Lineage is a topic often talked about in Martial Arts circles. Now beyond knowing my own training roots and my own interest in family genealogy, how viable your Martial Art is, based on lineage will be a topic I would like to avoid. Now with that out of the way, I would like to talk about my roots. I have touched on this topic before. Here I would like to be a little less verbose on the subject. I am also consolidating some basic history on Iannuzzo’s Black Belt Academy and Lavallee’s here.
I started training in 1983. Mr. Rick Iannuzzo gave me my first lesson. I have trained with him ever since. This is an honor for me. Mr. Iannuzzo laid the foundation the Lavallee’s organization was built on. Most of the current major players in that organization were trained by Mr. Iannuzzo. Shihan Jim Andrello, Shihan Jeff Sgarlata, Master Theron Feidt, Sensie Frank Scaccia, and others were trained by Mr. Iannuzzo. All these Martial Artists trained by Mr. Iannuzzo are talented and have achieved much on their own. Much of that success can be traced back to the solid foundation of training they received from Mr. I.
Here is a list of the Early Black Belts Who tested under Steve Lavallee:
1. Bill Stanley**
2. Rick Iannuzzo**
3. John Vanelli**
4. Jeff Iannuzzo**
5. Scott Ogata
6. Jeff Snoggles
7. Rob Vanelli
** Tested by Mr. Lavallee but where promoted through their kyu ranks under Lee Thompson.
There is a list of Black Belts awarded under the Lavallee’s organization here at this link:
I tested on the third “Large test” Dec. 3rd 1988. The list has me at number 55. Prior to the April test of 1988 the tests were small having 1-5 people. Prior to the August 1985 test Black Belts were tested and promoted one at a time. I am not sure exactly when the organization started Black Belt Spectaculars if anyone knows that feel free to let me know.
One other major player in my own training and also a contributor to the early success of Lavallee’s was Rob Vanelli. Mr. Vanelli was instrumental in my becoming the first official S.W.A.T. member.
I also had many others that helped along the way too. Jim Andrello was a great influence for my sparring. Jeff Bertolo was a great help for me. Pat DiDomenico was also a Black Belt instructor I admired. His brother Tony and I tested together for our Black Belts. I could go on much further about the influence of instructors and fellow students I have had the good fortune to train with, but let me say thank you to all and they know who they are.
I worked as a Staff instructor from about mid 1989 to early 1990. In 1991 shortly after Mr. Iannuzzo started his school I started training at Iannuzzo’s Black Belt Academy. Around 1994 or so I took some time off from official training to go back to college. I started back around 1998 and earned my 2nd Degree from Mr. Iannuzzo in Dec. 2000. Shortly after that I began a new career that had working hours that conflicted with any training times offered. After a promotion with better hours and after hearing of Mr. Jeff Iannuzzo’s passing in June of 2007 I started back with formal training at Iannuzzo’s Black Belt Academy. During all of my breaks from formal training I still trained on my own. I would do all my Katas everyday just to stay somewhat in shape.
My current training is with Mr. Robert De Simone, the head instructor of Iannuzzo’s Black Belt Academy. “Mr. D” was actually a student when I was a staff instructor. Now he is a 5th degree Black Belt and one of the most talented Martial Artists I have ever known. It is an honor to train with him. Since returning to training in 2007 I have learned an entirely new system of kyu rank Katas created by Mr. I. I am now learning more of that system with two new Nunchuck Kata’s and a new Coma Kata. I also have a traditional Tracy’s bo/staff form and Chinese Sword form to learn for my 3rd degree.
As I have stated before I am on the path to earn my 3rd Degree Black Belt. I can say I truly believe I am receiving the best training in the Martial Arts available anywhere in the Greater Syracuse NY area. I would also say I have the honor of being trained at one the highest quality schools available anywhere.