Carter Hargrave a native Oklahoman has had an extensive martial arts career. His training started early at age seven under the instruction of Goju Ryu Karate Master Lou Angel while he lived at his north Tulsa residence in the late sixties. While he still had a deep interest in the arts he found at this age he just was not ready for the rigors of long term training. He vowed to some day return. This return came when he was in high school in Texas where he had friends who were active in the martial arts. Hargrave continued with his interest in martial arts upon his return to Oklahoma in the late seventies.
In Tulsa Carter Hargrave was an assistant instructor at the Oklahoma Karate Academy where he learned and taught Tae Kwon Do and a form of Korean Ju Jitsu known as Kuk Sool. It was at this school that one day a student of the Bruce Lee School in California showed up to speak with the chief instructors of the School. During that meeting Hargrave approached the visiting instructor and expressed an interest in the teachings of Lee, and thought that would be the end of it. A few weeks later a parent of one of the Kuk Sool students that Hargrave taught invited him to his home to meet someone. That someone was the same Bruce Lee School teacher. Immediately upon his arrival the instructor asked Hargrave â€œI hear you are pretty good at Tae Kwon Do and Kuk Sool, so lets see what you’ve gotâ€ meaning lets spar. As Hargrave kicked and punched and moved about he did not really notice that he was not coming even close to striking the instructor of Bruce Leeâ€™s art known as Jeet Kune Do.
After a few minutes of this the JKD instructor said â€œOk now are you ready to spar?â€ Hargrave remembers saying â€œI thought we were sparringâ€ and the reply he received was â€œNo, now we are sparringâ€ as he threw Hargrave to the ground over and over without effort it seemed. He then asked Hargrave what he thought of the art he had been teaching for the last two years. â€œ I remember feeling at the time like I was completely unarmed, and felt a sinking sadness like I had wasted my time with my other training to be thrashed so easilyâ€, said Hargrave. The Lee School instructor then asked if he would like to be trained in the new style to be one of his new instructors.
Over the next two and a half years Hargrave would train and teach in the several styles of martial arts at the same time, Jeet Kune Do, Kempo Karate, Ju Jitsu and Gung Fu (Kung Fu). It was a very hard time in his personal and professional life. Hargrave was a Mr. Mom during the days taking care of two wonderful daughters and at night doing his training and teaching at his private sanctioned studio. The hours were rough and the training was even more so. The creature comforts that most students know at commercial martial arts facilities were a distant memory. The training was grueling with no air conditioning in the summer usually working in the hot sun wearing the customary black combat attire and the winters were well winter. â€œThe really fun part was that everyone was bigger than me so I had to pay constant attention or get my head handed to me, and sometimes you just got your head handed to you anyway.â€ â€œI am glad I went through the training though, it made me very hardened mentally in a way you dont find at most of todays schools. It was an instructor training school, not a student school.â€ â€œRegular students stayed for one class and they were gone.â€ â€œI could teach this hardened manor but I would go broke.â€ No one wants to put up with that much painâ€ â€œIt was a joy fighting someone who outweighs you by one hundred poundsâ€, says Hargrave jokingly. â€œYou gotta really want it badâ€.
After the years and years of training Hargraveâ€™s belts started turning black. He now holds seven in all. Tae Kwon Do (meaning way of punching and kicking) First Dan Black, Goshin Jutsu (Traditional Self Defense) Third Dan Black, Ju Jitsu (Gentle Art) Eighth Dan Black, Kempo (Fist Law) Tenth Dan Black, Kung Fu (Skilled Man) Eight Degree Black Sash, Arnis (Stick and Knife Fighting) Guro. In 1992 Hargrave founded the martial art style known as American Combat Kempo (Has also bee referred to as Combat Martial Arts in reference to the name of Hargraveâ€™s first school). American Combat Kempo has been formally recognized as a system through numerous organizations worldwide, and many of its techniques were copied for US Marines training center program. Hargrave is known as Soke or founder of ACK and has the tile of Grandmaster. He is also Grandmaster in two other styles, Kung Fu and Ju Jitsu.
Also in 1992 Hargrave formed the World Jeet Kune Do Federation to organize and disseminate the teachings of Bruce Lee and to help bring students and teachers together in cooperation and good will. He then formed the World Kempo Association to help further combat aspects of the art worldwide.
Carter Hargrave is the author of three martial arts books. â€œJapanese Kempo Karate Manualâ€, which is the outlined system of American Combat Kempo, â€œJapanese Kempo Karate Entrance To Secrets Manualâ€ for advanced training, and â€œThe Original Jeet Kune Do Training Manualâ€ for the Bruce Lee style. While all have been very successful, the Original Jeet Kune Do Training Manual is an international best seller. In 1995 Hargrave was the youngest person to be promoted to Professor of martial arts and he received the Instructor of the Year award for his teaching in Karate. In 1996 he received the award for Best Martial Arts School in the United States, and was recognized by U.S. Congress and the United States Senate for this achievement. In his spare time he volunteers teaching medical missionaries who go to hostile countries to administer emergency life services.
The martial arts has not been as easy path says Hargrave referring to his detractors who say â€œa man would have to be a thousand years old to accomplish all he has done and achieve such high ranksâ€ he sighs and proclaims â€œI am a full time martial artist, that is my job not a hobby or part time endeavor, and I hold myself to a higher standard than most that has allowed me to excel unlike the 99% of those who start the martial arts and never attain the coveted black belt.â€ â€œTalk is cheap, and in this world it is unfortunately common to tear down others to make up for our lack of achievements. I say be persistent and tenacious and be the one on top who takes the heat. It is a sad thing, and a wasted life to go through your life and not be able to do one thing really well, think about that for awhile. Dont be that person. Find something anything and master it! You are never too old or to out of shape to start, just make it happen.â€
Carter Hargrave teaches at his private school in Tulsa Oklahoma www.realkarate.com www.carterhargrave.com