Phillip “Pete” Starr began his training in the martial arts in 1956, beginning with judo. Within a year, he received instruction in traditional kung-fu in the basement of a small Chinese grocery. He continued his training, also earning black belt grades in two styles of Japanese karate (3rd dan in Kyokushin, 1st dan in Shito-ryu). His primary kung-fu teacher was W. C. Chen, a direct disciple of one of China’s best-known masters, Zhang Zhaodong. From Master Chen, Mr. Starr learned taijiquan (tai-chi chuan), xingyiquan, baguazhang, and a form of shaolinquan.
He began teaching Chinese martial arts in 1967 at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. After spending several years in law enforcement, he opened his first full-time martial arts school in Ottumwa, Ia. He entered competition and earned the title of U.S. National Champion 5 times (the first time in 1976, and the last time when he was 63 yrs. old in 2011).
He was named to the National Rules Committee of the United States Karate Association and became the Kung-Fu Chairman. Later, he was named to the list of the Rocky Mountain Top Ten competitors.
He went on to train in Arnis (becoming a certified instructor under Tuhon Leo Gaje) and Jeet Kune Do.
In 1980, he founded the Iowa Martial Arts Association. He became the National Chairman for the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Chinese Martial Arts Division in 1991 and built it into the largest Chinese Martial Arts organization in the U.S. He was also named to the Kung-Fu Hall of Fame by Inside Kung-Fu Magazine.
Mr. Starr lived and taught in southern China for 3 years and has now returned to live in Omaha, Ne. where he continues to teach.