Tag Archives: thunderbolt chow

The Messed Up History of Kenpo Karate

Kenpo History Sort of a Mess

Kenpo Karate is one of the most popular martial arts in the world, and the history is, to put it lightly, a mess.

There are three men who brought Kenpo to the streets of America. These are James Mitose, William ‘Thunderbolt Chow, and Ed Parker.

kenpo karate training manual

What really happened with Mitose, Chow and Parker.

James Mitose learned the art at a temple in Japan. Except, there is no temple there. The area is the home of kosho sect of the Yoshida clan, so maybe. Except…when you think about it, would there be much significance if your instructor learned Karate at a Baptist church somewhere in Illinois?

Yes, there are differences in culture, and there is a potential zen aspect to it all, but churches are basically meeting places.

The second man in this lineage is William ‘Thunderbolt’ Chow. Professor Chow claimed that he originally learned martial arts from his father, a Buddhist priest. Except, there are no records of his father as a priest. And how does that tie in with the Kenpo he learned from James Mitose?

The third man in this saga is Edmund Parker.

Parker brought Karate to the mainland, began teaching martial arts while at Brigham Young University. Except, he is said to have taught his students all he knew – he was only a brown belt – and when he went home and tried to get more to teach…Professor Chow wouldn’t teach him anything because he had been instructing without permission!

Now, there are a lot more sordid details to this story. There are fights and arguments and people slandering one another, and the reader might think, at this point, the this writer is writing black headlines just to sell an article. Except…the real problem here is not the three men, it is the students learning their kenpo karate martial art.

bruce lee kenpo training

How to shift your forms for maximum potentials

People seem to need to bolster themselves up, to give themselves airs, to make themselves sound more important than they are.

So when Mitose says, in an offhanded remark, ‘Yes, my father used to show me tricks when I was a kid. We were living next to a church then, and we would roll around on the grass in the side yard. Lot of fun…’ the student bows deep and realizes that his instructor studied at a zen temple, was beaten with a bamboo rod for dozing, and had to go through rigamarole that would make Gordon Liu envious.

And when Thunderbolt Chow says, ‘Yes, my father had dreams of being a priest, talked about it often. Priests know really great martial arts, you know,’ the student holds his finger aloft as the lightening strikes him, and knows that he studying ancient and arcane mysteries written down in scrolls dating back to the time of Buddha.

And when Parker says, ‘My instructor didn’t have any more to teach me,’ the student catches his breath and claps his hands together, for obviously his instructor has surpassed his instructor, and the student is the real beneficiary of all this light and goodness.

lop sau rolling fists freestyle drill

the last third of 150 Kenpo techniques scientifically analyzed

Yes, there are people who spread rumor and prevarication to make themselves look good, but it is up to the student to be discerning and find out the real truth…and, there is a lesson to be learned here.

The lesson is that man learns best from his mistakes. He learns a little bit from doing something well, but he learns A LOT from messing up. And these three men, James Mitose, William ‘Thunderbolt’ Chow, and Ed Parker, they were human, and they messed up.

So, are we going to make them saints and pretend they made no mistakes? Or are we going to look extra hard at their mistakes and learn, truly learn, from them?

The author began studying Kenpo Karate in 1967. Check out the three volume set analyzing Kenpo Karate (see illustrations above for links). History, forms, and 150 techniques broken down and scientifically analyzed. This will forever change the way you look at and do Kenpo Karate.

Publishing Matrixing Kenpo Series!

Matrixing Kenpo: The Truth of History

I’ve been working on this for months.
I broke out my first book,
made images of all the techniques,
and matrixed the thing.

ed parker kenpo karate training manual

New Matrixing Book on Kenpo Karate! Click on the Cover!

Did you know that there are scientific principles
that can be applied to Kenpo?

For instance,
just to name one,
you can analyze a technique
by distance.
Does the distance collapse during the technique,
from kick to punch to knee to elbow?
Or does it start using the distances in the wrong sequence?

here is something to think about,
because a lot of people will say,
‘Oh, I knew that!’
Whether they ever thought about it before,
they will except the truth of it,
make it their own,
and shuffle me off.
They can’t have somebody telling them something,
they can’t learn.
here is the key,
do you know what to apply the principle of distance to a technique?
And when to ignore it?
it sounds funny,
because matrixing is a science,
but you have to know when to apply science,
and when to put it aside.

There are three books in the series.
The first one has a short section on history,
so you can understand something
from the matrixing viewpoint,
about what went on in the minds
of Mitose, Chow and Parker.

Then it has a large section on techniques.
Analyzing them,
matrixing them,
using scientific principles to find the truth of the technique.

a caution,
not everybody will agree with me.
that doesn’t matter.
In the mere disagreement,
you will formulate your own ideas.
In other words,
you will really start to think about the truth of Kenpo.

The second and third books will be coming out shortly.
The second one deals with redoing the forms
so they match what is going to happen in the third book.

In the third book
I take all the techniques,
tell you why I toss or resort the techniques,
and create a new system,
a Matrix Kenpo.

A system based on scientific principle.

to be sure,
there is still an IMMENSE amount of work to be done.

Here’s the thing,
I don’t solve the problem of Kenpo,
I ask the questions that will make you solve it.

you’re going to look at something I draw or say,
and you’re going to get,
or lots of other things,
and you’re going to think.

Does that really work for Al?
Is that really a proper matrix?
What about doing it this way?
Why didn’t Al think of that?

the answer,
because everybody is unique,
everybody has their own way,
in spite of their adherence to a system or belief,
has uniqueness about them,
and this uniqueness will always come to the surface,
if the art is presented right.

And I’ve done my best to present Kenpo right.

Did I succeed?
I don’t know,
you tell me.
Here’s the link…


Now this is to createspace.
Amazon should be up any second,
likewise Kindle.
So do a google,
or do a search on Amazon or kindle,
if it’s not up
it should be shortly.

just to let you know,
kindle is a bit rough.
They have trouble with pictures,
so if you get kindle,
be aware that every once in a while
you’ll have a picture
appearing a paragraph or two out of place.

that brings us to one last thing.
Which system of Kenpo am I analyzing?
on one hand,
it doesn’t matter,
there are similarities between all kenpo systems.
the system I learned
was descended from the Tracy Brothers.
Two of the Tracy’s learned from Parker
the third from Chow.
They claim to teach from Chow,
but…who knows?
`I learned it back in 67,
so whatever,
it is was back in a turbulent period,
and there will be a rawness to it,
and a purity,
and a lot of other things.

if you could hit the like button,
twitter it,
or spread the word somehow,
it would help.

you guys and gals have a super work out,
and I’ll talk to you next…