The Tracy's Karate Organization has its origins with a man
named William Chow. Chow lived in Hawaii in the early to mid
1900's and began teaching Chinese Kenpo there. This system
of Martial Arts caught the interest of a young American named
Ed Parker, who is primarily credited with bringing Chinese
Kenpo to the continental 48 states in the early to mid 1950's.
Ed Parker introduced Al & Jim Tracy to Chinese Kenpo in
the 1950's, and they were both promoted to Shodan (first degree
black belt) in January of 1962.
The Tracy brothers founded their
first school in the 1960's in San Jose, California and it
quickly became a tremendous success. Al & Jim Tracy introduced
several new aspects to traditional Martial Arts training.
Before the 1960's, most karate instructors taught out of a
gym or similar organization in their spare time and held a
"real" job during the day. The Tracy brothers were
among the first to promote the idea of Professional Martial
Arts Instructors. Jim, Al and their other instructors worked
full time at the school in San Jose and made their livings
as karate instructors.
The Tracys are also credited
with pioneering the Americanization of karate. Jim, Al and
their students took karate to the suburbs and opened schools
in malls and shopping centers across the country. Previously
the Martial Arts had been taught in large group style classes.
This was the traditional teaching method, with students packed
into a studio wall to wall very few receiving personal attention
from an instructor. Jim and Al changed this with advent of
the private lesson style of instruction now used at all Tracys
Karate studios. Innovations of this kind and a desire to de-mystify
the Martial Arts are what has made the Tracys organization
one of the largest and most respected in North America.
Joe Lewis joined the Tracy Organization
during this era of innovation in Martial Arts instruction
and brought with him the Lewis System of fighting. The Tracy's
saw other Martial Artists and their styles not as competition,
but as a source of additional knowledge that could be used
to strengthen their own system. In keeping with this idea,
the Tracy brothers hired Joe Lewis to work with them and their
students on sport fighting. Mr. Lewis, who has been called
"The Greatest Karate Fighter of All Time", brought
with him a unique understanding of distance and fighting principles
that he developed into a system now taught at all Tracy's
Joe Lewis looked at sport fighting
in ways that were at once both common sense and revolutionary.
Few tournament fighters today realize that many of the lead
hand techniques used in modern sport fighting were virtually
unknown before Joe Lewis made them famous. The backfist, one
of the most common lead hand jabs, was not even considered
a valid strike before Mr. Lewis showed its effectiveness
by knocking an opponent out with this technique.
Tim Golby joined the Tracy's
organization in May of 1971. Tim grew up on a farm in a small
town in Illinois, and attended Kenrick Seminary here in St.
Louis in preparation for the Priesthood. It was during his
studies at Kenrick Seminary that Tim began learning Chinese
Kenpo. In spring of 1971, after much deliberation, Tim left
the Seminary. His involvement with the Tracy's organization
prior to this decision and the need for a new direction in
his life brought him to ownership of a Tracy's Karate franchise
and his new vocation. During his training and prior to opening
his own school, Tim studied with men whose names have become
legendary in the Tracy's Organization. Al Tracy, Joe Lewis,
Rodney Hard and Ken Maguire are only a few of the people that
Tim credits with his extensive knowledge of karate and the
Most Tracy's Karate black belts
in the St. Louis area trace their lineage back to Tim Golby,
and he is undoubtedly one of the most respected Martial Artists
in the St. Louis area. One of Tim Golby's first students was
David Hofer, who won every major tournament held in St. Louis
in the early 1970's. Tim has had many students who became
well known for their abilities on the tournament circuit.
In 1974, a young man named Sid Gee began taking lessons from
Tim. Sid went on to become the highest rated fighter in the
St. Louis area, and was ranked among the best fighters in
the country by Karate Illustrated.
The tradition of training champions
has stayed with the St. Louis Tim, if asked, is hesitant to
trace his lineage through any one individual to the Tracy's
brothers. The reason for this is simple. Tim had numerous
instructors prior to and after receiving his Shodan rank,
and he feels it is incorrect to credit any one of these people
with his knowledge and success. This method has become tradition
in the St. Louis Tracy's Organization, and Tim encourages
his students to learn from more than one instructor. In this
manner, a student is exposed to instructors with different
strengths. This philosophy provides students with a well-rounded
training regime and allows them to focus on the particular
area of karate that most interests them.