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The PKA Karate Academy is a proud member of the Larry Tatum Kenpo Karate Association (LTKKA).

Grand Master Larry Tatum Bio

Larry Tatum began his study of Kenpo Karate in Pasadena, California in 1966, and has become one of this style’s most prominent figures. Recognized for his captivating seminars and articulate explanations of his art. Tatum enjoys a reputation as a gifted instructor and “teacher of Black Belts.” His forte is helping others reach their maximum potential through Kenpo karate. In 1984, he was named “Instructor of the Year” by Inside Kung Fu magazine.

His many students include celebrities and their offspring. He has personally worked with Sidney and Joanna Poitier, Gary Collins, Julie Haggarty, writer Joe Hyams and Nancy Cartwright. He has trained the children and grandchildren of such notables as Ed Byrnes, George Peppard, Ann Archer, Tommy Smothers, Patty Duke Austin Grier and composer Henry Mancini.

In 1988, Panther Productions asked Larry to create 23 videos on the art of Kenpo, entitled When Kenpo Strikes. These videos encompass all the basics, freestyle, katas, concepts, and principles of the Kenpo system. In 1993, Larry produced another comprehensive series of 21 videotapes entitled Kenpo Self-Defense Techniques. These definitive videos represent a virtual technical encyclopedia of the Kenpo system. In them, Larry personally demonstrates each and every self-defense technique from yellow belt through 3rd-degree black belt. Larry has written two books, Confidence, A Child’s First Weapon, and The Art of Competition Kata. Today Larry Tatum is a 10th Degree Black Belt and is considered one of the foremost authorities on American Kenpo Karate. His teaching has spanned over 40 years. He is one of the most sought-after teachers on the seminar circuit today and, as such, his time is spent giving seminars and demonstrations throughout the world as well as teaching at his Headquarters School located in Pasadena, California. He has founded the Larry Tatum Kenpo Karate Association which boasts thousands of members worldwide. Teaching children has always been a specialty at Larry Tatum’s Kenpo Karate schools. Children, as well as adults, are taught to walk away from a fight. But if they have no other choice, they know they can defend themselves -THIS IS CONFIDENCE-. This confidence is carried with them into their school work and daily lives.

Master Larry Tatum is the official spokesperson and co-founder for “Children at Risk”, a non-profit organization. He is also a Television and movie Technical Consultant and Fight Choreograph

Qualities and Characteristics of Rank by Larry G. Tatum

1st Degree Black Belt through 10th Degree Black Belt


First Degree Black Belt

A first-degree black belt (junior instructor) has achieved a certain level of physical expertise. Understanding the concepts and principles of motion, he has become a formidable fighter defensively and offensively. However, his skills outstrip his ability to communicate and teach, so teaching is essential to any further progress.


Second Degree Black Belt

For the second-degree black belt (associate instructor), the ability to teach has begun to reinforce newfound skills. He has discovered that “to teach is to learn,” and this is accomplished by a re-evaluation of past mistakes and bad habits. A new sense of responsibility appears, and he must begin to cultivate an image of authority within the school.


Third Degree Black Belt

At third degree (senior instructor), the black belt finds that first and second-degree black belt looks to him for guidance and direction in the execution of techniques. He now has the authority within the school environment to organize a curriculum, express policy and set up tests.


Fourth Degree Black Belt

A fourth-degree black belt (head instructor), the black belt acquires the privilege of overriding others within the school after careful discussion, as well as a more mature ability to communicate that allows teaching first, second and third-degree black belts. Together with these responsibilities, the fourth-degree black belt assists the master instructor in seminars, demonstration and other public functions at which the school and the art are represented. His physical expertise should be noticeably above that of more junior black belts, particularly in terms of speed, power, and timing.


Fifth Degree Black Belt

The fifth-degree black belt (associate professor), has reached the level at which he begins to teach the art beyond the realm of the school. Although the school curriculum has been carefully spelled out, he is no longer bound by it and has acquired the ability to tailor it to fit individual student needs. At fifth degree, in short, the black belt now moves on to a broader base of responsibility.


Sixth Degree Black Belt

The sixth-degree black belt (professor) has now reached a level at which he can not only teach the art but also begin to positively formulate its concepts and principles outside his school. As a result, caution becomes imperative. He has advanced to a critical point in his art, and it is at this point that his accumulation of time in grade becomes his defense against teaching what he cannot later retract.


Seventh Degree Black Belt

A seventh-degree black belt (senior professor), a noticeable change takes place in the black belt’s understanding of his art. He becomes capable of ascertaining the problems that lie within the teaching of the curriculum. Working from a broader base and beginning to teach locally, nationally and internationally what was once taught mainly at home, he now recognizes that his former ways may not work abroad and must be tailored to particular minds, cultures, and agendas. He has realized that while the language of the art remains the same, the varied applications of that language must be fitted to the environment. In brief, a seventh degree that goes out to teach in the world must have learned to tailor his teachings to the place and the people.


Eighth Degree Black Belt

At eighth-degree black belt (associate master), the black belt’s concerns shift to exploring areas of physical mastership that were not visible to him in the past. His art eventually begins to expand physically and mentally, so much so that a definite physical change becomes evident, expressing the fact that he has begun to settle into a physical mastery. Thus, movements are less contrived because they are in the process of becoming embodied within him.


Ninth Degree Black Belt

A ninth-degree black belt (master of the arts), the black belt has reached a level where, at any given moment, he can choreograph a technique by reaching a “super-conscious” level. No longer separate from the art he has internalized, he has, at last, embodied it and become an element of it. What he teaches and what he physically embodies are indivisible. His contributions to the martial arts inside and outside the community are many, and his rank is backed by at least 25 years of sacrifice and service.


Tenth Degree Black Belt

Tenth-degree black belt (senior master of the arts) represent a lifelong endeavor to help all humankind. The rank is so respected by peers and students that the person’s word affects the course of the art.


(The titles for the 10 ranks of black belt and the basic ideas of the differences between them came from Ed Parker. I have added a few needed definitions and explanations and provided interpretations.) – Larry G. Tatum

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