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CONTACT: Kenpo


Tercell Kenpo Karate Emblem

by
Will Tracy
3/8/97
(revised 1/11/98)
(second revision 8/8/99)

Dick Tercell was one of Ed Parker's intermediate students when Kung Fu master, James Wing Woo, came to Pasadena in June 1960. Tercell was greatly impressed with Woo, and soon became one of Woo's students. He immersed himself completely into Kenpo and Kung Fu and created a design for a new Kenpo Emblem. Ed Parker liked the concept, but didn't like the Yin Yang Tercell had in the center. Ed was developing his "universal pattern" and had Dick change the Yin Yang to Chinese circle and ten line, and added the eight direction lines.
The result was what became know at the "Kenpo Emblem" and it was first used on the KKAA belt certificates before Ed had uniform patches made. I don't know if Dick Tercell resented Ed Parker's change, as it was the only significant change I could see in the two designs. But Dick explained the background and detail of the Yin Yang. The fishtails are set 23.5° from vertical, which is the tilt (obliquity) of the earth; and he had two emblems, one for masters (shown below) and one with the dark fishtail at the bottom for students (shown above).

Ed Parker would later claim it was his brother who designed the patch and put some of that concept artwork in his 1982 Infinite Insights into Kenpo : Mental Stimulation, but objective person comparing Tercell's emblem and drawings Ed claimed were the original for the patch can see they only slightly resemble Tercell's design. Ed Parker knew he didn't own the rights to the patch so he later changed the design slightly to a more narrow top and thinner, sharper points and a rounded lower white area, probably to make the patch looks more like the design he was claiming as his brother's design. (Ed Parker's later patch is below.)

When Tercell left Ed Parker to train with Woo, he refused to sign his rights to the design over to Ed Parker.

Dick Tercell died in 1962 while I was in San Francisco. He had hanged himself, and it was ruled a suicide. I don't believe it was. I knew Tercell was deeply involved in the so-called mysteries of Kung Fu, and he had told me many of the fantastic feats claimed for Kung Fu masters, and the power of Chi.

Al was the one who introduced me to Tercell, and the first time I met him was at a restaurant in Temple City (south east of Pasadena). Ed had asked us to talk to Tercell to get him to sign his right to the patch over to him. Tercell never did. But Al and I were both impressed with Dick's complete devotion to mysticism of Kung Fu. Tercell had made all of the weapons in Woo's school, and had made a knife out of a file for Ed Parker. He told us how Kung Fu masters could put the point of a spear on their throat and walk into it, breaking the shaft. Al told him we had seen this at Marseille in Northern California, and Dick took out a chopsticks and said he was practicing putting it on his throat so he could develop Chi to break it. Al asked to see the chopsticks, put it on his own throat and broke it. Dick was impressed to say the least.

One of the Kung Fu feats Tercell told us about was how Kung Fu masters could be hanged and it would not hurt them. I believe this is what Tercell was practicing when he died. And the circumstances of his death confirm that in my mind.
When I mentioned this Kung Fu hanging to James Wing Woo when Al and I met with him in 1997, Woo said there was no such thing, and that Tercell had killed himself over a girlfriend.
I don't believe that at all. I met with Tercell at least a dozen times, and had told him about Tai Chi Master Yin in San Francisco to whom Al and I introduced Ed Parker. Yin was a friend of our family, and he demonstrated Chi by holding a bird in his open hand and asked Ed to scare it without touching it. Ed did everything he could to get the bird to fly. It flapped its wings and tried to lift off, but it could not. Chi was neutralizing the force of the birds feet. Then Yin told Ed to watch and the bird lifted off and flew to the corner of the room.
I told Tercell about this, and just before I left for San Francisco in May 1962, I told him I would introduce him to Yin when he came to San Francisco. This was something Tercell really wanted to see. As I said, Tercell's life was dedicated to Kung Fu and he was very much into the mysteries. He was fascinated when I told him I knew one of the EhWahQuen Boxers (from the Boxer Rebellion} who had been shot seven times, but none of the bullets broke his skin. This was another person I told him I would introduce him to when he came up to see our school in San Francisco. So I just don't believe he would end it over a girl.
I know when I came back to Pasadena in 1963, I asked several of Parker's former students who had gone with Woo about Tercell. None of them wanted to talk about him. None said anything about a girlfriend, and more revealing were the looks and the sense of fear and the uneasiness they had when I asked if they had trained for a Kung Fu hanging technique. On the other hand, no one who was teaching or practicing a hanging technique would want to admit they were in any way involvement in the death of Tercell.

Dick's parents were devastated by his death, and desperate to have their son cleared of suicide because they were Catholic and their son could not be buried with rites. They believed their son had been practicing a Kung Fu hanging technique, but couldn't prove it. I told them what Dick had told me about the technique, but the Catholic Priest needed some evidence that someone had taught him that. His parents had investigated every possibility for why Dick would hang himself. Their son was full of life, never morose, just as I had known him. And they never said anything about a girlfriend.
Ed Parker, who knew about the hanging technique, told Tercell's parents it did not exist. Of course Ed had never trained in the technique, and never taught it. But still he told Tercell's parents there was no such thing - not that he didn't know of one, but flat out, that it did not exist. This was a sore spot for me, and Ed understood why, after Dick Tercell's parents assigned his rights to the Kenpo emblem to me, I never gave it to him.


©1996, 1999, 2006, 2015 by W. Tracy. All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced without permission. The Law Offices of Michael Tracy.

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