KT:So, was John La Tourrette a 5th Black?

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Sep 11, 2006
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So, was John La Tourrette a 5th Black?
By Rich_Hale - Wed, 10 Jan 2007 08:30:31 GMT
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk


Sorry I missed out on this thread before it went astray, but I'm new to this forum and didn't have a chance to see the thread until it was closed.

On the other hand Im not new to Kenpo having started my journey in 1972 at Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate Studio in Colton, California. During the past 34 years I have had the opportunity to meet a number of interesting people and Mr. La Tourrette is certainly right up there with the most interesting of them all. I say that with all due respect.

The previous thread had only person who said he actually saw John's certificate for 5th black, and that person was suspected of maybe being John signed on under an assumed name. Truth is that would crack me up, but not surprise me in the least, but on the other hand . . .

I too have personally seen John La Tourrette's certificate for 5th Degree Black, issued by the International Kenpo Karate Association. Note this certificate was not the old style certificate, which is smaller, but the new larger certificate which Mr. Parker told me was only given to those who had met his current (at the time) standards.

Now aside from the certificate itself, anyone who has had an opportunity to spend any time with John La Tourrete would never doubt his knowledge, his skill, or his life long devotion to the martial arts.

One of the things I respect most about John is that he didn't convert to Kenpo and use Mr. Parker as a stepping stone to his own success. He was a very accomplished martial artist prior to joining Kenpo and was already running a successful school and was the head of his own association.

As for time in the arts, by the third printing of his book Mental Training of a Warrior, he had already been studying the martial arts for 23 years. That was in 1982.

Aside from Mental Training of a Warrior, John also authored Secrets of Kenpo Karate and Masters Kicking Guide. At least in my opinion, all three of these books are definitely worth the price of admission.

I actually asked John why he moved from being, primarily, a Hard stylist to Kenpo. He simply said he had been reading and studying Mr. Parkers ideas and noticed how many of those ideas were either the same, or very similar, to his own. He just felt it was a natural progression to move into Kenpo.

Also consider this: John was no ordinary Tae Kwon Do black belt, when he moved into Kenpo. Heck I even picked up a black in Tae Kown Do, back in Alaska in 83. That took me about a year. John, on the other hand, was stationed in Korea with the Army Security Agency, as a translator of the Korean language. His classification was Senior linguist in charge of the Code Descripting. So how do you think my Tae Kwon Do would measure up to his?

On top of that, prior to his time in the military he had earned a black in Judo and after he got out of the service he earned a black in Shotokan as well.

Now I know having black belts in Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Shotokan doesn't make you a 5th in Kenpo, but I can tell you John sure didn't lack grappling skills, kicking ability or power when he joined our ranks.

It was mentioned that John was a "self promoter". Only now, as I write this, does it occur to me that maybe the writer meant that maybe John promoted himself to varying levels of black belt. When I first read it I thought the writer was saying that John was always promoting himself, to the public, as in terms of advertising. Hopefully, that is what was how it was meant, because I could say yes indeed. I don't think I have ever met someone who was better at self promotion that John.

For example: While I was at his school the phone rang and the potential student was apparently asking if John taught Judo, and John said, "Yes we do, come on in and I'll get you started right away." After he hung up the phone asked if he actually did teach Judo, at the school, and he said, no, not really, I teach Kenpo.

I said, then why did you tell the guy on the phone you taught Judo? He just smiled and said, "Rich, the guy on the phone doesn't have any idea what he's actually looking for. People call every day asking about Judo, because that's the only term the American public really knows, hence the Judo chop. What they really want is to learn how to defend themselves and I can teach them how to do that. (Not an exact quote, but close.)

But for the sake of argument, let's say that John did promote himself to 8th, 9th, or even 10th. Mr. Parker told me, on more than one occasion, that even though Professor Chow had continually promoted him, he only put on a new rank, including 10th, when he, himself, felt worthy of the rank. In other words, Mr. Parker only accepted the rank he bestowed on himself, because he didn't consider anyone else, living or dead, competent to pass judgment on him as a martial artist.

This is not to say I think every Tom, Dick, and Harry should go around promoting themselves, but when Mr. Parker passed away the highest ranking student he had was a 7th so, all of today's 8ths, 9ths and 10ths had to come from someplace.

Anyway, back to Mr. La Tourrette. On page 121 of The Secretes of Kenpo Karate he states, "If I don't work out one day, I know it. If I don't work out two days, my opponent knows it. And if I miss three days, my students know it."

Of course someone could say, that was just a clever, well written, line for his book, but I will guarantee you who ever says that will have never met John La Tourrette. Those who have met him will tell you that little quote "is" John La Tourrette.

I hope I have been able to shed some light on a man who I, for one, respect and admire.

In closing, and in my opinion, if John La Tourrette wasn't worthy of a 5th Degree Black back in 1983, then I need to take off my current rank and put on a green belt.

The below photo was taken in 1983 in John's back yard.

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