The Origins of Kenpo
Kenpo is considered by many to be the first
eclectic martial art. Its origin evolved from Karate which; according to
legend, began over a thousand years ago in China.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century two families, Kumamoto and
Nagasaki brought knowledge of Kenpo from China to Kyushu in Japan.
Modified throughout many years into its current form, it is referred to
as Kosho-Ryu Kenpo, or Old Pine Tree school. It is from here that most
modern forms of Kenpo are derived.
to modern legend, in 1916 at the age of five, James Mitose was sent from
his homeland in Hawaii to Kyushu for schooling in his ancestors' art of
self-defense called Kosho-Ryu Kenpo. After completing his training in
Japan, Mitose returned to Hawaii. Near the beginning of World War II in
1936, Mitose opened the "Official Self-Defense" club in Honolulu. It was
from here that the five major Kenpo influences; Thomas Young, William K.
S. Chow, Edmund Howe, Arthur Keawe and Paul Yamaguchi would study and
bring Kenpo to the rest of the world.
William K.S. Chow adapted Mitose's approach and "Americanized" the art.
He is perhaps responsible for the largest leap of Kenpo to the general
public. In 1949, Chow opened a school of his own at a local YMCA and
referred to his art as Kenpo Karate.
Edmund K. Parker, who is probably the most famous of Chow's
practitioners, began studying Kenpo with Chow at the age of 16. Parker
further adapted the methods so that they would prove practical in an
actual fight and opened the first commercial Karate studio in 1954. He
created a logical organization for the basic Kenpo techniques, dividing
them into eight categories, such as stances, blocks, punches and so on.
Parker graduated from Brigham Young and moved to California where he
opened his second school in 1956 and also founded the International
Kenpo Karate Association the same year. Parker taught the martial arts
to many actors and celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen.
He also appeared in movies and television shows like "I Love Lucy."
Grand Master Edmund Parker is the undisputed "Father" of American Kenpo
When Mr. Parker died in December of 1990, the International Kenpo Karate
Association went through some major restructuring due in part to
political differences, as well as other reasons. Many of the senior
students went off to create their own associations and promote their own
style of the American Kenpo system. Today Kenpo remains very strong in
the martial arts industry.
M.A.X. Dojo Kenpo
We at the M.A.X. Dojo pay our greatest respects and admiration to Grand
Master Ed Parker and his skill and insights into Kenpo Karate and the
lasting legacy he has left. We are determined to teach Grand Master Ed
Parker's Art the way he outlined in volume 5 of the Infinite Insights
Series which is the way he taught us. We intend on making the Parker
Kenpo System the most well known style of Martial Arts in the world. We
have both the authority and ability to promote all who wish to learn the
Parker Kenpo System and welcome the sincere and conscientious instructor
and student with open arms. If you are a Parker Kenpo System
practitioner, we are here to serve as a support group.
At this school we are not involved in the disputes of the Kenpo
societies. Kenpo as taught by Ed Parker or any of Ed Parkers students
who ever they and their down lines are, is still Ed Parkers Kenpo. It
really makes no difference if its Tracy Kenpo, TRACO, Tatum Kenpo, or
EPAK (Ed Parkers American Kenpo) it still came from the same source,
Senior Grandmaster Ed Parker. Kenpo is a sophisticated system of pure
self defense and is easy to learn. However, it takes a lifetime to
As mentioned earlier Kenpo today is splintered at best. The biggest
problems involve egos. Many believe their style of Kenpo is the superior
to the next guys. This is not really correct. The Kenpo systems today
have simply moved on, just as SGM Parker continued to change his system.
The masters and grandmasters of Kenpo today continue to grow and adopt.
This is a good thing unless you are in the ego crowd and consider
everyone else wrong. Tradition has a place in all martial arts but so
does change. For instance, the flying side kick was originally designed
to remove horsemen from their saddles, this is not important today. Is
it? For traditions sake, maybe, but not really practical.
For the student to really understand Kenpo they need to visit the
different styles and draw their own conclusions. If they look hard they
will see there are only slight differences in the techniques and the way
they are taught. They will also notice some technique adopted from other
styles that have been "kenpoized". This simply means adopted to there
style of Kenpo. The real question is how many ego-maniacs are willing to
try and prove Masters Frank Trejo, Larry Tatum, Paul Mills, or Huk
Planas, just to name a small few that they are even slightly off in what
they teach. The point is in Kenpo and all martial arts "leave your ego
at the door and try to learn". No one knows it all and we all have room
for a real in-depth explanation of Kenpo
Karate, please click here