| My History
The following is a brief history of myself and the LACERTE'S KENPO KARATE ACADEMY. My name is Leo R. Lacerte, born October 4, 1948 in Acushnet, Ma., I am a Lieutenant (Supervisor) for Burns Security and I work for the Titleist Corp. here in Mass. I have approximately 45 men under my command. I currently hold a 5th Degree Black Belt in the Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate. I am the Associate Professor and owner of this academy which is a Kenpo 2000 studio.
In the Beginning
I began my training in the martial arts in 1964. It began when I was only a teenager and I use to attend the North End Guild (a boys club), I use to watch the older boys practice Jujitsu in the gym and when these boys would leave the area I would get a couple of my friends and go practice these moves with them. I also use to go to different Dojos in the city of New Bedford (there were only two at the time) and watch classes. I would then go home afterwards and again practice these moves with a couple of friends. My next step was to begin purchasing books on Karate and then study from them. Although I never obtained legitimate rank, I had never-the-less began my Basics in the Martial Arts.
U.S. Army Training
My first real training in a school began when I was in the Army stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. in 68', this was the art of Isshin Ryu (Okinawan Style Karate), and then in Viet Nam I studied with a retired Korean ROC Officer whom used to work in the P.X. on base.
After receiving a Honorable Discharge from the Army in 1970 my hunger for the martial arts continued and I started up my first school which was in a cellar back in New Bedford. At this time the school had no name and I had roughly ten students in which I used to teach for free. The classes were very "military" like with a long run before and after class and with many push-ups on the palms, knuckles and fingertips along with many other calisthenics. The class would then go on to basics, techniques, forms and end with sparring. These classes would sometimes go on for hours and hours and there were no such thing as sparring gear in those days and contact seemed to be a normal thing.
Because my knowledge was limited, in 1972 I sought out another school and began my training with Charlie Marciarelli in Kachi Kenpo. The 1970's was the time in which Kung Fu became the art to learn, so I left this school and began my training with Sifu Steven Monty which taught Wu Lum Gung Fu. This time I made a deal with Sifu Monty which would become a trait that I would do again and again in the future. I asked Sifu Monty that if I was to let him utilize my school of he would teach me his art. After agreeing to do so, I trained with him for three years. At that time Sifu Monty merged his training with my second Gung Fu instructor Sifu Chris Veira, which taught Chun Lum Pai Gung Fu. I went on to train under both instructors for approx. another three years in which I received my First Level of Achievement Certificate in these arts.
The Wu Chun Institute
During these years my instructors allowed me to teach the art of Gung Fu and it was during this time I gave the school it's first name-The Wu Chun Institute was formed. I gave this title because of the two arts in which I was teaching at the time, Wu Lum and Chun Lum Pai Gung Fu and kept this name up until the time of my training with Ed Parker. If you notice the autographed picture of Ed Parker in our studio you will notice that it is made out to the Wu Chun Institute. In those days we use to put an Ad in the Standard Times Newspaper asking for six good men who are not afraid to go through rigorous training to achieve rank in the art. One of those persons who answered the ad was Joseph Rebelo II, of "Martial Arts Today" TV Fame. I issued only one black sash at this time to Jeorge Vega.
Chinese Kenpo Karate
After both of my previous instructors left my school, I once again needed more knowledge in the Martial Arts. In 1979 I sought out Mr. James Gagnon, a 2nd Degree Black belt in the art of Chinese Kenpo Karate and again made a pact with him that if he would teach me his art I would give him the use of my school to teach. I then trained under Mr. Gagnon for 4 years in this art and received my First Degree Black Belt on January 16, 1983, along with Joseph Rebelo II and Ronald Vallare. We were the only three to receive black belts under him at the Wu Chun Institute. The Wu Chun Institute was the first I.K.K.A. Studio to teach Ed Parker's American Kenpo in the New Bedford area as well as the South Eastern part of Ma., and I was the first instructor to do so.
Senior Grand Master Edmund K. Parker
In 1982 while still training with Mr. Gagnon I felt there were to many unanswered questions pertaining to the art of Kenpo Karate, so I began to correspond with the late great Senior Grand Master-Ed Parker. To my suprise Mr. Parker answered all my letters and I immediately chartered my school/myself under the I.K.K.A. the International Kenpo Karate Association. I remained a true believer and member of this association for eleven years (11 years after Mr. Parker's untimely death on December 15, 1990). In 1984 I was asked to attend the first New England I.K.K.A. meeting in Revere, Mass.. At this time there were only approx. 6 I.K.K.A. schools/instructors at this meeting. It was at the meeting that I met my first American Kenpo Karate instructors, Tony and Doreen Cogliandro. I began my training with my brother-in-law, Charles Baroody (1st Degree Brown Belt) in 1984. We would travel to Revere, Ma. and take a night class for brown and black belts at 9pm and there were many of times we did not return home until 1am and still go to work the same day. After their divorce in the latter of the 80's , I would travel to Saugus, Ma., in the mornings to train under Tony Cogliandro, then after Mr. Parker's death in 1990, and when Tony left the I.K.K.A to join the W.K.K.A (the World Kenpo Karate Association). I would travel to train with Doreen Cogliandro's school in Revere, Ma.. It was at this time (1990) that I had called Mrs. Margerit Lalaini Parker (Mr. Ed Parker's wife) and stated that Doreen would be a good candidate for the New England Representative for the I.K.K.A., in which she was chosen. In this time period with both Tony and Doreen, I received my 2nd Degree Black Belt under the Cogliandro's and Mr. Parker in Farmington, CT., on August 16, 1987. Four years after, I received my 3rd Degree Black Belt in Revere, Ma. on November 15, 1991, under Doreen Cogliandro and Frank Trejo (a 7th Degree 1st generation Black Belt under Mr. Parker).
The Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy
After my parents had moved from 16 Hicks street, the Wu Chun Institute was no longer. In Feb. 1990 I moved to 342 Hathaway Blvd. Unit 32, and when buying this place I had already had in mind another cellar school. At first the school was listed under the I.K.K.A. as the New Bedford Kenpo Karate Academy, it was one of my students father, Richard Soares, that stated that I should name the studio under my own name (due to other Kenpo schools now in the area), since that time the school has been named "Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy". From the time of my beginning with American Kenpo to the time of this writing there has been only four people to receive their black belts under myself and my school - Lance Soares received his 1st and 2nd Degree Black belt under my teaching with the I.K.K.A - Richard Medeiros received his 1st and 2nd Degree Black belt under my teachings with the Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy and his rank is listed with the A.K.K.S (American Kenpo Karate Systems) and Rosemary Mediros (my first female black belt) received her 1st Degree Black belt under my teachings with the Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy and her rank is also listed under the A.K.K.S. - Matthew Cudish, my nephew received his 1st Degree Black belt under my teachings with the Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy.
Work-Shops and Seminars
Since the beginning of my training in the art of American Kenpo Karate I have done much traveling in order to gain new knowledge. When Master Parker was alive I would travel to attend seminars and 3 day work-shops all over the United States. I have been to such places as Pikesville Md., Chicago Ill., Long Beach Ca., Manchester NH., New York, Farmington Ct., and all over the states of Ma., and RI., to train under Mr. Parker. I have also traveled to train under many of Mr. Parker's First Generation Black Belts, such as Richard Planas, Joe Palanzo, Lee Wedlake, Jeff Speakman and Frank Trejo. It was under their training in which I received many of the forms, sets and techniques extensions of American Kenpo.
Achievements in the Art
Although my achievements in Kenpo are but a few, and I do not wish to boast, the following are put to paper so that my students may see where the art of Kenpo can take them. I have given many demonstrations to the Cub/Boy Scouts of America, in memory of Master Parker's death, who was a devout Mormon. I gave a free 8 week self defense course at the Dartmouth Ward Mormon Church located in Dartmouth, Ma. I have been in the second and third editions of Who's Who in the Martial Arts magazine. I have received a trophy for student of the year under my instructor James Gagnon, I have also received plaques for my dedication to American Kenpo and sharing it with people from Joseph Rebelo II at his tournament, Lance Soares at his seminar with Lee Wedlake, and my students here at the academy. My name and picture have appeared in the News/Times section of such magazines as Black Belt and Inside Kung Fu. In 1989 at the I.K.C. (the International Karate Championships held in Long Beach Ca.) I not only participated in, but also sponsored the division I entered in. I have also written manuals - yellow belt through 2nd Degree Black and produced a journal - white belt through 1st Degree Black. My greatest achievement come from my rank in the art and the point I can still teach and learn from this art-Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate.
While attending a 3 day work-shop in 1988 at Pikesville, Md. under Master Parker and Joe Palonzo, and while talking with him he asked me if I had ever heard of one of his students, Skip Hancock. He stated that if I should ever have the chance that I should look this man up that "Skip is a real sharp kid". He stated that when Skip's students are at tournaments that they would call out to Mr. Parker and say "I'm going to beat this guy using the technique Sword and Hammer" (example), they would then go on to defeat their opponent by utilizing that technique. Well, eight years later and six after Master Parker's untimely death, I was in limbo with no instructor. Ironically in 1996 I was sent a flyer in the mail stating that Skip Hancock was having a seminar in Woonsocket, R.I., I attended this seminar and told Skip about my meeting with Mr. Parker, he was not only very friendly person but a great instructor and after leaving this seminar I began to think that this man should be my next and hopefully my last instructor in Ed Parker's American Kenpo. Approximately one month later I called and asked Skip if he would be interested in accepting me as a student, when he said he would be honored to do so I was and still am honored to call him my instructor. What impressed me the most about Skip is that he approached me at the first seminar he held in R.I., and told me that he knew that I only had a small school held in a cellar, but he would be willing to teach me there, he stated that "he liked mine and my students attitudes" and that he was willing to teach us Kenpo anywhere as long as we were willing to learn the art. Skip also liked the fact that I was willing to begin at the beginning again, to make sure I had my Kenpo right. He stated that most Black Belts wanted him as an instructor so that they could learn more forms and extensions. Since this time Skip has been true to his word, and has taught me private lessons in my cellar studio, as well as give seminars in New Bedford and surrounding towns, at some of my students commercial studios (Lance Soares and Joeseph Rebelo II). Since I began my training under Skip, my school has become a Kenpo 2000 Studio, and is still named the Lacerte's Kenpo Karate Academy.