Mr. Parker's body mechanics

Kenpodoc

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
734
Reaction score
19
Location
Ohio
I never met Mr. Parker but I've seen both the early 60's films of him with Mr. Sullivan and video of him from the mid 70's. Somewhere between the two films his body mechanics changed. He became looser and his power became more "wave like." The man I see in the film from the early '60's is very talented, very powerful and clearly impressive but somehow more ordinary, more like other talented martial artists that I have met. The movement that he demonstrates by the mid '70's is fluid, powerful and somehow more than what normal mortals achieve.

1. Did this change in motion come about just as a result of maturing or was it a conscious change on Mr. Parker's part?

2. Was he aware that he had changed how he moved?

3. Any suggestions for a method for ordinary mortals to learn this changed body mechanics?

Jeff
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 9, 2004
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
113
Location
Dana Point, CA
howardr said:
Calling Dr. Chapel...
He'll get a kick outta that, I'm sure (no pun intended). If you look up some of the splashing hands stuff on the MT search engine, you'll likely find some previous posts by Doc addressing this very thing. Very informative. Could also surf Doc's posts under his icon.

Dave
 

Michael Billings

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Joined
Apr 5, 2002
Messages
3,962
Reaction score
31
Location
Austin, Texas USA-Terra
It often takes Doc a day or so to get back to you. He travels doing Kenpo seminars, but is also still active with Law Enforcement and their training (i.e. he has a life that is not behind the keyboard).

-Michael
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
152
Location
Southern California
Kenpodoc said:
I never met Mr. Parker but I've seen both the early 60's films of him with Mr. Sullivan and video of him from the mid 70's. Somewhere between the two films his body mechanics changed. He became looser and his power became more "wave like." The man I see in the film from the early '60's is very talented, very powerful and clearly impressive but somehow more ordinary, more like other talented martial artists that I have met. The movement that he demonstrates by the mid '70's is fluid, powerful and somehow more than what normal mortals achieve.

1. Did this change in motion come about just as a result of maturing or was it a conscious change on Mr. Parker's part?

2. Was he aware that he had changed how he moved?

3. Any suggestions for a method for ordinary mortals to learn this changed body mechanics?

Jeff

This is an interesting observation I have often commented on myself to draw a clear line between the different interpretations of Ed Parker’s own works dictated by different points in time, and his own knowledge as well as his specific goals with various groups of people at the time.

In the beginning when Ed Parker Sr. first came to the mainland and began to teach, he was a novice brown belt. By the time he had made Black, he was essentially the same, interpreting what he had learned from Kwai Sun Chow. It was my understanding that Chow had few actual “techniques” as we know them today, but instead worked from a series of realistic scenarios and concepts that varied from class to class. Chow also spent an extraordinary amount of time on “mat” work.

Ed Parker created self-defense techniques based on Chows reality based concept, which for the most part, excluded the traditional method of teaching forms and extracting applications or “bunkai.” Chow went straight for the jugular to find out what would work. This also included a great deal of jiu-jitsu of the Henry Okazaki influence, which Parker, for the most part, omitted for a time after coming to the mainland.

It was during this period that Parker was significantly influenced by the Japanese and Okinawa interpretations prevalent in Hawaii of the day. A quick glance at Parker’s “Kenpo Karate” published in 1962, shows the many hard linear movements, albeit with significant modifications, that set his interpretations apart from most everyone else of the time and it was reflected in his “techniques.”

While most were executing one or two move “techniques,” Parker was using linear rapid fire multiple moves and angles with a hint of “jiu-jitsu” for grabs and holds. Three-step “fighting” drills centering on punching attacks were the norm. Parker, like his senior Sijo Emperado, felt a need to expand on that to encompass the “real” fighting often encountered in the islands.

Although Chow focused on realism, he did not work from an actual codified “system” of teaching. It was this idea of focusing on self-defense over unrelated nebulous cultural rituals that fascinated the pragmatic minded Parker. He took the concept to heart and always gave Chow credit for this direction, but not for the actual technique, he ultimately began to codify.

All of the influences up to that time were reflected in Parker’s rigid linear method of “Kenpo Karate,” as it was called then. Even when Parker wrote the book he had already began to become influenced by the Chinese, and included information about nerve strikes and their implications in self-defense. He also presented his “Kenpo Creed” that did not actually include the work “karate” as a part of its recitation, but instead double hyphenated the word to show the relationship of “karate” to “Kenpo.”

Once established on the mainland after leaving the military, finishing his education, and finally settling in Southern California, Parker found himself in a rich martial arts cultural demographic. Arts of all kinds and nationalities settled in California early, and were available to the knowledgeable. The exceptions were the Chinese, who have always been “secretive” about their methodologies, and rarely taught non-Chinese. Despite the Bruce Lee “Kung-fu” explosion, and the plethora of books and tapes available, the real information remains unavailable even today.

However being Polynesian, Parker was embraced by many of the available Chinese Masters, who had a significant influence on his philosophy and methodologies over the years. Coming in contact with people like James (Jimmy) W. Woo, Parker was exposed to new Chinese training concepts and history, which he used to write his second book, “Secrets of Chinese Karate.”

In this book Parker was attempting to educate the American Public to the roots of the then fairly well known “Karate,” in an effort to gain public acceptance for his new found direction with the Chinese. This began an influence on his methodologies, but it was his meeting with Ark Yuey Wong Grandmaster of “Five Animal Qung-fu that triggered an explosion of fluidity in his art, now termed “Chinese Kenpo.”

Ark Wong had acquired a student named Haumea Lefiti. Nicknamed, (tongue in cheek), “Tiny,” he was studying “Splashing Hands” with ark Wong. “Tiny” was a huge Samoan who had did a stint in the USMC and began learning Splashing Hands while stationed in Taiwan. When his tour of duty was over, he asked his teacher whom he might continue his study with in the U.S. His teacher informed him the only one he knew of was Ark Wong in the Los Angeles Chinatown. He came to Ark Wong with a letter of recommendation in hand.

“Tiny” was built like Ed Parker only bigger, but moved explosively like the smaller Chinese students. “Tiny” had a tremendous influence on Parker at that time, and Parker more or less emulated “Tiny” in his movements in the beginning. “Tiny” dwarfed Ark Wong but Ark Wong would drop him effortlessly. Parker saw the tremendous speed and power of Lefiti but knew there was more than that to what Ark Wong was doing. Parker became very fluid during this period and looked nothing like he had previously on his arrival to the mainland.

Many martial artists found themselves in Ark Wong’s school. Jimmy Woo, Dan Inosanto, along with Ed Parker, “Tino Tuiolosega and “Tiny” were the beginning of an impressive group upon which Ark Y. Wong had a significant impact. When Parker moved to expand his art, he ultimately had all of these people with him at one time or another. Tino split off and created “Lima Lama and “Tiny” joined him. Danny was there and left to train with and help educate Bruce Lee. Jimmy Woo taught Tai Chi Quan in Parker’s school before leaving and taking Parker black belts, Rick Flores and Rick Montgomery with him.

Parker studied with other Chinese Masters as well, but also worked in other arts to make comparative analysis of what they were doing. It was said often that Parker understood others arts better than they did themselves. He was friends with everyone and had their respect. This contributed to the success of the early years of the I.K.C., (International Championships), where he brought everyone from every style together to demonstrate their arts and in “friendly” competitions.

There came a point for various reasons where Parker made a conscious decision to create a commercial product in order to spread the beginnings of his art, although it was still a work in progress. Stumbling upon and deciding upon a “motion based concept” out of necessity, it allowed his many transfer black belt students to work with his conceptual ideas with significant flexibility to allow personal interpretations, and "American Kenpo Karate" was born. As much as he hated using the word "karate," he knew the public still had no idea what "Kenpo" was so he relented, even though years later he wished he hadn't. To sell his commercial kenpo, karate had to be a part of its name, and Parker was stuck with it. But anyway and more importantly, conceptually it allowed him to see most of his students very rarely as he traveled teaching seminars and promoting his commercial art most of the year.

Ed Parker himself however personally continued to study and grow, and that is visible in any film or video examinations over the years. He added many elements to his personal art that I feel, given time; he would have eventually begun to share with more people. Unfortunately, he never got that opportunity as far as I know. On the grand scale, his commercial works survives but is deteriorating as students recognize a great deal of information is missing and are defecting to other arts to fill the holes of their commercial education.

Of course, that is not everyone, but I have always said what you learn in Kenpo will always be a product of the quality of the teacher. It is with instructors where the true knowledge lies, and it will always be their responsibility as to what their students know and how they perform.

The problems in a commercial environment are many, but one of the biggest is its many “teachers.” Some person who does not know how to defend himself comes into the school to learn how. After a couple of years, the person who had no street experience is now teaching others about surviving on the street.

In the beginning, most of Parker’s black belts came from other styles, and for the most part could already fight. Parker just made them better. When a guy comes from no experience, and rises to black belt and becomes the teacher, well you see each generation becomes less and less qualified to teach. Parker called this an “… entity feeding upon itself.” He was aware of the problem and I would like to think he was working on fixing it based on some of the projects he gave me for ranking and such.

Nevertheless, clearly the way Parker moved in the sixties, (and we have the film), and the way he moved in the eighties on video were not the same. However, the most significant thing is most of his students did not move like him at all. There is a reason true masters correct every small deficiency in mechanical movement and all of their students move the same with the same body mechanics. I know to most students of the commercial art that sounds like blasphemy, but in the real world, that is what is done. Pick any physical activity or sport where maximum effective movement is integral. Everyone moves the same for maximum efficiency. Those that free lance do not make the cut.

Also just as unfortunately, through the years Parker lost many students. Many left him to open their own schools, teaching what they had learned up to that point with Ed Parker. Just as bad many stopped being students but stayed around anyway. Ed Parker was an innovator who constantly evaluated everything he did. Most did not what to do that. Once they "learned" something, they wanted to put it on the shelf and move to something "new." Most of Ed Parker's black belts left him in one way or another before he began his most fascinating innovations, and they continue to do what they learned at their point in time, or some basterdized version of it.
 
OP
K

Kenpodoc

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 7, 2003
Messages
734
Reaction score
19
Location
Ohio
Thanks for your response Dr. Chapel. You're right that no one that I've met moves like the pictures I've seen of Mr. Parker. Oddly enough, the person who I've met who moves most like Mr. Parker's coiled yet relaxed wave-like power is Alan McLuckie a FMA stylist who now does Systema. (now I'm in trouble. :) )

Respectfully,

Jeff
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
152
Location
Southern California
Michael Billings said:
It often takes Doc a day or so to get back to you. He travels doing Kenpo seminars, but is also still active with Law Enforcement and their training (i.e. he has a life that is not behind the keyboard).

-Michael
As usual Mr. Billings - you are quite correct. I really look forward to meeting you next year.
 

Atlanta-Kenpo

Blue Belt
Joined
Jun 3, 2003
Messages
205
Reaction score
6
Location
Atlanta GA
Anyone who has seen or felt Al McLuckie knows that he is one of the most talented instructors out there. Man can that guy hit hard. :asian:
 

Latest Discussions

Top