Leilani and Ed Parker at HNL

Karate, the onset of the Korean War would delay his progress. After a 3-year stint in the United States Coast Guard, Ed’s goal of attaining his black belt was finally realized on June 5, 1953.

Upon graduating from BYU with a Bachelor’s in Sociology in June of 1956, Ed and his wife Leilani moved to California and decided to venture off to open his first Kenpo Karate Studio in Pasadena, California. Many doors were opened for Ed, as he became well known in Hollywood and trained a great many stunt men and celebrities; most notable was Elvis Presley. Kenpo began to evolve as Ed sought to create a combative martial arts system that would suit the American mind-set enabling one to execute multiple strikes to several opponents in various directions. These innovative paths lead him to become a prolific writer authoring numerous books, teaching manuals and journals.
Ed’s rapidly expanding national and global following led him to change the name of his Kenpo Karate Association to the International Karate Association in 1956. Throughout the next three decades, Ed found himself leading, directing and servicing an ever-increasing number of international groups across several continents, from Europe, South America, Australia, South Africa and the Oceanic region of New Zealand.
In 1964, Ed started the 1st Annual International Karate Championships held in Long Beach, CA. Participants from many different styles came to take part in this tournament fostering connections in the martial arts world. This historical event would be the vehicle that would launch the careers of the legendary Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and many other prominent martial artists.