Ilchi Lee was born in 1950 to a family of educators, months after the start of the Korean War. Even in his early youth, he was driven by questions about the true meaning of his existence. Dissatisfied with intellectual answers, he turned to training his body to gain a sense of centeredness and peace. In his early twenties, he became a senior master of the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do. Later, he applied his undergraduate studies in clinical pathology and physical education toward the successful management of a physical health training center.