Is Mr. Parker The Father Of American Karate?

Originally posted by kenpo3631

I always though Mr. Parker was the Father of American Kenpo and Robert Trias was the Father of Karate in America....

I'm sooooooooooooo confused....:confused: :rofl:


Then stay confused, because you are right!

Dave
:cool:
 
Originally posted by Klondike93

I think if you read some more about Mr. Parker he said he hated having used the term "Karate" but did so because so many knew what it was.:asian:


I have heard from somewhere that his original school had a JUDO sign over it. Because everyone knew what Judo was, but weren't sure what karate was.

--Dave

:asian:
 
I have heard from somewhere that his original school had a JUDO sign over it. Because everyone knew what Judo was, but weren't sure what karate was.

The sign above the room we have class in says "Table Tennis," I wonder what that says about us ^_^;

Honestly, though, when discussing Kempo with friends who have absolutely *no* knowledge in the martial arts, I've found that few of them know what Kempo is (I've even gotten, "Kempo....isnt' that a card game?" more than once 竅_竅). So, I usually revert to saying "the martial art that I take." Similar experiences, anyone?
 
I take BJJ. I tell people it's 'wrestling' if they know nothing about the martial arts, 'judo' if they have a passing familiarity, and 'BJJ, the art they use in the UFC' as I move on up. Yes even the last is an oversimplification!

For Modern Arnis I say 'Filipino stick-fighting' even though it's more than just that.
 
Here is an article about American Kenpo

by
Ron Chap矇l, Ph.D.
& Ed Parker Sr.

This is a question that many people are now starting to ask. As people begin to entertain the possibility there is more to American Kenpo than they have previously been exposed to, many questions come to mind. The primary one seems to be, What is Motion Kenpo?

Simply put Motion Kenpo is what The American Kenpo community is currently teaching and practicing. Motion Kenpo is the concept Ed Parker spread throughout the world and taught to most of his students. There is a mistaken belief however, he was teaching the Ed Parker American Kenpo System. Almost all American Kenpo Ranks awarded directly by Ed Parker are in Motion Kenpo. This is not a bad thing. All systems have to have a beginning base of knowledge upon which to build. Mr. Parker used the term system all the time, because this was what he was working toward, and in fact Motion Kenpo is the beginning of the first part of that system.

Motion Kenpo is a stand alone concept that is complex, demanding, and effective. Those who have reached Motion Kenpo mastery have no need to move to other levels of Kenpo unless, by choice, they decide to build upon what they have already learned.

To understand why Motion Kenpo exists, you must understand the evolution process of American Kenpo in general. Early on in His development of American Kenpo, Mr. Parker made a conscious decision to not teach more advanced material. The reasons why, were many. First of all, the so-called "System" itself was not sufficiently evolved. Second, what was available, he didnt want to teach to students
without an ongoing personal relationship. This was difficult because the majority of His Students were spread all over the world, and the ones that werent, he still didnt want to teach without some method of modifying the extreme destructive nature of what he knew.

He also realized above everything else, teaching specific techniques would be impossible. There was no way to teach a student a specific "move for move" technique without his consistent presence to mold the student in correct basics and the finer points of precise execution.

With the discovery of Reverse Motion in the sixties, Ed Parker found a vehicle he could utilize to spread his ideas. In this concept, there was no need to be specific in techniques. Motion Kenpo was born. Although he started with the idea of spreading the Ed Parker American Kenpo System, ultimately he realized the task was too large, and allowed Motion Kenpo to stand alone as a workable concept, which it does to this day.

Now you know why Mr. Parker encouraged personal interpretations. In this way, "Motion Kenpo" is very similar to Bruce Lees Concept of Jeet Kune Do. Mr. Parker had a great deal of influence in the creation of this concept when Bruce lived with him in the sixties. Mr. Parker convinced Bruce to leave the confines of his very restrictive Wing Chun in favor of a more eclectic method that borrowed upon all of his experiences. Mr. Parker knew Bruce needed a more dynamic presentation for Motion pictures. (No pun) Jeet Kune Do as a concept, is about drawing upon the totality of your martial arts experience in conjunction with certain principles, to create your own method and manner of fighting, that ultimately worked for you as an individual.

Sound familiar? The only difference is Ed Parker was more specific in his presentation of self-defense themes. Bruce Lee went to many martial artists and borrowed what he liked and discarded what he didnt. Mr. Parker felt you could get a similar experience within the structure of one well designed progressive list of "themes," as opposed to searching through many different arts.

I know Bruce learned kicking from Hap Ki Do Master Sea Oh Choi, and He explored grappling with Judo Gene LaBell. He obviously learned sophisticated principles of timing and hand checks from Ed Parker, and weapons from Dan Inosanto, as well as others. But, remember, Bruce was creating a personal fighting style, not a fighting system to be taught to others. Ed Parkers Motion Kenpo was similar in concept.

The JKD Concept, like Motion Kenpo is a valid one, and if explored diligently could produce dramatic personal results. Where people become confused, is they think JKD and Motion Kenpo are styles and try to emulate Bruce Lee or Mr. Parker. That was never their intent.

However, because Motion Kenpo was the precursor to a system and was designed to be taught, Mr. Parker gave students principles as a guide, then exposed them to self-defense technique themes. This insured students would be forced to consider a multitude of assault possibilities. In this way, "Motion Kenpo" is systematic, but is still not a complete system. Once done, he encouraged them to make the techniques work for themselves as an individual. It didnt matter how they did it, only that it worked for them. Thats why there is no consensus on technique. There was never supposed to be a consensus on the execution of self-defense techniques. To do so would ignore the inherent principle of "tailoring." Without tailoring, "Motion Kenpo" could not exist.

Mr. Parker said it many times. "Motion Kenpo" exposed you to a variety of theme attacks from "A to Z." "This gives you the framework upon which to base your own personal (interpretive) style." In other words, the Ed Parker Kenpo System is not being taught, however, individual interpretations are. Therefore, this concept makes it clear, NO ONE IS WRONG. Students however, should be told they are being taught an interpretation based on Mr. Parkers ideas.

The themes were presented in the form of technique manuals. Mr. Parker would always constantly say, the way the techniques are presented in the manuals were only ideas. Your effective interpretation is all that mattered. If you asked him the definitive way to execute a technique, he responded, Show me how you do it. He then would give his blessing or suggest changes to make it more effective, but he never told you how any technique should be done. That is why Motion Kenpo is a concept and is not the Ed Parker American Kenpo System. It is, the beginning of the Ed Parker American Kenpo System.

It's obvious you cannot have a system without specifics that go beyond a "list" of assaults to consider. In many cases, students altered the attacks and further degraded Mr. Parkers systematic "Web of Knowledge. You cannot have a system without execution specifics. All techniques have at least three components. A method of execution, a manner of execution, and a self-defense theme. Mr. Parker only gave you the "theme" through his "Web of Knowledge." He left the method and manner up to you. After all, its about self-defense. Thats why Kenpo is so popular.

In Motion Kenpo there is placed a great emphasis on the concepts of the prefix, suffix, insert, and the what if? This was necessary, in part to justify the existence of the extensions, and to re-enforce "tailoring," which is mandatory in "Motion Kenpo." The extensions were further designed to expand on the motion aspect of the art. Huk Planas would concur, because of his first hand knowledge in the creation of much of that material. In my opinion, nobody knows that material better than Huk. But the only real lesson taught in motion kenpo by design, is just motion. Not that these motions couldnt be used, obviously they can, and quite effectively. Remember, Kenpo is supposed to be a self-defense, results driven art.

American Kenpo ultimately evolved like most arts. That is, it is actually designed to be taught in phases, with each phase imparting certain knowledge and skills. The bad news is, although motion kenpo works, it is by no means all there is to Kenpo. The good news is the same. Motion Kenpo works. But, after spending a few years and getting a Black Belt in "Motion Kenpo," if someone thinks they've seen the bulk of what there is to learn, they have to be kidding themselves.

The Motion Level of Kenpo could be more effective if instructors had a better understanding and grasp of basics. Mr. Parker explained basics but, he didnt drill and teach them, so it wasnt the instructors fault. They saw Mr. Parker so infrequently he couldnt drill them on basics. So he explained them and expected students to work on their own. Instead, everyone wanted to explore self-defense techniques.

With Mr. Parker not being around, so much time was spent on the what if? possibilities of techniques, the basics were being ignored. More traditional arts spend countless hours on proper stances, footwork, and the execution of basics. American Kenpo needs to do the same. Mr. Parker always said basics are everything, but instructors chose to focus their teaching on self-defense technique ideas and their many variations and possibilities.

Frank Trejo is a famous Kenpo Student and professional trainer. Frank will tell you there needs to be more emphasis on basics.. He and I were involved in a test in Baltimore of a few high ranking belts. He kept asking, Where are the stances, the footwork, etc. Students do not know how to generate power because of a lack of foundation. It just isnt there. Huk Planas will tell you, everybody is trying to do add on extensions, when they should be concentrating on understanding what they already have. Even at the motion level techniques can be effective.

Unfortunately, Mr. Parker never did get to Phase Two of His System with the masses of his students. This is where the "Base Techniques" of His System actually begin. So you see, there are a lot of very good Motion Kenpo people out there, but they have only begun to know Mr. Parker's System. They have started a journey that has many more steps. That is one reason why critics are actually in no position to criticize what they dont know. That includes from within, and outsiders.

In all fairness, many students of the sixties and seventies were involved in what was the definitive art of the time. But Mr. Parker was actually developing the System until the day he died. This was a man of evolution and innovation, and that should come as no surprise to anyone. Mr. Parker used to hint at certain areas, but rarely explained. His menu of death story is a good example. A close examination of the charts in His Infinite Insight series, that breakdown the art into its component parts are also a very large clue. I know he didnt teach students slap-checks either. You cant get to other levels of Kenpo without slap-checks.

So, for reasons of their own, those who quit, left, or stopped studying, never had the opportunity to be exposed to American Kenpo's other levels. I know over the years, Mr. Parker had bad experiences with most of his high ranking Black Belts and was forced to sever ties, or limit interaction with them. This really hurt Mr. Parker. Some had been with Him for years, but felt uncomfortable with new material and evolutionary changes, as he continued to evolve the system. They refused to continue to educate themselves. Others broke away when they felt they had acquired enough knowledge. Ultimately, as only Ed Parker could, He remained cordial with all.

So you see, Motion Kenpo is what it is by design. Even at the Motion Phase, the framework of the technique themes in the manuals suggest some very interesting data. If you could look at the themes presented as a whole, you begin to realize about two-thirds of the techniques are hands on, as opposed to blocking and striking. Some wont like this, but Kenpo ultimately is primarily a manipulation system by shear numbers. These are some of the principles left out of Mr. Parkers general teaching of Motion. This is also why the hardest techniques to execute are grabs, holds, hugs, locks, etc. Most turn these techniques into attempts to make them work. A front bear-hug becomes an attempted front bear-hug. Wrist and arm-lock techniques are practiced to the front with the student handing his hand or arm to his attacker. Thats because nether the attack nor the defense is taught or understood.

People have heard Mr. Parker say, The ultimate aim of Kenpo is to elongate circles and to round off corners. That is absolutely true, at the motion level. Mr. Parker also taught at higher levels, the ultimate aim of the Kenpo System was Control Manipulation. He felt the ability to control the destructive level of a confrontation was the important thing. It is also the hardest level to teach as well as to learn.

Mr. Parker felt the Control Manipulation component of the was supreme. It is very hard to justify a handsword to the throat (Sword and Hammer) because someone grabs you by the shoulder. You may win the fight and loose on the verdict in court for manslaughter or murder. Many technique ideas based on certain themes are out of line with the level of the attack. To poke a man in the eyes for a shoulder grab is only one idea on a theme. A bad one under most circumstances.

You learn to talk, then you learn your ABCs, then you learn to write. Phonetics, alphabet, print, write, shorthand. Motion Kenpo is the concept that is the phonetic phase to learning the system. But let's not forget, just because you can say the word, doesn't mean you can spell it, or know its true meaning. Every phase builds upon the previous skills and knowledge acquired. However, each level if learned in proper sequence is capable of standing alone as a workable segment of the whole. Those of you who have obtained superiority in Motion Kenpo are on their way to moving to new heights of skill and knowledge. But be aware, once you leave Motion Kenpo, the freedom and flexibility you had to move, alter, and change does not re-surface until you have absorbed the lesson of the other Phases and restructured fundamentals to satisfy advanced criterion. When you "say" the word, there is some measure of flexibility in how you choose to pronounce it. When you learn your ABCs and spell the word, there is one way. You cannot change the ABCs or how you choose to spell the word.

Each level of American Kenpo has its own ranks and certifications. It is important to understand you do not loose any ranks achieved on previous levels. But, like a Ph.D. who decides to move to a another level and become a surgeon, you must learn the basics and fundamentals associated with the new level of skills you wish to obtain. Therefore, each rank, like each level of knowledge and skills, builds and grows upon the previous level. I have had people approach me to learn the nerve strikes or manipulations in Advanced Kenpo. They dont understand, without a defined base techniques, I can only teach Ed Parkers tricks. To truly learn, you need a well designed and structure delivery system. In other words, you must learn the techniques at the next level. These techniques then evolve into all aspects of the system.

The hard part in Kenpo is when you leave the level of art (motion) and move to the level of science (Advanced). Techniques and execution become precise. Therefore the level of commitment to obtain skills and certifications are higher and more demanding. But, that has always been the case as you move up in any field of endeavor. From high school, to college to grad school, to professorship. In our educational system, many are content and satisfied with a bachelors degree, then they focus on other aspects of their lives and career. Others choose to move to grad school and beyond. Its about choices. However, feel content that what ever level you choose, you have made significant accomplishments. It is a given in life, the higher you go, the harder it gets, and the fewer the numbers.

"Motion Kenpo" is the concept that is only the first or phonetic phase to learning the system. Some have mistakenly thought it was the system. We live in a society that's wants everything right now. We think 5 or 10 years invested in the martial arts is a lot. We forget, in education, 10 years is nothing. You're not even a senior in high school. There are old men in China still studying and learning. In this country we want everything fast. Fast food, fast cars, fast martial arts. We complain because we get a fast black belt in a few years, and get upset because someone says we don't know everything.
 
Bruce Lees Concept of Jeet Kune Do. Mr. Parker had a great deal of influence in the creation of this concept when Bruce lived with him in the sixties. Mr. Parker convinced Bruce to leave the confines of his very restrictive Wing Chun in favor of a more eclectic method that borrowed upon all of his experiences.

(Emphasis added.) This seems to imply that if not for Mr. Parker then Mr. Lee would likely have remained a Wing Chun practitioner and not have developed JKD. Is this what you mean to say? It seems a very strong statement to me.

Also could someone please explain to this non-kenpoka "reverse motion" and the significance of Mr. Parker's discovery of it? Thanks!
 
Originally posted by arnisador



(Emphasis added.) This seems to imply that if not for Mr. Parker then Mr. Lee would likely have remained a Wing Chun practitioner and not have developed JKD. Is this what you mean to say? It seems a very strong statement to me.

Also could someone please explain to this non-kenpoka "reverse motion" and the significance of Mr. Parker's discovery of it? Thanks!

I'm trying to figure out how that fits in with the topic here, but I guess it's ok I suppose. Well as the author of the (incomplete) article I guess I should comment.

When Bruce came to this country, initially he stayed closer to his Wing Chun teachings (because that is what he knew) but was beginning to "explore" other concepts for his "personal" use. He however was not teaching them.

When Bruce Lee met Ed Parker they had many conversations about "martial arts systems" and how they should be constructed for maximum benefit to the student. Ultimately however Parker realized Bruce was not really interested in teaching or opening schools. Bruce was on a personal quest to become a "movie star" and to expand his personal skills as much as possible as soon as possible. To this end, most of Bruce's students were sparring partners or brought skills and knowledge themselves to the table. The rest were celebrity contacts. Although it is not generally known the most knowledgeable person of Bruce's true fighting concepts is Joe Lewis (another story for sure). Dan (Inosanto) did a lot with Bruce but spent a great deal of his time teaching Bruce Filipino Arts.

Parker suggested the process by which he should explore and introduced him to "Hollywood Celebs" and to people like Gene Labell, and Sea Oh Choi who were instrumental in his martial arts developement. Choi taught him how to kick outside of the restrictive Wing Chun method and introduced the spectacular "Korean Style" kicks that the movies demanded. Gene LaBell taught him to grapple and became his number one stuntman on the Green Hornet TV series, taking the bulk of his kicks and strikes for the camera.

Ultimately Bruce would have done the same thing anyway, but Parker was the conduit to all of the elements that made it possible at the time. Interestingly Bruce got very little information from the Chinese Martial Arts community and used very little of their training methods beyond the Wing Chun dummy.

Bruce Lee's JKD is like Motion-Kenpo, "a training concept" not a style, but a method for the individual to maximize their personal perspective outside of conventional or traditional training. The same arguments that exist in Kenpo (American) exist in JKD. There is no definitive physical structure, it is mostly conceptual. Parker however intended to proliferate his art commercially and structured a version specifically for that purpose.

The discovery of "Reverse Motion" was significant in this process. Parker was working on putting some techniques on film in a project with his partner in the venture, Chuck Sullivan. While viewing some film one evening, he didn't want to switch the reels and go through the process of rewinding the film back to the beginning to watch it again. So he "lazily" just flipped the projector to reverse. As he watched himself move backwards, he realized many of the movements made as much sense in reverse as they did going forward. This is when "Motion-Kenpo" was born. He decided a motion based concept was the perfect vehicle to use to spread a version of his art to the masses. This is the origin of the "concept" and the term "Reverse Motion."
 
Originally posted by KennethKu

Sorry guys, I didn't write the article. As stated clearly at the top, the authors are Ron Chap矇l, Ph.D. & Ed Parker Sr.

Oops--I did see that but assumed Mr. Chap矇l posted it. Sorry, not paying enough attention!
 
Thanks Mr. Chap矇l; I think I understand now.

Reverse motion sounds like one of the concepts used when breaking down Okinawan kata for bunkai--that a punch forward looks the same as grabbing a wrist and pulling backwards.

As you say, we seem to have drifted off the subject. I must cast my vote for Robert Trias I'm afraid!
 
Originally posted by arnisador

Thanks Mr. Chap矇l; I think I understand now.

Reverse motion sounds like one of the concepts used when breaking down Okinawan kata for bunkai--that a punch forward looks the same as grabbing a wrist and pulling backwards.

As you say, we seem to have drifted off the subject. I must cast my vote for Robert Trias I'm afraid!

Where the confusion comes in with this whole "Father of" thing is simple. First don't confuse "Karate" and Kenpo." They are just words. Kenpo a bit more specific, Karate is generic meaning all martial arts in this country. Of course not to you or I but the general public.

It is undesputed Parker is the Father of American Kenpo (specific) but he also is the Father of American Karate (general) because he was the only one doing "American Karate."
Also there is a huge misunderstanding that "Father of" somehow means "first." It does not. It means "most significant progenitor." History is rife with inventors who created things "first" but who did not become the significant progentor. Alexander Bell, as an example was given "father status" on many things he didn't invent but simply proliferated. The "father" of Newtonian Physics is attributed to Issac Newton but he wasn't the first, he just was the most widely published and accepted.

Clearly no one of his day did more to bring the martial arts to the American public than Ed Parker, and nobody of his day was doing "American Karate" but him. Everyone else was doing "Japanese Karate" in America. A significant difference. I will gladly grant Trias the "Father of Japanese Karate in America" status, but you can't be the Father of "American Karate" doing a Japanese art. Even Father of "Karate" in American, but not Father of American Karate. The line is thin until you examine what is really being said.

Hey I'm the "Father of Sublevel Four Kenpo" but Ed Parker is the genesis. I just get all the blame. :)
 
I will gladly grant Trias the "Father of Japanese Karate in America" status

Yes, this is how I meant it. Certainly Mr. Parker did more to spread the popularity of the martial arts in the U.S. even if one omits the creation of his own system!
 
Originally posted by Goldendragon7



Nope...........

He correctly is the Father of American Kenpo.

Why, because he was the first to develop AK here on American Soil.

The first true American Martial Art.


:asian:
I believe he did the most to spread Martial arts to the American public and help influence the most by any American. But to say he developed the first true American Martial Arts. I consider want he did the same as Krav Maga. He basically took Chinese/Okinawan/ Japanese Martial Arts added his theories and concepts. Isn't that what Krav Maga did and they call it Israeli Martial Art. Too me it isn't and American or Israeli Art, It's American or Israeli concepts or theories take from COJ Martial Arts.
Bob :asian:
 
Yes, and the COJ (there's a new piece of jargon!) arts took everything from the Indian, who took...

What is special to kenpo, and to Mr. Parker's karate, is its systematization and teaching method.

Krav Maga? Please. I've no doubt that some very tough folks indeed practice KM, but here in LA this is simply Sunday supplement stuff...
 
Originally posted by Kempojujutsu
He (Ed Parker) basically took Chinese/Okinawan/ Japanese Martial Arts added his theories and concepts. Isn't that what Krav Maga did and they call it Israeli Martial Art. Too me it isn't and American or Israeli Art, It's American or Israeli concepts or theories take from COJ Martial Arts.
Bob :asian:

Well Bob, I totally disagree.

No he didn't take C,O or J Martial Arts and add theories and concepts. Kenpo has no forms that resemble anything like Asian MA or any other for that matter. His premise for the system was Logic and the command of motion in relation to Self Defense.

Granted many of the basics that ALL Martial Arts use form the starting foundation (these are generic for all systems dating back to the Egyptians), and it does fall under the heading of "Martial Arts" but the "methods" in which they are used and applied are quite different.

The Chinese were here over a hundred years prior and other forms as well.

What Ed Parker did was to give birth to a unique Self Defense System "American Kenpo" (as it eventually became named) that was not "tradition based" (as the other systems you mentioned) but structured to be practical not classical, pragmatic not vintage, to be in step with current technologies and usage.

The entire American Kenpo System including all Forms were developed within the confines of the United States thus giving credible and accurate use of the title.

:asian:
 
Where should we start first at. The name he chose, Kenpo karate is of Asian culture, you can't find the word in dicionary. Second he uses a Gi doesn't this come from Asian culture. He also use bow or salutation which has some Asian culture in it. The use of belts in general was from Asian culture. The forms you talked about, yes they maybe made in the U.S. but the idea of kata or forms is a Asian culture. Did he developed the forms himself, or did he have help with this? Wasn't the guy that help developed them from Asian desent? Two of the weapons forms use traditional COJ weapons, Staff, Nunchaku. Using names to describe techniques. Tai chi does this, isn't it Asian culture. Also didn't the Tracy's start this first? Ed like the idea, but the tracy's had moved on and Ed didn't wanted to use their names. I have heard Kajukenbo was the first American made martial arts? And if we are going to talk about who made the first American martial art, I would think Col. Rex Applegate would have to be in there. Since he help train American soliders and spies in WWII. Or perhaps Tom Hyer the first bare knuckle American Champion (1841). I am sure the real Americans (Native American Indians) had some kind of fighting arts. So Ed wasn't probably the first, but he did promoted it the best!
Bob:asian:
 

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