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Thread: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

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    dmcdonnell is offline
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    Default History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    To some of the "old timers" here on the board, I am wondering if anyone recalls the first Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA.

    My name is Dave. I have trained in martial arts for the last 26 years..

    I know some of the names, but want to get a complete picture of the history of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA.

    I trained with Don Garon since 1992 at Pennsylvania Karate Academy, and Don's background is in Parker/Tracy Kenpo, Okinawan Kenpo, and Shotokan, then in 1984 he bagan training under Dan Inosanto and remains a student of his to this day.

    One of Don's contemporaries, Jim Hanna is a Kenpo instructor here in Canonsburg, PA, having been awarded his Shodan from Al Tracy (I believe)..

    I started training in IsshinRyu Karate back in the early 80's under a man named Jim Stanley, who trained under Tom Voelker. The IsshinRyu lineage is well known and can be researched easily.

    Jim stopped teaching in the fall of 1982 after his health started failing. After leaving there, I began training with a friend from high school who trained under Jim Hanna.

    Years later, talking to Don about his early days, I learned of the Tracy/Parker background, and that Don's early teaching career was through a Kenpo School (I THINK the name was Olympic something or other).

    Anyway, I have traind in IsshinRyu, Shotokan, Muay Thai, JKD, Jun Fan, Kali/Escrima, as well as other arts, all of which I can follow the lineage of..

    Kenpo in Pittsburgh, at least to me, has been hard to trace..

    I know there are soem newer schools in Pittsburgh, Like Josh Ryers United Parker Kenpo, and Jeffrey Osinski's PKA Karate Academy..

    FYI, back in the eighties, Don Garon was owner/partner in 3 PKA schools, one on Valleybrook Rd witch he ran, one in the North Hills area, and a 3rd on Liberty avenue run by Dave Kenney(sp.).. That is the current PKA Academy owned by Jeff O.

    I know some other Kenpo guys from my tournament days, Joe Powell, and Mike Gulasky, nicknamed Preacher, both of whom I lost contact with over the years..

    To make a long story short(er), can anyone give me some idea of the earliest beginnings of Kenpo in general in Pittsburgh PA and more specifically, Tracy/Parker Lineage Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Regards,
    David McDonnell

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Jim Hanna is a member here, perhaps he will jump in, you might try sending him a private message and ask him directly...
    Michael


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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    How about Mike Donovan's Olympic Karate Tracy Kenpo late 60's or early 70's I believe. Or Jeff Meth student of Huk Planas early 90's.
    Pat Maguire

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Hopefully Jim will chime in.. I sent him a private message also.. Thanks..!

    Dave

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Sorry I was out of town for a few days.

    To the best of my knowledge, kenpo was brought to Pittsburgh by my first instructor, Mike Donovan. I remember going to his school is Monroeville in the fall of 1971. As I walked in the first things I noticed were photos of Mike and Joe Lewis. I then walked into the workout area. A group class was just beginning. A young black belt strolled onto the floor, walked up to a huge hanging bag and did a jumping, spinning hook kick that really shook that bag. That guy was Don Garon. I joined a few months later when Mike opened up a school in the South Hills. I hAd already been training for a couple of years in tae kwon do and isshinryu.

    Don was a black belt in Okinawan Kenpo and Mike would often hire black belts from other systems to help him teach. They would learn the system (Tracy's) and then teach it. Mike eventually ended up with 5 schools: Monroeville, South Hills, Downtown, North Hills, and Squirrel Hill. I managed the Squirrel Hill studio for him for 3 years. Eventually, a gentleman by the name of Juan Muratti became the chief instructor. He was an outstanding kenpo man and role model. Juan and Mike were both from the New Jersey area before migrating to Pittsburgh and I remember him going back for advanced training with a gentleman that I never met named Dennis Tosten. I watched the film of that training though.

    Mike was teaching the Tracy system but was independant and unaffiliated. When I started training with him we were using the 40 technique/2 kata per belt requirements. Mike eventually reduced them to 20 techs and added more sparring requirements. He ended up calling his system Olympic karate. My first two black belts were from Mike.

    Mike affiliated with the United States Karate Assoc and so I followed suit later.

    Another pioneer of kenpo to Pittsburgh is Mike "Preacher" Gulasky. He may have even been in the area before Mike but I do not think that he was teaching in a dojo before Mike.

    Jim

    Anyone in the Pittsburgh area is invited to stop in and train during group classes: Wed 6-7 pm, and Sat 11-12 noon. See my web page at www.jimhannaskenpo.com for more info.

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    don't know much about history, don't know much geography...

    but i do know some good kenpo goin' down in the 'burg at

    http://www.pkakarate.com/index1.htm

    pete
    "Rust Never Sleeps" - N.Young.

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    dmcdonnell is offline
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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Jim,

    Thanks for the reply.. and its nice to hear stories from those days..

    I know Mike Gulasky, but lost touch with him over the years.. I trained with Don for nearly 10-12 tears, and I continue to train with him at various seminars, etc.

    Jim, I sent you a private message also, but just a quick snapshot, I trained from 1981-1982 in IsshinRyu with Jim Stanley, a brown belt student of Tom Voelker who was a student of Harry Smith.

    Jim stopped teaching in the fall of 1982 and I started training with a former student of yours, Robert Vingiquerra.

    I earned a black belt from him in 1990, and began training in Shotokan.

    In May of 1992, after attending approximately 4 seminars with Don Garon's PKA from Dan Inosanto, Chai Sirisute, Edgar Sulite, and Mike Inay, I signed up as a student under Don and remained ther e until he left for Georgia to work with the TSA..

    Now I train with my friend and training partner at his school..

    If the invitation to stop in and train means me, I would be honored to take you up on it..

    Thanks,
    David

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanna View Post
    Sorry I was out of town for a few days.

    To the best of my knowledge, kenpo was brought to Pittsburgh by my first instructor, Mike Donovan. I remember going to his school is Monroeville in the fall of 1971. As I walked in the first things I noticed were photos of Mike and Joe Lewis. I then walked into the workout area. A group class was just beginning. A young black belt strolled onto the floor, walked up to a huge hanging bag and did a jumping, spinning hook kick that really shook that bag. That guy was Don Garon. I joined a few months later when Mike opened up a school in the South Hills. I hAd already been training for a couple of years in tae kwon do and isshinryu.

    Don was a black belt in Okinawan Kenpo and Mike would often hire black belts from other systems to help him teach. They would learn the system (Tracy's) and then teach it. Mike eventually ended up with 5 schools: Monroeville, South Hills, Downtown, North Hills, and Squirrel Hill. I managed the Squirrel Hill studio for him for 3 years. Eventually, a gentleman by the name of Juan Muratti became the chief instructor. He was an outstanding kenpo man and role model. Juan and Mike were both from the New Jersey area before migrating to Pittsburgh and I remember him going back for advanced training with a gentleman that I never met named Dennis Tosten. I watched the film of that training though.

    Mike was teaching the Tracy system but was independant and unaffiliated. When I started training with him we were using the 40 technique/2 kata per belt requirements. Mike eventually reduced them to 20 techs and added more sparring requirements. He ended up calling his system Olympic karate. My first two black belts were from Mike.

    Mike affiliated with the United States Karate Assoc and so I followed suit later.

    Another pioneer of kenpo to Pittsburgh is Mike "Preacher" Gulasky. He may have even been in the area before Mike but I do not think that he was teaching in a dojo before Mike.

    Jim

    Anyone in the Pittsburgh area is invited to stop in and train during group classes: Wed 6-7 pm, and Sat 11-12 noon. See my web page at www.jimhannaskenpo.com for more info.

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    My Wednesday and Saturday groups are open free to my private students and to all invitees (which means pretty much anyone that shows up), so I hope to see you there.

    Actually, that is a policy that Olympic Karate followed in the old days too. You could never tell who was going to show up from other schools to work out.

    Back in those days we worked the basics very hard and did alot of sparring. There was little work done on techniques and katas. I spent alot of time working on things like "hip fake-backfist", fake front kick-wheel kick", etc. They worked great for sparring. When I got into police work they were not the correct tactics to use. Nowadays, we spend most of our time working hands on training on the techniques. I've found it to be much more tactically effective for my job.

    Jim

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    dmcdonnell (03-27-2007)

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    David and others,

    Good morning. I hope this message finds you well. I just ran across this thread and wanted to let you know that our school here in Shadyside is always open to guests.

    In addition to our regular classes, we host several events throughout the year with several Masters in Ed Parker's Kenpo. Everyone and anyone is always welcome to attend.

    Please feel free to visit our website at http://www.pittsburghkarate.com.

    Good journey.

    Respectfully,
    Joshua Ryer
    Ryer Martial Arts Academy
    5440 Centre Avenue
    Pittsburgh, PA 15232
    (412) 621-KICK
    www.RyerAcademy.com

    The Highest Quality Martial Arts

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by dmcdonnell View Post
    To some of the "old timers" here on the board, I am wondering if anyone recalls the first Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA.

    My name is Dave. I have trained in martial arts for the last 26 years..

    I know some of the names, but want to get a complete picture of the history of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA.

    I trained with Don Garon since 1992 at Pennsylvania Karate Academy, and Don's background is in Parker/Tracy Kenpo, Okinawan Kenpo, and Shotokan, then in 1984 he bagan training under Dan Inosanto and remains a student of his to this day.

    One of Don's contemporaries, Jim Hanna is a Kenpo instructor here in Canonsburg, PA, having been awarded his Shodan from Al Tracy (I believe)..

    I started training in IsshinRyu Karate back in the early 80's under a man named Jim Stanley, who trained under Tom Voelker. The IsshinRyu lineage is well known and can be researched easily.

    Jim stopped teaching in the fall of 1982 after his health started failing. After leaving there, I began training with a friend from high school who trained under Jim Hanna.

    Years later, talking to Don about his early days, I learned of the Tracy/Parker background, and that Don's early teaching career was through a Kenpo School (I THINK the name was Olympic something or other).

    Anyway, I have traind in IsshinRyu, Shotokan, Muay Thai, JKD, Jun Fan, Kali/Escrima, as well as other arts, all of which I can follow the lineage of..

    Kenpo in Pittsburgh, at least to me, has been hard to trace..

    I know there are soem newer schools in Pittsburgh, Like Josh Ryers United Parker Kenpo, and Jeffrey Osinski's PKA Karate Academy..

    FYI, back in the eighties, Don Garon was owner/partner in 3 PKA schools, one on Valleybrook Rd witch he ran, one in the North Hills area, and a 3rd on Liberty avenue run by Dave Kenney(sp.).. That is the current PKA Academy owned by Jeff O.

    I know some other Kenpo guys from my tournament days, Joe Powell, and Mike Gulasky, nicknamed Preacher, both of whom I lost contact with over the years..

    To make a long story short(er), can anyone give me some idea of the earliest beginnings of Kenpo in general in Pittsburgh PA and more specifically, Tracy/Parker Lineage Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Regards,
    David McDonnell
    Dr Vance Mclaughlin just recently came across this thread and e mailed me with the following information that I thought might be interesting to post:

    "Mike Donovan came from New Jersey and was affiliated with Tracy's. He set up some schools and then broke away from the franchise and renamed the schools Olympic Karate. John Anderson and I were in the South Hills school. John had gotten his 3rd dan in Okinawa and was one of the premier kata men in the United States. I had returned to Pittsburgh after some intense training with jerry piddington (one of Mike Stone's top black belts) and Chris Armstrong. Chris was go-ju but was awarded a black belt by Parker. Parker used to do this when he found someone really good from other systems. I still have an Armstrong patch and Parker patch on one of my gis.

    In Monroeville, Don Garon, Kevin Pegnato, and Ralph Vaclavik did much of the teaching, after Juan Muratti returned to New Jersey. Don was very active in sparring in the Mid-West. Billy BLanks was about the only mountain too tall to climb. I was Don's first instructor, but now, when I want to learn something I go to him. He trains with Chai for thai kickboxing and Eric Paulsen for ground work, but considers Inosanto his main instructor.

    Mike Donovan ended up taking in a business partner that had no martial arts background and finally decided to emigrate to Canada".

    --Dr McLaughlin is an expert on use of force and investigations into violent crime. Although I did not receive my private lessons from Vance or John Anderson, they did lead me in group class work outs. The emphasis was always on strong basics and sparring.

    Dr McLaughlin's web site is www.subjectcontrolsolutions.com.

    Jim Hanna

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Juan Muratti was my first teacher at a tracy school in camden NJ way back,sorry about jumping in here,(i live in NJ) just saw the name and had to drop in.
    " Resolve to be tender with the young,compassionate with the aged,sympathetic with the striving,tolerant with the weak and wrong..... Because sometime in your life you will have been all of these"

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by ackks10 View Post
    Juan Muratti was my first teacher at a tracy school in camden NJ way back,sorry about jumping in here,(i live in NJ) just saw the name and had to drop in.

    Mike and Juan were my two instructors.

    Juan was an outstanding martial artist. He planted several seeds in my mind that went over my head at the time. He also had a black belt in go ju and had trained with Peter Urban and his guys. He also trained in a chinese martial art with a Chinese gentleman named "Bill". Bill was a TV repairman. Those lessons influenced his kenpo and therefore also influenced mine.

    Juan taught me Bookset and he taught me a "seizing hand" method that he had learned from Bill. This was in place of the traditional retreating smother blocks in the form.

    I did not see anyone else teach that seizing hand method until 1999 at the GOE1. Sifu Ibrao taught almost the exact method, but in the additional sections that I had not previously learned. I always wondered how "Bill" knew about those seizing hands.

    Jim

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanna View Post
    Mike and Juan were my two instructors.

    Juan was an outstanding martial artist. He planted several seeds in my mind that went over my head at the time. He also had a black belt in go ju and had trained with Peter Urban and his guys. He also trained in a chinese martial art with a Chinese gentleman named "Bill". Bill was a TV repairman. Those lessons influenced his kenpo and therefore also influenced mine.

    Juan taught me Bookset and he taught me a "seizing hand" method that he had learned from Bill. This was in place of the traditional retreating smother blocks in the form.

    I did not see anyone else teach that seizing hand method until 1999 at the GOE1. Sifu Ibrao taught almost the exact method, but in the additional sections that I had not previously learned. I always wondered how "Bill" knew about those seizing hands.

    Jim

    wow!! Peter Urban use to live in the next town from me, i use to go over his place and we would talk about goju, and all the NY boys from back in the day, btw the man bill that taught Juan, his last name was young, he had a school in a town called woodlynne NJ back in the 70's, i also got to be friends, with him (a great man),hey Jim,small would.
    " Resolve to be tender with the young,compassionate with the aged,sympathetic with the striving,tolerant with the weak and wrong..... Because sometime in your life you will have been all of these"

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Hi this is Juan, heh everybody out there! Been thinking about the old times and all you young studs and wondering what became of you. Good to hear that everyone is doing well and still in martial arts. I still stay pretty active and in good shape. I have also been wondering about the whereabouts of Mike Donovan. My email is juanmuratti@yahoo.com.

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Muratti View Post
    Hi this is Juan, heh everybody out there! Been thinking about the old times and all you young studs and wondering what became of you. Good to hear that everyone is doing well and still in martial arts. I still stay pretty active and in good shape. I have also been wondering about the whereabouts of Mike Donovan. My email is juanmuratti@yahoo.com.
    Mike Donovan teaches in London, ON. He owns and operates Olympic Karate.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Muratti View Post
    Hi this is Juan, heh everybody out there! Been thinking about the old times and all you young studs and wondering what became of you. Good to hear that everyone is doing well and still in martial arts. I still stay pretty active and in good shape. I have also been wondering about the whereabouts of Mike Donovan. My email is juanmuratti@yahoo.com.
    Hi Juan,

    Good to see your post. I was out of town for a few days again. If you do a google search for Mike Donovan Kenpo you will probably locate his web page. I'm sending you an e mail.

    Jim

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    Default Re: History of Kenpo in Pittsburgh PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanna View Post
    Dr Vance Mclaughlin just recently came across this thread and e mailed me with the following information that I thought might be interesting to post:

    "Mike Donovan came from New Jersey and was affiliated with Tracy's. He set up some schools and then broke away from the franchise and renamed the schools Olympic Karate. John Anderson and I were in the South Hills school. John had gotten his 3rd dan in Okinawa and was one of the premier kata men in the United States. I had returned to Pittsburgh after some intense training with jerry piddington (one of Mike Stone's top black belts) and Chris Armstrong. Chris was go-ju but was awarded a black belt by Parker. Parker used to do this when he found someone really good from other systems. I still have an Armstrong patch and Parker patch on one of my gis.

    In Monroeville, Don Garon, Kevin Pegnato, and Ralph Vaclavik did much of the teaching, after Juan Muratti returned to New Jersey. Don was very active in sparring in the Mid-West. Billy BLanks was about the only mountain too tall to climb. I was Don's first instructor, but now, when I want to learn something I go to him. He trains with Chai for thai kickboxing and Eric Paulsen for ground work, but considers Inosanto his main instructor.

    Mike Donovan ended up taking in a business partner that had no martial arts background and finally decided to emigrate to Canada".

    --Dr McLaughlin is an expert on use of force and investigations into violent crime. Although I did not receive my private lessons from Vance or John Anderson, they did lead me in group class work outs. The emphasis was always on strong basics and sparring.

    Dr McLaughlin's web site is www.subjectcontrolsolutions.com.

    Jim Hanna
    Hello,
    I happened to stumble across this forum while searching kenpo in Pittsburgh. I have been training in my own little world and didnt know there was a kenpo forum or a kenpo community in Pittsburgh. I am a second degree black belt under John Anderson. I trained with him up until he closed his school (Pennsylvania Karate Dojo) in Penn Hills. I have been operating my own small school in Homestead Pa. for the last year and a half. I have recently created a website for the school www.rivermartialarts.com. I would like to talk with anyone in pittsburgh that might have an interest in kata training, either advanced openhand or weapons (especially the bo). I also am looking for any photos or video of either seikichi odo or Mr. Anderson.

    matt

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