Family tree

Because I’m that sort of person, I started looking into where my karate training is coming from.

“Karate”, by the way, is maybe not the best term for what I’m doing; as I understand it, what our dojo teaches has a fair amount of other martial arts mixed in. But we still call it “karate”.

The senseis at our dojo are Jason Nolan and Jon Bidwell, whose elevation just this year to sensei is too recent for him to have a bio up on the Lavallee school’s web site. Nolan grew up in Liverpool, site of the oldest Lavallee’s dojo, where he learned from Steve Lavallee beginning in 3rd or 4th grade. (I don’t know who Bidwell got his black belt from.)

As it says on the school’s web site, Lavallee has studied with a number of teachers including Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and boxing coach Ray Rinaldi, but his initial karate training was with Lee Thompson, who (it says here) owned the Tracy’s Karate school in Liverpool that Lavallee bought to start his school. And here, as generally happens if you follow a family tree back far enough, we can link up with a family tree someone else has already done; at least, I’m assuming this Lee Thompson is the same as the one shown here as a student of Al and Jim Tracy.

Following back from there, the Tracys trained with Ed Parker. Parker learned from William Chow. Chow studied with Thomas Young and Young’s teacher, James Mitose. Before that, Wikipedia says the trail goes cold, but here it is claimed he learned from his grandfather, Sukuhei Yoshida, who was trained by his father, Jiroku Yoshida.

Updated 15 May 2008: I made the Nolan – Lavallee connection definite, having asked Nolan about it.


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