American Kenpo

I come to you with only Karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, Karate, my empty hands.

The Kenpo Creed1

American Kenpo traces back to the efforts of Ed Parker, who many regard as the founder of this martial art style. Ed Parker was born on March 19, 1931, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He began studying various styles, including Judo, Juuitsu, and boxing before focusing on Kenpo under the instruction of William Chow.2

William Chow, a Chinese martial artist, taught a modified version of Kenpo in Hawaii. Parker learned the fundamentals of Kenpo from Chow, however, Parker felt dissatisfied learning the basics and sought to expand his knowledge.

Parker began to experiment and modify the techniques he learned from Chow. He incorporated principles from other martial arts styles and developed his own approach to Kenpo. This led to the birth of American Kenpo, a hybrid martial art that combined elements of traditional Kenpo with Parker’s innovations. Parker’s American Kenpo gained popularity and recognition in the 1950s and 1960s. He opened his first Kenpo school in Pasadena, California, in 1956, and later established the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA) to promote and teach his style. Parker also authored several books on American Kenpo, including “Secrets of Chinese Karate” and “Infinite Insights into Kenpo.”3

The influence of American Kenpo continued to grow, and Parker’s teachings attracted numerous students and practitioners. Many of his students went on to become influential figures in the martial arts world, spreading American Kenpo across the United States and internationally.

Today, American Kenpo remains a popular martial art style, known for its practical self-defense techniques and emphasis on efficiency and adaptability. It continues to evolve and be practiced by thousands of individuals worldwide.

Belt System

  • American Kenpo Yellow Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Orange Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Purple Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Blue Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Green Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Third Brown Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Second Brown Bet Requirements
  • American Kenpo First Brown Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo First Degree Black Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Second Degree Black Belt Requirements
  • American Kenpo Third Degree Black Belt Requirements
  1. Parker, E. K. (1982). Ed Parker’s infinite insights into Kenpo. Delsby Publications.
  2. International Kenpo Karate Association. (n.d.). About Ed Parker. Retrieved from ↩︎
  3. Tracy’s Kenpo Karate. (n.d.). The History of American Kenpo. Retrieved from ↩︎
  • Parker, E. (1963). Secrets of Chinese Karate. Delsby Publications.
  • Parker, E. (1982). Infinite Insights into Kenpo: Mental Stimulation. Delsby Publications.