Raymond Lee has been internationally recognised for his outstanding martial arts achievements.
The Bendigo martial artist who specialises in Kung Fu and Tai Chi was nominated for the Action Martial Arts Hall of Honors in Atlantic City.
He was also named Master of the Year and recognised for his excellence in teaching martial arts.
The awards are considered the equivalent of the film industry’s Academy Awards with Mr Lee the first from Australasia to be inducted in the Hall of Honours.
Mr Lee was recognised for his outstanding achievements and support to the growth of a better martial arts community.
“It was a surprise because my international colleagues nominated me,” he said.
“When the organisation contacted me saying I had been nominated, they asked me submit information to justify (the nomination) and I just thought ‘nah’.
“But my students were very supportive and encouraged me. It's an honour and I thought I should give it a try and see what happens.”
Mr Lee said despite knowing he would be inducted to the Hall of Honour, he was still nervous.
“This is the Academy Award-equivalent for martial arts. It was still nerve wracking even though I knew I was going to get it,” he said.
Mr Lee began studying Tai Chi in 1999 after taking up Kung Fu in the early ‘90s,
“After I started with Kung Fu, I was lucky to have a family friend who was a Tai Chi master and took me under her wing in Macau,” he said. “And I am still learning, it’s a lifelong journey.”
Mr Lee is the only physiotherapist who has achieved 5th Duan in Wu-shu and Tai-Chi, certified internationally by the Chinese government.
He combines his clinical knowledge, supporting diversity thereby enabling everyone to be able to practice tai chi or martial arts regardless of their physical capacities, with the goal of achieving wellness.
“Kung Fu is generally a more external and explosive stuff. Tai Chi is form of martial arts about using internal energy,” he said.
“When you fight it is still fast but when it is for health, you slow it down and pay attention to your body.
“Tai Chi helps people understand the limits of the body, prevent injuries and use body more efficiently.”
Mr Lee has worked on three films during his Martial Arts career.
“The timing was never quite right (to work on more films) because I had work in Australia,” he said. “It was great to observe the movie set and see how it runs.
“I worked on three independent films. The last two were Showdown in Manila, which came out in LA in January and the other was called Death Fighter, which came out late last year.”
After growing up in Hong Kong, Mr Lee studied in New Zealand before travelling to Australia.
When he arrived in 2003, he took a job in Ararat despite Bendigo being an option.
“At that point I don’t know why I didn’t want to come here, so chose Ararat but the universe clearly had a plan to get me to Bendigo,” he said.
“I came to Bendigo in 2007 after I was supposed to move back from the Grampians to Melbourne.
“One of my lecturers based in Bendigo said they had a job if I was interested. I went to Melbourne and couldn’t stand traffic, so I asked if job still available.
“I thought I would be gone after two years but 11 years later I’m still here. There’s something about Bendigo that makes me feel comfortable.”