Origin of Kenpo Karate
Setting History Right
    Kenpo Karate 1949-1954
    Kenpo Karate 1954-1956
Ed Parker BYU Judo Dojo
    Kenpo Karate 1956-1959
    The Blackbelted Mormon
    Kenpo Karate 1960-1962
    Kenpo Karate 1962-1964
    Tercell's Kenpo Emblem
   1965 and Beyond
Ed Parker's First Shodan
Founding of the IKKA
Other Black Belts
Kenpo Seniority
Stillness of Movement

The Way of Kenpo
The 9 Principles
    Do Not Think Dishonestly
    The Way is in Training
    Every Art
    Intuitive Judgment
    Pay Attention to Trifles
    Do Nothing Useless

Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi
Bong Soo Han As I Knew Him
Kenpo Karate Training
Michael Chong
Apology to Ralph Castro
Jewel Shepard

CONTACT: Kenpo Contact

Kenpo Karate Setting History Right
The Blackbelted Mormon

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

Both Ed and Professor Chow were Mormons, and Ed Parker was well known as the "Mormon Black Belt" (Black Belt Magazine's first issue had a picture of Ed Parker as the "Blackbelted Mormon"). The General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considered Ed Parker to be a great missionary tool. Ed didn't preach his religion. He hadn't gone on a mission like other young men did, and he felt an obligation to set an example that would influenced people towards the Mormon Church.

In 1958, seventeen of Ed Parker's students converted to the Mormon faith. But that was just the tip of conversions. Most of those converts had family members who also joined the Church; and those converts wanted their relatives to know about their new religion. These relatives where not just in Pasadena but scattered all over the country. In 1959 over 200 new members were converted in Pasadena Stake alone due to the direct or indirect influence of Ed Parker. When you consider that no mission in the Mormon Church converted 200 members in 1959, (and some converted fewer than a dozen) you can understand how important Ed Parker was for the Church.

Professor Chow was also well know to the General Authorities of the Church, but Professor Chow had problems living the Mormon religion. He was what was called a Jack Mormon. He not only drank, but had an explosive personality.

I had been training with Chow for nearly a year when I was called on a mission for the Mormon Church. I returned to Pasadena the end of December 1959, and went over everything with Ed I had learned from Chow and Oshita.

Added by Roarke Tracy: My Uncle Jim Tracy are in a group picture taken with Ed Parker and some of his students on either April 11 or 12, 1960.

The Church wanted Professor Chow to teach Kenpo at the BYU Church College in Hawaii, which had opened in 1955. (Ed Parker's father had been a construction supervisor there.) The college was on the other side of the Island, at Laie, and Professor Chow disliked the area, because, as he had told me, the winds blew the wrong way. Professor Chow taught there for a short time, then went back to Honolulu, where he lived a couple of blocks from Ala Moana Park. That's where he taught Kenpo.

I was released from my mission in mid October 1961, and met with Howard Hunter and Hugh B. Brown (two General Authorities of the Mormon Church who I had know since 1958)in Salt Lake, who told me they were concerned about Ed Parker. At least two, maybe more, of his students had joined a polygamous group, and the number of prospective members for the Church requesting missionary contact had fallen off to nothing. They wanted me to find out what was going on.

Ed Parker's studios were in financial trouble. The La Cienega school was losing money and the Pasadena school was barely making enough for Ed to live on. Ed was teaching more private lessons, and the royalties from his book gave him a good income. I told Ed about the Yudansha (Yuudansha) being formed in Hawaii, and Ed paid my expenses to fly to Hawaii for the formation, and to get his long sought after belt rank. I returned to Pasadena the middle of November, and Ed Parker was promoted to Sandan in December 1961. That was the last time Professor Chow ever promoted Ed Parker.

In late December 1961 I reported back to Howard Hunter in Salt Lake City, that the members who had joined the polygamous group had actually belonged to the group as far back as 1958. It was a group Howard W. Hunter was personally aware of. I told him there was not much I could do to help Ed Parker, other than getting his business running better because Ed no longer taught beginning students, and few beginners, or even intermediate students ever saw Ed. His effectiveness as a missionary tool for the Church would take some time to regain.

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