Edmund Kealoha Parker


3/19//31  -  12/15/90


Ed Parker began his martial arts training studying Kenpo in Honolulu.  His basics came from the Chow brothers, for whom he had great respect, but the balance of his system of American karate was developed through his own investigations over the years that follow.


Coming to Los Angeles after World War II, Mr. Parker settled in Pasadena.  His first job was with a bodybuilding studio but was soon out on his own, planning to open a commercial studio.  Through his teaching contacts, he was introduced to members of the health club at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a crowd which consisted mainly of directors, producers and movie stars.


After opening his first karate school and introducing his art to the media, he created an international chain of Kenpo Studios, sponsored major tournaments, wrote books and made films.  He became more than a teacher, he became a communicator of ideas.  In the process, he became larger than life - he became a legend.


Knowledge is bound when confined to tradition; knowledge is endless when tradition is bound.


                                                                                Ed Parker, The Zen of Kenpo

The business side of it started slowly, beginning in 1964 and accelerating in the 1978-1980 period, eventually culminating with 170 karate schools throughout a dozen countries by 1990.  During this period he was involved in other ventures: seven films, roles in TV shows, and 11 books on his approach to his art.  One of his foremost publications is the Encyclopedia of Kenpo, designed as a guide for students and instructors in his system.


Mr. Parker had success in smaller but equally meaningful ways, among them teaching disabled youth in helping young people find themselves.


"I found a lot of kids who don't get any recognition in their home, did it by belonging to the tough group on the street corner," said Parker.  "But once you give a kid confidence he becomes independent.  He becomes capable of doing his own thing without the need to congregate with this element.  These are the kind of stories that are more meaningful to me than some guy who went down to the local bar and cleaned out 10 guys."


Getting the lesson across may just sum up what Mr. Parker's career was all about.  No other martial art exists that is so well explained and documented for the benefit of the students.  Mr. Parker's art of American Kenpo is truly a masterpiece.

Inside Kung-Fu July 1977


He was the first major commercial karate school owner, the first major promoter, the originator and also head of one the largest karate organizations in the world.



Black Belt November 1985


Ed Parker is often credited with opening the first commercial karate school in the continental U.S. in the 1950s, and his International Kenpo Karate Association is one of the most successful martial arts organizations worldwide.




Below is the biography of Ed Parker, as written by Ed Parker on

December 28, 1987. Click the title and it will expand for reading.