Passing of A Kenpo Senior Instructor

Bob Hubbard

MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Aug 4, 2001
Reaction score
Land of the Free
I did a quick check of a few locations I usually find news like this, and no luck on a confirmation. Keep in mind though, this may be too new to have spread far yet. I'll try and keep my eyes open for confirmation.

Please don't stray to the Parker/Tracy stuff here...Keep it focused on Grand Master John McSweeney.

Thank you.

RIP GM.:asian:
Could someone please put a write up on this in the Memorials forum? Maybe add in some links to information on his life and contributions to the arts?

I've looked at this thread a few times, and can't really see any clean way to pull the politics from the memories. Perhaps a clean tribute would be best?

Thank you. Its one of those, "Hope it doesn't see many new threads" things, as each new thread means we've lost someone.

But please, add thoughts and memories there on all the past masters.

Originally posted by Dave Simmons
This is directed at Gou...
You are such a doubting Gou at times. Although I can understand your hesitation regarding the death of SGM McSweeney. Was it last year somebody indicated Jim Tracy died without check it out?
Yeah, Al Tracy is opinated but inaccurate, no.

Exactly. Some one, I don't know who last year tried to say that Jim Tracy died. I believe my response was, "Are you sure?"

Of course I am a "doubting Gou". Anyone who has knowledge of my past will see why.

As for Al Tracy being innaccurate, well, I don't know the guy but I have not heard a lot of positive stuff regarding him and what he's said. But then again, I wasn't there back in the day so I won't comment on what I don't know. I just want to point out that one website does not make the truth on anything. So if a guy Like McSweeny, (R.I.P.) ends up being told he's gone and isn't it can cause a lot of harm. Although I wasn't aware he was a SGM. Did he start his own Kenpo system? I'm not too knowledgable on his art.

One more thing, I still want to hear Al Tracy's version of Wil Tracy's sex cult and I know you do too! Heh heh heh...

But in a more serious manner, I know Zoran was a big supporter of McSweeny and I hope he is doing ok as well as all the other people who followed this man.
Originally posted by Klondike93

I think it's from a posting about how he got the SGM tag, which I don't think was ever answered.

I actually read it as Sergeant Major the first time.
It is sad to see another person who helped shape our art pass on. He will be greatly missed.
Kaith, you should know by now that is how the kenpo community remebers each other is thru their political viewpoints.

Although a nicely written memorial would be nice.
On Tuesday February 26, 2002 at 2:00 pm, Grand Master John McSweeney, at the age of 74, passed away from a massive heart attack. This happened at his home in Fort Meyers Florida. His wife, Mary Ann, called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital. The doctors could not help him.

Mr. McSweeney began his training in the martial arts while very young in boxing. In 1952, while serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he was stationed in Japan where he trained in Kodokan Judo. In 1959, Mr. McSweeney met Mr. Ed Parker. In late 1962, Mr. Parker awarded him a black belt. That same year, Mr. McSweeney left for Dublin Ireland and opened Ireland's first Kenpo school. When he left Ireland, he left behind 4 black belts to carry on the legacy. Mr. McSweeney came to New York and opened a Kenpo school. Mr. McSweeney did not make a living on martial arts. So, sooner or later Mr. McSweeney left New York because of his job. When he left, he left behind 3 black belts, one of which was Frank DeMaria. In 1980 Mr. McSweeney opened a school in Elmhurst, Il. His first black belts there were, Tom Saviano, Ray Korda, and Mike Vassolo.
The short bio I just gave you, really does not do the man justice. I could tell you about his three rounds of service in three branches of the military. Or being the father of Kenpo in Ireland. Or the many organizations that honored him and practically threw certificates of rank at him. Or the many battles he had to face as was almost common place back in those days. None of that mattered to him. So, let me tell you about the man. John McSweeney's drive was the love of the for Martial Arts and the people in it. He was always a true gentleman. He was a man that always gave respect first and expected to receive it in return. He never looked down at anyone, no matter what their experience and rank was. He also never looked up to anyone, preferring to be eye to eye. He was comfortable being a teacher or a student, and continued to learn to the very end. If you had the great honor of Mr. McSweeney calling you a friend, you came away feeling that it meant something. And, he was much more than my limited writing ability could express.

Mr. McSweeney would always tell me to call him John. I compromised and agreed to call him John only in private. I will break this rule only this one time. John, you will be missed by myself and all the others you have touched. May God bless you soul.

For information call Tom Saviano at (630)495-1711

Zoran Sevic
Originally posted by arnisador

I actually read it as Sergeant Major the first time.

I think he would have liked that. Senior Grand Master was a title other people gave to him. He was never refered to as SGM within our/his association. He was usually referred as GM McSweeney or Mr. McSweeney. He preferred being called John.
Originally posted by Goldendragon7

I thought the SGM comment was aimed at Ed Parker not McSweeney...... did I miss something?


I don't know, maybe I missed something. I assumed he meant this thread where someone referred to him as SGM McSweeney.
I know I am not the appropriate one to post this, but I just read it on Al Tracy's site.

"John McSweeney died of a heart attack - Tuesday Feb 26, 2002. John was known as the Father of Irish Karate. John McSweeney was one of the few who studied directly with GrandMaster Ed Parker at the original studio in Pasadena in the late 50's and early 60's."

I figured you'd want to know.

I could not find contact to send your condolances. Perhaps someone could post it if they know.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

But shouldn't you be discussing this in another thread.

This IS a thread about a respected kenpoist passing away.
Politics should be discussed elsewhere

But that's just my opinion


P.S. If you see this same post elsewhere, it's because I was in a different thread and thinking about this one. D'oh :shrug: My bad
Originally posted by KenpoGirl
"John McSweeney died of a heart attack - Tuesday Feb 26, 2002. John was known as the Father of Irish Karate. John McSweeney was one of the few who studied directly with GrandMaster Ed Parker at the original studio in Pasadena in the late 50's and early 60's."

My prayers are with the family and students of Mr. Mc Sweeney.

What is this with all our kenpo seniors dieing of heart attacks?
Are they broken hearts from all the in fighting, or are they putting so much of their heart into it, it just couldn't take any more?

With condolences


Originally posted by Dave Simmons
As far as Al Tracy is concerned well McSweeney shared with me a nice little story. From time to time Ed Parker Studio in San Francisco would be visited by people who would challenge Parker. One particular night a Savate practitioner challenged Parker. Well, according to McSweeney, Parker said to Al Tracy it's your turn...The Savate guy squared off with Al Tracy . The Savate guy threw a front (wheel) roundhouse kick to Al's head Al met it with an inward block and broke the guys leg.

Cool!! The basics in action.

But, I still haven't seen any posting as to why there was/is such a problem between the Tracy's and Mr. Parker. Anyone?


Yes it does, thanks for the info. I think it's cool that Al doesn't try to disassociate from Mr. Parker.



Latest Discussions