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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Peaceful Protection: Sensei John D. Lee Teaches Confidence, Courage and Calmness

John Lee joined the police academy in 1995, became a police officer in March 1996 and has served in law enforcement ever since as a patrolman, field training officer, SWAT operator, crime scene investigator and motor unit, supervisor. He has been a detective for five years now, with a main focus on violent crime.

Lee has also been involved in martial arts for most of his life, more interested in the philosophies and ideals than specific styles, but more interested in practical application as grew older. His kajukenbo instructor, Grandmaster Ron Pierce, studied directly under Sijo Emperado. In 2010, Lee created his own self-defense system called Calm Water.

What led you to study the martial arts, and how have you applied it?

I started searching for and studying martial arts as I could when I was young because I had an awful temper. It taught me discipline to control my emotional outburst. When I became a police officer, I understood the advantages it gave me in the field when facing people that wanted to hurt me. Now as I teach, I watch the confidence it inspires in my students.

How does the current police/community atmosphere seem to you personally?

Mostly, the community and police work together nicely. It’s those selfish few that use violence to further their own agenda that ruin it for everyone. I think for the most part, if this violence didn’t sell so well in the press we would all move on quicker and safer.

As a combat instructor, what do you teach about stress, anger and fear?

Everyone has fear. As long as you control your fear, it makes you sharp. The definition of courage is not the absence of fear, but being afraid and doing what you must anyway. Stress and anger are killers. Find a way to control your anger and deal with your stress.

What do you do to find balance in your life?

My life is dealing with violence. This darkness can consume anyone without an outlet. Balance is survival. My wife, my family and my faith are my anchors. I spend as much family time as possible to keep me in line with what is most important. I try to eat right and exercise daily. I try new things often to keep life invigorating. Simply put, I choose to live a positive, happy life, regardless of the daily events.

What is the most important message about human nature that you would share?

The secret of life is threefold: 1) survive,  2) be positive and 3) find your happy.

Life is too short to be miserable; choose to be happy! Even at the lowest point of your life, choose to be positive and positive things will happen. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.

Lee’s Martial Arts Combat Academy is holding adult self-defense classes from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Child classes based in stranger danger and bully defense are offered from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Both are taught by Sensei John D. Lee.

Location: 1605 N. Partin Dr., Niceville. For more information, call 850-797-9429 or visit

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