Kenpo Karate - Setting History Right 1949-1954by
(second revision 8/8/99)
Kenpo Karate today owes its very existence to Ed Parker, as it was Ed Parker who brought Kenpo Karate to the mainland
from Hawaii and made it world famous. Ed Parker had a brilliant mind. He never forgot a name, and he could simply look at
a martial arts technique and know its application; and, that may be the reason so little was known about Ed Parker's early
martial arts training. This lack of knowledge about Ed Parker led most of us to accept that he had years of training because
no one could be as good a martial artists as he was without years of training.
When I wrote about Ed Parker's early training, or lack thereof, many in American Kenpo said I had
a hidden agenda, and they presented what they considered "evidence" in an attempt to prove I me wrong. Most of this so-called
"evidence" was nothing more than garbage, myopic interpretations of photographs by people with little or no knowledge, or
who weren't even in Kenpo at the time. This led me to reexamine what I wrote to make sure I was correct, and in doing so I
began asking questions of those I have known from the early days - questions I had never thought of asking. It is axiomatic
that if you don't know what questions to ask, you can't ask them. Asking those questions shed a whole new light on Ed Parker's
Another problem with Kenpo history is the regurgitation of absolute nonsense or outright false information
about Ed Parker, some of which Ed himself had made. One of the biggest fallacies still prevalent is the assumption that Ed
Parker was heir to the famous Hawaiian Parker Ranch estate and that his family was wealthy. Neither could be further from
Ed Parker's father, Arthur Kapewaokeao Parker Waipa, legally changed his last name to Parker in
1933. This was two years after Edmund Kealoha Parker Waipa was born on March 21, 1931. Thus, Ed Parker was born Edmund Waipa.
|Ed's father was a carpenter, and worked for the Mormon Church on many projects, including
being a construction supervisor for the Church College in Hawaii that opened in 1955. This in no way takes from the nobility
of Ed Parker's father. I knew him to be an honest, forthright, intelligent and humble man. When he came to the Mainland to
visit in 1959, it was Ed Parker who paid his way and expenses because his father did not have the money for the visit. One
of the first things Ed's father told my brothers and me was his family had nothing to do with the Parker Ranch; and he told
us he had changed his name because Waipa was of royal linage, and he didn't want people to associate him or his family with
royalty. As a devout Mormon, earthly royalty meant nothing. A look at Arthur Parker's genealogy will show what he meant.
The founder of the Parker Ranch was John Palmer Parker, whose married (Rachel) Kipikane the granddaughter
of King Kamehameha. They had two sons, and a daughter, Mary Ann Kaulalani Parker. Mary Ann married Kameeiamoku Waipa (a first
cousin of King Kamehameha). Some of their children carried the Parker name, while Ed's direct ancestor carried the Waipa name.
Ed's grandfather used Waipa, and Ed's father, Arthur Kapewaokeao Parker Waipa, changed his name to Parker, as did all his
children. This is common practice in Hawaii. So, Ed Parker's family was from this royal line, but inheritance of the Parker
Ranch fortune came through a different line - John Parker's two sons, John II and Ebenezer.
NOTE: John Palmer Parker died in 1868, and his estate was divided between his son,
John Parker II and Sam Parker, the son of Ebenezer Parker. Mismanagement forced the ranch into a trust that took control from
the Parker family in 1887. John Parker III, the son of John Parker the II married Elizabeth Jane Lanakila Dowsett, but died
shortly after his daughter, Annie Thelma Parker, was born and his half of the estate was put in trust for their daughter,
Colonel Sam Parker tried to take control of the ranch and the court battles that followed went all
the way the Supreme Court. However, in 1906, Sam Parker sold his interest to Thelma Parker's trust, and she became to sole
heir to the Parker Ranch.
Thelm Parker married Henry Gaillard Smart when she was eighteen and had one child, Richard Smart,
who survived her (a daughter died young). Both Thelma and Henry Smart died before Richard was two years old, and in 1924 their
son, Richard Smart, became the sole heir to the Parker Ranch estate. Richard Smart died in 1992 and he (Richard Smart) was
the sole heir to the Parker estates during Ed Parker's entire life.
As for Ed' martial
arts training, he had told my brothers and me that he was a Judo Shodan. Ed Parker's father added that he had enrolled Ed
in Judo classes when Ed was twelve - the week Ed was ordained a Deacon in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Mormon), and that Ed got his Shodan the week before Ed graduated high school. That was in 1949, and Ed was 18 years old.
NOTE: The Parker ranch began in 1847 when King Kamehameha III gave a land grant of two (2) acres to
John Parker for $10. His wife, Kipikane (Rachel) had a dowery of 640 acres, and John Parker bought 1,000 more acres the following
year for 75 cents per acre. He then bought more land and created the famous Parker Ranch. His daughter, Mary Ann, married
Kameeiamoku Waipa, and she received her inheritance as a dowry and no part of the Parker Ranch passed to her when her father
died. It was through Mary Ann's line that Ed Parker's family descended. Mary Ann's dowery dissipated with her nine children,
and no wealth passed to or through her children. Further, from the note above, it should be clear that neither Ed Parker nor
his family had any claim to the Parker Ranch trust.
NOTE: My brother Jim and I began training with Ed Parker in 1957 and my brother Al
Tracy began in 1958 after he was discharged from the Air Force. I first met Ed's father in Hawaii in early 1959, and he and
I took the same flight to Los Angeles later in 1959. My brothers and I showed Ed's father around Los Angeles and we developed
a close relationship. One of Ed Parker's, Jim Nessy, was a bull fighter, and we took Ed and his father to the bullfights in
Tijuana, Mexico. In 1957 we all knew that Ed Parker did not begin training
in Kenpo Karate until after he graduated from high school, which was in June 1949. That's what Ed told us, and Professor Chow
told me Ed came to study with him after he (Chow) had left James Mitose and opened his club, and call his style Kenpo Karate.
That was after May, 1949.
I had written earlier what Ed had told my brothers and me about his early training, namely that he
had gone to BYU after training first with Sonny Emperado and then with Professor Chow. We assumed this was in the fall of
1949, because that is when Ed began his first year at BYU. Was I wrong? I asked questions, and I discovered that I was obviously
Sonny Emperado did not open his own school (club) until late 1950, when Ed Parker was already at B.Y.U.
Ed would later change this to say Joe and Sonny Emperado were classmates with him at Professor Chow's. However, Sonny Emperado
has unequivocally stated that the first time he met Ed Parker was when Ed was in the Coast Guard and trained with him for
two weeks in 1952 before Ed Parker went to train with Professor Chow.
There were also problems with the events Ed would later claim as being formative in his training.
Back in 1957-59 Ed often told us Sonny Emperado introduced him to Kenpo, that he had never trained with Mitose; and that Mitose
was no longer teaching when he began training in Kenpo. However, Ed's original version of how he was introduced to Kenpo changed
sometime after Ed created what he called Chinese Kenpo.
I'm not sure just when Ed Parker began crediting Frank Chow, the brother of Professor Chow, with being
his first Kenpo instructor. He certainly had never mentioned this, nor the name of Frank Chow at any time prior to my leaving
to open my own school in 1964; and, I was completely surprised when I read for the first time about Frank Chow in Ed Parker's
1982 Infinite Insights into Kenpo : Mental Stimulation (P. 23)
But even Ed Parker's later account of how he came to study with Frank Chow is puzzling. Ed wrote that
he was sixteen at the time Frank Chow began teaching him Kenpo. That would have been in 1947. Ed wrote that he was impressed
that Frank Chow had defeated a much larger bully.
The problem with that is, Ed Parker started training in Judo when he was twelve years old. That's
what Ed told us, and that's what Ed's father told us, and Ed was a Judo Shodan when he graduated from high school at the age
of 18 in 1949. Ed was probably a Judo brown belt when he was 16, but no matter what his Judo rank, it's hard to believe that
anyone who trained in Judo would be surprised that a smaller man could defeat a larger man. Judo players were famous for defeating
larger men, and according to Ed's father, the reason he had Ed study Judo in the first place was so Ed could defend himself
against larger boys and bullies who made fun of him being a Mormon.
NOTE: When I went to Hawaii in 1959, Ed Parker gave me a list of Kenpo men for me to
look up. Frank Chow was not one of them. He had never mentioned anything about Professor Chow having a brother, and Professor
Chow never mentioned his brother to me either. Likewise, Ed's father talked about Professor Chow, and many of Ed's fellow
students, but during the entire time I was in Hawaii, he never once mentioned Frank Chow.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is Ed Parker worked in a pineapple
cannery to finance his trip to BYU. This cannery was owned by the Mormon Church, and what he did not earn there, the Church
lent him, as the air fare was over $600.
There are some who say Ed Parker never studied Judo. Ed Parker in Infinite Insights into Kenpo
: Mental Stimulation (p. 23) Ed wrote: "Having learned Judo, I could see that handeling two or more men was not a problem
utalizing the Kenpo methods taught me." And it should be noted Ed does not say he "trained," or "studied" Judo, but the "learned
NOTE: I went to Hawaii in 1959 on the Matson cruise ship, SS Luriline. One of my Army
buddies was the Communications Officer, and I was given free passage. However, I had been the manager for the Pasadena American
Health Studio, and I filled in as a trainer at the ships gym. That saved me from having to join the union where I would have
had to wait in line for two years to get that job.
Ed Parker told me he would never go on a Matson ship because of something they did when he was going
to BYU. The local Matson agent had agreed to have Ed work for his passage, but at the last minute said he couldn't do it.
That meant all the money Ed had earned at the pineapple cannery went for airfare. Ed had to borrow money from the Church to
fly to Los Angeles, and Ed wasn't able to begin paying the Church back until he was in the Coast Guard, when he was able to
pay about half the money back; and it wasn't until I was going to Hawaii that he finally was able to pay the rest of the money.
Ed was a full-time student, but only carried the minimum 12 hours per quarter so he could work and earn money
to pay his way. He lived with a family after the first quarter and didn't have to pay rent, but needed money for tuition and
other expenses. This also meant he had to go to school during the summer quarter to make up for the courses he did not take
during the first three quarters.
The Korean war broke out in June, 1950, but Ed was exempt from the draft. That was an exemption, meaning
he could not be drafted. It was not a deferment, as many of the Mormon young men got to go on missions or attend college.
But Ed lost that exemption in 1951 and got a draft notice. It was at that time Ed Parker "enlisted in the Coast Guard
rather than be drafted into the Army...."
NOTE: Leilani Parker would later claim that Ed Parker came back to Hawaii during the summer after he
went to BYU. He did not, and I doubt that she wants to try to prove me wrong, as I know the family Ed Parker lived with at
Provo, Utah from 1949 to 1951, who said Ed Parker worked in Provo during the summer of 1950. So suffice it to say that once
Ed Parker left for BYU in 1949, he did not return to Hawaii until after he was in the Coast Guard.
Ed Parker states in Infinite Insights into Kenpo : Mental Stimulation (p.25)"After two years
at the Brigham Young University in Provo Utah, I was drafted into the Korean War in 1951 and managed to be stationed in Hawaii
for two and a half years of my three year hitch with the U.S. Coast Guard...."
I told Ed in 1984 that he was changing history. We both knew he wasn't drafted, he enlisted. But Ed
said it wasn't important. The fact is, this has been repeated by the American Kenpo, and it is false.
The Coast Guard was never part of the Military Draft; and during the Korean War, you didn't just join
the Coast Guard for three years. The minimum enlistment was four years; and, you had to have connections for anything under
four years. The family Ed had lived with had those connections. They not only got Ed into the Coast Guard, but pulled strings
for his ship assignments.
Ed met Ralph Castro while they were at Coast Guard Boot Camp in Alameda (San Francisco Bay area) together
in the fall of 1951. The two men became close friends, and they played the ukulele together, but Ed never mentioned anything
about training in Kenpo.
NOTE: Castro was released in 1955 after serving four years in the Coast Guard, and
began training with Professor Chow in Hawaii after that. At that time (1955) Castro learned that Ed Parker was one of Professor
Chow's brown belts. Ed Parker's first ship assignment was not with the Coast
Guard, but a TDY (Temporary Duty) assignment on a Navy transport ship that sailed to Yokohama, Japan, where the family he
had lived with in Provo was with the United States Diplomatic Corps (in Tokyo). On his return, Ed was assigned to a Coast
Guard ship that had its home port in Honolulu.
Ed had not been back to Hawaii since leaving for BYU in 1949, and he began training with Sonny Emperado
in early 1952. He trained for two weeks, and then his ship left port on a training mission. When the ship returned, Ed sought
out Professor Chow, and quickly became one of his best students.
Ed shipped out often, not always with the Coast Guard, but also with Navy ships that went to the Far
East. America was at war in Korea, and the Navy was always happy to get anyone for their crew, and Ed's diplomatic friends
in Japan arrange his TDY on ships that had Japan as a port of call. Whenever he was in Hawaii, Ed would train with Professor
Chow, and after a year and a half, even though Ed had learned all the Kenpo Karate techniques, Professor Chow did not want
to promote him to Shodan, because all Chow's other students had trained much longer, either with Chow or another instructor,
before getting their Shodan. After all, Masaichi Oshiro had been one of Mitose's early (1947) students, and did not receive
his Shodan from Professor Chow until 1953.
Leaving Frank Chow out of the picture, or even assuming that Ed Parker had some training with Frank
Chow, it's certain that Ed Parker took his first Kenpo lessons with Sonny Emperado, and Ed Parker was in the Coast Guard at
Sonny Emperado stated (and is on record as saying) that Ed Parker was in the Coast Guard when Ed trained
with him for two weeks in the 1952. Emperado wrote a tribute to Ed Parker in Leilani Parker's Memories of Ed Parker
"I first met him in the early years when he trained with me for a couple of weeks and then went under Professor Chow." (p.
169) Professor Chow also stated that Ed Parker began training with Sonny Emperado first and then with him when Ed was in the
Contrast that with what Ed Parker wrote in 1982 Infinite Insights into Kenpo : Mental Stimulation
(P. 24), "Adriano (Sonny) and Joe Emperado were senior students at the time of my acceptance as a student by William K.S.
Chow.... It wasn't too long after that the two Emperado brothers opened their own school at the Palama Settlement in Honolulu...
It was Adriano (Sonny) who, after his brother Joe's death, formed his system of Kajukenbo...."
This was a rewrite of Kenpo history, and I told Ed in 1984 that he was playing fast and loose with
those events. I knew the order in which the Emperado brothers had trained and opened their school, and Professor Chow had
told me that Ed had first trained with Sonny Emperado. What I didn't know, because I didn't think about it at the time, were
the dates these things took place; and, it wasn't until the Gathering of Eagles in February 1999, that I realized those dates
were all wrong.
First, Sonny and Joe Emperado opened their own school after they had already formed Kajukenbo. They
had been secretly developing the style along with Frank Ordonez, P.Y.Y. Choo, Joe Holck and Clarence Changhis while
they were still with Chow. They called themselves the "Black Belt Society". They opened their club right after they got their
black belts in 1950. That means they did not form their club until after Ed Parker had gone to BYU in the fall, 1949.
NOTE: In 1965 (less than a year after Ed Parker's first International Tournament in
1964) Sonny Emperado put on a demonstration at a Kajukenbo tournament in the San Francisco Bay area. Ed Parker was an invited
guest of honor, and my brother Al and I were there. After Emperado told the audience that he had been Ed Parker's first instructor,
Sonny gave Ed a certificate, awarding him 5th degree black belt. Ed graciously accepted the certificate and made a few remarks
about what a tough instructor Emperado had been, and how Emperado opened his (Ed's) eyes to what Kenpo was. To repeat, the fallacy in Ed's account is, Sonny Emperado did not begin teaching until 1950, and Ed Parker was
at BYU from the fall of 1949 until summer, 1951. After that Ed was at Coast Guard Basic Training at Alameda, California until
the beginning of 1952, and his ship did not arrive in Hawaii until later in 1952.
This account of Ed Parker's training is different from what I had written before, because my brothers
and I went by what Ed told us. He never gave dates for his training, only events, and we (wrongly) assumed that Ed began teaching
the B.Y.U. Island boys when he first went to B.Y.U. in 1949. Ed never said that, we just assumed it because he had told us
he had trained with Emperado and Chow before going to BYU - which of course he had - but not until 1954 when Ed went back
to BYU after his discharge from the Coast Guard in August 1954.
Another reason we assumed this is because Ed said he was a brown belt at that time he was teaching
the Island Boys.
NOTE: There is a printed black belt certificate some are claiming Professor Chow gave
Ed Parker in 1953. Professor Chow never gave a printed certificate. All his belt promotions were either given in Mitose's
book, or on a common certificate that could be purchased at any 5 & dime or stationary store. A student filled out the
certificate and Professor Chow would sign it. This was the kind of certificate Professor Chow signed for Masaichi Oshiro in
1953, which incidentally was after the date on the Ed Parker certificate.
Ed returned to BYU in the fall of 1954 where he taught Kenpo to a closed
group of Island boys first at the Polynesian Ward (which served as the Polynesian Cultural Center at the time) and later at
the BYU Smith Fieldhouse wrestling room, and Ed did not begin teaching Haolies (whites) until January, 1956.
NOTE: Dates in Kenpo are sometimes wrong because events, not dates, stick in our minds.
What many, including myself, remember as happening in one year, actually occurred either before or after that time. I had
once written that I had been with Professor Chow in the summer of 1960 when Chow went on a four-day drinking binge. I was
off by one year. The drinking binge actually took place on August 21, 1959. I know the exact date because it began the day
Hawaii was admitted as the 50th State, and it was the event, not the year that stuck in my mind.
Ed Parker also confused the date of some events. I brought these to Ed's attention and he simply stated
it wasn't important. At the time it didn't seem important, but looking back, those dates of those events have become the "lies
upon which American Kenpo exists."
This confusion of dates is common not only in kenpo, but throughout the martial arts. Dave Hebler
told me he was promoted to Shodan in 1962, and I am in the picture at that promotion. The year was actually 1963, as Dave
stated in his biography given to Black Belt Magazine.
Not being Woodward and
Bernstine, I never thought to follow the events and not just assume every date in Kenpo history was correct.
Added by Roarke Tracy: Larry Tatum, makes an unusual claim in the "history" part of his
website, stating "Larry Tatum began his study of Kenpo Karate in Pasadena, California in 1966, and has become one of this
style's most prominent figures." This may be, but he is selling a 1975 video interview with Ed Parker, made "...right after
he received his first degree black belt." That means it took Larry Tatum nine years to get his black belt. My father told
me th 1975 date is correct for Larry Tatum's black belt, and Frank Trejo and Tatum got their black belts at the same time.
Another problem is transposing names, events or people. This is usually a simple mistake that is not
caught in editing. This is usually found in inconsistent dates, where a time, date is given and then a different date or time
is given for the same event. These are simply writing errors and are easily corrected in addendum's or subsequent writings,
and no one should Ed Parker or anyone for this.
Kenpo Karate - Setting History Right 1954-1956by
(second revision 8/8/99)
Professor Chow promoted Ed Parker to brown belt before Ed returned to Brigham Young
University in the fall of 1954. Ed's three years in the Coast Guard, made him eligable for the GI Bill that paid $110 a month
to go to school. That wasn't enough for all Ed's expenses, but the Church was preparing to open the Church College in Hawaii,
and everyone from the Islands got their tuition and fees waived, so Ed was in a much better position than when he first went
There has been a great deal of controversy over who Ed Parker's first black belt was, mostly because
those who don't have any knowledge of when Ed Parker taught Haolies (non Island - whites) at B.Y.U. have tried to show their
imagined knowledge to make Charles Beeder Ed Parker's first blackbelt. Ed Parker always referred to his Utah students as just that, students, until about 1963 when he mentioned
his Utah brown belt - singular.
What is beyond dispute is that Ed only taught Island boys prior to a demonstration Ed put on during
half-time at a BYU, UCLA basketball game. Ed Parker stated in his book, Infinite Insights
into Kenpo: Mental Stimulation (P. 26-27)
"While completing my education at B.Y.U. I formed a closed club teaching only students from
Hawaii...I was asked to put on a Kenpo Karate demonstration during the basketball half-time intermission (early in December
1954) between B.Y.U. and U.C.L.A. The success of this demonstration launched an entirely new dimension in my life...In a matter
of weeks I began teaching commercially in downtown Provo...." Ed Parker gives a somewhat
different perspective to this in Inside Elvis, first where he wrote (p.23),
In September of 1954, I resumed studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It was
difficult to readjust. Self-discipline now had to replace regimentation. There were some rough moments, but I managed to weather
the first few months before finally getting back into the swing of things." This coincides
with what Tom Loura told me that Ed first began training at the Church Polynesian Ward and several months later went into
the BYU wrestling room where they could practice mat work. And it was there that Ed stated that "outsiders" were not allowed.
Ed would change this slightly to say there was a change in policy where "outsiders" were allowed watch him and the Island
boy practice. And writing of this change in policy (because it was no longer in the closed Church cultural hall) Ed wrote
Inside Elvis p.24:
Not too long after its inception, one of these spectators, who was in charge of half time
activities for all sporting events, asked me to demonstrate at a B.Y.U. v.s. U.C.L.A. basketball game. Ed does not give the year, but The UCLA gave was played in December 1955, and this agrees with the "few months"
it took Ed to adjust to college life.
|Ed Parker's wife, Leilani Parker, confirms this in her Memories of Ed Parker, Delsby
Publications 1997 (page 27) and stated of Ed Parker,
"...He started to teach a select, closed group of interested fellow students from Hawaii...Ed
was invited to demonstrate his skills during intermission of a basketball game between BYU and UCLA early in December 1954...."
Actually, not all of the students were from Hawaii. Some were from the Philippines,
but they had all trained previously under various martial artists in Hawaii.
I had been training with Ed about two months when three "Island Boys" came into the studio in late
December 1957. These were tough looking characters and they demanded to see Ed Parker. I had just opened the studio for the
day class and was alone, so I called Ed at home and he came in about half an hour later. During that time I had a opportunity
to talk with Tom Loura and the Mohoui brothers, Frank and Ralph, who had trained with Ed at BYU. And I had the opportunity
(or misfortune) of having them show me some of their techniques. In other words, they uses me as a punching bag. Tom and I
became friends, and I stayed with him when I first went to Hawaii in early 1959. These were some of the men I knew as the
"Island Boys" Ed Parker taught at BYU.
Ed had always told us it was the half-time demonstration of the basketball game between BYU and UCLA
that opened the door for him to teach Kenpo Karate to law enforcement agencies and led to him putting on Kenpo demonstrations
throughout Utah, and that is what Ed Parker wrote in his book.
That BYU/UCLA game was the only basketball half-time demonstration Ed put on at BYU, and it was the
last public demonstration Ed put on at BYU, as it was that demonstration that brought Ed to the attention of the Provo, Utah
law enforcement agencies and the BYU administration. Tom Loura, (who died in 1998) was one of Ed's student in that demonstration.
Tom Loura was a Thomas Young brown belts when he returned from a mission for the Mormon Church
and went BYU in the Fall of 1954. He and Ed Parker met at a church MIA (Mutual Improvement Association) meeting at the BYU
Polynesian Ward (church building) about three weeks after classes began.
Tom played the ukulele and was entertaining the group when Ed came up with a weathered ukulele and
asked Tom (in front of the group) to teach him how to play. Tom showed Ed how to hold the "uke" and when Ed tried to strum
it, his fingers went through the strings and into the opening. Ed was a complete klutz, very body laughed, and Ed looked embarrassed.
Then Tom began showing Ed first one note, then another, and Ed seemed to be a fast learner. Tom then played a fast string,
and Ed followed, then Ed went even faster. Tom related this to me shortly before he died, and said it was like "Dueling Banjos"
and he knew Ed had suckered him. Tom had heard the best Uke players in Hawaii, and Ed was better than any of them. In fact,
Ed Parker taught the ukulele to earn money when he was at BYU back in 1949.
Ed and Tom became fast friends and began practicing together in the Polynesian Ward recreation hall.
Kip Kiphunna (who trained with Sonny Emperado) had been Tom Loura's missionary companions and Kip joined the Club (although
it wasn't a club yet). Ed Parker was a natural leader and the three men practiced with Ed leading the group. About three months
into the college year (about December 1954), Frank Mohoui and his brother Ralph, who were Mitose brown belts, joined the group.
The five trained in the church recreation hall until early 1955, when two Judo black belts, Mark and John Kalima joined them,
and Ed got permission to use the wrestling room at the Smith Fieldhouse for the Club Ed formed.
By the beginning of Spring Quarter, when Ed got permission to use the BYU wrestling room, there were
about twenty Island Boys in the Club, but there were seldom more than six in any session. The members were either returned
missionaries, getting ready to go on missions, leaving on missions, or getting married so club members came and went. Their
class usually drew half a dozen onlookers, most of whom would pretend not to be watching.
NOTE: BYU was on the quarter system, with four quarters (not the usual three of most
colleges) because all Mormon young men were expected to go on missions for two or two and a half years, when they were nineteen.
This made it easy for them to end or start college within any three months of the year.
There were three rules
to join the club: You had to be from the Islands; you had to have already trained in the martial arts (no beginners); and,
the rest of the group had to agree to your entry.
Most of the new members had trained either with Professor Chow, Sonny Emperado or Thomas Young, and
some had trained in Judo. The first demonstration Ed put on was for a Provo Boy Scout Troupe in early 1955, and they were
so well received that the Stake President (Mormon authority over several Mormon Churches) asked Ed to put on a demonstration
for the scouts in the Stake where about 200 boys were present. The club put on a couple of demonstrations for the Church Young
Men's Mutual Improvement Association. After that, Ed caught the attention of the BYU Athletic Department and was asked to
put on the half-time demonstration at BYU-UCLA basketball game.
That demonstration didn't take place in 1954 as Ed and his wife wrote. There was no B.Y.U. - U.C.L.A.
game in 1954. The first B.Y.U. - U.C.L.A. games ever played at Prove was on Friday, December 2, 1955 (BYU won 75-58) and Saturday,
December 3, 1955. (BYU won 67-65.) This was THE game, as it put BYU in the spotlight of the basketball world.
All young men were expected to go on missions when they turned nineteen, and it was at that time they
were ordained Elders in the Mormon Church. Anyone who really knew Ed Parker knew why he did not go on a mission, even though
he was ordained as an Elder.
NOTE: The freshman female students outnumbered the combined freshman through senior student body at
BYU - it's where a girl went to find a husband.
The first game ever played between BYU and UCLA was during the 1929-30 season, (December
21, 22) at UCLA in Los Angeles. The two teams met again during the 1949-50 NCAA Championship game at Kansas City (BYU beat
UCLA 83-62), and Rich Montgomery, who would become Ed Parker's second black belt, was on that B.Y.U. team. It's a matter of
public record (SEE: B.Y.U. Basketball
All Time Results) that 1955 was the first year in the history of BYU basketball that BYU played UCLA at BYU (Provo) and
they only played two games that season on December 2 and 3.
Ed Parker had the game right, but the year was wrong. It
was a week or two after the UCLA game (not the next day as some claim) that Ed put on a demonstration for the Provo, Utah
law enforcement officials; and, that launched Ed's career as a Kenpo Karate instructor.
NOTE: BYU hired Ed as an adjunct instructor for an 055 class in self-defense for law
officers. This meant law enforcement students could get college credit for the course, though the credits were not transferable
and did not count towards a degree - 100 and above courses were transferable. In
February, 1956, Ed Parker began teaching Kenpo Karate commercially on Tuesday and Thursday night at Roy Woodward's Body Building
Gym in Provo Utah. Roy let Ed have a corner where he taught two or three students. This didn't last long as Roy sold the gym
to American Health Studios, and moved to Los Angeles where he took the position of Regional Manager for American Health Studios.
About a year ago I asked both Tom Loura and Frank Mohoui what rank Ed Parker was when they were in
the BYU club. They both said he was a black belt. But when I asked for more detail, they said they really didn't know what
his rank was. He wore a black belt, and since they were all Mormons, they assumed Ed Parker was a black belt. However, Ed
never promoted any of the club members. They had their rank from their instructors, and while Ed taught them a great deal,
he didn't want to anger their instructors by promoting their students. When I told them that Professor Chow had only promoted
Ed to brown belt, they both said that was probably true, but Ed should have been a black belt because he was far better than
any of them. I asked them about Ed Parker planning on teaching Kenpo Karate professionally, and they both told me that Ed
made very little money teaching in Provo, and that he had always planned on going into law enforcement. He never mentioned
anything to them about opening a school until after it was open, and they said Ed told them even he was surprised that the
school was making money.
Ed Parker graduated from BYU the first of June, 1956 and moved to Pasadena at that time. It is worth
repeating, Ed Parker, only taught Island boys, prior to the UCLA game in December 1955. Or put another way, Ed Parker never
taught anyone who was not from Hawaii, until early 1965. This means Ed only taught his Utah students for a maximum of six
months before going to California, and that is not enough time for anyone to earn a black belt. Ed seldom talked about training
his Utah students, other than the experiences he had with the different law enforcement people he knew there. It was not until
1963 that he even referred to any of them as his Utah brown belts.
NOTE: Many in American Kenpo have questioned why any criticism of Ed Parker was not
published until after his death. Everything I have written on Kenpo has been published on the Internet. Ed Parker died in
1990. The World Wide Web was not chartered by CERN until 1992. The InterNIC was created by NSF in 1993. My writings began
in 1995, and were originally posted on tracyskarate.com.
For those who are incapable of understanding this time line, Ed Parker died before the World Wide
Web was created. What I have written is of interest to only a handful of people, those who want to know the history of Kenpo
as one who was there saw it; and, there is certainly not enough interest to justify a book. Additionally, some of the information
I have presented in the past was known only to a handful of people. However, with the Gathering of Eagles earlier this year,
most of what I have written was confirmed by Sonny Emperado, Ralph Castro and others. But more importantly, some things that
didn't seem important in the past have proved to be quite significant, especially in light of the out and out lies that have
been presented by many in American Kenpo.
There's another fallacy in the argument against saying anything about Ed Parker after he died. Others
are writing about him, and not only repeating inaccuracies, but creating a whole new line of lies. Then there are those like
Leilani Parker who wrote in Memories of Ed Parker, Delsby Publications 1997 (page 27) "...Ed was invited to demonstrate
his skills during intermission of a basketball game between BYU and UCLA early in December 1954..." that date is impossible,
since the first game ever between BYU and UCLA at BYU was in December 1955. Yet this error is repeated by many in American
Kenpo, and the perpetuation of this lie promotes the assertion that Ed Parker taught his Utah students for eighteen months,
instead of the six months he actually taught. And that additional year has given credence to the absurd claim that Charles
Beeder was Ed Parker's first black belt.
Then there is an interview Ed Parker gave for Karate International magazine, that was not
published until after Ed died. Speaking from the grave, Ed stated, "The Tracy brothers were students of mine back in the late
50's and early 60's. When they left me they were brown belts." That is patently false, as will be shown later
Kenpo Karate Setting History Right 1956-1959by
(second revision 8/8/99)
After graduating from BYU with a degree in Sociology in June 1956, (not in both sociology
and psychology as some claim) Ed Parker moved to Pasadena, California. Three months before Ed had tested for a position with
the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and got a job with their Probation Department. Ed wanted to work with troubled
youth, but because of his size and martial arts skills he was assigned to supervise the most hardened parolees. Ed saw no
future in this and asked Roy Woodward for advice. Roy Woodward had encouraged Ed to come to Los Angeles where he was regional
manager for American Health Studios, and had paid Ed's expenses so he could go to Los Angeles to take the Civil Service examination
for the Sheriff's Department. American Health did not allow outside trainers, so Roy introduced Ed to Terry Robinson who was
athletic director at the Beverly Hills Health Club.
Ed Parker published Inside Elvis Rampart House 1978 which was the year after Elvis
died. On page 25 he wrote:
The Beverly Hills Health Club was not a health studio like American Health, but rather more like a
spa, social club and health club combined. Its members included most of Hollywood's movers and shakers. Ed did not teach classes
as many believe, but rather simi-private lessons to small groups of two or three friends, and many of these had Ed come to
their homes to teach private lessons.
Ed made enough money teaching private lessons that he could quit his job with the Probation Department,
and open a full-time school. Ed borrowed $300 from a Mormon friend, rented the building at 1840 E. Walnut Street in Pasadena
for $65 a month, and called it the "Kenpo Karate Self Defense Studio". His original mat was made of sawdust covered with canvas,
and this was what his students worked out on until he got tatami mats from Japan a few weeks later.
"Graduation was decision time ... should I further my education or seek employment? Roy Woodward
was now the manager of a health studio in Southern California. He extended an offer, which I accepted: however, through a
chain of circumstances, I suddenly found myself unemployed." It is quite different
from what Ed would later write about having planned with Chow on opening Kenpo school on the mainland after he graduated from
BYU. And becoming unemployed (leaving the Probation Department) was what Ed always told my brothers and me.
NOTE: Many in American Kenpo believe Ed Parker held some secret knowledge which he
only imparted to a select few. In a way, that was true. But it had nothing to do with Kenpo. How to make a sawdust mat was
a "secret" Ed only showed to his inner circle. Everyone in Ed Parker's Inner Kenpo Karate Circle knew how the mat is made,
the type of canvas used and the details of its construction. This was the type of mat the Tracy brothers used in their first
studio in San Francisco, and anyone who does not know how it was made was never in Ed's Inner Circle.
NOTE: The tatami mats were standard 35.5" wide X 71" long and 2.25" thick. They had a vinyl covering
to protect the rice straw, and cost $100 each. There were 20 mats in the workout area, and 14 mats used to protect the wall
and a couple of extra in storage. That's over $3500 with shipping for mats, (in 1956 dollars = $14,000 in today's money) and
they arrived less than three months after Ed opened his studio. These were a gift to Ed from his close friend in Japan.
After moving the school to a new location across the street in 1958, Ed had his students clean the
vinyl covering with soap and water. Unfortunately, the students didn't take the coverings off the mats and the rice straw
got mildew and rotted. Ed got another gift of 30+ mats from the same person in Japan, which took longer to get because customs
required them to be fumigated and they remain in quarantine for several weeks.
There are many who claim to were close to Ed and knew him well. Few people really knew Ed. I did.
I know how Ed was able to get the tatami mats - they didn't cost him anything. I know who that friend is, and I know far more
about this matter than anyone alive today (other than that friend). Anyone who does not know who gave Ed the tatami mats,
did not really know Ed Parker. It doesn't matter how close someone claims to have been to Ed, if they don't know who Ed lived
with in Provo when he first went to BYU, and who later went to Japan where Ed visited them, and later gave Ed the mats, and
the relationship Ed had with that family, never really knew Ed, and Ed never really trusted them. Ed was concerned about how Professor Chow would take his opening a school and wrote Professor Chow in 1956,
requesting his permission to open the studio in Pasadena. This was such an important request that Professor Chow showed the
letter to Adriano Emperado, and it was Emperado who finally convinced Chow to allow the studio to be opened. But Chow did
not give his permission until several months later, in 1957.
Sonny Emperado mentioned this letter in his tribute to Ed Parker, and Professor Chow showed me the
letter in 1961. Despite the claims that Ed and Professor Chow had planned on opening Kenpo schools on the mainland, the letter
stated that after Ed went to California he began teaching at a health club (a slight exaggeration), and got such enthusiastic
response that he wanted to open a school on his own. (Ed had opened his studio in October, 1956, and the letter was not written
until December 1956.)
This delay between when Ed opened his school and when he wrote Professor Chow may be one of the reasons
Ed called his school Kenpo Karate, instead of Go-shinjutsu, which is the name Professor Chow was using at the time. The first
time Ed mentioned mention Go-shinjutsu was in his 1960 book, Kenpo Karate, the Law of the Fist and Empty Hand
(page 11) as being the system created by Daruma (c. 525 A.D.).
Paul Pung was the only other Kenpo instructor who had run a full-time Kenpo school, and Paul's school
like Ed's Pasadena studio, made very little money. Ed only made a marginal living from the school, and his money came from
teaching private lessons to Hollywood celebrities whom he met at the Beverly Hills Health Club, and through writer, Joe Hyams,
and music composer Bronislaw Kaper.
Ed had about twenty regular students training at the studio when my brother Jim and I began training
with him in late 1957. However, Ed had at least another twenty private students whom he taught at their homes. Ed's top students
were his two brown belts, Jimmy Ibrao and Benny Otake. Shortly after I started, Jimmy Ibrao was promoted to Shodan. Ed was
proud that Jimmy (as we called him) had only taken nine months to get his black belt.
About two weeks after my brother and I began, Ed started a day class with just my brother and me,
so it was like having semi private lessons. We were going to Pasadena City College which was only a few blocks away, and we
quickly progressed in the evening from beginner to intermediate and then advanced class. Ed was organizing the what he would
teach, and had all the Kenpo techniques written on 3X5 index cards. After each class Ed would go over the techniques he wanted
to teach in the evening classes, and organize them for the article he wrote each month for Ironman Magazine. He wanted to
make sure that the techniques were not too difficult to follow and learn for anyone reading his article. The articles were
so successful Ironman gave Ed a book deal, and we began organizing the techniques for what would become, Kenpo Karate
the Law of the Fist and Empty Hand.
NOTE by Roarke Tracy: My father and Uncle Jim began training in October, 1957,
and my Uncle Al was in the Air Force. About two weeks later Uncle Al had over two months of leave time and came went Pasadena
where he began training. He came back on another thirty day leave in mid 1958, before going discharged from the Air Force,
when the began training each week.
I trained with Ed Parker until the March 1959 and having access to Ed Parker's Kenpo techniques he
kept on 3x5 index cards in his desk my brothers and I copied them by hand because there were no copy machines back then. As
my brothers an I went through the cards to pick out the techniques he would teach the advanced class each night it became
obvious that Ed had taught us just about everything he had on the cards; which was everything he knew. I told Ed I wanted
to go to Hawaii to train with Professor Chow and Ed liked the idea, because he knew from the Island boys who had come over,
that Professor Chow was not happy with him. Ed wanted to make amends, and he wanted Professor Chow to promote him to a higher
rank. But Ed also wanted to add forms to his system. All of the Japanese karate demonstrations were getting great response
from their forms, but Ed didn't have any. I suggested that we go to San Francisco where I knew several Kung Fu men, and Ed
could see what Chinese forms were like.
In early February, 1959, Ed Parker, and my brother Al Tracy and I went to San Francisco and I introduced
Ed to Al Novak who was a friend studying Kung Fu in San Francisco with Professor T.Y. Wong, and it was through Professor Wong
that Ed met Jimmy Lee. Ed was impressed with the forms, but considered them to be closer to the Tai Chi I showed him than
Ed was claiming 3rd degree black belt at the time, and no one questioned this. I though he wanted
to be promoted to 5th degree, because that was the rank of some of the Japanese karate instructors at the time.
I arrived in Hawaii in March and after settling in with a friend went to pay my respects to Professor
Chow. Chow, however was not at all receptive when I first met him. Then I went with Tom Loura to pay my respects to Thomas
Young; and it was Young who introduced me to Fusae Oshita. Oshita did not teach, and I didn't even think of asking her. But
after Tom and I took her out to dinner, she asked to see what I had learned. I was a beginner, and didn't want to show how
little I knew to a master, so I did the Yang Tai Chi form. She was impressed. She had wanted to learn Tai Chi for years, but none of the Chinese knew the
form, or if they did, they said they didn't. She asked me to teach her the form, and I told her I could only show her the
moves, I could never teach it because I wasn't good enough. She agreed to teach me Kenpo in exchange for showing her the Tai
Chi moves. Oshita is the only one I ever showed the 9 Yang style forms.
As soon as Professor Chow learned that Oshita had taken me on as a student, he accepted me as a student
also. A few months later (September) Ed arrived in Hawaii. This was the first time he had gone to Hawaii since leaving for
BYU in 1954. Ed and I met the day before his meeting with Professor Chow, and I told Ed that Chow was not happy with his success.
However, I brokered an agreement with Ed and Chow that Ed would open another school and split the profits with Chow. But Professor
Chow first wanted to see results from the new school, and Ed returned to the mainland without the promotion.
Ed had turned the Pasadena studio over to Al and Jim Tracy in August 1959, to finish the photographs
for his book so he could go to Hawaii, and Al and Jim raised the first months gross receipts from its usual $600 to over $1,000.
When Ed returned from Hawaii in late September 1959, he found the school doing so well that he saw no need to go there to
teach, and that gave him time to go over the final draft for his book. Over the next few weeks, Ed taught private lessons
to the Beverly Hills students, and train Al and Jim in his back yard each day when they brought the studio receipts to him.
By the end of the year, December, which was always the worst month for money in the school, Al and Jim brought in $2000.
The business success my brothers had was the beginning of a change in Kenpo, which began with changing
the belt rank system. There were 5 Kyu grades (white belt was upgraded) and the grades went from 5th to 1st Kyu with (5th)
Gokyu being a white belt with one brown tip, (4th) Yonkyu, a white belts with two brown tips, (3rd) Sankyu, Nikyu and Ikkyu
were brown belts.
Al Tracy knew that 90% of beginning students dropped out after one month - even though they paid for
three months in advance. He knew that most of the dropouts were discouraged with their progress, so he began calling all the
students who had dropped out over the past three months and told them their class payments had been extended so they could
complete the rest of their three months without any additional charge. As they came in, he and Jim would take a few minutes
to evaluate what they had learned, and when they went to the beginning class, Jim would lead the class and Al would go around
and help the students with any problem they were having. The students progressed much faster than just going to class and
trying to pick up what the other students were doing.
My brothers thought the techniques that Ed had in his soon-to-be published Kenpo Karate the Law
of the Fist and Empty Hand and worked the students hard towards learning all 62 techniques. Al would tell each student
how close he was getting to his one brown tip, and it enthused them to where many of them brought in friends to sign up. For
each friend who signed up, the student got a month of free lessons.
When Ed returned from Hawaii, Al told Ed he wanted to add two more Kyu (brown tips) to white belt
as the Japanese system had. Ed agreed, but wanted to think about it. Ed had completed, Kenpo Karate the Law of the Fist
and Empty Hand and was already planning a second book. But that book required help from Chinese scholars. Ed waited until
after his son was born in mid November, and the following week he took several of his students with him to San Francisco.
The day before he left, he changed the belt system to add, (7th - 1 brown tips) Shichikyu and (6th - 2 brown tips) Rokkyu.
Rich Montgomery - brown belt
Chuck Pranke - two tips
April 1963: Chuck Pranke
|All existing One Tippers were advanced to Two Tippers (but not given certificates because
they would have gone from Gokyu, to Rokkyu [5th to 6th]), and all Two Tippers, including Chuck Pranke, and my brothers, Al
and Jim, were advanced to Four Tippers which was still Yonkyu. There was an immediate response to this. Students who had learned
more than thirty techniques were now One Tippers, and they began signing up their friends. Unfortunately, Ed Parker never
fully grasp the concept that Kenpo students did best when their progress was rewarded. |
Rich Montgomery, Ed Parker
T.Y. Wong, James Ibrao
|San Francisco was a great success for Ed Parker. He not only met with several more Kung
Fu instructors, but from what he saw, he knew he could write a second book - this one on Kung Fu.
Ed received an advance from Ironman for Kenpo Karate and brought his parents to Pasadena
to visit. I returned to Los Angeles on the same flight, and my brothers and I took Ed's family to the bull fights in Tijuana.
I didn't have a chance to go to Ed's studio at that time because it was Christmas, and I left for Salt Lake City the following
Kenpo Karate Setting History Right 1962-1964by
(second revision 8/8/99)
The period between 1962 and 1964 saw more visible changes in Kenpo than any other time.
Not only did brown tips go to the colored belt system that has become almost universal, but the naming of techniques also
changed. Except for the "Dance of Death" and "Leap of Death" the techniques were identified by names like defenses against
a "two hand lapel grab" and as many as ten variations given as a, b, c, etc. and 1, 2, 3, etc.; and "two hand lapel grab 2"
etc. Some like the "Orchard", were named after an advanced students favorite techniques. Gary Orchard liked elbow techniques
and hence the name "Orchard".
The order in which the techniques were taught was haphazard, and Ed was arbitrary in awarding belts.
Al had talked Ed into using the 62 techniques that would be in Ed's book, Kenpo Karate, for the First Brown Tip
back in 1959, but Ed didn't stick to this.
Ed Parker would sometimes award a brown tip to a student who had fewer than half the required number,
and fail to award a tip to another student who knew as many as 150 techniques. The first thing we did in the San Francisco
studio was set a technique standard for each belt, giving us just under 700 techniques for Sandan (3rd degree black belt).
My brothers and I had copied the techniques on 3x5 index cards with the attack and the description
of the defense. We learned this from Ed Parker who kept a card file with all the techniques in his desk drawer. My two brothers
and I copied his complete card file by hand, as there were no copy machines back then.
|Shortly before going to the colored belt system we began the process of reorganizing the
techniques into a standard belt system. 62 techniques had been required for 1 brown tip under the 2 tip system. However, when
the four brown tip system was adopted, the standard changed because Jimmy Wing Woo began adding forms. But the number of techniques
was to 40 techniques per belt which covered the 700 plus Kenpo techniques and variations. The problem was, Ed Parker reduced
that number, and changed the requirements several times from 1960 to 1964, but the Tracy brother kept the 40 technique requirement.
The number would change when Yellow Belt was added, and be reduced in 1966 to 30 techniques per belt making the total number
of techniques and variations 600 through 5th degree black (Godan) where it has remained since then.
Al and I were accustomed to Chinese names from Tai chi, but coming up with unique names for over 400
techniques proved challenging. We first divided the index cards into stacks according to the difficulty of the techniques.
Then we made stacks of 40 techniques that would give a wide range of attack defenses for each belt. That set the standard
for each belt. Next we gave somewhat arbitrary names to techniques, and some kept the common name, such as "Full Nelson".
Some of the technique names would later be changed to make them less arbitrary.
We were getting ready to open the second school in Sacraments, but Ed Parker needed me because his
La Cienega studio was failing. I returned to Pasadena in February 1963 to help Ed use the same system we had developed in
San Francisco. Ed was an excellent teacher, and developed several teaching techniques for Kenpo. The problem was, 90% of his
students quit in less than a month, while my brothers retained over 50% of our students for over three months.
Ed hadn't changed the way he was teaching from when I went to San Francisco, nor had h3 organized
the order in which the techniques were taught. The classes were Monday/Wednesday, and Tuesday/Thursday, with one technique
taught on Monday and a second taught on Wednesday. However, the Tuesday/Thursday classes might be taught two entirely different
techniques, and the only time techniques were reviewed was in working the line. But most of Ed's classes were devoted to teaching
forms - the same form over and over and over.
Ed had promoted a black belt that the KKAA had refused to approve, as well as several brown belts
who had not even been submitted at the KKAA Board meeting, and he had given them KKAA certificated. This was the first break
Ed had with the KKAA Board and was the prelude for what was to come. Ed close the La Cienega school shortly after that and
I put the new Santa Monica school in the black right away and it was the first really the only other successful studio Ed
NOTE: Terry Hunt had a body building studio in West Los Angeles, and in 1962 Ed had
me teach Terry private lessons. We became friends, and his best friend, Audie Murphy would join us. Terry owned a building
on Santa Monica Blvd. across the street from the off ramp of the newly opened Santa Monica Freeway. The building was small,
but it was close to UCLA, and I knew it would be perfect for a studio. The building had a year left on the lease and Terry
agreed to lease it to Ed Parker when it became available. Ed wasn't interested at the time, because he though the La Cienega
school would be a big money maker. La Cienega, however, was losing money when the lease was up on Terry Hunt's building, and
Terry offered rent at far below the market, so I told Ed to take a one year lease with a five year option. This would be the
best business decision Ed Parker ever made, but what he did with it would be disastrous for him.
I lived in the Santa Monica studio when I was in Los Angeles, and Bronislaw Kaper, whom I had met
when I first began training with Ed in 1967 came to the studio to work out with me. Bronie was an Academy Award winning composer,
and in his youth had been the Polish Junior Saber Champion. He had stopped training with Ed Parker in 1963 when Ed Parker
taught him the Staff Set. Bronie recognized the strength of Kenpo when he first saw it, but as he told me, the Staff Set,
which was created by one of Ed Parker's brown belts (for which Ed awarded him a black belt - not Shodan - in 1962) was "pure
With the Santa Monica studio bringing in over $5,000 a month, Ed open
another school at 7413 Crenshaw Blvd. I warned him that the school was not in the right location, but Ed wanted to have more
schools than my brother because Jim Tracy had opened the second school in Sacramento as part of Ed's "Kenpo Karate Studios
in America," which Ed was promoting as his "STUDIOS IN SAN FRANCISCO AREA."
When John McSweeney promoted his first students in Ireland, he found how much resistance the Irish
had to accepting the Kenpo Karate Association of America certificates. Ed decided to create an international organization
so Kenpo could be accepted around the world. In June 1963 Ed asked me to visit karate schools around the United States to
test the idea he had been working on since 1959 for forming a karate federation. His new idea was an International
Karate Federation, of which Kenpo, represented by the KKAA, would be one of the many karate styles, and Ed would
be one of the founding members. Ed hoped to have this coincide with the first national karate tournament held in Chicago by
I found the karate schools I visited to be friendly to me, but hostile to any organization other than
their own. I presented this to Ed in Chicago and Mills Crenshaw, who had been one of Ed Parker's students at BYU persuaded
Ed to drop the idea of a federation and concentrate on an international Kenpo Karate organization. This was the first time
the concept of the "International Kenpo Association" was mentioned, and this was the first time I, or anyone else in California
had heard of Mills Crenshaw.
It was not until January 1964 that the "International Kenpo Karate Association" (IKKA) was mentioned
again. This was at the board meeting of the KKAA when Ed told us that he was withdrawing from the KKAA and turning it over
to my brothers and me, so he could run the IKKA.
The IKKA concept was sound in theory, but flawed by human reality. The KKAA would be the governing
body for Kenpo Karate in the United States, and a part of the IKKA, with John McSweeney's Irish association, and another association
being formed in Canada. There were no dues or fees charged by the KKAA, and certificates were given without charge. The IKKA,
on the other hand would charge $35 a year for membership. (Gas was 22 Cents a gallon, bread 15 Cents a loaf and a movie was
a dollar back then.) We knew Ed would go ahead with the IKKA regardless of what we said, so we agreed to take over the KKAA.
The first IKKA certificates did not appear for another month. Mills Crenshaw didn't know that Ed did
not own the KKAA emblem and put it on the IKKA certificates. Ed, however had been working on a new emblem which never gained
much interest. Ed sent me to San Francisco to bring Ralph Castro and my brothers into the IKKA, and to promote his "International
Karate Tournament" which would be held in Long Beach that summer.
Al had promoted one of his students to Shodan in early 1964 and turned the San Francisco studio over
to him, so he could open a third school in San Jose, and Ralph Castro, as well as my brothers' three schools joined the IKKA.
Ed then asked me to go around the country to promote his Internationals with the schools I had visited
the year before. I first went to Robert Trais in Arizona, but got a very cold reception. He didn't like the idea of anyone
taking the tournament idea from him. I then went to Salt Lake City, and my first day there I was in a motorcycle accident.
I was going to be laid up for at least two weeks with my right leg, and Mills Crenshaw graciously
allowed me to stay at his karate school. One of the first things I saw at his school was his IKKA black belt certificate that
promoted Mills to Sandan (3rd degree black belt). I was dumbfounded because at that time Ed Parker was a Sandan and the IKKA
certificate had him as a Godan (5th degree black belt).
I didn't say anything, as I wanted to ask Ed Parker in person about the promotion and belt ranks.
I left for New York later in June, and didn't see Ed until after the Internationals, but he was too busy to talk about business.
Two days later I met with Ed and asked him about the Sandan promotion and how he was promoted to Godan. Ed told me the IKKA
was making all promotions and he would personally be testing all Black Belts (with a belt testing fee) and awarding IKKA certificates.
This was not what we had agreed to when my brothers and I took over the KKAA. I withdrew from the
IKKA at that time, and opened my own school in Portland, Oregon. Chow was furious when he heard what rank Ed Parker was claiming,
and where there were hard feeling between Professor Chow and Ed Parker in the past, this was the thing that divided them completely.
Chow refused to recognize Ed Parker's Godan rank and refused to promote Ed Parker again.
The Santa Monica studio was an immediate success. I was signing up two and three new students a day.
Shortly after I opened my own school in 1965, Terry Hunt got an offer from an oil company to buy the property so they could
put a gas station there. Ed would have to move his school, so I flew down to Los Angeles and worked out a deal with Terry.
The oil company would purchase the property, and the property across the street where they would build Terry Hunt a large
office building (as well as give him a good deal of money). Terry would then give Ed Parker the front of the ground floor
rent free for twenty (20) years - Ed paid $1 a year rent, in one up front payment of $20.
Twenty years of free rent was great for Ed Parker in the short run, but it was devastating for advancing
his business. Ed believed his Santa Monica studio was doing great - much better than it actually was. Except for utilities,
it was all money in the bank. The problem was, if the studio had to pay rent (that is what the large studio rent should have
been), it would have gone under in less than six months.
There is an inevitability with all time - it passes, and after 20 years Ed Parker was suddenly faced
with having to pay rent on a building he could not afford. The school closed, and Ed moved the studio to a cheaper, nearby
building off Santa Monica Blvd. Location, location, location was forgotten, and that studio failed.
NOTE: One of Mills Crenshaw's students, Doctor Ray Showery, went to San Jose in the
fall, 1964 and told my brothers about Mills Crenshaw being a Sandan. A year later Mills Crenshaw called a meeting with Ed
Parker and my brothers, and they promoted Ed to Shichidan (7th degree black belt) and Al, Jim and Mills were promoted to Sandan,
with their certificates backdated to December 1964. That of course was almost a year after Mills Crenshaw got an IKKA Sandan
After the Internationals in August 1964, many of Ed Parker's high ranking
students left him to train with Bruce Lee whom Ed and my brothers and I had met at Ralph Castor's 1962 Daily City, Autumn
Moon Festival. With this new student defection, Ed vowed he would never loose a students to another Kung Fu system. He would,
instead, draw students from other schools. To do this, he adopted the color belt system established by Al Tracy two
years before, and again changed Chinese Kenpo to the new "Ed Parker System".
The one thing Ed Parker found would attract students from other Kenpo schools was to offer them higher
The total number of techniques in Ed's new system was cut to under 200, and the variations were either
eliminated or made into techniques. Instead of 40 techniques (and variations) per belt, Ed only required 25 with no variations.
Those were replaced by forms; and Ed would lower the number of techniques required for each belt even further.
The backdating of belt certificates was a standard procedure for Ed Parker after the IKKA was created.
The John Mc Sweeney IKKA Shodan certificate is dated September 27, 1962, which is the date the KKAA met and approved John for Shodan. However, the
IKKA was not even in existence at that time:
The IKKA would drop both the Board of Regents and the Yudanshai from its later certificates.
- No one in the KKAA had ever heard of Mills Crenshaw at that time in 1962.
- Ed Parker was only a Sandan at that time, yet he is listed with the rank of Godan under his signature.
- There was no Yudanshai International at that time, the Kenpo Yuudansha was founded on November 10,
1961 and was never part of the later IKKA.
- There was no Board of Regents in 1962, and when I asked Ed Parker in 1964 who was on the Board of
Regents besides Mills Crenshaw, he didn't know.