Thursday, February 28, 2019

Upcoming United Studios of Self Defense tour

United Studios of Self Defense and Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios will do a big trip to Asia it seems like ever couple of years.

Looks like it would be a great trip.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

My Experiences with James Mitose

by Ed Parker

Contrary to some of the claims that have been made in publications, I was never a student of James M. Mitose. I observed his class in Honolulu in the mid forties, but I was not convinced about the effectiveness of many of the methods that he taught.

Having a chance to scrutinize his class allowed me to be convinced that a number of the methods he employed would not work on the street. As a young experienced street fighter I felt that many of his methods lacked realistic application. The street punches come fast and furiously and to see his students catching punches in mid air with the maneuvers they employed would not work in my mind. However, observing Chow's class was a much different experience. Because of Chow's altercations in the streets of Honolulu, practical application was, indeed, prevalent.

I did not see Mitose again until he visited me at my home and Kenpo School in Pasadena, California during the early 1970's. His visits extended over a five month period. Each time I saw him, he was dressed as an ordained minister. Many of our conversations lasted hours on end, touching upon an array of topics as well as his proposed money raising projects.

He asked to meet a number of my celebrity students and friends. This included friends of the movie industry as well as those in politics. It was his desire to raise funds for a number of his projects and he felt that photos taken with these celebrities would give him greater recognition and prestige. He felt that donations would be easier to raise if he could show proof of his affiliation with these celebrities. He also felt that being dressed as an ordained minister was another effective means of raising funds. "People are more inclined to donate money to men of the ministry.", he said. He mentioned that he planned to go to Japan to display these pictures. He was convinced that he could raise one or two dollars from every family he visited. His goal was to raise 10 to 15 million dollars.

One of Mitose's projects was to use part of the funds to build a Kenpo Temple. The estimated cost was several million dollars. It was Mitose's desire to operate the temple as a monastery where disciples would be drafted from various parts of the country and become resident trainees. He was intent and serious about his plans and asked me if I would be the head of his temple when it was completed. I told Mitose that I was definitely not interested for two reasons, (1) I already had my own schools in operation, and (2) I did not teach his methods of Kenpo. I told him that my innovative methods were modified and geared for the American environment. That was what I believed in and that was what I was sticking to. At this point of our conversation he got extremely angry and threatened my future in Kenpo. While what he said to me is not important, I abhor threats and like a true Polynesian gave him a piece of my mind and then some. Needless to say, our conversation ended and I asked him to leave.

During the earlier months of our 1970 relationship, I found Mitose to be knowledgeable about the evolution of Kenpo, as he revealed many interesting historical facts. On occasion, he would take off his shoes, walk on the mat area (of my Pasadena School), demonstrate self-defense techniques and discuss Kenpo principles with some of my Black Belt students; namely Tom Kelly, Richard "Huk" Planas, Bob Perry, and Mike Pick. I noticed, after Mitose demonstrated techniques, that my students would look at me hoping to detect from my facial expressions some reaction confirming or disagreeing with Mitose's performance. As I gazed into their faces, I could detect telltale expressions of bewilderment and disappointment. Many of Mitose's moves still leaned heavily toward impractical methods of application. They still seemed to lack continuity and forethought and left him dangerously exposed. My disappointment was heightened when I witnessed a void of circular movements and strikes which Chow had so emphatically stressed in his teachings.

During the months that followed, many other unanswered questions surfaced. Why had the Mitose (Kosho) Clan so drastically deviated from the original teachings of Tamo (Daruma) and his Chinese disciples in the frequent use of circular movements? Circular moves had certainly been a vital part of the original system that added to the totality of movement. I could not understand why the Kosho Clan, who had so proudly traced their roots to Tamo (Daruma) were willing to discard and abort circular disciplines as well as other rudiments of motion. I support the Mitose (Kosho) Clan's desire to change the art to suit the needs of the Japanese people during that period of history, but why did the Clan employ moves that were predominantly linear in context? Circular moves, used within the framework of reason (logic) undisputedly balances the blend of motion which, when given time, inevitably leads to useful and practical movements. Lacking this ingredient would be comparable to replacing round tires on an automobile for square ones. Thanks to William Chow and his father, the crucial link has been restored as well as preserved. They have been responsible for circular movements again finding their rightful place in the Kenpo system.

As I conclude this article, I am in no way saying that all aspects of Mitose's teaching were impractical. He did employ methods that once modified, could work with convincing results. Mitose's Kenpo, as it was first perpetuated in Hawaii, did stress attacking vital areas by punching, striking, chopping, thrusting and poking, as well as throws, locks and take downs. But, although similar to Judo's methods of Atemi Waza, his methods and philosophy were different. I give him credit for placing importance in the order that fundamentals were to be taught. He felt that punching, striking, and kicking were 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 strength and energy economically. No one should risk exhausting himself by attempting to grab and throw his opponent. Throwing, Mitose warned, exposed your vital points, which multiplied, when you were faced with more than one opponent.

Another positive aspect of his teaching was how to maneuver and have your opponent unknowingly place himself in a precarious and vulnerable position. Although he did not encourage Kenpo as a sport, Mitose did feel that if it was made into a sport greater effort should be taken to properly protect the vital areas on the body. Kenpo, he said, is purely an art of self-defense and although similar to boxing, there is a difference in fundamentals and philosophy. "Boxing, in the Japanese language, is Ken-to, Ken means fist and to means fight. Kenpo means fist fight. In Kenpo, Ken means fist and po means law. Thus Kenpo means fist law." Knowing the similarities between American boxing and Kenpo, it was Mitose's desire that Kenpo would one day become Americanized. Kenpo has without question become Americanized and although it was William K.S. Chow who really started to cultivate the seed of American Kenpo, Mitose will always remain a part of our Kenpo history.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Kenpo designs

There are a lot of websites out there now that will put different designs on almost anything and ship it to you.

T-shirts, hoodies, Iphone covers, stickers, coffee mugs, notebooks, etc.

Just Google "kenpo t-shirts" and several different websites come up.

Here are just a few designs I came across this morning.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

My Beginning

by Ed Parker

My introduction to Kenpo originated at a church meeting. I was sixteen years old at the time when one of the members of the church I belonged to, Frank Chow, told a few of us how he had beaten a local bully. I knew the bully well and was aware of his victories in street fights. He was big and solid as granite. Not until Frank demonstrate the strategy he used did we believe him. With this rather brisk introduction, I became interested in this Oriental Art and began studying under Frank Chow. I became a Kenpo addict and Frank recognized my ardent wish to learn. Having boxed and having been involved in many street altercations myself, I questioned, disagreed, and stood corrected in my quest for sophisticated knowledge. I saw th value of this system if it became necessary for me to employ it on the street. Having learned Judo, and treasuring its merits, I nevertheless could see that handling two or more men was not a problem utilizing the Kenpo methods taught me. In Judo one ties himself up to one man too long. During these precious moments, your vulnerable areas are exposed for too long. Kenpo offered explosive action with minimum target exposure. I looked forward to every lesson only to be discouraged one day when Frank told me that he was ending our lessons.

Rejected and disappointed, I thought my Kenpo training had come to an end. Frank anticipated my disappointment and was happy to see this reaction. He explained that he had taken me as far as he could. He was not qualified to go beyond the lessons he had already taught me. He then instructed me to further my Kenpo education with his brother, William, who was a top instructor in Honolulu. With mixed emotions, I did visit and talk with William K.S. Chow. He was conducting a class at the Nuuanu Y.M.C.A. at the time of my visit and I was impressed with what I saw. Heretofore, it had only been Frank and I. I had no one to compare my ability with and this I could surmise would be a tremendous asset to be able to work with other practitioners. William K.S. Chow’s Kenpo Karate class was a selective group. Only upon the recommendation of another class member, could one be accepted as a pupil. I felt privileged to have known Frank Chow and grateful for my introduction to his brother, William. From the moment I witnessed William Chow move and appraised the ability of his students, a strong and spiritual feeling penetrated the very depth of my soul communicating to me that Kenpo would become my life’s work.

Working with others having varying arm and leg lengths, mannerisms, and methods of executing moves proved fruitful. It made me aware of the need to learn motion thoroughly. The ability to protect and hit from any angle thrilled me to no end. This knowledge increased my chances of being victorious on the street. This manner of thinking was typical at this point of my life, but changed in later years as I matured and was assured of my proficiency.

Adriano (Sonny) and Joe Emperado were senior students at the time of my acceptance as a student by William K.S. Chow. They were William Chow’s first graduating Black Belts in Kenpo Karate and I looked upon them with envy and respect. It wasn’t too long after that the two Emperado brothers opened their own school at the Palama Settlement in Honolulu. I visited them often and always received a cordial welcome. It was Adriano (Sonny) who, after his brother Joe’s death, formed his system of Kajukenbo. Kajukenbo is an off shoot of the Kenpo Karate system taught by William Chow, with advocates of this system found throughout the world.

There were many other students who branched away from William Chow'sKenpo Karate system. Each, however, had the greatest respect for Chow’s ability. He was not a tall man by any means, but fast, precise, and powerful. He never wasted motion and reminded me many times of a mongoose fighting a snake. He never exaggerated his defensive moves. He allowed an opponent’s punch to miss him by a – slight move, a miss, and bam! He’d be in at your vital area. He was good and I wanted to learn as much as I could from him. I followed him, questioned him, bugged him, and it paid off. He explained and stressed the need for modifications and additions and introduced me to master key movements which set me on the road to becoming a creative innovator. He knew that Kenpo was only in its infant stage of modification. Like Mitose’s family who had changed the art they had learned to suit the needs of the people of their time, Chow also felt there was a need to change the art to meet the needs of the American people at this time.

I treasured the time I spent with him and the revelations I obtained from our conversations and workouts. As I look back, I cannot thank him enough for setting me on a path of logical and realistic thinking.While the old methods of Mitose and Chow’s father are now obsolete, their contributions nevertheless are useful in terms of making analytical comparisons.

Chow’s classes were loaded with great practitioners. I also thank many of them for beating some sense into my head. There were a number of them whom I would like to mention at this time – Fred Lara, Manny de la Cruz, Ike Kaawa, Bobby Lowe (who now represents Mas Oyama in Hawaii), Masaichi Oshiro (Goju-ryu representative for Gogen Yamaguchi), Paul Yamaguchi and many others who have passed on. I learned much from these men and because of them matured into the Martial Arts practitioner I am today. The workouts, the demonstrations, the parties, all memories of my past, but etched in my mind for all eternity.

After two years at the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, 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 (1951-1954). This gave me the opportunity to continue my studies with Chow on a full time basis. The more I studied, the more intrigued I became with Kenpo. I became even more preoccupied with Kenpo when forced, on several occasions, to use it to save my life. Knowing first hand of its effectiveness, the desire to teach Kenpo in the continental United States grew even stronger for me. I visualized the benefits that others would derive and the good it would do in developing character in our youth. Kenpo, without question, would not only instill confidence, but make independent leaders of our youth. Strong leadership is so needed in our country today and our youth are our only salvation.

Knowing I would soon be discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard (August 1954) and be returning to Brigham Young University, I talked with William Chow about the possibility of opening Kenpo Karate schools throughout the continental United States. This program was to commence upon my graduation from B.Y.U. I felt that a University degree was essential to solidify our plans. It would have a bearing in influencing the media. A degree would discourage others from looking upon us as just pugilists. Chow concurred and thought the plan would be feasible. He would be willing to take up residence in the continental United States.

Having established a successful school in Pasadena, California, I was now ready to bring Chow to the continental United States to pursue our plan to open a chain of Kenpo Karate studios. In September 1959, I flew to Hawaii for the first time in five years. I confronted Chow, reminded him of our expansion plan, and was told that I had his blessing; I was to carry on without him – I was to go it alone. My heart dropped to my stomach. I did not contemplate this change of plans. Chow explained that he didn’t think he could adjust to a new environment. He was basically shy and felt he would be out of place in the mainland (a term we use in Hawaii to describe the continental United States). As much as I tried to convince him otherwise, he stuck to his conviction. I honored his wish and commenced an expansion program on my own.

Full-scale success did not come easily. It was a long and difficult struggle. Although Chow’s answer was not anticipated there have been many other discouraging moments in my life. Determination and perseverance are the ingredients that have made my life fruitful.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Parker on guns

(by Zoran Sevic 5-4-02)

SGM Parker has been known to carry a hand gun on occasion. Tom Saviano (my instr.), Mr. McSweeney, and SGM Parker where out to dinner at a restaurant. Tom Saviano asked Mr. Parker, "Mr. Parker, you are the fastest and deadliest person I have ever seen.

Why would you ever need to carry a gun?" Mr. Parker replied, "Tom, (as he lifts his hands if front of him) these don't work from 10 feet away."

The Bruce Lee Firearm Collection...

Now most folks don't know this, and quite a few...especially some modern martial artist, will react with the same horror to the notion that Bruce Lee owned guns that religious fundamentalists do when confronted by evidence of evolution. But the fact remains, Lee owned guns.

Now it is well known that many of his contemporary martial artists and associates such as Ed Parker were avid gun collectors and shooters.

Ed Parker was known for his collection of AR-15s even in the late 60s and is often cited as being the one who got Elvis Presley involved in collecting what would come to be known as "black rifles."

Other Lee associates such as Steven McQueen are known to have been NFA collectors. And despite Lee's martial prowess he is never known to have been dismissive of guns in his films.

To the contrary in "Enter The Dragon" he quips the line 'Now why doesn't someone pull out a .45 and "bang" settle it?" as an alternative to a government agencies complicated infiltration by martial artist assassin scenario.

Of course plot constructs had to be such that for whatever reason firearms were not an option in order to prevent the movie from being 15 minutes long.

In another film "Return of the Dragon" when threatened by the Mob, Lee inquires about buying a gun for protection. A line that can still make modern martial arts devotees who think "real fighters don't need guns" cringe.

Now it is not known exactly what firearms Lee owned. Despite his modern "non classical" approach to most things, he tended to gravitate towards the traditional when it came to his weapon collection.

It is unlikely Parker convinced him to buy a AR-15 but a few sources suggest he did own a 1911 handgun and a .38 revolver (probably an early S&W). And from my personal collection of rare Bruce Lee photos here is the only "known" photo of firearms owned by Lee.

He bought these two antique rifles in Rome while filming "Way of the Dragon" (released as Return of the Dragon in the US). SteyrAUG"

Elvis gave the Walther PPK to Hawaii-Five-O star Jack Lord in 1973. Tom Jones was once left shocked when he found Elvis Presley’s gun in his dressing room lavatory. Jones struck up a close friendship with Elvis and they would often spend time together when they were in the same city on tour.

But on one occasion, after Jones appeared at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, he was stunned to find a silver-plated Colt .45 automatic pistol on his toilet cistern after Presley had used the bathroom.

Jones tried to discreetly hand it back, only to see Elvis shrug off the incident. He says, “I wrapped it up in this towel, took it out and said, very quietly, ‘Er, Elvis, you left your gun in the toilet.’ And Elvis just goes: ‘Aw s**t man, ma .45’, and stuck it in his belt. I was trying to be very discreet about the whole thing, but he couldn’t have cared less.”

Elvis loved carrying guns of all types. He was known to shoot at TV sets if either Robert Goulet or Mel Torme appeared on the screen. Above: image of one of Evis’ TV which he had his uncle Earl Pritchard remove, who later sold it. At the time of Elvis’ death in 1977 he owned 37 guns, rifles and one machine gun."