Ed Parker Magazine Articles


Some time ago I was working on a project called The Kenpo Journal.  It was an accumulation of information on Ed Parker and American Kenpo.  During the process I accumulated a fair number of articles that were written by, or about Ed Parker.


As you read these articles, you can't help but see how determined Mr. Parker was, in regard to his art of American Kenpo. He once told me he was a "Visionary" and he knew everything he would accomplish in day, a week, a month - in his life!


Note: There are a fair number of typos in these articles. Some are from the original text and some are my own. I purposely left most the original typos in place, while accidentally leaving a few of my own.


Word count for the below articles has reached 78,843 words - Enjoy

  • Kenpo Karate: Is Self-Defense Really Necessary?  /  Iron Man  /  Oct. 1958  /  V-18  No. 3  /  Ed Parker

    Self-defense is indeed necessary.  The old theory that it can never happen to me is little comfort when it really does happen.  No sensible person can assume that all trouble happens to just certain persons or just a certain group of persons.  It can happen any time without warning.  If not today, perhaps tomorrow, if not tomorrow it will surely take place in one's lifetime.  Kenpo Karate prepares one for such a crisis.  Regardless of the seriousness of the situation, knowledge of Kenpo Karate will truly prove invaluable.


    Only a few weeks ago a friend of one my students came to my school and expressed that ever-so-common phrase, "trouble will never come my way so why should I take any self-defense course?"  A week after our first meeting he came to me again, only this time with determination to acquire defensive training.  The same night of our first meeting he was attacked by two hoods who had no reason for their actions.  While bending over to open his briefcase one of the hoods approached from the side and caught him on the jab with a staggering right punch.  Stunned he turned to see who struck him; at that moment the other assailant kicked him in the groin.  Dropping with pain, he watched as his attackers casually walked away.


    There have been many like incidents lately and attacks of this nature are on the increase.  We read about them daily in the local newspapers.  To the average citizen these incidents mean nothing since they do not concern them.  We would feel sorry if that were to happen to our friends, but we would chalk it up as a "bad break" and possibly say, "poor guy, he was unlucky."  Not until it actually happens to us do we try to prepare ourselves.


    Although this modern world that we live in is eliminating many of our old problems it is creating new ones.  The strength, endurance, and hardy physique we were once dependent upon to protect our country, or families and ourselves is being lost in our new easy going way of life.  Transportation by buses, cars, elevators, escalators, etc., all save countless hours of effort during our day.  They have become a necessity, but something else is now needed to compensate for the lessened physical activity and the great amount of time on our hand s.


    Not knowing what to do with this enormous amount of free time, many of our young people are seeking outlets.  Some are frequenting reputable organizations such as the YMCA, commercial gyms and athletic clubs.  Unfortunately, there are others who misuse their time and do things that are not constructive.  Because of idleness and boredom, some of their activities are steered toward stealing, street fighting and other vices.


    Present day fighting has changed somewhat from the old days when men fought one man at a time, regardless of number.  To find this type of ethics in present day fighting is rate.  The size of a person is no barrier to those who collect in great numbers.  Big or small, heavy or light, the odds are increased proportionately.  Even age and sex mean nothing to those who seek what they term entertainment.


    Kenpo Karate is the answer in combating this unethical way of fighting.  It teaches one how to fell an opponent through the manipulation of the hands, feet, knees and elbows.  Each blow is delivered swiftly and precisely so that very little time is spent on one man.  The coordination developed is such that three opponents can receive a blow at exactly the same precise moment.  Using the many parts of the body as weapons, combined with the knowledge of maneuverability, a person with knowledge of Kenpo Karate can be equivalent to five or more men.


    Aside from elaborating on the necessity of self-defense, the purpose of this article is also to show in photographic series how one can easily escape from a common hammer lock.  This picture series depicts one of the more effective means of countering such a hold.


    I is hoped that through these articles the art of Kenpo Karate will become known and appreciated throughout the United States.  More articles and lessons will follow, not only showing how to combat one opponent, but several opponents at the same time.  So as the old adage goes, “don’t miss the next exciting episode”.


    Countering the Hammer Lock


    When first learning, go through your moves very slowly.  Be conscious of your footwork before even doing the arm movements.  When sure of your movements do not hesitate to increase your speed.


    Picture 1 shows opponent applying a hammer lock.

    1a – Step back to the right (on a 45 degree angle) with your left foot.  Simultaneously start your left elbow into motion.  (Make sure that your left hand is clenched and palm facing the ground.  Doing this contributes to your power.)


    1b – As your left foot is planted make contact with your left elbow to nerve center on left side of opponent’s jaw (at end of jaw, directly under ear lobes).


    1c & 1d – show left arm circling counter clockwise around opponent’s right arm after striking with your left elbow.


    1e – with your right hand still grasping your opponent’s right wrist, (holding wrist stationary), strike against opponent’s left elbow with the bend of your left arm (Using the inside portion of your left elbow).  Strike with your left arm as you would a left uppercut.  CAUTION – Be sure not to use too much pressure when working with a partner.


    1f – while still applying pressure against opponent’s left elbow with your left arm, have your right foot sweep clockwise and back, (a quarter of a turn): dropping your left shoulder slightly during the process.


    1g – release your right hand (so that your movements will not be restricted) and use your right knee to strike opponent’s face.  FINAL STEP (no picture).  Release opponent entirely, step back with your right foot and take cover.  Do this in anticipation of further trouble.  Picture shows Ed Parker and Dan Vafiadis (student).  Photos take by Ben Otake.


    Note:  This may be a couple of the earliest typos in Mr. Parker’s writing of our techniques as in step 1e, he says to apply pressure against opponent’s “LEFT” elbow and in step 1f, he says “while still applying pressure against opponent’s LEFT elbow.  Whereas the photos clearly show Mr. Parker applying pressure to the opponent’s RIGHT elbow.  RH


  • Violent Repose  /  Time Magazine  /  March 1961  /  V-77  No. 10  /  Editors

    Violent Repose


    Friday, Mar. 03, 1961


    Rarely had Hollywood, which knows something about such things, witnessed such a spectacle of eye gouging, groin kicking and neck chopping.  To a lavishly mirrored studio on Los Angeles' South La Cienega Boulevard last week came a pack of TV and film stars to watch an exhibition of the latest fad in craze-crazy filmland: karate.  A more violent cousin of jujitsu and judo, Japanese-imported karate (pronounced kah-rah-tay) aims at delivering a fatal or merely maiming blow with hand, finger, elbow or foot, adopts the defensive philosophy that an attacker deserves something more memorable than a flip over the shoulder.  Karate is now taught in more than 50 schools across the U.S., has an estimated 50,000 practitioners. But nowhere has it caught on more solidly than in Hollywood, where disciples seek tranquility in its rigid discipline and authority.


    Better Board than Head.  Karate has won the allegiance of such as Actors Rory Calhoun, Macdonald Carey, Nick (The Rebel) Adams and TV Detectives Frank Lovejoy, Darren McGavin, and Rick (Dangerous Robin) Jason.  Elvis Presley, who learned the sport in Germany as a G.I., now spars with two sidekicks during moviemaking lulls, and even Film Composer Bronislaw Kaper has taken to the loose white gi suit worn for karate lessons.  Says Hollywood Columnist Joe Hyams: "We all work in an environment that's fraught with hostility.  It's great to bust a board instead of a head."


    Board busting with the naked hand is a spectacular but comparatively recent demonstration of karate (literally, empty hands).  Legend holds that the sport was started in the 6th century by an Indian Buddhist monk named Daruma Taishi, who taught it to Chinese monks.  It was refined on Okinawa after 1600, introduced in the 1920s to Japan, where it quickly shared popularity with the gentle art of jujitsu and its systematized variation, judo.  But where their aim is to use an opponent's own weight to throw him to the floor without necessarily injuring him, karate aims at increasing its user's own strength to kill or injure an adversary by striking him at any of 26 vital points—chiefly with the toughened edge of the hand or the clenched fist.  Although used by Japanese troops during World War II, karate is considered too ferocious for the U.S. armed forces.  Nor do municipal police forces take regular karate training.  "In no court," said one police official, "would karate be called 'reasonable force' in subduing a prisoner."


    Karate King. The high priest of Hollywood's fast-growing karate sect, and host at last week's exhibition, is a black-maned, 6-ft., 210-lb. devout Mormon named Ed Parker, who, he says, learned the deadly, lightning-fast ballet in his native Honolulu in order to avoid getting into fights with friends who taunted him because he did not drink or smoke. After serving a Coast Guard hitch during the Korean War and graduating from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he moved to Pasadena, opened his first karate studio four years ago, started a second in January. He frowns upon any ostentatious use of karate, prefers to ram his fist through ten corrugated roof tiles in the privacy of his studio.



    As a side not to this article.  My friend, Gregory Satterfield‎, forwarded the article to Chuck Sullivan and this was his response.




    I remember the demo Ed put on for these guys. I was there at the La Cienega Studio that night. It was quite an event. I'm pretty sure that's the night Nick Adams showed up late. He came directly from the studio where he was filming "The Rebel". He showed up in full wardrobe, buckskin shirt and pants, boots and six guns included.  Too bad, because by the time he showed up, almost everyone had left. He was quite a sight.


    Pass this back to Rich if you can.





    I responded to Greg that it was amazing how Chuck lived the history of Kenpo right along side Mr. Parker.


  • Ed Parker, The Blackbelted Mormon  /  Black Belt  /  April 1961  /  V-1  No. 1  /  By William E. Slove

    Ed Parker is a youthful, six foot, slightly over two hundred pound Hawaiian who owns and operates two Kenpo Karate schools in the Los Angeles area. He is a calm, amiable man whose manner is strangely incongruous when his potentiality for violence is considered. Perhaps it is this incongruity that best explains this devout Mormon and his calling. For, in a sense, to explain Ed Parker is to explain Karate itself.


     He was born and raised in Honolulu where as a youth, somewhat retiring and self-conscious, he first learned of the art from the large Oriental population on the islands. His desire to attain some means of self-confidence led to his decision to investigate this paradoxical mixture of violence and gracious humility. He placed himself in the hands of William K. S. Chow, a Karate Master in Honolulu, under whose tutorship he soon realized that he had found the answer to his problem.

    The advent of the Korean conflict, which found him serving a hitch in the Coast Guard, did not dull his enthusiasm for the sport. When, subsequently, he attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Here he received a degree in sociology, he also became a Karate instructor.


    Nick Adams, star of "Rebel", blocks a punch thrown by his instructor, Ed Parker.  (Photo)


    These first lessons were given to some Hawaiian students who, because of their diminutiveness, showed an interest in this form of self-defense. Although his abilities as an instructor soon made themselves evident this was also where he became aware of the problems he was to face.


    It was shortly after his class had given a demonstration during a basketball game between Brigham Young and UCLA that he was asked to give a similar exhibition before some seventy members of the local city police, Sheriff's Department and the Utah Highway Patrol. They were so impressed that as a result he was soon instructing lawmen from all parts of the state. Selecting a group of more advanced students he toured the state giving many exhibitions.  However, after these initial successes, Ed Parker has been unable to sell Karate to other law enforcement agencies. In California lawmen have been duly impressed but have refused to acknowledge Karate as acceptable to their work. They declare that it is too vicious and contrary to the legal viewpoint which regards violence as abhorrent. This attitude exposes the general publics ignorance concerning the subject and is of particular annoyance to Ed Parker. He argues that they are not aware of its mental and philosophical factors. Although the outward impression given by Karate is that of savage brutality this is only the visible product of intense mental conditioning. A student of the art must adhere to a rigid code which by its very nature subdues the petty instincts of man. As a student progresses and his knowledge of Karate increases so does his respect for it: as self confidence grows so does his respect f or the rights of others.


     Ed Parker's contention soon manifests itself as one watches one of his classes in action. They are conducted in an atmosphere of austere solemnity and dedication. He is a calmly forceful instructor. You soon realize that you are witnessing techniques which demand both mental and physical exertion. You begin to understand that here both the body and the mind are learning new strength. It is unfortunate that these aspects of the art were not previously made known to the public. When Karate first became known, television, uninformed and desperate for something new and exciting, showed episodes where a Karateist, his hands heavily calloused and malformed, his features contorted brutally and cast always as villain, used his knowledge indiscriminately for evil purposes. Ed Parker recoils at this characterization and is quick to retort that a Karateist, more than any other individual, will turn his back and walk away from trouble, secure and confident in the knowledge that it is not necessary to prove his might or manhood. A trained Karateist possesses an abundance of self-restraint and assurance. It is a matter of record that most Karateists have gone through life without ever having to resort to its use.

     Notwithstanding, Ed Parker now has reason to regard the future of Karate in this country with optimism.


    This drawing is a copy of an ancient Chinese painting depicting a karate-like form of unharmed self-defense.


    His ability, his adamant refusal to deviate from its strict tenets and philosophies and his forthright teaching of the science have won him acclamation and the respect of people in all walks of life. Today his mirrored studio is the scene of classes which include lawyers, doctors and other professional men who are aware of the value of the art. Some of Hollywood's best known personalities, MacDonald Carey, Nick Adams, Rick Jason, Darren McGavin, among others, attend his sessions regularly. His advice and knowledge are sought by film studios now becoming aware of Karate's true meaning.


     Unlike some instructors who profess to be experts Parker minimizes the sensational and melodramatic aspects of Kempo Karate. Where others, in order to appeal to some pugnacious facets of human nature, declare that they teach "the art of killing" or "make you a master of anyone," he concerns himself with the truisms of Karate. His goal is to enable his students to reap the benefits it endows.


     Karate is a skill that requires time and thought. One who intends to use it aggressively is only disillusioning himself. He declares that the end product of his training has always been respect towards others obedience to the laws of the land humility and self-restraint.

     Parker states that the ability to shatter bricks, stones or boards is merely the manifestation of the truth of Karate. It is not the ability to do these things that counts, it is the amalgamation of mind-arc body it represents that is important. If one were interested only in shattering bricks then a sledge-hammer would accomplish the job.


     Karate, as it was originally set forth by its founder, Daruma Taishi, sought to strengthen the minds and wills of weak, dispirited peoples. Its immediate evidences of physical power might have been what first impressed them but unknown to them it was also creating an inner strength that was of greater importance. It evolved within them a store of self-assurance which helped them immeasurably in everyday life. It aided them in eliminating the pettiness which is born of weakness and insecurity. It enabled them to regard their fellowmen in a different light, with more respect and understanding. A strong man, both physically and mentally, refuses to pay tribute to demonstrations of human failing and frailty. Problems, formerly distorted and ballooned disproportionately, now become more readily solvable.


    As you watch Parker put his class through its paces, moving from man to man and making certain that his instructions are being correctly followed, your eyes light on a plaque hanging on the wall and in view of all the students, The Karate Creed:


    "I come to you with only 'Karate'—Empty Hands. I have no weapons. But should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor; should it be a matter of life or death, or right or wrong; then here are my weapons-'Karate'-My Empty Hands."


     You suddenly have a new understanding of Karate. You shake hands with Ed Parker, remarkably smooth and uncalloused hands which seem strangely out of place here, and then you leave. As you do you have a feeling that here you have met a man.


  • Ed Parker's View on Karate in U.S.  /  Black Belt  /  July 1964  /  V-2  No. 4  /  Editors

    Edmond Parker, a six-foot, devout Mormon, is one of the pioneers in the expansion of karate in United States.  Although he first started to instruct in 1949 in Utah, it was not until 1956 when he came to Los Angeles that he actually put forth his great effort in that movement.  Today, he is the most renowned karateist in the U.S., being featured in widely circulated newspapers and magazines and being interviewed frequently on television.


    Recently one of Black Belt’s reporters interrupted Ed’s training at his Pasadena’s dojo for a candid conversation:


    Ed, do you think the A.A.U. will ever recognize karate as a sport?


    I feel that after this coming Olympic in Japan, the AAU will accept karate and will also include it in its program in the following Olympic.  I also think it will eventually replace boxing.


    Speaking of boxing, recently the public has taken an adverse attitude toward it, do you think karate will supersede it?


    Sure it will, if karate is presented to the public properly.  Favoritism in tournaments should be banned and all tournaments should be opened to all clubs.  I’m attempting to set a precedent in a coming tournament in Long Beach.


    What tournament is that?


    Haven’t you heard? On August 2, a huge tournament is being sponsored at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.  Participants will come from Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Canada, Africa, Hong Kong, the Armed Forces, and from the various states.  I think the tournament will be appreciated and approved in California because there won’t be any form (Kata) contest.  It will be strictly freestyle sparing (Kumite).  Kata will be only for demonstration.  Last year I attended a tournament in Chicago.  From the outset I was entirely against the Kata contest because I knew it was going to be difficult to choose the winner.  Some of the contestants used Okinawan styles.  Their movements, performed with deep breathing, were slow and beautiful.  But they we not among the winners because the judges did not now how to grade them since they never seen anything like that before.  Unless the participants are from the same school, Kata contest is unfair and causes discontentment among the contestants.


    Ed, how many karateka do you expect to show up?


    About 350.  We are presenting 19 trophies with a value over $1,000.  The grand champion trophy alone will be valued at $200.


    Do you think the martial arts in this county will ever be as popular as England and France?


    I know they will!  But there exist a false concept that must be eliminated as we grow, and we hope we can work toward it this coming August.  Everyone thinks his art is the best.  I don’t advertise that mine is the best.  I feel that each art has something to offer to one another.


    In Judo a bigger man has an advantage over a smaller opponent, what about karate?


    Well . . . er it could be.  Sure, a bigger and stronger man will have a definite advantage over a smaller opponent.


    Is there any possibility of organizing karate into one unit like the Judo Black Belt Federation?


    It can be done, if the members have confidence in the chosen leaders.  Such an affiliation will keep karate on a higher standard, especially in the grading system.


    Ed, do you think the police in Los Angeles should take up karate?


    I sincerely believe they should.  I have one gripe against them.  They do not take the trouble to find out what is karate and they assail that art as a “maiming sport”.


    What about women, do you think they should practice it?


    Certainly, it is good exercise and it develops their coordination and tones their bodies.


    Have you taught well known personalities?


    Sure, I can’t remember all of them off hand but here’s a few:  Nick Adams, MacDonald Carey, Darren McGavin, the late Frank Lovejoy, Frank Sinatra, Danny Key, and Hollywood columnist Joe Hyam.


    Who taught you karate?


    Master William Chow of Hawaii.  He’s still active and has the largest following in the Islands.


    Why did you take up karate?  Why not some other sports, like boxing?


    I was in boxing.  My dad was a boxing inspector for over 30 years.  I took up karate 15 years ago because I felt, and still feel, that karate will be of greater benefit to me, especially in my old age.  Karate relies on minimum movements with maximum effect.


    Ed, when did you first teach karate?


    In 1949.  But I had to take a “break” 1951 when I joined the Coast guard.  I resumed teaching in 1953 in Utah to the law enforcement, and to the students and faculties of Brigham Young University.  Incidentally, the students were given college credits for their training sessions.


    Did you finish Brigham Young University?


    Yeah.  I graduated in 1956 with a B.S. in sociology and psychology.  I minored in political science.  Prior to that I matriculated at Kamehameha High School in Honolulu.


    Are you married?


    Yes, I’m married to a Hawaiian girl, name of Leilani.  I have four children.  Although they are still young, I’ve already initiated them to the fundamental techniques of karate.


    I know you’ve already written two books, are you planning to write another?


    Oh Yes, Actually I’ve just completed my third.  I’m still debating with my publisher as to its title


  • Hawaiians Dominate the First International Karate Championships  /  Black Belt  /  Jan. 1965  /  V-3  No. 1  /  Editors

    Hawaiians Dominate the First International Karate Championships


    “Hawaii!”  This magic word has stirred millions of hearts as a paradise to visit; where the palm trees sway, the “hula” girls swing to the rhythm of the ukulele and steel guitars.  Nobody works.  Everybody just loafs and plays.  This is what we’re been led to believe.


    So when Miss Ruby Paglinawan appeared on the floor of the Long Beach, California, municipal auditorium, the overflow crowd of 5,000 expected her to dance the “hula.”  But lo and behold, Miss Paglinawan, dressed in her karate gi (suit), punched and kicked with authority as her reluctant opponent, Ben Otake, kept moving away, wanting no part of her.  The crowd cheered her on: “get um!” “kill um!”


    Otake, furious at the crowd’s reaction, finally decided to stop this nonsense and retaliated.  He emerged the winner of the match.


    In the meantime the Hawaiian karate-men were mowing down their competitors.  When the final rounds came about, they found themselves competing against each other.  Twenty-two year old Michael Stone defeated fellow Hawaiian, Harry Keolanui, for the grand championship.  The match lasted only 41 seconds as the soldier from Makawao, Maui, clinched the title with two front kicks to his opponent’s body.  Stone had beaten hobbling Keolanui in the earlier Black Belt match and then had victories over Tony Tullners and Leonard Mau.


    Stone, an all-around athlete from Lahainaluna High School on Maui, has an impressive record sine taking up karate 16 months ago.  He won the national Brown Belt championship in Washington, D.C., last March, the Brown Belt championship in the Southwest Karate Championship in Dallas, Texas, last January, and the Brown Belt championship at the Tulsa Institute of Karate.


    Demonstrators Impressive


    Exhibitions by masters from Japan, Korea, China and the Philippines were very impressive.  Takayuki Kubota, 7th-Dan Black Belt, awed the crowd with his unbelievable defenses against unrehearsed knife attacks.  His attacker, hiding a real knife behind his back, feinted with a left-hand stab and slashed with his right.  But Kubota, with lighting fast hands, blocked the knife hand and threw his attacker to the hard floor.  After two attempts, the attacker went to the microphone and apologized that it was too dangerous for himself to continue.


    Then Kubota demonstrated a fantastic feat.  He got hold of a sledge hammer and began pounding his hands and shins to prove that one’s body can withstand brutal beatings.


    Other demonstrations included: Jhoon Rhee, leaping 7 feet into the air and kicking through three ¾” boards.  Tsutomu Ohshima, pulverizing two opponents simultaneously.  Bruce Lee, demonstrating kung fu, secrete art of the Chinese.  Bin Hogusa and his brother, displaying “escrima,” the stick-fighting art of the Philippines.


    The highly successful event drew 300 strong karate-men from the U.S. and Canada.


  • Karate Tournament Attracts Sellout Crowd for Second Straight Year  /  Black Belt  /  Dec. 1965  /  V-3  No. 12  /  Editors

    The second annual International Karate Tournament held recently in Long Beach, California, packed the municipal Auditorium for the second straight year and drew more than 400 participants.  At lease 4000 persons watched Mike Stone of Hawaii capture his second straight grand championship by defeating Tommy Tulleners of Altadena California.


    Tulleners earned his bid for the grand championship by defeating Al Caraulia in the light-heavyweight black belt match.  Winner of the heavyweight black belt division was Art Pelela who Stone eliminated on his way to the grand championship.  A complete listing of all the winners follows at the end of this article.


    Ed Parker, producer of the tournament, interspersed many demonstrations between matches.  Demonstrations of systems from Korea, Okinawa, Japan, China, and the Philippines thrilled the spectators.


    Jhoon Rhee, with his barefoot, split boards held several feet high.  Ben Largusa performed the Filipino art of Escrima, twirling and poking sticks with rare and agility.  Takayuki Kubota, the man with steel hands and feet, broke three bricks with one blow.  Roy Castro, eight years old, and his 11-year-old sister, April, received a warm applause for their karate demonstration.  Ark Yuey Wong showed the audience that age is no barrier to the practice of Kung Fu.


    Fumio Demura demonstrated Sai, an ancient Japanese self-defense art performed with two long knives.  Other demonstrations were performed by Chuck Norris, Tsutomu Ohshima, Bill Ryusak's Girls’ Group, Craig Clarke and Steve Willens, Dan Inasanto, and Ed Parker.


  • Parker Opens New Dojo  /  Black Belt  /  July 1966  /  V-4  No. 6  /  Editors

    Parker Opens Modern New Dojo


    Pasadena, California. - Ed Parker recently moved his international Kenpo karate Association into new headquarters.  The Association Center is a modern building rich retains strong Oriental lines.


    Parker says the building is the only one he knows of in the United States that was built specifically as a karate dojo and office.  Other karate clubs usually take over existing facilities, he noted.


    The air-conditioned building has 1,200 feet of mat area.  One wall is covered with full-length mirrors for students to practice their movements, and there is a large dressing room with showers.


  • The Race for the AAU  /  Black Belt  /  July 1966  /  V-4  No. 6  /  Editors

    Ed Parker and Jhoon Rhee are two of the most successful young men in American karate today.  In many ways, the two are dissimilar.  Parker was born in Honolulu and now heads a string of West Coast dojos.  Rhee comes originally from Korea and makes his headquarters at the other end of the continent in Washington, D.C., where he is a dojo operator and recently elected head of the US Korean Tae Kwon Do Association.


    The one thing the two do have in common.  They're both laying their prestige on the line in the riskiest gamble of their careers.  In cooperation with a number of other prominent karate men, the pair is preparing to plunge into the treacherous currents of American karate politics to set up a new nationwide karate association.


    The organization is so new that it still doesn't have an official name yet.  Suggested titles are the U.S. Karate Congress or the Karate Black Belt Federation (after the Judo Black Belt Federation).  But whatever the name finally selected, the fledgling organization is starting off with some impressive credentials.


    President of the group will be U.S. Senator Milton Young of North Dakota.  Other prominent karate men active in the founding are Henry Cho from New York City, and from the West Coast, Tsutomu Ohshirna, Tac Kubota and Fumio Demura.  Plans now call for prominent businessmen to be assigned to the group's board of directors to give the organization financial strength and help in its administration.  (One likely candidate: Blake Edwards, prominent Hollywood producer of such films as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Great Race," and "Shot in the Dark.")


    Courting the AAU


    Headquarters of the new organization will be Washington, D.C., a site which has several advantages.  In the first place, the organization during its formative period will be removed by several thousand miles from the squabbling politics of the West Coast and other Western karate groups.  Secondly, location in Washington should give a shot in the arm to the spread and advancement of the art in the both the Eastern and Southeastern sections of the country.


    The new group is launched with the aim of trying to unify and strengthen the badly split American karate movement.  The organization will be open to members of any recognized karate group, both in the U.S. and Canada.  The big prize that the new body hopes to get is recognition from the AAU as the official karate organization of the United States.


    This puts a new federation correctly on a collision course with two other major karate organizations, Robert Trias’ U.S. Karate Association (USKA) and Hidetaka Nishiyama's All-American Karate Association (AAKA), the arm of the Japan Karate Association (JKA) in the United States.


    Trias and Nishiyama have been courting the AAU to try to land that organizations official blessing.  But so far the AAU has been wavering.  Both these organizations have certain strengths and glaring weaknesses going for them in their drive to become the official spokesman for U.S. karate.


    Karate with a Conga Beat


    Official statistics of any karate group are usually highly suspect.  But the US K. A. could be what Trias says it is, the biggest karate organization at present in the country.  Trias claims to have 10,000 members, a figure that some knowledgeable observers say can be shown only on paper.  However, he is a tireless campaigner and he attracts new dojos to his banner every month.  But he has seen a number also drop out each year.


    Trias’s biggest problem is that he has been unable to bring in the really prestigious groups to his organization.  Though his US KA is open to all groups, the Japanese organizations, for instance, have stayed away.  So have most of the really important names in the country.


    Some members in these groups have shied off from what one wag has called the flamboyant Trias’ “karate with the conga beat.”  This is partly reference to the kata demonstrations put on by Trias’ attractive daughter, Roberta Trias, where she has been accompanied by a young man slapping out the beat on a conga drum.  Roberta has been promoted to second ban by her doting father.


    The question of issuing rank has been another point at issue with some of the old-line traditionalist groups.  Trias’ organization has no official links with any organizations from Japan, or any other Oriental karate countries.  He himself issues black belt ranks to his instructors, dojo operators, and others, and he has been lavish and showering them with fifth and sixth dan rankings.


    Members of the Japanese groups never tire of pointing out that their groups, have been sparing in the issue of rank is in this country, making their students really work to earn their promotions.  To this day, for instance, no Caucasian has ever attained higher than a third dan ranking from Nishiyama's group.


    On a related issue, there is a doubt in many minds about Trias’ own personal rank in karate.  Trias has claimed he has been awarded high rank with several major karate organizations, without being too specific about it.  Some people say they have seen documentation of his rank.  But Trias has never made it public, thus adding to the confusion on the subject.


    Nishiyama's Big Problems


    Prestige, on the other hand, is Nishiyama's strong point.  The author of a best-selling karate book, Nishiyama's name is well known.  Many impartial observers believe that Nishiyama teaches some of the best karate in the United States - a Shotokan style that is authentic, disciplined, and strict.  But Nishiyama also has his big problems.


    Proud and aloof, he has often stood apart from other groups.  For instance, in a recent tournament he sponsored in which the leading college champions from Japan took part, Nishiyama restricted participation to a few groups and shut out all others, a tactic hardly likely to endear him to those from other organizations.


    For his part, Nishiyama has certain definite opinions about karate in the United States.  He is known to feel that a number of karate groups are second rate, with inadequately trained instructors.  A perfectionist himself, he has shown little patience with those of lesser ability.


    Operating out of Los Angeles, Nishiyama has several dozen dojos spread around the country that pay loyalty to his AAKA.  His approach to American karate might be termed an experiment in Japanese rule.  Nishiyama is a Japanese citizen, and his first loyalty is to the JKA.  He has therefore, always had to overcome the obstacle of being an "outsider" in a foreign land, a problem that Trias and Parker do not have.


    To overcome this disadvantage would have called for diplomacy and tact of the highest order.  But Nishiyama has stepped on a number of toes, and his aggressive recruiting tactics have alienated some important karate men around the country.


    Even if it had been otherwise, Nishiyama still would be bucking long odds.  The history of the development of the art in every major karate country has shown that, almost invariably, the leadership of the country's karate movement has gone to citizens of that country.


    A Lesson in Europe


    This has been a lesson learned to his regret by Tetsuji Murakami, an early Shotokan pioneer in Europe.  Murakami refused to cooperate with the native karate organizations in Europe, and has found himself on the outside looking in as the European Karate Union was formed by Europeans without him.  The result has been that Murakami, a top-flight instructor, has isolated himself from the mainstream of European karate.


    And the question that has been asked of the JKA elsewhere was whether it was working for the benefit of the karate movement in the country that was hosting it, or working for the benefit of the JKA in Japan.  Recently, however, there has been one sign that the JKA may be shifting from the go-it-alone policy it has often pursued in the past.  In the Philippines, the JKA joined with other Japanese, Korean and Okinawan groups to form the Philippine Amateur Karate Organization.  (See Black Belt Times.)  If the situation was applicable in the United States, Nishiyama would strengthen his case before American karate men.


    Given Trias’ and Nishiyama's difficulties, Parker, Rhee and the others think they see a spot for a third karate organization in this country.  The details of the new group still remain to be worked out, but some of the rough outline can already be seen.


    In order to bring in as many dojos and organizations as possible, the present plan is to make for a loose federation that will accommodate everyone.  Theoretically, no one man or one group is supposed to dominate.  Special accommodation will be made for special styles.  For instance, if the Shotokan followers want to set up a special section under the general tent of the new organization, that's all right with Parker and Rhee


    The basic aims of the new federation are to promote and unite karate in the country, to set standard rules for tournament play, and, eventually, to set minimum standards to help elevate the quality of karate taught.  Another function would be to act as a central registry for all karate ranks in the United States.


    "For one thing," Parker says, "it would answer once and for all the question of how many karate men there are in the United States.  Nobody really knows now."  It would also help end the numbers game played by many karate organizations, and identify specifically how many members are registered with each group.


    The real organizational structure is to be hammered out in Washington, DC, when the representatives from around the country gather for Rhee's big national spring championship tournament.  The organizers are making the tournament a special affair.  Political and diplomatic figures are slated to attend.  Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, the stars of the television series "I Spy," head the entertainment contingent.


    The new organization has several advantages going in from the start.  Both Parker and Rhee are well-known figures in karate and can command a large following.  The two men have proven to be effective showmen.  This has caused some wrinkling of noses on the part of some of the more conservative organizations.  But there is no denying their success.  They produce the two biggest and most successful karate tournaments in the U.S. each year, Rhee's Spring nationals and Parker's fall tournament in Long Beach, California.  An initial reception to their plans for a new organization has been enthusiastic from dojo operators across the country.


    Not All Roses


    Everything is not all roses for the new federation.  It too faces some big tasks before it can be called a success.  For one thing, a loose federation with no strong head might cause administration problems.  The president of the organization, Senator Young, is a busy man and cannot be expected to devote too much attention to organizing and running the new body.  But a fledgling organization usually needs a driving, aggressive, full-time head to make it go.


    Then there are the geographical problems.  Rheee apparently will concentrate on lining up members on the East Coast and in the south where he is strong.  Parker's job will be to deliver the troublesome West.  Rhee looks to have the easier time of it.  Eastern karate clubs have shown more willingness to cooperate among themselves for the greater promotion of all.  And Rhee can work within the framework of the numerous Korean karate clubs in the East.  Henry Cho is an influential karate figure in New York and can be expected to attract a lot of followers in the big town and surrounding areas.


    Rhee brings with him high credentials.  The son of a Protestant minister, he teaches a top brand of Korean karate.  Rhee has just been named president of the US Korean Tae Kwon Do League.  Rhee’s federation claims 12,000 members.  If he can swing into the new organization anywhere near this number, it would represent a hefty base from which to start.  Combined with what Cho can steer in from New York, and Rhee’s strength in the South as well, the new group appears to be off to a running start in these sections of the country.


    Parker will have it rough for.  The Western karate man is of a rugged an individual breed.  Totally obsessed with what's happening among themselves, they tend to think that anything east of the Sierras is beyond the pale of true karatedom.  And while they have cooperated among themselves on occasion, it is generally been a rather lukewarm sort of cooperation.


    But of all of the West Coast karate men, Parker has seemed to get the most cooperation out of them.  He has been able to turn them out for his tournaments.  And interestingly enough, he has been able to work successfully with both Trias and Tsutomu Ohshima, the later a member of the 24 karat inner prestige group.


    Interestingly enough, Parker's credentials have never been verified.  If he has ever received any official rank from a major karate organization, he has never mentioned it.  Parker teaches a brand of Kenpo karate said to have a passing familiarity with Chinese Kenpo.  But how much is Chinese and how much is the 37-year-old Parker's own contribution is subject to some speculation.  Yet this fact has never actually hampered Parker's effectiveness.  For one thing, Parker is recognized as one of the early founders of karate in the country and he has worked hard and long at it, a fact that other karate men seem to give him credit for.


    Federation Lands Ohshima


    Parker's big job will be to bring in the prestige groups and the Japanese organizations which carries such weight on the West Coast.  He has already made a start in this direction by lining up Tak Kubota and Fumio Demura.  And he scored his biggest triumphant by bagging Tsutomu Ohshima for the federation.  Ohshima could well be one of the keys to success in the new organization.


    Ohshima might almost be called the grand old man of American karate.  He came to the United States in 1956, the first pioneer from Japan to instruct a major brand of karate.  He teaches a Shotokan style that is as authentic as Nishiyama’s.  Ohshima has only one dojo, in Los Angeles, so it is not sheer numbers that will contribute to the new organization.  But it will be something far more valuable.


    By bringing in a man of his unimpeachable character and prestige, it could swing a lot of the fence straddlers around the country who have been waiting to see just which way to jump.


    Tak Kubota is a pixie-sized young man who teaches his own style of karate, Gosoku Ryu.  Kubota's face is often split with a wide grin that shows his gold teeth, and he seems constantly to be supporting bandages around his wrists and ankles from injuries earned in vigorous kumite lessons.  For a little man, Kubota teaches our rough brand of karate.  He feels that his students should make contact now and then to learn to take it.  Kubota runs his own dojo in Hollywood and is head instructor for the International Karate Federation, a small chain with half a dozen dojos on the West Coast.


    Fumio Demura is a man on the way up in the karate world.  He teaches the Shitoryu style of karate and has trained under Kenei Mabuni, ahead of the school in Japan.  Demura is considered one of the best karate stylist in the United States.  He left this spring to go to Korea to study the karate styles of that country.


    This survey of the American karate would not be complete without a word about the Okinawan and Chinese groups.  Both groups are small and neither is well-organized.  The Chinese groups are just beginning to come out into the open after generations of secrecy.  But when they have come out, the Chinese groups have shown a willingness to cooperate.


    The problem with the Okinawan groups is more complex.  What is really needed in this area is a big influx of qualified instructors from Okinawa.  Much of the instruction in the United States is uneven - some good and some bad.  And there is a woeful lack of knowledge and background on the part of some of the Okinawan groups in this country.  For instance, many of the Okinawan styles bar tournament play, and yet some of the people in this country claiming to be followers of the styles do engage in tournament competition.


    The confusion on this point could stand to be cleared up.  If competition is to be allowed, it could help draw Okinawan groups closer into the general fabric of the American karate movement.  In Hawaii, for instance, the followers of Okinawan Goju do not enter into tournaments, which is one factor in the confused scheme of Hawaiian karate.


    The question of issuing ranks is another factor.  The Shimabuku school of Okinawan karate, for instance, has been criticized for being too easy on handing out ranks.  On the other hand, the Okinawan groups have generally shown a willingness to cooperate with other karate groups in advancing the general welfare of all karate.


    In fact, this urge to merge it appears to be a worldwide movement.  What is happening in the United States is only part of the same movement.  One of the three major organizations mentioned USKA., AAKA, or the Parker-Rhee tandem - appears to be the most likely vehicle for organization in the United States.  But which one it will be is still anybody's guess.  As for now the race is still wide open.


  • Bad Refereeing Makes a Botch of America''s Top Karate Tournament  /  Black Belt  /  Nov. 1966  /  V-4  No. 11  /  Editors

    Bad Refereeing Makes A Botch Of America's Top Karate Tournament


    "The only thing wrong with U.S. karate today is that the students are becoming better than a lot of the instructors who teach it and the big shots who run it."


    This tongue-in-cheek observation of one of the country's top karatmen was made at the conclusion of Ed Parker's annual extravaganza the international karate championships.  This year's championship, the major karate event of the term season, was distinguished by two factors: the increasing skill of American karate students, and the diminishing ability of their senseis to provide the officiating to keep up with better play.


    In previous years, it might have been easier to get away with sloppy refereeing.  But with American youngsters rapidly picking up proficiency in the art, this is no longer possible.  The refereeing officials, supposedly top experts in the art, is now becoming the glaring weakness in U.S. karate.


    Parker's tournament this year was no exception.  The upshot was a championship title was won by the most controversial decision yet in the tournament that has produced controversial winners for three straight years.


    But you have to give Parker credit for one thing.  He knows how to stage a tournament that pulls in the crowds.  It was standing room only as more than 5000 fans jammed the old municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, Calif., to witness the big bash.  And still Parker had to turn them away.  In numbers of contestants entered, Parker also set a new US record of more than 600, eclipsing the records held briefly earlier this year by his two new partners in US karate Congress Jhoon Rhee of Washington, DC and Alan Steen of Dallas, Texas.


    The tournament was a crowd pleaser all the way.  It was stage with all the hoopla of a Hollywood spectacular, which is somewhat understandable in view of Parker's close connection with the entertainment industry.  The tournament featured show business personalities, a scantily clad tournament queen, and a big brass band.


    The matches were an all-day affair, with the final playoffs held at night.  Parker didn't try to strain the crowd's attention with too much karate at the playoffs, but supplied the paying customers within the evenings entertainment.  It apparently was what the crowd wanted.  They oohed and aahed at the demonstrations of various styles, the defenses against knife attacks and mass attacks, and the performances of a troop of girl karateists who were dressed in tight black panties and stockings instead of traditional gi bottoms.


    While vastly entertaining, there were those in the crowd who wondered what it all had to do with Oriental martial arts and with the picking of a national karate champion.  Some of the more serious minded karate-men who fail to see anything entertaining about their art spoke darkly about giving the American public the wrong idea about karate through such shows.


    This is an old question that has been gone over many times in karate.  In Parker's behalf, a case can be made that demonstrations which are both instructive and enjoyable bringing crowds and promote interest in karate.  For those in attendance who wanted their karate straight and in quantity, they're always the afternoon matches.


    But concurrent with providing good entertainment was a responsibility to provide technical quality of a high order.  Certainly, Parker can't be faulted for the quality of the players this year.  Some of the brightest term stars in the country showed up in Long Beach to compete for the title.


    But while individual play at the tournament was high, the refereeing was not.  The officiating was totally, hopelessly inadequate for the occasion.  And it was on this grave technical shortcoming that the entire tournament was to founder.


    Parker himself had to shoulder the blame for the inadequacy of the officiating.  Five officials judged the crucial evening matches - the refereeing and four judges, one judge for each side of the mat.  All four side judges were representatives of the Kenpo style of karate, the same style but Parker teaches.


    Kenpo students, with the grace and speed which characterize their soft style, had not been faring well in recent tournaments in which the refereeing was handled by representatives of the harder Japanese styles.  For his own tournament then, Parker loaded the judges’ panel with Kenpo men.  The results were predictable.  The Kenpo students had referees who understood their styles, and the Kenpo students dominated the winners list in the white belt and brown belt divisions.  In the Black belt divisions, it was contestants of the widely established Japanese and Korean styles who continue to hold undisputed sway.


    The fault of the refereeing was not that it was handled by Kenpo men, but that it was inept, generally, and some of the Kenpo students suffered right along with the rest.  The afternoon matches were characterized by numerous injuries, caused in large part by the lack of control being displayed.  Contact was often, and it was hard.  Yet not once was a contestant warned, much less disqualified for lack of control.


    But it was in the important final evening matches that the weakness of the refereeing became most apparent.  The officials at the beginning seemed almost too eager to issue a point, and later they were paralyzed by indecision.  The antics of the side judges quickly earn them the title of the "Fumbling Foursome" by those at ringside.


    The white belt matches started slowly and in general continue to proceed that way.  Jhoon Rhee, head of the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association, was the center referee for these bouts, and he proved that lack of skill in refereeing was not confined to Kenpo people only.  After a rugged round robin series of matches, attired Larry Moore won the white belt crown.


    For the brown belt finals, the center referee was Tsutomu Ohshima, father of Shotokan karate in the United States and one of the country's top referees.  He provided the only excellence in officiating in the whole evening.  He is a no-nonsense referee, and he keeps a matches moving along.


    In Ohshima, the four side judges found the leader they had been looking for all day.  Ohshima was in close on top of every action, and alone of the center referee's never hesitated in calling his decision.  Ohshima didn't deign to look at the four side judges for confirmation in signaling his decision.  There is no need to.  He was like a puppet master.  He would signal a decision, and automatically the hands of all four judges would go up in unison, signaling their agreement.  There was no doubt in anyone's mind who the winner of the heavyweight division when Ohshima signalled Arnold Uriguidez as the man.


    But though Ohshima was the tournaments official chief referee, he had nothing to do with judging the Black belt finals.  It was Parker himself, tired after a long day's activity, who took over the refereeing as a ceremonial function.


    There were a number of top-flight players injured in the Black belt division, and they deserve the best in the way of refereeing.  But Parker, who had turned in a credible job of refereeing at another tournament several months earlier, proved to be slow and indecisive when faced with officiating for this array of fine talent.


    Parker was consistently finessed out of position by the speed and deception of the brilliant young stars so representative of the new generation of American karate men now coming into prominence.  Time and time again, Parker found himself hopelessly stranded and away from the center of action.  Unable to come up with fast decisions, he was forced to rely heavily on the side judges, who were little help at all.


    In the lightweight division, the three finalists were Algene Caraulia of Chicago, a former national tournament winner and now head man for the US karate Association of the Midwest, and to rising young West Coast players Carlos Bunda to and Joe Black.  The best Caraulia could do this year was to finish third.  After a close match, Bunda took the measure of Black to win the lightweight crown.


    The middleweight division boasted Chuck Norris, one of the West Coast finest tournament players, and two young players of extraordinary promise.  These later two were "Skipper" Mullins and Ron Marchini, who were both brown belts until recently but were promoted following impressive series of tournament victories.  Marchini is a West coaster, Mullins is fresh out of the Marine Corps and a winner at Jhoon Rhee's big Washington, DC tournament this spring.  Mullins was one of the astonishing trio of karate men trained by Jhoon Rhee who finished high up in this tournament.  Norris, who operates a Tang Soo Do Academy in Redondo Beach, Calif., was the eventual winner in this division.  Mullins took the runner-up spot and Marchini was third.


    The heavyweight division was really loaded with talent.  Jhoon Rhee's other two entries competed in this division.  One was Alan Steen, Rhee's most famous pupil and now head of his sensei's Tae Kwon Do branch in Dallas, Texas.  The other Rhee graduate was Joe Lewis, who this year was grand champion a Rhee's tournament.  The third member of this fast Company with Tony Tulleners, California State Karate Champion and protégé of Tak Kubota.


    Tulleners, along with Norris, had been a heavy favorite to win the tournament.  But the long-legged blonde broke his foot in an afternoon doubt and he had to settle for third.  Rhee's great pair, Steen and Lewis, finished one-two in that order.


    The grand championship was to be determined in the round robin match among the champions of each division.  Before they began, friends and advisers of the three champions were able to give some last-minute advice.  Kubota had his arm around Norris and kept saying, "defense punch, defense punch."  Kubota holds strongly that the easiest technique to defend against is the kick and he was advising Norris to counterpunch against the kicking offenses which seemed to be the mainstay of most at this tournament.


    But Kubota needn't have bothered.  Norris lately has developed some effective punching techniques, which is unusual for Korean karate stylist with their heavy emphasis on foot techniques.  The hands usually are used mainly for blocking.  But Norris' opponents have a healthy respect for his kicking prowess and have stayed far out of range, forcing him to adopt new tactics.  "Recently, I noticed that everyone I compete against seems to be watching my feet instead of my eyes," Norris says.  "I virtually was forced to learn some punching techniques as a result."


    The punch now has become one of his most effective point getters in competition, and he used it to dispose easily of Carlos Bunda in the first of the round robin matches.  Twice Bunda tried his luck with the kicking technique.  But what Norris doesn't know about kicks isn't worth knowing, and he is brilliant at countering against them.  With easy grace, Norris backed off from the kicks, then reversed and moved in with great speed.  Both times, he came in behind Bunda's outstretched kicking leg and drilled a fast punch to the kidney.  The match was over in little more than a minute.


    The next match pitted Bunda against Steen.  This proved to be a much closer fight, and Steen had great difficulty with the lightweight.  Bunda scored first with the beautifully executed kick early in the match.  But Steen is a foxy fighter, and the Korean style of karate uses extremely tricky and clever footwork.  The text and completely faked out Bunda on one exchange.  Maneuvering with his head down and looking away, Steen appeared to be only trying to circle around Bunda to try to get to the other side of the mat.  Suddenly he let fly with a bullet kicked in the face.  Bunda didn't even come close to blocking it.  After this, both men proved much more cautious.  Several more kicks were tried by both before Steen scored on a roundhouse kick to take the match.  It was to be Norris and Steen, a pair of Korean-style fighters, battling it out for the grand championship.


    Norris might be called the Arnold Palmer of West Coast karate.  Quiet-spoken and self-effacing, he is easily the most popular tournament player in that section of the country.  Blond-haired and good looking, Norris has a smooth style and grace that attracts attention.  He had his own army in the galleries, and the crowd was strongly rooting for him during the final bout.


    Norris is also a top-flight instructor, and his white belt and brown belt students consistently score well in tournaments.  The 26-year-old Norris hasn't been around long enough to turn out top-flight black belts yet on the scale that Jhoon Rhee does, but he is working his way up in that direction.  His students won the team trophy for the most wins at Parker's attorney, but the effort was to cost Norris.


    It had been a long day for him, serving as coach to his students and competing himself.  And while he should have been resting in the evening, he was putting on with his students a long and highly interesting demonstration that including Hapkido-style techniques or throwing assailants who attack with a knife.  It was to be a weary Norris who went up against Steen in that final match.


    Steen is a tall Texan who speaks with a soft Southern drawl.  Ambitious and hard-working, he has in a few short years built up his own tournament where it is one of the biggest in the country.  Steen is now an important southern cornerstone in the new national karate federation, the US Karate Congress, that Parker and Rhee are promoting.


    Steen is a strong fighter and he has been active in the tournament circuit a few years.  He will never win any medals for form, but he is big and he is fast - deceptively fast for a man his size.  And he conserved his strength during the evening hours so that he appeared to be fresher going into the final match.


    Parker looked haggard as he entered the ring for the final matches.  The strain of the past few months in preparing the tournament and the hectic pace of the day's activities were telling on him.  He hardly had a chance to get set up for the action exploded.


    Norris and Steen tried a pair of kicks, neither breaking through for the point.  They circled each other cautiously for an instant, and in Norris made his move.  He faked a kick and then followed through with a reverse punch to the stomach.  It was a clean below and was good for a point.


    At this point, Norris could have won by shifting to defense and running out of time.  But instead he wanted to win fighting, and so he continued to attack.  After further sparring, Norris moved in to try for another punch.  But he got careless and virtually handed a point to Steen by running into a standing sidekick.


    It was now tie score, and the next point would be sudden death.  This time, the two eyed each other warily.  Norris played defensively, trying to bait Steen into an attack.  The tall Texan responded and went once again with a sweeping roundhouse kick, his best technique and the one that he had relied on all day.


    It was a move that Norris had been waiting for.  He deftly eluded the kick and moved in swiftly to counter as he had done successfully to win crucial points in earlier matches.  Steen was in the worst position that a karate man can find himself, off-balance with his back to his opponent and in bad position to counter or defend.  He was wide open and Norris drilled too hard, fast punches to the kidney.


    Those seated on the west and north side of the rain had a clear shot of the action, and there were yelps of delight from Norris's fans.  The flags shot up from two side referees closest to the action.


    Norris stepped back and looked at Parker, expecting to see him raise his hand for the point.  Instead, Parker only stared back.  Parker had been pulled out of position in the fast exchange, and was on the south side of the mat and toward the east.  It was an agonizing moment for both men.  They were frozen in a tableau that seemed to last for an endless minute, though actually only a few seconds elapsed.


    There was a hush of anticipation that fell over the crowd in the sweaty, smoke-filled hall.  In the center of the ring, Norris looked at Parker expectantly, waiting to be crowned the new champ.  Parker stood rooted to his spot, his mouth slightly agspe, with indecision written all over his face.


    Parker finally broke off the stare and turned slowly to the side judges.  It was now their turn to stare at Parker.  By this time, the flags that had shot up so bravely had drooped to half-mast, and the judges seemed uncomfortable that they would have to make a decision.  Parker turned to each of the four judges.  The others didn't signal a point.  But they didn't signal "no point," either.  Everyone by this time seemed transfixed and confused on what to do.


    Parker turned back to face Norris with downcast eyes.  "No point," he said softly.  Norris was obviously shaken by the call, and he sagged and shook his head.  He walked listlessly back to the starting position.


    But Norris wasn't through yet.  He had still other tricks in his bag, and he employed them now.  If he couldn't win with another counterpunch, he would try an offense of kick.  Setting Steen in position, Norris then moved in and went up with a roundhouse kick.


    It was a perfect kick as any at the tournament, and Norris executed it with beautiful precision and control.  He stopped the kick with only a sliver of daylight showing through between his foot and Steen’s face.  There couldn't have been a half-inch distance.  Steen had been faked completely out of position, and was nowhere near blocking the kick.  In fact, both of Steen's hands were below his belt.


    Again Norris turned Parker.  And again he got no response.  He had no choice but to keep fighting, because the action couldn't be stopped except by the referee.  And Parker was not going to award him the point.  By this time, Norris was a study in sheer frustration.  He decided to go back to a counterpunch.


    Again he tried to entice Steen into going with his roundhouse kick, and again Steen complied.  The two met in a clash in the center of the ring.  Norris delivered a well-controlled punch to the kidney, stopped just a fraction away from contact.  Steen delivered a powerful roundhouse kick that Norris saw coming.  Norris blocked it with his hand.  But Steen had put the steam behind the kick and it sent his foot and Norris' hand smashing into Norris' face.  There was no control to the kick and if Norris hadn't blocked he could have been in trouble.


    The judge nearest the action signaled that Norris had scored his punch before Steen had landed his kick, and he awarded the point to Norris.  But Parker and the other judge who were on the far side of the action failed to see Norris’ scoring punch.  But they couldn't miss seeing Norris' head snap back as Steen's foot crashed into it.  At this point in the tournament, Parker and the other officials were not going to quibble over control.  And Parker showed no indecision this time.  For one of the few times that night, he didn't check with the side judges first but raised his hand and signaled the point.  Steen was the new champ.


    Steen leapt for joy and rushed over to embrace Norris, relaxing into a soft smile from the stern expression he had worn throughout the match.  Steen proved to be a modest new champion.  He had told Parker before the tournament that he had planned to retire from competition.  But now he promised to allow others a further crack at him.


    "I'll keep going as long as there's a kick left in me," he said.  Even in the flush of victory and surrounded by well-wishers, he remembered an article this magazine had printed about his tournament and he thanked us for it.


    Norris was disappointed, of course, by the outcome.  But he managed a wry smile.  "At least my students won the team trophy," he said.  "That's really the important thing."  Asked if he would keep competing, Norris said "Oh, sure.  Can't stop now.  I'll just try to beat Steen next year."


    There were bound to be repercussions from the decision.  Parker had boxed himself into an impossible situation again this year.  Last year, his refereeing a had drawn fire for the controversial decisions awarding the championship to Mike Stone, who was Parker's new business partner in a dojo operation.  Stone also had received favored treatment in the 1965 tourney by not having to compete in the long and grueling elimination matches but went fresh directly into the finals.


    Parker's explanation at the time was that Stone didn't have to compete along with every other contestant because he had won (also controversially) the 1964 tournament, which automatically entitled him to a spot in the finals to defend his title.  (There were those at the time who noted that if this type of reasoning were applied to baseball, for instance, would automatically ensure that the winner of the World Series one year would not have to play any of the 162 games during the regular season of the following year but would go directly to the series again.)


    Now once again, a new partner of Parker had been awarded a controversial win by him.  The situation was bound to raise suspicion all over again.  Yet someone who had seen the anguish in Parker's face at the crucial moment during the Norris-Steen bout would have little doubt that the man was undecided.  Furthermore, Parker is decidedly fond of Norris, and had impetuously thrown his arms around him when announcing his win as middleweight champ.


    Yet Parker's predicament was totally unnecessary.  Ohshima was listed as chief referee and could have handled the officiating chores ably.  Yet Ohshima, as well as a number of other high ranking dans, sat on their hands in the audience, shouted to the sidelines as spectators during the final matches.  But Ohshima himself was inclined to be charitable toward Parker.


    "I don't think anyone should be too critical of Parker's decision in the match.  After all, anyone can make a mistake.  If you expect 100-percent accuracy in refereeing, you'd never be able to find a referee for a match."


    On the other hand, Ohshima, was strongly insistent on the need to upgrade the refereeing in the United States.  "You know," he said, "you can lose a lot of students or alienate many from continuing if they get to the point where they're becoming good and then get poor treatment at the hands of bad referees."


    It could also be added that the reputation for bad refereeing could be harmful to Parker's tournament and alienate top players from competing.  This has already begun to happen.  For instance, Harry Kealanui: a top-flight competitor, refused to enter Parker's tournament again this year.  Complained Kealanui: "How can you win with that type of refereeing?"  Dan Ivan, who studied under Fumio Demura, became so upset with the officiating during the afternoon matches this year that he pulled every one of his students out and vowed never to come back.


    There were also charges that tempo contestants were never pitted against each other in the early matches, thus increasing the chances of more students of this style for reaching the finals.  However, students of the other styles were being pitted against players from their own dojos to thin out their numbers quickly.


    The final unsettling note was the fact that Parker was an able again this year to get a number of really competent Japanese instructors to send their students to compete in his tournament.  The example set by this year's refereeing seemed to put off even further the day when these senseis, with their unimpeachable credentials, would agree to end their boycott.


    In the meantime, the real losers in this split in karate ranks were the players themselves.  For one thing, a wider exposure to different styles could only be again for all students.  And who is to argue that the students of some top Japanese instructors wouldn't benefit from the interchange with, for instance, some of the superb Korean-style contestants at this tourney, and vice versa.  But in view of this lack of confrontation, the public was left to guess for at least another year over who were truly the nation's best players.


  • Ed Parker Defends His Tournament  /  Black Belt  /  Feb. 1967  /  V-5  No. 2  /  Ed Parker

    This magazine has expressed itself quite strongly on what it felt was the poor quality of refereeing displayed at the two top martial arts tournaments in the United States the past year - the national AAU judo championships and the Ed Parker's Karate Tournament.  Last month, we were pleased to make space available for a retort by Mr. Thomas Dalton, Director of the Judo Championship.  This month, we're happy to afford the same opportunity to Mr. Parker. - Ed.


    I wish to thank you for the eight page story and review of the 1966 International Karate Championships.  It was terrific recognition of an outstanding event, and the more than a dozen photographs graphically illustrated some of the highlights of the event.


    Karate in the past has been limited to the chosen few, who are either dedicated to the art or to those who have dedicated themselves to the art of physically controlled powers.  It has been a great satisfaction to me that during the past three years, the International Karate Championships have brought about great interest and understanding by the public, which, in turn, has substantially increased the status and integrity of our profession, regardless of incidents that are bound to occur when this many contestants gather to do battle.


    The reader interest by the subscribers of your magazine is indicated by your willingness to devote eight pages and 13 pictures to the event, and I salute you.  I agree that those of "us", with a serious mind to the traditions of karate, are somewhat apprehensive about attracting thousands of people to see a championship, but it is about the only way for a mass education to create interest in the things that you and I believe in.  It is true that there will always be those in the audience who are skilled in the art, and the "exhibitions" staged between a serious "events" of the contest may be dull and kids stuff to them.  But this could be said of the "Hokum" and fillers and jokes and some of the advertising of your magazine which many times is obviously staged and of selected sequences to illustrate a point in your stories and features.


    There were over 600 contestants.  The event is still new in scope with only three years’ experience, and if mistakes are made, it is unfortunate it was necessary for you to take half of the eight pages to tell about your opinion of the mistakes.  By and large, however, you added many favorable comments, and I think the article in its length, size, scope and illustrations was most commendable, even though I "violently" disagree with some of your criticisms.


    May I inquire if you are aware that all contestants the day before the contest attended a three-hour briefing session.  The officials and the contestants conferred, and changes were made in the rules by public discussion of conflicts.  Special exhibitions were given before the entire group, with officials present to explain what was expected and the procedures that would be used during the tournament.  These and many other sessions took place to help solve the dilemma of competing by devotees of different styles or systems.


    Incidentally, it was interesting for you to observe in one paragraph a criticism of the failure to conform to the harder Japanese styles, and in the following paragraph emphasized a criticism that contact was "often" and it was "hard."  Also, in the afternoon session, there were a number of warnings and many disqualifications for lack of control and contestants disqualified.  There were no contestants injured beyond superficial problems that could readily occur in any activity where 600 contestants are involved in body contact sports, with the exception of the talented and potential champion Tony Tulleners, who broke his foot, and that did not occur from any laxness in officiating.  I'm wondering if your reporter was actually there, or Joe's wrote what someone told him.  In that regard, I am sure that among 600 contestants or their friends, that someone would be unhappy about some incident of the event.


    Regardless of the comments made on officiating, I enjoyed your comments about the champion to the effect that he was from out of state and not a local preferential contestant, that he was ambitious, hard-working, and a strong fighter, big and fast, deceptive for a man his size and was smart enough to conserve his strength for the finals.  These comments would somewhat soft-pedal your criticism of the officiating.  This would particularly be true in the top championship, where your reporter belittled the referee because he looked to the four judges who were there for that purpose "to be sure."  With a protégé directly or indirectly in the finals, each of the top judges and officials in the tournament were in an equally precarious position of integrity, and my position as the referee for the finals was at the insistence of the head official.  I was left no choice, and I did not put myself in this position because I was the Executive Producer.


    In conclusion, it would appear from your eight page story that the tournament and championship event was a capacity, crowd pleasing, and outstanding three-year success.  (Except for some of the officiating?)  As to the crowd, the in between bout activities, the contestants, and the judging and your reporter, we owed some consideration to the people who bought tickets to make it possible for 600 athletes to appear and perform their art and ability and have people there to appreciate their prowess.  It was synonymously appear to me after reading your article that the tournament was only equaled by the literary style of your story, which apparently was written either to please your readers, insight circulation and sale of your magazine so more people would know about karate, or create a controversy that never existed.  I can't criticize an editor for trying to accomplish either one or all of these objectives.  In fact, I thank you for the eight pages and 13 pictures and many favorable comments directed to The Third Annual International Karate Championships, and I hope the various styles and systems may work closer together in the future for the greater integrity and acceptance of karate in all its forms and abilities.


    Ed Parker

    international Kenpo Karate

    Pasadena, California


  • Judo and Karate Stars Primp for Hollywood 's Cameras  /  Black Belt  /  June 1967  /  V-5  No. 6  /  Anthony DeLeonardis

    Hollywood finally got around to producing a show in judo and karate.  It was a one-hour documentary television special.  And as might have been predicted, the show had plenty of stars.  But at the end, one was left wondering about Howard could have been improved.


    The documentary was produced by independent Hollywood television station KCOP, and hosted by actor Nick Adams.  Copies of it are being made available to some stations in other parts of the country.  A total of approximately 75 people participated in the show, most of them students of Bill Ryusaki's North Hollywood Judo-Karate Dojo.


    Also appearing for the karatemen were such others as Ed Parker, Tak Kubota, Chuck Norris, Dan Guzman, and Scott Loring.  The judo demonstrations were ably handled by 1965 US champion Hayward Nishioka, assisted by big Gene Mauro.  The judo demonstrations were crisp and efficient, in contrast to some of the more disorganized karate presentations given earlier in the show.


    While attention was supposed to be centered on what was being filmed, there was more interest being shown by the judo men and women on what was happening behind the cameras.  It was something of an historic moment, for instance, to watch such rugged competitors as Nishioka and Norris being powdered and primped for their appearance by makeup lady Timmie Roe.


    "I've made them all up.  Actors, the mayor, politicians, businessmen.  And now, even karatemen in judomen," she said, unimpressed, as she daubed Kubota's nose with a makeup brush.


    Some of the Budomen and women from different areas took the opportunity of the get together to start showing each other new techniques and keep up with the latest on what's going on in their respective arts.  The occasion turned out in some ways to be more of a social success than a technical one.


    The program was aimed primarily at a general audience, not a group of martial arts experts, and it seldom got above the fundamental level.  Trying to keep heard on a large group of judo and karate people, and numerous friends who showed up, all of whom were moving around behind the cameras, tripping over television wires and peering at sets, proved to be a job for program director David Schwartz.


    Schwartz got the idea for putting on the documentary from his 13-year-old son, Steve, who is taking judo lessons from Ryusaki.


    "The kid never was coordinated or good athletics, and it was bothering him," says Schwartz.  "Finally, in desperation, I took him to Ryusaki’s studio.  Bill had plenty of trouble with him at first, too, getting him to tumble.  Finally, he just pushed Steve down and over to get him to take the falls.  And he kept shoving him head over heels.


    "After awhile, Steve got the idea.  You should see him go now.  It's made a new boy out of him, giving him new confidence.  I couldn't be happier.  So to try to tell others about judo and karate, I thought I'd get the station to put this on the air.  I'm also thinking of taking up karate myself.  I think I'm getting too old for judo," he said, looking wistfully down at his punch.


    The show opened with a shot of the tatami-full of students crammed together demonstrating kicks and punches.  ("To give the impression of all the great numbers of people taking a judo and karate," said Schwartz.)  Actually, with all the jam-up in front of the cameras, it looked more like a mob scene or rumble than a well disciplined dojo.


    Nick Adams, who holds a brown belt in karate from Ed Parker, showed up dressed for the program in what could only be called Hollywood modern.  He wore a judogi jacket over blue jeans, which were stuffed into hightop hunting boots.  The camera focused mainly on Adams from the waist up.  But occasionally the cameramen slipped and got a full-length shot of the well-known star of The Rebel television series, showing him in his boots, which later brought some anguished howls of protest from some of the viewing audience of Budomen the night the show was actually beamed in Los Angeles.  (See letters to the editor.)


    On the other hand, it should be pointed out that Adams had rushed over from an afternoon he was spending outdoors with his two children to devote four hours of his time to the show.  And he, like everyone else appearing, donated his time to help publicize the martial arts.  He was never called onto to demonstrate, but only to act as a host-narrator.


    Credit should also be given to Schwartz, not only for trying to do something for the martial arts, but for attempting to lift the documentary out of the standard format these things usually fall into.  To give a wider view, he had Adams interview various authorities in their field.  Dr. Robert T. Lewis, a psychologist from California State College, gave an interesting talk on the psychological benefits of the martial arts.  An officer Bob Jarvis of the Los Angeles Police Department told what was going on in the judo training given police officers.


    "We can't refer to it as martial arts training.  Too many bad connotations still hang over from World War II," he said.  "We just call it self-defense training."


    The program actually took on more specific interest for the general practitioner during the last 20 minutes when the senseis were left to themselves to do what they wanted.  The program had run short, and there was the last segment to be filled in.  Adams had left, and Schwartz had turned to straightening out some technical details when Parker and the other senseis stepped in front of the cameras, without any direction, to ad lib the last part.


    Parker, who takes occasional bit parts on such television shows as "I Spy" and "Run For Your Life" to portray heavies, was perfectly relaxed and entertaining.  He sounded as if he were giving a class to a group of his students or repeating one of the guest lectures he has given countless times before to other groups.


    Without the straitjacket of the script, the other senseis, also all experience in teaching and talking before groups, likewise came through well as they showed some of their techniques.  It only made one wish they had been given more time on their own.


  • What's Wrong with Karate Tournaments?  /  Black Belt  /  May 1968  /  V-6  No. 5  /  D. David Dreis

    More more karate tournaments are being scheduled.  Some are very good and others missed the mark.  Black Belt invited three active karatekas was who are also producers of karate tournaments to discuss some of the problems.  Participating are Ed Parker, one of the foremost tournament operators and a sensei of several dojos; Chuck Norris, the national champion and a dojo and tournament operator, and Fumio Demura, a sensei at the University of California, Irvine, who established his first tournament in 1967.  Representing the magazine was managing editor D. David Dreis.


    Black Belt:  With the growth of interest and tournament competitions, there has been quite a lot of criticism about how these tourneys are set up.  What is one of the basic problems?


    Parker: I think uppermost is the fact that there are no uniform rules from one tourney to another.  This is really a problem, a man can win in one tournament through one way and lose out in another.


    Norris:  It's getting better, though, that it needs improvement.


    Parker:  Well, like what I mean, see, is that in one tournament the karateka making contact by accident, mind you, will be disqualified while in another tournament, he will just get a warning.


    Black Belt:  You mean the karate participant must know how to control his punches in order to score with the judges.


    Parker:  If the man is good, skilled participant, he will have control of his weapon.  Now, I can understand when the Brown, or, no, I won't understand it there . . . Let's say, in the green and white belt tournaments, there’s an accidental contact, well that's understandable, but in the black and brown belt divisions, there shouldn't be contact, but they often have it.  After all, they are the newcomers and they don't have as much control as the black and brown belters.


    Norris:  Well, I think the fighters ought to be disqualified because the lack of control resulting in contact means that the participant isn't qualified.  It takes plenty of training before a man is ready to participate in a tournament and this control is more difficult to develop than lack of control.


    Black Belt:  I would imagine that this lack of contact makes for pretty difficult training methods.  But doesn't this discourage the participant?  After all, the karate teaching is supposed to teach you how to arm yourself against an opponent on the outside and if you learn to check yourself, to pull your punches, isn't it defeating your ability to strike?  I mean, couldn't your tournament training deter you from striking fast and hard when you don't need to pull your punches?


    Norris:  First, let me say that when a fellow gets a broken nose and a tournament, or even in practice, he's liable to have a sour taste in his mouth.  He might quit participating because of it.  I know that when I go to tourney I like to believe that I'm going to come out of it at least somewhat unscathed by it.


    Parker:  Well, there are accidents . . .


    Norris:  Sure, but he's talking about intentional strikes . . . Look, when a man is pulling his punches, as you said it, he's not just pulling his punch.  He's got an explosive thrust there and you know just by looking at it that he could follow through with it.  It's that mark of control, not following through, though you could which distinguishes the better man.


    Demura: We must remember that karate as it is practiced in a tournament is a sport.  Control is basic to the practice.  I remember in one tournament I was in, in Japan, I was hit accidentally and got two black eyes.  Accidents happen there and I've seen many men get bloody mouths and broken teeth, but this is an accident, an example of the lack of control.


    Black Belt:  But doesn't this control factor make the tournament pretty dull to the American viewer who wants to see bloodshed . . .?


    Parker:  Well, of course, if he's that guy who goes to the boxing matches and yells "Kill him!"  But to the person who knows karate and understands about the lack of contact, and the full control, it's part of the rules.


    Demura:  I know whenever I am a referee in a tournament I do not hesitate to score against a man who makes contact because that is simply port technique.


    Black Belt:  How do you actually train for control?  I mean, when you're working with a bag, you've got to hit it . . .


    Norris:  There are practice sessions with an opponent, too.  A partner can help you practice your control . . .


    Demura:  I believe that most of the injuries, at least half of them, are the judges’ fault.  When he sees that blows are getting too close, he should warn the man.


    Norris:  Sure, I know a man who had to pay $600 to fix his nose and there was just no reason for that happening had the opponent been in control.


    Parker:  You know, we have to be aware of the entertainment value of the spectator, for sure, but this comes in part with education of the spectator.  I think with this in mind, we also have to talk about the lengths of the tournaments.  They're just too long.


    Demura:  This is what I think is a very difficult problem of the tournaments, at least in this country, where the spectator can't wait around for one match and then another . . .


    Norris:  I think all of this waiting also takes its toll on the participants of the matches.


    Demura:  Well, the players get tired and by the time of the last match, they're too tired to perform as they might have performed earlier.


    Parker:  This is why I'm going to a Hawaii tournament with only 10 men.  They'll be 10 of my men against 10 of theirs.  This tournament should last no more than two or three hours, at the most.  I've seen battles where, well, Chuck here, has gone on so late that in one match he won, not taking anything away from his technique, but he won on stamina.


    Norris:  But stamina is part of a man's technique.  This is part of his conditioning and this waiting, the tension of planning on participating is pretty difficult though.


    Parker:  Well, you can train a man to fight karate but that waiting is terrible.


    Black Belt:  How many months does it take before a man is ready to take part in a karate tournament?


    Norris:  That depends.  Some fellows really come up fast, learn the techniques and are advanced over their fellow students.


    Parker:  I would say about a year for most of them.


    Norris:  Some guys make it in nine months.


    Parker:  Well, you start them in, but it's about another three months before you teach them how to free fight.


    Norris:  Yes, I suppose so.


    Demura:  Now, I believe in basic sparring techniques before their green belt competition, then after they have earned their green belt, they can go on with free sparring.  I mean, if you advance them too fast, you find they're pushing and shoving and it's not right.


    Black Belt:  Who makes the decisions about who should enter the tournaments?


    Parker:  Well, naturally the sensei since he knows which students are ready.  Oh, there are many schools, many dojos, where every student they have are thrown into competition.  That's ridiculous.  I choose the best to represent my dojos.


    Black Belt:  What are some other things you consider about tournaments?  I mean, all of you have set up tournaments and you know the rules, perhaps through trial and error, but you know.  What are some of the other things to consider, to improve?


    Parker:  You've got to consider the environment of the tournament.  You've got to know who is sponsoring the tournament and the rules of the sponsors.  You want to know who the judges will be.


    Norris:  Especially if they're from a certain school and they have certain training.  Frankly, I enjoy going up against a person from another school with different training methods.  This is where we are all really pitted against each other and I try things which my students may know, but which my opponent may not.


    Parker:  Well, let's face it, that's where the fun is.  Competition is wonderful and every player wants to get in.  The tournament is important because, well, the first piece of incentive is the belt classification, but that soon loses its appeal.  The tournament is the thing.


    Demura:  This last year was my first year for the tournament under the sponsorship of the University of California at Irvine and it was really well supported.  The students loved it and so do the spectators.


    Parker:  Well, going on the mat and facing your opponent, really trying to figure him out, out guess him, that's the beauty of it.


    Norris:  And there’s sportsmanship there.


    Parker:  Now, we used to have the players come out and meet each other cold, but now we have them meeting each other before the match, when we’re selecting the competitors, and it's really quite nice.  When the point is scored against them they'll say, "Oh, you lucky dog!" or "Good shot!"  And that's really what it's all about.


    Black Belt:  Fine, I'll accept that, but is the tournament really helping the participant since he may not get a chance to know his opponent, may not get a chance to get in a lucky punch.  Isn't it better not to know your opponent and then when you get on the mat, you go all out?


    Norris: Oh, the meetings and the friendliness have nothing to do with their effort on the mat.  When they go to work, it's all business.


    Demura: End of karate determines our sport, then you must have sportsmanship.


    Black Belt: I notice that there just isn't enough publicity about karate.  What's the reason?


    Parker: Again, it's education.  Education of the sports writers of the daily papers is very important.  They won't write about things that they don't know about.  Television had a great deal to do with hurting the sport with all that gouging, kicking and free fighting they did . . . in the old days there was the traditional karate man who was the killer, never the hero.


    Demura: Did you see that Japanese film, "Judo Versus Karate?"  In that the karate man was out to kill the hero, the judo man.  It was pretty funny.


    Black Belt: Maybe there is a lack of showmanship at the tournaments.


    Parker:  That's for sure.  Showmanship techniques are needed.


    Norris: To some extent you need showmanship, but you've got to admit that the interest in these tournaments is growing and since I came into the field, I think the interest has grown at least 10 times to what it was then.  And this is without any special showmanship.


    Parker: Well, I know what he means.  He means like in boxing or in football - things like that.  The thing that it needs is something I plan to introduce, a sports announcer to tell the audience what is going on.


    Norris: Sounds like a good idea.


    Parker: You know, if you have a man calling the shots like a blow-by-blow announcer on radio, you know, tell the audience why the fellow got this point, somebody who can speak fast enough to describe it, I think that's pretty good.


    Demura: I think much of the showmanship as you call it actually is in Japan where they have one major tournament which everybody looks forward to and where they have local eliminations.  In this one tournament there are as many as 56 different styles all being put in the competition.


    Black Belt: Wow!  But do they have . . . they must have as many as five tournaments going on, I mean, five different contest going on at once.


    Norris: Sometimes they have as many as 12 contests going on at once.


    Demura: But you see people are already interested in the martial arts and they know about these tournaments.


    Parker: That's what I mean about education.  I think, though, that we have to bring the martial arts down to the level of what the American spectator is used to seeing.  Now, I took some film of the International Competition and I'm going to have four video tape cameras running at my next tournaments and have, like they have in football, a video playback of key plays.  You know, and this will tell everyone what happened and the audience will be able to see the penalty and see the score, that kind of thing.


    Norris: I schedule demonstrations between the matches which have been of interest to the spectators.  This might be called showmanship.  It's certainly very popular


    Black Belt: Are there any things which could make the contest more interesting?


    Norris: Well, one thing, certainly, would be to stop all the running around the opponents do.


    Parker: And penalize all of the actors in the contests . . .


    Black Belt: Actors?


    Norris: That's really something to watch.  You know, they pretend that they're hit in a match, but they're not.  They just want to disqualify you.


    Parker: I've seen sometimes that the guy will pretend that he's been hit and will start crying and shouting that he's hurt, but out of the side of his eyes he's watching the judges to see if they've noticed.


    Norris:  One time I saw it where a fellow acted like that and disqualified another player, but as soon as the match was ended, he was back, bouncing around as if nothing had happened.


    Black Belt: I would imagine that the choice of referees is vitally important, referees who wouldn't fall for all of that.


    Norris: A selection of qualified referees is important to the match.  Too many referees and judges, really, don't have individual opinions.


    Parker: Look at them and they say one thing and then when another judge says another thing, they change their mind.  I seen them raise one flag, look at their fellow judge, and then raise the other flag and try to dismiss their first ruling.  A lot of them are just "me tooers."  I've also seen it where the judges could not have seen one score and they will score it because one of the judges said he saw it.  It's pretty lousy sometimes and I find myself shouting and yelling, but they just don't seem to care.


    Demura: The one who is referee should be the highest-ranking black belts so that he knows what is going on.  Unfortunately, there is too much dissension here, too many judges who don't judge fairly and accurately.


    Black Belt: Well, is a "hard" judge more respected than and "easy" Judge?  I mean, if there is a doubt and he gives in for a point, does that make him appreciated?


    Norris: Dave, I don't think that's the question here.  Really, I think a happy medium is the only answer.  Now, too many judges are set in their ways and they won't yield.  For example, many judges won't score you on a front kick and reverse punch, but others will and I think they should.  One of the things necessary in a useful tournament would be on a set of rules which are abided by at the beginning.  I also think that the man who is thinking of setting up a tournament should meet with the dojo sensei's in the area and work out the terms of judging and setting up the tournament.  Now, when I set up my tournament I received a lot of advice from Ed, here, and his experience was invaluable to me.  I had a feeling of some set pattern of doing things because Ed had done it this way many times.


    Parker: I think you've got to ask advice and I think advice should be given freely.  After all, even though Chuck and I may have different tournaments, I want him to succeed because when he succeeds that increases the interesting karate and tournaments, generally.  I know that when Chuck has a tournament, or Fumio, I want to be there and encourage my students to go to.  We get together on the dates so that the tournaments don't conflict.  Timing is very important in the success of a tournament.  You don't want them scheduled to closely because, frankly, the audience and the students couldn't afford to go.


    Demura: I agree.  I know that when I set up my first tournament at the university I found many good answers to my questions, but I did introduce something of my own.  I think you should find something which you can contribute.  In the lower ranks, the green and white belt competitors, I set up the contest for team play.  You know, in football, baseball, other sports, it is the team and certainly in the early stages of the participants competition the team method is very good.


    Parker: You see, the tournament situation is constantly evolving into something.  I plan to have my competitions set up in rounds like boxing.  Maybe two rounds per match about three minutes each.


    Norris: That sounds like a good idea.  I take it that a man could win one round and lose the other round and you use the points when it's about even . . .


    Parker: Right.  But whatever system is used, basic rules should be set up so that one man going to many tournaments can train and know what will bring him points and what won't.  Too often the guy goes in and then it's all over in a matter of seconds, he's either won or lost and the audience feels cheated, he says, "Hey, it's over, what happened?"  The guy who would go with the round situation would know what happened and so would the spectator.


    Black Belt: Let's say that a man is thinking about setting up a tournament.  Now, what would he have to do?  How do you measure your market, the perspective number of spectators for the tournament?


    Norris: I would say that you configure on for people for every participant.


    Parker: Sure, they bring their friends, the mother, the grandmother to watch them.


    Norris: That's pretty important.  I know the once when I set up a tournament in Las Vegas, I forgot about the fact that the boys wouldn't have their friends there.  That's important to the figuring out of what kind of audience you're going to draw.


    Black Belt: How much do you charge?  What are reasonable charges?


    Parker: I figure the price of the two admissions should be the entry fee of the participant.  That means that if the charge is $2.50, it should be $5.00 as an entry fee to cover expenses.


    Norris:  And if they bring four people, that's $10 there and the $15 could cover expenses.


    Black Belt: We talk about expenses.  Should man setting up the tournament start off small?


    Norris: Well, he should decide based on the number of people he thinks will participate and then come to watch.  Frankly, I think that if he rents a high school gymnasium for one night, maybe at $100, that should be sufficient to start off.


    Parker: Too many guys want to start at the top, at a big arena.  That depends, really, on where you're going to have it, I mean, what are you in and how many dojos will be represented from that area.


    Norris: No matter what size he starts off with, it's a big undertaking.  I would rather see an overcrowded gymnasium rather than one big auditorium with few people.


    Parker: Another thing that's important for each tournament to have a doctor in attendance as well as a registered nurse.  You know, when I started my tournaments, there were no tournaments at that time and I needed a lot of publicity and I have a large market to draw from.  I spent all of $12,000 my first year.  Fortunately I broke even.


    Norris: You really don't have to spend that much at all these days.  I mean, if you're in a large area where they've had tournaments or even in a small area where they’ve never been tournaments.  You must count the contestants and then the schools in your area and how many contestants plus the draw of four people.


    Demura: Fortunately, when I set my tournament up at the University, the expenses were taken care of, the audience were the students and the publicity was the student newspaper.


    Black Belt: Do you think more tournaments should be set up?  Do you think there's sufficient interest for more tournaments?


    Parker: Definitely.  I would encourage anybody to have a tournament provided they set them up with uniform rulings.  I also think they should invest in valuable trophies and prizes.  I know that Henry Cho presented individual trophies and that created interest.  He also presented a color television set to the winner.  This tournament was well planned and well promoted.


    Norris: I'll tell you how important the setting up and organization is.  Last year, at a new tournament, I competed and I won but it was so poorly managed that it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Well, this year when it was staged, I didn't even go back to defend my crown.  I just passed it up and believe me, I love tournaments.  However, I understand from those who were there that the tournament was even worse this year than last.  Now, that helps kill a tournament both for the competitors and for the spectators.


    Parker: Sure, if they go to one tournament, I mean the spectators and they don't like it, they just dismiss all competitions.  We who are interested in the support of the people cannot afford to lose one spectator.


  • Ed Parker's Plan to Save the Tournaments  /  Official Karate  /  Dec. 1970  /  V-2  No. 10  /  Ed Parker

    One of the nation's top sensei's and promoters suggest a plan of action that could be the solution to the problems plaguing sport karate today.


    In reviewing the past history of karate in the United States there have been many triumphs and disappointments.  In its embryonic stages, karate showed little or no progress.  Many hearing the term karate for the first time thought it was a highly flavored Mexican dish.  Some thought it was a stage of graduate work related to judo or jujitsu.  No distinction could really be made between judo and karate.  It was obvious then that it would be a difficult task to educate the public to differentiate between the two.  Even today, many karatemen, when interviewed, have a difficult time in making a distinct and precise comparison.  In addition, the true origin of karate has been claimed by many as stemming from their country, confusing the public and in some cases creating a feeling of disgust.  Then, too, many claim that their particular brand of karate is undoubtably the best . . . the only pure system, traditionally untainted, highly secretive, so potent that in comparison atomic energy is nothing but child's play.  And there are many similar claims.


    I personally feel that all styles are good, or least have some good in them.  Take men like Norris, LaPuppet, Lewis, and the many other champions who have added innovations of their own to the art over and above the original system.  With the changing times they were, in many instances, forced to create, borrow, or develop newer methods, since others capitalized on observing them to try to beat them at their own game.  Thanks to open tournaments and those open-minded instructors who support them, the talent of competitors has been steadily improving.


    Of course, not all phases of karate as a sport have been peaches and cream.  A definite solution must be devised to standardize officiating at tournaments.  There has been some progress made but not enough to upgrade the tournaments to where they should be.  As a result, many schools are not attending the many lesser tournaments that have been introduced in recent months.  Instead, they have been supporting only the larger tournaments such as Jhoon Rhee's Nationals, Steve Armstrong's Seattle Open, Alan Steen's United States Karate Championships and the Internationals, and other such notable tournaments.  These tournaments draw top talent, and because of it, top officiating.


    There is much we can learn from each other, and there are many thoughts and ideas that can be shared.  As I attend the many tournaments throughout the country, I have met many sensei willing to divulge their new innovations to better the art, a tournament, or business practices at the dojo.  I believe in such cooperation if karate hopes to survive or to attain the level of acceptance that it undoubtably needs.


    Perhaps the most important innovation in the 1970s will be the acceptance of professionalism.  Skilled professionals whose training, ethics, and income entitles them to the same respect and prestige ass other top professional sportsmen.  The schools should be run in a more businesslike manner.  A friendlier attitude should prevail.  A student or prospective student should feel free to speak to the instructor.  Telephone calls for information, the presentation of your program, and the teaching of material on a per lesson basis should be a planned presentation covering all the important parts clearly and honestly.  The student can then enter into a contract giving him a certain amount of knowledge in karate for a given fee.  He thereby has set a goal for himself.  He knows where he is going, how long it will take to attain a particular level, and what it will cost.  Schools should have a clean, attractive, "permanent" appearance with fixtures and furnishings that give an air of success and stability.  Those are some of the things on which a successful school are based.  A school properly conducted following good business principles will stay open to serve the community in which it was founded.


    Professional tournaments are premature.  We are feeding upon ourselves.  We are dependent on the people already involved in karate to support the tournaments and make them financially successful, but to present a truly professional tournament we need the support of the general public as spectators to pay the promoter as well as the contestants.  Most of the contestants who participate don't even look professional.  They are out of shape.  They need to work at other jobs to make a living and don't have the time to keep in condition and train as in the other major sports.  When television gets involved and gives karate backing, then professional tournaments will undoubtedly improve.  Aaron Bank’s pro tournament was possibly the best presentation of a professional karate tournament ever given.  The irony of this was that he lost money on it and hasn't promoted another of this caliber since.


    Publications in the field of karate could do a better job of reporting facts, rather than opinions.  They should express their ideas in editorials, not in the articles supposedly stating facts.  Constructive criticism is good.  The magazines must be careful to present a positive as well as the negative of subjects.  A more thorough job should be done in researching rather than spreading hearsay throughout the country.


    The day is yet to come when we have a congress to consist of leaders of various organizations in karate.  Until we have more cooperation from nationalists and they learn not to force issues, but to cooperate and work together, this will only be a dream.  The environment needs to be re-created for our particular needs.  How soon this will come about I don't know, but it has to be soon.  We've had the time of segregated abuse and the time of attempting to get together.  Now we must do something.  Everybody should realize he is of equal worth.  Each of us has something to contribute.  If only we would accept this fact.  What the future holds is anybody's guess.  As it stands now, many are going back to their own shelves, not wanting to become involved.


    When Benjamin Franklin had to make a decision he always followed the policy of a "Balanced Worksheet".  To this sheet he would list all of the reasons why he should do something and on the other side, or on the right hand column, he would write all the reasons why he should not.  Upon adding each column he would see which column gave him the answer which he needed to follow.  His successes were many just by following this particular policy.  Let us now make our own balance sheet to see what the pros and cons are in having tournaments and in deciding what is necessary in making a tournament better.


    On page 19 is my suggested plan of action in tackling the many problems as I see them.


    Balance Sheet


    For the competitor:


    Why we should have tournaments:


    1. Gives one experience.

    2. Sharpens one's reflexes, range, etc.

    3. Teach us when control and good sportsmanship.

    4. Builds competitive spirit.

    5. Develops team spirit.

    6. Develops the feeling of accomplishment.

    7. Forces the practitioner to perfect their katas, especially after seeing good competitors.

    8. Allows one to match his skills outside his own element (with other styles, etc.)

    9. Gives competitors an opportunity to meet others of higher caliber.

    10. Widens the bonds of friendship.

    11. Gives a change of pace.

    12. Compels many to train harder.

    13. Increases one's competitive knowledge by observing what others have to offer.

    14. Gives one an added goal over and above attaining a belt rank.

    15. Increases family solidarity, especially when parents participate and support participants.


    For the competitor:


    Why we should not have tournaments


    1. No experience is gained if not properly oriented with basics.

    2. Discourages the untrained.

    3. Lack of control can cause injury.

    4. Bad calls and officiating can have lasting effects.

    5. Can be costly if tournaments are held weekly.

    6. Disorganize tournaments will discourage many from attending others.

    7. Inconsistency of tournament rules can cause much discontent.

    8. Can cause lasting enemies.


    Much more could be listed to the above.  But I think this proves there is a definite need for tournaments.  There is no doubt the competition is no more than a stimulus to cooperation.


    Suggested Plan of Action


    Goal 1. Improve Tournaments




    A. Standardize tournament rules


    1. Produce a set of rules compiled by major tournament promoters i.e. Alan Steen, Jhoon Rhee, Henry Cho, Aaron Banks, Steve Armstrong, Ed Parker, others.


    2. To scribed each rule in detail.


    3. Vote on rules.


    4. Produce a rule booklet.


    5. Encourage all open tournaments to utilize rule booklet and to comply with the same.


    6. Commence with rules in the dojo.


    B. Standardize Tournament Procedures


    1. Produce abstract format compiled by major tournament promoters as mentioned above.


    2. Described each procedure in detail.


    3. Produce a pamphlet on procedures including such topics as;

    a. Officials meeting

     (1) How to conduct them

    b. And where to seek competitors

    c. When to line up competitors

    d. How to pair off competitors

    e. Selecting officials

    f. Many others


    4. Such procedures will greatly enhance a tournament so that it will be organized and run smoothly


    C. Standardize Fees and Prices of Tickets


    1. Produce a standard price structure dependent upon the magnitude of the tournament and the overall expenses, which include advertising, rental of the building, etc.


    2. Developer price formula to ascertain same.


    3. Produce a suggested price schedule and distributes same.


    D. Compile Constructive Suggestions


    1. Have a central receiving office.


    2. Update and distributes same to tournament promoters on a regular basis.


    3. Disseminate helpful suggestions to dojo heads etc.

    a. In the event tournaments are a week apart send a particular group to one and the second group to another so that the expenses will not be burdensome.

    b. Create projects, dinners, etc. so that dojo can offset expenses.

    c. Many others.


    4. Have dojo heads and competitors criticize but contribute solutions as well.


  • Karate's Keeper of the Flame: Ed Parker  /  Official Karate  /  Oct. 1971  /  V-3  No. 15  /  Editors

    Edmund Kealoha Parker, Karate’s "Keeper of the Flame" is the eighth dan President of the International Kenpo Karate Association.  Parker's contributions to the art of karate are tremendous and show no favoritism to any particular style, nationality or association.  Testifying to this statement is the award presented to Mr. Parker this year at the United States Karate Championships.  The commemorative plaque named him the "Most Outstanding Contributor to Karate" in the past 10 years.  This is the same man who borrowed $300 to open his first school in Pasadena and has expanded to the point where he is now selling karate school franchises at a price raging between twenty five and thirty-five thousand dollars . . . all this in just 15 years.


    Ed Parker is one of the most imitated men on the karate scene.  His organization is the most financially successful in the world and he continues to grow.  Karate leaders throughout the United States have often said that if you need assistance to open a school or to run a tournament, Ed Parker is the man to contact because he is always ready to help.


    What has made this man a giant among giants?  Why has he succeeded where so many others have failed?  Is it the Midas touch . . . the superior intellect . . . and intense, overwhelming drive to succeed . . . enormous talent . . . or combinations of some or all of these factors?  We'll let you draw your own conclusions as we take you back to the beginning of this bond between karate and Ed Parker in this exclusive interview.


    Official: Was there something in particular that first attracted you to karate?


    Ed Parker: One night, after church, I heard some guy talking about how he and beat up the local bully with whom I was very familiar.  When I looked at the skinny guy doing the talking I was very doubtful that he could've done it.  After he demonstrated what he had done . . . then I believed him.  What I saw was far different from judo, which I was familiar.


    Official: How old were you at the time?


    Ed Parker: I was around 15 years old.  I had studied judo for three or four years and have my black belt in it.


    Official: Who was your first instructor?


    Ed Parker: After seeing karate, this was what I wanted, so I stayed with Frank Chow.  When I reached a certain point he redirected me to his brother, Professor William K.S. Chow.  I had to go through a special introduction before I was accepted.  It was kind of a closed - type thing.  I studied with Chow earned my black belt from him.


    Official: Was this Hawaii?


    Ed Parker:  Yes, this was in Honolulu where I lived with my family.


    Official: Did Professor Chow consider himself a kung fu or karate instructor?


    Ed Parker: What's the difference between karate and kung fu?  Chow is the founder of his organization.  He had learned from his father and swap information with others.  At the time Professor Chow was one of the few or perhaps even the only kung fu instructor around.


     My dad was a boxing instructor for thirty-three years.  I used to do a lot of fighting . . . in the ring and on the street.  The thing I like best about Professor Chow was that he made sense.  He said many of the old things had to be improvised to suit what we find in our community.  I listen to him and what he said was logical.  I think he was the first man to make a lot of improvisations which I thought were up to date.  Even so, I looked at the old kung fu from the standpoint of a boxer and knew darn well I could dump most practitioners on their backs.  I think the success enjoyed by these other systems is due to the fact that they knew how to "smoke" you.  They knew how to bombard you with mysticism in order to cover their inadequacies.  They have this fabulous ability of keeping you mystified.  In other words, a lot of the moves they said were very secretive but extremely effective proved to be nothing once displayed.  You suddenly found out they were just living on mysticism.  After you got to see it, you realized most of it was a lot of hogwash.  That's why I stuck with Professor Chow, because it was through him that I got my ideas for innovations.  It's like clothes.  When you buy a suit of clothes, you buy what fits you, both to your size and tastes.  Professor Chow realized that things that were learned had to be adapted to the individual concerned.  It was this type of training that made me realize the importance and necessity of flexibility.


    Official: When did you decided to teach karate as a profession?


    Ed Parker: At the time I was studying with Professor Chow, I decided that this would be my life.  But, I also started talking to Professor Chow and some of the more advanced students of the possibility of coming to the States and opening up schools.  I had a vision, more or less, of this being worthwhile in the States and I talked with these guys and felt it was very important that one of us get a college education.  From the standpoint of interviews with other people it would be a lot more impressive if one of us had an education rather than being labeled as just a pugilist who is in illiterate.


    Official: Where you go to college?


    Ed Parker: I began going to Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1949.  I taught different island kids karate just to keep up with my training.  Also, because they were away from home and usually small guys were picked on, they needed the training.


    Official: Were you ever in the service?


    Ed Parker: I got caught in the Korean conflict in ‘51 and went into the service.  I went into the hooligan Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard.  The reason for this was that at this time Hawaii was so close to the war that they shipped a lot of the island kids who are in the reserves out first.  Many of my friends were killed.  They had joined the reserves to supplement their incomes, but it backfired.  They were the first ones to be shipped to Korea and the first ones to get bumped off.  Well, once you are qualified they would line you up and say, "everyone to my left is in the Marine Corps and everyone to my right is in the Army."  So when I got my draft call for my physical I went back to Hawaii to see about joining the Coast Guard.  They wouldn't accept me at first until they found I had two years of college.  I thought it was worth serving an extra year in the Coast Guard rather than take a chance on being in the Marines.  I was stationed in Hawaii during my stint in the service.  One week prior to my discharge I was in church and I mention this fact.  The members were shocked to even know that I was in the service because I was home so much of the time.  I was a wheeler-dealer then.


     The "old man", meaning the skipper of the ship, noticed that I was a black belt instructor in karate so he made me master-at-arms aboard the ship.  Usually, this was rotated every three months, but he kept me on for two years.  That's why I was able to go home so much.  Whenever the captain left the ship, I left.  The master-at-arms is the guy who took care of the whole ship.  He took care of the mess deck, and the inspection of aboard ship.  Next in the executive officer, he was in charge.


    Official: Did you finish the University?  Do you have a degree?


    Ed Parker: I have a Bachelor of Science in Social Psychology and I minored in political science.  I have also done a year of graduate work.  While I was still in the service in Hawaii I was negotiating with Professor Chow about coming to the States to open schools.  After my junior year, though, things started to break up back there so the plans we had originally started to disintegrate.  After I finished college I went back to Hawaii, but things had broken up.  Professor Chow gave me his good blessings and told me I was on my own.


    Official: Your wife works with you in the karate activities doesn't she?


    Ed Parker: My Leilani is my most ardent fan.  We were married in 1954.  She was my high school sweetheart.  We have five children; two girls, a boy and two girls.  I come from big families.  In my father's family there were fifteen brothers and three sisters.  There were seven children in my family.  I'll name them in order; Eva, Arthur, Fran, Joseph, then my deceased brother David, myself and my baby brother David.  When the first David died the other was born so my mother called the baby David Paul.  The other brother had been David Kalani.  My great-grandfather owned the Parker Ranch which is presently owned by my cousin Richard.  It's the biggest privately owned ranch in the world.


    Official: When and why did you decide to come to California?


    Ed Parker: I was asked to come to Pasadena by Vic Tanny's brother-in-law, Bert Goodrich, who wanted to open three or four weightlifting gyms and to introduce karate at the same time as an inducement.  When I came in, American Health Studios bought him out and left me out in the cold.  That was the best thing that could ever happen to me.  That really made me go out on my own.  I went out and borrowed $300 from a friend and that's what I got started on.  My first location was at 1840 Walnut, just a block and a half from my present location.  I put on demonstrations at churches where I got a lot of members.  Then I was introduced to a guy named Terry Robinson.  Everything I own I owe to this guy, Terry Robinson.  At the time Terry was Mario Lanza's physical trainer.  He, in turn, introduced me to the Beverly Wilshire Health Club.  It was from there I started making contacts among film people.  That's where I met producers.  Right now Terry is like a father to Mario Lonza's children.  Mario died, his wife died and his mother died about a month and a half ago.  So now he's taking care of Mario's children and father.  He was the one who gave me my start in the movie world and it was my affiliation with movies that really got karate moving.  There was an article in Time magazine on me about karate.  A lot of these producers saw it and started asking questions and interjecting these things into their scripts.  That's how it took off.


    Official: You have taught numerous movie stars and enacting roles in television and movies.  Who are some of the more memorable stars you taught?


    Ed Parker: I've taught many movie stars.  I used to teach Bob Wagner when he was married to Natalie Wood.  I've even taught Natalie on several occasions.  Robert Culp is a tremendous person.  I worked with him in movies, too.  To be honest with you, if I don't like someone I won't teach them and there have been a few stars in that category.  I refused them because of their attitudes.


     I've been in the "I Spy " series, "the Wrecking Crew" and have just completed a movie in which I co-star with Cynthia Meyer, the 1970 Mr. December Playmate.  It's called "The Devil's Choice" and is scheduled to be released anytime now.  Some of the other actors are Robert Fuller and Nick Cravet.  I'm also advising a producer on the karate scenes in another movie were working on right now.


    Official: Among your many activities you have come up with a franchise for karate schools, too?


    Ed Parker: I have a franchise package to offer, but I'm very particular with whom I want to work.  Instead of having a hundred schools with maybe eighty getting by, I want to have fifty schools all doing over a hundred and fifty grand a year.  I've just completed a franchise school in the Dallas area.  The man will be an asset to the IKKA.  He is a pilot and has his own twenty-eight seat plane.  Right now he's getting up a group of karate people from that area to come to the internationals this August.  The franchises range from twenty-five to thirty-five thousand depending on the school.


    Official: You still have time to just teach karate now?


    Ed Parker: I really like to teach.  I find pleasure in teaching.  The thing I find interesting is that karate does do a lot of good.  One day I had a parent come in crying.  I thought something bad had happened or we had done something wrong.  He was crying and appreciation for what karate had done for his son.  The son, for the past 14 years, was a product of a broken home.  He visited first one parent and the other on alternate weekends.  The boy was so introverted that he couldn't face his father whenever he was confronted or questioned.  He actually stood behind his father's back to answer him.  Through his karate training the boy had gained enough self-confidence that he was able to face his father for the first time in 14 years.  I like these accomplishments.  I have attorneys who come in here because for years they feared a plaintiff would jump up and smash them in the mouth.  After learning karate they have become better lawyers because they can put forth a better court case without worrying about being defenseless.


    Official: You have not attended as many tournaments throughout the nation as you used to, say two years ago.  Why?


    Ed Parker: There are several reasons why I stopped supporting tournaments nationwide.  For one thing, I'm tired of the political baloney that goes on.  I believe that we should all work together.  People must remember that this is America and our concern should be to come out with rules and ideas related to our environment.  In other words, if we can borrow anything that is worthwhile from the Japanese, the Korean, the Okinawan, that is fine . . . but if some things are unsuited to what we should do, then we should leave them out.


     One thing I've noticed about the Orientals is their attitude of superiority.  This is fine . . . but on several occasions I've had a couple of guys who were supposed to have rotated from referee to judge.  They complained because they felt their status required that they only be called upon to referee.  Now if I were at internment and somebody have a problem with a bloody nose and they asked me to get a towel and wipe the blood from that rain, I’d do it.  I feel that anybody who has been in karate, whatever level he has achieved, should be big enough to control his ego for the sake of karate.


     Another reason I don't go to many tournaments is financial.  In the past, I spent eight to ten grand a year just traveling.  In some of these cases, I couldn't see where I was doing myself in a good . . . or for that matter, doing any good for those presenting the tournament.  Very often, those presenting the tournaments had fixed ideas and rules that were not made for the majority of those competing.  The rights of the individuals participating were ignored, and this fact angered me.  This was particularly true as far as judging was concerned.  Personally I call it as I see it.  I try not to show favoritism.  But I've seen some really unfair . . . even crooked . . . decisions.  I have seen some people use their position as an official to try to build their own, or their organizations by calling points for a contestant they favor who is matched against a big name, such as Joe Lewis.  They do this to build their own or school's reputation for financial reasons only.  That's wrong!  They develop rules that will favor their man . . . like giving two points for a kick to the head, but only one for a punch to the same area.  This is very one sided.


    Official: And what do you base your particular style of karate, Kenpo?


    Ed Parker: Obviously it is based on the Kenpo I learned . . . with my own innovations added I finally came to the realization that a system should not go beyond the outer limits of simplicity or the starting point of complexity.


    This is Edmund Kealoha Parker . . . a man of many talents and inextinguishable energies.  He is truly Karate's Keeper of the Flame.


  • The Internationals  /  Professional Karate  /  April 1974  /  V-1  No. 3  /  Lou Balint

    The Granddaddy of American Karate Tournaments Goes Professional.  Thousands of Fighters and Fans Flock to Long Beach for the 10th Consecutive Year.


    It's a Long Beach Arena, August 5, 1973.  Over 8,000 screaming fans are on their feet.  It's John "The Giant Killer" Natividad vs. speedy, young Benny Urquidez.  Regulation time had ended with the score tied, after three furious rounds, 13-13.  The lead has already changed hands six different times.  Now the sudden death overtime, where the result of months of training and a day of battle after hard-fought battle would be culminated by the next crucial point.


    This was the day that saw defending champion Darnell Garcia dethroned by Natividad by the narrowest possible margin; a day that the dynamic Howard Jackson, who many picked to walk away with top honors, was disqualified in the second round.  Nationally rated Bob Burbidge, after besting every middleweight on hand, lost out to lightweight champion Urquidez in the battle for the $2,500 grand prize and newly crowned International Heavyweight Champion Ralph Allegria lost to a light heavyweight Natividad in this winner take all battle.


    The next point was indeed crucial as there was no consolation for second place.  It was a prestigious International title plus a purse of $2,500 for the winner and just a memory for the loser.  Despite the pressure, Benny Urquidez, one of California's most dynamic and crowd-pleasing fighters, still came out wearing his perpetual smile.  He moved from side to side, looking for an avenue of attack.  The experienced Natividad, rated fourth in the nation, wasted no time.  It was go for broke.  He charged forward with the right lunch punch lead.  Then, Urquidez blocks the maneuver as if it was the main attack finds only that he has been outsmarted as John Natividad rams the final point home - a left upset punch to the midsection.


    John Natividad has now carved his name in karate history, amongst the greats of all time.  He now takes his place amongst the Giants, Stone, Steen, Norris, Lewis, and Garcia - the champions that have won this great tournament in the past.  The International Karate Championships was first hosted in 1964 by its founder and producer, Ed Parker, at the Long Beach Arena.  Parker, a descendent of the great Hawaiian King Kamehameha, came to California from Hawaii in 1956 and opened what he claims was the first commercial karate studio on the United States mainland.  A man with great foresight, Mr. Parker felt that California, because of its geographic location, would soon become the capital of Karate in the U.S. and to host of tournament here could only prove successful.  How right he was, as in years to come some of the world's greatest karate masters and fighters plus scores of some of the world's most prominent motion pictures celebrities would grace its arena.


    Ed Parker, from the time he arrived on the mainland, was tagged a "rebel."


    He was one of the first it's not the first American to rebel against the traditional classical methods of teaching and pioneer a few new methods of his own.  Being a major in psychology and sociology helped Parker create a more practical method of teaching where classes would be geared to suit the individual's needs rather than satisfy the age-old requirements of the style.  Though not going along with throwing away all the old ideas, he feels that many ideas and techniques must be revised to meet modern standards.  He shuns the narrowminded approach to karate and preaches: "The mind is like a parachute - it only works when it's open."


    Parker is also noted for being the "trainer of the stars."  He has taught karate to such movie notables as Elvis Presley, Robert Wagner, Dick Martin, Robert Culp, Elke Summer, Natalie Wood, and the late Nick Adams.  These stars and many others respected Ed enough to take the time from their busy schedules to make an appearance at the Internationals.


    One of the most prominent to grace the Internationals’ stage was the great Bruce Lee.  He was first introduced to American audiences by Ed Parker at the 1964 Internationals.  "When I met Bruce Lee back in 1962-63," says Parker, "I asked him to perform at the Internationals.  I felt that his ability with such that people would be very impressed by watching him - especially back then.  There weren’t too many people who had witnessed the Chinese version of the martial arts.  So that year, 1964, not only did Bruce Lee perform, but I took films of his performance.  Bill Dozier was looking forward Oriental, someone who was very good in the martial arts.  At that time, Bruce was in Hong Kong due to his father's death.  I took the films of Bruce to Bill Dozier, who owned the "Batman" series then and had acquired the rights to the Green Hornet series; after seeing the films, he said, "That's the man I want."  And that's how Bruce Lee came back here and started to get in the movie industry."


    Ed Parker was perhaps the first of martial artist ever to appear in a movie as he was the first engaged in acting in the fifties.  He first appeared in a series called the "Dangerous Robin" starring Rick Jason in 1957.  He feels that karate motion pictures are great except for one thing - the lack of realism.  "A human being can only do so much," he states.  "I think karate movies are great for the business, except those that have people jumping over buildings."  Ed is currently engaged in the making of three films.  "The recent rise in the popularity of karate movies certainly doesn't shock me," says Ed, "five or six years ago I tried to get movie producers and directors to make such films.  Right now, because of the social climate we have, where respect for the law has been lost, people feel a need to learn a method of self-defense.  They put themselves in the place of the hero in these films."


    When asked which Internationals was the most memorable to him, Ed replied, "The first Internationals, because it was very, very satisfying to me to see the tremendous number of fighters that came out, the tremendous amount of assistance we had from all the different styles.  We had the biggest names at that time.


    Bruce Lee consented to perform and Ben Lagusa, who is very, very adapt at the Philippine art of Escrima, demonstrated.  From what I understand, this was one of the first times this particular art was ever demonstrated in front of an audience.  So, to me, the first Internationals was the most memorable.  That was in 1964."


    Ten years have elapsed and each year at the internationals another important page in the history of professional karate is written.  Another karate superstar is born.  The world of professional karate anxiously awaits what this great tournament and his producer hold in store for a promising future.


  • Ed Parker: The First Twenty Years  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  May 1974  /  V-1  No. 6  /  R. Imamura

    It really wasn't much of a blessing 20 years ago in Provo, Utah, for a sociology student from nearby Brigham Young University who had decided to set up shop.  Seemingly just another wild idea ultimately destined for the scrap heap, the opening drew little fanfare . . . and even less attention.  Only years later would others realize, or care for that matter, that young Edmond Parker of Hawaii had just established mainland America's first commercial dojo.


    Two decades later Ed Parker, now the prosperous owner of 18 dojo spanning four nations and the promoter of the world-famous Long Beach International Karate Championships, can smile when he looks back on those strange and unpredictable days of the beginning: "The early years were hard years.  For the few of us that were in existence then, especially the first couple of years, there were tremendous number of ‘contests’ - I mean guys walking into the school saying they had never heard of ‘Karate,’ that it was just a name we had made up, and then wanting to fight.  Once I even had a guy like that come in who said he was a ‘ju-jitty’ expert!"


    But that was only the beginning.  Twenty years have brought significant changes to both the art and its environment . . . in place of the ‘contests’ and ‘ju-jitty’ experts: hundreds of schools now teach innumerable styles across the country, tournament competitions occupy thousands of practitioners of every level nearly weekly, and martial arts currently saturate a good percentage of America's packaged entertainment.  Generally speaking, public acceptance and interests have swelled beyond all previous records.  Yet, perhaps most important, the last 20 years have given rise to something unique, something with a promise of permanence: American Karate.  Forged from the bewildering amalgam of styles and arts transplanted far beyond the traditional rivalries and secrecies of the respective homelands, American Karate has become the most open path ever followed . . . ‘most open’ as all styles and arts participate equally within the Melting Pot.  And throughout this dynamic metamorphosis, Ed Parker's stayed in the vanguard: exploring, experimenting, setting trends and generally pointing the way - his string of 18 dojo being the model for the business end of karate, while the rules and format of his Long Beach Internationals guide other tournament promoters.  Inside the dojo, his systematized methods of teaching still haven't been fully appreciated.


    Such has been the path of the art, developing and growing spontaneously and unlimited like jazz solo.  But now, at the end of the first 20 years and the height of the "Kung-Fu craze," perhaps it's time to look back to the beginnings, to see where we've been and how far we've come, and pause to acknowledge Ed Parker, The Father of American Karate.


    Ed Parker means business.  Constantly on the go, moving from appointment to appointment with the seriousness and punctuality he has come to expect in everyone he deals with, there always seems to be something on his mind.  Two decades of experience in the martial arts field have taught him the value of keeping abreast of new trends and the possibilities of implementing them . . . you don't, after all, but come The Father of American Karate by being the second in line.


    "You've got to remember," Parker quickly points out today, "that in the beginning, I had no competition to worry about and I could afford to make mistakes.  So I made a lot of mistakes, and I still make mistakes; but now I think my mistakes aren't business know-how, but picking the right people to help out.  It's a matter of close scrutiny of character.  That's the whole thing.  I've learned a lot, any ideas I've had pertain - some principles and concepts remain constant no matter what the endeavor."


    Universally acknowledged as the man who introduced karate to America some twenty years ago, Parker has been one of the most innovative and successful influences in the development of the art in its new environment.  One of the first to establish the franchise concept in the business end, he has also led the way in other areas . . . promoting, publicizing and pushing new ways to further the enhancement of the art.  But down through the years, Parker's enthusiasm has occasionally been a sore spot with others.  "I was condemned once for being commercial," he recalls with a visible annoyance.  "People sometimes feel that once you start charging money, you more or less water down the art.  I disagree with this, at least the way I'm doing it.  The old Chinese sifus used to be housed by families.  They were fed, they were clothed and given expense money.  That was their livelihood in some cases.  Were they supposed to do it for nothing?"


    Starting with private lessons for law enforcement officers in the Provo area in 1954, Parker has never, in his opinion, taught a watered-down art merely for the money.  "It was in Provo, Utah, when I was going to college - that's when I first opened.  It was the first accredited course in college for this type of thing.  We had night classes with 72 officers.  Then a guy named Roy Woodward and I had the first school in Provo.  Again we kind of restricted who came in and everything else, because at that time, I was still more involved with law enforcement than anything else."


    Parker's first school was almost primarily concerned with the improvement of law enforcement capabilities of police officers.  "Another thing I did, from the students I formed an exhibition team of Highway Patrol, That, and Sheriff's Deputies, and we made it a policy to contact the various Chamber of Commerce so we could put on demonstrations in the various cities.  And when we did, it had a tremendous effect on the public from the standpoint that they became a lot more respectful because most people feel that an officer depends on a gun to do his bidding.  When they saw how effective the officer was minus the use of a gun, it made them think twice.  The rate of arrests then went down considerably in the areas that we performed.


    "After that, the same individual who enticed me to open the school in Provo felt that we should come to L.A. and offer the same thing.  So I offered my services to law enforcement agencies here, and they turned me down . . . So then I got hooked up with this guy named Bert Goodrich, who is Vic Tanny's his brother-in-law.  He had three locations and was in competition at the time with Vic Tanny, and he felt that this (karate) would be an added incentive to come to him, as opposed to going to Vic Tanny's.  But before we even got off the ground, a group called American Health Studios came into the picture, bought Goodrich out, and converted all that money which was to be used for karate in the weight training.  So that forced me to go out on my own in 1956.  I borrowed $300, and knowing nothing about business, opened my own school in Pasadena"


    Ed Parker is youth in Hawaii was the kind most people dream of - sun, surf and all the other accessories of paradise.  Born in Honolulu into the Parker family of Hawaiian history - the legendary king Kamehameha being his great, great grandfather, and his cousin eventually inheriting the fabled Parker Ranch of the Island of Hawaii (Parker Ranch being the second largest Ranch in the world!) - young Parker was able to begin his martial arts training early under top teachers.


    Studying first under Frank Chow in 1946, Parker received the bulk of his training in Kenpo Karate techniques from the famed Professor William Chow.  He studied for nearly 3 years, earning his shodan and more importantly, gaining an early acceptance of the nonexclusive nature of the martial arts.  Professor Chow was skilled in the arts of Kenpo and Karate, with knowledge of other arts, and he was not against combining their elements for the sake of expediency.  "Professor Chow didn't actually teach me many of the modifications and developments I later came up with, but he started me looking for these other avenues.  He gave me some master keys to open my own doors."


    It was at this time also that Parker began to lay the foundations for bringing his Kenpo Karate to the mainland.  "I began to visualize the fact that one day, the social climate of this country would be such that our type of service, which I feel cannot be duplicated by automation, would have potential as a business endeavor.  Somewhere in the late 40s there was a group of us at first, anticipating coming up and opening up schools in the United States . . . guys that I was studying with.  It was then agreed that one of us should get a college education, so that as we pursued our endeavor we more or less had someone with a college background, whereby we would be listened to more readily, as opposed to not.  And that's what started it."


    So, in time, Parker left for the mainland and Brigham Young University.  It was a typical university life there, with the exception of Karate workouts with the other students from the Islands.  Working more on a friendly basis, Parker and the other Hawaiians benefited themselves with the training.  "I worked out with the Island kids.  Coming from one locality, we stuck together quite a bit, regardless of nationality, because that's the way we were brought up.  Being outsiders more or less, working out built confidence.  We were working out one day in the wrestling room when someone saw us and suggested that we put on a demo."


    Following a demonstration, stage during the halftime of the UCLA-BYU basketball game, Parker was induced to start his extension program for law enforcement officers.  "Well I just felt that I had seen what they had done . . . they had excelled in almost every field such as fingerprinting and the other fields of endeavor related to law enforcement, so what they did in regards to hand-to-hand combat was very bad.  And I feel this way," Parker interrupts his story to say, "When I'm fast asleep, I'm counting on them patrolling the streets to protect me.  And so that's why I was very concerned.  But after that, I had a few police officers come to me on their own accord, as opposed to college activity.  And then I noticed that some of them were more concerned with getting credit.  The novelty of getting college credit was more appealing to them rather than that which would enhance their job."


    After his similar offer to the Los Angeles law enforcement agencies was turned down in 1956, Parker's early effort at his newly opened the Pasadena dojo were almost equally frustrating.  "I remember when I first opened up in Pasadena, and advertising guy came by and said, "What is this?  A Mexican dish?"


    In spite of this slow beginning, word-of-mouth ultimately proved enough to pull Parker through.  He gradually gained more and more stability in his business, until word-of-mouth happened to give him his first big break.  Roy Woodward, who had been part of Parker's first dojos in Provo and Los Angeles, had just met Terry Robinson, physical trainer for many of Hollywood's stars at the time.  "Roy mentioned to him about me," Parker relates, "and want I was trying to do, and Terry said, ‘Well, I was a kill-or-be-killed’ combat instructor, too.  Why do you invite him down?’


    "So I got a phone call, and Roy told me, ‘Hey, there's a very interesting guy I want you to meet.  He might be of some help to you.’  Then he explained who he was, Mario Lanza's trainer and the trainer of many other movie stars.  So I went down there and we struck it off very good.  The minute I started demonstrating, he said, ‘Hey, what I learned was kindergarten.’  You know, for a guy to really admit that, I thought it was pretty good.


    "So then he told me, ‘I'm the Physical Director at the Beverly Wilshire health club.  I think if you are to come down there perhaps I might be able to form a class.’  Which is what he did.  That's how I began to get introduced to many of the movies celebrities.  I met quite a few people down there through Terry, and that's how I got involved."


    Through the years Parker has taught many of Hollywood's top personalities.  Elvis Presley, Robert Culp, Robert Wagner, Dick Martin, Fabian, Elke Sommer, Natalie Wood and the late filmland greats Nick Adams and Audie Murphy, all had varying degrees of instruction under Parker's watchful eye.  And it is through these early contacts that Ed Parker interjected his art into television and movies for the first time.


    "It was through my influence at the time I had Blake Edwards, who is now married to Julie Andrews, as a student that their writers began to put some karate into the movies.  But at the time, the thing that intrigued them was not the art, but the fabulous board breaking and brick breaking.  They were more interested in the spectacular than in the art itself.  I wasn't too happy about it."  Nevertheless, Parker knew that any exposure at that time, no matter how superficial, was better than the scanty information available to the public without the media.


    "Then I got caught up in a series with Rick Jason, who used to play the lieutenant on Combat.  He had a series called Dangerous Robin.  It was sort of a detective series.  It lasted a year, and that was the first time they had a technical advisor for Karate on the set."  Believe it or not, the year was 1957.


    "Of course, at the time I opened in Pasadena, well, in fact, even when we go back to Provo, mine was the first commercial venture that was done with karate.  But you have to remember, Kung-Fu is practiced many years before I came."


    Dating back to early California history in the days following the Gold Rush of the mid-1800’s, Kung-Fu was an integral part of the lifestyle in the Chinese labor camps and mining towns that later came to be known as ‘Chinatown's’.  Kept secret and hidden from non-Chinese for over 100 years (opened only, in fact, in 1964 by grandmaster Ark Y. Wong of Los Angeles) Ed Parker was one of the few ‘outsiders’ allowed to penetrate the closed universe.


    "Kung-Fu had been practiced for many years in San Francisco Chinatown and elsewhere, but it was like a private club," Parker recalls.  Perhaps it was because the sifus respected his own formidable skills in the martial arts or that they valued Professor Chow’s initial judgments, but Parker was accepted.  "I did become good friends with a lot of them.  The reason there was never any exposure with a lot of Kung-Fu professors was simply because many of them were never ever legal residents of the United States.  Now a lot of them are dead so I can tell you this: They were brought in during the time of the Tong Wars as hatchet men.  They were hit men.  And then later, they stayed here and made her livelihood as a secretive group.  That's why a lot of them refuse to take pictures.  I have some pictures with them they said could only be taken under the condition that I never publicize them.  So that's who they were, hit men.  They never became citizens of the United States, and whenever money was given to them, they never reported it because they never have a Social Security number."


    Parker's desire to build up American Karate as an entity in itself has been one of his main goals.  While the art originated in the Orient, America is a different environment, demanding different approaches and standards.  Through his first twenty years, two major projects - one success and the other failure - were devoted to that end.  Today, the world-famous Long Beach Internationals and snuffed hopes that created Action Karate Magazine still invoke strong reactions from the man behind both.


    After Parker had started the ball rolling with his schools in Provo and Pasadena, "then others came in and it blossomed.  Then there were a lot of claims and what have you, and pretty soon, in the first five years, there was a lot of dissension, each system claiming that theirs was the best and everything else.  More and more, as we got systems other than Shotokan, you know, like Wado-ryu, Isshin-ryu and stuff like that, I felt a need for bringing all these styles under one roof, and that's why I had the Internationals in 1964."


    Held for the last ten years in Long Beach, California, the Internationals must stand as one of Parker's crowning achievements.  Still the foremost tournament in the nation, and possibly the world, the Internationals exemplifies best the American karate concept of emphasis upon tournament competition.  Open to all who could legitimately prove to be practitioners, the accommodating features that have come to characterize the Internationals were much in evidence on that beginning day in 1964.


    "I was the first guy to get Matsuoka from Canada.  I had Ohshima.  You name them, I had them - I even invited Bruce Tegner to the tournament, and he came!  I got everybody out of the woodwork in California to come under one roof to go to the tournament.  This was the first time this has ever done, and I was condemned:  ‘Why did you invite this guy?  or that guy?’  I said, ‘If they're good, they'll prove themselves; if they're no good, they'll go back into the woodwork.’  And that's exactly what happened.  And then it started to build from there.  Those were good years, there was a lot of closeness."


    Unfortunately, things to a certain extent soured for Parker, and the "good years" were lost amidst bickering and bitterness that for years hindered the growth of American Karate.  The state of affairs have begun to improve again, but the "good years" and the closeness have so far stayed only cynical memories.  "Ohshima and I are still close friends," says Parker of the man who brought Shotokan to Los Angeles only months after his own Pasadena dojo was established, "but there is no great love between me and a lot of other guys, because at one time there was a great movement by the Koreans to take over the country.  I felt, ‘Hey, you know, while they have a lot to offer, this is America!  Let us put together our own thing.’  In other words, we can all get together and so design rules that will be tailored around our needs and our children and our methods and our environment.  And that's the way it should be."


    Concerning Action Karate, Parker believes that the four issue life of what he hoped to establish as the voice of American Karate wasn't a total failure.  "At the time (1968-69), the leading magazine wouldn't even mention me," Parker recalls, "but when Action Karate came out, it forced them to come out with a second magazine, more liberal than the first, to fight us.  So although we folded, I think we accomplished in part what we set out to do, since now there was a newer, more liberal magazine on the market."


    Ed Parker is standing on the stage of one of the many high school auditoriums he has demonstrated out over the years.  The demonstration has been a rousing success, and the high schoolers are all pretty impressed.  Giving his closing remarks, Parker says to those in the audience: "We're not here to show you how tough we are, that's not our objective.  But by the same token, those of you in the audience who are troublemakers, who like to look for trouble, remember what you've seen in here today, because one of these days, you gonna run into one of us."


    Ed Parker turns, and swiftly walks off-stage.


    "To me, is just using might for right," says Parker, who is deeply concerned with the many ills that plague society today.  "The problem we have today is the philosophy that's on the streets.  And you know what that philosophy is?  It's this: It's not who's right but who's left that counts.  You get in an environment like that, and you just get caught up in this - as much as you want to, like the Lord says, turn the other cheek; after awhile you run out of them, all four of them.  I hope we can trigger minds throughout the country to possibly put forth the effort, because there are solutions, but it's going to take a lot of eating up of egos.  It's not a matter of who's going to take up leadership, but who's gonna contribute in their own way."


    However, if the solutions aren't found and implemented, Parker sees a much more important, although tasteful, roll martial arts will play in the future.  "I feel this country is in for a big upheaval.  Were gonna see things you wouldn't think could happen in the United States.  Unfortunately, it's gonna come down to what I just said: the guy who knows (martial arts or some form of fighting) is gonna be the one, in some cases, whether he's right or wrong, as long as he's left.  That's all that's going to count.


    "But we’re in for big trouble.  I don't think there is too much respect for our government or the leaders of our government.  When that deteriorates . . . were right now at the very threshold that Rome was before it fell.  You can't just say all is well.  It's not!  Like the gas situation - if somebody told you it would happen, you would never have believed him.  By our Santa Monica school a guy sliced another guy's throat just for cutting into line for gas."


    Throughout the many years of Karate teaching and business, Mrs. Parker, Leilani, has stood behind Ed, helping out in every way possible.  Married in 1954, just prior to the opening of the first Parker dojo in Provo, the Parker's and their five children - Darlene, 16; Beth, 15; Edmond Jr., 13; Yvonne, 10; and Sherry, 6 - have lived for the past 17 years in Pasadena, California.  For the most part, it has been a good life.


    With the new wave of interest in Kung-Fu, Parker, contrary to many other karate men, sees a general beneficial effect for all martial artists in America.  The more publicity, the more exposure, the better it will be for everyone, he reasons.  This, basically, was the reason the martial arts world got its first glimpse of Bruce Lee back in 1964.


    "I talked to him," Parker recalls, "and the thing with Bruce and I, we struck it off very well because he's very broad minded about things.  Of course, at that time he was very anti-classical Kung-Fu.  He felt that they were no more than robots.  And I talked to him and said, ‘You know people feel that their individual styles are the best.  Well, I have this big tournament coming up, and I think if you were to come down (Lee at the time, lived in Seattle) and demonstrate, the people would have a better cross-section of what lies in the martial arts world.’ He said he'd be happy to come."


    Lee debuted to the world that year at the inaugural edition of the Internationals, dazzling the thousands of spectators with his superb skill.  On the sidelines, Ed Parker was getting it all down on film.  "I had it in color and sound, and I kept it for many years hoping I could use it . . . Then a few years later (1966), I was teaching Jay Sebring - he was a guy killed with Sharon Tate in the Sharon Tate murders.  Jay and I were good friends and we were talking about the need for a guy to play Kato, because Jay's friend was Bill Dozier, the producer of Batman.  He (Dozier) had bought the rights to the Green Hornet, and he needed a Kato.  They needed one who knew the art, so I told them I had just a guy for them.  So they made the arrangements to take the film to Bill Dozier, and Bill looked at it and said that's the guy he wanted, Bruce.  Then I got hold of Bruce, who was in Hong Kong, and he liked the idea and came back.


    "I felt if Bruce to get on television, his ability would enhance everyone's situation throughout the country, and it did just that."


    On a personal level, Parker holds only the highest regard for Bruce Lee.  "If any one person could be God-gifted, he was the guy, one in two billion.  Pound for pound, like in boxing pound for pound, they say Sugar Ray was the guy; I say in the martial arts world as far as Kung-Fu, pound for pound Bruce was the best, in my estimation."


    "One day, I had a father knock on the door to my office in Pasadena.  He came in and shut the door, and started crying.  He said, ‘No, these are tears of joy.  My wife and I divorced each other 14 years ago and my son has been relayed between my wife and I all this time and he became an introvert as a result.  So much so, that when I talked to him, he'll never faced me face-to-face.  Yesterday, because of the confidence he built up from the training, not only did he talk to me face to face for the first time in 14 years, but he challenged my authority.  He told me all the training he’d had was worth it.’


    "This is the kind of thing I like," says Ed Parker.


  • Ballet of Death  /  Fighting Stars  /  June 1974  /  V-1  No. 5  /  Steve Rubenstein

    ROUGH AND TOUGH Ed Parker is a businessman who makes the "ballet of death," as he calls karate, his business.  "These days, business is good, " he says.  "and the need for our services hasn't peaked yet.  Give it eight or 10 years more to reach that point."


    Ed Parker, a broad man with a round face under straight, mod-styled, graying hair, sits behind a big desk in his Santa Monica office, and explains:


    The reason karate is so popular now is the social climate.  There's disrespect for others, disrespect of authority.  People are sick of getting tossed around.  Taxes are too high.  It's supposed to be our money, but we don't have any say about how to spend it.  So when people see Bruce Lee in a picture, they want to be like Bruce Lee.  And they picture their opponent as the tax assessor.  It is an outlet for those frustrating feelings of aggression."


    In Parker's dojo next door, several students shadow-chop their way through the kata practicing their side kicks against imaginary enemies.  They refer to the pictures on the wall of people using the right techniques, and a plaque which bears the Parker motto: "Should I be forced to defend myself . . . should it be a matter of life or death, or right or wrong, there here are my weapons, karate, my empty hands."


    Even in his childhood days in Hawaii, husky Ed Parker was known as a man you didn't mess with.  He still isn't.  He grew up in the Kalihi slums of Honolulu, where survival was often at the point of a switchblade.  "I thank the Lord I was born and raised there," he says.  "it gave me the opportunity to fight it out."  That's where the karate first came in.  "A lot of guys would try to have me pull a job at the local cafe.  A verbal refusal wasn't enough.  I had to learn to physically refuse."


    In 1947, Parker came to the mainland.  A devout Mormon, he enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, "where the weather could compel me to do some studying and there wasn't any surf to ride."


    The Mormon religion is still one of the strongest influences in Parker's daily life.  He has taken over 30 karate colleagues into the Mormon Church.  He attributes much of his physical stamina to total abstention from the corruption of alcoholic, nicotinic, and caffeinic pacifiers.


    At BYU, Parker was soon staging karate demonstrations between his teams there and some from UCLA.


    Several Utah law enforcement agencies asked Parker to give their officers a few pointers.  "Utah is much more progressive about these things," he said.  Before long, such agencies as the Provo Police Department and the Utah Fish and Game inspectors were routinely reverse punching and roundhouse kicking in the line of duty.


    According to Parker, crime statistics in that community plummeted.  "Karate changed public opinion about law officers.  They used to think that without his gun, a policeman has a nothing.  But we put on demonstrations, and the people saw that hands are pretty potent.  It really had an effect."


    The success of Parker's karate teaching in Utah, his work with the law enforcement people there, and his innate sense of showmanship prompted him to offer his services in these fields to the motion picture industry in Southern California.


    His first move was to offer a course to the police.  But they turned him down.  "They told me 'We've got this old revolver and that's all we need.' "  So Parker got together a few Vic Tanny gym people and opened his first karate studio in 1956, while continuing to teach assorted celebrities and movie stars at a Beverly Hills health club.


    In Hollywood, Parker put his experience staging karate demonstrations to good use.  As movies became increasingly more violent during the secret agent craze of the 60's, Parker was called on more and more to stage exotic fight scenes with stuntmen and stars.  He even mixed it up a little himself.


    "In the early days, they thought karate was a Mexican restaurant.  One guy challenged me.  Maybe they say smite one cheek, turn the other.  Well, you run out of cheeks."  Parker feels.  Then he sat upright and smiled across the table.  "I really let that guy have it!"


    Teaching karate to celebrities often depends upon their availability.  Parker set about to establish a string of dojo that now dot the Southern California landscape.


    Most stars know little about karate and could care less, which often makes staging the scenes difficult, according to Parker.  He hates to see people he's working with get injured.  "The way to keep people from getting hurt is to do the scenes with guys that know what they're doing.  I've seen many a leading actor get it right in the mouth."  Parker shook his head.  "It's just that they're not martial arts talented or trained," he states.


    The television stuntmen really have a clique.  They always tell me 'Oh yeah, we know karate,' but they really don't.  On one episode of 'Run for Your Life,' I spent three hours trying to teach one stuntman a move, and he still couldn't do it.  I had to bring in one of my own men."


    Parker has racked up nearly two decades of experience staging stunts and martial arts fights.  His work has titillated a multitude of TV addicts and movie goers around the globe.  His list of credits is so long and awesome that he cannot remember the names of the series, let alone the episodes.  Only a few film titles still stay with him, and only because he particularly enjoyed working on them.  The "I Spy" series and "Run for Your Life" made good use of his choreographic talents.  And he speaks of his work in Dean Martin's Matt Helm adventure, "The Wrecking Crew" with happily remembered pleasure.



    Unlike most stunt shots, Parker's scenes all feature actual contact, although Parker calls it a light, "kissing" touch.  In other stunt techniques, he insists, the stand-in will "pull" their punches by up to sex inches, and a slightly misplaced camera can render the entire scene worthless.  Parker's main headache is actors who simply cannot master the techniques required for the shot.


    "The thing you have to do then is find a guy that will make a good double.  Then do a phenomenal job on the master shot of the fight with the stuntmen, do a close-up, and keep alternating so the viewers will think it was him all along."


    Some actors do not have the patience required of the martial arts, and around parker, that can be dangerous.  One noted actor "I'm not going to mention names") signed up for a course, and after the third lesson, parker claims the man told him, "That's enough of the basics, now you give me the meat of the thing."  Parker smiles when he tells the story.  "I told him, 'I don't like you, and since your job is dependent on your face, I'd rather not re-arrange it.  Would you mind leaving?  He did."



    One actor Parker has no problem with is Elvis Presley, whom Parker tutors privately at his home.  "Elvis is sincerely interested in looking good," says parker.  "Unfortunately, some of these other guys, the role calls for them to do it but they don't have much interest."  Other actors Parker worked with include Robert Wagner and "I Spy" star Robert Culp, whose interest in karate outlasted the series.  Culp still works out in the studio from time to time.


    Like capital punishment, Parker believes the role of violence in the films he makes acts as a deterrent.  The more true-to-life, the better.  "If I show a guy having his arm broken, I want his darn bone to come through this darn skin.  Not too much of it, but enough of it.  I think that's important.  Showing a broken bone in the script is just to make these people in the audience realize 'Hey, one of these days I'm going to meet up with one of them.  I better watch it.'  If it's used as a deterrent like that, then I'm for it."



    Karate, too, is a deterrent, although for maximum effect, you have to flash it around a little.  A deterrent is worthless unless people know you have it.  Parker has heard that argument before.  "Like people say don't teach your kids how to shoot a gun.  I think that's wrong.  I think a kid should know what a gun is.  You should take a kid out in the open, you should set up some cans, you should either fire the gun yourself or teach him how to fire, and then show him the effect of what a bullet can do.  Then you say to him 'Look, if a bullet can do that to a can, just think what it can do to a human being . . . so you better watch it,'"


    Who goes to the movies he makes?  Ed Parker claims he knows.  "Your primary audience for all this violence is blacks," he said.  "They make up 40% of the audience and they sure don't make up 40% of the population.  They like to see all the fight scenes.  They're intrigued by what the feet and the hands can do against a multitude of people.  They are intrigued by the mystifying secrets that seem to surround karate.  I think that's what appeals to the youngsters who crowd in to the theaters to see the kung-fu films.  It also accounts for the continuing popularity of David Carradine as an oriental Lone Ranger.  There is a certain fascination mysterious secret that everyone wants to learn.  But it takes a lot of hours of long, hard work to learn it."


    What are karate's "secrets" which "millions of Americans are eager to pay to learn?"  Ed Parker says, "Karate is the oriental form of boxing.  Judo is wrestling, with the Marquis of Queensbury rules thrown in.  American boxing is to checkers as what we do is to chess.  As you well know, there's a great deal of difference between these two games."


    Sometimes Parker thinks back to his college days in Utah, when things were simpler.  "I knew I needed a college education.  The minute you mention that fact that you're a college graduate, people talk to you on a different level.  Especially on TV talk shows," (and Parker has been on a few).  Karate, as he says, is a big thing, getting bigger all the time.  "I needed that college degree so that when I talked with people they'd look upon me a little differently."


    People do look upon him differently.  Parker's flashing brown eyes and obvious physical trim give him a commanding physical presence.  His experience and forthright outspoken attitudes are well articulated.  By now his work in front of the cameras and behind the scenes makes his film choreography almost like an instinctive second nature.


    "For me, it is easy, now.  I see what is needed.  It is easy to plan for it.  The camera angle on the scene can make it all work.  But the actor still has to know what's going to happen through the whole sequence of his martial arts work or his stunt.  His state of mind must be right on the job.  Part of my job is to see that that's the way it happens.  So the art and the science of karate work for even the inexperienced actor.  And it is profoundly changing the whole style of fighting and violence in motion pictures and television.  Part of my job is to see that it happens, and happens according to our code."


  • And In the Beginning There Was Ed Parker  /  Black Belt  /  Feb. 1975  /  V-13  No. 2  /  By Gilbert L. Johnson

    The end of the long affair is nearing a close.  An army of 6,000 fighters has met in two-man battles that activated 20 rings for two days.  A larger army of 11,500 screaming fans has been vibrating the air.  It’s sown to the last two, the last point and all attention is focused on the single, canvas platform in the darkened building.  The point is called and about midnight, the Long Beach Sports Arena erupts with a thunder of applause, boos and cheers that send pigeons winging into the night outside.  Amid spotlights and the ear-splitting din, the man who created and sustained this event for over a decade hops agilely to the platform.  He is Ed Parker, and without him the story of tournament karate might be a vastly different thing.


    Twenty years ago Parker cut the figure of a tall, solid youth with large hands and feet, short black hair and a severe, angular face.  His features have filled in and he has mellowed out since then; his hair is mod and silver-grey and his body has finally caught up with his hands and feet.  The great, great, grandson of Hawaii’s King Kamehameha has spent half his life promoting the art and for that he is billed as many as the “Father of American Kenpo Karate.”


    Why “American” Kenpo?  Because, as he puts it, thought the arts originated in the Orient, to survive in this country they have to adapt to the American way of thinking.


    Adaptability has been Parker’s means of survival.  He began teaching hand-to-hand combat to police officers in the early fifties and opened a small school in Pasadena, California, on a borrowed $300 in 1956.  The following year, he became television’s first technical advisor for karate.  The series was called Dangerous Robin and its karate exponent was Rick Jason.  Parker’s schools multiplied and he became one of the first to adopt the concept of franchised karate business.  His fame in glitterland grew and he became the instructor of some of Hollywood’s top stars.  Among them were Elvis Presley, Robert Culp, Robert Wagner, Dick Martin, Fabian, Elke Sommer, Robert Conrad, Jose Ferrar, Darren McGavin, Joe Bishop, Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty and the list goes on.  Presley, now a friend of the family, is still his student.  On top of all that, Parker has staged for 11 years one of the nation’s most prestigious tournaments – the International Karate Championships.


    His success in the martial arts business is very likely due to his ability to adjust and keep up with current trends and new ideas.  That’s also his philosophy, one, he says, that is best stated by Bruce Lee’s mentor, James Lee, whom he remembers as a friend.  “Never be like that man at the bottom of the well, who, when looking up at the sky, thinks that portion of the sky he sees is all there is to heaven.”


    “That can be applied to everyday living and it can be applied to any portion of the martial arts,” says Parker and he makes his point by applying it to the most stabilized part of a martial arts style - kata.


    I think kata are good and they’re important for teaching, but they are also ideal situations.  You’re on a flat surface, you’re moving without any obstacles, you don’t have a change of height or material, but that’s good, because it’s a method of practice.  If you learn what these moves are for, and each time do the kata fast or slow with added moves to it, then it’s worth something, because you’re expressing yourself more than one way.  And keep in mind that there’s more to karate than kata alone.  Did you ever see a world champion shadow-boxer?”


    Many Kenpo stylists refer to Parker as the last word on the proper way to do their techniques.  Yet, Parker emphasizes the necessity of individually.


    “You’ve got to know how to vary things,” he says.  “A lot of the techniques I’ve worked with, they’re ideas, they’re not rules.  At any given time, any of my moves can change from defense to offense, offense to defense.  Martial artists, and Kenpo people especially, become so involved in doing the techniques exactly right in such and such amount of time, that they get caught in a pattern that they can’t break.  That’s not what they’re for.  Specific moves, specific techniques are based, like the ABC’s in the English language or standard football plays.  You have to have a point of reference and from there the combinations are endless and limited only by universal laws, laws that you can’t change.”


    One of the most common criticisms that non-Kenpo practitioners make of Ed Parker’s system is that it’s a “slap art,” where the practitioner hits himself as much as he does his opponent.  Parker says that comes from lack of understanding that, sometimes, even Kenpo people are guilty of.


    “I feel that most systems work on a white dot focus concept, as opposed to what I believe, which is the black dot focus concept.  The white dot focus concept is a white dot on a black background.  When a punch comes, they block and they hit and all they can see is that white dot.  Everything around that white dot is obscure.  When they punch, it’s all according to Newton’s law that for every action, there’s a reaction and when one hand goes out, the other comes back to give it more force.  Well, what about the reaction on the other guy’s part, either intentional or unintentional?  What happens when he gets hit and his hand goes flying and hits you in the eye?


    “The slap does two things, First it forces the person to throw his protective guard up where it belongs while he’s striking with the other hand.  From there the defensive hand can become a parry or a strike or what have you.  Second, you can get more power by launching your punch, using your feet.  You can’t shuffle and then hit, because then you wouldn’t be utilizing the momentum of your body weight going forward.  They have to be synced together and there the sound of the checking hand becomes that synchronizing device.”  Parker is working on several books that will encompass his 20 years worth of martial arts experience.  One portion of the manuscript outlines the flow behind Kenpo combinations and is probably applicable to other styles as well.  Out of its outline form, it sounds something like a formula that progresses through all the variations possible in any one technique.


    “To any given base, any move that you decide on, you can prefix that move (put a move before it), you can suffix it and you can insert and put a move with it.  That addition can act as a check, which is either a pinning check or a position check, or it can be a simultaneous weapon.  Then, if you have four or five moves together, you can rearrange their order or you can alter them.  When you alter them, you can alter the weapon, you can alter the target, or you can alter both.  In the process of altering, you can then adjust.  You can adjust the angle of the execution or the range or you can adjust both.  In the process of that, you can then regulate your moves by regulating the speed, the force and the intent.  The intent is the purpose of the move.  Any move can be either defensive or offensive.  And finally, you can delete any of these.


    “The most important thing,” continues Parker, “is that ability to vary and adapt.  I’m a realist.  We are all different physiologically and what might work for one might not work for another, or it might work for both in varying degrees of effectiveness.  You can give a person a base, but you can’t bind them.  Like I said in my book, “Knowledge is bound when one in compelled to tradition.  Knowledge is endless when tradition is bound.”  If John L. Sullivan were living today, fighters in the old classical manner, which he was good at, how do you think he’d fare today?  He’d get wiped out, because things are more sophisticated today.  That’s why I feel that these systems coming directly from the Orient are still of John L. Sullivan vintage.  Ron Marchini is a Japanese stylist, but you read his last article in Official Karate.  He said he’d borrow anything he could find that he can see will work for him.  That’s what Chuck Norris has done; that’s what everybody’s done.  And that’s true, you have to do it.  With time, goes change.  You’ve got to keep up.


    “A few years back, I was at a tournament in Texas.  Mikami was there from the Japan Karate Association.  Kikami was and is an excellent karateman.  Okay, he’s fighting Fred Wren, who was then just a kid.  Wren did a spinning back kick and caught Kikami in the first sixteen seconds.  I’m not saying Mikami wasn’t good but he had no idea what a spinning back kick was and Wren got him a second time and won the match.  I’ll tell you this though, the next time around, Mikami was not a pigeon for that kick, because he knew what to anticipate and what to watch for.  What I’m saying is, maybe you don’t believe in something, but you better know what others believe in, so you can best anticipate them and make proper precautions to avoid them.  That’s what I like about open tournaments.  They’re forcing these guys to revolutionize or come up with innovations, or to change their timing, what have you.  Closed tournaments?  Closed tournaments are good – if you like to wear horse-blinders.  That takes us back to Jimmy Lee’s statement.”


    Parker began his Kenpo studies under Professor William Chow in the late forties and with Chow’s help passed through the closed doors of the Chinese kung-fu societies.  His ventures have taken him into nearly every aspect of the martial arts world and landed him on one of its most current facets – sport karate.  There are three main aspects of tournaments that make karate a sport – amateur, professional non-contact and pro-contact.


    Amateur competition, the grassroots of karate as a sport, has been alive and kicking ever since the first anonymous inter-dojo match.  It wasn’t until someone tried to organize things that it bogged down.  With AAU karate still in its prenatal throes, parker is rolling up his sleeves to see what he can do about it.  He precedes his medicinal administrations with a diagnosis of the AAU’s problem.


    “It needs an enema,” he says.  “When fifteen to fifty people get together in one room, you accomplish nothing.  You need to get three or four people together to look over the rules in existence and outline all the discrepancies in the form of a questionnaire – the size of a ring will be A, B, C, D or other.  And if there’s anything not covered, they can write in their suggestions


    “On top of the questionnaire would say if it’s being filled out from the standpoint of an official or competitor or someone who is both.”


    Parker is trying to apply those concepts in negotiations with the Northern California Referees Association.  He contends that the rules have to be standardized before anyone can legitimately hold referees’ clinics.  Though Parker says he’s totally against some of the policies dictated to amateurs by the AAU, such as the lack of government subsidation, at the same time, he’s heavily involved in the World AAU Karate Tournament scheduled for September of 1975 in Long Beach.


    “The people at the Sports Arena were skeptical about having anything by the AAU, because they had a wrestling event there that failed.  But I’ve had the Internationals going there for eleven years, so I made the arrangements.”


    Parker’s Internationals is an example of professional non-contact karate.  There is no connection, he says, between amateur and professional karate.  As a matter of fact, he predicts a conflict in the future between the two.  And like a modern day Solomon, he’s quite willing to make the split and give each side its half.


    “Television exposure,” he says, “will be necessary to really make professional karate work, because you have to have the spectator interest.  You need the mass to feed you the bread to pay all the expenses.  Ideally,” he adds, “a tournament would have no long eliminations and would allow just so long for the spectators to get in the door.  But how do you get enough spectators like that?”


    When the subject gets down to spectator interest, Parker admits that the safest bet for a promoter is full-contact – something his International is not.


    “Non-contact tournaments,” he says, “were beautifully described, again by Ron Marchini, who called them ‘promise tournaments . . . . I promise I won’t hit you if you promise you won’t hit me.’  The only thing about that is, it calls for a really critical set of rules and more critical observation by the officials.


    “I still think, though, you need to have the non-contact professional tournaments.  That’s a place for guys to try out their techniques and experience against other pros; it’s a proving ground.  Without it, guys would be going into full-contact matches cold.”


    According to some tournament competitors, the experience in non-contact tournaments does little to prepare a fighter for the bruising he’s in for in a full-contact match.  Parker agrees with that and says that there should be a transition period between a karateka’s non-contact tournament career and his full-contact competition, where he works with full-out fighting to literally get the feel of it.


    “You can take a man who’s a good brawler, one who’s used to being hit, and put him in a full-contact match and he’s got a good chance of winning,” Parker explains, “but he’s got a better chance if he’s developed his techniques and that’s where the non-contact professional tournament comes in.  I think that level is still necessary and it can be lucrative.  I can see leagues being formed with competition between teams representing major cities.  Then, after some experience and development there, let them practice hitting and being hit a while before entering full-contact.”


    “As long as it has something to do with the art, I’ll be involved, no matter what level.  With what I know and what the majority of people who have progressed in the arts know, we would be foolish if we weren’t involved.”


    Indications are that Parker will be involved with more than tournaments too.  He confides that he has a part in a movie called Seven with Burt Reynolds and the interview at his home was interrupted by a call from Columbia about a treatment for another movie.  Which is more difficult is probably a toss-up – innovating something, or chasing along afterward just to keep up.

  • The Thought and Art of Ed Parker  /  Official Karate  /  Nov. 1975  /  V-7  No. 53  /  Paul Ruben

    "It's a good thing to learn tradition . . . But it's wrong to depend on traditional views, especially when the world is changing so radically every day."


    He is like the Mark Twain or the Will Rogers of martial arts; ever relaxed while offering antidotes, homilies and analogies in order to strengthen his views on the martial arts in general and American Kenpo in particular.  He speaks in a free-flowing, articulate rhythm, always showing us how easy it really is to relate martial arts to our everyday lives.


    Unlike many philosophers the world has known, Ed Parker does not rest all day in ivy-covered tower, developing theories he has never actually experienced.  His thought is directly related to the study and practice of his art.


    To some he is known as the "Father of American Kenpo."  How does one come to be regarded so highly in an already ego-inflated martial arts community?  Well, he simply takes a traditional Oriental system, and in a way that no one else is either willing or able to do, he transforms it into a sophisticated Western style.  More precisely, he takes what are essentially the circular motions of the Chinese and combines them with the linear motions of the Japanese - creating what he calls American Kenpo.


    The Kenpo system is more involved and complex than the simple combination of the two forms of motion.  Its basic effectiveness is due in large part to something Ed Parker calls "adaptability," a word that has been an intricate part of his life ever since he took his first karate lesson.


    Just after the Second World War, Parker took up Kenpo under Professor William Chow.  Both men became close, and because of the respect Chow had for his American student, Parker was able to absorb a lot of information concerning some of the most secret kung-fu societies.


    In the 1950s, Parker began teaching hand-to-hand combat to police officers out in Utah.  In 1956 he opened the self-defense school with $300 he borrowed, and this occurred before anyone ever heard of Bruce Lee, not to mention David Carradine.


    Even back in the prehistoric days of karate, Parker's methods of self-defense began to catch on, at leased out on the West Coast.  Soon he opened another school and then another.  He became one of the first to develop the concept of a franchised karate business.


    It wasn't long before some of Hollywood's more a illustrious residents turned their heads toward this board-breaking expert.  As early as 1957, Ed Parker was counseling a television show called "Dangerous Robin," which included hand-to-hand combat sequences.


    As soon as the word got out, that this guy Ed Parker was a man with magic hands and feet, a number of Tinsel Town's elite came knocking on his door.  To name a few: Warren Beatty, Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Robert Wagner, Dick Martin, Elke Sommer, Darren McGavin, José Ferrer, and Elvis Presley.  And they are still knocking.


    Today Ed Parker is not only president of the International Kenpo Karate Association, he is director of one of the longest running, most consistent and prestigious tournaments in the country; the International Karate Championships.  For the past 12 years he has brought some of the best talent to compete for top honors.


    Ed Parker is not especially shy when it comes to explaining the virtues of his system.  "I feel the Kenpo is the most realistic system today, because it is based on logic and practicality."  Parker was quick to add that other systems are good and effective, but his does have some decided advantages.


    One of the things Parker does not bind his system by is "tradition."  Traditionalism isn't necessarily a good thing, says Ed.


    "If we are sincere purists," he points out, "then we wouldn't have the latest automobile . . . we’d still be trying to get Henry Ford's first model T."


    And says, "it's a good thing to learn tradition . . .," it serves as a basis for further knowledge.  But it's wrong to depend on traditional views, especially when the world is changing so radically every day.


    To the traditionalist he might say that just because John L. Sullivan was a great classical boxer doesn't mean he'd do well in the ring today.


    "Many of the systems coming from the Orient are of the John L. Sullivan vintage," he reminds us.  "It's just that simple."


    Another important concept in Ed Parker's general philosophy is the ability to change, to reroute a technique so it becomes more adaptable to the basic style.  For a traditionalist, change does not occur.  The ability to change and keep up with the times reminded Parker of an analogy made up by a friend and a man he introduced to films; James Lee.  "Never be like the man at the bottom of the well, who, when looking up at the sky, thinks that portion of the sky he sees is all there is to heaven."


    For the few who may not be familiar with the name James Lee, he was the mentor to the late Bruce Lee.


    It might be fair to say that for Ed Parker, a traditional Oriental system is fine for the Orient.  However, when brought to this country and used in an open tournament, it must be improved upon, it must be changed, or it won't survive.  Men like Peter Urban and Don Nagle have already proved the validity of that statement.


    Ed Parker breaks his system down to what he calls "an alphabet of motion."  Other systems have what he calls a "limited alphabet"; they aren’t all inclusive like Kenpo.  Kenpo, says Parker, has more of the basic tools to work with.


    The alphabet begins simply.  Motion is formed step-by-step, from simple letters, two sentences, to entire complex paragraphs of motion.  The key word is logic.  ". . . techniques that I see others to do are nonsensical techniques; they do not follow logic . . ."


    Basically, Parker is saying that as soon as you begin a technique, the crucial issue is not how it looks or who put the stamp of approval on it 5000 years ago.  If the very first step is inconsistent with logic, that is, how the body works, then there is something wrong with the entire technique.


    For example, Parker finds a number of punching techniques bad because they do not originate from a logical premise.  Many stylists advocate hitting in place and throwing the hip into the punch for maximum power.  Ed Parker says no!


    Many years ago, said Ed (into another illuminating analogy), a plane would take off from an aircraft carrier on its own speed.  Today, he points out, while planes still use their own speed, something else has been added; a catapult.  What you have is a combination of two forces serving one purpose.


    Parker advocates a "shuffle" in order to make the punch more powerful and effective.  "If you shuffle with your move as you punch, so the shuffle contributes to the explosiveness of the lower body, and combine it with the upper body, you have a lot more power."


    We mentioned earlier the Parker believes very much in combining the advantages of circular and linear motion.  He states why he believes that by explaining in this way: In kung-fu, where the stylist basically depends on circular motion, most advocates say that when you block, you do it in circular motion, always completing the circle.  What happens if the circle meets resistance?  The circle ends.


    You shouldn't have to force a technique if it isn't going to work.  "I believe were your circular movement ends, your linear movement begins; and where linear movement ends, the circular reappears again."


    Ed Parker is a strong advocate of what we might term "tailoring."  He believes systems are for individuals, not the reverse.  When a person finishes, he should have the art designed to meet his own specific needs.  He emphasizes that although a sensei begins teaching at technique a certain way, he is offering a student a point of reference so that he may tailor the technique to fit him tightly.  Even if a person alters the technique, so long as it is for his own good, Parker says, so much the better.


    Now that we have said that, we should be quick to add that Ed Parker does not advocate the helter-skelter approach.  You must have a base to start off with or you have nothing.  After you’re firmly versed, you can prefix the move; that is, put another move before it.  You can suffix the move, or put one after it.  Or you can insert another move within it.  Once you have done this, you can put several moves together.  You can alter the moves so they fit a particular offensive or defensive design.  From there you might adjust the particular angle of offensive or defensive execution, without changing the essential strategy.


    On and on you can go, using force and speed as variables for your overall purpose and intent.


    Parker compares his method to that of various artists.  Many of the great artists were very different in style, but at the base they were consistent.  They all used paint and brushes.  They all gave the illusion of height, width and depth.  In other words, their knowledge gave them a thorough base from which to work.


    When we speak of basics, there are two things that people tend to forget, says Parker, and it is because they forget these things that he believes strongly in keeping his system loose and open.  And it is in these and other thoughts that he has included in a recently published book which explores his experiences in the martial arts over the past twenty years.


    In his book he says that people are always looking for what the other guy intends to do; however, they do not anticipate what he "does not" intend to do.  The second thing they forget is, ". . . that can hurt you."  The point he makes clear in his book - a man does not usually plan a move, he just does it.  A person who is rigidly dependent on the "one right way" to execute a technique to combat the opponents move is likely to be in a great deal of trouble.


    Parker admits that not everyone is going to receive his book favorably.  "I know when my book comes out it's gonna step on a lot of people."  He only hopes that those who read it ". . . will keep an open mind."


    Basically his book, like his own pattern of speaking, makes comparisons and parallels between everyday living in the martial arts.  For example, he talks about "broken rhythm" in karate.  In order to make it more understandable, he compares it to stuttering.  He calls it "stuttering in motion."  The only difference, he says, is that in karate is stuttering is premeditated.


    Another part of the book discusses the flow behind Kenpo combinations.  Essentially, it is a formula that goes through all the variations in any one technique.


    For as long as he lives, Ed Parker will remain involved in tournaments.  He is one of the few men who seem to feel that both contact and non-contact tournaments serve a useful purpose.  In a non-contact tournament, a guy can come in with several techniques that he is just developed or begun to use.  He can try them out without the fear that if they don't work he's going to be leveled.


    As for full-contact karate, even that will see involvement on Parker's part.  It is the future of karate, and people must be prepared for it.  It would be foolish not to become involved.


    At this point, Parker's Internationals are non-contact, but if the day arrives when television becomes interested in covering karate tournaments on regular basis, it is very likely that what the public will want to see is contact karate.


    For the present, Parker is keeping himself busy with his commitment to the martial arts and his continued interest in films.  He has already accepted a part in one major Hollywood presentation and is always interested in negotiating more.


    Parker will probably not be remembered for his thespian abilities.  He is more likely to be known as the one man who gave the most strength to the Kenpo creed he chooses to live by; "I come to you with only Karate, empty hands.  I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons, Karate, my empty hands."


  • Going Through Them Changes  /  Karate Illustrated  /  Sept. 1976  /  V-7  No. 9  /  Editors

    KI: Probably more than any other man in a relatively short history of the American martial arts industry Ed Parker has been synonymous with the growth and proliferation of U.S. karate.  Often referred to as the "Father of American Kenpo Karate," the irascible, energetic and enthusiastic "old man" of the martial arts has more than made his mark on an industry that owes much of its growth to his efforts.


     Oftentimes controversy all, yet always candid, Parker - the founder of America's first karate dojo - has been practicing the art for nearly 30 years, 20 of them as the first "professional" karateka, in the nation.


     A pioneer in the truest sense of the word, Parker has paved the way for almost every major innovation in virtually every aspect of the American karate scene.  He's been the "firstest with the mostest" commercially, boasting probably the largest student following of any single individual in the field with black belt disciples from coast to coast and a dozen other countries as well.


     In sport karate, he is, of course, the founder and promoter of the oldest annual major karate tournament in the country - the famous International Karate Championships held every year since 1964 in Long Beach, California.  His expertise at tournament promotion and organization has been a model for others to follow, and there have even been those who argue that without the internationals, sport karate would have never had the opportunity to surface.


     As the author of a half dozen instructional texts dealing with the arts, the former publisher of martial arts magazine and a veteran of more than a half a dozen films and television programs (not to mention his relationship with celebrity students like Elvis Pressley, Warren Beatty and a host of others), Parker is one of the most notable and familiar karate spokesman to people outside of the arts.  He has been educating the public about karate ever since he opened up his first school in Pasadena, California, back in 1956.


     Currently, he's turned his interest towards the relatively new sport of full contact karate, coaching and instructing a stable of a dozen young fighters eager to try out the “old man's" concepts in the ring.  His newest interest has also given him the time to get on with a number of book and film projects his busy schedule has forced him to put off for a number of years.


    KI: Why did you get into the martial arts?


    Parker: My father was a well respected and big man in my church.  Having the love I did for him, I always wanted to be good because whatever bad thing I did reflected upon his reputation.


     I was part of a gang that I used to hit the streets with.  Out of 44 people, just two of them never went to jail or prison.  The rest have all served time.  They used to try to get me to pull a job on one of the local stores with them.  I had to physically tell them, "No."  Verbally wasn't strong enough.  That's what got me started in the arts, my having to forcefully turn them down to get my point across.


    KI: And your martial arts experience enabled you to make that point?


    Parker: Yes, because the normal stature of the island kids wasn't that big.  I found back then that I wanted to study a martial art because it wasn't the one-on-one fight I was afraid of but the four-on-one.


    KI: Since you've been in the martial arts, had you been involved in any fights?


    Parker: Yes, nine times in my life.  Never has my training failed me, and the longest any fight has lasted was nine seconds at the most.  My most memorable one was when I was going to college in Utah.  My wife, who was pregnant with my first child, was along that night.  She had always been opposed to my taking karate.  She asked, "if you are religiously inclined, then why do you want to take this?"  And I answered, "Well, it's not a matter of me looking for trouble, but what if it looks for us?"  She didn't believe me . . . until after this fight.


     Anyway, these four guys just pulled us off to the side of the road and started to get out of their car.  They were going to work me over.  I dropped two guys within six or seven seconds.  I was more frightened that night than in any time in my life.  When I hit the first guy, he hit the ground and his head sounded just like a watermelon when it landed.  I thought I had taken his life, and that's why I was so scared.  It really shook me up because that guy didn't move for five minutes.


     I have to admit that on that particular night I discovered what mind over matter was.  Everything that was happening was happening in slow motion.  It was like I was watching myself while I was fighting.  I mean, while the guy was still punching I was thinking I should crack his ribs.  No, that wouldn't have an effect because if his ribs would break, then . . . ah, oh, there's his buddy running in.  This is what's coming to my mind during the action, I'm not kidding.  It was in slow motion that my mind kept ticking like this.  I thought how he's got a white T-shirt on.  If I hit him right across the bridge of the nose and splatter blood all over his shirt, psychologically it will disturb this guy, and it worked just like that.  His partner came at me and just as he was about to shoot a left, he hesitated when he saw his buddy's blood gushing.  So I blocked his shot and hit him right in the back of the neck.  It was funny because he had a cigarette in his mouth and the snap from the hit was so hard it made the cigarette fly.  The other guys jumped in the back of the car and locked themselves in.  Then later, a guy who was lying unconscious started to twitch and his legs moved.  Man, was I happy.  I asked him if he was all right, helped him back to the car and the guys in the back said they’d remember me.  Now the old Hawaiian flares up in me.  I was trying to help the guy and then got sassed again.  Well, I hit the car door, hit the guy again and split his lip.  And then bam, they were gone.


     Now here's the most important thing.  The next day this police officer student of mine saw his neighbor with a busted nose.  The guy had go to hospital to reset his whole nose.  It was shattered.  My student asked him what happened.  The guy said he had learned his lesson the night before when he picked on some Indian with a cowlick who worked him over.  And my student told him it was me, his karate instructor.  So that's how it ended.  And from that night forward, I never had a problem with my wife questioning me as to why I took karate.


    KI: How you feel about being known as the pioneer or father of American Kenpo Karate?


    Parker: It just happened.  You get caught in a way and you move with it, you don't fight it.  I am where I am today not because I looked for it; it was just a matter of circumstance.  From the time I started the martial arts, I had imagined that this could be an extremely popular thing in the United States.  But little did I realize . . .


     I felt that education was important, so first I went to college and graduated in social psychology.  I felt it was necessary for those of us in the martial arts to have a degree because it has a bearing when you go out into the public.  The reason I stay in it now - even though I have other things in the fire that could give me a very lucrative living - is that if I got out of the scene, then the maggots would move in.  I don't want to see this happen for the sake of some of the younger kids coming up.  The talent today is much superior to what we had in the past.


    KI: Do you think that karate will be around long enough for that young talent to get their just recognition?


    Parker: I hope so.  Golf and tennis at one time were nothing.  Then, they got big through television and professionalism.  I think that's what we’re after in the martial arts - the big money.


    KI: Why has the quality of young karateka improved so much?


    Parker: Karate has a contagious disease, a good one.  Each guy has a formula for improving karate and he realizes that innovations can be applied today as easily as they could years ago.


    KI: What attracts a person to karate now?  Has the attraction changed from 10 years ago?


    Parker: First and foremost is our social climate.  The crime rate is continuing to where I think the need for self-preservation still exists.  That's one of the reasons people still come.  Secondly, they're a lot smarter in their shopping now.  You can't fool the public too much anymore.  When these guys go tire-kicking from studio to studio, you better come up with the right answers because some of them are very knowledgeable.  They already know your style and then they ask questions like, what do you folks specialize in - more kicks or hands?  Very intelligent questions.


    KI: You have special qualifications for black belts.  What are they?


    Parker: Yes.  I started this.  I understand that others are doing it now.  Many years ago I felt that in order for a guy to become creative, he had to do two things to earn a black belt.  Number one, he had to create a kata of his own, and the second thing is he had to write a thesis which was more or less geared to his educational background.  I have received phenomenal theses.


    KI: Do people look at karate as a sport, a form of exercise or as a hobby?


    Parker: Different people come in for different things.  A guy gets picked on and he comes in for protection.  But I would say for most it's a hobby.


    KI: From a business standpoint of view, is the martial arts like any other commercial industry?


    Parker: I wish that there were more professionals with good business sense in the martial arts.  A lot of these professional fighters coming up are extremely professional in their ability to fight, but are very unprofessional when it comes to business and living up to their commitment.


    KI: When karate hit the United States, it really exploded.  Why?


    Parker: Because of our open-mindedness.  Judo would be much bigger today if it had more freedom.  It's restricted by traditions and customs.


    KI: Then, it's your feeling that the separation rather than the unification of different karate systems has promoted more general interest in karate?


    Parker: Yes.  It gives people an opportunity to make comparisons.


    KI: Have you gotten out of karate what you put into it?


    Parker: Well, I'm still putting into it.  I'm happy and contented.  Karate gave me a nice house and all that I own.  I don't owe anybody anything anymore.


    KI: What's happening to tournaments today?  Why is participation dwindling?


    Parker: Karate is going towards full contact to a limited degree.  Training for full contact fighters is often so demanding that by the weekend, they're burnt out.  So they don't compete in the amateur tournaments.  Plus, we had a tremendous boom and then the economic crisis.


    KI: When was the boom for karate and when was its crisis?


    Parker: I would say the greatest boom was in '73, '74.  We did fantastic.  I'm in our schools were doing very big grosses.  Of course, now with the influx of other schools and the economic crisis hitting, all industry has taken an enema.


     One thing that has hurt our business is the embryonic stage of full contact.  It's disturbed a lot of parents.  They say, Gosh, if my child is going to learn that, I don't want to have anything to do with it.


    KI: Do you consider full contact a graduation from the traditional noncontact?


    Parker: No.  I wouldn't say that.  I think it's a highly sophisticated, limited part of the art, a specialization.


    KI: What differences do you see in contact versus amateur tournaments besides the obvious ones?


    Parker: Well, in full contact events, the good thing is that what ever the outcome of the match, it's fairly acceptable.  You're still going to have gripes if it's a decision, but if it's a knockout, there's no question.  In light contact tourneys, we still have the problem of differences of opinion and even prejudice.


    KI: What changes have you seen in the years you've been involved in tournaments?


    Parker: All systems have differences when it comes to freestyle fighting, they've become very similar . . . have come to a uniform style.  That's why this year at the Internationals, I plan to have light contact for peewees and I'm going to have full a contact bout for the evening performance.  Spectators will then have an opportunity to see all phases of the martial arts contest area.


    KI: What happened to tradition and respect in the martial arts?


    Parker: It is so bad, it's unbelievable.  That's why am happy that full contact events in California are somewhat controlled by the state.


     At many of the tournaments that we go to today, there is very bad discipline.  And, when guys who aren't qualified yet started breaking away from their instructors, that attitude started to snowball.  Loyalty to the instructors ceased.  This bad attitude has prevailed since that time.


    KI: Is that lack of loyalty something peculiar to the U.S.?


    Parker: That's right.  I think that's true.  The chance to make money through karate had an important influence on a lot of guys.  They couldn't wait to become a black belt.  Lots of them thought that all they had to do was put up a sign and the money would follow.  At a certain point that was true.  But not anymore, its technical know-how.  You've got to know your stuff or you’re gonna’ go out of business.  Fortunately, in my early years I could make a lot of mistakes because I had no competition.  But now it's a different story.


    KI: Do you think noncontact tournaments or going to come back?


    Parker: The tournaments we thrived on was momma, daddy, uncle, auntie and sister coming to support us.  I think because of the smaller amount of students going into commercial schools, you're not finding that anymore.  The tournament scene can only become big again by having heavy promoters with big money and television coverage behind them.  That way you have a few diehards and the rest are nonparticipating spectators, non-martial artists.  Right now, we are a body feeding upon itself.  And nobody can do that and survive.


     I also think that full contact is improving a lot, but education on it is needed.  The public has to realize that full contact is an aspect of the martial arts that has limitations in his crude within its present state.


    KI: Are you still teaching?


    Parker: Yes, I do teach.  I still believe that there is a need for me to teach.  Because to teach is to learn.  I'm also training 10 to 12 guys to use my concepts in full contact professional bouts.  I feel that after seeing the whole scene, it's contact, and I have a lot to offer in that area.  I'd like to see my by-products prove out some of my concepts and theories in the ring.


    KI: Could you explain some of your theories?


    Parker: Well, I watch some of the things boxers do, like using combinations.  They bob and weave and move back and forth.  But the footwork is somewhat standard.  What I'm saying is, you have basically the same amount of space between your feet.  I've never seen movements used for the foot maneuvers are altered, where you cross and jab and then you step out and hit.  Those things would give you an accelerated force which would enhance the power of your movement.  This is not a theory, I've proven.  It's just leaning towards more sophistication.


    KI: Have you found a way to teach these concepts?


    Parker: Yes, I have a way and these are the concepts that I want to use in full contact.


    KI: How long did it take you to formulate these concepts?


    Parker: They have been with me for the past 15 years.  The reason that they been brought to light and been simplified is the fact that now I can compare them to what we do on a daily basis.  Now I’m really set on putting out a lot of books geared to let people know how I think, so they can add to it.  I found through my experiences that there are many things we can compare the martial arts to.  I've learned that every move - whether offenses or defense of - is like an alphabet in motion.  You put those alphabets of motion together and you come up with a word.  We enunciate and pronounce motion with emphasized movements and kata.


     We write two ways - one is printing, the other is a script form.  Early stages of motion are like printing.  After awhile, motion becomes more flowing, like script.


     When people begin to see the comparisons with what we do on a daily basis, they can expand their knowledge -and that's exactly what I'm doing in my present book.


     While it is true that we should adapt a martial art to suit us individually - and we learn to express ourselves freely and blend with the situations as they occur - a firm basis is still needed to learn from.  In learning English, the alphabet forms the basis of our language.  Then words are created, phonetics added, and verbs, nouns, pronunciation, along with definitions.  Kata is alphabets in motion.  If you learn how to pronounce a word and never know what the word means how could you ever use it correctly in a sentence?


     Some words have several different meanings and interpretations.  The same is true with movements in karate.  For instance, an upward block against an arm that's coming down could be used as a defense.  So the definition of that move in that circumstance comes under the heading, defense.  If somebody grabbed my shirt, and I, in defending myself, dropped back and pinned his hand and came up under his elbow and broke it, then the motion might be called defensive offense.  Suppose some guy was talking to close up and suddenly I hit him on the jaw and continued that same motion hitting him with my elbow.  Now I, the aggressor, would give that move the term aggressive offense.  Three definitions for the same move.


    KI: How did you come up with all these things?


    Parker: I came up with this when I viewed myself in reverse on film.  All of a sudden I said, Hey!  there's the opposite half of motion.


     I'm going to compare a problem in the martial arts to the use of a nail and a hammer.  One person may pound the nail straight down.  Another one says, "No, that's not the correct way to do it.  You should pound that nail from the inside out."  Yet another guy may say, "It's not from the inside out, it's from the outside in."  They're all correct because a different times and for different circumstances one would be more appropriate than another.  But the nail and the hammer, or tools, remain constant.  It is a method of execution that differed.


     I began to figure what is constant through the martial arts.  I discovered two things.  That to each given stance there are a proper width and proper depth.  If we have those, we automatically get the proper height, and we're sure that these stances are suited to us and our different sizes.  In a fighting situation, my opponent has the height, width and depth zones, too.  Most of us try to go for the innermost depth.  If I can control or limit one of the dimensions, then I limit the effects of his action.  While you are controlling this, you hit him at the same time.


    KI: How much a part of your life is karate now?


    Parker: I think about it constantly . . . in different realms.


    KI: If you could go back and do it over again - that is, if you wanted to - would you change anything in your career?


    Parker: I definitely do it all over again.  But if I knew then what I know now, a lot of things would be different.  I've helped many people in the industry, and I'm not looking for a pat on the back but I sure got slap on the ass a lot of times.  You know, you help people and after awhile they feel independent of you.  They take off on their own and then they slap your hand - the hand that fed them.  That's the only thing that I'd change.  I would never have let that type of thing happen to me.  Because of that I've been through several fortunes already.


  • 1976 Black Belt Hall of Fame  /  Black Belt  /  Oct. 1976  /  V-14  No. 10  /  Editor

    Ed Parker - Martial Artist of the Year


    In the relatively short history of the American martial arts, the name Ed Parker has become synonymous with the growth and proliferation of American karate.  Often referred to as the "Father of American Kenpo Karate," the irascible, energetic "old man" of the martial arts has more than made his mark on an industry that owes much of its early growth to his efforts.


    The 45-year-old Parker was the founder of America's first successful karate dojo, and has been practicing the art for nearly 30 years, 20 of them as a pioneer "professional" karateka in the United States.


    In sport karate, Parker has been the founder and promoter of the oldest annual major tournament in the country - the famous International Karate Championships, held every year since 1964 in Long Beach, California.  His expertise at tournament promotion and organization has been a model for others to follow, and there are even those who argue that without the Internationals, sport karate would never have had the opportunity to surface.  Parker loaned his experience to the 1975 World Union of karate-do Organization Championships in Long Beach, attesting to his concern for the martial arts world.


    As the author of a half-dozen instructional text dealing with the arts, the former publisher of the martial arts magazine and a veteran of more than a half-dozen films and television programs, Parker is one of the most notable and familiar karate spokesman to people outside the arts.


    Currently, Parker has turned his interest toward the support of full contact karate, coaching and instructing a stable of a dozen young fighters who are eager to try out his concepts in the ring.  He is also becoming re involved in several book and film projects which his busy schedule had forced him to put off for years.


  • Ed Parker Goes Hollywood . . . . Well, Sort Of  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  July 1977  /  V-4  No. 5  /  Editor

    "I feel great," the "Father of American Karate" roared as he happily pummeled his trim, new torso, "I've been working out, watching my diet and I've dropped 35 pounds.  It feels good!"


    When Parker feels good, it's hard not to catch a little of it yourself.  He exudes energy like a leaky nuclear reactor.


    Settling his bulky, rock-hard frame into a narrow chair, he sprawls back comfortably, smiles like a cat who has been accidentally locked in a birdcage sanctuary overnight and says casually, "yeah, I've got a few new things that will keep me busy for a while."  With that, he starts rattling off a list of upcoming film projects that would run a normal energetic man more ragged than a broken beer bottle.


    Oddly enough, it seems strange to think of Ed Parker as a film star or even a filmmaker.  After all, he has been the personification of American martial arts for more than 20 years.  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.  And he, probably more than any one individual in the industry, had the most to do with every so-called "boom" period the arts have enjoyed over the years.


    But it also has to be remembered that it was Ed Parker who brought karate to the attention of the entertainment and film industry in the first place.  He more than any other American martial artist, living or dead - including Bruce Lee in the opinion of many - probably deserves the bulk of the credit for establishing the tremendous onscreen popularity of the arts.  If it hadn't been for the contacts he established with the film celebrities and executives as far back as the late fifties, the phenomena may never have occurred.


    It was Parker, in fact, who landed the first full-time job as a martial arts technical adviser on a television series.  The show, a detective program, called "Dangerous Robin", ran for one year.  The year was 1957.


    It was also Parker's Hollywood contacts that precipitated the biggest martial arts boom in the entertainment industry.  It was 1966 and the head architect of the Kenpo system had heard through his student, the late Jay Sebring - one of the victims in the Sharon Tate killings - that a television producer was looking for someone with a martial arts background to play the co-starring role in a new series he was planning.  Parker dug up the film footage he'd shot of a young man who had done an incredible demonstration at his first International tournament in Long Beach in 1964, gave it to the producer.  In doing so, landed the job for a young gung-fu stylist.


    The new series was called the "Green Hornet."  And the character they were casting for went by the name of Kato.  It was a role that helped launch Bruce Lee into stardom.


    So maybe it's not so surprising that Ed Parker is going to be a movie star.  But then again, listening to Parker talk about his films sounds suspiciously more like a karate instructor lecturing on how to educate the public concerning the martial arts than it does an actor talking about his last role.


    "I just finished the film with Bong Soo Han, the Hapkido expert, called "To Kill the Golden Goose", Parker says enthusiastically, "Boy, was he a pleasure to work with.  I mean his timing was excellent.  His kicks, they were right in there.  I had to work against him so I know.  I'd really enjoy working side-by-side with him next time.  I think the public's going to enjoy seeing that kind of action."


    What Parker seems to enjoy most about his film making is the fact that a totally different approach is being taken.  In the past, story lines were written around martial arts action rather than the arts being an adapted to the storyline.  The results, a lot of people were running from the theater before they got their fingers greasy from the popcorn.


    "Most of the things I'm doing are action/adventure things that happened to have martial arts," Parker says proudly, "I'm not making martial arts films and there is a difference.  Today, people can't identify with the 007, James Bond sophisticated gimmickry.  They can't identify that with themselves.  That is why I like "The Enforcer", with Clint Eastwood.  In the movie, Clint Eastwood drives a car right into a building.  People can identify with that because they drive.


    "In the movie I did with Bong Soo Han, I use household items.  I had this fight scene with Ken Waller, a Mr. America and a Mr. World, great to work with too.  Anyway, I ran a fork down his throat and he gives me a bad time so I break a plate on his head which drives the fork further into his neck.  People will say, "Hey, that can be done, anybody can do it."


    Parker recently signed a four picture contract with E.O. Motion Picture Company, a firm headquartered in North Carolina, which is reputed to be the largest film company in the South.  Parker was approached by the head of the firm, Earl Owensby, while he was acting as chief security officer for his friend and employer, Elvis Presley in Charlotte, North Carolina.


    "I go on the road with Elvis for a couple of weeks," Parker says, "then I go right into production with Owensby in a movie called "Seabo".  I play a second lead and Owensby is the star.  It is about a Louisiana chain gang and I'm one of the rough guards who beats up prisoners.


    "That's one of the films.  We've got three more tentatively planned," explains Parker.


    Aside from the Owensby deal, Parker has film commitments on several other films, too.  One of them is a Jim Brown film called "The Fist".  On that particular picture, Parker will be behind the scenes as technical advisor.  The storyline deals with a convict who plans to revenge a savage beating he receives at the hands of a couple of brutal prison guards.  He is also working on a new script, "The Block", meaning the neighborhood.  It looks excellent," Parker adds happily.


    In still another project, Parker is due on location in Hawaii for two weeks then back to the mainland for another three.  "It's about seven individuals who make a pact to support one another in getting out of problems," he explains, "originally, Burt Reynolds was supposed to be the star, but he couldn't make it so Bill Smith - he played Falcon Eddie in "Rich Man, Poor Man" - will be starring in it.  The movie will be called ‘Seven’."


    In addition to all his film chores, the energetic karateka is also in the midst of wrapping up his fifth book in titled "Advanced Kenpo".  In the book, Parker takes a fresh approach to the arts, a clear-cut, no-nonsense guide in order to facilitate a clearer understanding of the principles of the various techniques.


    "I think it's going to help the arts," Parker says matter-of-factly, "I'm just be     conta     the insight on how to develop water but they have in a systematic manner and make it work.  That's important."


    Note:  the above segment (be    conta  the insight . . . ) is how it appears in the magazine as it is also on an angle, so the type must have slipped.


    "I'm a believer in the use of analogies.  Each and every movement we do is an alphabetic motion.  By using a single hand, you make a word of motion and when you interject the other hand and use it intermittently with the foot, you then form a double word which forms a sentence of motion."


    "Then parallel that with music.  In music, a sharp rises in a note a half step.  A flat lowers it a half step.  My knife hand, as a sharp, raises the damage.  The open, or flat part of my hand, acts as a flat, lowering the damage."


    "What I'm trying to get people to see is that they can take these things and make the comparisons with something that they've been familiar with for a long time . . . Once people begin to see this, they'll see that there is nothing mystical about the martial arts.  Yes, they are sophisticated.  And what is sophistication?  Nothing more than simplicity compounded."


    As far as the karate business is concerned, the originator of the business is confident in its future.  Parker cites the soaring crime rate and the reemergence of the arts in the entertainment media as a viable, practical method of self-defense as two of the most important catalysts.


    "I've just refurbish my organization and everything else," Parker says confidently, "I'm having a lot of things printed, a lot of charts made up standardizing everything.  I feel that after these movies start hitting big, people will want to know more concepts and what I believe in.  I also think they are going to want to be part of it."


    And what about his burgeoning movie career?  "I'm not looking for stardom," Parker says with a laugh, "I just want to see my ideas on the screen."


    When you consider that it was Parker's Hollywood influence that helped light the fire under the last martial arts boom, there just might be cause for everyone in the business to share Parker's confidence.  Can he do it again?  Well, everybody said he couldn't do it the first time, but he did.


    Considering his track record, there is a very good chance Ed Parker will still be very much a part of the martial arts scene twenty years from now.  Only then, they will be calling him the "Grandfather of American Karate".


  • A Handshake And A Smile  /  Fighting Stars  /  Feb. 1978  /  V-5  No. 1  /  Editor

    As film producer, actor and choreographer, Ed Parker uses movie violence to replace street violence with


    ‘A Handshake and a Smile’


    Ed Parker defies categorization.  At the mere mention of his name, a dazzling myriad of occupations, titles and roles swims into one's vision - promoter of the oldest annual major karate tournament in the United States, founder of America's first commercial karate dojo, "Father of American Kenpo Karate," author, choreographer of movie and television fight scenes, college graduate, instructor of celebrity students.  In addition, his approximately 21 franchised dojo are located in the United States, England, Ireland, Germany, Chile and Guatemala.


    Never one to lapse into idleness, Parker is funneling his boundless energy in a new direction - education.  But he will not be found lecturing to a classroom of attentive students.  Parker students are the movie-going public.  And his teaching medium is the movie screen.


    "A lot of my interest is going into movie-making now," the Los Angeles resident says.  "I really feel that by putting forth my efforts in that field of endeavor, it will increase the interest in the martial arts.  Very little has been done to educate the public as to the martial arts.


    "In other words, I can put on a demonstration before an audience and awe them with what I know.  But I'm showing them what I know.  And they say, "That's great.  He can do it."  The thing you have to do when you go before an audience also is share with them what you know.  When you share your knowledge with an audience, they will identify themselves with you and say, "Hey, I too can do it."


    Parker believes his knowledge best can be shared with an audience through motion pictures.  And as a result, he and Rod Sacharnoski formed Parsac Productions approximately a year ago, specifically to make films.


    A resident of Elkhart, Indiana, Sacharnoski practices jujitsu and high-level ki, or internal energy, which enables him to take punches and kicks without injury.  His ki power demonstration on ABC's Wide World of Sports shocked the audiences.


    When speaking of Parsac’s future films, Parker classifies them as "action/adventure."


    "We're trying to get away from the Hong Kong kind," he says.  "Martial arts movies, per se, have a bad connotation.  A lot of these Hong Kong flicks usually are sold without a basic plot or storyline.  These scripts we have are action/adventure with good stories, good plots and elements of martial arts.  Martial arts are a byproduct of the whole thing.  Yet they are a interesting byproduct.


    "And in some of these pictures we want to make it somewhat educational.  It's going to be done in such a manner in the script that the audience won't realize they're being educated.  But once they get educated, they're going to say, "Wow, man, that was fantastic!  I not only got my money's worth by being entertained, but I learned quite a few things over and above what I paid for."


    "Next they're going to say, "I can learn it.  I'm going to seek information.  And I'm going to start."  And I don't care where they start.  I just hope it's a good, valid school."


    Parker and Sacharnoski recently agreed to coproduce a five feature films with Earl Owensby, head of the EO Corp., after meeting him under rather un-businesslike circumstances.


    As the late Elvis Presley's confidant, protective companion and adviser, Parker and attended a Presley show in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Also in the audience seated at an adjoining table was Owensby, a Presley fan who named his youngest son Elvis.  At Parker's request, Presley autographed a photo for Owensby's son.  One thing led to another and Owensby invited Parker to tour his film studio facilities in Shelby, North Carolina.  Sacharnoski join the two are in a five picture deal resulted.


    "It's a coproduction thing," says Parker.  "We'll use the Owensby's facilities.  He has the only complete filming facilities on the East Coast and that he has soundstages, production offices, editing rooms and also a motel solely for the crew.  In addition, we're going to use his writers and giving them all of our ideas.


    "Besides producing, we will be acting.  I will be starring in a few of them and Rod also will be starring.  Whenever he and I can work together, we will work together.  If not, then I star and he produces.  Or he stars and I produce.  But we still will be behind the scenes, choreographing the fight scenes."


    And what purpose does Parker believe violence and fight scenes serve in a movie?


    "Dynamite in the minds of most people is something that is violent," he replies.  "It kills.  Yet it has been dynamite that was responsible for the formation of roads on mountainsides.  It has been dynamite that was used to extinguish oil fires.  So it depends upon how you use it.  It can be used for good purposes.


    "I plan to use some violence because I want people out there who like to look for trouble to remember that there are people like they saw on the screen.  And rather than look for trouble, they should let a handshake and a smile become their constant companion.  They never know if one day they're going to run into one of those types of people.  I use violence as a deterrent.


    "Karate profoundly is changing the whole style of fighting and violence in motion pictures," adds Parker.  "It's become much more scientific in its application."


    In addition, Parker says Parsac’s films will present new concepts.


    "Rod and I have discussed my methods as opposed to his methods," says Parker.  "His methods are more on the jujitsu level and mind or more on the karate level.  So we will be using combinations of these.  I'll work on a guy and then purposely hit him into Rod.  Instead of finishing him off, I give him to Rod to finish.  And then Rod will be doing his thing and send a guy to me to finish off.  So we will be doing a playback with people.


    "And there will be a lot a variety and some semi-comical things.  We will do some funny things, yet it will show the expertise of each individual.  That concept has not been done.


    "But basically there really is nothing that hasn't been done on the screen.  Yet there are arrangements of things that have not been done.  If you have the numbers one, two, three and four, some people may only use those.  But if you're really look at it, there are twenty-four ways you can arrange four numbers.  Many people may have used only two or three of the twenty-four combinations.  But there are twenty-one left.  I might have one fight that will be very interesting to the audience one way, and I'll do another fight another way.  They're going to know something’s different.  But they don't know what it is.  Yet they're both great."


    While touring the EO Studios, Parker and Sacharnoski landed starring parts as ruthless prison guards in the recently completed EO Productions, Seabo.


    "Owensby felt that since Rod and I were there discussing our future projects," says Parker," he might as well get us involved in one of his films.  I've been in several, but Seabo was Rod's first."


    Writing in Daily Variety, Owensby explains why he believes Seabo is the best film produced by EO Corporation since it entered the motion picture business in November 1973.


    "For Seabo, we had to journey back twenty years to 1957, a time when people, places and things had a very different look.  To give Seabo its first ring of authenticity, we designed and constructed an entire prison farm compound on two acres of studio property.  For the interiors, we used two of our soundstages to construct to the barracks, dungeon and warden’s office.  For an exteriors in town, we dressed entire city blocks with proper signs, peopled the sidewalks with actors and extras in costumes fashionable in 1957 and dressed the streets with vintage vehicles.


    "Over 200 costumes were created for Seabo and between sixty to seventy-five vehicles, circa 1950-1957, were used.  To add color, depth and scope to Seabo, the company shot exteriors in dozens of locations in the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains.


    "Seabo, for any production filmed in the South, is unique also in that it features 105 speaking roles, with an all professional cast.


    "Seabo is the toughest production EO Studios has yet attempted and was a unique experience, because it was completed on schedule and on budget by a dedicated cast, production staff, crew and technicians, who worked together as a large family unit."


    Parker agrees with Owensby's description of EO Studios as a "family unit."


    "It's just like a big family," Parker says.  "We all stay at his motel.  We have cooking facilities there.  So, over and above working on the set, we can all congregate at the motel and do things together.  We are invited to Earl Owensby's family picnics.  Everyone is on a first name basis with Earl even though he's a multimillionaire.  There is a feeling of everyone being on the same level and treated equally."


    As ruthless prison guards, Parker and Sacharnoski display their expert fighting skills.  The fight scenes, says Parker, include some elements of martial arts.


    In his previous film appearances, Parker used what he calls a "kissing touch" in his fight scenes, making contact by touching the target each time.  Even though he did not use his "kissing touch" in Seabo, Parker explains how the same effect was filmed:


    "In mine and Earl Owensby's fight, there is space.  But with the proper camera angle and the reaction to it, it looks real.  In fact, when he was hitting me, you would swear you could hear that hit although there was no sound.  It was due to the perfect timing of my reaction to his moves and the way I snap.


    "And the hands can be so fast that even though you do make contact, it looks like you've never touched him.  In Seabo, I hit a prisoner who was chained.  And my hand went out and back in two-and-one-half frames.  It looked like my hand did just a little twitch.  So sometimes going fast doesn't help.  So we had to edit it from different angles."


    The future appears assured for Seabo, which was invited to the Virgin Islands Film Festival held in November.  At press time Parker says both Paramount and Warner Bros. are negotiating for distribution rights.


    "By going through a major distributor," says Parker, "Owensby would have worldwide distribution which would establish him.  Then for future films he wouldn't have to go that route."


    Considering the diverse aspects involved in moviemaking, Parker says he enjoys acting most.


    "Believe me," he says, "I have a lot to learn about acting.  But as long as the script is written around me, I don't have to act.  I'm just being natural.  But I like action as well as the acting because it also is acting.  What makes you look good is the recipient of your motions.  Or vice versa.  If I hit a guy and he doesn't react at the exact same moment, it's not going to look good at all, no matter how good I look in my movements.  Likewise, when he hits me, I have to make him look good.  In the delivering and the excepting of the blow we both have to be good."


    But why, in general, why does Parker want to produce films?


    "Well," he responds, "I enjoy it.  I like variety.  I like traveling.  I enjoy being creative.  And it's challenging.  I'm not an eight-to- five man."


    As for the future, Parker is hanging loose.


    "What ever pops for me first is what I'm going to do," he says.  If Rod and I have a fight scene, fine.  But we only can do one at a time.  For some of these, all I have to do for my part is spend two or three weeks.  Then that's it.  I'm finished with the picture.  I can foresee making for to six films a year."


    Throughout his numerous careers Parker has relied on a continuing philosophy of "adjusting and keeping up with current trends and new ideas."


    "In other words," he says, "if someone has a system that you've never heard of, you can never buck it or criticize it unless you see it.  There is always something else that someone will come up with.  I personally never may use it.  But the mere fact of knowing what he does will better prepare me in anticipation of it."


  • Ed Parker's Kenpo: The Magician of Motion Reveals Secretes of His Art  /  Black Belt  /  July 1979  /  V-17  No. 7  /  John Corbett

    He calls himself a magician of motion, and at 48 years of age he claims he has to be one just to persevere. But this self-proclaimed master of illusion pulls no rabbits from a hat. Instead, this martial artist, called by some the "father of American Kenpo karate," has of late revealed to a few faithful followers, and now to BLACK BELT magazine, the secrets of his fighting art.


    For illusionist Ed Parker, the magic which comprises his repertoire is no mere collection of cheap tricks, however. The magic of his art results from more than three decades of intense martial arts involvement in Hawaii as a student and in California (since 1956) as an instructor and promoter. He is known for his Long Beach International Karate Championships and as an instructor who awarded black belts to students such as Jay T. Will, Dan Inosanto and Jack Farr, all of whom have gone on to distinguished martial arts careers of their own.


    Nevertheless, Parker has at times been denigrated as the teacher of a "slap art" in which the practitioner strikes himself as much as he does his opponent. But out of more than 30 years devoted to Kenpo, Ed Parker has created much more than a mere "slap art." Applying lessons from basic physics, geometry, philosophy, plus his Yankee-style common sense and youthful experiences in street scrapes in Hawaii, the big, graying but still agile Hawaiian has devised concepts he claims lie at the core of Kenpo. He calls them his "master key movements" and the "alphabet" or "vocabulary of motion."


    To get to the core, however, the Kenpoist applies a strategy that simultaneously makes his points and captures the interest of an audience to the same degree as a master storyteller or magician may when his material is novel. Parker the storyteller relies in great measure on analogy and metaphor to emphasize the points he considers crucial in revealing the magic of his Kenpo system, a diverse system he said he believes represents the cutting edge of martial arts advancement in the United States.


    Although Parker may enthrall an audience during one of his frequent demonstrations or clinics, the Kenpoist today said he remains just as excited over the potentialities of the martial arts as he did at his first introduction to the arts-in church.


    Parker recalled a skinny and not particularly strong churchmate who bragged of whipping a bully because of his knowledge of the martial arts.


    "He's lying in church!" Parker said, exclaiming at the time. But he made a "convert" of Parker then and there with a quick show of technique. Impressed, Parker soon went to his churchmate's brother, William Chow, and began his lifelong involvement with the martial arts.


    After further studies with Chow and Kenpoist James Mitose, Parker enrolled at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, in 1949. His college studies interrupted by the Korean conflict and military service, Parker returned to BYU in 1954. While still a student, he began teaching Kenpo at a local body-building gymnasium.


    Parker completed his university work in 1956, made the move to California in 1956 and opened a school. Success followed. Parker soon franchised his school operations, and the martial artist retained a roster of some of Hollywood's leading actors and actresses among his students. But for all the trappings of success, Parker maintains he found himself excluded from the mainstream of martial arts.


    "I was a rebel," the Kenpoist insisted. "I was a misfit in the damn community in the martial arts world. Only now are they listening to what I have to say. That's a fact."


    Martial artists and others are listening to what Parker says concerning the martial arts, however, for he said he travels an average of twice a month from his Pasadena, California, home, visiting teachers and providing demonstrations and conducting clinics. Parker remarked that his journeys are invaluable as a way for him to propagate his Kenpo system and for his understanding of the development of martial arts overseas.


    The Kenpoist recalled a Chilean instructor who had studied under him in the United States more than a decade ago.


    "Arturo Petite stayed with me about seven or eight months, then invited me to go to Chile," Parker said. "So, I went in 1968. At that time, he had around a hundred students."


    Parker said he gave a series of demonstrations and offered clinics not only for instructor Petite but also at a naval base at Concepcion, a port facility south of Chile's capital city, Santiago. The Hawaiian born Kenpoist remembered the rousing success of his demonstrations as he and local martial artists shared their expertise. Parker said the crowds "went wild" over his performances, not merely because of his skill, but, and Parker stressed the point, also because the American gave the local martial artists a full measure of respect.


    "I found out the reason was that they (the spectators) felt (my) acceptance," he said. "Two or three months prior to that, a few Japanese envoys in the karate world watched their demonstration and criticized and condemned. That really got the Chileans mad. All they want is don't (just) criticize the guy, correct him and tell him what he should be doing correctly."


    Parker said he found Chileans to be particularly wary of foreign martial artists who offer their individual styles to local students.


    "There's a guy who's a commander in the Air Force, a guy named Commander Alvarado, and he's in charge of deciding who does or does not come into Chile to teach," Parker said. "They do have various styles, but they will not allow any group to come in and take over. They want them to come in for a period of time to disseminate any information and training that will enhance their people and that's it.


    "You can come and go. You're not to reside and take over as has occurred in some of these other countries."


    Parker emphasized that at least partially one outcome of his Chilean sojourn was the marked success of Petite's school, which he said now has "more than three thousand students and he's doing very well."


    The Kenpo stylist said he has found a similar desire for the locals to control the course of their martial arts programs in other countries in South America.


    "That's what they're doing in South America," he said. "Chile's the only one that's doing that (now), but all the other countries are starting to follow suit now, which I think is a great thing.


    Even on a more recent trip to Europe in 1974, Parker said, he found the same attitudes.


    "That was the big complaint of the Belgians that the Japanese were trying to take it over," he said. "All they wanted was for the Japanese to come in and teach them, but they wanted to control their own program and set forth their own rules and regulations.


    Out of these travels and talks with martial artists everywhere; Parker has developed his Kenpo art and philosophy to a state where, with the help of analogy and metaphor, he has distilled certain essential points. First, he sees the techniques of his system three- dimensionally actually, as a series of planes or orbits revolving about the practitioner which enable him to fend off attacks from any angle and launch effective counterblows.


    Pointing to a chart circumscribing a human figure, Parker said that "what you see here is only one-fifth the answer. Make five of these {around the figure of the man), then it will look like the structure of an atom. Therein lies answers I have to show you."


    Those answers he admitted have kept him and other Kenpo instructors searching for a good while.


    "A lot of Kenpo instructors are searching," he said. "I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I haven't stuck to tradition. When you stick to tradition, you're bound. You're bound to see only what is in that realm of knowledge."


    It is just this rejection of tradition that has led the Kenpoist to the second secret of his system, a concept based on the age-old premise that the end justifies the means.


    "When I teach, I want effects," Parker said. "If a punch comes, if you block it and you look lazy, as long as you block it, that's all I care about. I don't give a damn about going down with beautiful form.


    "I was talking like this twenty years ago when I was a no-good-for-nothing rebel. I'm a street fighter. I'm a realist. I've seen guys go into a fight and bite {the other) guy's nose off. And knowing that his nose is gone, he still hits! He's an animal.


    "What do you do for stuff like that?" he asked. "There's nothing in the book. You know, on paper you can prove you can outrun a bullet, but would you like to try it? "


    For a person on the run, someone who must acquire a quick understanding of martial arts techniques, Parker said he has developed another concept.


    "The secret of the martial arts is not to have knowledge of twenty-four things as it is knowing four things," Parker said. "That is the key to all keys. It's more important to learn four moves and the twenty-four ways in which you can rearrange them."


    Parker said if he can teach a student just four basic moves, there is then a total of twenty-four combinations in which those moves may be used. Increase the basic four moves to five, and the total of available combinations rises geometrically to 120.


    "If I have a client who's going to Europe, and he carries a lot of money, I will then gear my instructing to teaching him a condensed version but still master the key movements."


    This combining of specific moves to create a much larger vocabulary of techniques leads to Parker's fourth secret.


    "If I taught you the alphabet from 'A' to 'G' and then taught you how to arrange them to create words, there are a lot of words that can come out from, A ' to 'G,' " the Kenpo stylist explained. "Now, if we allow ourselves to use (the same letters) more than once, we can create even more words."


    Saying that this is as far as many martial arts go, Parker continued that many popular systems offer only a portion of the alphabet, only a portion of the vocabulary, of motion to students.


    "That's fine, that's great," he said. "But what about the additional letters of motion? You have to bring them into the picture. Then, your vocabulary of motion increases even more.


    "Let's put it this way" he said with emphasis, "everything from zero to nine is constant.  Everything after that is (a series of) combinations, and that's the same thing with Kenpo."


    Parker said mastery of as much of the vocabulary of motion was essential for instructors, for then, you can take out from your (instructor's) mastery of knowledge those few movements that will work for that individual, knowing what his capabilities and limitations are."


    However, there were and are some masters of the martial arts who, even though they possess a remarkable vocabulary of motion, are not able to convey their knowledge to students adequately. Parker said he discussed the problem with Bruce Lee, whom he said he helped get a start in Hollywood.


    "Bruce Lee, by the way, stayed here (at Parker's house when he was) broke before I got him started in the industry," Parker said. "He and I used to talk a lot. The kid was sharp. He was good. But he was one in two billion. For him to convey his thoughts and his style to another individual who lacked any one quality that he had would never work." Using another concept for comparison, Parker said he and Lee likened the entire body of martial arts knowledge to a mountain and that portion mastered by anyone man a piece of granite.


    "He said that a man should be like a sculptor who gets a piece of granite and chips away the unessentials to get the true image of his imagination," Parker said, continuing that he countered Lee's comparison by asking the source of his granite.


    "Lee retorted that to consider an entire mountain would lead to confusion," Parker said, "but I said {to Lee) that's not so. The instructor needs to know that mountain so that he can get that piece of granite {right) for that student."


    And without further assistance from the instructor, the student would be in for further trouble, Parker said he told Lee.


    "Now it comes time for me to chip away the unessentials to get the true picture of my imagination. What do I see?', asked Parker. "Raquel Welch. I chip away, and all of a sudden, I end up with Gravel Gertie because I have no talent. No matter how much I try, because of my lack of talent and skill, you cannot create that image."


    Parker reiterated his recollection of Lee's inability to communicate his knowledge-of either the mountain or a piece of granite-to someone of less ability. And this is where Parker's teaching comes in.


    "He (Lee) felt that a lot of these things were unessential," Parker said, "unessential to him at his level. I agreed - but not unessential to the guy down here."


    Parker said he takes many pieces of granite, cuts them to size and assists his students in carving them; in other words, the Kenpoist tailors his methods and techniques to suit the individual needs of his students.


    "Many of us appear normal and/or alike," Parker said, "but structurally, our muscles differ in size and strength. There is a definite need to adapt a system to the individual and not the individual to the system."


    The Kenpo instructor said he will alter the timing of a combination of moves or of a technique with more than one specific move in it to fit the need of a student.


    "Whichever one works best is the one I'll pick," he said. "If you really look at it, the underlying principle has not been changed or altered. It's just the timing that has been altered."


    Parker admitted that many Kenpo students appear more awkward than students of other styles-at first. He attributed the problem to the greater numbers of techniques which comprise his complete alphabet or vocabulary of motion.


    "That's the problem!" he said. "That's why some of my guys at the early stages of learning look worse than a Shotokan student. I'll admit that. But the Shotokan student, because of his limited knowledge, has more time to work at it (techniques)."


    No matter how many techniques a student may study, Parker emphasized the importance of the student's understanding why moves are made certain ways.


    "When learning English," Parker said, "the alphabet forms the basis of our language. From them, words are created, phonetics added, pronunciation, along with definitions to give words meaning. I feel that over the years many students are going through their kata, but they don't know what the kata are for.


    "It's just as if you and I were learning French," he continued. "We say beautiful words just like a Frenchman, but we don't know what the darned words meant. That's idiotic!


    "How can you place proper emphasis on kata if, in fact, you don't know what they mean or know that a certain kata has more than one meaning?" he asked.


    Parker said that a single move may be at one time purely defensive, then again, it may be a defensive move finishing as an offense, or the move may be used as a really aggressive technique. He gave as an example an arm thrown out above the head as an upper block. The Kenpoist explained that the move may be used to thwart an overhead punch, later used for the same defense and then brought down against the opponent or used purely for offense. He admitted the precise positioning and timing of the move may be altered but insisted the basic technique remained the same.


    "That's like words that have one spelling having three or four definitions," Parker said. "Can't that also be true of motion? I found it to be true."


    Just as motion may have several aspects, Parker says he believes different points of view also are important to understanding and mastering the moves employed in Kenpo.


    "When I teach, I teach certain moves," the instructor said, "and before that man leaves, I tell him what the possible defenses could be. I want him to see visually what he did and why he did it when he leaves. When he goes home, he will think about it."


    Parker said most martial artists concentrate on what they must do in a sparring or fighting situation.


    "We never take the time to take his (the opponent's) position to see what opening exist," he said. “At the time I'm executing a move, what could he hit back with? Also, could a spectator see an additional thing that could occur but you can't because you're too close to the subject?"


    Yet another viewpoint seldom studied but which Parker values, is motion reversed. "I studied my moves in reverse (on film), and then, lo and behold, all the answers came to me," he said. "Motion is motion, going forward and reverse. Therein lie your answers.


    "If a punch comes, I can parry before I elbow. Reverse the motion, I can use it not as a defense but as an offense. That's how my vocabulary of motion increased tenfold."


    Corollary to the importance of taking in several viewpoints, Parker stressed what he terms his black dot concept. He explained that whereas many other systems utilize a white dot focus in which students concentrate all attention toward a target area, kingposts focus on the black dot target and the peripheral white area as well.


    "They (stylists who follow other systems) concentrate on maximum force or power, and very little thought is about defense," he said. "But there are two things you've got to watch for what a guy intends to do and what he does not intend to do."


    To explain, Parker brought up Newton's theory of action and reaction, explaining that by devoting all attention on the attack-the white dot the attacker may not notice what the opponent's reaction is. He said this could prove dangerous by giving an opponent an unexpected opening. In another area, Parker again stressed the value of readiness.


    "The one dirty word in my vocabulary is the word 'and" he said "And to me is a commercial break. You can get nailed during a commercial. Don't block and hit. Block with, no and. If you grab and twist, your face will get filled with a fist during the 'and.' "


    By drawing on philosophy, Newton geometry, the structure of the atom language and other concepts, Parker has developed a Kenpo art and a teaching method of a very personal nature. He admits as much.


    "Kenpo is the system I teach," he said. "If, however, we were to examine my methods carefully, the system could very easily bear my name." Though the system bears his stamp, the Kenpo still gives credit where it is due. He is careful to note the source of his methods in the teachings of James Mitose and William Chow.


    "If you look at my articles, I always give credit to him (Chow)," Parker said. "You have to remember that Chow has been belittled by a lot of people. He was the first person who started my thinking on our position regarding tradition."


    Parker also credited Chow for getting him to consider the notion of master key movements.

    "Chow and I swapped a lot of information," he said. "He noticed a lot of thing; didn't work in an American environment. He was the guy who started me thinking about master key movements and increasing my knowledge."


    Parker explained that Kenpo was not alone in undergoing modifications in the United States-at the expense of tradition and in favor of simplification.


    "You find a lot of styles still stick rigidly to their particular kata," he said, "but when you see them freestyle, they're a different breed. They look like they're from different schools. Each and everyone borrows like hell from each other."


    One may well ask, that with all the borrowing that occurs, would the individual styles, Kenpo include, begin to lose their separate identities? Parker said he believes not.


    "My art will not lose an identity because I have come up with concepts and principles nonexistent in other styles," he claimed. "In other words, I feel the alphabet of motion is complete, most systems have only a small portion of the alphabet as opposed to the completed alphabet."


    Furthermore, Parker said he believes his system has much to add to others.


    "They're going to have an American Shotokan, an American Goju Ryu, because these principles and concepts can be adapted by anybody," he said.


    Parker admitted he had encountered problems along the way in gaining acceptance for his American Kenpo system, problems revolving around an Oriental mystique.


    "If you were Oriental, you were the in thing," he said. "If you were Caucasian, forget it!"


    The Kenpoist said his own inferiority complex was shattered during a visit to Japan. He said he found "the cream of the (martial arts) crop" were the ones who came to the United States.


    "Those are the talented ones," he said. "Little do we Americans realize it's a small minority who we think is the majority."


    Parker quoted a passage from a book he is writing to elaborate his position:


    "Authenticity is said to be based on one having Oriental heritage," the passage goes. But how false this belief is, for talent is not a gift given to a particular race of people but to individuals. It can be adopted, cultivated and perfected by an individual who least expects to be able to do so.


    Many are gifted with the seeds of talent, regardless of race. Cultivation and effort is the stimulus that makes them blossom. On the other hand, although you can buy talent or have the talent to buy, it cannot be ingrained if you do not have the capacity to absorb it or execute it."


    Another complex Parker has fought in propagating American Kenpo is the twin concept of purity and tradition.


    How often have I heard members of other systems explain that their system is a pure system," Parker said with a sniff. "As if other systems were contaminated.”


    "What is pure?" he asked. "Everyone keeps talking about the fact that what Gichin Funakoshi taught is pure. Yet, if you go back and study history, you find he studied from two individuals. He put together what he thought were the best elements to be taught to the Japanese. How can you say his system is pure?


    "I'm always told," Parker said. "Well, here is a school directly from Japan. Their forms are authentic.' I say that's fine. But in actuality they've changed. That's why you have Shotokan and Shudokan.


    'If you want to study boxing, then don't study with Ali," Parker said, drawing yet another of his analogies.  "Don't study with Norton. Try to get some guy who has preserved the John L. Sullivan methods of fighting. Stick to the classical. From an historical point, I agree. From a practical standpoint, I would never use it. That style isn't what we're looking for in the United States."


    Parker closed arguments on the purity controversy this way:


    "My philosophy in answering this question is when pure knuckles meet pure flesh; you can't get any purer than that, regardless of who executes the punch, no matter what style he may be from."


    Parker the realist nevertheless dresses up his demonstrations and explanations with a lode of analogies. In addition to those already noted, he compares Kenpo methods with an eclectic array running the gamut from aircraft carriers to the three natural states in which water may be found.


    . . . Every time I put on a demonstration, I say it will be a little different from what the audience may be accustomed to," he said, continuing that the emphasis is on sharing rather than showing. Parker said a Kenpoist's blow may be compared to the launching of an air- plane from the deck of an aircraft carrier.  The force of a punch in some karate is diminished by the practitioner's pulling back with one fist while punching forward with the other.


    "But if the lower half (of his body) is the catapult, the upper half is the force of my blow," Parker said. "I then have the power and the force to keep this hand here (not pulling back as in Shotokan karate)."


    Parker called his Kenpo a gaseous martial art, not for all the talk that goes into describing the methods used, but because he said he sees its possibilities expanding in all directions at once.


    "Water comes in three forms," he said. "While people are at the liquid level, I'm at the gaseous stage in Kenpo. When you have a solid, that's it a solid. When you have a liquid, it seeks its own level. But what does a gas seek? Its volume. That to me is the highest level of the martial arts. When I can go three or four directions at a time, that's the highest state."


    By way of comparison, Parker called Shotokan a solid-Ievel martial art. He gives gojuryu and isshinryu styles a liquid rating. He does assent to hapkido's gaseous state, "but there gas comes from one end basically the feet."


    Even Bruce Lee's jeet kune do rates only a liquid grade from Parker.


    "You have to remember about Bruce," Parker said. "He could come in and not even know what you know, watch you, do a move he had no idea of doing before, come out and look just as good as you the first time out and better than you the second time around. That was his forte."


    For all his willingness to share his art with students at demonstrations and clinics worldwide, Parker said he is not a publicity seeker.


    "I'm not worried about publicity," he said, admitting that his system had received lesser amounts of publicity than many others. "I've never called anybody to get me in. Many magazines have called me and asked me to talk to them, and I have refused, not because I'm antisocial. Many times, if you ask me what I'm doing, what I'm going to do, the minute I put it all down, people set up roadblocks. The less said, the more I can get done."


    "More" includes a book he said he put off completing when longtime student Elvis Presley died. But he said he is now ready to share his book and his knowledge.


    "With what I have now, I'm going to just start to come out and hit heavy," he said. "You guys came to me, fine. I'm glad to share my knowledge. What I've done, I've done. But I do care about what I'm going to do. I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do. There's a lot of jealous people out there."


    However, Parker did tell BLACK BELT a detail or two regarding his book on Kenpo-concepts from which have been included in this article. The Kenpo stylist added that he will include a chapter on the relationships of the martial arts.


    "To me, judo is a more ethical form of jujitsu," he explained. “Aikido is a more glorified version of jujitsu. However, all three could be considered an Oriental means of wrestling.


    "Kenpo, karate, kung fu, tae kwon do and tang soo do are Oriental forms of boxing. But again, if you were to compare American boxing to the Oriental means of boxing, because of the limitations on weapons, we can say that American boxing is to checkers as what we do is to chess. The variables are greater. "But I would then say that Kenpo is a three-dimensional chess game. It really is."


    Parker said he also plans a work on the subject of commonplace body movements and how they may be turned to one's defensive advantage. Titled Everyday Gestures that Can Save Your Life, he said that even the most common movements opening or closing a swinging door or using a hairbrush on long hair-may be used to advantage to thwart an attacker.


    Parker admitted more than the fear of jealous rivals has motivated his reticence regarding his American Kenpo. He said he has worried over former students who would leave and open up Kenpo studios of their own.


    "I always had the fear of guys taking off, being disloyal and opening up on their own," he said. "And so I left out a lot of stuff."


    Parker said he found some students resenting his secretiveness, once they found out he had hidden knowledge from them. "They were somewhat hurt in a way," he admitted, "but they still feel happy. They are (the now-complete techniques) some minor additions in the whole puzzle. I am teaching those who stuck by me. The fact is, I was going to reserve it (the knowledge) for my children and my son. He's not interested in the martial arts. He studies, but his heart is in the (fine) arts."


    In place of children lost as successors, Parker noted he has taken on protégés to insure the continuity of the Kenpo system.


    "My key protégé is this kid Larry Tatum," Parker said with a laugh, continuing that "anyone younger than me I call a kid. He's my number one guy right now. He moves like me. He looks like me. He's got the power-everything. "


    The Kenpoist noted that he is helping 15-year student Tatum complete a book, Confidence, A Child's First Weal on. He also named two others he considers protégés, insiders with whom he h. shared the full scope of his knowledge Tom Kelly, who Parker said is the highest-degree black belt at a seventh-degree level, operates a Parker school in Salt Lake City; Joe Palanzo, another former student who Parker said holds a fifth degree black belt, teaches at a school in Baltimore.


    In addition to his select protégé Parker insisted he will offer his knowledge to "anyone else who's definitely sincere, because when I go to the grave I want to know that there are other people who (know) outside of my family.  They would have the mountain of knowledge."


    Once he sees his students and protégés have the mountain securely within their grip, Parker said he will rest easy regarding the future of Kenpo.


    "I don't see that once my students learn Kenpo, they'll modify it," he said "They'll perfect it. And that's where they will excel."


    But again, the entire mountain will be too much for anyone of them to grasp, according to the Kenpoist. Each will call his own only "a portion of the whole-only that which suits each person."

    There will be enough to go around however. For Parker said he believes his system is more all-encompassing than any other at this point.


    "It's the most updated version of the martial arts, employing more concepts and principles than in other arts now, he said. And though there may be plethora of content available to students of Kenpo, Parker said the real truth (their mastery of the art taken as a whole may be gleaned in one fashion only.


    "When it comes down to the end, Parker said, "what is true for one person may not be true for another. The real truth for both lies in the moment of actual combat."


  • Inside Ed Parker  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  Dec. 1979  /  V-5  No. 10  /  Stephen L. Smoke

    Ed Parker is one of the best-known martial art's figures in the world and has been called the father of American karate.  He opened dojos a quarter of a century ago, when most Americans thought the word signified some kind of folk music instrument.  He is also founder of the world-famous international tournament in Long Beach.  He was influential in getting his good friend Bruce Lee, the part of Kato in the "Green Hornet."  Parker himself can be seen in many martial arts films as well as feature films such as "Revenge of the Pink Panther" which he did with his friend producer Blake Edwards.  Inside Kung-Fu recently collared promoter, movie star, teacher, entrepreneur, movie producer, martial artist Ed Parker for the following interview.


    IKF:  What is your view of tournament competitors today?


    EP:  I think there's been a definite improvement since the inception of the internationals in ‘64.  There is a definite improvement in the martial artists themselves.  I recently viewed some of the films of the ‘64 Internationals.  I'm not going to mention names, but there are some champions in those films who probably beg me to buy the footage back in burn it.


    IKF:  Do you think the martial arts today is less traditional?


    EP:  In terms of understanding what is behind the physical movements, yes.  When you learn a foreign language, you learn to articulate a particular word so you can say it like a native of that language.  But if you don't know its meaning, then the word has no value.  In my early years in Hawaii used to have fun with guys who didn't speak Hawaiian.  We would tell them that certain Hawaiian words meant one thing, when in fact they meant something entirely different.  These guys would say what we told them to say to Hawaiian girls and all of a sudden they would get their faces slapped.  In the martial arts I think it's fine to learn the moves, but one should also learn what the moves can be used for, what they mean, and what their alternate uses are.  I think this is very important.


    When you study traditionally, that training includes not only the technical aspects, but the philosophy as well.  I think that if some of the competitors in today's tournaments would have developed traditional philosophical attitudes, we wouldn't have some of the sass we have in the ring today.


    IKF:  How has your art changed over the years?


    EP:  Let's put it this way, I have discovered many things.  Although I love tradition, I also feel that tradition has not offered many things.  There are a lot of moves that have developed, a lot of concepts that I have discovered simply because I did not accept everything that was told to me.


    I don't feel that there is only one particular way of doing something.  After all, we're all physiologically different.  A clothing store has various sizes, styles, and colors to suit our tastes and sizes.  There is not one store in existence today that I know of that has one size suit that fits all.  It doesn't work in the clothing business and it doesn't work in the martial arts.


    I heard an interesting story, a true story, which is appropriate.  It's about this guy who did nothing but sculpture elephants; big ones, small ones, teeny ones.  Someone asked him what his secret was.  He said, "My secret is a simple one.  If it does not look like an elephant, I chip it away."


    IKF:  Would you tell us a story you recall from the internationals?


    EP: I remember once a father came up to me with his son.  He said my son has been studying for three or four months.  Mr. Parker, you don't know me, and I don't know you, but I'm here for you to give my son some advice."  The boy was quite young.  I said, "Son, as you become proficient - do you know what that means?"  He didn't know what that meant.  "As you become better and better in the martial arts, make sure that your head grows up in equal proportion with your body."  I asked if he knew what that meant, and he shook his head.  Well, I said, "So often as we become good in the martial arts, our head gets so big that we think were better than anybody else.  I don't want you to ever get to that point."  That he understood.


    Along the same line, I'd like to relate another story.  There is a tale about a lion in the jungle.  As he walked along the jungle trail, he came upon a monkey.  He said, "Mr. Monkey, who is the king of the jungle?"  The monkey replied, "You are Mr. Lion."  The lion went further into the jungle and came across a snake.  He said, "Mr. Snake, who is the king of the jungle?"  The snake said, "Is there any question?"  The lion went further until he ran into a big bull elephant.  He asked the elephant, "Who is the King of all the jungle?"  The elephant picked him up with his tusks and shot him right up against a coconut tree.  Beaten and battered, the lion straightened himself up and said, "I don't think you hear too well, Mr. Bull Elephant.  Again I'm going to ask you, who is the king of all the jungle?"  This time the bull elephant picked up the lion and smashed him against the side of a mountain.  This time the lion straightened himself up, and looked up at the bull elephant and said, "Just because you don't know the answer, you don't have to get mad."  It's the same way with martial artists.  Sometimes they get so good they think they can whip the world.  And even when they're being whipped, they can't accept losing.  I don't think that's right.


    I can remember an incident during a demonstration with my friend Ron Sacharnoski.  He has developed a method of being able to take punishment in the groin area, the temple, and the throat.  We were putting on a demonstration in North Carolina.  He said that in time you can develop this toughness.  Well somehow some of the crowd took it wrong.  I could see this.  I knew that many of those in the audience were moonshiners.  So when I came up after he had introduced me I said, "I really liked the enthusiasm of my friend and colleague here.  But before I put on my demonstration, I want those of you in the audience to know that there are styles and systems far superior to what we have here today.  For example, Smith and Wesson, Winchester and the like."  I'm telling you, the crowd roared and I could see their challenge was eradicated.  They laughed and enjoyed the whole thing.  You have to be careful and matter who you are.


    IKF:  You have said that full contact matches are now at a point where they are out-and-out combat.


    EP:  People ask me why I'm not into full-contact.  I'm not into it only from the standpoint that it is really going to take money to get the type of spectator interest that it deserves to make it a profitable thing for the promoters.  Right now there is not enough vehicles at hand for these fighters to take advantage of and live comfortably.  So as a result they have full-time jobs, and when they try to fight the amount of rounds that require the workout of a full-time fighter, they don't do well.  I'm not saying that many of them are not good.  But because of the lack of thorough training, they're not able, after the fourth or fifth round, to put up a good show.  So they end up looking like two guys in the street fighting for the first time.  It definitely has a bad effect on the audience.  This actually caused the karate business to go downhill for a while when these tournaments were televised.


    IKF:  What do you predict for the future of full-contact matches?


    EP:  Well, right now there aren't that many full-contact matches.  There isn't enough going on right now for people to watch and admire.  I think it's going to take real big money to bring it to the limelight that it should be in.  I think it will take someone along the way who has such wealth of money that he can form a nonprofit organization in the martial arts and funnels the money through that channel.  People are addicted to being spectators at sporting events.  I think many of us are addicted to contact-type sports.


    IKF:  How would you compare a martial artist to a street fighter if both were paired in a street fight?


    EP:  I believe that most martial artists would have their hands full.  There are no rules in a street fight.  It's not only what a guy dishes out, it's what he can take.  A martial artist is normally not used to taking many punches.  I once saw street fight in Hawaii during which a guy's nose got bit off.  You would think the guy would stop fighting.  But this guy got even madder and almost killed the guy who beat his nose off.  Fighting spirit is often the dominating factor in street fights, not how technically skilled one is.  I think that such instincts are born into an individual, not learned.


    IKF:  Let's talk about the movies.  How did you influence Bruce Lee's film career?


    EP:  Just before Bruce was getting ready to make an entrance into the American film market, he and I discussed the differences between American and Japanese cinema.  We viewed films together and I told him that in the Japanese films there is a lot of jumping from treetop treetop.  "Don't try to do that here in the States," I said.  "The audience won't buy it.  Whatever you do, make sure it's one, two, three moves and you get the guy down.  If you stick within that framework, you can capture the American audience."


    I have films of Bruce I shot in 1964 which I refuse to sell.  Believe me, I've had offers.  I had somebody come to me with an idea for a film.  They wanted to shoot a twenty minute film of the film I have by shooting it from different camera angles.


    Speaking of movies, I would like to say that I'm very proud of Joe Lewis for making the movie he did (Jaguar).  Although some of the critics criticized him for his acting, I give him a lot of credit.  I think he did a very decent job of acting.  The more films that Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, and whoever come out with, can only enhance the martial arts.  The mere fact that Kung-Fu is back on television again is stimulating business.  Enrollment in our schools in Arizona and back East is definitely on the increase.  Movies have an effect and anything I can do to help, I'd like to do.


    These films have also got to have some kind of punchline for the kids of today.  I don't want kids to say, "Oh boy, learn karate and rule the world."  I don't want that.  Some of these fight scenes I'll be coming up with in future films will be violent.  People will say, "Why do you do that?  Aren't you afraid that people will take this knowledge and misuse it?"  Not so, because things like that take time to develop and become skilled at.  What I feel is this.  It's just like dynamite.  Dynamite can be destructive or constructive, depending on its use.  I can use violence on the screen and in turn around and tell the audience, "I know that's violent, but those of you out in the audience who like to look for trouble, remember that there are people like this around.  And rather than run into them, make two things your constant companions: a handshake and a smile.  Usually you can get out of trouble if you have these.  I have gone to places infested with real gangster-type elements.  I went in with all the confidence in the world and said, "Hi, guys.  How are you doing?"  Because I hit them with an unorthodox thing - unorthodox in their environment - I threw them off.  The late heavyweight champ, Archie Moore, was asked, "Mr. Moore, in all your years of fighting, who gave you the most run for your money?"  He thought about it for a minute, and he said, "You know, I once fought a guy on the street who didn't know how to fight.  He was the hardest guy to compete against.  He was unorthodox, and since he didn't know what he was going to do next, how can I figure it out."


    IKF:  You have one movie out right now, right?


    EP:  I have a movie out right now called "Seven."  I'm presently working on a film about Elvis which is just about to be funded.  Then I have another movie about to be funded called "King Tut," with Jerry Lewis; it's a comedy.  But those two movies will definitely not have anything to do with the martial arts; with the exception of a few things I did with the Elvis film.  The third film I'm working on is called "Knives."  It's a picture that I created.  It deals with the Chinese and the Polynesians during the years 1850 to 1855, when they went to work in the gold mines and were compelled to work on the railroads.


    My good friend Blake Edwards, who does the Pink Panther series, was a student of mine 22 years ago.  In fact, the idea of that little servant that Peter Sellers has, stemmed from Blake's training with me.  I plan to be in his next Pink Panther movie too, by the way.  We have discussed doing films with the martial arts in them.  He would like very much for us to get together and do several martial arts films.  We will find a young local star and I will have a running part.  I will also be one of the producers of the film.  I would like that very much.  Blake feels, as I do, that the martial arts have not yet reached its peak.


    There are two things you try to do in martial arts films.  One, you try to entertain, and two you try to educate.  Do this, and the audience will feel they got more than their money's worth.  The other day I was in Honolulu, when a Samoan boy came up to me and said, "I know you.  You're in the movie, "Seven."  I said, "Yes."  He said, "Let me tell you, I really enjoyed that movie because I felt I got my money's worth."


    There is one scene in the proposed film "Knives" with this Chinese guy who likes me because I saved his nephew twice.  But I don't realize this guy is the uncle of the guy I saved.  I get beaten up by five guys and this Chinese guy says, "There is no reason why a man your size should be beaten up by five guys."  I say, "What do you know?"  And he says, "You want to see what a Chinaman can do?"  And I say, "Go ahead and show me."  He does and I'm impressed.  So I say, "Would you teach me?"  He says, "No, I'm not ready to teach."  And I say, "Why not?  You encourage me and now you tell me you're not going to teach me?"  He says, "I'll tell you what.  I have made a vow that the family secrets I have I cannot teach.  And those I will not teach.  But because I have been able to sit back and think beyond tradition, I have concepts of my own.  That I can teach you."  So this is what he teaches me in the film.  The audience will see him correcting me, and will automatically get several lessons for free, just watching.  So when the picture is finished and the audience sees it, they will say, "That was a hell of a picture!  I learned this and I learned that."  That's what I want to do with the martial arts.


  • Ed Parker Instructor of the Year  /  Black Belt  /  1979 Yearbook  /  V-18  No. 1  /  Editor

    Ed Parker, originator of the International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California, in 1964 (one of the first major annual tournament events in the United States), is again on the Black Belt Hall of Fame list as Instructor of the Year (American Freestyle Arts).  He was the Hall of Fame Man of the Year in 1976.


    Parker more than deserves his second Hall of Fame citation for he not only still runs the International each August, he also began teaching his distinctive Kenpo style of karate in 1954, when he opened his first school near Brigham Young University in Utah.  Often called – and rightly so – “the father of American Kenpo karate,” Parker first brought his style of martial art to the attention of mainland American students at Brigham Young after years of training under William Chow of Hawaii.  The Hawaiian-born Parker taught Kenpo in Utah until he earned his B.A. degree in sociology and psychology in 1956.  He then opened his first real school in Pasadena, California.  From this beginning, Parker expanded his chain of schools and martial arts style across the United States, into South America and Europe, where protégés now run schools in Britain and Germany.


    An instructor to an impressive roster of some of Hollywood’s leading celebrities, Parker has expanded his martial arts career into a continuing acting career.  He has appeared in a number of TV’s memorable series (I Spy, The Rebel, The Lucy Show, among others) and several motion pictures, the latest of which is "Seven", and action-adventure film released across the United States and overseas during 1979.


    A self-styled “rebel” among martial artists, Parker says he now finds more and more martial artists taking a second look at his art.  He also finds that more and more, martial artists born and trained in countries where he travels are demanding a greater share of the control and direction of their martial arts programs.  Always concerned about the development and progress of the martial arts, Parker makes several journeys a year, giving demonstrations and otherwise helping fledging martial arts schools and programs get off to proper starts.


    An author as well as actor and martial artist, Parker says he soon will have a book published called Everyday Gestures That Can Save Your Life.  In the book, Parker will show how normal, everyday moves can be rethought for translation into sharply defined and efficient self-defense tactics.


  • The History of Kenpo  /  Black Belt  /  June 1981  /  V-19  No. 6  /  Arnold Golub

    "Use your strongest technique on me.”


    I looked at the frail old man in front of me, knowing that he could be seriously injured by the full impact of a karate blow.


    “Go ahead,” he repeated, “use your strongest technique.”


    I looked at him again, wondering what to do.  “I can’t strike you, I might injure you,” I said.


    “You cannot hurt me,” he answered.  “Kenpo is my family’s art.”


    I decided it him with a reverse punch, but as I prepare to punch him he lay down on the floor in front of me.  “How can I hit you when you’re already down?”  I asked.


    “That’s exactly the point,” he answered.  “No one learns how to strike someone who is already down.  The whole point of karate is to knock someone down.  People attack other people to knock them down.  By laying down yourself, you have won the battle.  Your opponent’s goal has been accomplished, but you have won a greater victory since you ended the dispute without violence.  Karate is good exercise, but it is not true self-defense.”


    The man speaking is James M. Mitose (Kenposai Kosho, the 21st descendant of the founder), the ultimate living authority of Kenpo, the system he taught to William Chow who in return, taught it to Edmund Parker, “Father of American Kenpo.”


    Although James M. Mitose is acknowledged by historians as the man who brought Kenpo to the West, he is well known only to a few serious students and instructors of the Kenpo system.


    The major reason for Mitose’s obscurity can be traced to Mitose himself and his own beliefs about the Kenpo system he brought to Hawaii from Japan.  Kenpo (actually koshoshorei kenpo), the Mitose a family’s system, consists of a complete religious, philosophical and nutritional system, Japanese yoga, they series of evasion tactics known as “escape patterns,” and a body contact art known as koshoryu kenpo.  Mitose’s his ancestors had kept the system alive by teaching it to successive generations of family members, but did not share the contact science (koshoryu kenpo) with outsiders.


    After Mitose had completed his own Kenpo training in his family temple in Japan, he traveled to Hawaii where he was prevailed upon by the U.S. military to teach the koshoryu kenpo art to soldiers for use during WWII.  Mitose they began teaching koshoryu kenpo to people of all races in the late 1930s.  By 1953, he had come to believe that the West was not ready for his family’s wartime art, and that Westerners could not or would not understand that Kenpo represented more than a set of techniques for fighting.  Believing that his art had become corrupted (one of his students seriously injured someone and, as the students teacher, Mitose felt personally responsible), he decided to retire from active martial arts instruction.  From that time on he has kept a very low profile.


    The Kenpo system taught throughout the United States today by Edmund Parker and his students has its origins in the system taught by Mitose.  The system was modified so extensively by Parker in order to make it more suitable for use by Americans that he is generally acknowledged as the “Father” of American Kenpo.  Generations earlier, the Mitose family, having learned their system of body contact fighting from the head priest of the Shaolin Temple in China, themselves modified the Chinese system extensively until it became koshoryu kenpo, a martial art suitable for use by the Japanese people.  It can therefore be seen that Kenpo has always been in a state of evolution - a characteristic that has probably been a major factor in making Kenpo such an effective streetfighting art.


    Kenpo has its origins in the same deep past as the other empty-handed fighting systems.  Kenpo or Kempo, as it is sometimes spelled), is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese ideograph representing ch’uan fa, or fist law.  The origins of the system date back to about A.D. 525 when, according to legend, an Indian monk named Bodidharma (Daruma in Japanese) traveled from India to China to spread Buddhism.  After his arrival in Canton, he travel north to Nanking where tradition states he had a famous meeting with Emperor Wu in which they discussed Buddhism.


    Bodidharma subsequently traveled to Honan on Providence and arrived at the Shaolin Temple, where he found the monks emaciated and unable to concentrate on his lectures.  He gave them a series of physical exercises designed to strengthen their bodies and to enhance their attention span.  These exercises, called shih pa lo han sho (18 hands of the lo han) are reputed to be the basis for Shaolin ch’uan fa, an empty-handed martial art thought to be the predecessor of karate.


    This system of ch’uan fa continued to evolve for about 700 years.  Then about A. D. 1200, Genghis Khan made war on China and attacked the region containing the Shaolin Temple.  Rather than to produce disharmony by confrontation, the high priest escaped to Japan where he met a Shinto priest whose name was Kosho.  Kosho had already studied a variety of fighting arts, including kendo (swordsmanship), naginatodo (lance fighting), kyudo (archery), fighting on horses, and swim fighting.  Kosho was a master of these arts and studied the ch’uan fa system with the high priest.  After becoming a master of these combined systems, he changed his name to Mitose and founded a martial arts school.


    In about 1280, a descendent of Mitose (Kosho) converted to Buddhism.  This conversion placed him in an unusual position.  On the one hand, he was a martial arts master.  On the other hand, the teachings of Buddha stated that no person has the authority to harm another, and that one must go unarmed in order to demonstrate his/her peaceful nature to others.  After many years of medication under the pine trees on the family property, Mitose’s descendent finally reconciled his martial arts system (koshoryu kenpo) with the teachings of Buddha.  According to James M. Mitose, the president authority of the art, his ancestor realized that true self-defense consists of escaping from attackers using no body contact.  The only exceptions to this guiding principle are when aiding people who are unfamiliar with true self-defense, when assisting law enforcement officers, or during wartime.  Mitose’s ancestor subsequently founded a temple in which he taught his self-defense martial arts system. This system, kosho-shorei (ko menas old, sho means pine tree, shorei means spiritual calling), teaches true self-defense - self-defense, that is, without body contact.  The kosho-shorei system has been passed down from one Mitose generation to another, and has the kosho-shorei coat of arms associated with the art.


    One part of the kosho-shorei system, the wartime art (koshoryu kenpo), modified from Chinese ch’uan fa, was taught only to family members (insiders), and was passed on from generation to generation.  According to James M. Mitose, this family thought it important to preserve the wartime art in order to be familiar with it and to be able to defend against it.


    James Mitose himself was born on the Kona coffee plantation in Hawaii in 1923.  His father had moved Hawaii at the end of the 19th century when Japan had appeared prepared to go war.  When the young Mitose was for, his sister accompanied him to Japan where he was expected to study the family art and to take over from his father as the master of the kosho-shorei system.


    He acquired his education and Kenpo training in a large temple on Mt. Akenkai in southern Japan.  Mitose recalls that during the 15 years he spent in Japan studying with his grandfather, he was "to take over the family business, including religious activity and Kenpo arts.  I entered at the age of four.  I did the chores of the temple, like sweeping and cleaning and serving.  It lasted for about two years.  Then, I started studying religious books in Japanese, translated from Sanskrit.  Half the day was spent studying these books, and the other half day was used for learning Kenpo and martial arts, the law of the fist.


    "I was there (at his family's Buddhist temple) until I was 18 or 19.  My left, I had been educated to take care of myself.  Unless I worked for the day, I would not eat.  Rather than beg for food, I tried to raise food myself in group activities with other members of the organization.  Except for the head priest, all others were engaged in physical work, in the planting of rice, in the field, in cooking, chopping firewood, and so forth.  My studies at the Akenkai Temple ranged from religions of India and Tibet to Christianity and Judaism, and included Greek philosophy.  I became a kosho-shorei minister at the age of 18 and left the temple."


    After leaving the temple, Mitose recalls that he traveled to Kyushu, where he discovered that the law enforcement officers had no pistols or handcuffs.  He decided he would teach them Kenpo so they could defend the citizens from bandits and gangsters.  Subsequently, he left Kyushu to visit Hawaii and remained in Hawaii two or three years teaching Kenpo to the police cadets before eventually returning to Japan.


    "In our ‘Law of Fist,’ we're not supposed to obey the order of even the Emperor or the supreme commander of military forces."  He relates that the Japanese Calvary division was on maneuvers in a mountain area.  "My brother and I were opposed to these military operations, and some of our group were arrested.  We did not believe and war.  The people around me suggested I returned to Hawaii as quickly as possible.  Otherwise, I might be arrested and sent to a military jail."  Therefore, in 1938 Mitose returned to Hawaii where he remained until moving to California in 1956.


    When it became apparent to him the Japan and America would go to war, Mitose found himself in a very difficult position.  He was an American by birth.  As a very young child, he had eaten American food and drank American water.  Yet his formative years have been spent in Japan.  Ultimately, he decided his loyalty belonged with America.  In 1939, he began teaching Kenpo to ROTC cadets at the University of Hawaii, and on December 8, 1941, he enlisted in the territorial guard, where he served until the guard was disbanded by the military in 1942.


    In 1942, wanting to repay the debt he believed he owed to America for having extended its privileges to him, and urged on by others who insisted that the koshi-shorei  true self-defense system Mitose was teaching was suitable only for peacetime, Mitose founded the official school self-defense club at the Beretania Mission in Honolulu.  It was here that he first taught koshoryu formerly to people of all races.  One of the photos accompanying this article was taken at the Nuuanu YMCA to commemorate presentation of the shodan (black belt) rank to Arthur Keawe, one of Mitose's first black belt students.


    Mitose says he wanted to teach people the true nature of self-defense, but that sense it was a time of war, he decided to concentrate on his family's wartime art, koshoryu kenpo.  Koshoryu kenpo was taught at the school from 1942-1953.  In 1947, Mitose wrote What Is Self-Defense? (Kenpo Jiujitsu).  In this book he presented the philosophy and techniques of Kenpo.  What is self-defense? was probably the first Kenpo textbook in English.  The photo of Mitose using a makiwara is taken from that pioneering volume.  (According to Mitose, the purpose of such training is not to develop punching power.  Rather, punching exercises are done "to destroy the evil in the mind.  This is done by bringing the evil spirits out of the mind and placing them on the objects you are punching.")


    When Mitose retired in 1953, he gave his school toward his assistant instructors.  He moved to Hilo, Hawaii, where he remained until coming to California in 1956.  During the years he taught in Hawaii, he awarded the shodan rank to six students.  Jiro Nakamura, taught privately by Mitose, was the first.  Following him (in alphabetical order), were William K.S. Chow (who earlier had studied the Chinese arts for about 10 years with his father), Arthur Keawe, Edward Lowe, Paul Yamaguchi, and Thomas Young.


    William K.S. Chow opened his own school, and by the late 1950s and also awarded the shodan rank to at least four students:  Adriano Emperado (who also studied with Mitose and subsequently founded the kajukenbo tradition in the late 1940s), Massaichi Oshiro, Edmund K. Parker (who also studied briefly with Mitose and who subsequently founded the American Kenpo tradition), and Paul Yamaguchi (also awarded the shodan rank by Mitose).


    Author Keawe’s history is unknown.  According to Bruce Haines he may have left Hawaii for the mainland.


    Edward Lowe opened his own school, came affiliated with Mas Oyama’s Tokyo Koyokushinkai, and continued as an active instructor.


    Paul Yamaguchi also organized his own school, but ceased operation in 1957.


    Thomas Young, one of Mitose's assistant instructors, took over the school when Mitose retired.  By the late 1950s, he had awarded the shodan rank to at least six students.


    Included in this article is a diagram that illustrates the evolution of the Kenpo family tree.  This tree is reasonably accurate up to the late 1950s.  Most of the black belts achieved after this in the United States have been awarded by Ed Parker or by his students, and the Parker tradition has been primarily responsible for keeping Kenpo alive in the United States.


    Examination of the Kenpo family tree reveals the debt owed to Mitose.  Had he not brought Kenpo to the west, most of us who are able to trace our tradition back to Mitose might be studying a martial art today, but it certainly would not be Kenpo.



    Note: The author wants to thank James M. Mitose for providing the copyrighted photos used in this article.  He also wishes to express his thanks to Eugene Sedeno, a historian of the martial arts and a high-ranking Kenpo black belt for making available his materials, including the Kenpo family tree presented, with modification, in this article.  Finally the author wishes to acknowledge the debt owed to Bruce Hines, whose dissertation, Karate's History and Traditions, provided much viable information.



    About the Author: Arnold M. Golub is a professor of psychology at the California State University, Sacramento, and is head representative of all kosho-shorei Temples of Peace, True Self-Defense, True and Pure Karate and Kenpo and Kosho-Shorei Yoga Schools.


  • Ed Parker The King of Kenpo  /  Fighting Stars  /  Dec. 1982  /  V-9  No. 6  /  Bill Braunstein

    It's no surprise that Ed Parker has been called the "father of American karate."  He has been instrumental in starting the careers of some of the best-known martial artists in the world, guys like the immortal Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis., Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, and Dan Inosanto.  His connections to the world of show business are equally stellar.  His friends over the year have included Elvis Presley, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, Lucille Ball, Fabian, Darren McGavin, and the list goes on and on.


    Parker, now in his mid-50s, was and still is a karate innovator. He was the first to realize the potential of marketing self-defense when he came here from Hawaii and in 1956 opened what was possibly the first commercial karate studio in the United States.  Today there are Ed Parker Karate Studios all over the world.  Perhaps no man has done more to put karate before the American public than Parker.


    His International Tournament held yearly in Long Beach, California, is widely regarded as one of the most important competitions in the country.  And when he held the first one, way back in 1964, there was a young martial artist there who Parker presented to the world for the first time - his name was Bruce Lee.  The event has been held yearly ever since and has drew more than 3,500 competitors this past summer.  Among the people who have competed are the top names in karate.


    Although Parker tends to downplay his film work, he has appeared in many movies, such as Kill the Golden Goose, Buckstone County Prison, and he has a reoccurring role in his good friend Blake Edwards' Pink Panther series as Mr. Chong from Hong Kong.  When not performing in films Parker is frequently hired as technical advisor or fight choreographer.


    And, of course,  Parker is also a teacher. He is given private lessons too many stars, including the biggest name of all, Elvis Presley.  It seems remarkable that this child of Hawaii, who grew up in the Kahili slums of Honolulu, could have amassed the fame and the fortune he has accuree over the years.  But a strict father and a devotion to his Mormon faith kept Parker's aim straight, while many of his friends were being shipped off to reform schools.  He was introduced to the martial arts as a child from a number of sources; his father was a boxing commissioner, so the young Parker was exposed to fighting, plus, he learned judo as a child.  He learned the style he is most famous for, KENPO, from a respected teacher named William Chow.


    In 1947, after coming to the mainland, Parker enrolled at Brigham Young University, eventually earning a business degree.  It was that business acumen that told him the time was right for self-defense schools. They are still going strong today.


    Fighting Stars editor Bill Braunstein visited Parker as his Pasadena, California, home, was impressed by his hospitality and filed this report.  "Parker's house almost has the trappings of the museum.  There are exhibits of belongings of Parker's best-known friend, Elvis Presley.  A pair of sunglasses once owned by Presley is in a plastic case by the door, a cape once owned by Elvis hangs in the hallway."


    "Parker is proud of his friendship with the rock 'n roll star, and while I was there was gracious enough to let some visitors who drove there from Texas, inside to see the momentous.  Parker also helped start the career of Bruce Lee, and we started our conversation by talking about him."


    FS: How did you first meet Bruce Lee:


    Parker: I met him through a guy named James Lee, who was no relation to Bruce.  James Lee was a kung fu artist in Oakland and he would always show me his forms or sets of kata, and we would always swap information.  One day he called me and said, "Hey, I got this kid here who is really sharp.  He's a Wing Chun stylist, he's very intelligent and speaks beautiful English.  I want you to meet him."  So I flew up there to meet him in Oakland.  This was in 1962.


    FS: What did you see when you go there?


    Parker: When I saw Bruce perform, he was good.  This kid was real good.  His speed was there, and he used a lot of height in his kicks.  I was impressed.  He was very strong in his Wing Chun style.  I indicated to him that I thought his stance was a little weak, which he made me prove to him.  He later switched to Jeet Kune Do.


    FS: Were you impressed when you saw in this young Bruce Lee?


    Parker: I was very impressed.  The guy was good.  He moved with maximum ability; everything he did, he did at his maximum level.  You could feel the power he had in his every move.  If I were to show films of the champions in those early years, today they would make me destroy those films.  The change in skill is so very vast.  Yet, if I were to show films I took of Bruce Lee back in 1964 – well, he was very fine in what he did, from start to finish.  In fact, I invited Bruce to perform at my very first Internationals tournament in 1964.  I filmed him then.


    FS: What was it that he did at that tournament?


    Parker: demonstrations.  He would demonstrate the art, show its simplicity.  He would show what a punch could do even at a distance of about an inch from the subject.  And he proved to the audience that a little punch could send a guy ten or 12 feet across the room.  Actually, it wasn’t really a punch, it was more a push, but it’s the way that you drop your body and use your wrist.  But he was able to do it, knock the wind out of a guy and send him that distance.  It’s all on the film.


    FS: That must be some film.


    Parker: It is.  I get offered money all the time for it.  People want to buy and make copies.  But why should I try to make money on the guy?  Why should I give the film out?


    FS: Don’t you feel that you have something of value to share with the world with the Bruce Lee film?


    Parker: Why should I give it to somebody else who is then going to make copies, and sell it?  I had a photo of Elvis Presley that I once gave out.  It was my private thing and somebody made copies and sold it, and made a mint on it.  If I do this with the film of Bruce, they’ll do the same thing.


    FS: Has the film been seen by others?


    Parker: It was that film that helped him to the role of Kato on The Green Hornet series.  When I saw him I thought to myself, hey, if this kid gets on screen, he can really make people aware of what the martial arts are.  I could visualize him being on the screen and I thought he could really create an interest, and that he did.


    FS: In retrospect, do you think that Bruce Lee was as talented a martial artist as the legends would have us believe?


    Parker: Bruce was excellent.  Bruce’s forte was that he could watch somebody once and not having a particular kick or move that somebody might have, he could watch it once, and then match it perfectly.  He could do it just as well, or better.  The guy was a natural athlete.  But Bruce fought tradition.  He was kind of a cocky kid, but he could back his cockiness up.  That was the thing that was good about him.  I liked him and he liked me.  A lot of times when he would feed me his philosophy and I didn’t buy it.  I would tell him.  But I would say, that pound for pound, he was perhaps the best in the field of martial arts.


    FS: Bruce Lee in not the only famous name that you’ve been connected with, there’s Elvis Presley, too.  How did you meet Elvis?


    Parker: I met Elvis through karate.  I was putting on a demonstration at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, and he was filming a movie called Wild in the Country with Tuesday weld.  He was staying at the hotel and he heard about the demonstration and he attended it.  After it was over he came up to me, very humbly, and said, “I don’t think you know me, my name is Elvis Presley.”   What a humble guy.  This was about 1960.  He had just gotten out of the service.


    FS: Didn’t he have some background in karate before he met you?


    Parker: He had studied the martial arts while he was in the service with some Japanese guy, but after he met me, we had a pretty good relationship.  He was innovative in his field and I was innovative in mine.  So we met and talked for a long time.  After that I started going to his home and demonstrating things.  He loved the logic of what I was telling him, and in Las Vegas, when he would perform, he would always introduce me as his personal instructor.  We were good friends, like brothers.  Whenever he wanted to see me, it was never as an employee, it was always as a friend.


    FS:  His generosity was supposed to be legendary.


    Parker: He gave me gifts.  One time he slipped 15 grand into one of my pockets.  He was that kind of guy.  Genuinely happy to share whatever he had with people.  I was not a rock and roll fan, but I loved the guy.  I knew him 17 years, right up until the end.  In fact, I was going to meet him when he died.


    FS: Elvis’ affair with drugs is well-documented today.  Did you have any idea that he was coming to a bad end?


    Parker: Yes, definitely.  The year before he died, I mentioned it to him and he was very unhappy with my statement.  He said, “What are you trying to do, put the voodoo on me?”


    FS: You seem to have an uncanny knack for meeting some famous people.


    Parker: In my lifetime, why, I often ask myself, why was AI a real close friend of one of the biggest names in the business, Elvis Presley?  Why is it, that I was instrumental in getting one of the biggest guys in martial arts, Bruce Lee, started?  And in the movie industry, I’m good friends with one of the heaviest guys in the movie world, Blake Edwards.  How come I’m part of all of these guy’s lives?


    FS: And what’s the answer?


    Parker: I really don’t know.


  • Ed Parker: Kenpo Instructor of the Year  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  1983 Yearbook  /  Editor

    Instructor of the Year 1982 - Kenpo


    Another category loaded with prominent master practitioners who span the nation.


    WINNER: Edmond Parker (Pasadena, CA)


    Perhaps the single most accomplished Kenpo master in the country, Parker has long been known for his technique, he teaching ability, and his strong self-defense orientation.  A man of considerable presence, Parker has awed crowds around the world, and has appeared in more than a few motion pictures.  In addition, he has written several very complete books on Kenpo, and has assembled a group of very fine instructors who teach his style throughout the United States.  Indeed, among the nominations for this category, a majority of them are Parker's students.


  • Ed Parker: The Streetfighter From Honolulu  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  Sept. 1984  /  V-11  No. 9  /  William Holzer

    Ed Parker - perhaps the best-known, most influential, most publicized, most quoted, most controversial of America's karate pioneers.  To the legion of students - from black belts to Masters - who idolize him, he is the "masters master"; too much of a martial arts community, he is earned the title of "The Father of American Karate"; but to Parker, when he looks back at his roots, he's just . . . Ed Parker: The Streetfighter From Honolulu


    There are three types of people in the world: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who ask, "What happened?"  -  Ed Parker


    "Edmund Kealoha Parker" a teacher at Kamehameha a High School in Honolulu proclaimed to the young student before him: "You will never be a success in this life."


    Little did his teacher know that these very words has planted the seeds of success in a driving, dynamic individual whose personality, innovations and opinions have energized the growth of the American martial arts.


    "Those words drive me on to this day," Parker says intensely.  It is hard to believe that anyone has to prod Ed Parker to action - his list of martial achievements and honors would fill a dozen magazine articles.  Prominent martial artists who mentioned Parker during interviews or in book acknowledgments saying, ‘Thanks to Ed Parker, for his advice and guidance,’ are so common as to become almost cliché.


    There is no doubt that the irritation of Parker's teacher was caused by a young man's independent streak, especially his streetfighting activities.  At the age of eleven, Parker, being taller than most Hawaiians, was fighting men in their twenties, gaining a wide experience in boxing and various martial styles.  (One of his friends and allies in these altercations was Bobo Olson, a future World Middleweight Boxing Champion, who held the title for three years.)  It was at a church meeting the Parker met Frank Chow, who introduced him to Kenpo and eventually to his brother, William Chow.  William had just begun refining the Kenpo ("fist law") art first introduced into Hawaii in 1941 by James M. Mitose, by adding circular, Chinese movements to Mitose's strictly linear system.  Parker and Chow saw a serious need to modify the existing system, still in its infancy, knowing that it would take time to implement their innovations.  Both were essentially streetfighter's to realize that many of the existing Kenpo techniques would not work in the street.


    Parker and Chow desired to Americanize Kenpo and bring it to the continental United States.  Parker went through a long preparatory process, graduating from Brigham Young University with a B.S. degree in sociology and psychology, his studies interrupted by a three-year stint in the Coast Guard.  Receiving his black belt and Chow, his only instructor, Parker began his first school in Pasadena, California in 1956, and it was immediately successful.  Chow was to join Parker in California, but he didn't relish the idea of the fast-paced life on the "Mainland."  Parker, filled with determination, pressed on alone.


    Parker had an early impact on the martial arts in the late ‘50s, authoring the "martial creed," which is generally accepted as the code of honor of the martial artist.  ("I come to you with only karate, empty hands, I have no weapons . . .")  He was the first to teach a karate class on an American college campus (BYU) for degree credit, and taught law enforcement officials long before it became fashionable.


    Parker in Hollywood


    Parker also originated the Celebrity Karate Tournament.  This became an important influence in popularizing the martial arts: it gave a high prestige to the point tournament and karate, both previously unknown quantities to the American public, while instilling in such Hollywood trendsetters as Blake Edwards, Robert Wagner, Joe Hyams, and Robert Conrad the idea of incorporating the martial arts into television and movie screenplays.


    Ed Parker seemed to be in the right place at the right time when things happen on the martial arts scene.  Elvis Presley respected Parker as a friend, confidant and instructor, and few will deny that Presley was a groundbreaker, displaying the martial arts in his movies long before that genre martial film.  One could always ponder the fate of Bruce Lee if Parker had not invited him to perform at his Long Beach Internationals in 1964.  (Chuck Norris, Jim Kelly and Joe Lewis also found prominence at this same tourney.)  Parker also had the presence of mind to film Lee's impressive demonstration in color and sound.  Parker personally brought this film to the attention of Bill Dozier of 20th Century Fox, a solid audition that led to Lee's role on The Green Hornet, his springboard to future martial fame.


    Most view Ed Parker as a tough iconoclast, a futurist whose martial concepts, developed 20 years ago, now seem the "modern" way.  It would be ironic if Parker himself became the centerpiece of the next martial renaissance as a film star.  His latest martial role in The Curse of the Pink Panther has received an enthusiastic audience reaction, and in September, 1983, he was scheduled to begin filming Robert Ludlum's bestseller the Bourne Identity with Burt Reynolds.  Parker has appeared and choreographed a score of martial films, Buckstone County Prison, Seven, Kill the Golden Goose, Revenge of the Pink Panther, well-knowing the power of the medium.


    "The public must first be entertained, then subliminally educated," states Parker, who intends to make the "people stand up and cheer with the right project.  You can do that by filming exciting techniques that are not beyond the average moviegoer, who must be shown that they too can perform the same techniques with practice."


    It would be wrong to give the impression that Ed Parker is totally immersed in the showbiz aspect of the martial arts.  As founder and director of the International Kenpo Karate Association, he is responsible for 78 affiliated schools worldwide.  These Kenpo operations are fast expanding into such far-flung areas as Australia, New Zealand and Holland.  In 1981, Parker accompanied Tadashi Yamashita, Eric Lee and Dominic Valera on an 11-day masters tour of Chile.  It was estimated that 12.5 million people eagerly watched the foursomes televised martial arts demonstration during their short stay!


    The Opinionated Master


    If there is anyone on the martial arts scene today who is willing to give the dramatic quote or voice a strong opinion on martial trends and issues, it is Ed Parker.  Parker in Joy's controversy as much his streetfighting, and will never shy away from the heated issue.


    On fighting gloves and training equipment: I'm opposed to gloves.  They limit the use of the hand weapons, confuse punching techniques, and will ultimately change one's style.  I would like to see more quality protective training equipment on the market, and electric timing devices made available to the martial artist."


    On martial arts magazines: Most of them are a $1.95 catalogs, in my opinion," says the past founder of Action Karate Magazine, the first martial arts magazine written from the American point of view.  "Some consider themselves governing bodies of the martial arts, printing tournament ratings for fighters without verifying the accuracy's of their standings.  These magazines are forced to seek the most exciting martial personalities, whether they be authentic or not!"


    The police "tonfa" baton: I've worked with this baton and found that it only ties and restricts the natural ability of the empty hand.  A better tool for restraining a suspect is the bola, chords tipped with steel balls, thrown to truss the legs and knock the suspect off his feet.  With practice, you can't miss with it."


    The nunchaku: "It's a good weapon in the hands of an expert," says the author of Ed Parker's Guide to the Nunchaku.  "The majority are just baton twirlers.  Once you give them solid resistance, and object hit, they fail.


    "I had this fellow who was very good at whipping the sticks, so I asked him to ‘hit this heavy bag as if it were a person.’  He hits the bag and . . . wham!  The sticks return and hit him smack in the head!  The funniest thing was he trying to hide the fact that he hit himself, that the incident never occurred - he was staggered!"


    On breaking: "I have never heard of a board or brick attacking anyone."


    On Bruce Tegner: "A lot of people in the martial arts have criticized and made fun of him, but his books are still in print, and look how many people he interested in the martial arts."


    Parker has no lack of criticism in his time.  Kealoha, his middle name means "the beloved," and esteem with which he is not held by his detractors.  Why have they attacked him so?  He grins, replying, "simple.  Only certain individuals believe that they can create forms or make innovations."  In American Kenpo, Parker is not the only one creating kata, which further antagonizes the classicists.  "As my students reach different belt levels they are required to create a kata, a form of their own.  At the Black belt level, they are required to write a belt thesis and a form thesis.  Kata, or form, is mere motion, pure and simple.  The traditionalists think they know better.  Freedom does not come easily to them."


    System for Independents


    Freedom?  No restrictions in his system?  One and immediately thinks of Bruce Lee when one hears these buzzwords - but Ed Parker?  On closer inspection of his system's martial terminology, one senses the nontraditional approach: checks, associated moves, defensive offensives, depth zones.  Parker shakes his mane of silver hair to the negative.  "I am not a traditionalist.  This is a gross misconception.  Kenpo has no limitations, it is a system that allows an individual to develop his own style.  In essence, each black belt in Kenpo is an art unto himself.  American Kenpo is a practical, nonclassical system developed with the street fight as its basis."  Parker was also called upon by the authors John Corcoran and Emil Farkas to define progressive martial terms in The Martial Arts Dictionary, terms that not only pertain to American Kenpo but are "futuristic martial principles useful to any martial stylist."


    "Logic, as it applies to the times, is the key, writes Parker in Infinite Insights into Kenpo: Physical Analyzation, Volume 2.  "In fact, an ounce of logic can be worth more than a ton of tradition that only becomes obsolete through the withering of time.  It would be wrong to say that we cannot learn from tradition, but to be practical, we must not let it be an all encompassing authority."  Parker's dark eyes flash sparks.  "That's how I feel."


    Parker is being used by those martial artist who spout philosophies such as "the no-style style," "the no-art," "take what is useful and discard the rest," aphorisms made popular by Bruce Lee.  Parker feels that leads followers have never taken the time to analyze his statements, which have become "confounding double-talk."  Lee had been a frequent house guest of Parker's, and both traveled extensively together exchanging fighting concepts and philosophies.  It is a little known fact that Bruce Lee had an influence on the design of the first and currently logo of Parker's International Karate Championships, the flame within an oval.  Parker relished his many philosophical debates with Lee.


    "Bruce would say to me, ‘The usefulness of the cup is in its emptiness," reminisces Parker fondly.  "I would say, ‘Don't compare that to the martial arts, Bruce!  I, as the recipient of that cup, find that it has no value to me but for its fullness!’  Bruce would only grumble back."  Parker adds, "Bruce was in no way opposed to learning the basics of a system, nor did he disclaim learning a system from an instructor.  Bruce merely suggested that style should develop from within the individual, that an instructor was useful in taking the student to a certain point.  For example, Bruce felt bound by the wing chun system, which requires a particular distance to shoot a straight blast punch.  Bruce been "liberated" himself from that system in order to function at varying ranges.  Bruce was opposed to learning the martial arts in a set pattern, but never a system."


    Few realize the Dan Inosanto is a Kenpo black belt, his instructor Ed Parker, and that the friendship kindled between Inosanto and Lee began when Parker asked Inosanto to accompany Lee during the first Long Beach Internationals in 1964.  Parker also suggested that Inosanto study other martial arts styles beyond Kenpo, and it is no secret that Inosanto gave Lee "infinite insights" into Parker's American Kenpo, as well as the Filipino arts.


    Inspiration by Accident


    What spurred Ed Parker makes them any innovations in the system first taught to him by William Chow?  The greatest realization came to Parker in the 50s, when studying a film of his form, by accident, he ran the film and reverse.  "The insight came like a thunderbolt," says Parker.  "Reverse motion is the other half of motion, and the reverse should not be wasted in the offense.  Martial artist have a tendency to use extra power in their initial blocking motions, misdirecting a lot of force that can be used in offense.  This stems from the teachings of one, two and three step sparring techniques, which limit the use of natural weapons."


    Parker demonstrates the principles, shooting a traditional reverse punch.  "The individual stylist who fights with strictly linear motion, back and forth, believes that the reverse motion - retracting the blocking arm - somehow minimizes the forward motion, the punch.  I disagree.  One is only concentrating on the power of the punch, the maximum offense, thereby ignoring the power of the offensive defensive."


    Parker invites me to throw a traditional reverse punch at his exposed ribs.  As I make light contact, he pretends to wince, then flicks an accidental finger jab at my right eye, faster than I can block it with my extended punching arm.  "Without realizing it, in pain, I have taken your eye."


    "In American Kenpo, the fighter is trained to watch for attacks and counters on the conscious and unconscious level," Parker continues.  "What I have just integrated into the system is a shorthand motion, building in offense and defense with a single arm, and position and pinning checks, actions to nullify any action or reaction from an opponent."


    Parker invites me grab his shirt, to further show the importance of protecting oneself against the unconscious reflex action in combat.  "Let's assume that I have no knowledge of self-defense.  As you grab me and pulled me to you, I cover my head in fright and . . . Bam!  My elbow accidentally strikes you in the throat.  As I turn to run, my elbow snaps back and impacts your solar plexus.  Lastly, my rear heel springs up in the action of running and strike you in the groin.  My natural reactions, not my skill, have been your undoing."


    The Idea of Catapult


    Parker believes that the forward momentum combined with the "marriage of gravity," or using gravity as a participant in reverse motion, is the key to maximum power.  "The idea of the catapult is everything to our system," explains Parker.  "Shuffling in, I lower my center of gravity a few inches and use the rear foot to launch the body forward."  Parker invites a straight lead jab, which he blocks with one arm, sending a palm heel blown straight to my chin.  "As you can see, my blocking/striking hand is floating, a protective measure.  By using the lower body as a contributing force, I have increased my forward momentum, letting me counter with the most economy and force."


    Parker states at American Kenpo was the first system to introduce the backfist in this country, a technique launched from the floating hand position, all forward motion.  "There were many who said that there was no power in the backfist, but they did not understand the principle behind it," says Parker.  "Take the whip - why does the whip, soft and pliable, become a steel rod at the point of impact?  It is because the handle and the tip are in direct opposition to each other at point of impact.  Kenpo maximizes these reverse actions, giving our blows more force by this principle of forward momentum, just like a whip.


    "Kenpo is a system that has answers going in and coming out.  Some systems will chop down and retrieve the hand.  We chop, but on the way out we take an eye.  Nothing is wasted in the entire scope of motion."


    Kenpo is a streetfighter's art, and exists by a "kill or be killed" philosophy.  Does Kenpo justify taking and opponent’s eye for lapel grab? "Of course not.  Kenpo applies an array of techniques for an array of situations.  There are many shades of injury."  In the street, Parker abides by one rule: "In Kenpo, we keep all blows above the soles of the shoes."


    One of Ed Parker's woes is getting the concept of fainting across to some martial artists.  "In Kenpo, faints are called ‘premeditated stuttering motions.’  Those in opposition to faints still harbor the idea of the dead-still master who can somehow read the mind of his opponent - Nonsense!  The master only uses a series of clues: intent, action, the eyes."  Parker states that beyond the five senses, the sixth sense should not be ESP but "horse sense, common sense."


    Cutting on the Way In . . . And Out


    Many are confused as to whether a weapons system exists in American Kenpo.  As far as Parker is concerned, any object - a key chain or a nunchaku - is an extension of the hand, and can be adapted to Kenpo's empty hand art.  The double-edged knife is his favorite weapon.  "The knife calls for a high degree of fighting sophistication," says Parker as he wields the "Parker Knife," a custom Hibben blade that bears the crest of American Kenpo.  "The single blade can be used on the "liquid" level of Kenpo, or when linear and circular are combined.  On the gaseous level, against multiple opponents, two in hand are needed."  The renowned knife maker, Gil Hibben, an American Kenpo black belt in whose black belt thesis was the creation of the "Parker Knife," has forged a blade to complement the "cutting in, cutting on the way out" motions of Kenpo.  "I teach knife techniques such as thrusting, reaming, hammering, tenderizing, filleting."  Parker is loath to display or teach these harmful techniques to anyone but the high black belts of his system.


    The quintessential businessman, Parker works out of a home office, coordinating the activities of his rapidly expanding International Kenpo Karate Association.  One is impressed by the stacks of mail he receives, from such diverse spots as India and Venezuela.  This was a particularly hectic period in his life, since he was planning the 20th anniversary of his International Karate Championships and Pro Am at Long Beach.  The bulk of the day is spent putting the final touches on his five volume book set, Implement Insights into Kenpo.


    Parker at Ease


    For leisure, Parker enjoys swimming, cooking Polynesian and oriental dishes and playing a part of his ukulele collection - those same fists that punch out the bad guys on-screen show a fluid dexterity as they manipulate the fingerboard of an instrument with the skill and feeling of a classical guitarist!


    Parker is most proud of his latest writing accomplishment.  "When the five volumes come out martial artists will realize that American Kenpo is an art based on college-level graduate studies leading to a doctoral thesis in fighting.  This does not restrict the novice, as well as the expert, from increasing into any martial system."  Parker utilizes this approach on the seminar level, so he is able to teach many styles from many points of view.  "I will never alter the underlying principles of a punch - for example, its torque.  I will only change the timing of the punch, that's all."  Parker works with every level of student in broad seminars, but for studio instruction with the master, only high black belts need apply.  Recently, Parker took on for personal instruction of black belt who had been corresponding with him for ten years!


    If Parker has a special goal in life besides writing, teaching and making films, it is a desire to help the youth of America.  "It is my greatest joy in the martial arts to see the transformation in kids after they began martial training," says Parker.  "I remember a spastic student when I was instructing in the school.  He was given hard-core treatment, no special privileges for his handicap, yet he could hardly stand when he first came in.  For five years prior to coming to me he had reached a peak in his rehabilitation, or so the doctors said.  After six months of training, he took a physical and his reflexes had tripled!  The next year he saw an improvement upon that, and after two and a half years of training he brought me something he was told he would never obtain in life - a driver's license!  For me, the greatest triumph for the martial artist is not the tournament trophy or the street fight victory but the kid who finds the skill and guts to fight the school bully, or the kid from a broken home who finds a constructive channel through the martial arts, even the adult who is transformed into an individualist, who finds the heart to chuck the nine to five job and start his own business, to find independence.  These of the greatest benefits of the martial arts, the stories no one ever hears."


    If Edmund Kealoha Parker has found his niche, his success in life, it is as a creative, transformative force, a catalyst driving himself and others to excellence.  You don't speak to Ed Parker, judan, 10th degree founder of American Kenpo, you interrelate with him - he won't let you through his life and lets you learn something from him so that he might learn something from you in the process.  You would imagine that after 20 odd years, his enthusiasm for Kenpo would wane.  Not so.  Just talking about his art charges him with a special energy; in demonstrating techniques of his system a static fills the air - he's enjoying the idea of a fight with a dangerous opponent as much as a gourmet meal.  One expects a strong, overwhelming ego from a man who has accomplished so much in his lifetime, yet one is met with a childlike humility, especially when one praises him unduly.


    "A friend told me once, ‘Egotism is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity,’ " says Parker seriously.  It's clear that this judan sees the natural world as his schoolroom, that he holds a natural faith in human potential.  Ed Parker's thoughts on this are simple and to the point: "The humble man makes room for progress; the proud man thinks he's already there."


  • Ed Parker on Bruce Lee, Elvis Presley and . . . Ed Parker  /  Black Belt  /  Nov. 1985  /  V-23  No. 11  /  Loren Franck

    Ed Parker is an innovator, theorist, karate instructor, tournament promoter and, most of all, a character.  He waked into the room for his interview with Black Belt assistant editor Loren Franck attired in a Hawaiian print shirt (as usual) and strumming a ukulele.  After a short musical demonstration, he got on with the interview, in which Black Belt’s 1976 Instructor of the Year: lays a sole claim to the title of “father of American karate”, relates several stories about his two most favorite students, Bruce Lee and Elvis Presley; shares his views on the professional full-contact karate and tournament karate scenes; and revels some interesting things about himself.


    There’s a lot one can say about parker.  His Long Beach (California) International, once the most prestigious martial arts in the U.S., is still one of the largest-drawing tournaments in the country.  In fact, Bruce Lee debuted his talents there in 1964, paving the way for an illustrious film career orchestrated, in part, by Parker.


    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, with schools in the U.S., Europe and South America, is one of the most successful martial arts organizations worldwide.  There’s a lost more we could tell you about America’s foremost karate pioneer, but we think Parker, in his own colorful manner, says it best.  So read on.


    Black Belt: When did you start your karate training in Hawaii?


    Ed Parker: I was with judo for awhile, and then I met a guy named Frank Chow in church.  He was a thin, skinny guy.  He told me about beating up the local bully, and I said “Wow! This guy’s lying to me – right here in church!”  But when he started to demonstrate what had occurred, the tactics he had applied, I couldn’t believe it.  He started to teach me, then he got to a certain point and said “Look, I’m going to have to take you to my brother, William Chow.”  That’s how I got introduced to the crux of the art.


     I was already an old street fighter because of being Mormon.  People would try to force me to go against the principles of the Church.  That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to take karate.  I wanted to tell these guys “No, I don’t want to go pull a job on a local safe, and no, I don’t want to raid a local crap game and take the money.”  I have to fight my own colleagues to get out of those situations.  My dad was a boxing inspector for about 30 years, and I used to e friendly with a lot of the boxing greats in Hawaii, some of whom were world champions.  So I learned to box, too.  When I started to talk with William Chow and started listening to what he had done to intermix innovations to cope with the type of fighting we found in our environment, that’s what really led me to developing other thoughts, principles and ideas on my own.


    Black Belt: What kind of style of karate was Chow teaching?


    Ed Parker: Chow learned from his father, who was a Chinese kung fu man.  Chows father learned from another guy who was a Japanese stylist.  If you’re going to have a balanced system, you have to have a combination of linear (karate) and circular (kung fu) movements.  Chow had the combination, the balanced system.  He was leading me toward the goal of logic and practicality, and that’s what I was in search of.  As to how my system of Kenpo karate came about, one night I was watching myself on film.  I got lazy and instead of changing the reel, I flipped it in reverse, and bam, it hit me: Reverse motion is the other half of the answers of motion.  Through that, my mind started to develop.  After reading scriptures, I noticed that Christ did a lot of talking in parables or analogies, and I said “Is there a possibility I could do the same with that which we are already acquainted?”  For instance we buy shoes to fit us, we buy clothes to fit us; likewise should you not then develop the art so that the art suits the individual, rather than the individual to the art?  Certainly.  So that’s how my system of Kenpo karate came about – by making comparisons, thinking about experiences, things in life, etc.


    Black Belt: The Kenpo karate techniques all seem highly practical, with no wasted motion.  Is that true?


    Ed Parker: That’s correct.  I teach these techniques not for the sake of teaching the techniques, but for the principles that are involved in the techniques.  And even then, these principles have to be altered to fit the individual.  My system is structured to bring out a “style” of an individual.  His “style” will be determined by his anatomical structure.  The other day, one of my black belts asked “Mr. Parker, how do you do this?  There’s got to be one way to do it.”  I said that there in no one way for everybody.  I thought about what I could do to convince this guy.  “OK, fine,” I said.  “Four plus four is what?” “Eight,” he said.  “And six plus two?”  “Eight”  “Five plus three?”  “Eight,” he answered again.  I said “Now did I use the same numbers to come up with the total of eight?”  “Well, no,” he said.  And I told him it is the same principle with individuals.  I like to think of myself as a tailor of motion, whereby when a guy comes to me, I will fit that motion to him.


    Black Belt: You were one of the first to have franchised schools, weren’t you?


    Ed Parker: Yeah.  You see, I had my own schools, and I became very wealthy.  But after awhile I noticed that, unless you’re out there, the hand goes into the till – quite often.  And so that’s when I started to franchise.  Then, in the early 70s, I just pulled my horns in and lived like a recluse for awhile.  But six, seven years ago, starting in January, bam, it hit me.  I was going to die.  No doubt about it, I was going to die.  I called my wife, I called some of my black belts and told them what I wanted to happen after my death, how I wanted my wife to be paid from the schools.  Then in February, the feeling was stronger – I was going to die before my birthday, which is on the 19th of March.  Strong, strong feeling – no doubt about it.  On the 17th of march, two days before my birthday, my kid brother called me and said that my oldest brother dropped dead from jogging.  Bam, the feeling left me immediately.  When that happened, as idiotic as it may sound, I said “Hey, I haven’t had the chance to tell the world my ideas about the martial arts.”  So from that point on, I started getting active again, reactivating my association.


    Black Belt: There’s been some debate about who first brought karate to the U.S. mainland.  Some people claim you did, others say it was Robert Trias.  Who really is the father of American karate?


    Ed Parker: There have been guys who have bitched and squawked that Ed Parker is not the father of American karate.  I am the father of American karate.  I’m not the father of Japanese karate that was placed in America.  I created American karate, or Kenpo.  I devised an American system of combating those things we find in our environment.  No one, except the Chinese, can make the claim that they started this in the country.  When the Chinese came to work on the railroads, they’re the ones that brought it.  But they were secretive, they were clannish; they only taught their own kind.  I’m saying I am the one who is the first to develop an American system of the martial arts.


    Black Belt: How do you feel about the status of American martial arts tournaments today?


    Ed parker: I have pros and cons about them.  I think they have been an asset from this standpoint: Over the years, the fact that we have had open-type tournaments in America, we were able to bring people from other styles and systems all under one roof.  It made some of these other stylists realize that “Hey, that guy’s got a type of kick I never saw before.  If I don’t lean how he applies it, or learn it myself, I’m going to get creamed.”  So it forces individuals to borrow, beg and steal from each other, which has now developed a more refined tournament scene.


    Black Belt: How did you first meet Bruce Lee?


    Ed Parker: I had a very good friend named Jimmy Wong.  He was a kung fu stylist.  He called me one day and said “Ed, I got a guy you gotta see.  With your movie contacts, this kid will be great on the screen.”  I said “Who’s that?”  And he said his name is Bruce Lee.  You gotta see this kid.”  So I went up and that’s when I met Bruce for the first time.  When this kid punched, he could pop air.  He was a cocky kid, a very cocky kid.  There were a lot of things he didn’t know, but all you had to do was let him watch one time and that was it.  He was such a natural athlete.  You might have developed a specific kick for 15 years; “Oh, you mean the one, he’d say, and he’d come up and do it the first time around – and better the second time.


    Black Belt: What was Bruce Lee like personally?


    Ed Parker: He was sharp.  He was joking all the time.  One time he said “Did you hear the one about the Chinese immigrant?”  “No, I didn’t hear that one,” I said.  “Well,” Bruce said, “they asked him what this name was when he tried to enter the country and he said ‘Mr. Sneeze.’ ‘Mr. Sneeze?’ they said.  ‘That’s not a Chinese name.’  ‘Ah Choo,’ said the immigrant.”


     Another time, Bruce came back from Hong Kong and told me he had been on a television show with five “martial artists.”  There was the “master” of such and such, and the “master” of this; he thought it was a lot of bull.  He said one of the guys got up and went into a stance and said “You, come up and push me off balance.”  So one of the other “masters: came up and pushed the guy from every angle and couldn’t do it.  H called a second guy.  The second guy couldn’t do it.  Then to be a gig shot, he chose Bruce, who was the youngest of them all, and said “Hey, you young punk, you come up.”  So Bruce gets up there and, pop, he hits him right in the face drops the guy.  And Bruce says, on live television, “When I fight, I punch.  I don’t push.”  He kidded a lot, showed a lot of humor – a witty kid.


    Black Belt: You also taught Elvis Presley.


    Ed Parker: Elvis was a very good black belt.  I was putting on a demonstration for a group of doctors at the Beverly Wilshire Health Club in 1960 when, unbeknownst to me, he had heard about it and was one of the spectators.  After it was over, he came up to me and said “Uh, I don’t think you know me, but my name is Elvis Presley.”  I was very humbled.  And he said “You’re very innovative.”  He said he studied the martial arts in Germany while in the army.  He said “I can see you’re a rebel in your field. I am a rebel, just as you are.”  And so we became very close and I started to teach him at his home, and sometimes late at my school.  And when I say late, it was like two in the morning, because he became a night person because he was bothered so much during the day.  The thing I liked about him was he accepted the fact that you were an expert in what you did and he was an attentive listener and learner.  He didn’t’ go “Yeah, I know, I know.  You don’t have to show me that.” Never.  None of that stuff.


    Black Belt: Did you continue to teach Elvis after he got his black belt?


    Ed Parker: Yeah, but then I noticed that he needed challenges.  If he didn’t have the challenges, he started deviating from keeping his weight down or what have you.  He had a mind of his own.


    Black Belt: Weren’t you a bodyguard for him also?


    Ed Parker: I was a “protective companion.”  And I say that because I was not an employee of his.  And as a result, he talked to me like he would his father.  He told me his woes.  He said “I feel like you’re a second daddy to me.”


    Black Belt: To what do you attribute your tremendous success in the martial arts?


    Ed Parker: First of all, I’m a very independent guy, but I’m willing to listen to somebody else.  I still am not the one that’s a follower; I like to think I’m a leader.  I was kind of a naughty guy as a kid.  I’d light firecrackers in Sunday school, put gum in gals’ hair so they had to cut it, stuff like that.  But in high school, I had a teacher that said “Ed Parker, you’ll never be a success in life.”  And I gotta tell you, that’s been the driving force all these years.  And when I went to my 35th reunion last year, I went back to the school and tried to look up where this guy had moved to, because I wanted to thank him.


    Black Belt: How do you feel about the full-contact karate movement in the U. S.?


    Ed parker: I think that full-contact has not been developed properly.  And it’s giving the American public a wrong interpretation of what the martial arts are all about.  I’ve had parents, after seeing some of the pro full-contact fights, pull their kids right out of my school, saying “If my kid’s going to look like that . . .” A lot of these guys are not highly professional.  I’m not saying all of them, because there are some good fighters – Benny Urquidez, for one.  But I’m saying that a lot of these guys are really only part-time fighters.  If they were full-time fighters, they’d be in the best of shape.  A lot of them are so sloppy, they look like an uneducated street-fighter.  (The full-contact karate movement) has caused a lot of grief in in terms of student enrollment.  Parents say “My son’s going to end up looking like that?”


    Black Belt: If you were able to address all of the karate practitioners in America, where you could say anything you wanted to, what would be the main message you would put across?


    Ed Parker: The main message I’d try to get across is that I think the martial arts should be geared more toward character building than fighter building.  I had a kid come in one day who was spastic.  He told me that he had taken a test annually for five years, and it showed no improvement of reflexes or coordination – none.  He felt that by entering our class, it might help develop a change.


     After the first year of training, he came back one day all happy.  He said “You know that test I took over the past five years?  I just took it again.  And my coordination has improved over five times over.”  I started to notice a vast improvement in the control of his body.  I worked with him and worked with him.  Then, after two years, he came with a little card that was the height of my gratitude – the card stated that he had gotten his driver’s license.  That was something he was told he’d never get.  What a great, great feeling that was.


     I had another kid whose father knocked on my office door.  He wanted to talk to me.  “You don’t mind me closing the door?” he asked.  “No.” I said.  Boom, he started crying.  My first thought was: Wow, what did my instructor do to his child?  He regained his composure and said “I’m sorry for crying, but these are tears of joy.  You see, my child out there is now 16 years old.  When he was but one year old, my wife and I were divorced and she’s had custody of him every other weekend.  And because of this relationship, it had a bearing on him to the point where he became such an introvert that, whenever I would confront him face to face, he would immediately go behind me and talk back to back over my shoulder.  Never would face me.  I’m so happy about what this training has done to my child, because yesterday, not only did he confront me for the first time in his life face to face, but he challenged my authority.”  “Oh, we better put a stop to that,” I said.  “Oh no, no, no, you don’t understand,” he said.  “I welcome the challenge. Because yesterday, he became a man.”


    These are the types of things where we’ve helped develop character.  To me, that’s the most important aspect of martial arts training.


  • Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate: Discovered in America, Part 1  /  Karate Kung-Fu  /  Sept. 1986  /  V-17  No. 9  /  Loren Franck

    This three-part story on Ed Parker and the American Kenpo karate system he created is long overdue.  A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, who graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and settled in Southern California, Parker has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the martial arts and is recognized world-wide as one of the martial arts; most important contributors.


    However, Parker’s concepts have been so innovative (some say revolutionary) that he has come under fire by critics who have labeled him as everything from eccentric to insane.  But ask the thousands of students who study his system – especially those confidants who know him best – and they all describe Parker very positively.  Their consensus:  The man’s a genius.


    Whether that’s true or not, we at KKI thought you, the reader, should study the facts about Ed Parker for yourself, not rely on testimonials.  Ponder the man and his fighting system; then make your own decision.


    Part one of the three-part series will deal with Kenpo’s origin and philosophy, while the second installment will investigate the principles of Parker’s martial art.  Finally, part three will detail the benefits of training in American Kenpo.  -  Ed


    Birth of a System


    One Sunday over 30 years ago, Parker attended a Mormon Sunday sacrament meeting in Hawaii and met Frank Chow.  Chow looked pathetically thin, but bragged to Parker that he recently beat up the local bully.  “I couldn’t believe it.”  Parker recalls.  “I thought this guy was lying to me –right in church.” But Chow was telling the truth and later took the young Parker to see his brother William, who was the first to introduce Parker to the essentials of Kenpo.


    Having a few Judo and boxing skills, Parker began investigating the martial arts more thoroughly, but was dissatisfied with what he saw.  “I felt that a lot of the systems weren’t applicable in an American environment,” Parker says, “even though they appeared to be on the surface.  So when I started to talk with William Chow and listened to what he did to intermix innovations to cope with the type of fighting we find in our environment, that’s what really led me on to develop thoughts, principles and ideas of my own.”


    One thing that especially intrigued Parker was Chow’s balance between linear and circular movements.  Chow was leading Parker toward the goal of logical and practical motion, which was where Parker was searching for.


    Pure Intelligence


    The more Parker pondered the principles of motion, the clearer those principles became.  In fact, he refers to his learning experience (which continues today) as “inspiration” – pure intelligence flowing into the mind.


    Then came a major breakthrough, perhaps the single most important episode in Kenpo’s creation.  One night while watching a film, Parker ran it backwards rather than change the reels.  And that’s when it hit him: Reverse motion is the other half of motion.  It was so simple, yet so crucial.


    With that, American Kenpo was well on its way.  The principles of motion as they applied to 20th-century American fighting were being incorporated into one of the martial arts; most earth-shattering systems.  And because Parker, a devout Mormon, regularly read the scriptures, he couldn’t help but discover how Christ spoke in parables, which caused Parker to receive another blast of inspiration.  “Wow,” he said to himself.  “Is it possible that I could do the same with Kenpo that Christ did with the teachings of the scriptures:” It was not only possible, but was inevitable.


    Why the name American Kenpo karate?  Kenpo was a mother art in Okinawa, and most Okinawans referred to karate as Kenpo.  “Karate is a form of Kenpo,” Parker explains.  “Kenpo is what your last name is to your first.”


    Father of American karate


    Because of his tailor-made system, Parker had long been known as the father of American karate.  "I am the father of American karate," he modestly proclaims.  "I'm not the father of Japanese karate placed in America.  I devised an American system of combating those things we find in our environment.  I'm the first one to create an American system of martial arts."


    Parker eventually discovered that the martial arts closely resemble language.  "We have a written as well a spoken language," he often teaches his students, who now number almost 20,000 worldwide.  "But in the written language - in our case, English - what do we do in terms of the individual?  Well, we can print to convey our knowledge, we can use script to convey the knowledge we’re writing, or if you're a secretary, you can write in shorthand."


    How does that analogy relate to motion and American Kenpo?  Parker explains: "Those who strictly use linear moves are using printed matter, so to speak.  You have to stop one action before you can begin another.  With what I was doing, however, you could retrace a path and the motion was continuous.  Now if a punching was to come and I blocked it, and then retraced it going back to the face, its script.  But when a punch comes and I blocked it to as I punch - all in the same move - that's shorthand motion.  It's a single action of a defense along with my offense."


    In another analogy, Parker likens motion to the alphabet and our numerical system.  For instance, he says that with numbers, once you learn zero through nine, that's it; those are all you need.  From there on you just rearrange them.  Parker was quick to apply this numerical rearrangement system to the martial arts.


    So Parker asked himself, "What is the numerical system of motion?  What's the alphabet of motion?"  It took him years to learn the answers to those questions.  Now he knows and he's written it all down.  In fact, he's probably broken the anatomy of the martial arts down better than anyone else has.


    Tailored Motion


    So what's the underlying philosophy of American Kenpo?  It's that motion should be tailored to the individual.  Parker reasons that if shoes and clothes are made to fit individuals, why shouldn't martial arts be tailor-made?  He argues that the arts should fit individuals, not vice versa.  In fact, Parker is known as a tailor of motion because of this belief.  "The secret of Kenpo," he explains, "is that you must have enough knowledge of motion to tailor it to the individual.


    "One of the reasons why our school systems are failing is that they're teaching students to be robots.  School systems aren't considering individual differences students have.  Furthermore, schools should teach students to be good teachers not robots.  When you teach students to become teachers, their knowledge increases twenty-fold, because to teach is to learn.  This directly applies to Kenpo."


    Is Kenpo Style?


    Basic to American Kenpo philosophy is the word "style."  To many it means Shotokan, Goju-Ryu and so forth, but such applications have little meaning to Parker and those devoted to his system.  "I've developed a system," he says, "and my system is structured to bring out a style of an individual.  After that, his style will be determined on his anatomy."


    According to Parker, a style in the martial arts is much like his style in painting.  One of his favorite analogies is to imagine three paintings on the wall.  One is a Michelangelo, the second is a Picasso and the third is a Rembrandt.  What makes them different from each other?  Style.  Each painter use the same principles of painting, but applied them differently.


    There is no one correct way for everybody to do a certain martial arts move, Parker asserts.  Further illustrating the Kenpo concept of style, he says, "Four plus four equals want?  Eight.  Now, what's six plus two?  Right, eight again.  And five plus three?  Seven plus one?  Now, did I use the same numerical combination each time to get eight?  No.  And it's the same in Kenpo.  Each Kenpoist can arrive at the same result a little differently, depending on his or her own style."


    Beyond Phonics "can you remember when you were in the second and third grade?"  Parker asks.  "You remember when you learned to speak and write English language?  How did you learn to speak?  Did you not break words down into syllables?  And when you broke the language down, what were those parts of speech called?  Phonetics.  So we learn speech and language phonetically.  It was ca-at, ra-at.  Consequently, when I start teaching Kenpo to someone, I teach him the phonetics of motion.


    "But when people speak to each other, they don't speak the phonetically.  And in time, the fact that you know how to phonetically do a movement in articulating your actions and know what it's like to get maximum force, can be used as a gauge to get maximum force from the hip.  That eliminates the phonetics and goes right to the motion itself."


    Three States of Motion


    Parker looks to Kenpo much like three states of matter: solids, liquids and gases.  You can freeze water and turn it into ice; water will still be liquid at room temperature; or you can heat it to the point where it turns into vapor.  "Solid is solid," Parker says, "and whatever shape you solidify something in, that's the shape in which it will remain.  Liquid seeks its level and flows down the path of least resistance, that gas seeks its volume.


    "And that is the way I look at Kenpo," Parker continues.  "The end result is that I can kick one opponent and back knuckle two other guys off to my side.  That's using Kenpo in a vapor state, where I'm seeking my volume.  But unfortunately, a lot of people haven't thought of this analogy; yet, it applies to the martial arts.  There's a place for all three types of motion in Kenpo."


    The Essence


    In short, Kenpo philosophy is revolutionary - in a good way.  It says that anyone can master the art, no matter what their height, weight or body dimensions.  The art is fit to the individual, something that few - if any - other arts can claim, and Kenpo exists to serve those who study it.  It makes them great fighters who are highly skilled in self-defense, and it's hard to imagine a martial art that can offer anything more.


  • Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate: Discovered in America, Part 2  /  Karate Kung-Fu  /  Oct. 1986  /  V-17  No. 10  /  Loren Franck

    Principles of motion are the essence of American Kenpo.  They set it apart from all other fighting systems.


    Yet, the principles of motion that American Kenpo chieftain Ed Parker developed didn’t arise accidentally.  Neither were they taken from a book or borrowed from an Asian martial art system.  Rather, American Kenpo’s principles have evolved – and are still evolving – much like other branches of science or art.  Throughout decades of thought and study about motion, Parker has undergone the “ah-ha” experience dozens of times, thereby discovering new martial arts truths.


    “I really feel like I’ve been inspired when bringing to light the principles of American Kenpo,” he reflects.  Buy inspiration, Parker means pure intelligence flowing into his mind; the soft whispering of truth that enter his heart and intellect – concepts of certifying truth that are basic to his Mormon background.


    “I know a lot of people will think I’m kooky when I say I was “inspired,’ but I really feel I have been,” Parker continues.  “I’ve had times when I worked all day on something related to motion and then the answer hit me in the middle of the night – at two or three in the morning.  I’ll say to myself, “Wow, I never viewed it from that standpoint before.’ And after that, it blossoms into other dimensions I never thought of.”


    In fact, Parker, like other scholars, has reached the point where the more he knows, the more he realizes how much he has to learn.  That’s why he always tries to keep logic in a positive perspective while further refining his Kenpo principles.


    Principles in Perspective


    There’s a difference between a concept, a theory and a principle, says Parker.  A concept is an idea.  A theory is an idea that’s still speculative.  And a principle is a theory that has been proven.  Parker teaches Kenpo, not for the sake of teaching the techniques, but for the principles involved in them.  “And even then,” he explains, “these principles must be altered to fit the individual.  I’ll give you an example.  Some karate instructors in Japan say, “When you cock your hand during a punch, mark it.  When the elbow gets to that point, then, and then only turn your fist.”


    “Well. I disagree with that.  However, I will use it as a point of reference.  Now there’s a difference between a point of reference and a point of origin.  “So, I will say to an individual, taking into account that he’s structurally different from others, ‘Let’s see how you feel doing it.’”


    Parker will watch, and the student will talk about his experience while doing it.  Parker then states his opinion about how the student is applying the technique and suggests trying two other things.  “Turn your fist before you elbow gets to the point of reference,” he says.  “Then after it passes that point, turn your fist.  Now I have a point of reference, and I have the individual turn his fist before that point, at the point, and after the point.  From those three versions of the same punch, I will tell which version fits him – which is more favorable to his body structure.  So, let’s go back to the principle.  It is rotation or torque.  Has the principle itself changed:  No.  We have not changed the principle, but the timing of the principle.


    Explaining other American Kenpo principles, Parker uses an analogy about playing pool.  When you play pool, what are the basic principles involved?  You hit the cue ball, which hits the ball of your choice into the pocket,” he says.  “You must have proper alignment to do so.  But what must you do besides that:  Position yourself for your next shot.  So you not only hit the ball of your choice into a pocket, you reposition the cue ball so you can hopefully hit the next ball and run the table.  So there are two principles: proper alignment and positioning.  A third principle is, once you’re in a precarious position and you can’t hit the ball of your choice the way you’d like, what do you do?  You put the ball in an even worse position to make it hat much harder for your opponent.


    “Does this apply to the martial arts?  It does.  When a guy punches you, according to the Japanese system, you block and then punch.  You draw your non-punching hand back, because according to Newton’s law, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  What does your action (punch) do when it hits the opponent?  It causes a reaction.  If it causes a reaction, can you be defeated by an unintentional action which stems from the reaction?  You can.  If I’m punching a guy and he goes off to the side, hits me in the ribcage with his fist and draws his left hand back, I might move my hand upward and take his eye out.  I didn’t intend to do that, but he, not foreseeing that action, causes his own demise.  In Kenpo we prepare for such unintended action.”


    The Grafted Principle


    To graft is to closely unite.  The term is most often used regarding plants.  But if plants can be grafted, Parker reasons, why not graft the principles of American Kenpo to make the system more effective.  And that’s exactly what he’s done.


    What does grafting mean to American Kenpo, Parker asks?  If you hammer your opponent’s head while it’s located at a certain point, you’re using a hammering principle. But if your opponent moves his head while you hammer, you can switch to a thrust – without losing momentum.  You’ve thus grafted the two principles of hammering and thrust.  Both movements become one.  Accordingly, you can take advantage of such an opportunity rather than await another opening that may never come.


    Body Momentum and Gravitational Marriage


    When you shuffle your body forward and do an elbow strike, you’re using body momentum.  As your body shuffles forward, it adds power to the strike.


    “On the other hand,” Parker clarifies, “if your opponent is leaning over and you drop your body weight down while you strike, that’s the principle of gravitational marriage.  You take advantage of gravity, and it’s that marriage of my action with gravity that enhances the power of my action.  You’re marrying the movement with gravity.”


    But body momentum is different.  “It involves having mass move in a direction with your weapon so it has added power,” says Parker.  “If I shuffle and execute a move, I’m gaining body momentum on a horizontal plane.  When I drop and let gravitational marriage come into play, I’m utilizing body momentum on a vertical plane.  Or, I could use body momentum diagonally.


    Reassuring his students that they too can learn the more refined concepts of momentum, Parker uses an analogy that describes how Eskimos perceive snow.  There are about 18 different types of snow to an Eskimo, parker notes, but to many people closer to the equator, there is only one type.  The point?  The Eskimos’ concept is more refined and is therefore more useful.  And that’s how a student of American Kenpo should view momentum.  “The more you can break down into its component parts, the better you understand it,” Parker explains.  “My whole idea of training is to help individuals work at their maximum, regardless of their limitations.”


    Although such principles as body momentum and gravitational marriage seem trivial to some non-Kenpoists, they play major roles in Parker’s fighting system.  For instance, when you contrast a Japanese-style reverse punch with the one done in American Kenpo, the two principles’ role become clear.


    “When you lunge and move toward your opponent during a Japanese-style reverse punch, you only use a portion of your weight,” Parker explains.  “But when you push the bottom of your foot so your whole body goes in with the hit, your power and momentum are proportionally increased.”


    The analogy of an aircraft carrier catapult nicely illustrates the effectiveness of body momentum, and Parker frequently draws upon the comparison during his worldwide seminars.  Essentially, a jet on an aircraft carrier needs a catapult and its own engine to ensure a safe takeoff.  The catapult and the engine are useless by themselves.  They must work together.


    So when you do a Japanese-style lunging punch, Parker argues, it’s just like a jet trying to get off the deck of an aircraft carrier on its own power.  But, when the lower half of your body (the catapult) shuffles and works in perfect harmony with your fist – the jet engine – your then utilize body momentum in its higher form.


    For kicks, the principle works a little differently, because you need a solid base.  There is, however, American Kenpo’s pull-drag shuffle.  Parker explains how it works: “With some kicks you pull your leg in, thereby creating some body momentum.  But that really calls for perfect balance and timing, so when you execute it, you do so with maximum force.”




    The principle of focus is tossed to and fro in the martial arts.  And every time it lands, it picks up a new meaning.  Yet, though focus is seen differently in American Kenpo than in any other fighting system, the Kenpo perspective is extremely sound.


    Says Parker: “A lot of martial artists say that focus is a concentration of force that’s conveyed to the outer extremity of the weapon as it meets the target.  “But that concept of focus is totally wrong in my estimation.  Are you saying, then, if you argue for this concept, that a ten-ton truck on its way down to hit a stone wall will come down and generate all of its energy, so all of that energy will concentrate in the front bumper?  When that truck hits the wall, the entire truck is in focus with the target.”


    Therefore, Parker says that focus consists of the entire body, plus the weapon, being in focus with the target.  It has nothing to do with relaying force to one portion of the body.


    While teaching, Parker is often asked why his students can hit so hard.  The answer?  His version of focus.  “When I hit, my whole body is in focus at the time of contact,” he says.  “I don’t halt my body and let everything go to my weapon.  If you do that, you lose your momentum.  You’ve brought it to a halt, and in the case of a punch, you’ve brought it straight to the arm.  Now, such a halting technique might do the job, but the person using it would only be working at a small percentage of what he’s capable of.”




    A crucial principle of American Kenpo, speed has three phases: 1) perceptual speed, 2) mental speed, and 3) physical speed.  For many martial artists, speed is simply quickness.  For his Kenpo system, however, Parker has greatly expanded the concept.


    “Although I categorize speed three different ways, they all function as one,” he says.  “What precisely is perceptual speed?  It’s the quickness of the senses to monitor the stimuli they receive.  This category is really what makes you fast or slow.  Perceptual speed helps you determine the stimuli’s meaning and swiftly conveys the perceived information to the brain, so mental speed can parlay the response.  Perceptual speed must be developed first; then the other two types can follow.”


    Developing perceptual speed is difficult, but it can be done.  The secret, says Parker, is alertness training.  You must develop your senses to harmonize with the environmental.  Parker has designed special Kenpo training methods to aid this development.  To those well versed in American Kenpo, a sound, a feeling, or a sense of trouble can set perceptual speed into motion.


    “Mental speed is quickness of the mind,” Parker explains.  “When developed, you select appropriate movements and effectively deal with perceived stimuli.  However, mental speed can only be increased by regularly practicing the various aspects of Kenpo techniques.  This involves learning the techniques to the point where you’re totally familiar with them.


    “Physical speed is slightly different,” Parker says, because it’s “a promptness of physical movement.  In Kenpo, it’s the speed of the actual execution of the technique.”  Physical speed can be improved by stretching, body conditioning and other training methods.


    Closing the Gap


    If you know angles and proper footwork, you know how to distance yourself from your opponent by positioning yourself at an angle.  Conversely, you know how to close the distance between yourself and your opponent by using angles.  When you shorten that distance, American Kenpoists call it closing the gap.


    If you face a Shotokan fighter, who normally moves straight in, you will close the gap differently than if your opponent weaves.  “When I look at an opponent, I look at dimensions – his height, width and depth zones,” Parker explains.  “When an opponent faces me head-on, he’s a wide target, but if he controls his width zones by turning to the side, he becomes a narrow target.  Furthermore, if I control my opponent’s width zone while he’s trying to punch me, I can momentarily minimize his effort, because I’ve continued to keep his width zone thin.  What’s more, I can control his kicking ability for a moment by canceling his height zone.”


    Tip of the Iceberg


    These are only a fraction of the Kenpo principles Parker has developed over the last 30 years.  In fact, American Kenpo principles are so elaborate and refined that he has extensively written about them.


    Yet, what Parker has shared here with KKI readers is enough to whet anyone’s appetite.  From here, you could spend the rest of your life learning and refining the principles and still never master every one you need to know.  But then, that’s the nature of Ed Parker’s Kenpo.


  • Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate: Discovered in America, Part 3  /  Karate Kung-Fu  /  Nov. 1986  /  V-17  No. 11  /  Loren Franck

    By their fruits you shall know them.  It’s an old axiom and has been applied to everything from parenting to the hard sciences.  An nowhere is it more appropriate than in the martial arts.


    If Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is really on of the greatest martial arts systems ever produced, it will bear fruit to prove it.  But if Kenpo is a barren karate tree, one that produces no positive results for it practitioners, then it’s a lifeless, worthless sham.


    Specifically, how does American Kenpo benefit those who study it?  Perhaps the best way to find out is to simply ask Kenpoists what their art has done for them.  Unfortunately, it’s impossible to query the thousands of Kenpoist worldwide. However, some of the art’s leading black belts – including Parker himself – offer a glimpse of the many benefits Kenpo offers.


    Bob Liles


    A resident of Sacramento, California, Bob Liles has practiced American Kenpo since 1963.  Known as one of the art’s most zealous advocates, Liles recently received his fifth-degree black belt and currently teaches the art at the Sacramento YMCA.


    Liles, who admits having a rough childhood, credits Kenpo training for turning his life around.  The art gave him a new outlook on life.  “In 1963, when I was 16, my home life was pretty shaky,” Liles says.  “So when I had to get out of the house, I went to the Kenpo school and trained hard, seven days a week.  I guess my instructor liked what he saw because I was made a junior instructor right away.”


    In later years, Kenpo gave Liles strength to face other tests of character, such as a serious long-term back ailment and a traumatic breakup with a girlfriend.  “Kenpo holds you together,” he claims.  “It gives you a reason for living.  You appreciate your health, our station in life and your attitude.”


    Why study Kenpo instead of another martial art:  The answer is simple for Liles.  American Kenpo is progressive.  It improves over time, unlike many traditional Asian fighting systems.


    “Kenpo is more innovative than other martial arts,” Liles believes.  “it moves with a person’s body and is so versatile that it teaches you how to fight in a phone booth or a on a football field.  What’s more, both hands move at the same time, and the art flows from one point to the other.  Kenpo applies to our present time and situation.


    Diane Tanaka


    At 31, Dian Tanaka is a 12-year-veteran of American Kenpo and was recently awarded her fourth-degree black belt.  A sales and marketing representative for Tanaka Systems, a family owned microelectronics firm based near San Francisco, California, Tanaka is one of American Kenpo’s most respected women.


    “Kenpo has done a lot for me,” she says, “But more than anything, it’s changed my relationship with the environment.  Kenpo has given me more control over my life and destiny.  In essence, the art has made me a person of action rather than a person of reaction.”


    Tanaka’s personality skyrocketed when she began studying American Kenpo in 1974 while a student at the University of California at Los Angeles.  The art stripped her of fear and gave her a feeling of control.  “I and others I’ve seen in Kenpo have become more assertive,” Tanaka explains.  “We don’t become more aggressive, but the art helps us stand up for our rights.”


    Awareness in another benefit Tanaka gained from Kenpo.  Before studying the art, she never thought she could fall victim to an attack. Yet, she didn’t feel overconfident, either.  It was simply her naiveté about the dangers of city life.  “I was never attacked,” she recalls, “so anything I read or heard about attacks against women was still quite far away from me.”


    If you know you can handle yourself in most situations, the bottom line is, if worst came to worst, you wouldn’t send up on the bottom of the heap.  And when you have that perspective, I think you approach life a little differently.  Your outlook is really quite different from that of a person who goes through life every day thinking doom.


    Furthermore, American Kenpo offers benefits to women that most other karate systems don’t provide.  Tanaka explains.  “As Ed Parker always says, we make the suit to fit you.  We don’t have a standard suit that we make everybody wear.  And as a consequence, all can find their own little niche in the art.  Women don’t have to be really strong to succeed in Kenpo, and men don’t need great flexibility.  The art is tailored to you.”


    Heart-Touching Stories


    Of course, Parker himself is probably the best example of what American Kenpo can do for a person.  For more that 30 years, Parker has revolutionized American martial arts.  In fact, he’s known as the father of American karate because of his work.  And as part of what weighty responsibility, he has experienced tremendous growth in fighting ability and insight.


    Moreover, the art has richly blessed his family and is brought him close to dozens of Hollywood celebrities, including Elvis Pressley, McDonald Carey, Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, and rock stars Billy Idol and David Lee Roth.  But like a proud father, Parker would rather talk about how Kenpo benefits to students.  And he has no trouble citing examples when doing so.


    "The height of my gratitude."


    One-story Parker freely shares is about a young spastic student he had years ago.  The student told Parker he had taken a test annually for last five years, but showed no improvement in reflexes or coordination.  The student thought Kenpo would help him change.


    "In the old days, when I personally taught, I'd get my students in the stance," Parker recalls.  "They had to really be braced, too, because I would come to each one and heal palm him.  And students could fly across the room like you wouldn't believe.  But if they were firm in their stance, they wouldn't move.


    "Well, as I come down the line - and I would do this to everyone in the class - there was this guy who could barely stand.  If you gave him an ice cream cone it would topple him right over, and when I'd come to where he stood, I'd hit him just as hard as I would hit anybody else, and he knew I wasn't playing favorites.  Still, he was always determined to get back in line."


    After the student's first year of training, he came to class gleaming one day.  He told Parker, "You know that annual test I have taken the last five years?  Well, I just took it again, and my coordination has improved five times over."


    And after the second year of Kenpo training, the student came to Parker and showed him a little card.  "That was the height of my gratitude for teaching," Parker reflects.  "That was the card stating that he had got his driver's license.  What a gratifying feeling that was for him - and for me."


    The greatest challenge.


    Parker shares another equally inspiring story that illustrates how Kenpo improves people’s lives.  The father of a Parker student once knocked on Parker's door at the Kenpo studio and wanted to talk.  But as soon as the man closed the door behind him, he started to cry.


    As Parker recalls: "My first thought was, what did my instructor do to this man's child?  That's all I could think about - that I was in deep trouble with this man's kid.


    "But then the man regained his composure and said, 'I'm sorry for crying, but these are tears of joy.’  I said, ‘I don't understand.’  And then the man continued: ‘You see, my child trains here and is now 16 years old.  When he was only one year old, my wife and I were divorced, and she's had custody of him every other weekend.


    "And this relationship has had a profound effect on him- to the point where he became so introverted that whenever I would confront him face-to-face, he would immediately go behind me, back to back, and talk over his shoulder.  He would never face me.  But yesterday, not only did he confront me face-to-face for the first time in his life, but he challenged my authority."


    Parker replied, "Well, we can put a stop to that."  "No, no!" said the boy's father.  "You don't understand.  I welcome that challenge because yesterday he became a man."


    What kind of fruit?


    Parker could share dozens of similar stories about how Kenpo develops character in his students.  Some have come from troubled homes, sought recognition by joining street-corner groups or had disabilities.  Others led so-called normal lives, but something was missing.  And Kenpo filled that void.


    So what kind of fruit comes from Parker's American Kenpo?  Only you can be the final judge.  Weigh the evidence and ponder the experience of those who are most familiar with the art, and then ask yourself, does American Kenpo really make people's lives better?


    For more than 30 years, Parker students have been saying yes.


  • Where Are They Now?  Black Belt Hall of Fame Update  /  Black Belt  /  1987 Yearbook  /  Editor

    Where Are They Now?


    Ed Parker


    He was known as the rebel with a karate cause.  The trouble was, Ed Parker’s cause was one no one wanted to rally around.


    Parker, one of the world’s most famous karate practitioners and a 1979 choice as the Black Belt Hall of Fame’s Instructor of the Year, has spent much of his life bucking the martial arts system.  Only recently, however, has he achieved the success he had hoped for much earlier in his life.


    Parker, who will be 53 in March, says he wouldn’t change the image he portrayed in his earlier years, just the manner in which he disseminated the information.


    I wouldn’t change in terms of being a rebel,” says Parker, a resident of Pasadena, California.  “By being a rebel, I’ve been able to convince people what I was preaching 23 or 24 years ago is now being followed today.


    “It was difficult at the time when I was the only one,” Parker adds.  “If I know then what I know now, I would have pursued my avenues at a more rapid pace, learning how to be more diplomatic in reaching my goals a little sooner.”


    In 1954, Parker opened a studio in Provo, Utah.  It was the first of its kind to teach solely American karate.  He says he has never been enamored by tradition.  “What is tradition?” he asks.  “It’s a way of suppressing one who wants to be innovative.  Tradition oftentimes will lead to extradition.”


    Note: I believe this should read . . . Tradition oftentimes will lead to extinction.  This was a common statement made my Mr. Parker.  RMH


    Traditional karate, maintains Parker, has suffered most because of tournament fighters who have joined the full-contact circuit.


    “Full-contact has been a detriment to our business,” insists Parker, who controls 89 schools around the world, including 40 in the United States.  “Parents look and see the type of bouts they have on television and they say, ‘Is this what my son is going to end up looking like?’  Since full-contact is no more than a part-time business, you’re going to have part-time fighters in terms of condition and skill.”


    Also bucking tradition, he notes, is the publics new knowledge of martial arts.


    “Now the public can go to the school with some basic knowledge or martial arts,” he says, “and in their request for information, they’re able to decipher better today than yesterday.  At one time, they were naïve and ignorant.  Today, they’re not.


  • Ed Parker's World: What Makes the Father of American Karate Tick?  /  Karate Kung-Fu  /  Dec. 1988  /  V-19  No. 12  /  Steven Barnes

    KKI: What is happening at this point in Ed Parker’s life?


    Parker: I’m starting to get more heavily involved in my schools now.  I’m back into teaching, and the classes are just totally packed.


    KKI: Of course.  I mean, you’re the final word on American Kenpo techniques.


    Parker: Anyway, where shall we begin?  I’ve gone into my past experience, re-examined what it contained and analyzed the principles and the processes of learning.  For instance, I came to the realization that there are movements that are useful on occasion, depending upon the individual using them.  Then there are other techniques which are not useful in a given situation and others which are totally useless.


    I also asked: “What’s the base of our written and spoken language?”  It’s the alphabet – the letters from A to Z.  Now, sometimes you use an occasional Z or an X, but only rarely.  When we need it, it’s there, so we never discard it.


    In the execution of your movement, or in the creation of it, you have to see things from three points of view: your perspective, your opponent’s perspective and then a third point of view.


    KKI: A neutral observer?


    Parker:  That’s right.  Another breakthrough happened while I was viewing my movements on film.


    In those days you didn’t have videotape.  In the old days you had to wait two weeks to get the film processed and then you had to put it on the reel and feed it back onto another reel.  It was a really lengthy process.  Well, I got sick and tired of taking it out, putting the reel up, and rewinding and rethreading it, and thought I’ll just flip the reverse switch.”


    When I saw myself in reverse motion, it hit me:  If you wish to study you must have knowledge of motion, both forward and reverse.


    For instance, if you come out with this (here Parker demonstrated a picture-perfect outward block), the opposite of this, is this (an inward block with the opposite hand).  But what’s actually occurring when going through an opposite?  A reverse.  (In cocking the right outward block, Parker demonstrated how it forms a right inward block.)  If I’m here, this hand really takes a reverse motion by going into an opposite motion.  Therefore, if a punch is coming, why then should I go solely to my opposite motion when my reverse motion could have been employed momentarily, with greater efficiency?


    KKI: So a reverse is a motion going in the other direction and an opposite is the other limb functioning?


    Parker:  That’s right.  A mirror image.  So now, I’ve discovered that for any move, a concept, principle or definition, there are opposites and reverses.


    So here we are, with this movement, let’s go to the opposite and discover that there’s a reverse that takes place, which, in fact, could be used as interim movement, thereby having a double factor.  One-two.  So now supposing we were employing this to our opponent’s punches.  He’s punching with the right, I’m going on the inside.  He shoots with his left, I use a block-block (inward-outward).  Now, as you work this thing, you expand your knowledge.


    So, if you can use reverses and opposites while working on the inside of your opponent’s arm, what’s the opposite of in?  Out.  So you can start the same thing on the outside of the moves.  See what I’m saying?


    KKI: You could take someone who has mastered a fairly simple set of basics and by applying this principle, they could figure out the rest of the system?


    Parker:  Exactly.  It’s as if we had one to four moves; there are 24 ways of rearranging four moves, and never using the same combination twice.


    So now, imagine you have four moves, and 24 ways of employing them.  If you had a fifth move, you would have five times 24, or 120.  The point is you don’t want to get complex.  You do want to get sophisticated.  Sophistication is no more than simplicity compounded.  I finally realized that if I were to circle my arm this way, and then reverse it, I would find an inward block, a downward block and an extended outward block.  Then going in the other direction I’d find inside downward, outward, extended-outward and inside-downward palm-up blocks.  And there I discovered that it was in the circle that your basic blocks are no more than segments, or freeze frames of a given circle.


    KKI: One thing I’ve noticed is that you’re so incredibly relaxed when you move.  Is that something you try to impart to your students from the very beginning?


    Parker:  Yes.


    KKI: In other words, when they tense up, that’s just their mistake.  They should never be tense?


    Parker: No.  Let me borrow a phrase from my new book.  “When skin kisses skin, tension begins.”  See?


    Now being part Portuguese, I’m gonna make this into an ethnic joke.  How can you tell when a Portuguese gets into an automobile accident?  There are no skid marks.  In other words, they hit before they realize that an accident took place. That’s a great statement, because that exactly what I’m doing.  You see, I don’t put the brakes on prior to meeting my target.  I’m a Portuguese driver.  I hit, go beyond and then boom – I’ll let the resistance of my target stop my action.


    KKI: And if you missed you would return along the circle?


    Parker: Not necessarily.  See, when your block hits – and the guy stops – your motion comes to an end.  You can’t pursue the circle, because it has ended.  So, I have a further statement: when a circle ends, linear space begins.  When linear space ends, the circle reappears again, on a different orbit.  Whatever you use as a defense could very easily be used as an offense.


    KKI: Do you meditate a lot?


    Parker: Oh, yes, I meditate, but I also work out.  You see, I’m completely reactive and therein lies my speed.  When skin kisses skin, tension begins.  So, then I’m totally relaxed again.


    Let’s go back to comparative analysis.  We don’t have an alphabet in Kenpo, but do we not have movements and motions?  And are not these movements, every one of them, offensive and defensive, an alphabet of motion?


    Now, what can you do with them?  When you create one move with another, and have a sequence of movement, do you not form a word of motion?  If you bring the other hand into play, along with the feet, could you not create a sentence of motion?  You can.  Let’s go back and look at our language in terms of spoken – not written – language.


    When we’re in the second or third grade we learn to speak through the use of syllables.  It’s called phonetics.  Well, I teach beginning students the phonetics of motion.  Now, let me ask you just one important question: When you and I continue to speak, do we continue to speak phonetically?  No.


    KKI: You have a habit of taking a situation, breaking it down into its basics and then rebuilding it.  Is this something you have applied to other areas of your life?


    Parker:  Oh, yes.  It works in any aspect of life if you have these basic concepts and principles and know how to apply them and analyze them.  Then you start to observe things around you.  For example, I’ve looked at Tommy Hearns and how he fights.  I’ve looked at Joe Louis and how he fights.  Then, I saw Mike Tyson fight and I knew he was going to be the world champion, because he knows how to synchronize is mass.


    When Hearns fights, he moves his shoulder and then the arm follows.  When you move your shoulder, or a portion of your body, there are three ways you can obtain body momentum.  You can shuffle and get body momentum on a horizontal plane.  This employs the dimension of “depth”.


    I can turn just in place and get body momentum through rotational force, which is now employing the dimension of “width.”  I can drop down with my strike, now employing gravitational marriage, or “height.”


    So, at any moment, you can use one or the other, or you can use them in combination with each other.  At any moment you may be employing 20 percent of the width rotational force, along with 50 percent of the depth, and 30 percent height.  And you can employ all forms of rotational force.  Tyson uses them all.


    Some people say, “Hey, focus is the ability to convey all of your efforts and relay it to the edge of your weapon.  At the time that it makes contact with your target, you weapon and target are in focus.”


    Well let’s look at it through another analogy.  We have a ten-ton truck that has lost its brakes.  It’s coming down, and it’s going to hit a stone wall.  All of a sudden, the truck shifts all of its weight to the front bumper.  So now it’s the front bumper which is in focus with the wall.  Is the correct?


    KKI: No.


    Parker: No. It’s the entire mass of the truck that’s behind the bumper.  So, at the precise time that the truck hi the wall, it’s the entire mass of the truck that’s in focus with the wall.  And that’s exactly what Tyson does.  His hand comes up, but at a given moment his body goes right in synch with his fist, so at the time he makes contact, his entire mass is in focus with the target.


    KKI: Does Tyson use those principles better than anyone you’ve seen?


    Parker: Oh, yes.


    KKI: As well as Joe Louis?


    Parker: Even better in some cases.  Louis was on sometimes, but then he was off other times.  I have a few things that I’d like to teach to an upcoming champion someday; principles that have never been seen in operation by anyone.  I’ll make him hit so hard that no one will believe it.


    KKI: After all this time in the business you’re so optimistic and enthusiastic and still totally in love with what you are doing.  That’s a very rare gift.


    Parker: The greater the horizons that I reach, the more I see that there is to accomplish.  That’s the whole thing.  There’s so much yet to go to and strive for and more challenges to meet.  That’s why I’m so enthusiastic.  Most people get to a certain point and think that they know all that there is to know and become complacent.


    KKI: So you are saying the key to maintaining enthusiasm is to make sure that you’re on a path that has not ending?


    Parker: Absolutely.


    KKI: Of course your principles don’t apply to only Kenpo.  Aren’t they equally valuable to any martial art – or eve life itself?


    Parker: When I’m giving a seminar, I’m not trying to entice people to Kenpo, I’m converting them to a different way of thinking.


    When I hit my 50th birthday, my mother said “Son, you’re now half-a-century old.”  When she said that, I suddenly realized that I had lived more years than the years I have left.  I’m going downhill.  At that moment I said, “Hey, I’m going to make every effort to convey these thoughts and principles to others so they don’t have to experiment.  If I could get your from point A to point B in a shorter amount of time, that would give you more time to expand, expound and examine other facets.


    KKI: You mentioned earlier that you meditate.  Do your meditations come from the kahunas (Hawaiian teachings) or your Mormon background?


    Parker: I think my Polynesian extraction has a lot to do with it.  For some odd reason, this has been a constant throughout my life.


    It seems that whenever I get the feeling that something is going to happen – it happens.  If I get the feeling that something has happened at home I always call.  Even if I’m on the freeway I’ll get off and call from a pay phone.  I’ll just ask “Honey, is something wrong.” Once she answered “Yeah, I just got a letter.  Your uncle died.”  This has happened throughout my entire life.  Call it extrasensory perception or whatever, but it does exist.



    KKI: What are probably the most asinine questions you get asked?


    Parker: Bruce Lee questions.  And I just say “Hey man, Bruce was a human being.”  I’ll be honest with you, I taught Bruce a lot of concepts and ideas that he hadn’t thought of.  However, I’ll admit one thing about Bruce: Let’s say it took you 15 years to develop a specific technique.  Bruce had that ability to read and analyze your every fiver.  All he’d say was “Do you mean this:” Then pow!  He’d do it just a good as you – the first time!


    KKI: What do you think is the most important piece of personal philosophy in your arsenal?


    One of my students was very good at making knives.  One of my black belts approached him and said, “Hey, you’re a phenomenal knife-maker.  Do you see his knife?  Can you make me one exactly like it?”  He answered “No, but I can make it better.”



    What a wonderful statement.  When he looked at the guy’s workmanship, he knew it wasn’t the best.  Likewise, as I look and study things, I don’t say “Oh, I can’t do that.”  I say, “How can I make it better?”


    There are three types of people: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happened.  I’m the one who makes it happen.


    About the Author:  Steve Barnes is a freelance write and martial artist based in Los Angles.


  • Ed Parker: Outstanding Contribution to the Martial Arts  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  Feb. 1990  /  Editor

    Admission to our hall of fame for his outstanding contributions to martial arts merely caps off a lifetime of recognition for one of the founding fathers of martial arts in America.


    Ed Parker, Hawaiian born, was first introduced to martial arts training when he began to study several different styles in his native territory, soon to become the 50th state.  Eventually, he became fascinated by the system of William Kwai-sun Chow, a Chinese based style Chow called Kenpo.  Chow taught Parker concepts, such as principles which held true in any fighting situation, how the body moves, etc.  He encouraged Parker to think for himself.  When Parker had to leave Hawaii to attend college in Utah, Chow encouraged him to continue evolving and training.


    With his training as a seed, Parker continued his studies of body mechanics, and eventually evolved his Kenpo into one of the most sophisticated systems of self-defense in the world.  At the same time, he began teaching classes to some of his fellow Hawaiians.  Since there was virtually no form of karate being taught in the United States, with the exception of Arizona (Robert Trias) and New York (Peter Urban), onlookers were fascinated.  Soon, Parker had a massive following.


    Parker relocated to the Los Angeles area, where he has lived and taught ever since.  He started the Long Beach Internationals, the first of the “prestige: tournaments, which produced such superstars as Chuck Norris and Joe Lewis, and introduced Bruce Lee to the World.


    We are proud to welcome Ed Parker, perhaps the most instrumental figure in the history of American martial, to our hall of fame.


  • The Life and Times of Ed Parker: Part 1  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  April 1990  /  V-17  No. 4  /  Bob Mendel

    Known as the "Falter of American Karate," Ed Parker has been at the forefront of the world martial arts scene for more than three decades.  Yet for all his influence, for all the notoriety gained by teaching Elvis Presley and "discovering" Bruce Lee, few people know the man behind the reputation.  Inside kung-Fu hopes to change that with this revealing two-part interview.


    He was a streetfighter, a student of Kenpo, the first American to open a commercial karate school, instructor to the stars, businessman, film consultant, actor, writer, publisher, teacher, grandmaster.  A force in the martial arts.


    Meet Ed Parker, a legend.


    He began in the martial arts at the age of 16.  He was at a church meaning when a man named Frank Chow started talking about beating up the local bully.  Parker was surprised the Chow would lie in church.  When Chow began to demonstrate some of the techniques he had applied in dealing with the bully, Parker realized that he might be telling the truth.


    Parker study with (Frank) Chow for a number of years, until he was told that he should begin working with Frank's brother Professor William Chow, at the Nuuanu YMCA in Honolulu, Hawaii.


    "The thing I liked about Professor Chow," recalls Parker, "was that to a streetfighter like me, his concepts and ideas are better in terms of what was realistic.  That's why I really went along with him.  That was Kenpo karate, although he changed the name in later years."


    Parker's basics came from his training with the Chow Brothers, but the middle and the end of his system would be developed through his own investigations over the years to follow.  But he credits Professor Chow with starting him on the idea of how to make progress and on the things that were practical.


    With the U.S. in the midst of the Korean conflict, Parker was soon drafted, but fortunate enough to be stationed in Hawaii and able to continue training with Professor Chow.  After his discharge, he still had two more years of college left to get his degree.


    "I talked to Professor Chow and saw that this field of endeavor could become a lucrative profession," says Parker.  "But I felt that I should finish college and get my degree, because if I went into business, it would give me more impetus.  In fact, it worked out that way.  And Professor Chow was in agreement with this."


    The next major step brought Parker to Los Angeles, where he met Bert Goodrich, who owned a gym.  Goodrich happened to be a brother-in-law of Vic Tanney, who ran a successful chain of bodybuilding studios in Southern California.  Since Bert was in competition with Tanney, he decided to bring Parker on board as an added attraction.  It worked out well for both.  Not long after, a larger chain, the American Health Studios, came in and bought Goodrich out.  The new management saw no place for Parker and let him go.


    "That really got me going on my own," Parker says.  "Not having any knowledge of business was the best thing for me at the time.  Had I listened to others, I would have never gotten started.  Being naïve help me to get ahead.  I felt that business concepts and principles had to be tailored to different businesses.  At the time, there was no other business like it.  I started the first commercial school."


    Through word-of-mouth, Parker began to build a reputation, managing to pay the rent and survive.  He was living in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena, California, with his wife, who was pregnant with their first child.  Then he met Terry Robinson at one of the American Health Studio gyms.


    Robinson was a former combat instructor, and, at the time, physical trainer to singer Mario Lanza.  Robinson also worked at the Beverly Wilshire Health Club.  Robinson saw one of Parker's demonstrations and was impressed.


    "He introduced me to members of the club at the Beverly Wilshire," recalls Parker, "and that's how I started with that crowd, which consisted mainly of directors, producers and movie stars.  So I started small and again, through word-of-mouth, I began teaching other movie stars, often going directly to their homes."


    One of Parker's new circle of friends was Blake Edwards, who is using martial arts for his first movie, Experiment in Terror, and employed some of Parker's black belts.  When he started the Pink Panther films, he introduced the character "Kato," Inspector Clouseau's servant with the ever-ready karate attack.


    Parker still ran a small school in Pasadena, but because of the clientele he had developed at the other end of Los Angeles, he decided to open a second school, still in operation today.  Next, Parker started to be invited to some of the TV series a consultant but quickly ran into difficulties.


    "The stunt guys were a clannish group and rightfully so," he says. "They didn't want someone else to come in and take away their job.  When the director asked for a karate expert, these guys had some knowledge of jujitsu, judo and a little karate and they would claim to be experts.  So when I came along I felt that I had the right to compete for the job."


    Contacts and television not only brought Parker into some prominence, it paved the way for another legend in the martial arts.  Parker got involved with the TV crime series, "I Spy," starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.  Through that word, he met Jimmy Lee, a martial artist in San Francisco, who was studying kung-fu.


    "Whenever I would go up to Oakland," says Parker, "he asked me over and showed me some of the stuff he was learning from his kung-fu professor and he would ask me what I thought the moves might mean.  He was thrilled that I might have hit on the answer and that I might have come up with some better solutions on top of that."


    One day Lee called Parker and told him about a kid up in Seattle named Bruce Lee.  Jimmy thought the young fighter would be really good on the movie screen.  So Parker went up to Oakland when Bruce Lee came down for a visit.


    "He was a cocky kid," says Parker.  "He was very nice to me, but cocky.  But he was able to produce.  I was very impressed with him."


    At the time Parker is contemplating holding his first International Karate Championships, (now in its 26th year) in Long Beach.  It was 1964.  Parker decided to ask Bruce Lee to do a demonstration, which he would film.  Then he would have a number of producers and directors see the young man in action, which might be of some help.


    "So he came and performed and did an excellent job," says Parker, "and we get a color film with three different cameras.  I took the film over to Bill Dozier, who at the time owned the "Batman" series and was planning to do the "Green Hornet" series.  He was also considering a film called The Number One Son, which was a takeoff on Charlie Chan.  That project didn't work out so they used Bruce Lee as ‘Kato’ in the Green Hornet instead"


    So Bruce Lee got his film starred through Parker's contacts and the rest is history.  He worked with Blake Edwards, met writer Joe Hyams, (Zen in the Martial Arts and numerous film scripts) and then went to Hong Kong, where his career started to flourish.


    "I knew without a doubt that if he got on the screen, our industry would prosper.  And he did just that," recalls Parker.  "I've had a number of people around the world condemn me for not coming out with the film on the internationals, saying that I owe it to the public.  I could've made a half-million dollars on it but it's my private stuff.  I didn't do it to go out and make money on a friend.


    "When I held the first internationals, I invited everybody," says Parker, "even though there was resentment between this guy and that guy.  There was one guy who had come out with a lot of books and in many of them all he did was wear a different outfit while he was doing the same moves.  But he impressed a lot of people and got them interested in the martial arts.  So in some fashion, he was a contributor.


    "My position was: How can we know who's who, unless everybody puts their cards on the table?  So if some guy is a phony, let him come down and do his thing.  If he can't perform, not only will you know, others will know."


    A lot of other people who have become permanent figures in the martial arts field were influenced or helped by Parker.  Tat Kubota entered the internationals in 1964 and met John Niita, a Japanese millionaire who sponsored his entry in the United States.  Dan Ivan was an Army recruiter whom Parker encouraged to get into the business full-time.


    Controversy follows public figures and Parker has been no exception.  The world of martial arts has its ideologies, purists, opportunists and hucksters.  Parker not only had a way of making friends in this jungle of opposing philosophies, he had answers for his critics.  One still controversial issue is the purity of a style or system, sometimes debated as the battle between traditionalists and the innovators.  Parker was asked early and often why he didn't promote Kenpo as an ethnic martial art, since he himself was Polynesian by birth.


    "I am a Polynesian but I learned this as an American," says Parker.  "I brought the first American version of the art into the continental United States.  Not Okinawan, not Japanese, the American version, and that's all I've laid claim to.  Some of these guys get technical about who brought the art into this country.  Then give credit to the Chinese, who started this when they came here and worked on the railroads."


    Parker gives credit to his instructor, Professor Chow, for “10 or 15 percent" of his knowledge at the beginning of his career.  The rest came from his own continuing investigations, a process that evolved into principles of how to effectively teach.  The first step, however, was learning how to learn.


    Parker asked himself what he could examine that he already knew, that would have the same principles and concepts, so he could make a comparison to help him understand the martial arts?  The answer was the language itself.


    "Now with language, you can speak it and write it," Parker explains.  "In speaking, we learn it phonetically, through the use of syllables, in the early years.  I realize that in demonstrating a technique, when I cocked my arm and blocked, in reality I would never do that.  That would be contrary to logic in terms of application on the street.  So why were we teaching this?  I came to the conclusion that we were teaching the phonetics of motion.


    "But when we speak, we don't speak to each other phonetically, syllable by syllable.  After a while we get out of phonetics and into the motion itself.  So I noticed these comparisons."


    Parker continues the analogy by approaching the written language.  He points out that there were three major ways in which we write.  We print, a process in which we stop each action (each letter) before we start the next one.  And we have cursive, where the writing motion is continuous.  The third way we can write is shorthand.


    "Can we do the same thing in the art?" asks Parker.  "Yes, we can.  Most of the movements that are linear, as in Shotokan, are like printed motion.  You have to start and stop and start again.


    "Movements that flow from one to another are comparable to script.  When a punch comes, if you block it and punch at the same time, then that's shorthand motion.  So we have a wealth of knowledge available to us from past experience.  Let's go back to the written language.  As we write, we use an alphabet.  Can't we say some of these basic moves are the alphabet of motion?  If we do a series of moves, calling them H and U and T and T, we would spell the word HURT."


    Parker carries the analogy a step further, noting that someone's knowledge of the alphabet might only run from A to G.  they can still create words.  They might use two Ds and two Es and create the word DEED, or even make compound words, but it's not the complete range of letters in the alphabet.


    Parker then points out that the written language includes upper and lower case, such as A and a.  By analogy, if the punch comes high, you block high.  If it comes low, you use a different block, he explains.


    "Let's go to music and the notation of sharps and flats.  The sharp raises the note a half-step.  If I chop, that's a sharp edge.  If, instead, I use a flat of my hand, less damage is done.  That flat lowers the note and the flat hand lowers the damage," Parker explains.


    Over the years Parker developed his ability to find analogies, and that enabled him to think logically and apply his moves to tactical ends.  That made him realize that he was becoming what he calls a mechanic of motion.


    "Most of the guys teaching karate were salesman of motion," he says.  "They had no idea of the intricacies involved.  They could open the hood of a car and talk a good story - it's got 5.4 liters and so on.  But if it's time to disassemble it and find a problem, fix it and put it back together, they couldn't do it.  They would have to go to a mechanic.


    "So after you become a mechanic the next stage is an engineer.  You say you only get 25 miles to a gallon?  Let me see what I can do to get you 50 miles to the gallon.  That's where I've gotten to, in terms of the art."


    Parker's approach to the ability to communicate his ideas clearly was not only helping his students, it was impacting other instructors in the martial arts community.  Nick Cerio first met Parker 20 years ago at a competitive event, when Parker was the referee for his match.


    "He impressed me," recalls Nick.  "He had charisma.  He helped me a lot when I was creating my own system, so I've always looked up to him.  It was hard to communicate with Professor Chow so I would call up Ed instead and he would help me put together some good forms.  He helped me understand the circle of motion.  I asked his advice on teaching methods and on the business side of it.  I received my ninth-degree black belt in Kenpo from Ed in 1983.


    "He did an awful lot for the Americanized version of Kenpo karate and he was often helping people in his own way, although he tried to hide it," Cerio adds.  "I remember a tournament in Baltimore, a friend's daughter wanted to compete but she didn't have a gi.  He just took her over to the stand and bought her one."


    During this time Parker was not only teacher and lecturer, he was continuing to build an international chain of 170 karate schools in a dozen different countries.  The business side of it started slowly for Parker, beginning in 1964 and accelerating into their 1978-1980 period.


    During this period he also was involved in other ventures.  There were films, seven in all including Kill the Golden Goose in which he starred with Hapkido master Bong Soo Han, released in 1974 and still available on videotape.  There were roles in TV shows, and many more that he turned down.


    And there were books, 11 of them, on his approach to the art.  He has just completed a definitive book, the Encyclopedia of Kenpo, which will be a guide for students and instructors in his system and a lot of other martial artists as well.  Parker is once again putting his energy into Kenpo association schools, both in terms of increasing their numbers and establishing and maintaining a consistent standard of teaching.


    "I have had a lot of people who write asking to become members of my association.  But I'm not in it for the numbers.  This kind of arrangement is like a marriage; if there's compatibility and rapport, then the marriage lasts.


    "I assure the quality of the teaching done in my schools by providing instructors with the complete guideline to the materials to be taught.  If it is one of my franchises, they have this guideline to work from.  If they operate their own school in their name, in association with me, I share some of this thinking.


    "There are a number of people from other systems and other Kenpo styles that are offshoots of mine and they've come back on board.  They are making the transition and seeing what I'm saying is, in fact, correct."


    Parker feels that he made a thorough study of motion before attempting to launch his system as a version of Kenpo.  Others, he feels, have not been as diligent in their research.  This was exactly what happened with Tony Cogliandro, who first met Parker in 1983, when he came to a seminar in New England.


    "We were working in a different tempo system," recalls Cogliandro.  "It was more primitive, brought here in the late 1950s and everyone in New England was doing it.  When I began to understand what we were doing, at first I felt cheated by what I had been taught before.  But as I realize what he can offer, I got excited about what I did learn."


    Parker and Cogliandro started the international Kenpo karate Association of New England, and Cogliandro became one of the staff of regional Directors in 1987.  There are now 40 schools in the region where there had been only 15 before.


    "He teaches true Kenpo," says Cogliandro.  "They Kenpo we had was odds and ends of techniques, maybe 40 or 50 of them.  A lot of it was also taught incorrectly.  In the Parker system there are 150 base techniques and another 100 extension techniques.  His analogies are tremendous in conveying his ideas and the organization of his system is equally good.  There isn't a system in the world as thorough.


    "It was an overwhelming experience and I expect to continue to learn more.  He was the most influential person in my career and I believe, the supreme model of a Grandmaster."


  • The Life and Times of Ed Parker: Part 2  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  May 1990  /  V-17  No. 5  /  Bob Mendel

    The "Father of American karate" has seen it all-the passing of two famous students and one great teacher.  But instead of looking back at what was, he is looking forward to what could be the rebirth of his great martial arts system.


    Ed Parker's goal as an educator and martial artist is to give students and other teachers a vocabulary that encourages them to think in the realm of logic and practicality.  His ability to dissect and analyze is designed to help the student and a martial arts instructor work toward a thorough understanding of movement and motion.


    In his recently completed Encyclopedia of Kenpo, Parker has created a vocabulary that explains motion as it transpires.  For example, he teaches that there are three basic ways to create body momentum.  One is through shuffling on a horizontal plane, using the dimension of depth.  The second method is to drop the body weight and use the dimension of height, which fulfills the gravitational marriage.  The third method is body rotation, which operates in the dimension of width.  Whichever method you use, you are also taught to be aware that there are two other ways to create momentum.


    Parker stresses one concept as a key in terms of expounding on the art and expanding one's knowledge.  Subsequently for every move, concept, principle, theory or definition, there is an opposite and reverse.  Parker believes that if people would understand that concept to its fullest, they would become creators of their own movements and still work within the realm of practicality.  He uses the example of moving from a left elbow block to a right elbow block.


    "When I make a change, my left goes to the opposite position first, before I do the right block.  Why can't you reverse your motion to protect you before your opposite motion, which is the major motion, takes place?  Or, if you do your moves on the inside of someone's arms, can you do the same on the outside?  Yes, you can.


    "If you can shuffle to hit a guy, where your body movement is such that the weight is behind the weapon, can you do it so the weight is in front of the weapon?"  He asks.  "Yes, you can.  So if you find one answer, they're still another.  And if you discover something that touches on a particular dimension, whether height width or depth, it can also be done using the others.


    "If I use a circle block to an (incoming) arm, if I extend the circle, I can also turn my defense into an offensive move and break the bridge of his nose.  So if my opponent has his arms in a certain way and I circle over them to strike, I have an offense.  If I go the other way and make an inner circle, I have a defense before I have an offense.  Whenever I move, opposites and reverses occur.  That alone has expanded my knowledge a hundredfold."


    Parker analyzes defense against an incoming punch as having two possibilities: One is to block and the other is to move the target.  He likes to remind his students: "If you want to beat it, meet it or eat it."


    "I use a story about a businessman who goes to San Francisco to buy his daughter a Chinese fan," he says.  "She only uses it briefly and it falls apart.  The businessman keeps the pieces and when he goes back to San Francisco, he goes to the same shop and shows the pieces of the fan to the owner.  The owner says: How much did you pay for the fan?  He answers 50 cents.  So the owner says: with a 50-cent fan, you hold the fan and move your face.


    "I tell my students that the defensive hand is a 50-cent fan.  If they move their face, they won't get hit.  If they just use the hand, I'll hit them every time.  So it's a case of move face, not fan.  It's a funny story but they remember it."


    Parker uses another example to explain the need for thoroughness and presenting ideas and information to others.  In one of his classes he held up a pencil and asked the students to imagine that it was a cigarette.  They were supposed to tell him how to smoke it.  Naturally, they simply told him to put it in his mouth and light it.  So Parker put it in his mouth sideways.


    When the students said that it was wrong, he answered that he had done what he had been told to do.  They didn't tell him to put one end in his mouth, or that there was a filter tip at one end and not the other.  He was given a simple answer and he did it.


    "When you're giving answers you have to do a little bit more," he says.  "My seminars are well-attended and when they're over, people are elated about what they've learned.  Why?  Because I have the answers.  I tell them that I want them to become thinkers.  To contrive answers on their own.


    "I asked my students how to jet aircraft leave the deck of an aircraft carrier.  They all said 'A catapult.'  I said, ‘Do you mean that it is catapulted and in the jet engine starts?’  They replied, ‘Oh no.’


    The fist is the jet engine and the lower leg shuffling forward is the catapult.  They must both work in conjunction with each other or the body momentum will be lost.  Otherwise, you are just using the strength of your arm."


    As someone was able to innovate and develop the art he studied beyond what was given him, and he took it into a purely commercial context, Parker has been the center of controversy throughout his career.  How does he feel about the classic battle over traditional teaching versus modernization?


    Tradition teaches respect and I think that's fine," he says, "but I think it's wrong if a student asked questions and the teacher says, ‘Don't ask me now, I'll tell you later.’  Or a system where a guy gets to black belt in nine-to-ten months.  I don't think that's possible unless the guy is really extraordinary."


    Parker feels that too many systems give out black belts too fast, whether or not they are traditional styles.  He points out that when kids start at an early age, this can result in 10-year-olds with third and fourth degree black belts, which he feels is appropriate.  But most importantly, reliance on tradition can cloud the thinking of the student.  Parker recalls an incident that occurred some years ago at a tournament.


    "A Shotokan stylist came up to me and asked why I wasn't traditional," says Parker, "based on the fact that I didn't use Japanese terminology.  I answered that he was the one who is not traditional.  I pointed out that the founder of Shotokan, (Gichin) Funakoshi, learned his system in Okinawa.  At the time, out of respect to the Chinese, the Okinawans were using Chinese terminology.  So I said to him, ‘May I ask you how is it you're not using Chinese terminology?  I think you've already broken tradition."


    "Why did Mr. Funakoshi do it?" continues Parker.  "Because he knew when he went back to Japan he wasn't going to run a language class.  He used Japanese terms so they can understand what he was saying.  This is America and I speak English.


    "Then the Shotokan stylist said, "Well, we teach pure art.  I said, ‘As I recall, Mr. Funakoshi learned two systems in Okinawa.  The fact that he did and put them together means there is already some contamination.  To me, when pure knuckles meet pure flesh, you can't get any purer.'


    "Then he said, ' Well, we teach mind over matter,' and I answered that I believe in mind over matter - when you get to that level.  But there is another definition that I use with my beginners who are not that talented. 'If you have to survive, don't mind hitting the guy who's attacked you, because it shouldn't matter.'


    Parker has seen martial arts training produced rewards for all kinds of people outside the realm of self-defense.  He has had actors come to him who want to learn motion because they feel inadequate when working with stuntman.  They didn't want to get hit.


    "Years ago I had Nick Adams, who played’ Johnny Yuma.’  He had been talking to Elvis Pressley and he told him he ought to come see me.  Once you know how to handle a punch you feel more confident and you're a better actor.”


    Parker was a close friend of Presley, especially in the later part of the singer's career.  Presley would invite Parker to go on tour with him and since he had enough income, Parker was not a paid employee but a friend who would be around when Presley had premonitions of danger.


    "He took medication to sleep," recalls Parker, "particularly when he would be hyper after doing a concert, and then he would eventually need something to get him going, with the doses always increasing.  People think that being a star and touring is glamorous but it's a life that I wouldn't want to live."


    Parker had an attorney who is afraid of a plaintiff getting up in court and attacking him.  Once he overcame that fear he became a better lawyer and now serves as a federal judge.  Parker also worked with handicapped and disadvantaged kids.


    "I appreciate tradition and respect but I think if you gain it through fear, it isn't right.  You don't get respect through fear but through hard work, understanding, even love.  We have a program working with autistic kids.  Our art has an ingredient in it that is helping these kids so we are trying to understand more about it."


    Parker had experienced teaching a spastic youngster, who had taken the medical coordination tests with no improvement for five years in a row.


    "I used to have the students get down in a solid stance and then I would heal palm them, forcing them off balance.  I wouldn't hurt them but they would fly across the room," he says.


    "This kid could barely stand.  Most people would baby him.  But I used to hit him as hard as anyone else.  He'd do triple somersaults but he'd come back just as determined.  As a result, after one year of training, when he went back for testing his coordination and improved five times over."


    After two years the student came in showed Parker something he was once told he would never get - his driver’s license.


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


    Parker's objective in the martial arts has been to develop the art and the philosophy connected with it for the type of environment in which we live today.  To him, the American flag is still number one.  He thinks it's wrong when students have to bow to a foreign flag before the American flag because they train in a system from another country.


    Parker also believes that it is appropriate for the martial arts to be regulated, at least to who is qualified to open a school.  He knows that in England a government agency regulates teaching.  But no method is sure, since politics and maneuvering allows people to teach who are not qualified or not what they claim to be.  And this kind of situation continues to exist, putting Parker in the midst of a current controversy.


    "There are guys whose reputation is questionable and people in the martial arts know it," he says.  "Then the guy gets a five-page spread in one of the magazines of our own industry and now he's elevated to a position of honor.  People think he must be good but he's not."


    As someone who has always emphasized the practical use of techniques, and someone who launched one of the major international tournaments, Parker is clear on the difference between the two.  Tournament competition teaches awareness, gauging distance, control and other valuable lessons.  But it's different on the street.


    "In terms of competition, you have to see the limitations.  You have brought rules into the picture.  You have to abide by these parameters, which limits your scope in the use of the art.  Fine, as long as you recognize that.  But if they think that because they're a tournament fighter or a points fighter that they'll be just as effective on the street, woe be unto them.


    "I've seen guys who, even when they've hurt a guy have to come back out, assess what they've done and then wait for another opportunity.  I feel openings were always there and you always take advantage of them, if your vocabulary of motion is good."


    While karate is not known for emphasizing the element of ki or chi in it's teaching, Parker had been exposed to the nature of this phenomenon and experienced it himself.  In describing this inner power, he cites the familiar example of a mother who is able to lift the car from her child's body, even though she only weighed 97 pounds.


    Why do young guys on PCP have the strength of 10 men?  Why does someone who is insane have the strength of 10 men?  Parker believes that we all can tap into the subconscious and bring the conscious into harmony with it.


    "It's bringing that genie out of you that's always there.  That's what ki or chi is," he says.  "There's Kurosawa, who made many samurai movies, one of the best film directors that ever lived.  He depicts the fighters in slow motion.  He did that because he understood ki.  How many times have you heard that a guy about to be killed has his whole life flash before him.  Because his conscious tapped into his subconscious, which has been a tape recorder from day one.


    "In a crisis, the subconscious puts everything in slow motion.  I can tell you that because I have experienced it.  I got into a fight with four guys.  All of a sudden, when the first guy was striking, the punch looked like a slow-motion.  I was thinking: if I break this guy's ribs he'll be spitting blood three days from now.  But will that have an effect on the other guys attacking me now?  If I hit his nose the blood will get all over his white shirt and be even more pronounced.  That will cause a psychological effect on number-two man.


    "Now this is happening while the punch is coming!  That was the start of my understanding of ki.  Many people have experienced it.  I can't explain to students how to get it but I can't explain what it is so that when they experience it they'll know what it is."


    Summing up what he has enjoyed from his efforts in the martial arts, Parker cites his ability to be more open to people.  The other side of that coin is coping with someone who thinks he is the toughest guy in town.  Parker's reaction is to simply say, "Hey that's great and I respect you.  You’re right."  Let him go and think falsely, he advises.


    Although Parker's career has flourished, his energy for new projects hasn't faded.  His current efforts include the Kenpo Encyclopedia, which he feels will be the Bible of his system and his thinking.


    But in an age of video, he is not neglecting such obvious technology for communicating his ideas.  He is currently in the midst of creating a 36 episode series of teaching video tapes, done on state-of-the-art equipment hooked up to a Macintosh 2X.


    "There are only four of us with this equipment in the U.S.,” he says proudly.  "What takes some people 24 hours to edit in videotape, I can set up, hit a button and do in 45 minutes.  I believe you can learn from videos, particularly if you use analogies as I do.


    "I am about to go heavily into franchising schools," he adds.  "I'm looking for sophisticated people to manage them, not wild-eyed enthusiasts.  I'll be able to support their efforts by utilizing the new video teaching series as an important part of the training process.  They can have a TV monitor and run the tapes and I'll be teaching the lessons.  They can stop the tape and see the details as often as they need to.  It will be a highly professional instructional tape series that will get the lessons across."


    Getting the lessons across may just sum up what Parker's career has been all about.  Whatever the lesson was a punch, an idea, an analogy, or helping a friend get ahead, Parker has been not only a skilled martial artist and dedicated teacher but he has been a communicator.


    "I don't believe there will ever be another 10th degree in the system.  He is the Grand Master of Kenpo," says Tony Cogliandro a Parker associate.  "No one will fill his shoes.  And no one has contributed as much as he has to karate in America."


    To put it simply, they don't call Ed Parker "the Father of American karate" for nothing.


  • Q & A with Ed Parker  /  Karate International  /  March 1991  /  Bob Liedke

    One of the most powerful moving forces in the world of martial arts, Kenpo Grand Master Ed Parker has amassed a loyal following of thousands of Kenpo students worldwide.  Often called: “The Father of American Kenpo Karate”, Parker was one of the first pioneers of the martial arts in the United States.  Those of us that have been fortunate enough to meet Ed Parker, find him a soft spoken man of large stature, with a warm, easy going smile.


    Grandmaster Parker has taught his unique art of Kenpo to some of the world’s most famous celebrities, including the late Elvis Presley until his untimely death in 1977.  One of the most respected martial artists of his time, Parker’s contributions to the field of martial arts will continue to shape the future of our industry for years to come.


    Question: Master Parker, some people have been saying tat you never studied with James Mitose?


    Parker:   I never did study with Mitose.  I say him when I was 16 years old and he showed me nothing.  Chow on the other hand was impressive.


    Question:   James Mitose went to prison later didn’t he?


    Parker:   Yes he went to prison.  As a matter of policy, he could not have taught his art to anyone.  Therefore the people who claimed to have earned diplomas from him during his time are mistaken.  Someone named Gollup, a Jujitsu practitioner, when confronted about this, he said the certificate were for the spiritual side of the art, not the physical side, making the certificate worthless.


    Question:   It’s my understanding that Mitose had quite an extensive prison record?


    Parker:   Yes he did.  One of the prison guards who was in my association gave me his rap sheet.  Mitose was arrested in 1953 for attempted rape and also for extortion.  He was quite a con man, Mitose used to wear a minister’s outfit all the time, but he wasn’t a legitimate minister.  In the early 70s when he was a guest in my home, Mitose tried to entice me into working with him.  He talked about raising ten million dollars to build a Kenpo temple and he wanted me to run it.  I told him that I didn’t want any part of his schemes.  They’re now saying that they’re going to come out with a true other half of Kenpo story.  I know the Kenpo story.  I was part of it.


    Question:   It is rumored that the Tracy brothers are saying some unkind things about people in their newsletter?


    Parker:   The Tracy brothers are trying to become the National Enquirer of our industry.  Matter of fact, a lot of their people are coming to me.  I don’t go out and recruit these guys.  People are sick and tired of the brothers boasting that they have 1500 school, when in fact, they may have 30 or 40 schools affiliated with tem.  The Tracy brothers were students of mine in the late 50s and early 60s.  When they left me they were brown belts.


    Question:  They were the biggest franchise operation in the country at one time?


    Parker:   The brains behind franchising was Tom Connor.  The guy was sharp and a former Arthur Murray dancer.  He saw that the business practices of the dance studio could be applied to karate schools.  If anyone deserves the credit for the success of their schools, it was him.  And they don’t even mention him.


    Question:   Wasn’t Joe Lewis involved in the Tracy brothers franchising operation?


    Parker:   Joe Lewis became part of their franchising operation for a financial consideration.  Lewis was an asset and he added to their credibility.  The Tracy brothers didn’t train Joe Lewis.  He already had the talent when they hired him.  I have great respect for Joe Lewis.  Even today, people can get a lot out of his seminars.  The same with Bill Wallace.  Just recently, Lewis and Wallace had a thing going up in Lake Tahoe.  I didn’t see the event myself, but several prominent people have told me that the promoters lost $250,000.  The promoters made it seem Lewis and Wallace were going to fight each other, instead of the exhibition match it was.  All they had was a $30,000 paid gate as I understand.


    Question:   Going back to the Tracy brothers.  Have you seen the video tapes that they have on the market?


    Parker:   I’ve seen the videos myself.  They’re trying to pass off junk for Kenpo.  That’s not what Kenpo is and they’re not an example of what Kenpo should be, Far from it.  Some of the people around the brothers are good.  But they didn’t get that way because of the brothers.  They became good on their own accord.  Tight now, the Tracy brothers are trying to elevate themselves by putting others down in their newsletter.  That’s not right.  When they say they teach Kenpo they should put a question mark after it.  Worse, they claim me as their instructor.  I’m not proud of them saying that.  People should take the time to examine what they read and listen to what others have to say.  If you read between the lines, you’ll see how some of these guys contradict themselves.  That should raise some questions about the validity of what they’re saying.


    Question: What’s going on in the California film industry?


    Parker: One of my black belts, Jeff Speakman, is gaining a reputation as an actor.  He has my help and support in terms of influence.  Jeff did a fight scene, which I helped with.  It was a screen test for Paramount Pictures.  Some of the other producers have seen the test and want him.  I’m going to be choreographing the fight scenes.  I’ve taught Jeff how to maneuver against two men simultaneously with out cutting the action.


    Question: A lot of people would like to know how Seagal got started in films?


    Parker: Seagal has an Aikido school.  When I stopped teaching, Joe Hyams, one of my students, went over to Seagal.  Joe was the one who introduced Segal to his wife, Kelly LeBrock.  Seagal was also teaching a guy by the name of Michael Ovitz, also a former student of mine.  Michael is perhaps the single most powerful talent agent in the business.  It was through his conversations with Michael that Seagal got into the business.  Mike had a lot to do with Segal’s success.  I’ve also heard that Seagal’s getting two million dollars for his next film.


    Question: Do you have much contact with Chuck Norris?


    Parker: We talk now and then.  The last time that I talked with Chuck, he said that he was considering doing Martial Arts films instead of action films.


    Question: Are you still working with producer Blake Edwards?


    Parker: Blake Edwards and I still talk.  I’ve got a number of ideas that I’ve discussed with Blake.


    Question: Is it true that you’re producing a number of videotapes of your Kenpo system for the public?


    Parker: I’m presently working on 50 Kenpo tapes.  What I’m trying to do is have all styles and systems, listen to what I have to say.  I’m not going to try to convert them to Kenpo people.  What I’m trying to do with the tapes is to make them think logically and then apply it to their own system.  My son and son-in-law are helping me produce the tapes.  The tapes will be of a very sophisticated nature and we’re taking a psychological approach to my instructional videos.


    Question: It’s well known that you’re a good businessman.  Wow did you develop your business sense?


    Parker: I was in a very unique situation when I began teaching.  I started teaching at the Beverly Wilshire Health Club.  I had a lot of students who were Millionaires.  While they paid me for the lessons, I received free lessons in business from them.  One producer in particular said to me, “When you do go into business there are two things you have to remember; each having two parts; One, will it be easy to get into the business:  If so, then will it be easy to get out?  Two, you’re going to have successes as well as failures.  Most people will take the time to examine their failures.  Give equal time to examine your success as well as failure.  Then you might discover 20-30 percent increase in your business.”  That’s how I got smart in business.  I learned from the best.


  • Ed Parker: A Man Who Lived His Dream  /  Inside Kung-Fu  /  April 1991  /  V-14  No. 4  /  Bob Mendel

    Ed Parker wanted to be known as the "Father of American Karate."  He may just be that.


    He began his martial arts training studying Kenpo in Honolulu.  Making a living in the martial arts has never been easy and probably never will be.  Parker went about it with an open mind and typical American enterprise.  What Parker did accomplish was a typical American success story.


    He open the first commercial school, introduced his art to the media, created an international chain of Kenpo Studios, sponsored major tournaments, wrote books, made films.  He became a communicator of ideas and a teacher.  In the process, he became a little larger than life, more important to others than his art!  A legend.


    Parker's basics came from the Chow brothers in Honolulu, but the balance of his system of American karate would be developed through his own investigations over the years that follow.


    "The thing I liked about Professor Chow," said Parker, "was that to a street fighter like me, his concepts and ideas were better in terms of what was realistic.  That's why I really went along with him."


    Parker came to Los Angeles after being stationed in the islands during World War II and settled in Pasadena with his wife, then pregnant with their first child.  His first job was with a bodybuilding studio but Parker was soon out on his own, planning to open a commercial studio.


    "Not having any knowledge of business was the best thing for me at the time," said Parker.  "Had I listen to others, I would never have gotten started.  Being naïve helped me to get ahead."


    Through his teaching contacts, Parker was introduced to members of the health club at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a crowd which consisted mainly of directors, producers and movie stars.  One of Parker's new friends was Blake Edwards (The Pink Panther), who employed some of Parker's black belts in his first movie, Experiment in Terror!


    Parker opened a second school on the area's West Side.  He also found work in television as a fight consultant, including I Spy, starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.  There he met James Lee, a martial artist from San Francisco.  Lee told Parker about a young man in Seattle name Bruce Lee.  So Parker went to Oakland when Bruce Lee came down for a visit.  It was in 1964 and Parker was preparing to launch his first International Karate Championships at Long Beach.


    "He was very nice to me, but cocky," Parker recalled.  "But he was able to produce.  I was very impressed with him."

    Parker asked Bruce Lee to do a demonstration at Long Beach, which he would film.  The producers and directors could see the young man in action.


    Parker took the film to Bill Dozier, who owned the "Batman" series and was planning on doing the "Green Hornet."  He was also considering a film called Number One Son, a take off of Charlie Chan.  When that didn't work out he used Bruce Lee to play the part of "Kato" in the "Green Hornet."  Lee's acting career was underway.  He worked with Blake Edwards, met writer Joe Hyams, and went to Hong Kong, where his career flourished.


    "I knew without a doubt if he got on the screen, our industry would prosper.  And it did just that," said Parker.


    Parker was often questioned and criticized about his departure from so-called traditional teaching and his methods of operating.  His answers to his critics is revealing.


    "I am Polynesian but I learned this as an American," says Parker.  "I brought the first American version of the art into the continental United States.  Not Okinawan, not Japanese, the American version.  And that's all I've laid claim to.  Some of these guys get technical about who brought the art into this country.  Then give credit to the Chinese, who started this when they came here and worked on the railroads."


    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.


    Just prior to his death he had completed the Encyclopedia of Kenpo, designed as a guide for students and instructors in his system.  But his energy for new projects have not faded; he was in the midst of developing a 36-episode series of teaching video tapes, with the idea of using them as a basis for franchising karate schools.


    Parker had success 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 Parker's career was all about.  Parker felt he had made a thorough study of motion before attempting to launch his version of Kenpo.  Others, he believed, had not been as diligent.


    "The Kenpo we had was odds and ends of techniques, a lot of it taught incorrectly," recalls Tony Cogliandro, who first met Parker in 1983 at a seminar in New England.  "His analogies are tremendous in conveying his ideas and the organization of the system is equally good.  He was, I believe, the supreme model of a Grand Master.  And no one has contributed as much as he has to karate in America."


    Parker's independence from his early teaching, his personal exploration of motion, his independent exploration of teaching methods, is branching out into a chain of schools, his impact on the media and the creation of the media track for martial arts performers all smack of a classic rags to riches, old-fashioned American dream, made real by enterprise, risk-taking and hard work.


    His friends, his words, his work, and the fruits of his labor all speak for the contribution he has made.


  • Kenpo Master Ed Parker: The Final Karate International Interview  /  Karate International  /  June 1991  /  Bob Liedke

    Perhaps the most visible personality in the world of martial arts was California's legendary Kenpo Master Ed Parker.  A native of Hawaii, Parker was a disciple of the late William K.S. Chow, one of Hawaii's most colorful instructors.


    After leaving Chow in early 50s Parker moved to the U.S. mainland and then began to revise and systemize the art of Kenpo until each movement learned, became in Parker's words, "An alphabet of motion".


    Known as the father of American Kenpo karate, Parker's highly successful and innovative approach to teaching closely parallels the self-defense moves of Kenpo with the study of music or the alphabet, leading to "Words of Motion" the basic principle of Parker's unique Kenpo system.


    A man of many dimensions, Parker's soft-spoken style belies his incredible list of personal achievements.  He is a Sensei's Sensei, an instructor to literally thousands of students, including a number of Hollywood personalities that would leave even the most blasé reader in awe.


    Almost three decades ago, in a demonstration at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Parker met a young man by the name of Elvis Presley, who would later become his most famous student.


    Elvis used the moves of Kenpo that Parker taught him in his movies and concerts, helping karate to gain tremendous acceptance with the American public.  Parker was Presley's death in 1977.


    Note:  The above statement is not a typo on my part, but is exactly as it is in the magazine. RMH


    As a showman, Parker possesses a dramatic Hollywood flair when presenting his art of Kenpo to the viewing public.  He is in constant demand worldwide for his unique and entertaining seminars that stress Parker's concept of Kenpo’s "words of motion".


    A pioneer of tournament karate, Parker's Long Beach Internationals is one of the largest and longest-running tournaments in karate history.  It was at his 1964 tournament that the young Bruce Lee demonstrated his famous one-inch punch to a capacity crowd and rocketed to stardom.


    For all of his accomplishments, Master Ed Parker was a soft-spoken and relaxed individual whose personal philosophy is summed up in these words, "An individual becomes humble," Parker said, "when the realization that the sum total of what one knows is actually very little.”


    We will miss you Ed, thanks for everything.



    Q: Master Parker, I understand that you're presently involved with Blake Edwards in the production of a new martial arts movie?


    A: Blake and I are working on that project right now.  Blake called me a while back and said that he and John Ritter were talking about in me and asked me to come down to the set.  Blake is a longtime student of mine and John Ritter is a student also.  John studied at my west Los Angeles school for almost 3 years.  Anyway, Blake said that we were going to do a martial arts movie together.  I'll be one of the principal characters as well as choreographing the martial arts action.  Blake feels that there hasn't been a martial arts film of any substance for a while, so we’ll be taking a unique approach to the film . . . We don't have a title for the film yet.


    Q: While were on the subject of movies, tell us about your work in the "Pink Panther" films with the late Peter Sellers?


    A: I've been fortunate enough to have had dinner with Peter on several occasions.  The man was undeniably a genius.  The first time I came to England to do a panther film, I was very anxious to meet Peter.  When I reached the hotel, Blake was waiting for me.  We began talking about the film, when this actor came over and joined our conversation.  He was wearing a beat up hat and still in makeup.  He said to me, "I know you.  You are Ed Parker.  I've read about you in the martial arts magazines."  After a while he left and I turned to Blake and said that I was looking forward to meeting Peter Sellers soon.  Blake looked at me and said, "That was Peter Sellers".


    Q: Isn't Blake Edwards married to Julie Andrews?  What can you tell us about her?


    A: When I did the movie, "Revenge of the Paint Panther", I had the privilege of spending voice. (magazine typo?) I once asked her how she was able to sing so rapidly and yet articulate the lyrics so well.  Julie explained that her voice teacher made her articulate each word slowly until she could build up speed and still be clearly understood.  I said that I teach the art of Kenpo the same way.  The teaching of music parallels the physical action of Kenpo.  I want to say that Blake and Julie are a wonderful couple and are also very sincere people.  Bob Culp is another friend who is much the same kind of person.


    Q: You worked to with Bob Culp and Bill Cosby on the "I Spy" series some years ago?


    A: Yes I worked in several segments of "I Spy".  Bob Culp would always find a part for me.  I was doing a part in one "I Spy" where Cosby was hiding behind a big wind vat.  I was to come by where he was hidden and he would punch me in the face and knocked me out.  So I walk by and he punches me.  The timing between us was perfect.  I went with the punch and both the director and a cameraman came running over to see how badly I was hurt.  Bill never hit me at all.  The timing was perfect.


    Q: Any other movie work coming up soon?


    A: I'll be starring in a movie soon called "Kealoha".  That's my middle name.  The second lead will be played by Mark Garrigan.  You know I never needed to have the starring world in any film I worked in.  Just playing a useful part was enough for me.  I remember several years ago I was in a movie called, "Kill the Golden Goose".  In the picture I played second lead to the guy who wrote the screenplay.  Hapkido Master Bong Soo Han played the third lead.  During the filming the producer felt that my presence was so strong that I should have the leading role.  Some of the other actors didn't like the idea.  Rather than cause a lot of problems on the set, I explained to the producer that it wasn't important.  He said, "how come it's not important".  I asked him if he had seen the movie "Jaws".  The he said that he had.  I then asked him if the shark had top billing?  "No" he said.  So I asked him who he remembered in the picture?


    Q: I know that as a leader and pioneer in the martial arts, you have traveled all over the world.  Anything of interest happen to you in any of these international trips?


    A: I remember a trip to Chile with Eric Lee, Tadashi Yamashita and Frank Trejo, who is one of my top black belts.  We went to Chile to do several performances.  I told Tadashi while we were on the plane that when we arrived in Chile, we would be heroes to the people.  He didn't believe me at first.  When he arrived at the airport the media was out in force.  Newspapers, television, everybody.  We didn't even have to go through customs.  By the time we had rested for awhile in our hotel rooms, we were already on the front pages of the newspaper.  When we went to dinner that night at the hotel, the waiters recognized us from the newspaper photos.  After dinner they wanted us to take pictures and sign autographs for them.  Tadashi didn't want to.  He wanted to go upstairs and rest.  I asked him to take a few moments and give them some time.  From then on, the service and meals at the hotel was great.  When we went to perform the crowds were incredible.  They tried to rip our clothes off.  Tadashi said that he felt like one of the Beatles.


    Q: I understand that you once published a martial arts magazine called. “Action Karate”


    A: Yes, I did.  I published five issues of “Action Karate: before my distributor went bankrupt.  I lost all the money that I had invested; otherwise I would have continued to publish the magazine.  Word got back to me that one magazine had thought they had drove me out of business.  That’s not so.  At that time, one of the leading magazines was saying that if you didn’t get your black belt from Japan, you were of no value.  I thought that was wrong, if only from the standpoint that the karate phase of the art was Chinese in origin, not Japanese.  Judo can make a claim to Japan, but not Karate.  That’s why I couldn’t see why it made any difference where you got your black belt.


    You had to show this magazine proof that you were a legitimate black belt before you could sell this magazine in your school.  They set themselves up as the governing body for the martial arts in the United States.  They were trying to keep out the phonies, but later some of the so called phonies showed up between the pages of their magazine.  So the magazine itself was inconsistent.


    My concern was for the youth of America.  Action Karate Magazine was meant to make leaders and strengthen the youth of our country.  Self defense training is just a vehicle to building good character.  In today’s world, a magazine with the right philosophy could be very successful.


    Q:  Recently a dinner was held in your honor.  I understand that it was well attended.


    A: About 1,200 people showed up.  Unfortunately, a lot of well-known people couldn't make the dinner and sent telegrams instead.  Chuck Norris and Sho Kosugi were there.  Also a number of actors attended.  I received a plaque from the governor of Hawaii and one from the mayor of Los Angeles.  Bill Cosby and Bob Culp had other commitments and couldn't make it.


    Q: Many things have changed in our society over the last two decades.  Where do you think society is heading?


    A: I hate to say this, but I think we are heading for a point in time where Vigilante groups will be the only means of protection in our society.  Look at the Guardian Angles; they’re doing a great job helping to protect people in many areas of our society.  Law enforcement agencies should work close together with the Angles leadership and define precisely the perimeters in which they can work as civilians.  Instruct them as to what they can do and what they are not permitted to do.  This should be clear cut when they apprehend a criminal.


    Q: Master Parker, you have worked with many law enforcement agencies in the past, including writing a special manual for law enforcement personnel.  Give us your thoughts on this subject.


    A: I began working with law enforcement agencies in Utah when I was going to Brigham Young University in the early 1950s.  I put together an exhibition team composed of the officers from these agencies.  We did a lot of exhibitions and as a result the rate of crime came down in our area.  The reason, I think, was that the exhibitions showed that these guys were tough enough not to need a gun to enforce the law.  Unfortunately the police are limited by what they can do in any given situation.  Take the weapon the police use, the PR 24.  It looks like a Tonfa.  In my estimation it's a piece of crap.  But after dealing with some of these guys I can see why they need it.


    Q: Martial arts training is meant to develop good character in its practitioners.  What about the disrespectful attitude found in many students?


    A: As I have said many times before, a lot of instructors out there are not qualified.  When a person who isn't qualified open to school, the instruction gets watered down, and bad attitudes are the result.  A true leader can be judged by his students and followers.  When you look at their students you will find that they are kind and courteous.  Some very good instructors are able to organize a large number of schools under their direction and still turn out students that seem to be without ego.  As an example, take Bob Cheezic from Waterbury, Connecticut.  He has organized more than 50 schools across the country.  I'm really proud of him, he's a great guy.  Same with Joe Louis.  Joe and I have had our differences in the past but I have great respect for the guy.  Joe is a wonderful role model for the youth of our country.  I would liked to have seen him do more films.  We need more people like Bob Cheezic and Joe Louis to generate the right kind of attitude in the students, one of respect for others.  A Texan by the name of "Big Daniels" once said to me that egotism is no more than an anesthesia to deaden the pain of stupidity.  You'll find that when an athlete reaches a certain level of skill in their chosen sport, they will become humble because they finally realized how much more they have yet to learn.



    About the author: Bob Liedke has been a martial artist and instructor for over 25 years.  His work as a writer and photojournalist has appeared in international publications.  Mr. Liedke is based in New Haven, Connecticut.


  • Martial Arts Brightest Stars: Ed Parker  /  Black Belt  /  1997 Yearbook  /  Floyd Burk

    Full title: Five of the Martial Arts Brightest Stars: Ed Parker, Gene LeBell, Benny Urquidez, Stephen K. Hayes, Steve Anderson  /  Black Belt  /  1997 Yearbook  /  Floyd Burk  (At this time I've only typed out the section on Ed Parker.)


    Edmund Kealoha Parker was the “Father of American Kenpo Karate” and arguably to United States principle karate pioneer.  Although he passed away in 1990, his knowledge, teachings, inspiration and sprit left a great legacy that will live on into the next millennium.  Parker was also a Black Belt Hall of Fame inductee as 1976 Man of the Year and 1979 Instructor of the Year.


    Parker was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, and earned his black belt from Kenpo karate instructor William K.S. Chow.  Parker’s formal education was solid, as he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  He opened his first karate school in 1954 and started his second school in 1956 after moving to Pasadena, California.  It is said that Parker’s was the first commercially successful karate schools in America.


    From the beginning, Parker’s genius emerged as his research and development produced ideas, concepts and innovations that helped revolutionize his initial system of Kenpo into one of the most complete, comprehensive and original forms of combat the world has ever known.  Thus was born American Kenpo Karate.


    Entire manuscripts could be written about Ed Parker’s gifts to the martial arts.  His many books contain accurate historical information about karate and its origins, principles, methods and techniques.  Each book is written simple, easy-to-read language and illustrated with an array of charts, graphs, drawings and photos.  It is probably a good estimate that nine out of 10 martial arts instructors have at least one of Ed Parker’s books in their library.


    Parker’s greatest contributions to the martial arts probably centered on the events that he spearheaded.  He held martial arts seminars, trade shows and camps, and he sent karate teams around the world to compete and give demonstrations.  He promoted world-class karate tournaments, which were highlighted with breathtaking demonstrations.  Parker was single-handedly responsible for providing up-and-coming competitors with an opportunity to become champions.  He also set the stage for instructors and others who contributed to the martial arts to gain recognition and prominence.  Without Parker’s influence, many of today’s most distinguished martial arts personalities would not be known.


    One of Parker’s most brilliant ideas was to host an event that would bring martial artists together from all part of the world and from all styles.  The atmosphere was to be in the Hawaiian tradition of family and in the spirit of martial artists competing with each other, not against each other,  This dream became a reality in 1964 when people from around the world came to compete in the International Karate Championships in California.  Parker thought it would be a good idea to use the tournament’s demonstration segment to showcase the skills of a talented kid from Oakland, California.  This kid turned out to be Bruce Lee, who not only dazzled the crowd, but impressed a Hollywood producer so much that he was later cast as Kato in the Green Hornet television series.


    Parker was also the cornerstone of the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA), which represented Kenpo instructors internationally.  The IKKA continues to be one of the leading sanctioning bodies for Kenpo stylists around the world.