Larry Hartsell was a lifelong martial artist, and his first quest into training was in the art of Judo where he would eventually earn the rank of Black Belt. In 1961 he received his Kenpo Black belt under the legendary Ed Parker. In 1967 he started his training with Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto and shortly thereafter he was drafted for the war and served time in Vietnam as a Military police officer. Upon his return he continued his training and was given the assignment of further expanding the original 33 grappling techniques already found within JKD. He continued his training with Dan Inosanto after Bruce Lee's untimely death and became one of his top students for the next 35 years. He was considered to be one of the toughest fighters out of the early JKD petri dish and he was Dan Inosanto's go to guy for grappling. If that recommendation is not impressive enough - he was in high demand as a body guard which includes Mr. T. Larry's knowledge football went hand in hand with his martial knowledge as he, along with several other Inosanto students, were recruited by the San Francisco 49's and the Dallas Cowboys as trainers. Up until his passing he taught civilians and military as well as producing a number of JKD grappling books and videos.
Larry's thirst for martial arts continued until his passing in 2007. He had studied and integrated countless grappling arts into the JKD framework which included Judo, Sambo, Catch Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Dumog and many others. His instruction spanned the gap between standup grappling/neutralization and newaza and he was pioneer in grappling with a hunger for knowledge. His protege was non-other than Erik Paulson, who has an uncanny encyclopedia like knowledge of grappling similar to Mr. Hartsell. His name still may be obscure amongst modern grapplers, but his influence can be felt everywhere from the Filipino Martial Arts, to Football, and even in modern Mixed Martial Arts. Take some time and check out some of the videos below and if you get a chance pick up one of his books, or better yet train with a reputable JKD instructor with lineage to Mr. Larry Hartsell.