|Born||Edmund Kealoha Parker
March 19, 1931
Honolulu, Hawaii, US
|Died||December 15, 1990
Honolulu, Hawaii, US
|Teacher(s)||William Kwai Sun Chow, Gene LeBell|
|Rank||Senior Grand Master of American Kenpo|
|Notable students||Benny Urquidez, Dan Inosanto, Elvis Presley, Mills Crenshaw, Al and Jim Tracy, Chuck Sullivan, Jeff Speakman, Jim Mitchell, Chuck Norris, Ralph Castellanos, Robert Culp Tony Martinez Sr.|
Edmund Kealoha "Ed" Parker (March 19, 1931 – December 15, 1990) was an American martial artist, promoter, teacher, and author.
Parker was born in Hawaii in 1931 and began training in the martial arts at a young age in judo and later boxing. Sometime in the 1940s, Ed Parker was first introduced to Kenpō by Frank Chow. Frank Chow introduced Ed Parker to William Chow, a student of James Mitose who trained Parker while serving in the Coast Guard and attending Brigham Young University. In 1953 he was promoted to the rank of black belt. Parker, seeing that modern times posed new situations that were not addressed in Kenpo, adapted the art to make it more easily applicable to the streets of America and called his style, American Kenpo Karate.
Parker opened the first "Americanized" karate school in the western United States in Provo, Utah in 1954. By 1956, Parker opened a Dojo in Pasadena, California. His first brown belt student was Charles Beeder. There is controversy over whether Beeder received the first black belt awarded by Parker. Beeder's son has stated for the record that his father's black belt came after Ed Parker had moved to California. The other black belts in chronological order up to 1962 were: Rich Montgomery, James Ibrao, Mills Crenshaw, authorized by Ed Parker to open a school in Salt Lake City, UT in late 1958 (That school later became the birthplace of the International Kenpo Karate Association; or IKKA.), Tom Garriga, Rick Flores, Al and Jim Tracy of Tracy Kenpo, Chuck Sullivan, John McSweeney, and Dave Hebler. In 1962, John McSweeney opened a school in Ireland, which prompted Parker to give control of the Kenpo Karate Association of America to the Tracy Brothers and form a new organization, the International Kenpo Karate Association.
Parker was well known for his business creativity and helped many martial artists open their own dojos. He was well known in Hollywood where he trained a great many stunt men and celebrities; most notable was Elvis Presley, to whom he eventually awarded an eighth degree black belt in Kenpo. He left behind a few grand masters who are known around the world to this day such as Al Tracy, head of the world's largest system of kenpo, Frank Trejo who runs a school in California. He helped Bruce Lee gain national attention by introducing him at his International Karate Championships. He served as one of Elvis Presley's bodyguard during the singer's final years, did movie stunt-work and acting, and was one of the Kenpo instructors of martial arts action movie actor Jeff Speakman. He is best known to Kenpoists as the founder of American Kenpo and is referred to fondly as the "Father of American Kenpo". He is formally referred to as Senior Grand Master of American Kenpo. Parker can be seen with Elvis Presley in the opening sequence of the 1977 TV special "Elvis in Concert". Parker wrote a book about his time with Elvis on the road.
Parker had a minor career as a Hollywood actor and stunt man. His most notable film was Kill the Golden Goose. In this film, he co-stars with Hapkido master Bong Soo Han. His acting work included the (uncredited) role of Mr. Chong in student Blake Edwards' Revenge of the Pink Panther and again in Curse of the Pink Panther.
Edmund K. Parker died in Honolulu of a heart attack on December 15, 1990. His widow Leilani Parker died on June 12, 2006. Of their four surviving children, only his son, Ed Parker Jr., remains active in the system his father created.
Ed Parker's father enrolled his son in Judo classes at the age of twelve. Parker received his Shodan in Judo in 1949 at the age of eighteen. After receiving his brown belt in Kenpo, he moved to the mainland to attend Brigham Young University and began to teach the martial arts. Mr. Parker's kenposhodan diploma is dated 1953.
It was during this period that Parker was significantly influenced by the Japanese and Okinawan interpretations prevalent in Hawaii. Parker's Book Kenpo Karate, published in 1961, shows the many hard linear movements, albeit with modifications, that set his interpretations apart.
All the influences up to that time were reflected in Parker's rigid, linear method of "Kenpo Karate," as it was called. Between writing and publishing, however, he began to be influenced by the Chinese arts, and included this information in his system. He settled in Southern California after leaving the Coast Guard and finishing his education at BYU. Here he found himself surrounded by other martial artists from a wide variety of systems, many of whom were willing to discuss and share their arts with him. Parker made contact with people like Ark Wong, Haumea Lefiti, James (Jimmy) W. Woo (who developed many of the American Kenpo forms still used today), and Lau Bun. These martial artists were known for their skills in arts such as Splashing-Hands, San Soo, T'ai Chi, and Hung Gar, and this influence remains visible in both historical material (such as forms that Parker taught in his system) and current principles.
Exposed to new Chinese training concepts and history, he wrote a second book, Secrets of Chinese Karate published in 1963. Parker drew comparisons in this and other books between karate (a better known art in the United States at that time) and the Chinese methods he adopted and taught.
- 1960, Kenpo Karate: Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-47-3
- 1963, Secrets of Chinese Karate. Prentice-Hall ISBN 0-13-797845-6
- 1975, Ed Parker's Guide to the Nunchaku ISBN 0-86568-104-X
- 1975, Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate Accumulative Journal. International Kenpo Karate Association.
- 1978, Inside Elvis. Rampart House ISBN 0-89773-000-3
- 1982, Ed Parker's Infinite Insights into Kenpo, Vol. 1: Mental Stimulation. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-00-7
- 1983, Ed Parker's Infinite Insights into Kenpo, Vol. 2: Physical Analyzation I. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-02-3
- 1985, Ed Parker's Infinite Insights into Kenpo, Vol. 3: Physical Analyzation II. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-04-X
- 1986, Ed Parker's Infinite Insights Into Kenpo, Vol. 4: Mental and Physical Constituents. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-06-6
- 1987, Ed Parker's Infinite Insights Into Kenpo: Vol. 5: Mental and Physical Applications. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-08-2
- 1988, The Woman's Guide to Self Defense
- 1988, The Zen of Kenpo. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-10-4
- 1992, Ed Parker's Encyclopedia of Kenpo. Delsby Publications ISBN 0-910293-12-0
- "Kenpo Karate – Setting History Right 1949–1954". kenpokarate.com. 1997-03-08. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "History of Kenpo". KenpoNow.com.
- Corcoran, J.; Farkas, E. (1988). Martial Arts: Traditions, History, People. New York City: Gallery Books.
- "Ed Parker's First Shodan". kenpokarate.com. 1997-03-08. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- "Kenpo Karate Family Tree". tracyskarate.com. 2000. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- The Godfather of Grappling (authorized biography of Gene LeBell) by "Judo" Gene Lebell, Bob Calhoun, George Foon, and Noelle Kim. 2005.
- Kill the Golden Goose
- Beaver, W. (April 1991). "My Friend, Ed Parker". Black Belt Magazine.
- IMDB list for Ed Parker
- "The Perfect Casting?". The Los Angeles Times. 1991-01-06. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
- Parker, L. (1997). Memories of Ed Parker: Sr. Grandmaster of American Kenpo Karate. Delsby Publications. ISBN 0-910293-14-7.