by amy lehrer | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Their love for martial arts brought Joey and Lori Larocque together. Joey grew up on the Mariah Micmac Indian Reservation with his Native American father. At fourteen he began martial arts training, and at eighteen he joined the United States Marine Corps. During his military career, Joey worked as an aviation ordinance technician and taught martial arts. After retiring from the military, he began teaching martial arts locally. Lori, meanwhile, grew up in Los Angeles, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from UC Santa Barbara, and served as a court reporter for the San Diego Superior Courts. Determined to learn a new hobby, she enrolled in Joey’s kickboxing class, which launched her martial arts career and a great relationship. She has a 1st degree black belt, Joey has a 5th degree black belt, and their twin kindergarteners, Ethan and Aiden, are purple belts, or black belts in training.

Joey and Lori opened Shaolin Kempo Arts in 2001. Every course taught fosters leadership and self-confidence, and the popular parkour program involves learning the most efficient ways to overcome physical obstacles. A great cross-trainer for all sports, it improves strength, flexibility, and creativity. Self-defense courses for kids encompass the topics of bullying and anti-abduction. After traveling to the Shaolin Temple in Denfung China to train with the monks in Kung fu, Joey incorporated their style in his school and was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Shaolin Kempo Master of the Year in 2005. Joey also teaches a karate preschool class at Beth Am. Lori disclosed, “He enjoys teaching the preschoolers skills such as focus, control, discipline, and coordination.”

To support the community, the Larocques sponsored and hosted a booth at the Carmel Valley 5K run to benefit the Del Mar Extended Studies Foundation. In addition, twice they hosted a “Superstars of Martial Arts” fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, a performance featuring local martial artists and descendents of the Shaolin Temple of China.

When not practicing karate, the Lorocques use the Carmel Mountain Preserve trail, play at the Carmel Knolls and Ocean Air parks, visit the Carmel Valley library, walk the twins to school each day, and share Shabbat dinner each Friday, which includes lighting candles, breaking bread, and relaxing with family and friends. Lori explains, “We celebrate the end of a good week and family time. It’s bonding, and everyone looks forward to it.”