Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ralph Castro

(photo and text from June Castro Michalowski's Facebook page)

Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro is recognized for opening the first Kenpo Karate Studio in Northern CA in 1958. He credits long-time friend, Ed Parker, for his support and encouragement with opening his San Francisco location, just 2 years after Ed Parker opened his famed Kenpo Karate Studio in Pasadena CA. Notable friends include: Wally Jay, Bruce Lee, Jimmy Lee, Adrian Emperado, Jhoon Rhee, Al Dacoscos, Ernie Reyes Sr., Ming Lum and more.

The presentation will highlight Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro’s life, his contribution to the martial arts and his legacy. Following the presentation Great Grandmaster will donate his original Karae Gi and his first Black Belt to the Martial Arts History Museum.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mr. Parker in a white gi

(photos from Ed Parker Jr.'s Facebook page, date and location unknown)

There aren't too many photos out there of Mr. Parker wearing a white gi in his later years so these photos are kind of a treasure.

No information was listed as to who the boy is in the second photo, first photo however is of Barry Elwood and Benny Urquidez.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

December 1963

(text from the Striking Distance Facebook page)

Interesting story behind this picture. Here we have Bruce with his new girlfriend (and future wife) Linda Emery, along with James Lee, Ed Parker, and Ed Jr., outside the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium where Parker held his inaugural tournament.

This photo is dated on the back as December of 1963....odd considering that the tournament was in August of '64.

Linda Lee later explained to me that her and Bruce had in fact traveled to Pasadena over Christmas break that year (picking up James Lee along the way in Oakland). Presumably, they were heading south to watch the Huskies in the Rose Bowl....but really, Bruce just wanted an excuse to visit Parker.

(Photo courtesy of Darlene Parker)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bruce Lee on Valencia Street in San Francisco

(text from the Striking Distance Facebook page)

Easily one of my favorite photos from this history. A young Bruce Lee (just days before his 23rd birthday) in Ralph Castro's kenpo school on Valencia St. in November of 1963, with Ed Parker and James Lee (not pictured). Bruce was down from Seattle visiting colleagues in Oakland, and Parker was up from Pasadena staying with James Lee arranged for them all to meet.

After dinner in Oakland, the bunch of them braved the ...stormy weather (hence the raincoats) and traveled to San Francisco to visit Castro's school on Valencia (essentially, just past 22nd Street across from where the Community College building is today). Castro and Parker would be key martial arts collaborators with Bruce in the coming years. Most notably, Parker arranged a demonstration for Bruce at his inaugural Long Beach International Tournament, in the summer of 1964....which would effectively introduce Bruce to Hollywood.

(Photo courtesy of Greglon Lee)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mr. Parker and Bruce Lee

(from Ed Parker Sr. Facebook page)

"A few years ago I began writing a book about young Bruce Lee and his time amid the pioneering martial arts culture of the San Francisco Bay Area during the early 1960s. Early on in the process, something unexpected kept occurring during my interviews: no matter what my line of questioning, everyone I interviewed kept mentioning someone not from the Bay Area - Ed Parker Sr.

This was a peculiar mismatch that kept resurfacing. If I inquired about Bruce Lee in Oakland...Ed Parke...r Sr.'s name came up. If I asked about the Hawaiian roots of all those Bay Area practitioners in James Lee's orbit (Wally Jay, Ralph Castro, Al Novak, Ming Lum)....Ed Parker Sr.'s was mentioned. Even when I was inquiring about the little-known masters from San Francisco's Chinatown (such as Lau Bun and TY Wong).....eventually Ed Parker Sr.'s name would surface there as well.

Going into my research I certainly knew of Ed Parker Sr., but I quickly realized I hadn't understood the scale of his legacy. As one source characterized it to me, "Ed Parker Sr. is probably responsible for more than a million Americans taking martial arts classes." Better yet, when I told this to another source not long after, he scoffed at the number and replied: "That's probably a low estimate."

It is in this sense, that even as I put a very cohesive regional focus on my book, Ed Parker Sr. still proved relevant. To have looked at his influence in terms of regional boundaries would have been to miss his historical significance entirely, because when it came to the martial arts, Ed Parker Sr. completely transcended those boundaries. Simply put - his effect on the culture was ubiquitous.

It is for this reason that in my book about Bay Area martial artists, Ed Parker Sr. is the only non-local figure that I feature. It wouldn't have been a complete or accurate story without him."

-Charles Russo

 Striking Distance Book Facebook Page:


 Charles Russo is a San Francisco journalist. His book - Striking Distance - is now available on Amazon> and in most bookstores

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mr. Parker beats up on Ed Downey

Mr. Parker doing a foot stomp followed up by a heal palm on Ed Downey.

Date and location unknown but it would be interesting to find out considering everyone in the audience is in uniform.