William K. S. Chow first met and taught the well-known and undisputed "Father" of today's American Kenpo Karate, Senior Grandmaster Edmund Kealoha Parker, Sr., in the Hawaiian Islands.
Mr. Parker realized the need for new innovations to combat modern day methods of fighting. He developed new concepts, theories, and principles that are practical in today's environment. Every action from your opponent creates a opportunity for you where you can use an unending flow of motion. Every block is a strike and every strike is a block.
Parker Kenpo Karate is fit to the individual. It is very self-defense oriented and allows flexibility for you to draw from all of your body's natural weapons in a overwhelming flow of circular and linear motions. This art can be practiced by anyone regardless of height, weight, age, or sex, against single or multiple attackers.
In 1954, Mr. Parker moved from Honolulu to Provo, Utah, and opened the first commercial karate studio in the United States. Mr. Parker graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Psychology. During his days at BYU, he opened a class on campus and began teaching. After some exposure at a basketball game, he was recruited to teach local police officers various techniques. He taught them and they came back to him with feedback, having used those techniques in real combat.
It was there that he began to analyze how techniques are put together and the balance between circular and linear motions. A circular motion becomes a linear move and a linear move becomes a circular motion. Mr. Parker then moved to California and opened his second school. Within two years, he was teaching well-known Hollywood and entertainment personalities and had actors using martial arts in movies. From his schools came a variety of well-known individuals and from his tournaments, many got much-needed exposure.
For example, Bruce Lee was discovered at Mr. Parker's first International Karate Championship (IKC) tournament. Mr. Parker was influential in helping Bruce Lee get the role of Kato in the TV series The Green Hornet. Elvis Presley was a student of Mr. Parker's and would often use karate kicks and moves while on stage. Mr. Parker was a close friend and confidant of Elvis, as well as his personal bodyguard. A good movie that will show the power and flow of motion of Parker Kenpo is "The Perfect Weapon" featuring Mr. Parker's student, Jeff Speakman. Mr. Parker designed and choreographed the fight scenes. Other actors that were Mr. Parker's students in Hollywood include Robert Conrad, Warren Beatty, Robert Culp, George Hamilton, Joey Bishop, Dick Martin, and the World War II hero Audie Murphy.
Grandmaster Parker passed away on December 15, 1990 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Parker was a genius and pioneer that shared his vision with all who listened. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
The devoted American Kenpo Karate practitioner might want to read the following books:
- Infinite Insights into Kenpo, Volumes 1 through 5, by Edmund K. Parker, Sr., 1981 - 1987.
- Secrets of Chinese Karate, by Edmund K. Parker, Sr., 1963.
- Guide to the Nunchaku, by Edmund K. Parker, Sr.
- Kenpo Karate (Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand), by Edmund K. Parker, Sr., 1960.
- Ed Parker's Encyclopedia of Kenpo, by Edmund K Parker.
- The Journey (a compilation of stories from 24 of Senior Grandmaster's students).
Through much work and experimentation, the "finalized" American Kenpo Karate curriculum was established and published in Mr. Parker's fifth volume of the Infinite Insights into Kenpo series. I use quotes because he never wanted it to be final, but instead wanted his students to continue and expand upon his developments.