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Ed Parker - Biography

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December 28, 1987


NAME: Edmund Kealoha Parker


BIRTHPLACE: Honolulu, Hawaii March 19, 1931


EDUCATION: Kamehameha High School (Graduate 1949) Brigham Young University (Graduate 1956 Bachelor of Arts Psychology and Sociology)


MARITAL STATUS: Married Leilani Yap 1955


CHILDREN: Darlene Leilani, Beth Piilani, Edmund Kealoha Jr., Sheri Pilialoha


MILITARY STATUS: United States Coast Guard 1951 – 1954 Honorable Discharge 1954


Mr. Parker’s introduction to the martial arts commenced in Honolulu, Hawaii where he was born and raised to early adulthood. The sixth child of seven children, Mr. Parker is of royal blood. His great-great-great grandfather was King Kamehameha. In Hawaiian genealogy, Mr. Parker is a prince to his people. When he was sixteen, a friend from church mentioned how he had beaten the local bully. Since this friend was small in stature, Mr. Parker was highly skeptical. “He’s lying in church, Parker announced on the spot. However, his views soon changed when his friend demonstrated his martial arts skills. With this rather brisque introduction to karate, Mr. Parker commenced studying with the late Professor William K.S. Chow, attaining the level of black belt before departing from the Hawaiian Islands in 1949.


Traveling to Provo, Utah, Mr. Parker entered Brigham Young University. His studies were interrupted, however, to serve his country during the Korean War. Following his honorable discharge in 1954, he returned to his college studies and graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology.


During Mr. Parker’s college years, he began teaching karate on a commercial level and is credited with opening the first commercial martial arts school in the United States. Moreover, having earned the reputation of being the elite of experts in karate, he soon drew the attention of Utah county lawmen and began instructing City Police, State Highway Patrolmen, Sheriff’s Deputies and even Fish and Game Wardens. In that Mr. Parker’s instruction took place on the BYU campus, he is credited with the distinction of being the first martial arts master and faculty member to instruct the art as a college accredited course.


Following his graduation from Brigham Young University, Mr. Parker traveled to California where he opened his second martial arts school, which incidentally is still in existence over thirty years later, in Pasadena. Within two years he was teaching many well-known celebrities and is credited with having been the first karate technical advisor for television and motion pictures in the United States. In 1961 TIME magazine referred to Mr. Parker as the “high priest and prophet of the Hollywood sect”. To date, Ed Parker has taught such notables as Blake Edwards, Robert Wagner, McDonald Carey, Robert Culp, Darin McGavin, Jose Ferrer, Elke Sommers, George Hamilton, Warren Beatty, Rich Jason, Dick Martin, Bronisaw Kaper, Joey Bishop, Vic Damone, William Shatner, Fabian, Billy Idol, the late Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood, Nick Adams, Frank Lovejoy, Audie Murphy, and many others.


Mr. Parker has schools throughout the United States Europe and South America. Unquestionably, no one person throughout the history of the martial arts has compiled a more comprehensive instructional program which not only teaches students the physical aspect of the art but also extends to them a living code of morals and ethics. Moreover, Mr. Parker is credited with having developed the first, and only, multipurpose visual aid for the teaching and learning - - the “Universal Pattern”. Its use in relationship to body motion is unlimited and has been adopted by many students of ballet, modern dance, fencing, boxing, and others.


The following is a list of books authored by Mr. Parker: Kenpo Karate, Secrets of Chinese Karate, A Women’s Guide to Self-Defense, Ed Parker’s Guide to the Nunchaku, The Basics Booklet, Inside Elvis, and five volumes of Infinite Insights Into Kenpo. Additional books presently in the works include: The Zen of Kenpo, The Encyclopedia of Kenpo, Kenpo in the Street, Everyday Gestures That Can Save Your Life, Ed Parker’s Answer to Multiple Attacks, and a revolutionary book on club and knife fighting Speak with a Club and Speak with a Knife.


It is universally accepted that Mr. Parker has done more than any other person to advance and elevate the art in the United States. In previous years he has lended assistance to such martial arts notables as Dan Ivan in starting his schools, Tak Kubota in obtaining a sponsor to remain in the United States, Mike Stone in financing his first karate school, and Chuck Norris in helping with the blueprints necessary to stage his first Las Vegas tournament.


Perhaps one of Mr. Parker’s greatest contributions to the world of martial arts was his establishment of the Long Beach Karate International which began back in 1963 and will celebrate its 25th silver anniversary in August of 1988. As a footnote nearly 25 years ago the Internationals was the first of its kind and even today continues to rank as the number one tournament throughout the world.


Mr. Parker has been credited with many firsts, steaming from the early years of the Internationals, including:


  • Established the first highest paying cash awards Pro-Am tournament in karate history, which also included cash prizes for women.


  • Formulated, Published, and copyrighted the first Rules Booklet for karate freestyle competition. Many of the existing rules presently in use today throughout the United States stem from this booklet.


  • Was the first to commence with the printing of pre-tournament information to establish tournament credibility among practitioners and parents.


  • Developed the first tournament logo.


  • Distributed the first tournament patch using the logo to competitors and officials.


  • Was the first to introduce weight divisions in tournament competition.


  • Created the first karate figurine for tournament trophies.


  • Created the first custom trophy for karate tournaments.


However, considered by most to be Mr. Parker’s greatest contribution to the martial arts world was the aid he extended to the late Bruce Lee. The vehicle responsible for Mr. Lee’s beginnings was the Long Beach Karate Internationals. It was at this tournament back in 1963 that Bruce Lee’s demonstration was filmed and later shown to Bill Dozier, who subsequently hired Bruce Lee to play Kato in the Green Hornet television series.


Mr. Parker’s friendship, conversations, and observations of Bruce Lee were those of respect and he was convinced that Bruce’s charisma and unique abilities would greatly boost the entire martial arts world in their own time.


On a highly personal level, Mr. Parker’s most memorable association was with the late Elvis Presley. Seventeen years of extremely close, personal friendship with Elvis as both a karate instructor and protective companion provided Mr. Parker with the wealth of insights and anecdotes that have gone into his highly acclaimed book Inside Elvis. Although both were from opposite parts of the world and varied cultures, they shared remarkably identical qualities and similar thoughts and views, and ultimately became as tangible as brothers.


Today Mr. Parker is in great demand for lectures, demonstrations, clinics, seminars, and work in television and motion pictures. With a long list of television and film credits to his name, Mr. Parker is best known as the unforgettable character “Mr. Chong from Hong Kong”, which he portrayed in “The Revenge of the Pink Panther”.






Mr. Ed Parker is the foremost authority and instructor of Karate in the United States today and is known world-wide as "Mr. Karate". He is the Founder of American Kenpo, the president and founder of the Ed Parker Karate Studio chain, as well as the International Kenpo Karate Association. He is the Father of American Karate having originated the first American version of Karate. He opened the first professional Karate studio in the United States in Pasadena, California in 1965.


He has been featured in National and International magazines: Time, Look, Strength and Health, Show Business Illustrated, Iron Man, Action Karate, Black Belt, Karate Illustrated, Official Karate, Inside Kung Fu, American Karate, and Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated; in newspapers, nation-wide; Martial Arts magazines world-wide; articles in the World Encyclopedia and many others.


He has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including Revenge of the Pink Panther and the Curse of the Pink Panther. In addition, he has taught Karate to nearly every big name actor and actress in Hollywood -- including, Robert Culp, Joey Bishop, Jose Ferrar, Rick Jason, Nick Adams, Frank Lovejoy, Robert Wagner, Elvis Presley, Natalie Wood, and Elke Sommer, to name a few. He has also been a technical advisor for motion pictures and T.V.


Mr. Parker has spoken, lectured or put on his exciting demonstrations at: high schools, colleges, civic clubs, clinics, tournaments, church groups, youth groups, etc. He is a highly sought-after speaker and his Karate demonstrations are famous nation and world-wide. He is in great demand throughout the world to put on his blinding demonstrations of speed, skill and power along with his picturesque analogies when explaining the Art so all can understand. He frequently puts on Seminars and Demonstrations in Australia, England, Spain, Ireland, Chile, Venezuela and has many worldwide government officials as his students.


Throughout the years Mr. Parker has authored many books: Basic Karate Book, Kenpo Karate, The Woman's Guide to Self Defense, Secrets of Chinese Karate, A Guide Law Enforcement, Home Study Karate Workshop Course, A Guide To The Nunchaku, Infinite Insights into Kenpo (Volumes 1-5), The Zen of Kenpo, Kenpo In The Streets, Speak with a Knife, Speak with a Club, Everyday Gestures That Can Save Your Life, Answers to Multiple Attacks On The Street. Inside Elvis, Accumulative Journals (Yellow -5th Black), and his revolutionary Encyclopedia of Kenpo.


He is a graduate of Kamehameha High School (19490, Honolulu, Hawaii where he was born and raised. Mr. Parker has a B.S. Degree from Brigham Young University (1965) with a Major in Sociology and Psychology, and a Minor in Political Science.


Mr. Parker annually produces the world's largest and foremost Karate tournament, the International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California. Mr. Parker is also a consultant and advisor to numerous other Karate tournaments world-wide.


Mr. Parker's uniqueness rests in his continuous efforts to combat traditional restrictions binding progressive thinking. He is truly a creative genius because of his incredible ability to discover the problems within the Martial Arts. His contributions and innovations are endless, encompassing logic and reasoning not yet employed by others. His near four decades of experience, contributions, and endeavors establish him as the Master of our system, the author of our training material, and the final voice of approval.

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