The transcript below is from the video “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ed Parker” by Martial Arts History Museum.

Martial Arts History Museum:

Edmund Parker is considered one of the most influential martial artists of our generation. Trained in Hawaii under icon William Chow, Parker established the international Kenpo Karate Association and created a string of schools across the west coast. He opened more doors and provided more opportunities to take martial arts a giant leap forward. In this episode, the Martial Arts History Museum takes a look at the 10 things you didn’t know about Ed Parker.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#1. Ed Parker was best friends with Elvis Presley

Ed Parker was best friends with the “King of Rock and Roll” Elvis Presley. While staying at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills in the late 1960s. Elvis happened to walk by one of the conference rooms and noticed a martial arts demonstration. Terry Robinson was hosting a class about martial arts featuring Ed Parker. Elvis was so impressed by Parker’s skill that he immediately began training with him. Elvis completely fell in love with Kenpo and trained in the art for the rest of his life. In time, Elvis eventually earned a legitimate black belt in the art of Kenpo Karate. In fact, Elvis would often call Ed Parker sometimes at 2 in the morning just to talk. The two continued to be best friends until Elvis’ death in 1977.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#2.  Ed Parker was the founder of the International Kenpo Karate Association

Ed Parker was one of the most innovative martial arts instructors of his generation. Over the years, he started up a number of schools that stretched across the west coast that went under the umbrella of the International Kenpo Karate Association; the IKKA. The IKKA was considered one of the biggest organizations of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Although Ed Parker passed away in 1990, the association he established still continues today.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#3. Ed Parker was Rock Star Billy Idol’s Bodyguard

Ed Parker’s skill was so impressive, a number of rock stars insisted on having Ed Parker as their bodyguard including singer Billy Idol. Billy, who at the time was one of the world’s most popular music icons, was so thankful that he made a special necklace of the Kenpo Karate logo that he wore for many of his concerts. Many of the biggest rock stars would frequently visit Ed Parker at his home in Pasadena.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#4. Ed Parker created the World Famous Long Beach International Karate Championships 

Ed Parker’s tournament, the Long Beach International Karate Championship, was considered the greatest martial arts tournament in the world. Although it started out as a local tournament, Ed Parker’s Long Beach International Karate Championships would eventually become recognized as the biggest and best martial arts tournament in the world. Started in 1964, it brought the greatest martial arts competitors from all across the globe. Over the years, the internationals introduced the world to some of the most iconic figures of all time including Chuck Norris, Fumio Demura, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis, Benny Urquidez, Cynthia Rothrock, George Chung, and so many more. Even though the trophies were made primarily of wood and plastic, winning first place at the internationals was something to brag about.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#5. Ed Parker helped introduce martial arts to television

It wasn’t until the 1950s that television started to become part of the American landscape. In fact, by 1950, only 3-5 million people in the entire U.S had a television set in their home. As early as 1953, two martial arts pioneers; Ed Parker and Bruce Lee were already making appearances in a number of television shows including Ozzie and Harriet, The Lucy Show and I Led Three Lives. As a matter of fact, Ed Parker was featured in Time Magazine as the teacher of the stars. From a principal figure to stunt work, Parker played a huge role in opening the doors to martial arts and television.




Martial Arts History Museum:

#6. Ed Parker was responsible for launching Bruce Lee’s career in America

Though Bruce Lee was already a child star in a number of Hong Kong films, it wasn’t until 1964 that Bruce Lee became known in the Hollywood circles. On the debut of the Long Beach International Karate Championship, Ed Parker had heard about a skillful Kung Fu artist by the name of Bruce Lee. After watching a demonstration, Parker arranged for Lee to perform his skills at the internationals which he had filmed. A short time later, a television director contacted Ed Parker. He was looking for an impressive martial artist for a television show. Ed Parker showed him the footage that he had taken of Bruce Lee performing at the internationals. And it was from that film, Lee got the part in The Green Hornet.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#7. Ed Parker served in the United States Coast Guard

Ed Parker was born in the Hawaiian islands and trained there with William Chow in the art of Kenpo Karate. Around 1951, the Korean war broke out and to serve his country, Ed Parker decided to join the U.S Coast Guard. As luck would have it, Ed Parker was stationed at the coast guard base in Hawaii. Since the base was so close to home, he was able to continue his training with William Chow. Parker ended serving his full three-year term in the Coast Guard.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#8. Ed Parker also trained with Ark Y. Wong

In the early 1960s, different styles of martial arts were coming to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Mr. Parker consulted and even worked out with a number of well-known Kung Fu pioneers including the father of Kung Fu in America, Ark Y. Wong. In fact, Dan Inosanto was a student of both Ark Y. Wong and Ed Parker.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#9. Ed Parker knew all the best places to Eat

Ed Parker enjoyed eating and as a result, he knew all the restaurants that had the best tasting meals. According to his students, Ed Parker would drive them to some of the most hidden places in Southern California but they would end up having the best food in the world. However, one of Mr. Parker’s favorite places to eat was Won Kok Restaurant in Los Angeles Chinatown which was introduced to him by Dr. Carl Totton. Ed Parker enjoyed Won Kok Restaurant so much that after his Thursday night advanced class in West Los Angeles, the entire class would join him at the Won Kok in Chinatown.

Martial Arts History Museum:

#10. Ed Parker’s Kenpo Logo on Elvis Presley’s Guitar

Elvis took his martial arts seriously and ended up earning a legitimate black belt under Ed Parker. Elvis enjoyed Kenpo Karate so much he wanted the world to know. To achieve this, he not only did a number of Kenpo techniques during his stage performances, he also placed the Kenpo Karate crest on the bottom of his guitar.

And that’s a look at the amazing man whose legacy will live forever and who is featured in the Martial Arts History Museum in Los Angeles. We hope you will join us again very soon and don’t forget to subscribe to this channel.




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