Kenpo Seniors / Senior Students / Next Generation

Michael Billings

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Apr 5, 2002
Reaction score
Austin, Texas USA-Terra
NOTE: I am looking at EPAC only for the purpose of demonstration; but it could generalize out to other lineages.

It is sometimes confusing for me to catalogue or catagorize Kenpo Instructors. It is obvious who the "Seniors" are; anyone who was a 7th Degree under SGM Parker is there, but how a 6th Degree or 5th Black (Probably.)

OK what if they were a 2nd Black in 1990 and are a 6th Degree now, does that make them a "Senior"? Is 6th Degree Black a Senior now? How about 4th or 3rd?

My thought is that any of Mr. Parker's students, who were 5th or above, and continued to train and teach in the Art, are probably worthy of being called a Senior now. But where I get a little shaky is in cases like Bryan Hawkins or my teacher - Tommy Burks, Senior Students of Mr. Parker's (and they were training with him directly in the years just prior to his death), but maybe not "A Senior." Some are just not old enough to be called "Seniors." Others in this catagory could include those studying directly with Mr. Parker, such as Jeff Speakman, Barbara Hale, Dian Tanaka, Dennis Conatser, Howard Silva, etc.? This is the group I would call "Senior Students."

Then there are those who were 3rd's and 4th's around 1990. They kept the Art alive, kept training and teaching, but did not accept promotions for various reasons, for the past 10 years. They are starting to move up now, but have more time in grade than a lot of people. This 3rd group I would call the "Next Generation" - (credit to Sigung Steven LaBounty for this phrase, along with the "Future of Kenpo" - now that is a scary thought considering the source.) These instructors knew Mr. Parker, and trained with his Senior's, or Direct Student's.

Another group exists of high ranking Black Belts, who have promoted through hard effort, work, and talent, but who did not know Mr. Parker except through his Students. I am sorry they did not experience him personally, as a part of him is in each of us. This does not preclude them from becomming "Seniors" (say 7th Black, since this seems to be a magical landmark for Kenpoist.)

Comments, Observations, Harsh Language? As Dennis Conatser once said, "If you have to ask if you are a "Senior", you probably are not one". I liked this a lot. I do not really need to catagorize my seniors and instructors, but sometimes it gets hard to tell the players for newbies.

In my organization "Senior" label is applied on , how long you have been in Kenpo Karate, when you achieved Shodan and where you are at the present time. I have been involved in Kenpo through Al Tracy since 1966. I am considered a "Senior" for reference sake. Really it has to be an overall perspective of activity in the organization.

Dave Simmons

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