Remembering Larry Klahn of La Crosse, who fostered safety by training soldiers, police, women

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — From martial arts to self-defense, Larry Klahn was a jack of all trades.

He wanted to keep the community safe and by doing so, he changed people’s lives.

Larry E Klahn 2

Larry Klahn

The 66-year-old Klahn, who died Oct. 11 at Gundersen Health System of complications from COVID-19, was a teacher to many.

“He prepared soldiers for war, police officers for the street, women to face down attackers, and children to face bullies without being bullies themselves,” said Dan Marcou, a close friend of Klahn’s.

A grandmaster in taekwondo, an expert in Japanese swords, and a trainer of self-defense — it didn’t matter what Klahn was teaching, the La Crosse man was committed to it all.

“Whatever he was doing on that day was the most important thing in the world to him,” said La Crosse County Sheriff Jeff Wolf, who trained under Klahn.

Klahn, native of Viroqua, Wis., helped open the Three Rivers Martial Arts Academy in La Crosse in 1975.

He trained countless people in self-defense, including 2,300 soldiers at Fort McCoy and more than5,000 women.

“He was a martial arts mobile. He brought it to a lot of different venues. He trained soldiers for Iraq in Fort McCoy. He trained women in W.I.S.E, Women initiating Safe Environments,” Marcou.

Klahn designed the “Women Initiating Safe Environments” program in the 1980s, which has been credited with 34 documented saves.

Those who knew him to say he taught in a way that people would listen.

“The thing that made him special was he was personable. He understood where people were at. He didn’t look down on anybody,” said Jim Page, a student and friend of Klahn.

A La Crosse man who single-handedly made the community safer.

“I don’t think you can put a number on how many people he impacted,” said Sheriff Wolf.

The impact he had on La Crosse clearly will not be forgotten.

Klahn’s funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Living Word Christian Church at 2015 Ward Ave. in La Crosse, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m.

More information on his funeral and his full obituary are published on the News 8 Now website.

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