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

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    Rich_Hale's Avatar
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    Default So, was John La Tourrette a 5th Black?

    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 I’m 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.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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

    Thank you for shedding some light on things Mr. Hale.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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

    As always, thank you for your fine insights. It's good to have you on KT!
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    "He who hesitates...meditates in the horizontal position!"
    - Mr. Edmund K. Parker Sr.

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

    Great post thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
    PARKER - HERMAN - SECK

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

    Thank you for you brief history of Mr. LaTourette. It was very interesting.
    John has since responded and joined kenpoTalk. He can certainy talk for himself. That was my origonal responce to let him talk for himself.
    I have since then corresponded with him and he was very gracious.

    I am Most Repectfully,
    sifuroy

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

    Quote Originally Posted by sifuroy View Post
    Thank you for you brief history of Mr. LaTourette. It was very interesting.
    John has since responded and joined kenpoTalk. He can certainy talk for himself. That was my origonal responce to let him talk for himself.
    I have since then corresponded with him and he was very gracious.

    I am Most Repectfully,
    sifuroy
    Thank you Bob, Martin, Rich and all the other new friends I've found over here.
    Warmly,
    Dr. John M. La Tourrette

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

    In addition to the evidence that has been mentioned, I also have a copy of the IKKA Newsletter from Sept, 1991 that shows a list of all black belts in the system (above 3rd degree). Here are some interesting ones at the time:

    4th:
    Jeff Speakman

    5th:
    John LaTourrette
    Paul Mills

    6th:
    Ron Chapel

    7th:
    Frank Trejo
    Bob White

    I don't see Master Tatum on this list. I know that he and Mr. Parker had a falling out, but did Mr Parker kick him out of the association?

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

    Mr. Tatum recieved his 7th from Mr. Parker. Having different perspectives on direction, he left the IKKA by choice prior to Mr. Parkers passing in 1990.
    Clear mind, clear movement. Mastery of the Arts is mastery over the Self. That in this moment, this motion, the thoughts, memories, impulses and passions that cloud the mind must yield to the clarity of purpose, and purity of motion.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bdocili View Post
    In addition to the evidence that has been mentioned, I also have a copy of the IKKA Newsletter from Sept, 1991 that shows a list of all black belts in the system (above 3rd degree). Here are some interesting ones at the time:

    4th:
    Jeff Speakman

    5th:
    John LaTourrette
    Paul Mills

    6th:
    Ron Chapel

    7th:
    Frank Trejo
    Bob White

    I don't see Master Tatum on this list. I know that he and Mr. Parker had a falling out, but did Mr Parker kick him out of the association?
    Also listed in the aforementioned newsletter are:

    7th:
    Chuck Sullivan

    5th:
    Victor LeRoux

    Respects,
    Bill Parsons
    Triangle Kenpo Institute
    www.trianglekenpo.com

    "I know Kenpo!" "Cool... do you know how to use it?"

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bdocili View Post
    In addition to the evidence that has been mentioned, I also have a copy of the IKKA Newsletter from Sept, 1991 that shows a list of all black belts in the system (above 3rd degree). Here are some interesting ones at the time:

    4th:
    Jeff Speakman

    5th:
    John LaTourrette
    Paul Mills

    6th:
    Ron Chapel

    7th:
    Frank Trejo
    Bob White

    I don't see Master Tatum on this list. I know that he and Mr. Parker had a falling out, but did Mr Parker kick him out of the association?
    I thought Ron Chapel was ranked as 7th?
    I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
    (Phillipians 4:13)


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

    Quote Originally Posted by Seabrook View Post
    I thought Ron Chapel was ranked as 7th?
    I've seen his 7th certificate signed by Ed Parker.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bdocili View Post
    In addition to the evidence that has been mentioned, I also have a copy of the IKKA Newsletter from Sept, 1991 that shows a list of all black belts in the system (above 3rd degree). Here are some interesting ones at the time:

    4th:
    Jeff Speakman

    5th:
    John LaTourrette
    Paul Mills

    6th:
    Ron Chapel

    7th:
    Frank Trejo
    Bob White

    I don't see Master Tatum on this list. I know that he and Mr. Parker had a falling out, but did Mr Parker kick him out of the association?
    Do you have an actual copy of the whole newsletter or do you just have the excerpt available for download from http://arnis.org/downloads/9-91.pdf? I'd be interested in seeing the rest of the newsletter if you do.
    James Hawkins III, SI
    Hawkins Martial Arts
    Baltimore, MD 410-948-1440
    http://www.youtube.com/user/FunctionalKenpo
    http://www.youtube.com/user/kenpojujitsu3

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Seabrook View Post
    I thought Ron Chapel was ranked as 7th?
    He was. So were several other guys not listed. The list was cause for much gossip back in the day, with the most appropriate part being the caveat at the bottom, "If we got it wrong, get back to us."

    Couple reasons, including the status of "current dues-paying" versus "I'm outta here cuz...[fill in the blank]". Some of the known seniors & 7ths aren't listed on their at all, and others inaccurately. Bias played a big role at the time.

    Apparently, another contributor was the contributions by one of the son-in-laws who was responsible for getting promotions logged, updated, and certs sent out. He was reportedly a tad on the slow side, and was relieved of his duties. This left piles of un-updated promotions. "The List" was also viewed as an attempt to ensure future participation via public recogntition. Whispers were already in the wind about more guys breaking off than already did, and I think the idea was that of your name was in the thing, you might choose to stick around in reciprocity to the acknowledgement.
    Clear mind, clear movement. Mastery of the Arts is mastery over the Self. That in this moment, this motion, the thoughts, memories, impulses and passions that cloud the mind must yield to the clarity of purpose, and purity of motion.

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