Ed Parker - Founder IKKA
3/19//31 - 12/15/90
Ed Parker Sr. was the founder of American Kenpo, author of the training material, and the final voice of approval. With his passing, we've been left with an extensive library of his books, manuals, and articles to guide us in our continued learning.
Mr. Parker began his training under Professor Chow in Honolulu, HI. He credits Professor Chow with giving him the ideas for innovations and starting him thinking about master key movements and increasing his knowledge.
After Mr. Parker settled in Pasadena, CA, his first job was in a bodybuilding studio in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Through the contacts he made teaching, he was introduced to directors, producers, and movie stars and was soon out on his own.
After opening his first karate school and introducing his art to the media, he created an international chain of Kenpo Studios, sponsored major tournaments, wrote books and made films. He became more than a teacher, he became a legend.
The business side of it started slowly, beginning in 1964 and accelerating in the 1978-1980 period, eventually culminating with 170 karate schools throughout a dozen countries by 1990. During this period, he was involved in other ventures: seven films, roles in TV shows, and 11 books on his approach to his art. One of his foremost publications is the Encyclopedia of Kenpo, designed as a guide for students and instructors in his system.
Mr. Parker had success in smaller but equally meaningful ways, among them teaching disabled youth in helping young people find themselves.
"I found a lot of kids who don't get any recognition in their home, did it by belonging to the tough group on the street corner," said Parker. "But once you give a kid confidence he becomes independent. He becomes capable of doing his own thing without the need to congregate with this element. These are the kind of stories that are more meaningful to me than some guy who went down to the local bar and cleaned out 10 guys."
Getting the lesson across may just sum up what Mr. Parker's career was all about. No other martial art exists that is so well explained and documented for the benefit of the students. Mr. Parker's art of American Kenpo is truly a masterpiece.
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.
Inside Kung-Fu July 1977
Ed Parker is often credited with opening the first commercial karate school in the continental U.S. in the 1950s, and his International Kenpo Karate Association is one of the most successful martial arts organizations worldwide.
Black Belt November 1985