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Thread: Ed Parker

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Sebring, FL U.S.A.

    Ed Parker

    Don't know to much about him. Does he have a good rep?

  2. #2
    Mr. Parker is now deceased. He was the founder of American Kenpo, and aside from a few trolls (which your question is sure to bring out) his reputation as a person and as a martial artist was and is one of the best.

    His style, American Kenpo< is an external style, primarily of Chinese origins but incorporating elements of many styles. Mr. Parker was a practitioner of several arts, with advanced standing in Kenpo. His geneous was in cataloging and defining principles as well as his methods of instruction.

    As with any art, more than a few watered down versions now exist. So check out the schools in your area if you are considering taking American Kenpo. And, I'd stay away from the video courses, with the possible exception of the IKCA.

  3. #3

    History of Kempo/Kenpo

    I pulled this information off of another forum - I can't attest to it's accuracy, but maybe it will answer some of your questions:

    It might rightfully be said that Ed Parker's new system sprang full grown from the head of Ed Parker, much like Athena sprang fully armored when Prometheus split the head of Zeus with a two-man beetle at Lake Tritonis. At least Ed was pleased with this analogy when it was presented it to him in 1990.
    Ed Parker's martial arts training under Chow, his teaching of Kenpo and study of the Chinese systems, his education and his life experience all, like the wisdom of a swallowed Metis, grew in Ed until the past became too confining for his new gift to the world. Thus, in 1965, Ed Parker's new system began to emerge from his genius.
    But Ed did not reveal this new system completely that early. He was still using the term Chinese kenpo, which in he would change to Ed Parker Kenpo. He recognized that his students would not be able to assimilate all of his new knowledge and theories immediately, so he gradually introduced his new concepts and movements over the next several years--"line upon line, precept upon precept... here a little, there a little," that he could "prove" his students "herewith." Ed often spoke in parables and reminded others that even Jesus had said that you couldn’t put new wine in old bottles. Ed knew that the future of American Kenpo would not be with the his existing students, because they would resist breaking their ties to the past, and most had gone beyond kenpo to study kung fu, first under James Wing Woo, and then under Bruce Lee. And as a prophet of the new order, Ed Parker would rightfully foresee that most of his black belts and advanced students would either reject the new system, or forsake it after a few years. Ed felt no great bitterness toward this, because American Kenpo was not created to replace Ed Parker Kenpo. It was created as a way to advance to his standard of Ed Parker Kenpo. Ed knew his existing students would not serve two masters. They would not learn a system that was designed to take them where they already were, and most would go on to other systems where they could continue to develop.
    What Ed eventually created as "American Kenpo" was like, and yet very much unlike, other Kenpo systems and his former styles. The differences were those of style and theory. But most importantly, this new system was the stairway to Ed Parker Kenpo. His new system would have its critics. And while much of his or her criticism was valid, no one could deny the genius of the man who was its father.

    Critics who do not understand kenpo often ask why Ed Parker did not release videos or films of him personally demonstrating his system. There were several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Ed would have to slow down so people could see his moves. Ed knew from experience that his students would mimic whatever they saw him do, and one thing Ed was not, he was not slow. But more importantly, Ed realized that no two people are alike and the new system was to be tailored to the individual. After all, it was the individual who would advance through American Kenpo to where he met the standards of Ed Parker Kenpo. There were also many different ways of doing a movement. Many of his black belts would find that the way Ed taught them was completely different from all the others. To put a technique on film or video would freeze the technique for all time. The video would become the way the Master did it, and the only way it should be done. The 5 foot, 98 pound woman would have to emulate the 6 foot, 220 pound Ed Parker. This would go against one of Ed's fundamental concepts, that he would teach correct principles, not individual movements that were static and rooted in the past, and let the individual govern himself. The way Ed moved was right for Ed. The way his students should move would not be the same. Thus, he taught his new system differently to each person, and each way was right for the student. Just as Ed realized that there was only one Bruce Lee, or one Mohammed Ali, there would only be one Ed Parker. He did not want his students to mimic him, or to become puppets. He wanted them to become great in their own right. To this end, Ed designed his new system as a method for teaching principles and not just as a way to teach techniques. Rather than teaching 30 techniques and an equal number of variations for each belt as he had done with the KKAA and early IKKA, Ed reduced the number of techniques 24 eliminated the variations and created the "extensions". He also simplified each technique, teaching only the first part of the technique to the beginning student who could now concentrate on the principle of the movement. No longer would a student practice move after move, time after time, like a boxer using the same move time after time to perfect it. He was to learn the "why" of the move and concentrate on that as he practiced the move. When the student was prepared for brown belt and black belt he was to learn the extensions and the advanced applications and theories of the moves. And when he was ready, he would move into Ed Parker Kenpo. Not only was the student to learn the "why" of the move, but by simplifying the techniques, Ed believed his new system could be tailored to the individual who would perfect it according to his own physical size and athletic ability. American Kenpo forms were taught with hidden meaning so only the perspicacious would see what was intended. The system was designed to lead the student through tangled and obscure paths, where the instructor was to point out the meaning of each twist or turn. Then, when it all came together, the student--the Ed Parker Kenpo black belt--was emerging from the darkness into the light of new understanding. The black belt would only need to know about 100 applications of his new system, as his understanding of the quot; why" of the movement would replace all of the "techniques" of other Kenpo systems. This was in marked contrast to his original System of Kenpo, where a student was taught hundreds of "techniques" and hundreds of variations--over 400 for first-degree black belt alone. This was the system Ed no longer wanted to teach. It was the old way, the past, and breaking from this past was the very reason for the existence of the new system. But it saddened Ed that few students of his new style were able to compete successfully with the old system in tournaments. It would have been even more disappointing to Ed to see the dismal record of American Kenpo in the new ultimate and extreme fighting forms. Those who understand the "Parker principle" also understand why Ed never chose his successor to American Kenpo. It was not his system. Ed Parker Kenpo was his system, while American Kenpo was his legacy to the world. He had taught correct principles, and like Alexander the Great, he would leave succession to those who were best qualified. In the decade before Ed's premature death, he no longer taught. Rather he taught through his writings. He had seen the failure of his American Kenpo, but it was not a failure of the system. Rather it was a failure of the black belts of his new system to teach the principles he had established. Some of these black belts left him to found their own organizations where they would teach their versions of his new system, never realizing that they could never teach the principles that would bring a student to Ed Parker Kenpo. They took with them the techniques, but for the most part, they left his "correct principles" behind.
    As with the untimely death of Alexander the Great, so to in the aftermath of Ed Parker’s death, the American Kenpo Empire has fragmented. The IKKA has floundered due to defections, internal politics and divisiveness. Already American Kenpo is being interpreted and reinterpreted by Ed Parker’s new system black belts. Yet as Ed stated just three months before he died, none of his black belts knew the meaning of the flower he showed them.
    In death Ed Parker has become a legend, bigger than life. His new black belts have scrambled to fill the void in the system he created for them. But American Kenpo was never really a system. It is the visible expression of Ed Parker’s philosophy, a philosophy that holds that correct principles replace style; a philosophy that allows the same move to be taught a myriad of ways with each way being the right way. Ed lamented, some three months before his death that he had awarded black belts, but none had earned his philosopher’s cloak. None had learned to think for himself. Few were innovative.
    When asked about some of his ideas, which seemed absurd, Ed laughed and said he had purposefully taught and written absurdities as a test. But none of his new system students had ever questioned him. He wanted each student to prove or disprove every concept. He wanted them to think for themselves. And he most certainly did not want they to become the puppet they had become. Had his students understood Ed's principles, they would have discovered that the absurd concepts were little more than stumbling blocks put in the way to prove them, and catapults to teach them to think for themselves.
    Ed Often lamented that his students knew what to think, but they didn't know how to think, and only a rare few would ever fully understand the completeness of Ed Parker Kenpo. For this reason, Ed Parker did not create American Kenpo as a system, but as an idea, an idea that encompassed all of his teachings and styles, from his first students to his last. Some were a part and some were the whole of what he taught, but all, from the beginning to the last are American kenpo.

  4. #4
    YA, I checked your profile and I see you are in unarmed security. Also, it doesn't appear you are presently in a martial art, so I presume you are considering American/Parker Kenpo.

    I can tell you that my brother used to work unarmed security in Miami, FL. He was (and still is) a Kenpoist. He was fairly junior back then, but he did successfully use his skills to defend himself in deadly attacks, including against attackers armed with knives and one with a crowbar, and multiple assaults. He's now a police officer, and his training continues to stand him in good stead.

    You should know that AK was developed for the American street, and as such it has a well earned reputation for being a brutal style. You would probably have to learn to mitigate your level of force. But that is allways taught as an option.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    SM, don't know where you got that article, but it is pretty accurate. (At least it didn't say he learned Japanese Kempo from Mitose- which he did not). There are some things I'm not too sure of there, though. That he lamented the 'failure of his art', and that he had no students that understood the principles, I would certainly question. To my knowlege, Mr. Parker never intended his art to be sport oriented. I don't think he had anything against sport (I think I recall hearing he was active in promoting some events), but his art is reality based and sport necessarily removes the more realistic techniques and strikes. As for students not understanding principles, you can't do AK without attention to the principles. I don't know if any one understands the principles as well as Mr. Parker- and that would be understandable. But to contrast AK with other styles of learning, I have worked out with people from other styles who are far senior to me and have been able to discuss the principles of their art with them just by watching them. Learning and growing in understanding of principles is fundamental in AK, starting with the first technique and never ending. Whenever someone asks me if American Kenpo would be the best style for them to learn, I allways say it depends on what you want out of a martial art. Only the individual can decide that. But, even if you eventually change styles, you will never regret learning Kenpo because learning to recognize and operate on principles will go with you into any style.

  6. #6
    I got the article from the anti - Temple Kungfu website. It's generally accepted that TKF teaches a *******ized form of kempo with a bit of hung gar, etc. added.

    I personally don't know too much about Ed Parker other than what I've read on the internet.

  7. #7
    Now we're associated with Temple Kung Fu!
    How did that happen?

    I really don't know anything about TKF, except that it is one of the favorite targets here for bashing.

    Oh, well, at least the trolls are still out getting drunk.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Xi'an, P.R.C.

    really external

    I took Ed Parkers kenpo for about 6 months at one point.

    Things I liked:
    1. the school I was at had sort of a mentor system going. New students would participate in the group class but then also have a once a week private lesson with one of the senior students who was assigned to you for the long term as your . . . mentor is the best word I can think of. This was a fabulous idea and it helped me feel like they had a vested interest in my progress right from the get go.

    2. Clear requirements for belt testing but very realistic about what the belts meant. I came into the school with 5 or 6 years off assorted martial arts experience already. Although I was officially a new white belt at their school, with regards to testing and techniques I should know, they gave me an honarary purple belt within the first week so I could train with the other advanced students and move straight into sparring and other rough stuff.

    3. A general friendly unpretentious atmosphere with ample respect for and interest in other styles of MA.

    things I didn't like:

    1. techniques seemed a little bit too 'by the numbers'. If he . . . .I can . . . A general lack of flow. IMHO

    2. too purely external. A very scientific view of MA. Very American. This may be good for some folks but part of why I train gong-fu is for the opportunity to learn a different way of thinking. The whole 'leaning stances/letters to build techniques/words wich can in turn be combined to form combos/full sentences' metaphore I was hearing a lot didn't appeal to me.

    And that was the main reason why I left. But it was fun while it lasted.

  9. #9

    Re: really external

    Originally posted by omarthefish
    I took Ed Parkers kenpo for about 6 months at one point.1. techniques seemed a little bit too 'by the numbers'. If he . . . .I can . . . A general lack of flow. IMHO
    2. too purely external. A very scientific view of MA. Very American. This may be good for some folks but part of why I train gong-fu is for the opportunity to learn a different way of thinking. The whole 'leaning stances/letters to build techniques/words wich can in turn be combined to form combos/full sentences' metaphore I was hearing a lot didn't appeal to me.
    As I said, it's not for everyone. But at six months, you were still learning the basics. AK is known for its' flow, however, it takes time to train that. And you would still have been practicing techniques in the 'ideal phase', which is by the numbers. Later you would have learned to alter the technique yourself, change things up, and deal with those 'what iffs' that tend to occur in a fight. You'd have learned to graft, and to respond spontaneously instead of calling up a list and picking an appropriate technique. The techniques are only a vehicle to teach you to move while applying principles.

    As for a different way of thinking, the AK that I know is a verry thinking oriented art. I know you can get deeply into the philosophy and science of some arts, especially the internal arts. But I don't know of any that require it (though not all AK schools require the mental part of the carriculum- run if you find one of these).

    You are correct in that it is verry scientific- it has been described as the study of the science of motion. But I doubt you'd ever get college credits for it- not saying it is on the level of astro-physics. Every one is differnt though, and we all respond differently to different styles of fighting and different styles of learning.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Sebring, FL U.S.A.
    There are two Kenpo schools here in Las Vegas. One is ran by a former student of the first school.

    here's the website if you'd like to check it out and give your opinions.

    now I don't know if this is the former student's school or not. But I heard the teacher of the first school trained with Ed Parker, or may have trained with one of his top students, which is why I asked about Ed Parker.

  11. Thumbs up

    What could I add?
    I personally think highly of him.He was pretty interesting as far as I know and there are many quotes of his around which are both philosophical and informative.
    The whole name is actually (American) kenpo karate.
    Since there is lots of what a layman would call karate and many karate techniques included in kenpo.
    As previously said,it is a hard striking art and in my opinion,it is very good to know it is "scientific".There are generally little high kicks and a bit more influence on striking and rooted stance-extreme flexibility is not needed (being a striking art,there is not too much grappling but as far as I dare to say some locks and limb breaks should be found) but should not be static and stiff (to present my understanding)
    If you search a bit,you should be able to find written principles that Edmunk Parker did create (many,I´d believe,apply well to many arts)
    Besides this,I highly recommend ´s kenpo forums.
    Parker also was the teacher of MA film star Jeff Speakman (AKK) and Elvis Presley.
    The sunset´s setting down.Lay me on the forest floor.

    I do not necessarily stand behind all of the statements I have made in the past, in this forum. Some of the statements may have appeared to support a biased view of reality, and may have been offensive. If you are a moral person and were hurt by comments that I made, you can PM me about it and I will apologize if I find your cause reasonable.
    -FC, summer of 2006-

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Hartford Vt U.S.A.


    Sparred with many Kempo people over the years. Good solid fighters.
    " Better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardner at war."
    "Ni hao darlins!" - wujidude
    "I just believe that qi is real and good body mechanics have been masquerading as internal power for too long." - omarthefish

  13. #13
    SM- I checked on one other thing that bothered me in that article.

    I knew Mr Parker taught different things to different people, and the same things different ways. This was a lot to do with their interests and style of fighting. And he used a lot of things to get people to think. But to suggest that he left 'riduculous' things in his art sounds, and is itself, ridiculous. But he may have used the technique in individual instances to see if his students would pick it up.

    FC- some schools do high kicks,mostly to improve ballance and technique. But you are right- our philosophy is basically : if you want to kick him in the head, kick him in the groin then kick the head when it comes down.

    Gotta go, but I'll answer YA's last post when I have time to do it justice.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Sebring, FL U.S.A.
    Well, I asked some kenpo guys on MAtalk about the White Dragon Kenpo. Man, they do not like that guy who made it. The way most were talking, was kinda like how Kung Fu guys view Shaolin-Do.

  15. #15
    -i think many would agree that some kempo groups have an annoying cheesiness to them. thus, many people overlook their actual skill. i know i have overlooked kempo.

    -so what exactly is the chinese art that parker learned?. you could call nearly any japanese or chinese striking style kempo. i was just wondering since you never really here of schools in china that share his lineage.

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