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
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.
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.