Sunday, June 23, 2019

Trouble in the Tracy Kenpo organization?

(from Sascha Williams' Facebook page, March 12th, 2019)

I find the similarities between what's going on with Al Tracy's organization and what happened with Mr Parker's organization (in the 90s, after Mr Parker passed) to be astounding, so I thought I should write this post.

I wanted to add an outside perspective to this debate, as I am not a Tracy black belt, but nevertheless had a good relationship with Al and Pat Tracy.

I have some insight into what happened immediately after Mr. Parker died. I arrived at the Parker house several days before the funeral, while the family was still waiting for the casket to arrive from Hawaii. Aside from myself, the only other Kenpo black belt that was also at the house during that week was Chris Crews from Montana.

Edmund Jr was there, so was Sheri, so was Darlene and her husband Galu (pronounced Nalu), and the phone rang often and the doorbell rang often, with lots of other people coming and going. Other black belts came and went, offering condolences and support, for the most part.

But what struck me the most was this: Before the public funeral services for Mr Parker, I accompanied Mrs. Parker and a few other family members to the private wake. (I forget if that was one day, or two days before the funeral)

But Mr Parker's body was not in the ground yet, and (and this is why I bring this up) already here are examples of conversations that Mrs. Parker was now having all week long (mostly on the phone), leading up to the actual funeral:

Understandably, many called to say “Mrs. Parker, how can I help?”

And some called and were concerned about the future, and asked “Will you (Parker family) continue the IKKA?”

(I'm paraphrasing of course, but this was the concern expressed)

But there were these kind of calls also:

“Mrs. Parker, did you know that Mr Parker was going to promote me to my next rank? Can you do that for me?”

There were a lot of those. (Ironic, since that means they would have accepted getting promoted by Mrs. Parker, but when she deferred those decisions to the actual IKKA leadership, some of those same people now stated that Mrs. Parker had no right to promote anyone and should not lead the IKKA.)

And then there were these kind of calls:

“Mrs Parker, I want you to know that I am the only one who learned the whole system from Mr Parker, so you will put me in charge, right?”

There were dozens of those.

And then there were these:

“Mrs. Parker, you are a female. You can't run a Kenpo organization, that's a man's job. You will fail. We will leave the IKKA, and create our own Kenpo Organization. “

(Yes, that happened before Mr. Parker's body was even in the ground, as well as after.)

(Note: Mrs. Parker wasn't nearly as “naive” as some have wanted everyone to think. She was actually very sharp. She knew the background of virtually every person who ever had a relationship with her husband, and she was able to “see through” any deceptions or false claims very easily.)

But all the other black belts, who did not see this as an “opportunity”, were actually very helpful.

No, there wasn't a secret meeting with Mrs. Parker and all the “top black belts” during that week. No, Mrs. Parker didn't have anyone chauffeured in Limousines.

The funeral arrangements were quite overwhelming. The first three days at the Parker house were about calling all of Mr Parker's students in different states and countries to make sure they knew about his passing and no one was missed.

And plans needed to be made for the funeral, we didn't know how many people would come, and the Church obviously had a capacity limit.

I am writing this, because there is a very good chance that Al Tracy's family has to deal with all of those same “attitudes” now, just like the Parker family did back then.

I made my decision back then to support Mrs. Parker.

(But I am NOT writing this to tell Tracy black belts what to do. My situation was unique, just as many other's is as well.)

But I asked myself what I now see people asking about their Grandmaster (Al Tracy): “What would Mr. Parker want?”

While I was no more qualified than anyone else to answer that question, I was nevertheless able to answer this one: “What would Mr. Parker NOT want?”

I found that particular question a lot easier to answer.

I did not think that Mr. Parker wanted the IKKA to go under.

Also, Mr. Parker had long made it clear that he was not choosing a successor, so we new his wishes regarding that.

I was sure Mr. Parker wouldn't have wanted to have his own family cut out of the IKKA leadership.

And I was very certain that he did not want the IKKA to be hijacked by one black belt, or small group of black belts, organizing a coup.

What made these questions more difficult though, was the fact that Edmund Jr parted with the remainder of his family.

That meant the rest of us had to “choose sides”...

This seems similar to what's been happening in the Tracy's organization. (And please forgive me if I'm not educated in current Tracy affairs. I'm kind of guessing here.)

To me, the choice was simple. The remaining family members, which means Mrs. Leilani Parker and her daughters, stayed united and were willing to continue the IKKA (even though at first they didn't even want to, until we all talked them into it.

Originally, Mrs. Parker thought she would only continue the “supply store”, while abdicating the IKKA Leadership). And they did not attempt to install “their choice” of a new leader. They wanted a democracy.

I supported that for several reasons. But the main ones were:

They had the best chances of success, since they legally owned the IKKA and already knew how to run it.

Mr. Parker (in my opinion) would have wanted me to support them.

They had the right motivation. They weren't trying to “take over” anything. All they wanted was to carry on Mr. Parker's work. And they wanted the black belts to work with each other.

Ultimately, the strategy worked (even though some disagree). The IKKA, under Mrs. Parker, experienced some of its largest expansion during the 90s. Not so much in the U. S.(where the numbers stayed more or less the same), but around the globe.

These were the years when many other countries came on board.

Germany only had one IKKA school when Mr. Parker died (Chris Springer, Duesseldorf). Now it has many. Same with many European countries.

While Ireland, and the U.K. already had good size groups, some of the new European countries were: Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Belgium, and more. Countries like Greece, who already had Kenpo under John Nicolau, expanded Kenpo within their country to large numbers, as well as to various African states.

The European IKKA camps continued with large numbers, and still continue TO THIS DAY!

And most of Mr. Parker's black belts, from back then, still gather for annual camps, with people like Roy Macdonald, Mervin Ormand, Paul Dowling, Jackie Mcvicar, Gary Ellis, John Ward, Richard Mathews, Jimmy and Mary Poland, Hans Hesselman, John Nicolaus ‘ students like Panos Tsiberis, Panos Paniotis, Kristos K., Fotes, and more, Spain's JoseMaria, Jose Enrique, Bernie Drakes, Diane Wheeler, all still participating like it's still 1990. (I probably forgot some names. If I forgot to mention you, please speak up in the comments)

I had the opportunity to participate in Roy Macdonald's Kenpo camp in 2016, after not having been there for about 15 years (while I was an invited Instructor at virtually every European IKKA camp during the 90s, I pulled back, for various reasons, right around the time Mrs. Parker showed her first signs of Alzheimer's, after 2001)

I doubt all of this growth would have happened without a united IKKA leadership.

I have no way of knowing if any of what I write is helpful to the current situation in the Tracy's organization. And I have little, if any, advice.

But maybe what I write will help some by giving them a different perspective.

But here's a thought. I am not upset (anymore) at all the other Ed Parker black belts who split off the IKKA to start their own organizations.

It's too easy to say that they were all wrong.

If they did it to grab power, than yes, they were wrong in my opinion.

But what if they truly thought that they were preserving what Mr. Parker created?

How would I know which one of those “virtues” motivated them?

In closing, while I made myself some enemies by supporting Mrs. Parker, I have to say that I would do it all over again, without changing a thing.

So I wish the Tracy group(s) good luck. Politics are brutal. But at least everyone agrees that there is something worth protecting.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Legends of the martial arts

(from the USSD Facebook page)

The late Professor Nick Cerio, a pioneer in the martial arts and Kempo community. In 1993, Professor Cerio and Headmaster Charles Mattera hosted the Legends of the Martial Arts seminar at the Bren Events Center for over 700 USSD students. This event would go on to be one of the largest seminars in the Professor’s 35 year career.

Friday, June 14, 2019


(from the USSD Facebook page)

At USSD, students engage in controlled sparring to learn real-time tactics such as timing and gauging, where your opponents moves are unpredictable. Although certain limitations arise with the use of protective equipment, many of the basic functions of self defense can still be applied.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Checkered Gi

(from Mr. Ted Sumner's Facebook page, June 6th, 2019)

There seems to be a great deal of confusion concerning the origin and purpose of the Tracy Checkered Gi. As I am one of the few who was there when this all occurred allow me to elucidate and possibly clear up any misunderstandings.

In the spring of 1970 we met at the Tracy’s West San Carlos Street dojo for a fighting seminar with the Tracy’s National Coordinator, World Champion Joe Lewis. At the conclusion of the all day seminar Joe presented his newest creation, the gi top. He then spent the next hour explaining and demonstrating it’s functionality. Understand that these are Joe’s hypothesis and theories.

1. Wearing a white gi makes one appear faster. The whiter and brighter the gi the greater the illusion of speed.

2. Wearing a black gi makes one’s movements more deceptive and more difficult to detect.

3. Mixing the two in the checkered pattern confuses the brains ability to focus on either.

All this was intended to give the fighter wearing the checkered gi some advantage, however slight, over his opponent. Whether it accomplished that goal or not I can tell you it did have a psychological effect in that invariably when we arrived at a competition event you could hear murmurings of “Shit, they’re here” across the auditorium.

Initially the checkered gi’s were awarded to the fighters who had a record of success or had demonstrated a level of ferocity that Joe wanted associated with the gi. Not all Tracy fighters were permitted to wear the gi, only those of whom Joe approved, and it soon became a highly sought after mark of distinction. Like the Combat Infantry Badge, the Airborne Wings or the Ranger patch it became a designation of one’s membership in an elite band of brothers bonded with blood. Alas, with the decline of the popularity of point fighting in the mid 70’s the checkered gi’s found their way into storage or rummage.

Somewhere around 2000 Al Tracy found a manufacturer who could replicate the checkered gi and once again made it available, this time to be purchased by anyone with $100. Unfortunately, the manufacturer also included checkered pants. We had always worn the checkered gi top with black pants but now some people took to wearing the checkered top with the checkered pants only to take on the comical look of a circus clown. There was never intended to be any checkered pants. Even Al Tracy was appalled when he first saw the pants.

Now days the checkered gi has ceased to be the indicator of a great fighter and has become a mere novelty item to most, but a sad reminder of bygone glory days for some of us.



Tom Spellman - I remember the night many of our Tracy brothers bedded down at Bob Leonard's studio in Long Beach the night before the International's Team championships. Wall to wall killers in a moderate space. And the next day I got to carry some of the Checkered Gi boxes from the back of Al's car into a large bathroom in the Long Beach Arena for the teams to change into in secret with a guard at the door so no one could get a look before the unveiling. What an entrance we all made onto the floor with our checkered gi tops/black pants, Brown or Black belt hanging about our waists and the word TRACY'S in bright red emblazoned across the back in beautiful embroidery. A grand day to remember.

Jefferson Davis - the checkered Gi was also called the infinity gi since it was supposed to confuse opponents in the ring. However, I see this gi as a badge of honor for all those fighters who earned them the old way; Kicking ass! And being recognized for it! .... Only a fighter who had earned one could award one to another. If you had not earned could not award one or even wear one! This tradition had nothing to do with rank at all...but the violent skill of winning fights in the old often bloody conflicts that prevailed at most tournaments in the 1970s and into the 1980s. I earned mine from Roger Greene in 1976. Regarding the checkered pants? A pipe dream of the maker of the gis Al Tracy had made...I find them very humorous!

Anthony Verbergt - This is the tab on n the original top sewed on the hem at the base of the lower left side of the gi top. The only white is the material is the inside hem of the sleeves and base.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Mattera takedown

(from the USSD Facebook page)

Professor Mattera demonstrates a takedown at the 2014 Laws of Kenpo seminar.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

David Torres and Mr. Parker

(from the Ed Parker Sr. Facebook page)

Mr. Torres was one of the many friends who helped the Parker family run the Long Beach International Karate Championships