Kenpo History

Edmund K. Parker began studying Kenpo with William K.S. Chow at the age of 16. As Grand Master Parker learned Karate in Hawaii, he realized the need for innovations to combat modern-day methods of fighting.

Senior Grand Master Ed Parker

To fulfill this need, he developed revolutionary concepts, theories, and principles that are practical in application. Because of this, his innovative concepts and ideas have greatly enhanced the Martial Arts in the United States of America and throughout the world.

While at Brigham Young University, Ed Parker, 23 years of age at the time, had a closed club, teaching only students of Polynesian descent and law enforcement officers. One of the law enforcement officers was Charles Beeder Sr. who became Ed's permanent assistant. 

In 1956 Grand Master Parker graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) with a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology.

After graduation from BYU, Ed Parker moved to California and opened his second school in 1956, he also founded the International Kenpo Karate Association the same year.

Edmund K. Parker 10th degree black belt is the undisputed "Father" of American Kenpo Karate having opened the first commercial Karate studio in 1954. 



Kenpo in Europe was pioneered by many instructors, John Conway, Rainer Schulte, and Gary Ellis to name but a few. The purpose of this page is to shed some light on the development of Kenpo in Europe and Jersey in particular. This is NOT a comprehensive family tree or viewpoint. Having spoken to many Kenpo black belts in Europe we felt that there should be some representation as to how the system has grown and who developed it in the relevant country's.It is up to each country to make its own family tree.

This is important to do since Mr. Parker's passing. It is important to preserve historical facts and not hearsay as to how Kenpo was developed in Europe, as this was not achieved by one man but by contributions from many. One of Kenpo’s major pioneers was Rainer Schulte of Germany along with Graham Lelliott and many others from the Island of Jersey. Graham Lelliott traveling extensively throughout Europe to promote the art taught to him by his instructor, Ed Parker. Graham Lelliott has many students in Spain, Sweden, Australia, America, and New Zealand, and travels regularly to promote Kenpo in these countries. 

Kenpo has been in Ireland for many years and has a very strong following.

Kenpo first arrived on Jersey in or around 1968, this was under instructors from Ireland. Namely Don Cassidy and Maurice Mahon and was being taught to Graham Lelliott and three other brown belt Instructors on the Island.

All of the original 4, were brown belts.

In 1980 Graham Lelliott was promoted to 1st-degree black belt and subsequently, Jim Rennie and Dave Williams were also promoted. Before their promotion to black belt, all of the original instructors in Jersey were training under the Irish and receiving rank from them.

All 4 changed over to train directly under Mr. Parker and the I.K.K.A and did so holding the rank of brown belt.

From this point on Mr. Rainer Schulte became the primary instructor for this group in Europe.

By Mr. Rainer Schulte

In consultation with senior members of the Irish and American Kenpo community and acting upon information that has been provided to me in recent times from many sources in Europe and America, I wish to hereby clarify some misunderstandings which may have existed concerning issues referred to in my book and website postings.

As many will understand who were involved in Kenpo during it's formative stages in Europe, all information pertaining to organizations, individuals and structures in the various countries was not as readily available as it is in today's 'internet world', and many conclusions and judgments were often formed on the basis of information one received at that time. In my evaluation of the Kenpo structures within Ireland (having been appointed by Mr. Ed Parker Sen. to conduct an investigation into the various Kenpo groupings in Ireland in 1981) because, at the time, I may have been viewed with some suspicion and reservation by some of the Irish groups as an 'intruding foreigner', and as a consequence, I did not receive the level of compliance and support which I had expected at that time. I was obliged to draw my conclusions from information given locally and from my own observations.

In retrospect, it should be admitted that many of the most senior Kenpoists in Ireland who had been active since 1963 did perhaps not receive the accreditation from me that they justifiably should have at that time. In 'putting the record straight’, I would like therefore to state hereby:-

1) Mr. John McSweeney was the first individual to bring Kenpo to Ireland and Europe, and what he taught was Ed Parker's Kenpo. He was also the first IKKA European Director by appointment of Ed Parker.

2) Mr. John McSweeney's first four black belts, namely Tommy Jordan, Maurice Mahon, John Conway and Jimmy Rice were Europe's first Kenpo black belts and their certificates were valid IKKA certificates.

3) The Irish were indeed the first to introduce Kenpo (including Ed Parker's 'modern Kenpo') to England, Holland, and Jersey.

4) The standards which prevailed in Ireland in 1981 and since then have been proven to be much higher than had been reported to me at that time, and this has often been evidenced by the success of the various Irish Kenpo squads at many major international competitions and events.

5) With the same motive that I dutifully served my responsibility to Mr. Ed Parker Sen., I mean to continue that responsibility of service to our Irish Kenpo brothers who helped to spread Kenpo in Europe. I offer this statement for Mr. Edmund Kealoha Parker Sen., our seniors in Ireland and all of our Kenpoists worldwide.


Jersey Channels Islands

Kenpo in Jersey C.I.

There were of course many visiting instructors that would come to the island and contribute to the growth of Kenpo over the years. Larry Tatum was a guiding force in the early days, as well as Mr. Parker himself making many visits to the Island.

Eventually taking over as the main instructor for this group around the beginning of the eighties when Graham Lelliot was promoted to black belt.

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