Grand Master Ed Parker
Grand Master Ed 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, Mr Parker was first introduced to Kenpō by Frank Chow who then introduced Ed Parker to William Chow, a student of James Mitose. William trained Parker while serving in the Coast Guard and attending Brigham Young University. In 1953 he was promoted to the rank of black belt. Mr 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.
Mr 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.
Mr 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. He helped Bruce Lee gain national attention by introducing him at his International Karate Championships. He served as one of Elvis Presley’s bodyguards during the singer’s final years, did movie stunt-work and acting, and was the Kenpo Instructors of Martial Arts action movie star 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. Mr 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.
Mr 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.
Mr Parker truely focused on the Body, Mind & Spirit in the Martial Arts and was an excellent teacher of harnessing the Power generated from these. His “Infinite Insights into Kenpo” series of books are great reading material for any Martial Artist. He lived and breathed Kenpo and the depth of infomation shared via these books is a treasure for future generations.
Edmund K. Parker died in Honolulu of a heart attack on December 15, 1990.