Grove resident Albert “Lee” Lawrence recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Black Belt System Karate Association.
Lawrence, who was appointed as the Oklahoma State Director for the International Martial Arts Council of America on December 12th, 2007, has lived in Grove for about 15 years. He has studied and taught martial arts for most of his life and has been practicing for about 48 years.
Some of his students now teach at Locust Grove, Claremore, and Broken Arrow.
He still helps out once in a while, he said.
“When they get confused, they call the ‘old man’ in to straighten them out,” he said.
Lawrence was also inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as “Most Distinguished Grand Master” on August 4th of 2007.
“When I got the letter you could’ve knocked me over with a feather,” Lawrence said.
“I was first introduced to martial arts when I joined the Marines in 1953,” he explained, adding that he fought in the Korean war.
He trained directly under Ed Parker of the American Kenpo System.
Kenpo Karate was once known as the Ed Parker system because many of the Kenpo instructors trained directly under Parker. The founder of Kenpo Karate was Parker’s instructor, Professor William (Willie) K. S. Chow, who began calling his system "Kenpo Karate" in 1949. Chow trained in "Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu" under Great Grand Master James Mitose who had learned the Kenpo art in Japan from his grandfather Sakuhi Yoshida
Kenpo Karate is the oldest style of Kenpo being taught in the United States. Parker dropped "Karate" from the name of his system in 1962, even though he continued to issue belt certificates under the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA).
In addition, Lawrence trained under Grandmaster Tino of the Lima Lama System. He was promoted to 7th Dan and has been named a Grandmaster in his own right.
Lawrence also holds a 10th Dan Certification in Hawaiian Kosho Ryu Kenp Juijutsu from Sam Lonewolf.
The Dan rank system is a Japanese mark of level, which is used in traditional fine arts and martial arts.