Saturday, October 31, 2015

Violent Repose

(Time Magazine, March 1961)
Rarely had Hollywood, which knows something about such things, witnessed such a spectacle of eye gouging, groin kicking and neck chopping. To a lavishly mirrored studio on Los Angeles' South La Cienega Boulevard last week came a pack of TV and film stars to watch an exhibition of the latest fad in craze-crazy filmland: karate. A more violent cousin of jujitsu and judo, Japanese-imported karate (pronounced kah-rah-tay) aims at delivering a fatal or merely maiming blow with hand, finger, elbow or foot, adopts the defensive philosophy that an attacker deserves something more memorable than a flip over the shoulder. Karate is now taught in more than 50 schools across the U.S., has an estimated 50,000 practitioners. But nowhere has it caught on more solidly than in Hollywood, where disciples seek tranquility in its rigid discipline and authority.

Better Board than Head. Karate has won the allegiance of such as Actors Rory Calhoun, Macdonald Carey, Nick (The Rebel) Adams and TV Detectives Frank Lovejoy, Darren McGavin, and Rick (Dangerous Robin) Jason. Elvis Presley, who learned the sport in Germany as a G.I., now spars with two sidekicks during moviemaking lulls, and even Film Composer Bronislaw Kaper has taken to the loose white gi suit worn for karate lessons. Says Hollywood Columnist Joe Hyams: "We all work in an environment that's fraught with hostility. It's great to bust a board instead of a head."

Board busting with the naked hand is a spectacular but comparatively recent demonstration of karate (literally, empty hands). Legend holds that the sport was started in the 6th century by an Indian Buddhist monk named Daruma Taishi, who taught it to Chinese monks. It was refined on Okinawa after 1600, introduced in the 1920s to Japan, where it quickly shared popularity with the gentle art of jujitsu and its systematized variation, judo. But where their aim is to use an opponent's own weight to throw him to the floor without necessarily injuring him, karate aims at increasing its user's own strength to kill or injure an adversary by striking him at any of 26 vital points—chiefly with the toughened edge of the hand or the clenched fist. Although used by Japanese troops during World War II, karate is considered too ferocious for the U.S. armed forces. Nor do municipal police forces take regular karate training. "In no court," said one police official, "would karate be called 'reasonable force' in subduing a prisoner."

Karate King. The high priest of Hollywood's fast-growing karate sect, and host at last week's exhibition, is a black-maned, 6-ft., 210-lb. devout Mormon named Ed Parker, who, he says, learned the deadly, lightning-fast ballet in his native Honolulu in order to avoid getting into fights with friends who taunted him because he did not drink or smoke. After serving a Coast Guard hitch during the Korean War and graduating from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he moved to Pasadena, opened his first karate studio four years ago, started a second in January. He frowns upon any ostentatious use of karate, prefers to ram his fist through ten corrugated roof tiles in the privacy of his studio.

My Kenpo Karate Roots

(Black Belt Magazine May 1990 V-28 No. 5)

I was 16 years old when one of the members of the church I belonged to introduced me to Kenpo Karate.  Frank Chow told a few of us how e had beaten a local bully renowned for his streetfighting prowess.  The bully was big and as solid as granite, and not until Frank demonstrated the strategy he used did we believe his David-and-Goliath story.

Once convinced, I was instantly intrigued by this Oriental art and began studying under Frank.  I had boxed and been in street altercations quite a few times myself, so I questioned, disagreed, and stood corrected by Frank in my quest for knowledge.

I soon recognized the value Kenpo could have on the streets.  Having learned judo and treasuring its merits, I nevertheless saw that Kenpo was superior in handling two of more men at one time.  Judo ties you up with one man for too long, exposing your vulnerable areas, whereas Kenpo offered explosive action with minimal target exposure.

I looked forward to every lesson, until one day Frank told me he could no longer be my teacher.  Dejected and disheartened, I wondered what I would do now that my Kenpo training had come to and end.

Frank was pleased to see my reaction, and explained that he had merely taken me as far as he could.  He was not qualified to go beyond the lessons he had already taught.

But my Kenpo training was far from over.  Frank told me to further my Kenpo education with his brother, who was a top instructor in Honolulu.  With mixed emotions, I visited William K. S. Chow.  I found him conducting a class at the Nuuanu YMCA, and was impressed with what I saw.  From the moment I witnessed William Chow move, and appraised the ability of his students, a strong spiritual feeling penetrated the very depths of my soul.  Kenpo, I knew, would become my life's work.

Fighting against opponents with different reaches, mannerisms, and methods of executing moves forced me to learn motion thoroughly.  The ability to protect and hit from any angle thrilled me to no end, because this knowledge increased my chances of victory on the street.  Adriano and Joe Emperado were Chow's first graduating black belts in Kenpo karate, and I looked upon them with envy and respect.  It was Adriano who, after his brother's death, formed Kajukenbo an offshoot of Chow's Kenpo system, with advocates throughout the world.

Many students branched away from Chow’s system, yet each had a greatest respect for his ability.  Chow was not tall man, but he was fast, precise and powerful.  He never wasted motion and reminded me of a mongoose fighting a snake.  His defensive moves were never exaggerated.  He allowed an opponent’s punch to miss him just slightly, then bam – he’d be in at the man's vital areas.

I wanted to learn as much as I could, so I followed Chow, questioned him, bugged him, and it paid off.  He stressed the need for modifications and additions, and introduced me to key movements which set me on the road to becoming a creative innovator.  He knew that Kenpo was only in its infant stages, and felt it must be modified to meet the needs of modern America.

I treasured the time I spent with Chow and the revelations I obtained from our conversations and workouts.  As I look back, I cannot thank him enough for setting me on the path of logic and realistic thinking.

Chow's classes were loaded with great practitioners, and I think many of them for beating some sense into my head - Fred Lara, Manny de la Cruz, Ike Kaawa, Bobby Lowe (who now represents Mas Oyama in Hawaii), Masashi Oshiro (goju-ryu representative for the late Gogen Yamaguchi), and Paul Yamaguchi, as well as others who have passed on.  I learned much from these men and then matured into the martial arts practitioner I am today.  The workouts, demonstrations, and parties are all in my past, but they are etched into my mind for all eternity.

After two years at Brigham Young University, I was drafted into the Korean War in 1951 and managed to be stationed in Hawaii for two-and-a-half years of my three-year hitch with the U.S. Coast Guard.  I could now continue my studies with Chow on a full-time basis!  Far from tiring of Kenpo, the more I studied, the more intrigued I became.

On several occasions, Kenpo saved my life.  I then knew firsthand that Kenpo worked, my desire to teach on the mainland grew stronger.  I visualized the benefits others would gain and the confidence and character it could instill in our youth.

I talked with William Chow about the possibility of opening Kenpo schools throughout the continental United States after I graduated from Brigham Young.  I felt that a university degree was essential to solidify our plans because it would discourage others from looking upon us as mere pugilists.  Chow thought the plan was feasible and was willing to take up residence on the mainland.

I eventually established a successful school in Pasadena, California, and was ready to bring Chow to the continental United States to pursue our plan.  In September, 1959, I flew to Hawaii for the first time in five years and went to see Chow, reminding him of our expansion plans.  Chow told me I had his blessing that I was to go it alone.

My heart dropped to my stomach as Chow explained that he didn't think he could adjust to the new environment.  He was basically shy and felt he would be out of place on the mainland.  As much as I tried to change his mind, he stuck to his conviction.  I honored his wish and commenced an expansion program on my own.

Full-scale success did not come easily; Chow's change of heart was only one of the discouraging moments that were to follow.  Yet determination and perseverance made my life fruitful.  Kenpo remains as vibrant to me now as it was when I first began my studies, and its possibilities promised to intrigue me for a lifetime.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Mr. Parker with Mr. Jim Mitchell

Jim Mitchell receiving his 5th degree black belt from Mr. Parker in 1981.

El Cajon, California

(photo from Mr. Mitchell's Aaction Kenpo Karate Facebook page)

Blake Edwards and the Martial Arts

(Black Belt Magazine June 1990 V-28 No. 6)

If anyone deserves credit for introducing me to the movie industry, it would have to be Terry Robinson.  He was a trainer and friend to Mario Lanza (the tenor/actor), and he had prepared numerous celebrities to look as if they knew what they were doing on the screen.

I met Terry at the Hollywood American Health Studio in 1956 through another good friend, Roy Woodward.  Terri was a combat instructor in World War II and was impressed by my demonstration of Kenpo karate.  He said that what he knew about martial arts was like kindergarten level, and he invited me to teach Kenpo at the Beverly Wilshire Health Club in California, of which he was in charge.  I accepted his offer - a historical part of my life that I've never regretted.

Terry was a great promoter.  He arranged for Kenpo demonstrations at the club before many producers, directors and actors, enabling me to meet and become friends with a number of movie industry VIPs, some of whom later hired me for their productions.  Frank Lovejoy, Fabian, Robert Wagner, and many others became students of mine as a result of this demonstration.  It wasn't long before I developed lifelong friendships in the industry.

One such friend is Blake Edwards, world-famous producer and director.  As a student of mine, Blake saw the potential of the martial arts for the screen.  Used first in his film Experiment in Terror, starring Glenn Ford.  Then in his Pink Panther series, he created the character of Cato, the faithful valet who keeps Inspector Clouseau on his toes with unexpected Kenpo attacks.  I myself played the role of "Mr. Chong from Hong Kong" in two episodes of the series.  I would venture to say that Blake through his films, was an important influence in promoting the martial arts around the world.

Blake was interesting to work with.  On days I was not scheduled to shoot, I would visit him on location or on the set.  At first, he would ask me why I was there since I wasn't scheduled to shoot that day.  I answered that I was there to pick his brain, to become more knowledgeable about his trade.  He was happy to oblige and taught me a lot about camera angles, lenses, lighting, and various effects.  When I made suggestions, he was very receptive.

One suggestion I made was to intermittently employ slow motion with regular speed to get greater audience reaction.  I felt the slow motion gave the audience time to observe and relate to a particular move.  Switching back to regular speed would then change the audience’s pulse.  He followed my suggestion in the fight scene for Revenge of the Pink Panther, changing into slow motion when I flipped my opponent into the air.  The opponent continued to sail in slow motion, but when he hit the coffee table, it was back to regular speed, and the audience response was favorable.

During the initial screening of this film, Blake asked me if I notice anything different about the scene.  I could sense something different, but could not say exactly what it was.  Blake then pointed out that he had removed all of my grunts, groans and kiai (yells), leaving only the sound of my strikes.  This technique magnified the effects of the strikes, and I again learned from this cinematic master.

Blake is a genius in his field.  For a scene in Curse of the Pink Panther, where I break a huge boulder with a knife hand strike, he wrote additional dialogue for me on the spot that went something like "Visualize strength like a gathering cloud which, when transferred to the rock, will act as a delayed chain reaction on an atomic bomb."  I then struck the boulder and nothing happened.  But as I walked out of the room, not only did the boulder disintegrate, the entire building collapsed!

The next shot showed me exiting from the building as it collapsed.  Concerned about my safety, Blake warned me to start at the foot of the stairs, but I insisted that I start at the top to give him the extra footage he needed for editing.  I convinced him that I would react faster than the man pushing the plunger to detonate the dynamite.  And I was right.  The most difficult part for me was to walk away without reacting to the shockwave from the blast.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Richard Planas seminar

A Prediction for the 1990's

(Black Belt Magazine July 1990 V-28 No.7)

If you run a school or are otherwise involved in the business side of the martial arts, you better gear up, because I predict the martial arts will hit an all-time high in the 1990s.

What has led me to this conclusion?  An onslaught of martial arts related motion pictures scheduled for the next five years.  And not just run-of-the-mill pictures, but movies with believable plots, written by professionals working for major film companies.  The film industry is finally realizing the potential of martial arts movies.  Consequently, those of you who make a living from martial arts should upgrade your business practices.

There are two essential parts of our business: the art, which is our product, and the manner in which we package the art with regard to sales and marketing.  In the long run, only those who have a solid and valid product, along with a substantial market plan, will weather the challenges which lie ahead.

Steven Seagal's highly successful Hard to Kill is a good example of this trend toward quality martial arts films.  Seagal's display of aikido, along with his departure from the spinning and flying kicks typical of martial arts films, has given audiences a new and varied perspective on the martial arts.

I am personally involved in a major Paramount production that will address the martial arts.  I will be involved with choreographing the fight scenes, and it is my desire to introduce new dimensions of action which the audience can relate to, be part of, and learn from.  Exciting martial arts films should increase interest in the arts and add students to our schools.

Of course, this can be a blessing as well as a curse.  Many unqualified schools will again come out of the woodwork and attempt to cash in on the boom.  Students who enroll at such schools will gain a false confidence in their skills.  When they discover what they have learned is useless on the street, it may ruin their interest in the arts or may even cost them their lives.

When seeking organizations that might help structure our business, be sure to first investigate their credibility.  Consult current or former clients to learn the pros and cons of doing business with the organization.  Study the firm's past and present policies, and determine whether its practices match your desires.

As I prepare to go back into franchising martial arts schools, I too am gearing up for what’s to come.  I have found computers to be a significant tool in solving business problems.  It has been said that those who do not turn to the computer in the next five years will become statistics in the world of business.  The level of sophistication in martial arts business is indeed rising.  Take heed and gear up.

I am sure many of you have questions pertaining to business practices, teaching methods, and/or motivational concepts that can prolong student interest.  If so, please voice your questions so I may help you.  Whether you are a commercial martial arts school, club, or group of friends just working out together, I may be able to present a solution to any martial arts related problems you might have.  Please write to me and, if possible, I will give you an answer.  Keep in touch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Close friends

Another photo of these two close friends.

My Experiences with James Mitose

(Black Belt Magazine Aug. 1990 V-28 No. 8)

Contrary to some published claims, I was never a student of James Mitose.  I observed his Honolulu Kempo class in the mid-1940s, but my experience as a young streetfighter made me doubt the effectiveness of many of his methods.  I felt many of them lacked realistic applications.  For example, a streetfighter punches comes fast and furious, but Mitose’s students would practice catching punches in midair!  This was in sharp contrast to William K.S. Chow’s teachings, which were based on Chow’s extensive street altercations.

The next time I saw Mitose he was in the early 1970s when he visited me over a period of five months at my Pasadena, California, home.  Many of our conversations lasted hours on end, touching on an array of topics, including his desire to build a Kempo Temple replete with resident trainees.  Mitose revealed many interesting historical facts about Kempo and occasionally demonstrated self-defense techniques and discussed Kempo principles with some of my black belts.  Many of Mitose’s moves seem to lack continuity and forethought, and left him dangerously exposed.

Many questions came to me during his visit.  Why had the Mitose (Kosho) clan deviated so drastically from the circular moves that were a vital part of the original Kempo teachings of Ta Mo (Drauma) and his disciples?  I cannot understand why the Kosho clan, which probably trace their roots to Ta Mo, were willing to discard the circular theories as well as other rudiments of motion.  While I supported the Mitose clan’s desire to change the art to suit the needs of the Japanese people, I wondered why they chose to employee moves that were predominantly linear.  Circular moves, used within the framework of logic, indisputably balanced the blend of motion which leads to practical movement.  Replacing Kempo's circular moves with linear motion's would be like replacing and automobiles round tires with square ones.

I'm not saying that all of Mitose’s is teachings were impractical.  He did employ methods that, once modified, could work with convincing results.  Mitose’s Kempo stressed attacking vital areas by punching, striking, thrusting and poking, and also incorporated throws, locks and takedowns.  Although similar to judo's methods of atemi waza (vital body-part strikes), Mitose’s methods and philosophy were different.

I also give Mitose credit for placing importance on the order that fundamentals are taught.  He felt that punching, striking and kicking are not only faster than throwing, but were better methods of self-defense.  He felt that when a person was attacked, he should preserve his physical resources and use his energy economically.  It was his belief that one should not risk exhausting himself by attempting to grab and throw his opponent.  Throwing, Mitose warned, exposed one's vital points.  Mitose also taught how to unknowingly maneuver your opponent into precarious and vulnerable positions.

Although Mitose did not encourage Kempo as a sport he did feel that, if he were able to be made into a sport, effort should be taken to properly protect the body's vital areas.  Kempo, he said, was purely an art of self-defense and, although similar to boxing, possessed differences in fundamentals and philosophy.

It was Mitose’s desire that Kempo would one day become Americanized.  And although it was William K.S. Chow who actually started to cultivate the seed of American Kempo, Mitose will always remain part of Kempo history.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Defeating Multiple Attackers

(Black Belt Magazine Sept. 1990 V-28 No. 9)

Learning to face multiple attackers is equivalent to learning the words that make up our spoken language.  When we first learned to speak, we used primitive sentences, then graduated to more complex ones, and in the case of a college professor, to sentences that go beyond the comprehension of the average layman.

Similarly, as your skills against one opponent to improve, you extend your study to predicaments involving two attackers.  Begin with transitional maneuvers that favorably link you with them.  Learn how to make these maneuvers flow with continuity.  Experiment to discover how they convert into convenient angles of attack, defense, or escape.

When facing two opponents, examine how you can reposition yourself to limit your exposure while allowing access to targets on your attackers.  Once "contact manipulation" occurs, where your depth and range come to a standstill, began "control manipulation," in which you steer or maneuver your opponents into positions of immobility.  As you guide them into one another, you can gain access to targets and can prevent them from further retaliation.  Jam them into each other, disrupting their attacks with effective blockades.  Such strategy allows you to work effectively on one opponent at a time while you are protected from the other.

Next, look at your attackers as part of your environment, as objects that you can use like stick, rock, or table.  Aside from making them obstruct each other, make them hurt each other.  Let them destroy their base, obstruct their vision, cancel their natural weapons.  Tie them into knots.  Learn to guide them into a wall, a stanchion, a table, etc. if you can drive your opponents into various segments of your environment, can turn these segments into weapons.

Next, consider the principles of the "three points of view": yours, your opponents’, and that of a bystander.  As you watch your confrontation from these three points of view, you can learn that the third point of view, that of the bystander, is all inclusive.  It trains you to fight three-dimensionally.

You should learn to apply the principles expressed in the "gaseous state of motion."  This concept is derived from the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.  Water, when it is solid, seeks its shape.  As a liquid, it seeks its level.  Converted into steam (its gaseous state), it seeks its volume.  Consequently, the gaseous state of motion teaches you to strike out in several directions at once.  Like steam seeks its volume, you can strike two opponents at the same time.  However, to succeed with simultaneous strikes, you must gauge your distance properly.

Finally, your study should include the "21 basic principles of technique movement."  This will make you aware of how posture can benefit you and how altering your opponents’ posture protects you from their aggression.  Consider not only strikes, but also grabs, holds, locks and takedowns.  For example, if two opponents grab your shoulders from either side, step away from one, thus upsetting his balance and move toward the other to strike.

After familiarizing yourself with all the variables involving two opponents, apply the same logic to three opponents, then graduate to four or more attackers.  You will find that the same principles are applicable to all groups.  Study the various formations of attack your opponents can use, and create solutions for each problem.  Consider your opponents’ directions and distance from you.  Determine which one is spearheading the group.  How is he attacking - punching, kicking, shooting?  Do you move left or right?  Are you prepared to confront the opponent on your left or right?  Formulate a plan and act, applying the preceding principles.

The ultimate in proficiency is a result of simplicity and repetition.  Internalize the lessons learned when facing one opponent, and you will gradually become proficient against multiple attackers.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Drive-way photos

I kind of get the feeling that these two photos were taken together (even though the bottom photo is a higher quality.)

They both seem to be taken in the drive-way of someone's home. Also, notice the small tree over Mr. Parker's left shoulder in the first photo could be the one casting a shadow on the drive-way behind Mr. Parker and to his left in the second photo.


Part 2 -

I'm going to guess these photos were taken at Mr. Mitchell's home in El Cajon, CA.

It is just a guess but it kind of has the same look as this photo,

Gary Cooper and the Karate Caper

(Black Belt Magazine Oct. 1990 V-28 No. 10)

Joe Hyams is a good friend to help you succeed in Hollywood.  It was he who arranged for me to put on a Kenpo demonstration for Gary Cooper in 1961.  Cooper was interested in having his daughter Maria take karate lessons, and wanted to see firsthand what she would be learning.  Having been longtime fan of Cooper's work, I looked forward to meeting him.

Cooper's Beverly Hills mansion was magnificent and overwhelming.  It stretched for what seemed to be half a mile.  Hyams was already there when my students and I arrived, and he made the introductions to Cooper, his wife Rocky, and his daughter Maria.

As the demonstration got underway, I suddenly realized our roles were now reversed: cooper the actor had become Cooper the spectator, while I was now the performer.  It was very gratifying to see Cooper's excitement and facial expressions.  The demo lasted about 45 minutes, after which I answered questions about the martial arts.  Cooper's questions were straight into the point.  He wanted to know, for example, exactly what Maria would be learning, how Kenpo would benefit her and, most importantly, wanted to be assured that she would not be injured while training.

A Spanish bullfighter who happened to be visiting Cooper was also in attendance and was fascinated by the speed and footwork necessary to get out of the way of an attack.  I detailed the various foot maneuvers Kenpo employs when defending or attacking.  I can understand his interest sense, in his work, his life depended on his ability to evade the bulls attacks.

I asked to take a shower after the workout, and Cooper said "Yes, by all means" and escorted me to his bathroom with a slight smirk on his face.  I sense something was up, and found out what it was only after I had turned on the water and leapt shrieking from the shower!  Cooper had just installed five showerheads aimed at different parts of the bathers body - bottom, sides, and top - and I could hear his laughter behind the bathroom door at my reaction to being hit unexpectedly.  This actor who seemed so poker-faced on the screen actually had a sense of humor.  I found this to be even more evident later on.

Our lunch included some regal-looking sandwiches prepared in a manner I had never seen before, and I had no clue as to the proper way to eat them.  The food just sat there as we conversed, and although I had worked up an appetite, I was hoping that Hyams or someone else would start in on the sandwiches so I could find out how to perceive myself.  Finally Rocky picked up a fork and knife and transferred one of the sandwiches to her plate.  I watched discreetly as she cut and ate the sandwich as if it were a stake, then I nonchalantly did the same.  Later I asked Hyams if he knew how to tackle the sandwiches, and he said "Hell, no.  I was waiting for someone to make the first move."

Cooper was a primary conversationalist during lunch.  Having pictured him to be a man of few words because of his on-screen manner, I was astonished to see and hear him talk as much as he did.  He was a captivating speaker, blending humor and wit as he told us about his recent trip to Russia.

Cooper died of cancer two and a half months after our meeting, and I never had the privilege of teaching his daughter.  But the experiences I had that day will always live in my memory.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

John Sepulveda and Mr. Parker

(photo from Mr. Sepulveda's Facebook page)

The Environment and Self-Defense

(Black Belt Magazine Nov. 1990 V-28 No. 11)

Our environment is one of our primary considerations in life, dictating what we can and cannot do.  Thus it is necessary to understand the environment and how it can be used for or against us in the martial arts.  You should be prepared physically and psychologically when you travel to new and unfamiliar surroundings.

When considering the environment as it relates to the martial arts, you should take into account social and cultural conditions, the objects around you, mental trepidations, the state of your body and body language, weather conditions, your opponents ability, objects which you or your opponent may use as weapons, and all other factors that influence your chances of survival.  It is everything around you, on you, and in you at the time of the confrontation.  Let's examine the dangers and benefits of environment.

Dangers.  Do not overlook the possibility that an opponent may know how to use the environment to his benefit.  He may be a seasoned streetfighter, aware of his surroundings.  He may know how to use a wall, the ground, or a car fender to his advantage.  To him, they are objects that can be used for support, to drive a head into, or to increase the effectiveness of his own punches and kicks.  He knows the bottle, ashtray or tire iron can be used as weapons.  You must learn not only to counter his environmental skills, but also use the environmental objects as weapons.

Streetfighter's are also skilled at reading a would-be victim's body language.  Therefore, look confident at all times.  Look as if you know what you're doing and where you're going.  Plan ahead when you travel.  Looking like a typical tourist burdened with cameras, bags, or expensive jewelry places you at risk.

Benefits.  The environment can be your ally when you guide or redirect an opponent into surrounding objects.  Or, environmental objects can serve as weapons for striking or throwing, especially when confronting an armed opponent.  Therefore, view all predicaments sensibly and realistically; your natural weapons may not always be enough to solve your problem.  If not, use any available environmental object to overcome your attacker.

When using environmental objects, you have two choices: 1) you can guide the opponent into the object, or 2) you can direct an object in your opponent provided, of course, the object is movable.  You may be able to give his head the "layered look" by forcing it into several points of contact - say a bar counter, then the bar stool, and finally the floor.

In addition to objects that surround you, consider others that may be found on you at the time trouble occurs: a comb, brush, lipstick tube, pen, pencil, keys, purse, belt, shoes, rings, umbrella, spoon, fork, salt or pepper shaker (to the eyes), can all be useful items for self-defense.

While shoes can be effective weapons in kicking, and alternative use, if there is time, is to place one shoe over the hand to protect it against a knife wielding assailant.  The shoe covered hand can be used not only for blocking, but also to strike your opponents vital areas.  Shoes that can be easily removed are best in such situations.

Be aware of all facets of your environment, and don't exclude psychological preparedness as one of your priorities.  Study all of the necessary precautions for personal safety by earnestly learning how to defend yourself in all types of environmental conditions.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dave Hebler and Elvis

Dave Hebler not taking any crap it looks like from the front row crowd.

The Long Beach Internationals

(Black Belt Magazine Dec. 1990 V-28 No. 12)

I hosted my first International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California, in 1964.  It required almost two years of planning and preparation.  Mills Crenshaw designed the tournament trophies, featuring a special karate figure.  To further distinguish the tournament from others, we introduced the first logo ever created for this type of event, which we still give out today as a patch to each contestant and official.  Another first was our rulebook outlining our tournament policies.

We sent invitations to all schools and styles, and got 865 contestants.  A veritable martial arts Who’s Who attended the event.  I had met Bruce Lee and kali master Ben Largusa a few years before, and invited them to demonstrate, knowing that Bruce’s ability in wing chun and Ben’s skill in the Filipino arts would impress the black belts.  They did just that.  They impressed everyone, even shotokan master Tsutomu Ohshima.

Aside from Ohshima, Robert Trias, Johoon Rhee, Mas Tsuruoka, Steve Armstrong, Anthony Mirakian, Tak Kubota, Fumio Demura, Dan Ivan, director Blake Edwards, Nick Adams (who played Johnny Yuma in the TV series The Rebel), Allen Steen, Pat Burleson, Jack Whang, Quoy Wong, Mike Stone, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, Skipper Mullins and countless other martial arts pioneers were in attendance.  And although some objected to my inviting Bruce Tegner, I reminded them that Tegner’s books did influence many to take up the martial arts.

This first Internationals was an exciting occasion.  Thinking that we had anticipated every detail, I was surprised to see Ruby Paglinawan, a black belt from Hawaii, enter the tournament in the men’s division.  I had not made any provision in the rulebook about women competitors.  Since Ruby could not be turned away, she was pitted against the men.  She had great fighting sprit, but lost her first match.

New situations arose each year, requiring new and revised rules.  Competitors also posed challenges.  In the mid-1970s.  I offered prize money in some divisions: $100 for first place in kata (forms) and $350 for first place in sparring.  One of the kata contestants complained that prizes in forms and sparring should be the same.  I reminded him of the greater chances of injury in sparring, with fractured teeth or broken ribs a real possibility.  Unless the forms competitor tripped and fell during his kata, he was in no real danger.  That didn’t satisfy him, so I had to think fast.  I asked him “Have you ever heard of a world champion shadowboxer?”  That seemed to work, because he looked at me, thanked me, and left.

On another occasion, I had to resolve a problem in kata judging that I would never have believed.  I got to the ring in question and didn’t immediately see what all the excitement was about.  But as I viewed the panel of judges, lo and behold, one of them was holding a white cane.  He was totally blind!  He insisted that his hearing was exceptionally keen, which he claimed qualified him to judge kata, but needless to say, I tactfully relieved that judge of his duties.

Another time, one of the peewee competitors got kicked in the groin.  The center official had him jump up and down to remedy the problem, then asked him to run around the “outside of the ring” to further improve his condition.  So the boy ran off, out of the official’s view.  When the officials wanted to resume the match, the boy could not be found.  Ten minutes later he returned, somewhat exhausted.  Asked where he had gone, the boy replied that he’d done exactly what they’d told him to do - run a complete lap around the “outside of the arena.”  Ah, the enthusiasm of the young!

During a recent Internationals, we had a kata competitor dressed up like Superman, cape and all.  He did an aerobics routine to music, but was unhappy with his score, so he took his complaint to tournament director David Torres.  After listening to his complaint, David reminded him with a straight face that this was a karate competition and not an aerobics contest.

Last August we held the 27th annual Long Beach Internationals.  The number of competitors was in excess of 4,200.  We have come a long way since our first tournament.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ed Parker with Al Tracy and wife Pat Tracy.

Growing up on the Streets of Hawaii

(Black Belt Magazine Jan. 1991 V-29 No. 1)

To many, the name Hawaii has a magical ring - land of enchantment, tropical paradise, memorable sunsets and the Hula.  But to the natives of the 50th state, it has a deeper meaning: roots, heritage, friends, relatives, a melting pot of cultures, and the many celebrities the islands have proudly produced.  Being Hawaii born and raised, I share this point of view.

I was the sixth of seven children and grew up in the Kalihi district of a Oahu, where survival was the daily concern.  It didn't take much to get into a fight there.  The philosophy was "If you get a main dish on me today, I'll get a sandwich on the way down, and tomorrow I'll get my main dish and you'll get nothing."  I witnessed street battles I will never forget.  In one particularly brutal fight, one combatant bit off most of his opponents nose.  At this point, I was sure the other man would give up.  No such thing.  He came back like a madman and ruthlessly incapacitated his opponent.  I quickly learned that there are no rules on the street, and that all avenues of fighting should be contemplated.

Looking back at those early years, I feel grateful for the many chances to develop my fighting skills.  This environment made me an adult at a very early age and contributed to my later innovations in Kenpo karate.

My parents were deeply religious and created a home of spiritual, physical, educational and economic stability.  They taught us children right from wrong and expected us to bear full responsibility for our decisions and actions.  Each of us felt their deep affection, and this legacy alone has sustained me throughout my life.  In a way, it was their affection that made me turn to Kenpo, to uphold their beliefs.  As I internalize these beliefs, I learned to resist the pressures of my street-corner friends, going so far on occasion as to convince them physically that "No" meant just that.  But I felt justified in doing so.

It is ironic that my introduction to Kenpo originated at a church meeting.  I was 16 when Frank Chow, a member of my church, told me he had beaten up the local bully.  Now Frank was light in stature, and the bully was big, solid and vicious.  It was only when Frank showed me how he had done it that I believed him.  I became interested in his methods and began to study under him.

I became a Kenpo addict, and Frank recognized my burning desire to learn.  Having boxed, and having been involved in many street altercations myself, I questioned, disagreed, and stood corrected.  One day Frank told me he had taken me as far as he could.  He was not qualified to go beyond what he had already taught me, and arranged for me to further my Kenpo education with his brother William.

William K.S. Chow’s class at the old Nuuanu YMCA was closed to outsiders, but Frank's introduction opened it to me.  I was impressed with what I saw.  As I watched William Chow's movements and appraised his students, a strong spiritual feeling penetrated to the very depths of my soul, and I knew then that Kenpo would be my life's work.

Working with other students who had varying arm and leg lengths, mannerisms, and methods of moving proved fruitful.  Heretofore, it had been just Frank and me - I had no one other than him to compare my ability with.  The other students made me aware of the need to learn motion thoroughly.  As I began my new classes, I compared the instruction with my street-fighting experience and immediately saw the need for some adjustments to modern-day methods of fighting.

I reviewed training films of myself religiously, extracting new concepts, theories and principles for practical combat.  An even greater discovery unexpectedly occurred one day when I flipped the "reverse" switch on the film projector by accident, playing the film backward.  Watching my moves in reverse, I uncovered a dimension I had never even suspected: I had been aware of only half the value contained within my moves; the other half had remained hidden.  Since this disclosure, untold avenues have opened up, giving me a more thorough understanding of what Kenpo really means.  Because of this added knowledge, I have learned how to convert embryonic moves into sophisticated moves, how to differentiate between the terms "opposite" and "reverse," and how movements in reverse can also supply answers for defense and offense.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Count Dante article

Karate on the Streets of Hawaii

(Black Belt Magazine Feb. 1991 V-29 No. 2)

My martial arts training in Honolulu was memorable.

What stands out most in my mind are those individuals who influenced me during my early years of training - people like Fred Laura, Manney de la Cruz, and Isaac Kaawa.  Although continuously bruised, occasionally laced with stitches, and the victim of broken fingers, I felt that the knowledge I gained far outweighed the pain and agony associated with my training.

Two other memorable individuals in my martial arts upbringing were Adriano and Joe Emperado.  Adriano Emperado, the creator of Kajukenbo, and his brother Joe were senior students of William Chow when I started instruction in Kenpo karate.  I had been with Professor Chow for just a short time when Adriano and Joe struck out on their own and established a school in the Palama settlement of Honolulu.  I was happy for them and look forward to the day when I would be able to do the same.  The district of Palama, Kalihi (where I was born and raised), and Kakaako near the Honolulu waterfront were notorious for their gangs and street fighters.  And although fights were commonplace, they were nevertheless fair and ethical in most instances.

I missed seeing Adriano and Joe during training sessions at Chow’s school.  Since I was on good terms with them, I was invited to visit or train with them if I wish to.  So that I would not upset Professor Chow, I chose to simply visit the Emperado’s rather than train with them.  They were always congenial and showed me the utmost courtesy.  Their classes were serious and rugged, and when students practiced attacking each other, they did so with reality in mind.  If they were unprepared or slow, injury was inevitable.  Dislocated knees, broken bones, and stitches were commonplace.

I remember a number of occasions while visiting the Emperado’s when Japanese merchant seamen, just off their ships, would arrive at the school to train, their gi (uniforms) tucked under their arms.  The Emperado's always extended an open invitation to those who wanted to train; they felt that the experience of training with individuals from other styles added to their own martial education.  Besides, they look forward to, as they said, "working with fresh meat."  However, upon witnessing one of the Emperado's classes it wasn't long before most of these merchant seamen would thank the two brothers and head to the closest exit.  They wanted no part of the classes.

It was a sad day when Joe Emperado was stabbed and killed during a fight.  He was stabbed in the kidney and went home thinking his wound was not serious.  He died the following day.  Joe's funeral was an experience I will never forget.  Adriano was upset and could only think of avenging his brother's death.  He wasn't all that concerned about the details of the ceremony.  Frank Ordenez , one of Kajukenbo's charter members, did much to console Adriano, and Kajukenbo master Tony Ramos offered to handle the funeral arrangements.  Ramos, who had trained under Joe Emperado, felt his instructor's funeral should be conducted with distinction.

Students from the districts of Wahiawa, Kaimuki, Palama and other areas were asked to attend the services attired in starched, white gi (this was before Kajukenbo practitioners were black gi).  However, Joe was dressed in a black gi to distinguish him as a chief instructor.  After the wake, the body was transported to the St. Teresa Cathedral, where a mass was held.  The students, in their neatly pressed white gi, were aligned against the cathedral walls.  At the conclusion of the mass, the students formed two lines as the casket was placed in a hearse.  With the family members and school representatives at the head of the line, the procession walked 8 miles to the Sunrise Cemetery - Joe's final resting place.  As part of the ceremony, a number of instructors and students performed, kata (forms) at the foot of Joe's grave in his honor.  Although it was a sad occasion, it was wonderful to see the respect and affection of Joe's relatives, friends and students.

Today, Kajukenbo practitioners, under the direction of Adriano Emperado, are located throughout the world and are presently stabilizing their organization under Emperado's leadership.  I wish him well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kenpo Lineage Association


Professor William K.S. "Thunderbolt" Chow

Modern Kenpo can be traced back to the Island of Hawaii, circa 1942. There was an influential martial artist who brought Okinawan Kempo to Hawaii and began to teach it to a select few students. One of those students would change the course of modern Kenpo forever…

This student was William K.S. “Thunderbolt” Chow. Chow was half-Chinese and some Kempo legends state that he was taught his family’s Chinese martial arts style and that was how Kempo gained its Shaolin and Chinese influences. While none of this can be proven true, what is true is that Chow would eventually leave his Master and go on his own, forming his own Kempo style that he referred to as Kara-ho Kempo.

Chow would be responsible for training some of the most influential Black Belts in Kempo history and, as Chow had left his master to “branch out and grow” his style of Kempo on his own, so did students of Professor Chow. As these students “left the family”, they took what they learned, added or modified the style as they saw fit, and passed it on. As these martial artists evolved and expanded the family, Kempo made its way from Hawaii to California to New England.

Professor Nick Cerio

It was in one of these families of Kempo that a man named Nick Cerio began his training. Cerio had a previous background in boxing, judo and tae kwon do before starting his training in Kempo in 1961.

By the late 1960’s, Cerio had earned his Black Belt in New England. He decided he wanted to return to the roots of Kempo, so he traveled to Hawaii and began training directly with Professor William Chow,considered one of the founders of Kempo and widely credited with spreading the art.

Professor Cerio went on to become a legend and one of the most influential masters of Kempo in the martial arts. He trained in or earned high ranks in multiple styles of martial arts: Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu, American Kenpo, Hakkoryu Jujistu, Okinawan Karate, Sil Lum Kung Fu, Shotokan, Kyokushinkai and Judo.

There is a truth in the martial arts that states, “The style of a martial art is heavily influenced by the Master who creates it or passes it on.” While studying Kempo and other styles, Professor Cerio followed a philosophy that is best described as, “Take what is useful, make it your own and discard the rest.”

Like many of the martial artists who descended from the forefathers of Kempo, Professor Cerio took what he had learned from the many martial arts masters and combined it into his own system of Kenpo, calling it Nick Cerio’s Kenpo, or Cerio Kenpo.

Professor Cerio, through his innovation and life-long dedication to the martial arts, helped to spread Kenpo throughout New England, indirectly launching the martial arts careers of thousands and thousands of martial artists, through his own schools or family offshoots of his Kenpo style.

To understand and appreciate how Z-Ultimate has decided to honor our family lineage of Kenpo, it is important to understand the history of two men.

Shihan Joseph Nesta

In 1971, these two men – Joseph Nesta and Paul Taylor – began their training in one of the offshoots of Kenpo that had come to New England via California and Hawaii.

In 1988, Nesta, then a 5th degree Black Belt, decided that he wanted to “return to the roots” of Kenpo and sought out Professor Cerio directly. When they met, the Professor asked Nesta what it was he wanted; Nesta replied, “I want to know everything you know.” Cerio reportedly smiled and replied, “I like your attitude.”

This started a ten year journey with Professor Cerio that culminated with Professor Cerio promoting Shihan Nesta to one of the highest ranks ever awarded in Cerio’s Kenpo and hand-picking Shihan Nesta as the man to take over Professor Cerio’s association.

Sadly, Professor Cerio passed away in 1998. Shihan Nesta would go on to earn his 10th Degree Black Belt from 10th Degree Black Belt Larry Garron.

Shihan Paul Taylor

By 1986, Paul Taylor was a high-ranking Black Belt and moved from New England to California, beginning a journey that would touch literally thousands of future Kenpo martial artists.

He was a key figure in building one of the largest martial arts organizations in the United States, with locations spanning from coast to coast.

He was also instrumental in enrolling, teaching and producing thousands of martial artists and hundreds of Black Belts – many of whom are still teaching and spreading Kenpo around the country to this day – by creating the largest Martial Arts Instructors College ever.

Taylor also created, organized and managed the largest one-day martial arts tournament on the West Coast, which has been in existence for almost twenty years and still goes on to this day.

Taylor was also responsible for the organization and successes of two record breaking events involving the Shaolin Temple of China’s Shaolin Monk Demonstration Team. In both instances, the Shaolin Temple reported the largest crowds they had ever performed for in North America.

In perhaps one of his proudest accomplishments, Taylor was acknowledged as a “True Kenpo Master” personally by Professor Nick Cerio in a ceremony in Southern California. Taylor went on to coordinate and administer Professor Nick Cerio’s International Martial Arts Association during its most successful period of membership.

Taylor was promoted to his 8th degree Black Belt in 2001 at the legendary Shaolin Temple of China.
In 2010, Shihan Taylor was promoted to 9th Degree Black Belt with Shihan Joseph Nesta as a witness.

In 2012, Shihan Taylor was promoted to rank of 10th Degree Black Belt and given the title “Grandmaster” by 10th Degree Black Belt and Grandmaster Shihan Joseph Nesta.

Z-Ultimate "Closes the Loop" in our Kenpo Lineage

By 2010, Shihan Paul Taylor, now a 9th Degree Black Belt, is the Senior Master for Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios. To honor and strengthen his connection to Professor Cerio in the Kenpo family lineage, Shihan Taylor thought it was important to connect with the person who was the most knowledgeable and closest to Professor Cerio prior to his death.

To accomplish this, he reached out to 10th Degree Black Belt Shihan Joseph Nesta, (who, after Professor Cerio’s death, went on to train with other masters and earn his 10th degree Black Belt) who agreed to become a martial arts advisor for Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios, “closing the loop” in modern Kenpo history and honoring our lineage to Professor Cerio.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Al Tracy

(photo from Al Tracy's Facebook page)

The Funeral


The first to arrive at the funeral, I had been asked to do something for the Parker family that I knew was very important. Mrs. Parker had asked me to ensure no one took any pictures of her husband as they had done at Bruce Lee's funeral. Mr. Parker's black belts were positioned in various critical areas and instructed that if anyone took a picture the camera was not to leave the room under any circumstance.

During the viewing, it was extremely difficult watching some of the biggest, baddest fighters in the world breakdown in tears as they paid respect to Mr. Parker. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw Mr. Parker, resting so peacefully, in his casket, his hair neatly combed and his right hand neatly folded over his left hand at the waist. This took almost 4 hours and we finally had to close the door to start the services.

At that funeral as all of Mr. Parker's Kenpo Karate family assembled we saw another large group in attendance that none of were aware of. Later we found out they were church members from his congregation. We all learned that day that as well known as Mr. Parker was in Kenpo Karate, he was also well known among church members.

It was so interesting to me it was almost like a man who lived two lives. I never thought the same about Mr. Parker after that day. I was a little unhappy because I did not know that side of him very well, but I see through the years that there was much more to Mr. Parker than 10th degree black belt and I wanted what he had. I really respected that he never smoke or drank anything, he would have to get real mad to use any four letter words and most of all the man truly loved his family. I really respected that and I wanted to be like him. He taught me so much in all those years but I have learned much more about life since his passing.

I have so many questions for him and our Lord, Jesus Christ, when I get on the other side. By no means, am I trying to parallel their lives for Mr. Parker had many human flaws. Although Mr. Parker was far from perfect, he loved the Lord and tried to follow him. Mr. Parker was a missionary without realizing it. The full extent of his influence for good throughout the world may never be fully realized but his impact is immediately apparent in the Kenpo Karate world.

Another thing that really impressed me at the funeral service was how his children could go up in front of thousands of people in the church and talk about their dad. I wanted what the Parker family had. Each Parker child that spoke made me cry. I had to move so that no one would see me. Little did I know that most of the people in the church were crying also. I learned from Mr. Parker and my Kenpo brothers, how to fight any man and never be afraid but the true battle in life is not against man for our enemy is not flesh and blood but we wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, again spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

This was it! This was the final chapter of Mr. Ed Parker, death had overcome his body but Ed Parker knew as he discussed many times with Elvis, that death was a re-birth into another sphere of learning and development and that he had read about it. They had often spoken of the body, no more than a robe that clothed a spirit. Now, Mr. Parker's body was before us and he had experienced this transformation, he had returned from the mortal to the spiritual. His mortal body was now disrobed from his spirit. My turn is yet to come, time would place me in the same realm that Mr. Parker was now in. He no longer had to suffer the frailties of the flesh. No more hardships, no more worries, it was all behind him. As I prepare to leave, I bid him farewell, saying in my mind, that we would meet again, when my time comes.

This day was to write an end to an illustrious era that had lasted for more than four decades. As the service concluded at the church, my car was the first car behind the Parker family car. I made it a point to be as close to them as I could for the entire day. We arrived at the cemetery and I think the line of cars went all the way from the church to the burial site.

When we finally got to the gravesite I found myself standing and supporting Mr. Parker's brother Joe, watching my friend carrying Mr. Parker to the gravesite. We stood there; two grown men crying openly both hoping the tears would release the tension and settle our emotions. The service at the gravesite was fairly brief and ended with all of us giving him one final salute and bow to our teacher and dear friend. I thought of a song “I'll remember you” by Don Ho. I choked with emotion.

Jack Autry

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Remembering Edmund K Parker


My Master and Relative is the wrong use of words. Mr. Parker still lives on in our minds, in our studios, and in our teaching. We see him every day. Life without our Master is like not having the sun to see our way, or the moon to give us vision. Mr. Parker is recognized as the Father of Karate in the United States. Hawaii is the 50th state. So we as islanders are proud of this great man and the fact that Mr. Parker lives on in our everyday life. Thank you for being our mentor. And thank you for your Aloha.

Forever your student: Fred Brewster

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Frank Trejo, Joe Palanzo, Ed Parker, and Richard Planas back in the Team Budweiser days.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Biography of Professor Charles A. Mattera


Professor Charles A. Mattera is the son of Italian immigrants from Everett, Mass.
His journey in the martial arts began at the age of ten when he enrolled in the local martial arts program at the YMCA. As a young boy, he was asthmatic and on the advice of the family doctor, his parents got him started in the program.
Young Charles Mattera loved the martial arts. Growing up in the streets of East Boston in the sixties made him wise beyond his years as he had to learn very early the concept of “survival of the fittest”.
After several years in the arts, he began teaching part-time while he went to high school. Living in South Boston, he figured the only way to stay off the streets and out of trouble was to be in school or in the dojo teaching classes.
Dreaming to see more of the country but coming from a poor background, Charles Mattera worked his way through high school and then through college. He paid his way through school by attending classes during the day and teaching karate classes at night.
He graduated Northeastern University in 1972 with a degree in Criminology. While he loved the martial arts, his dream at the time was to join the Treasury Department and then move on to the Secret Service.
He achieved his goal and went to work with the Treasury Department. After a short time there, he realized that his true love was with the martial arts and decided to pursue his passion full-time.
Throughout his training in the martial arts, Professor Mattera had many instructors, but the instructor that left the most indelible mark was the Honorable Grandmaster Nick Cerio.
The Honorable Grandmaster Cerio began studying Kempo in the early ‘60’s under George Pesare. By the mid “60’s, he was training under Kenpo Master Ed Parker.
A short time later, the Honorable Grandmaster Cerio began training under the legendary Kempo master from Hawaii, William “Thunderbolt” Chow. In 1971, he received his 5th Degree Black Belt from Professor Chow.
By the early 1980’s Master Ed Parker awarded Grandmaster Cerio his 9th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate and title of Shihan, Teacher of Masters.
In 1989, he was awarded the title of Professor by Professor Thomas H. Burdine and awarded the “above ranking status” by the world counsel of sokes (Founders). This elevated him to the rank of 10th Degree Black Belt.

It was Professor Cerio that urged a young Charles Mattera to pursue his ambition and love of the art by opening a school and becoming an instructor full-time.
It was during this time that Professor Mattera began to formulate another dream: to elevate the status and prestige of being a martial arts instructor for the whole industry. He wanted the career of a martial arts instructor to be looked upon with the same respect as a doctor or a lawyer, with the compensation being just as high as those “professional” careers.
Professor Mattera began working and opening new locations in the New England area and in 1987, after a particularly harsh winter when he had to dig an hour just to get his car out of his driveway, he moved his family out to sunny Southern California.
Upon arriving in Southern California, he continued his journey in the martial arts both in training and in starting his own martial arts company.
In 1990, Professor Mattera was honored to receive the rank of Hachidan, Eighth Degree Black Belt from the Honorable Grandmaster Nick Cerio. This rank was the highest ever given by Grandmaster Cerio.
Eighteen years after he began in Southern California, he is the CEO of the largest professional martial arts organization in the world, with over 40,000 active students. He is also a principle in other martial arts related companies and has more projects in the works.
In 2001, he was adopted by the Head Abbot of the Shaolin Temple as a disciple and promoted to the rank of 10th Degree Black Belt, Grandmaster and Professor. He is one of only two non-Asians to hold this distinction in the world.
In 2004, he was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year.
In 2005, he was awarded the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
He has been featured in Black Belt Magazine both as a contributing writer and on the cover.
The Professor is still very active in running his companies. He teaches a hand –picked group of martial artists and overseas the operations of his companies. He believes that he is getting closer every day to his goal of having a martial arts school in every major city in the United States and elevating the status of what it means to be a full-time Professional Martial Arts Instructor.
The Professor spends his time both here in the U.S. and overseas. He is the proud father of three grown children and the extremely proud grandfather of a beautiful baby boy.


The good guys

Dan Guzman, Dan Inosanto, Ed Parker, and Bruce Lee at the Long Beach Internationals.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

THe History of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu

( from

The history or Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu and it's founder, Victor "Sonny" Gascon has largely been quiet and mostly known to those who study it. However, what should be known is that Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu and Sonny Gascon have played a larger role in the development of modern Kempo what many may think. Some of the more well known systems of Kempo and their founders can trace their roots back to this system and it's founder.

So why has there been such a silence over this system and it's contribution to the world of Kempo?

The answer is rather simple, it has been the desire of its Master to remain anonymous and not add to the historical and still current conflicts which surround more commonly known Kempo groups.

Kempo's history has long been filled with unique, if not incredible stories. The development of this Martial Art is bursting with tales of infighting, migration, development, and unique personalities. Almost all of the founders in one way or another have been involved in some sort of dispute or controversy which spurred them to go out on their own. The most remarkable result from all of this is that we now have multiple forms or methods of Kempo, all of which seem to have benefited the system as a whole.

Any dedicated student of this Martial Art will be able to tell the legendary story of James Mitose heir to his families system. Mitose, born in Hawaii returned to Japan at an early age (Oct 22, 1920) to begin learning the way of his family. Returning to Hawaii, Mitose is said to have been greatly affected by the wartime strife between the Japanese and the U.S. As a result, he became one of the very first Asians to open the doors to the Caucasians known as haole’s. Additionally, it appears that Mitose pioneered the way for allowing women to enter the Dojo and begin training. Although his training was harsh, his training scheme and severity was no match for the brutal ways of many of his local students. As seniors of the school, their idea of training was very physical, and many times very bloody. They were always eager to learn anything and everything that was available - both in Mitose’s school and outside. This openness developed by Mitose led to a diverse student population, made up of all races of Asian and non Asian descent. This was a very unique situation which was all but unheard of on the island of Oahu. Previous to this, Chinese trained with Chinese, Filipino with Filipino, and Japanese with Japanese. Those who were left, mainly "haole" trained with whoever was available. As previously stated, Mitose's school began the breakdown of these barriers. What few could see at that time, is that this breakdown formed the root for kempo's diversity and effectiveness.

Around age 30 a man named William Kwai Sun Chow decided to go out on his own.

Chow had been an instructor under Mitose, however he was not the most senior. With him, he brought a young Hawaiian born Filipino by the name of Adriano Emperado. This was not done as on offense to Mitose Sensei, but rather with his permission to assist in the spread of the arts of self defense. Chow was wise to select this student as he was the most dedicated and most skilled of the students. Emperado brought with him a vast knowledge of the Filipino arts, kempo, and most importantly knowledge of the streets.

Emperado soon took over the main instructional duties of the school as was appropriate to the time. He established a very tough and brutal regimen which few could last through. Whenever the students felt that they had enough, enter Master Chow to deliver the required beatings. This group soon became legendary throughout the islands, and many would come and seek instruction. However, few would last. Another significant influence at this time was "Nonoy" Emperado's younger brother, Joseph. Virtually unknown, Joe also added significant aspects in the development of Kempo. Joe essentially became the stand in for Adriano when Master Chow, and his older brother were unavailable. During his training time with Chow, Adriano Emperado continued consorting with Martial Artists of all types and styles. He soon began a fastidious friendship with Joe Holk, Frank Ordonez, Peter Choo, and Clarence Chang, each an expert in a particular Martial Art including Korean systems, Kempo, Chinese Boxing (Kung Fu), Judo, Jiu Jitsu, and the Filipino arts. Meeting daily for three years, these young men in their early 20s would continue to evolve their Kempo to the point where it began to implement and employ empty hand leg and trapping technique of many systems. These were men of multiple backgrounds, representing the ethnic skills from many sources. Remember, at this time to reveal the martial secrets of one's race was almost considered blasphemous. However, this did not hinder these brave pioneers of the Martial Arts and they formed the first Kajukenbo "Black Belt Society" which exists to this very day.

The challenge they posed to each other was simple, create a Martial Art to beat all Martial Artss. The principle belief was if you train to beat the Martial Artist, the street is no problem. "Nonoy" Emperado was chosen to be the leader due to his level of skill and his dominant personality. In addition, Emperado wished to make this new evolved Kempo available to the general public. All students would be welcome as long as they could tolerate the initiation and training. The Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu Black Belt Society was named out of respect for Sijo Emperado.

Emperado began training students at the Nuanu YMCA on the island of Oahu. Later he would establish the KArate, JUjutsu/JUdo, KEMpo, and Chinese BOxing (KAJUKENBO) Self Defense Institutes. Although kempo, Emperado's methodology soon became known as KAJUKENBO to distinguish it from the rest. Emperado adopted the wearing of Black uniforms to distinguish his students from the other traditional Martial Artists of Hawaii. Those early years produced a line of Black Belts which would influence the Kempo world as no one could ever imagine. Among the early pioneer group were Marino Tiwanak, Sid Asuncion, Tony Ramos, Joe Halbuna, John Leoning, Victor "Sonny" Gascon, and others. The art soon spread the throughout Hawaii and became known as the most vicious practice of self-defense on the islands. Emperado's favorite saying during these years, "The training isn't over until there is blood on the floor." Among the early students to begin spreading this system to the mainland was Victor "Sonny" Gascon.

Sonny Gascon, born in 1933, was the son of a Filipino sugar cane worker who came to Hawaii in 1926 in search of prosperity. While Victor was a child, his father ran chicken fights in the back yard. There were always several young and old Filipinos which could be seen playing sticks during breaks in the fights. Victor especially remembers them showing what he thought was dances or monkey dances and empty hand applications. As a child, he thought they were just playing, but later he learned this was serious martial arts and developed an interest in learning what he could from these secretive Masters.

Sonny had an uncle named Bernard, a fairly renowned martial artist, who began the training of the younger Gascon. All of them lived in two houses, side by side, one house having 9 bedrooms the other having 3 bedrooms. Due to close proximity of the family and the large size and education in the Martial Arts or some sort was always available. In 1945, Sonny began the study of Judo from KAMAKUDO and "Rubber Man" Tagami at the local Japanese church. He studied Judo for 3 years from 1945-1948 in NOWANII eventually receiving first level certification.

In the early 1950s, one of his neighbors John "Johnny" Leoning began Sonny's introduction to the kempo system. Henry Papa, Julian "Joe Black" Blacquerra, John Leoning and Sonny would spend days training in the system. Although not called by the current name at that time, they later would find out it was the Kempo of KAJUKENBO. Since Sonny was the smallest, it became very advantageous for him to become a quick learner in order to escape the inevitable outcome. Sonny's training would last about 4 years until he left for the mainland and enlist in the U.S. Air Force.

1952 found Sonny Gascon attending basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Later he attended advanced training at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. During this period he shared his Martial Arts with his new found Air Force Friends and obtained a slight following of students. Although this fact has remained unpublished to date, it is one of the most significant occurences in the history of Kempo and Kajukenbo - this was the birth of these arts on the East Coast of the United States!

Later Sonny Gascon was assigned to the war zones of Korea attached to the 51st Fighter Squadron "Checkerboards." While assigned to the war area, Sonny became close friends with a local Korean houseboy. As a result, Sonny was introduced to the boy s Grandfather who began teaching him Korean and Chinese principles of Martial Arts. Since this training pre-dated the arrival of Tae Kwon Do, the system was one of soft, smooth movement more attributable to the Chinese Kung Fu Arts than anything Korean. In 1953, Sonny Gascon was assigned back home to Hawaii. He quickly resumed his Martial Arts studies with the local boys of Kalihi.

In 1956, he was discharged from the service and decided to move to Pasadena, California. Later in 1958, John Leoning came to California and asked Sonny to become an instructor at the school he would be opening. One evening, while working out, some black belt instructors from Hawaii came to the school. The word was given to John Leoning and Sonny Gascon that they could not use the name "KAJUKENBO" or the Kajukenbo patch since they were not paying a required percentage to the home school in Hawaii. Sonny's first response to this was to tell them the school was not making a profit. They would have to wait. Sonny was told that he needed to pay the money right then. Sonny invited the Black Belts in for a "work out" - an invitation which they refused claiming that they were just passing a message along from home. This began Sonny Gascon's departure from the traditional Kajukenbo system and his journey to become independent of Martial Arts politics.

In 1960 Sonny Gascon removed the Kajukenbo patch from his uniform and replaced it with the patch of the KARAZENPO GO SHINJUTSU. KARA- Karate ZEN- the mind arts PO-Kempo GO-SHINJUTSU- School of self defense. It was not by coincidence that the patch bore the image of Daruma, the founder of all Martial Arts. This was because Sonny subscribed to Daruma's favorite saying "to fall seven times, to rise eight, life starts from now" - Sonny was beginning something new. Since Sonny grew up in the Kalihi district of Hawaii, he was well known among all Kempo practitioners of that time. One of his neighbors, and close friends would eventually become very famous and begin his own system - namely, Edmund K. Parker. Because of Sonny's close associations, he was able to continue obtaining the best knowledge from the myriad of stylists now in California. In those days, Sonny became legendary in the Los Angeles area and was frequently called upon to demonstrate Kempo in early television shows, and Screen Actors Guild functions. Sonny made a guest appearance and performed Karazenpo during a taping of Dick Clark's American Bandstand at recreation park in Burbank, California. In this early episode Sonny, Richard “Limo” Tanaka and others can be seen doing all the "original" dances. Sonny Gascon was one of the few asked to officiate at the first Ed Parker Internationals, where Bruce Lee performed his famous one inch punch and Martial Arts demonstration. He was the Chief referee at this tournament.

Later,Grandmaster Gascon summoned his Brother-in-Law, Walter Godin, from the islands to help him run the school . Walter went back to Hawaii a short time later and founded Godin's Chinese Kempo which existed until his death. It is the only school remaining in the Palama settlement of Hawaii - the founding place of Kajukenbo. It is now ran by his daughter. Grandmaster Gascon returned to his native Hawaii in 1969, but not before leaving a legacy of Kempo which lives even to this day.
Grandmaster Gascon is the person who brought the kata, combinations, and techniques now seen in many styles of Kempo throughout the United States. If you are familiar with Kempo/Kenpo descriptions such as the Numbered Kata’s , Statue of The Crane, Combinations 1 through 26, etc., then you are a direct descendent of Sonny Gascon. Many systems such as Fred Villari's Shaolin Kempo , Master's Self Defense Centers, United Studios of Self Defense, and even portions of Professor Cerio's Kenpo are either directly or indirectly linked to Grandmaster Gascon.

Shortly before his passing Professor Cerio asked Grandmaster Gascon to come to his house and bless the dojo he was building. Professor Cerio told him that there would be a spot on the wall for Professor Chow, Edmund Parker, and Sonny Gascon. Although Professor Cerio was not a direct student, Sonny Gascon is very humbled and honored that someone as world renowned as Professor Cerio was thought very highly of him and his art.

Sadly, on December 6, 2013 Grandmaster Gascon passed away. Until that time he presided as the head of the Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu Black Belt Society which he helped establish in 1998.

What it means to be an Ed Parker blackbelt

(from Mr. Dennis Conatser's Facebook page April 21st, 2014)

With the over abundance of individuals promoting, claiming, and wearing Advanced Ranks, I felt compelled to rem...ind everyone of what we should be truly focused on. While no one can stop a runaway train, we can educate and provide thought provoking media to help reveal the truly skilled and knowledgeable Kenpoists that are among us today.

Those of us who actually were direct students of FGM Ed Parker's were few in numbers, although many claim they were, simply were not. Yes, he may have signed your certificate (he signed them all), or worked with the host that organized a seminar for him, or sat on your test (he loved to watch upcoming Black Belts to inspect how instructors were teaching his Art), possibly even judged you in forms or fighting in a tournament. At the end of the day, usually after Seminars he thoroughly enjoyed spending time and mingling with all students at dinner or social gatherings often times talking Kenpo, telling stories or jokes. He indeed loved his flock.

Yet, we Instructors have an obligation and responsibility to teach with enthusiasm, "Passion", a never ending commitment for greater personal excellence, and service to others, which enables us to pass on quality knowledge enriching our unique lineage with our "9" core values. These are: honesty, creativity, curiosity, simplicity, respect, transparency, integrity, humor and humility. Examine, read, ponder, study, and re-read the following post, take a personal inventory of your journey and ask yourself if you are living up to these values.

While physical skills are mandatory prerequisites for obtaining a Black Belt, a true Black Belt is one who is expedient in his use of psychological strategy. Psychological strategy transpires when the attitude of a Black Belt is such that his spiritual qualities overcome his) physical fixations. When a Black Belt conveys kindness instead of hate, peace instead of animosity, and uses words instead of his fists, he is truly a Black Belt.

President Abraham Lincoln, in my estimation, conveyed this spirit. He was an expert when it came to utilizing psychological strategy. The following story is proof of his convictions:

Lincoln, in his youth, was hated by Sam Brown who looked for every opportunity to fight with him. One day an opportunity presented itself when Sam accidentally (or purposely ) bumped Lincoln. Using this as an excuse to start a confrontation, Brown challenged Lincoln to a duel. The choice off weapons were determined by Brown who naturally picked a weapon with which he was an expert -- that weapon was an ax. Lincoln refused the challenge and was then told that he had no choice except to name the time and place. Having no knowledge about fighting with an ax, Lincoln decided to take advantage of the two choices left him. According to history, Lincoln was well over six feet four inches tall while Sam was only five feet eight inches in height. Taking into account their difference in height, Lincoln answered, "I'll fight you tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. under six feet of water". The episode ended with Sam Brown shaking Lincoln's hand and saying, "Let me shake the hand of the man who beat me verbally." Lincoln's psychological strategy worked and both men later became good friends.

Should you lack knowledge of the Martial Arts and, Like Lincoln, be challenged to a duel by a Martial Artist who is an expert kicker and who allows you to name the time and place, give him this reply--"I will fight you tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. in the telephone booth located on the corner of___and_____". When your opponent arrives, invite him into the telephone booth with you and shut the door. The lack of space will thwart his efforts to retaliate with kicks. Psychological strategy would have triumphed again as you utilize environment as a means of defeat.

The following is a list of some of the qualities you should evaluate in critiquing yourself as a Black Belt in FGM Edmund K. Parker's American Kenpo:

1. Build a solid foundation of basics with knowledge of every
component part.

2. Have a thorough knowledge and understanding of principles
associated with your basics.

3. As you understand and internalize your principles, learn to
logically assemble them so that your moves flow with continuity.

4. Once internalizing all of the above in establishing basics that
are competent, reliable, and dependable TAILORING is your next
order of priority. Tailoring is the result of understanding what
constitutes good basics. It is the ability to randomly convert
your art from the IDEAL, to the WHAT IF, and finally to the

5. Develop creativity once having knowledge of formulating your

6. Know your forms from all levels -- skeletal to levels of

7. Know how to create forms as well as the what's and the whys so
that you'll be able to help the lower belts in their creations.

8. With your forms develop:

a. Basic principles of technique movement, understand the
central idea of each form and have both the ability and
desire to discover what they teach and how to apply that
knowledge to the art of self defense.

b. Your individual style of movement.

9. Know as well as teach the IDEAL techniques and their associated
themes and principles. Expand into the WHAT IF and the

10. Continue to improve your freestyle skills by participating in it
regularly. Include street freestyle in your class sessions and
the logical criteria that it is based on. Pass on your skills to
fellow members or students.

11. When freestyling remember:

a. Every angle that you choose as a defense your opponent may
choose as an offense, and vice-versa.

b. Stances are the foundation of your art.

c. Develop Timing - know when to move in and when to move

d. Be a capable counter puncher.

e. Have a solid base move to build upon.

f. Be able to analyze motion so that you can employ proper
angles and directions when entering or departing.

12. Develop your ability to teach others. Remember to teach others is
to teach yourself.

13. Develop qualities of leadership that will influence, encourage and
guide those of lesser rank.

14. Cultivate an attitude of respect and regard toward others no matter
what their rank might be.

15. Develop diplomacy and use it wisely.

16. Encourage others to become IKKA members.

17. Continue to seek higher goals. Endeavor to continue learning and
updating your material.

18. Make every effort to continually improve yourself: physically,
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

19. Remember that there are no stereotypes.

20. You will need three to five years of training, but that should be
ultimately measured in the number of quality, intelligent hours that
you train.

21. You must put time back into your school (teaching, etc.).

22. Your attitude should be positive and confident. Believe in yourself.

23. For Black Belts to obtain advanced degrees, their names must be
submitted to their instructor, and a thorough examination of their
knowledge and skill should be evaluated along with their time AT
the Art not just IN it, along with their accomplishments and service
rendered to the global Kenpo World as well.

24. Fraudulent, misleading, dishonest or illegal activity will be reported
to the proper authorities.

 I hope we all embark on a positive journey.