AMERICAN KENPO - Founding of the IKKAby
Total revision 8/8/2007
The exact date of the founding of the International Kenpo Karate Association, IKKA, is in question, but it was most likely not earlier than November 1963. It certainly was not in 1956 or 1960 as some claim. This, however, presents a problem because many in American Kenpo accuse me of tearing Ed Parker down to build myself up. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I have done throughout my writings is present the history and events of Kenpo Karate as I lived and remember them. In some cases that conflicts with what Ed Parker has written or given in interviews. Sometimes I have made mistakes. However with the exception of leaving Ralph Castro off Ed Parker's list of first Shodan, all of my mistakes have presented Ed Parker or others in a better light. When confronted with contrary "opinion" on events, I have reexamined my original statements and corrected what I had written. In doing so, this often contridicts what Ed Parker and others in Kenpo claim. Ed Parker made some mistakes in his books, particularly when it comes to dates and sequence of events. I talked with Ed about many of those mistakes, and because they appeared at the time (while Ed Parker was alive, and even after his death) to be unimportant, I left most of those unchallenged in my writings. The date of the founding of the IKKA is one of those mistakes, and this is not intended to tear Ed Parker down, but to set the record straight.
When Ed Parker's 1982 Infinite Insights into Kenpo: Mental Stimulation came out, he asked me for my comments. When I pointed out errors, Ed would say they were unimportant. And to be frank, at the time he appeared to be right. But after his death some of those mistakes became the basis for exaggeration and in some cases self-promoting dishonesty; and, some have attempted to use those mistakes to claim I was lying about Ed Parker and that I didn't know Kenpo history. Unfortunately, Ed Parker is often put in a bad light when the truth is presented that correct what he wrote. This is not because of something either he or I intended, but it is a consequence of showing that the statements were either false or erroneous.
It is undisputed that the Kenpo Karate Association of America was established by Ed Parker in 1956. And regardless of what Ed Parker wrote, and what some now claim, the IKKA did not exist in 1960. Were it not for that false claim and that the KKAA became the IKKA at that time, as well as the self promotion by those who claim it did, the actual or near date of the IKKA founding would be unimportant. But what actually transpired between 1956 and December 1963 should set the matter to rest, only however, if you want to know the facts.
It's important to understand that only schools not students belonged to the KKAA, and instructors were the only authorized members of the KKAA. The first KKAA school was of course Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate Self Defense Studios. The second school to join the KKAA was Ralph Castro's Kenpo Karate in 1958. The third school to join the KKAA was Tracy's Kenpo Karate Self Defense Studios San Francisco school in 1962 and the Sacramento school in 1963. These are the only schools that ever belonged to the KKAA.
My brothers and I were with Ed Parker when Ralph Castro joined the KKAA in 1958, and Ed was excited. This was the beginning of a dream come true for him.
Ralph Castro was a Professor Chow Brown Belt when he first came to San Francisco. And he is one of the finest Kenpo instructors I have ever known. However, despite what some claim, Ralph Castro was never one of Ed Parker's students. This misconception may have arisen because the KKAA promoted Ralph Castro to Shodan at the same time, but ahead of Rich Montgomery's promotion to Shodan in late 1960.
I haven't spoken with Ralph Castro since the Gathering of Eagles in Las Vegas in February 1999, but he and I both remember the years being the same for these events; and, we both remember there was no IKKA until December 1963, and that I had met with him in Daly City just after Christmas that year (or after New Year 1963) to have him join the newly founded IKKA. Ralph Castro was also at the August 1963 meeting in Chicago Ed Parker called to discuss his plans for the International Karate tournament Ed Parker was planning for the next year. It was at that meeting that forming an international Kenpo federation was also discussed. However neither Ralph Castro nor I remember any discussion of an International Kenpo Karate Association at that meeting. Ed Parker was still thinking of all of Karate, and not just Kenpo Karate at that time. When I told Ed the Japanese Karate schools were not interested in anything outside their own styles, the discussion turned to an International Kenpo Federation. This federation would not be limited to just Kenpo Karate but would include all of Kenpo. After the meeting I reminded Ed that he had tried to get Paul Pung to join the KKAA, and that he had sent me to San Francisco to talk to Paul about the Karate Federation, but Paul was not interested. That was the last discussion Ed and I had about any organization other than the KKAA until late in December 1963.
This conflicts with what Ed Parker wrote on page 34, of Mental Stimulation:
"The International Kenpo Karate Association originated in 1956 as the Kenpo Karate Association of America. It was registered with the State of California for the purpose of governing Kenpo in the continental U.S. The K.K.A.A. was changed to the I.K.K.A. in 1960 when association members began migrating to foreign countries."
The first sentence is the only accurate part of that statement. And while it is a minor point, the Kenpo Karate Association of America was never registered with the State of California. The KKAA was registered as a Fictious Name Business with the County of Los Angeles. Again, a minor point. However, the "purpose" of the KKAA, as set out by Ed Parker in the KKAA "Charter" (which Ed Parker wrote) was to "govern the approval, confirmation and recognition of all belt grading within Kenpo in the continental United States."
I believe Ed Parker used these words to specifically leave Hawaii (a island Territory, not a State in 1956) out of the KKAA because Professor Chow, was in Hawaii. And it's interesting that Ed Parker does not limit the KKAA to Kenpo Karate alone, but included all Kenpo in the United States. Beyond the United States, Ed Parker envisioned an International Karate Federation, of which Ed Parker and the KKAA would be part.
When you compare the KKAA purpose with what Ed Parker wrote, it is clear that the KKAA was only intended for the United States. This is born out in Ed Parker's first book, Kenpo Karate Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand Iron Man Industries published in 1960 which, 22 years later (1982), Ed Parker claimed was the year the IKKA came into existence.
Kenpo Karate was published with a fist on the cover of that book, not the Kenpo emblem. Dick Tercell was not yet a student, and the Kenpo crest did not exist until well after Jimmy Wing Woo joined Ed Parker in June 1960.
On page 14 of Kenpo Karate Ed Parker writes of belt "grading"
"The reason for this lack of color uniformity is that Karate does not as yet have an international organizations like Judo. Each teacher creates his own color progression system. These belts may be approved, confirmed, and recognized by other schools belonging to the same local association, but as mentioned none are linked to an international federation.*"
There is no mention of an International Kenpo Karate Association anywhere in the book. Instead, Ed Parker writes of local Karate associations which are not yet linked to an "international federation," which was "being formed."
Ed Parker did not think small, and what Ed envisioned at that time was a federation of all the Karate styles. In 1963 he sent me around the country to see what the various Karate schools thought of a federation. If the IKKA existed in 1960, there would have been no reason for this federation or sending me to meet with those Karate instructors.
Not only is there no mention of the IKKA anywhere in the book, but the last page gives KENPO KARATE STUDIOS 1713 E. WALNUT STREET, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA.
Compare that with Dave Hebler's 1966 profile address: "International Kenpo Karate Ass'n., 1713 E. Walnut St. Pasadena, Calif."
In 1963, Ed Parker published Secrets of Chinese Karate. But again, there is no mention the International Kenpo Karate Association. On the last page (239) the address is given as: "Ed Parker, Kenpo Karate Self-Defense Studios, 1713 E Walnut St. Pasadena Calif." This was three (3) years after the IKKA was supposed to have been formed, but still there is no mention of the IKKA by Ed Parker.
It is not until 1982, which is 22 years after Ed Parker wrote about an international Karate federation, and 20 years after he makes no mention of the IKKA in his next book, that he claims the IKKA was founded in 1960.
Not only did the IKKA not exist before late 1963, when it did come into existence The KKAA was never changed to become the IKKA. The KKAA and IKKA were two separate and distinct organizations and Ed Parker turned the KKAA over to my brothers and me in 1964. On this point, when the IKKA was formed, Ed Parker sent me to San Francisco to get Ralph Castro and my brothers to join the IKKA. Ralph Castro reminded me of the late December early January (1963/1964) date at the Gathering of Eagles. One thing Ed Parker made clear at that time was that all rank would still be given by the local school through the KKAA, but unlike the KKAA where only schools were members, the students of those schools could belong to the IKKA, and receive IKKA belt certificates. It should be noted that there was no fee for a school to join or belong to the KKAA, yet membership in the IKKA originally cost $35 a year.
After Ed Parker set 1960 as the date for the formation of the IKKA, on page 34 in his 1982 Secrets he went on to say:
"There were two crests (patches) designed during these two periods. The crest for the K.K.A.A. was a fist encircled in red (see illustration 1-14). It was basically designed as a club patch or logo. However as foreign affiliates became part of the Association, the crest took on a new look with a deeper meaning added to it when the I.K.K.A. was formed."The two patches Ed Parker references in his book are the Fist to the Right and the Tiger and Dragon at the top of the page.
Ed Parker's statement is not completely accurate. The fist was only a club patch, worn on the Gi. It was not the KKAA emblem and was never used on any belt certificate. The KKAA emblem or crest was the overhead club emblem, but it was never made into a patch, because, as I stated, only the schools were members of the KKAA, and the schools instructors were appointed as authorized members KKAA.
The first KKAA certificate (with the overhead club crest) was issued to Ben Otake in December 1956 and as stated, those certificates continued to be used by Ed Parker up to the founding of the IKKA, or at least when Ed Parker learned of its founding.
A new KKAA certificate was created in late 1960 that used the new Kenpo Karate emblem which had been created about the time the certificates were made. Ed Tobian was the first Shodan of which I have personal knowledge to have been issued the new certificate. It is dated early 1961. However the KKAA records do not say when the new certificates were first uses, and it's possible that Rick Flores also got this certificate. This is the same as Al Tracy's KKAA Shodan certificate which was issued in January 1962. Read this certificate carefully. This is a Kenpo Karate Association of America certificate. It is not an International Kenpo Karate Association certificate. The (Tercell) tiger and dragon crest was first used on KKAA certificates and both Tom Bleecker and John McSweeney thought these were IKKA certificates, and only recognized they were KKAA certificates when I had them read outloud what was on them.)
The certificates linked on this page contradict Ed Parker's statement about the KKAA becoming the IKKA in 1960. If the KKAA was changed to the IKKA in 1960, as Ed Parker wrote, why then did Ed continue to give belt rank through the KKAA and use KKAA certificates through December 1963? And with the exception of John McSweeney's IKKA certificate, why are there no (Ed Parker) IKKA prior to 1964? The answer is simple. Ed Parker gave the wrong years. Again, when I pointed this out to Ed in 1984, he said it was unimportant. It has, however, become quite important since his death.
"John McSweeney was the first of my Black Belts to introduce Kenpo outside of the continental U.S. He pioneered Kenpo in Ireland while attending school there in 1962."
John was the first Parker Black Belt to go outside the U.S. Yet on page 34 Ed stated
"The K.K.A.A. was changed to the I.K.K.A. in 1960 when association members began migrating to foreign countries."The undisputed fact is, John McSweeney, was Ed's first student to take Kenpo abroad (to Ireland), and that was in late 1962. (The others Ed Parker mentions as being his foreign affiliates did not begin training with him until much later. Arturo Petit, for instance, first met Ed Parker in August 1964 when Ed Parker held his first International's.)
The series of events leading to the founding of the IKKA began with Ed Parker founding the Brigham Young University Judo club (Y Judo Dojo) in September 1955 (where "outsiders" were not allowed). In January 1956 Ed began teaching a law enforcement clas for BYU, and in February 1956 Ed began teaching at Roy Woodward's gym in Provo. Ed graduated from BYU in early June 1956, and came to Pasadena where he worked for the Probation Department until February 1957. The KKAA was founded in September 1956, and Ed had began teaching at Bert Goodrich's Bar Bell Gym shortly after going to Pasadena, and a couple of weeks later Ed began teaching private lessons at the Beverly Wilshire Health Club; and, opened his own Pasadena Kenpo Karate Studio in February 1957. The Tiger and Dragon Emblem was introduced late 1960 and the IKKA was founded in late (December) 1963.
John McSweeney's Shodan
The first certificate issued by the IKKA was to John McSweeney, as Shodan, dated September 27, 1962, even though John was actually promoted on August 26 1962, when the KKAA board met in San Francisco. The School code on McSweeney's IKKA certificate is 1-01-EP, which is translated as Ed Parker, school 1 (Pasadena) student 1 (McSweeney). However, Ed Parker promoted Chuck Sullivan, to "First Degree Black Belt" (not Shodan) about two weeks before McSweeney's IKKA certificate is dated, and Sullivan received a KKAA certificate, not an IKKA certificate. John McSweeney was Al Tracy's student, and John told me he took his KKAA Shodan Certificate to Ireland with him, and took it off the wall when Ed sent him his IKKA certificate several months later.
I said there were three reasons Ed came to San Francisco. Promoting John was the first.
There is another problem. John's Irish students claim they have the IKKA constitution which is dated December 1962. First the IKKA was created by Mills Crenshaw whose credifility is greatly lacking. But assuming, arguendo, that the IKKA was formed in December 1962, then John McSweeney could not possibly be an IKKA Shodan because his IKKA certificated is dated three months before the IKKA existed.
John was not the last to receive a KKAA Shodan certificate (August 1962). Chuck Sullivan was promoted to black belt in the KKAA after John, and as I stated he received a KKAA certificate in September 1962.
Others who received KKAA Shodan certificates in late 1962 and 1963 were Sterling Peacock, Dave Hebler, and Danny Inosanto. Several Brown Belts also received KKAA certificates in 1963, the last being in late December of that year.
Dave Hebler told me not long ago (now some time ago) that he was promoted in October 1962, and I was in the picture at his promotion. I am indeed in his promotion picture, but I wasn't in Pasadena until early 1963. Besides, I had been given the KKAA records so I knew the date he was promoted, but I let it ride. Besides my personal knowledge, Dave's profile appeared in a 1966 Black Belt Magazine profile, which states, "He was promoted to 1st Degree in Karate in 1963 and is now the assistant instructor at the Hq. of the International Kenpo Karate Ass'n., 1713 E. Walnut St. Pasadena, Calif." We all get dates wrong, but the important thing is, Dave and I both know he was promoted to Shodan, because we were both there and Dave got a KKAA certificate, so the date difference (less than 6 months) does not really matter.One final point before going into the founding of the IKKA. Neither Ralph Castro, my brother's nor I was ever called to a KKAA meeting where Ed Parker ever said the KKAA would become the IKKA. None of us even knew about the IKKA until after it was founded.
Creation of the IKKAAs far as I know, the IKKA was the brainchild of Mills Crenshaw who was one of Ed's early students in Utah, but when he got his black belt is unknown. It was not while Ed Parker was at BYU, nor was he ever promoted under the Kenpo Karate Association of American, which was the only Kenpo Karate association Ed Parker was involved with until the creation of the IKKA. Mills Crenshaw, however, now claims he was Ed Parker's "first Haole black belt."
That claim is so ridiculous that in light of what I have already written, it should not need to be refuted, other than to say, Mills Crenshaw has no certificate to back up his claim. In 1978 Ed Parker wrote in Inside Elvis p.24 "Mills was to become one of my first 'haole' black belts." Mills was one of Ed Parker's first "haole" black belts, but he was not his first. The first "haole" was Rich Montgomery, followed by Rick Flores, Al Tracy, Jim Tracy, John McSweeney, Chuck Sullivan, Sterling Peacock and Dave Hebler all of whom were "haoles" and were promoted under the KKAA along with three others prior to December 1963.
I had originally stated that Mills Crenshaw's Salt Lake City school "opened about 1963." I was wrong. Mills Crenshaw says he opened his school in 1959. So I stand corrected.
There is no need to speculate on what Ed Parker knew about the formation of the International Kenpo Karate Association, or exactly when it was formed. Here is what I know:
What is unknown is whether Ed Parker was present when the IKKA was formed, or whether he learned about the IKKA after it was formed.
If Ed Parker was present at the founding of the IKKA, then you have Ed Parker (who was a Sandan) agreeing to Stan Hall's motion for the appropriate rank for himself to be Godan. Stan Hall who had no Dan rank, and Mills Crenshaw who had no Dan rank through the KKAA, somehow promoting Ed Parker from Sandan to Godan.
If Ed Parker was not present when the IKKA was formed that would mean two people who held no KKAA rank promoted Ed Parker to Godan, and Mills Crenshaw to Sandan, and Ed Parker agreed to this at a later date. Or that Ed Parker promoted Mills Crenshaw to Sandan after Mills Crenshaw (through the IKKA) had promoted Ed Parker to Godan.
After Ed Parker died and it was announced that he left no successor, dozens of American Kenpo students started their own Kenpo associations. Most of those association founders had little rank. They created their associations, and the associations promoted them to much higher rank.
Recently Mills Crenshaw's Yodan (4th degree Black Belt) was posted on the San Jose Kenpo site. It is dated May, 18 1965, or about 1 1/2 years after the IKKA promoted Ed Parker to Sandan. The certificate is signed by Ed Parker as Kudan (9th degree Black Belt). This would have made Ed Parker the only person in the world to have been promoted to 9th degree black belt at the age of 33. Professor Chow never held that rank when he was 33.
I think this says all that needs to be said about the founding of the IKKA and how Mills Crenshaw with no Kenpo rank created rank through the IKKA and promoted Ed Parker to Godan and himself to Sandan, then Yondan.
To Ed Parker's credit, Sonny Emperado did promote him to Godan in mid 1965.
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