I am not a religious man and would not get on my knees for anyone, real or imagined, but this is such a wild invention of grandiosity that it is difficult to understand the mind set except in terms of cult psychology. I will deal with Huppuch's diatribe in another page.)

    When the news of Jessie's treatment reached me, I gave up.  There was no hope of changing the stripes on the tiger.  I never again made any effort to influence or change the policies of the WHRDA.  As far as I was concerned, the art would have to survive independent from the Lee Family. The World Hwa Rang Do Association was just a cult-business focused on mesmerizing young, naive true-believers who would function as unpaid coolies for SGMD Lee and his son.


    For many years, all candidate Black Belts in the WHRDA have been required to sign a contract.  The early version of this infamous contract protected the name of the World Hwa Rang Do Association, their logo and demanded a non-competition agreement from novice Black Belts.  Most of us signed one. I did even though I had reservations about its legality. In the State of California, like most of the states in the U.S., it is illegal to demand that an employee or anyone else to sign a Non-Competition Contract or Clause.  It is against the law in California to have any form of restraint of trade. 

    But in the late 1980's, the contract underwent a further refinement, relegating Black Belt candidates into indentured servants.  The contract not only demands annual dues from schools and students, fees for "passport" renewals, purchase of uniforms from the headquarters, etc which is fairly common in the martial arts business, the new contract defines all martial arts whether it was learned from WHRDA before or after to be under the terms of the obligations to the organization.  I have posted a version for your examination.  The addition of this new provision means that the Lee Family will have its hand out for twenty-five percent, if not control of any business venture of their devoted followers.  Henry Lee is responsible for the new language and has modeled his new contract provision after the Moonies of whom he is a great admirer, and it is precisely what he demanded of me in his 1986 letter quoted above.  LINK TO WORLD HWA RANG DO CONTRACT cir. 1990-92

    For candidate Black Belts, I advise slow and certain consideration of the implications of this WHRDA contract.  Ask to see one before you are up for the test.  Typical practice inside the WHRDA is to wait until the moment before the student's first Black Belt test and put the contract in front of the novice, and demand their signature before they continue.  You should also know that most of the provisions are not legal in most states.  IN CALIFORNIA, NON COMPETITION CLAUSES ARE ILLEGAL AS A MATTER OF LAW.   Whether you are prepared to give them a share in your current business or future venture is a personal decision, but it is a different decision when you are twenty than when you are forty years old.  Be Prepared in advance!  

    Make no mistake! The World Hwa Rang Do Association is a Cult Business.    

    I am looking for more recent copies of the contract in order to post on this Site. While it is the general practice of the WHRDA not to give a copy to the devotee, I am very anxious to publish the contents on this site.  If anyone has one that they would like to share, send to Bob Duggan, 2128 Railroad Ave., Rifle, CO, 81650 or attach to e-mail  to Bob Duggan: [email protected]

Posted December 24, 1996

Since the publication of this Web Page in July of 1996, The World Hwa Rang Do Association has behaved in a manner that is both typical of their self concept and predictable in the form that they choose to treat an outsider. The WHRDA Web Site The World Hwa Rang Do Association Web Page is devoted primarily to commercial promotion, but under Archives, a file is devoted to a form of personal slander and vituperation against myself, Kil Gil and Mike De Alba only understood by those who are familiar with the internal politics and psychology of cults. The statement is supposedly a decision by "The Masters Judicial Committee". There are numerous citations of legal codes and other high sounding citations. The facts are, however, I was never invited to stand before such a Committee, never allowed to confront my accusers and call witnesses or present testimony. It is what is referred to in our judicial tradition a rump Kangaroo Court, and there is only one source: Joo Bang Lee.

In November, I approached both John Huppuch and Joo Bang Lee privately to retract and apologize for the personal slander. They chose not to respond. This leaves me with the choice of dropping the matter completely and allow the statements to remain in public view on the World Wide Web, take legal remedies against them, or respond in a public forum. They have chosen the Web to conduct a libelous declaration against me; I choose it as well.

First, let me explain why I decided against the other options available to me. I can not just let the statements stand because they are false and slanderous. A person who does not know me would have no basis to judge either the truth or falsehood of the statements and is libel to take them at face value. So, while others choose to ignore the slander, I will not.

Second, I have thought long and hard on the legal remedies which are numerous, but I have decided against them for the following reasons. My lawyer who has considerable experience as a successful tort attorney was astonished at not only the mean and cruel intent of the statements, but their stupidity from a legal point of view. But Joo Bang is too clever to attach his name to the "Masters Judicial Committee" therefore leaving Huppuch and others to dangle as penniless targets. It is true that I could cost them a fair amount of money responding to my suit in a Federal Court or out of state jurisdiction, but it is not worth the money or the time.

It has been my opinion for the better part of twenty years that Joo Bang Lee's failure was his belief that He is the Art, and that central focus of study at the Headquarters is devotion to the Cult of the Personality. It was for this reason that he was abandoned by both Korean and American instructors year after year until none of the First, Second or Third Generation of Instructors, Korean or American with the exception of family members and one or two sycophants remain by Joo Bang's side. The ones who remain are True Believers. I have always regarded this fact with great sadness because Joo Bang Lee is an immensely gifted martial artists, a Grand Master. Over the years that I traveled with him, I had the opportunity to compare his talents with many other masters of Korean and Asian martial arts, and Joo Bang Lee was in a league by himself. This was acknowledged by all who met him.

While I wish he were a different person, there is nothing I can do to change the human personality. As they say, you have to play the cards as they are dealt. After attempting to reform the personality and the training regime for nearly a decade, I simply abandoned the effort. I moved to Aspen, Colorado to build a school for training professional bodyguards. It was my personal vision of the role of the Hwarang in this Century. I now devote my time at both the school and the SOCIETY OF THE HWARANG.

If I can quote from our own Preamble, "One of the goals of THE SOCIETY OF THE HWARANG is to unify principles, independent of ones loyalty or devotion to a particular style, teacher or system."

"Most of the Charter Members of the SOCIETY have been in the Korean arts for twenty to thirty years and we have had time to balance our experience of the real world against what we have been taught. In effect, we are a society of nonbelievers in the concept that any knowledge whether in whole or in part is perfect. No teacher regardless of how great, no system of fighting regardless of how old, or text regardless of how sacred, is ever complete. We are engaged in a constant search for an illusive concept of perfection."

"The fundamental assumption of the SOCIETY OF THE HWA RANG is that this fighting system is a living art form, and that each generation assimilates wisdom as a natural part of experience and learning. But the wisdom of one period is not always the wisdom of the next. We acknowledge Tradition, but do not treat it as an encyclical edict. It is simply accumulated experience that must be constantly tested on the mat and in the streets."

Finally, my only response to the personal attack on me will be the publication of the private warning, now made public, to Retract and Apologize that I sent to Joo Bang and Huppuch over their E-mail and via a registered letter. At this moment in time, my publication of the warning will suffice, and I reserve other remedies for a later day. I have decided that I will devote my energy to the development of the art as expressed by the Society of the Hwarang, and by so doing, deprive them of the legacy of Hwa Rang Do.


To: Joo Bang Lee
From: Robert E. Duggan
Re: Retraction & Apology

1. I am writing this personal note as a consequence of our past association in order to urge you to take action to forestall an event which might have severe and painful repercussions for you.

2. I have submitted to my lawyer copies of the various documents on the WHRDA Web Site which reference me. I am embarrassed to report that he was incredulous that someone or some organization would so clearly, and voluntarily, place itself in great and unnecessary jeopardy by making public such demonstrably unfounded accusations.

3. It seems probable to me that either those postings were made without your knowledge and consent or, if they were made with your knowledge and consent, you were given very bad advice indeed. If this is the case, you have not been well served in this matter, and should reconsider the position of those who gave you such dire counsel.

4. I have no compelling interest in engaging in intramural warfare: I could, in fact, respond by posting on the Net what I know of the personal lives of various "leading" Hwa Rang Do personalities, in order to demonstrate their hypocrisy. I will not do so.

5. Instead, I have directed my lawyer to examine the possibility of defending my reputation in court.

6. I feel that litigation can easily be avoided. In order to do so, you should direct the responsible party within your organization to immediately remove from your Web Site the following documents: (1) the 10-1-96 document entitled "From the Decision of The Hwa Rang Do Judicial Committee" and (2) a document entitled "An Open Letter of Concern to All Legitimate Martial Artists" authored by John Huppuch.

7. I will also require you to direct John Huppuch to write a full, sincere, complete, and believable apology and post it in the same space (on the Web Site) which his letter occupied for thirty (30) days.

8. I will wait until close of business on 12-2-96 to see if you have responded to these requirements. If you have not done so by then, I will take such further actions as I deem necessary to effect the ends stated here.

In all sincerity,

Bob Duggan, President
Executive Security International, Ltd.


Re: Demand For Immediate Retraction of Defamatory Publication


I have been made aware that a Web Site whose contents are apparently copyrighted by the World Hwa Rang Do Association (i.e., contains written material which defames me. In a document entitled "From the Decision of The Hwa Rango Do Judicial Committee" I am accused of criminal behavior, ex post facto violations of the so-called Hwa Rang Do Rules & Regulations, and accusations of breach of contract and, furthermore, there is a reference to actions purportedly taken against me by crypto-judicial bodies (i.e., HRD Master's Committee and Master's Judicial Committee) whose work is apparently carried out in secret and without notification to the "accused." You are no doubt proud of a practice sanctioned by all the ugliest and despicable tyrannies throughout the history of the world.

The Web Site also contains a long, libelous letter by John Huppuch. It is filled with venom, lies, and inflammatory statements, deliberately intended to defame me, and thereby injure my reputation and livelihood. It contains nothing of value.

I have examined the accusations in both of these documents, and have found them to contain hardly a shred of truth, and what truth is contained therein is so distorted as to be unrecognizable and, thereby, becomes effectively a lie.

I assume that this reckless and unprovoked publication was taken without even the most rudimentary understanding of the laws of libel (for example, the accusation of criminal conduct is in and of itself "libel per se") and in the absence of common sense. You would have been better off to have consulted a lawyer before undertaking such foolhardy and risky acts. You should consult a lawyer now.

I hereby demand that you immediately remove the offending documents from your Web Site. I further demand that you publish, in the same space, an open apology for their publication, stating explicitly that you had no factual basis upon which to base your libel. If you do not have the wit or the courage to write such an apology, please let me know. I will put one together for you. I feel qualified to do so inasmuch I am well aware of the indiscretions of those who so self-righteously condemn me and also of the failures of the Organization and of the Art as mis-directed by them.

In the event that you choose the course of continued folly, refusing to retract and apologize prior to December 1, 1996, I will look to whatever legal remedies are available to me.

Bob Duggan, President
Executive Security International, Ltd.
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