Here is the history of Liverpool Martial Arts known as LaVallee’s Sport Karate Studio, now as Steve LaVallee’s East Coast Karate.
Lee Thompson owned the studio and decided to sell it to Steve Cravic. I think the year was 1974. LaVallee was upset that Thompson didn’t sell it to him so he left and moved to California. A student named John Vanelli kept calling him and asked him to come back; the school needed him. He came back and bought the school from Cravic. LaVallee’s older brother George worked for a bank and told him it was a very bad investment. The school was in debt. Working many side jobs and teaching karate, LaVallee was determined to make it work. He even picked up a job as a repo man.
The school and LaVallee were very successful on the karate circuit. The problem; people didn’t realize Liverpool Martial Arts was Steve LaVallee. He changed the name to LaVallee’s Sport Karate Studio.
The original students were taught one private lesson and two group classes per week. Instructors would teach the private lessons and then LaVallee would teach the group classes. This was possible because the studio only had about 50 students! As the studio grew, the teaching style would later change to what we have now.
At the time, black belt exams were all done on a one to one test. The order of black belts are as followed:
1. Bill Stanley
2. Rick Iannuzzo
3. John Vanelli
4. Jeff Iannuzzo
5. Scott Ogata
6. Jeff Snoggles
7. Rob Vanelli
*Bill Stanley came up under Thompson’s rein, but LaVallee tested him when he took over the studio. The remaining black belts were all taught directly under LaVallee.
My stories as I remember them during my journey in the Martial Arts