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Ed Parker's
Quest for Peace

by S M Baer Parker

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

– Lao Tzu

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Peace Keepers & Peace Makers

The seeds of my peace quest were planted in my childhood when I was surrounded by Martial Artists whom I call;

'The Peace Keepers.'

Martial Arts Peace Keepers are expert protectors trained to keep the peace by delivering instant justice.

Peace Keepers come to their power and skill by way of intense training in kinetic disciplines of mind and body; cultivating physical speed, stamina and endurance.

The Peace Keeper's range of abilities are powerful enough to annihilate any attacker and deliver a verdict of justice instantly.

It's pretty impressive.

Martial Arts Peace Keepers have a passion for justice and take the role of guardian, protector and Keeper of Peace in public and private settings.

Peace Keepers have a noble and important place in society.


When Ed and Leilani Parker are your parents you don't automatically know it's a big deal that your dad's friends have names like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Benny "The Jet" Urquidez.

It takes awhile to know things when you start at zero but before I knew much of anything on earth I found out that my dad Edmund Kealoha Parker Sr. was a big deal.

But I was just a kid so 'meh.'

The situation was that my dad was Senior Grand Master and Founder of the American Kenpo System and was titled by Black Belt Magazine as the Father of American Karate.

For me that meant that people all over the world apparently needed my dad to come teach them his American Kenpo System.

So what does a 1st American Karate kid do when they have dads like mine who are gone a lot?

Well, you get to know the Martial Arts Masters on tv and in the movies.

But who were these tv and movie Martial Arts Masters that were influencing me?

(Click on each image above to learn more)


1 Kwai Chang Caine - Kung Fu TV,

2 Mr. Miyagi - The Karate Kid, 3 Splinter the Rat - Ninja Turtles  

4 Sr Master Oogway - Kung Fu Panda, 5 Master Yoda - Star Wars


Early Childhood Development studies note that children's brains are shaped moment by moment as they interact with their environment. 

As a matter of fact the first few years of life more than one million neural connections are formed each second; a pace never repeated again.

With that said, I should mention that my dad's early childhood environment and my early childhood landscape were vastly different. 

You could say our childhood's side by side were like yin and yang.

At 11 years of age my dad actually saw people get killed in his neighborhood during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Trauma and imagery like that undoubtedly sealed my dad's path in life.

Juxtaposed to the war and mayhem interrupting my dad's life; my life unfolded peacefully in the idyllic foothills of Pasadena California. 

The landscape of my youth was filled with Rose Parades, yellow happy face stickers and peace signs while John Lennon's 'Give Peace a Chance' played in the background on a transistor radio.

Mine was a typical American kid's life with occasional fun like going to movie releases with friends, hiking in the mountains or chilling at the beach on the weekend.

Oh, and my family hosted a half dozen Karate Tournaments annually in the states of California and Hawaii.

The biggest tournament we hosted was the Long Beach International Karate Championships which was attended by tens of thousands of people from around the world. There's that.

Martial Arts in my era didn't get started for kids until I was a teenager. In those days the Karate schools were filled with approximately 95% grown men. That wasn't a big draw for a kid like me because there were no other children in the classes.

Add to that the stereotypical generation gap where young and old battle for their own ground. 


The way it worked in my home is my dad didn't push and I didn't pull.

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Well... there was that weekly chocolate soda my dad bribed me with if I trained. That did have pull. But true confession, I only trained for the soda.

Generations, minds and lives take shape in distinct cultural times and seasons.

In August of 1964 my dad invited his friend Bruce Lee to do a demonstration in Long Beach at our Annual Parker Family International Karate Championship Tournament.

Hollywood was apparently watching Bruce Lee at the tournament and caught the Martial Arts fever. They caught it real bad.

Almost overnight Martial Arts actors appeared in television and movies dazzling people all over the world, including women and children.

Martial Arts schools couldn't pop up fast enough and in Pasadena there were even more Karate schools than McDonald's restaurants. To be exact there were 47 Martial Arts schools and 3 McDonald's restaurants.

The Martial Arts icon on screen offered a mindset that had great appeal for any age category. These were characters loaded with wisdom and mastery that made you want to arm yourself with deep philosophy and peaceful conflict resolution capacities.

I wholeheartedly believed that the refined self-defense moves shown on screen were real. I also believed the plausibility of dropping multiple combatants to the ground with a nerve activation or split second move timed just right.

These characters on screen could stroll into the white embers of a fight, end the conflict in an instant and with breeze burning walk away while admonishing "dying ain't much of a living boy."

Cool is cool. There had to be training like that somewhere...



Kids asking questions cause problems.

Questions like:

Do Peace Makers like the ones in the movies exist?

Are there any schools that train Peace Makers?

Are there fight techniques that make both sides win?

Can you defend yourself and not hurt the attacker because you are cousins?

That will produce some surly answers for sure.

I asked a lot of questions and found out the hard way that the topic of peace is quite troubling to some Peace Keepers. Especially Peace Keepers who prefer conquest.

So I might have been accused of being a trouble maker before but if you are going to have a quest you need a hard one; one that causes waves.

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Stephen King said, "we never know which lives we influence or when or why."

My dad knew he influenced me, he knew when and he knew why; it was observably deliberate.

He taught me to think for myself and it was important to him that I stand on my own achievements and be my own man. I was out of High School and ready to spread my wings and fly.

So in the late 1970s armed with two scholarships I booked a one way flight from LA to Honolulu and entered my University years to pursue an Art Degree on the North Shore of Oahu.

College life in Hawaii fortified my autonomy, passion and inspiration in the arts and technical creative work industry. It was my first look at life outside of the Martial Arts and I was making my mark.

Hawaii was a time of development and high achievement; right up to the U-Turn flight home to Pasadena. 

My dad's phone call asking me to work with him using my creative and artistic talents was a pivotal moment in my life. He needed my help to document his life in publications and film.

So I did what a good son would do. I returned home and started working with my dad. My dad and I worked together for almost a decade.

Then December 15, 1990 happened.

The day my dad died suddenly in the baggage claim department at the Honolulu Hawaii airport.

That was the day I hit the wall.


John Lennon said, "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."

I found out death does the same thing.

Like the driver heading down life streets and alleys deep in conversation with your dad sitting in the passenger seat and suddenly without warning he's out of the car.

Staring in the rear view mirror and wondering what just happened you sit there in a daze at full stop in the intersection of your life. 

Then you remember your dad's baggage filled with a lifetime of concepts and teachings right there in the baggage claim of your mind.

The decade that my dad and I shared as father and son working together documenting his vision and works accounted for thousands of hours of collaboration and synergy.

Behind me lie mountains of minute details that my dad laser printed in me tweaking my mind scope so I could see accurately and clearly through his mind's eye to 'get his vision.'

Some of my dad's friends even told me after he died that my dad confessed to them how he'd cleverly try to 'piss me off' so he could  harvest my efforts. Because he knew if I got pissed off I would come up fighting resulting in me producing more and better. And it worked.

This is a trait that lives in me to this day. Thanks Pops.

I'd gladly let my dad piss me off again today just to have him back. His absence was a cruel joke.

And so the years after he was gone commenced the biggest fight of my life to flush out first everything I could learn as a Kenpoist in the Martial Arts; 

Then second by way of my OCD and laser fixation on organizing the Paxtial Arts into a legitimate Non-Combative and Peaceful Self Defense Art. 

Ironic eh?!

When my dad brought me home to work with him it was so I could see into his MIND and 'get the SCOPE of his VISION.'

He called me home to work with him because he had a dream that he was going to die. Then he did.

Future really does prove past.

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I realize now how much the Martial Arts Peace Makers in movies and tv affected my inner thought processes.

I knew it wasn't real. Or was it??

And so goes the volley of thoughts and introspective inquisitions of self and truth.

Not one to dwell on inquisitions of self I moved on with question marks in the backseat of my mind.

Randomly I was led to back alleys and basements of various Chinatowns in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

I talked to the Chinese Masters who knew and respected my dad. 

By the way they look exactly like the Masters in the movies.

I asked them questions about the mysterious moves on the big screen and if they are real.

Let's just say that's a helluva line of questioning if you ask the right person.

There are no direct answers to questions about mysteries born out of ancient cultures.

The Masters I met didn't give straight answers; they just showed me things that blew my mind. 

These conversations were filled with clues meant to mind munch on over time. 

Which is WHY these moves are rarely seen and definitely not explained.

Answers don't come from time spent on a mat. They come when your Mind has matured enough to have the right Adjusted Mental Scope.

Answers come when ego is gone and open spiritual channels of awareness exist. 

A Master opens the Mind to pure understanding and knowledge about things like the Universal Laws of Duality, Yin-Yang and Tai Chi Energy.

To become a balanced Master you must develop with equal energy your MIND, SOUL and BODY on the Yin side as well as on the Yang side of life.

Without opening this spiritual balance and dimension in the quest for Mastery a student is simply performing empty and lopsided movements that have no meaning to self or the world around you.

This is why most Masters are old; like Yoda. 

It takes time and life; life and time.



It is said that 80% of amputee patients experience Phantom Pain in the missing limb. 

Scans show that amputees with Phantom Pain have the same pattern of brain activity as individuals with both hands. 

It's a great metaphor of my dad and I because his sudden absence had the same effect on my life. Phantom Pains.

Detailed conversations we had would flash in my mind like he was still there along with his reminders to me on 'HOW to THINK.' 

Which is basically to 'THINK PROGRESSIVE!'

These lightbulb moments about his notes titled 'Other' and 'Specialized Moves & Methods' happened often. 

If I was to nail down my biggest 'Aha!' from my dad's teachings it would be this;

There is an Opposite and Reverse to EVERYTHING.

Including the Martial Arts.

This truth cannot be repeated enough. It is a golden nugget.

I knew my dad's Mind well but he also knew my Mind. He knew that I would follow his threads of knowledge. And I did.

These were the notes he said he didn't have time to work.


So his life turned the notes over to me.


For the 33 years following my dad's passing his notes and my notes intertwined like a tapestry. I experienced key breakthroughs while traveling the world teaching Martial Arts and Testing Kinetic Theory at Seminars.

Theory came full circle; merging with discovery.

Many of my discoveries happened under the tutelage of Martial Arts Masters who shared pieces of my dad's Mind and Energy. 

These Masters knew my father and loved him. So they shared with me their insights and passion about their own Style of Art.

I became very close to some of these Masters.

I gained significant knowledge and wisdom from my years of teaching Martial Arts Seminars around the world.

I met Martial Artists in my dad's circle, outside my dad's circle, on their turf and in their own cultural setting.