Master James P. LaRocco started his Isshinryu training in Cleveland, Ohio under Master Harry Acklin in 1963. By January 1964, when he entered the U.S. Army National Guard, training with the Officers and men of the 107th Armored Cavalry, he had attained the rank of brown belt. He always wore his unit’s patch on his karate uniform. After basic training, he resumed karate training and reached the rank of Sho-Dan on March 17, 1964. On March 17, 2014, to commemorate his Golden Anniversary, he promoted his last black belt.
Jim LaRocco started the first ever Isshinryu Karate Club at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. In 1990, when Master Harry Acklin retired from teaching, he became a direct student of Grand Master AngiUezu, receiving his 8th Dan from Grand Master Uezu in May 1997 and his 9th Danon January 5, 2008.
In the summer of 1973, he was voted one of the Top Ten Karate Fighters in the Midwest. In Kata and Kumite competition, Jim won over 280 trophies for his tournament expertise. His accomplishments earned his induction into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame in 1989. He was the Southeastern Representative for the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame, commissioned to conduct the induction ceremony for new members. He was on the Board of Directors for the OIKKA Hall of Fame and the South East Director of the OIKKA (based in Okinawa).
Master LaRocco was recognized in Okinawa as one of Isshinryu’s top instructors. He received the Pioneer award in 2008, the Grand Master of the Year Award in 2010, and was a member of the International Isshinryu Karate Association Hall of Fame.
Master LaRocco served on the Board of Directors of the OKU, and also served on the IIKA Hall of Fame Board of Directors in 1993-1994. Hewas the president of the UBKA (United Budo Karate Association), which was sanctioned in Okinawa by Grand Master Angi Uezu, and was inducted into the Living Legends Hall of Fame in 2005. In his 50 plus years of Isshinryu Karate, he ran schools or clubs in Ohio and Arizona, and had affiliate schools in Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Tennessee.
Master Jim LaRocco leaves a legacy of a true martial arts competitor and teacher. He taught The Way of the Warrior and the Way of the Peacemaker.