GM Ed Parker: Early Footage (Part 3)

As promised, part 3 of the 16mm Grandmaster Ed Parker 16mm print. 

What is striking about this series of videos is the rather rudimentary movement of GM Ed Parker. Through the lens of modern Martial Application his technique really wasn't that impressive. It is only when you examine the movements in a historical context that they become relevant. Just as Ron Chapél mentions in his Podcast most had not seen anything like this before. Fighting primarily consisted of Western Boxing and, perhaps, Judo. But all of these techniques set the stage for what was to come. We see the origins of many of the refined American Kenpo techniques later popularized when Mr. Parker began his affiliate program and pushed "motion" Kenpo to the masses. 

For me the most interesting aspect of the video is the general lack of what some would call "slap-checks". There are positional checks, which are ever more present in the motion Kenpo of today. But it is clear in the video that the active slap-check vs passive positional check is missing. So when did Mr. Parker introduce the active slap-check?

It probably had something to do with Haumea "Tiny" Lefiti and Ark Yuey Wong. In particular, the Mok Ga style. Tiny was a giant of a man. Larger and, as some would argue, faster than GM Parker. Ed Parker ended up at Ark Wong's school around the same time as Tiny Lefiti. Imagine seeing a 6 foot 6 Samoan moving with lightning speed. Would you be impressed? 

Dr. Carl Totten of the Toaist Institute says it best:

Some of the advanced martial artists studying with or influenced by Ark Wong, especially Tino and Ed Parker (known as the “Father of American Kenpo“), were also influenced by Tiny’s movements and style of fighting. Ed Parker later would incorporate the slap checks from Mok ga into his still developing art of kenpo. What Parker later called the master keys and the alphabet of motion were also very similar to Tiny’s breakdown formula.

Tiny was a thinker much in line with Mr. Parker. And Mok Ga was a great vehicle to explore "what worked" due to it's history as an art that emphasized reality. To quote Dr. Totten again:

Part of the characteristics of Mok ga was the use of practical concepts from math, especially geometry. Tiny explained that if one truly understood the functional use of the square, circle, and triangle in combat, they would become a highly skilled fighter. The combination of the whipping slap-like strikes and shuffles (snake hands and rat steps) was especially effective and rarely seen in most other styles or systems. Tiny often said he would rather be punched than slapped by someone who knew how to slap properly.

It is really a shame that he died so early. Had he continued evolving he would have, in my opinion, become a legend in the likes of Mr. Parker and Bruce Lee. His legacy certainly lives on through his influence in Lima Lama (though he did leave the Lima Lama organization). 

Finally, here is Part 3 of the footage. For more info, checkout Part 1, which has an introduction by Ron Chapél. 

Special Thanks

This unbelievable conversion was provided by Peggy Bank. There aren't to many places that can reliably perform a 16mm conversion for a reasonable price. Thanks to them we were able to have it done painlessly. Check them out on the web:

Peggy Bank - Save your memories


Gary Brewer 7 years, 1 month ago

Similar to most writers, all seem to have borrowed from the originals, and built on them...Same here...

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Brad Bode 7 years, 1 month ago

Of course, I stand on the shoulders of giants and am lucky enough to know these legends.

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