The Five Kenpos of Ed Parker
The first Kenpo of Ed Parker was actually Okinawan Karate. One can see the forms in the string of techniques in his first book. Forms were actually not taught, except, I believe, for Naihanchi and maybe one or two others.
The second version was a blend of Karate and jujitsu. This version was originally taught in a small temple in Japan.
The third Kenpo of Mr. Parker was actually created by James Wing Woo, a kung Fu stylist who taught Ed’s class, and helped him write a book while he lived in Pasadena. This was the version of kenpo from which many of the forms were originated.
The fourth kenpo was a reworking and renaming of the 3rd version.
The fifth and final Kenpo was created by Ed Parker to replace the earlier styles of Kenpo. He was proud of the fact that it actually wasn’t kenpo anymore.
Now, this all stated, one has to ask why there were so many styles. The answer is simple, Ed was trying to simplify and make sense out of the mess.
The fact of the matter is that the martial arts are random sequences of motions. This causes the art to be hard to learn, and hard to apply. It is simply hard to memorize to the point of intuition so much data.
Ed was trying to simplify and make sense out of the thing so that students could learn faster (among other reasons).
Unfortunately, he failed.
He came close, but his efforts were still comprised of random sequences of motion.
Each method he designed or compiled or whatever was built upon the ashes of the previous, tried to include new concepts and theories he had come across, and does not make summation of kenpo, or the martial arts.
Was he wrong for doing what he did? Not at all. His work was ground breaking and innovative, he just lacked the logic and perspective to bring it all together.
Does it mean that the kenpo you are studying is wrong?
For Kenpo is a manifestation of knowledge, and each person contains the knowledge in his own unique way.
Though Ed failed to make the art a science, it is still an art, and it is still whatever people make it.
Interestingly enough, Ed was proud that the last version of his Kenpo wasn’t Kenpo at all. If you want to read that story click on The Man Who Killed Kenpo.