One of my Tang Soo Do instructors posted a sad notice on Facebook a few days ago announcing that Dr. John Larlee, 10th dan Soke of Beikoku Mizu Ryu JuJitsu, had passed away at the age of 83. I never had the privilege of meeting Soke Larlee but something about the post caught my attention. It seems Soke Larlee was a remarkable man; instructor, Grand Master in Jujitsu, Master in Kodokan Judo and Shotokan Karate. He was also a notable past champion competitor in Connecticut and New England.
Soke Larlee was part of the first generation of martial artists to bring the martial arts to the United States after encountering them overseas while in the military. The American martial arts community largely owes its existence to men like him, some of whom have already passed on leaving their legacy to their students and successors.
Active in the martial arts community until the very end, Soke Larlee was a member of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council, a prestigious and very exclusive organization of 9th and 10th degree black belts internationally recognized as Masters and Grand Masters. The photos and biography pictured on this page are from the WHFSC Grandmasters Council 2011 Compendium.
“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.”
Requiscat in Pace, Soke.