KT:Some "accurate" history

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Sep 11, 2006
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Some "accurate" history
By Mills Crenshaw - 01-24-2009 08:51 PM
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk


In 2006 I Googled Ed Parker to find out how my friend was being remembered. I came across the Will Tracy version of Kenpo history. I was furious at the fiction and found the Sanjosekenpo.com web site forum. I proceeded to try to set the record straight; but was surprised to learn I wasn't believed because "I was dead." To paraphrase Mark Twain, that was a slight exageration. Here are a few of the issues that might give some insight into the early (Jerassic Era) year of Kenpo as Ed Parker taught it:

That's Not History
September 12 2006 at 10:52 AM

I have no interest in embarrassing anyone, nor do I wish to create needless conflict on this web site. I am, after all a guest. But the "history" as presented herein is filled with distortions and untruths. I do not presume to correct the entire revisionist nonsense contained herein; but I do wish to speak for Ed Parker since he is not here to answer for himself. I will only write of things of which I have personal knowledge.

I was there at the founding of the IKKA. Ed Parker was not just the teacher who instilled in me a love and respect for the martial arts; he was also my friend and brother. He was a man who loved truth above all. And truth is sadly lacking in the presentation of his history as set forth on this site. Ed spoke many times of the business disagreements he had with the Tracy Brothers. He spoke with grudging admiration about their money making abilities, but with distain for what he characterized as their questionable integrity and bastardization of Kenpo.

The constant references to Ed Parker&#8217;s &#8220;Mormonization&#8221; of the IKKA is nonsense. It smacks of anti Mormon bigotry at best and sloppy disregard for the truth at worst. Yes, Ed Parker was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He was proud of that affiliation. While not a perfect man, he had far too great a reverence for his faith to &#8220;borrow&#8221; from it in the development of his commercial endeavors. Because I was there and because I was both privy to Ed&#8217;s structuring of the IKKA and was also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I can state factually that any representation to the contrary is nonsense.

I have learned, through the years that small men try to make themselves appear larger by tearing down the shadows of giants. They only succeed in covering themselves with the dust of history.

Mills Crenshaw
Black Belt
Friend of Ed Parker

September 12 2006 at 9:17 PM

Response to Mills Crenshaw - Kenpo Questions
An excellent question, Sifu Chet,

Ed Parker&#8217;s early Black Belts were trained as warriors. It was a very hard system. By that I mean brutal not just difficult. As I&#8217;m sure you heard Ed Parker say:
&#8220;To hear is to disbelieve; to see is to doubt; but to feel is to be convinced!&#8221; We FELT every technique again and again. Kenpo was not a game. It was not a sport. It was life and death reality. We knew that each skill worked because we experienced it. That&#8217;s the way we were taught; and that was the way we were taught to teach. The &#8220;sport&#8221; of karate is a recent development that has seriously distorted and degraded both the meaning and practice of the art.

Make no mistake, competition is fun. But competition changes the skills of the competitors and breeds political discord between competing schools. In fact, through the years, politics has replaced honor and the pursuit of trophies has replaced the quest for personal excellence. It&#8217;s sad that most students will never know what Kenpo was really like.
I fought Mike Stone in Chicago (that was during the Jurassic period as I recall). He was a warrior, and a man of honor at that point in his life. Time after time points would be scored that were too fast for the judges to see...or were scored with weapons with which the judges were un familiar. I recall Mike looking around at the judges and pointing at his temple about the third time they missed a hard back-knuckle . It was a gesture of a true champion who wanted no unearned honors. Today you find that integrity in golf but not, I fear, in the martial arts. As a result, many years ago, I lost interest in contests between preening and posturing combatants who wouldn&#8217;t last 30 seconds in a life and death struggle.

To this day, if you ask any of my students they shudder when they remember the rigors they undertook to achieve mastery of their art. Tony Martinez was recently honored with his 10th degree black belt (I&#8217;m sure you are aware that in Ed Parker&#8217;s system any rank above 5th degree is honorary). I was invited by Tony&#8217;s students to speak at the surprise banquet held in his honor. It was a privilege to pay tribute to a valiant warrior who had been trained in the old school and who never forgot the basic fact that the art had to have its foundation based in reality.

Tony, Dan Lynch, Casey Clayton and the many police officers I was privileged to train never forgot that lesson, because they were convinced&#8212; they felt the reality of the techniques they were taught.

Forgive me, I didn&#8217;t mean for this answer to turn into a book;.but it was an outstanding question; one that deserved an answer... An important final point. There are men running dojos who brutalize their students and call it training. These men are not worthy of being called teachers let alone &#8220;Master.&#8221; I taught the way Ed Parker taught me. Pain was a valuable instructor. When teaching a new technique each student was allowed to be convinced that it was really effective. Then he was allowed to &#8220;convince&#8221; me. My average advanced class had 35 students. Therefor, for every punch a student took, I took 35. That was Ed Parker&#8217;s method of preventing his instructors from becoming brutal with their students.

Sadly, American students are not willing to put up with the discomfort necessary to really understand the art. The Tracys were quick to understand that and modified their training to make it short goal oriented and &#8220;user friendly.&#8221; Their choice was neither right nor wrong. They were clever enough to package their version of the art for American consumers. It was commercially successful. Many, including Ed Parker, came to the realization that in order to to make a living they would have to teach consumers &#8220;commercial Kenpo.&#8221; But never forget, beneath the many colored belts and friendly forms, there lurks s deadly REALITY.

They Were Men Of Stature
September 12 2006 at 10:20 PM

Response to Thats Not History a question about what kind of men Ed Parker and Bruce Lee were in life

They are giants in death because they were men of stature in life. They faced real challenges, overcame them and achieved in spite of detractors and disloyal "friends." I only met Bruce Lee twice. Once a Ed Parker's home in Pasadena and once at Ed's tournament in Long Beach. The first time he was in Ed's kitchen, straddling a kitchen chair. His hands were on the back of the chair, his chin on his hands. He glowered at me and at the time I wondered who this surly &#8220;kid&#8221; was.

These were real men, complex and driven. Too bad we don&#8217;t appreciate them while we have them with us,


I hope these sketches in time will be of value in letting you know a little more about the MAN who created the complex

and GROWING system we study.


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