Kenpo in Europa
My thoughts on the "HISTORY OF KENPO IN EUROPE":
Since Mr. Parker’s passing, Kenpo has become unregulated worldwide. Europe, in my opinion, is the champion of unregulated Kenpo. Regulated only by self serving interests of people who may have met Mr. Parker a few times at seminars or classes and now claim to have been close friends and students of his.
Just as it is today, people back then were jumping from organization to organization or were creating new “associations” thinking the grass is greener on the other side, or not as “challenging” as it was with the IKKA in Europe under my leadership.
Since my arrival on the Kenpo scene in Europe we now find Kenpo in most every country in Europe. Upon my arrival in Germany I found only one martial art that resembled American Kenpo. It was Shaolin Kempo with less than a hundred practitioners.
When I told Mr. Parker about a call from Roy MacDonald from Jersey C.I. He said: Go for it!
In Jersey I found a group of fantastic guys and girls just wanting to learn what Roy MacDonald, a first degree Brown Belt at that time, had seen and experienced while visiting Ed Parker’s studio in West Los Angeles. They were not happy with their Instructors from Ireland. It was quite easy to teach the 32 Tech Syllabus. I have to give credit to their Irish Instructors, however, because their basics were excellent. Actually, that was the first time I had heard about Kenpo in Ireland.
Following the calls of several individuals in Europe, I found some basic Kenpo in England taught by Bob Rose who claimed he held a black belt in a related system. England was eventually taken over by Gary Ellis, a then awesome brown belt who I believe is now under the watchful eye of Lee Wedlake whom I respect highly. In Spain I found Lima Lama to be the closest thing to Kenpo. One Gentleman in Spain claimed to have been a student of Ed Parker which turned out to be a lie. Under the direction of Louis Gonzales Lopez, however, Spanish Kenpo expanded rapidly.
In Ireland, I was surprised about the amount of Kenpo Schools/Clubs. The trouble was that they did not like each other very much. During my travels throughout Europe and back to the states regularly, I had learned that the first man to bring Kenpo to Europe/Ireland was John McSweeney who had left 4 Black Belts in charge when he returned to the US after two years in Ireland. One individual from Ireland who became my friend and an excellent ambassador of Kenpo was Lorcan Carey. One of the highlights in Ireland was when Ann Moloney and her son Stephen tested and passed for black belt to join Ambrose Moloney to the ranks of Kenpo Black Belts in Ireland.
In Holland I found Hans Hesselmann to be the major force for EPAK. He had come to Germany on one of Mr. Parker’s visits and said, “This is what I want to learn.” Hans is the only one in Europe who has kept all the Kenpo groups under his skillful guidance.
When I say that I was the first to teach EPAK in Europe it is because I did not find anyone to be teaching what I was teaching - Ed Parker’s American Kenpo or EPAK for short, according to the rules and regulations of the IKKA.
There are some great Kenpoists in Europe now, many of whom I have never met but heard a lot of good things about. When I started to teach Kenpo in Europe, I was on a mission. All I wanted was to please the “Old Man” and give back to the Kenpo community what I had received from this great art.
At that time hardly anyone was teaching full time to earn a living. I had a good job with the US Government and was never forced to charge for seminars. Mr. Parker also never charged for seminars when he came to Europe.
I have to recognize Roy MacDonald for his tenacious passion for Kenpo. He is a key driving force behind European Kenpo. I would also like to recognize Graham Lelliott for his help and friendship, and for traveling to different countries when I was unable to. Thanks Graham for letting me stay at your house when visiting Jersey (saving money for the IKKA). Thank you Dave and Esta Williams, as well as Gary Grimshaw who were always willing and able to help the cause.
I would like to recognize Gary Ellis who has stayed on track and, in my opinion, is one of the best Kenpoist in Europe. Thank you Hans Hesselmann for being a good friend and an icon in the European Kenpo scene. We have not always been on the same page, but we were always on the same path. I want to recognize Christian Springer, my first black belt, who was instrumental in keeping Kenpo alive in Germany when I had to return to the US.
Two more friends need to be recognized: Peter Ritters, who was my first student in Germany and one of the founders of the Kenpo Karate Club Schiefbahn, also known as the infamous WAKS (Willich Ass Kickers). Willich is a small township where we trained at the British Military Camp. Peter stayed a first degree brown belt for the past 30 years and has just started training again to finally test for Black. The other friend to be recognized is Andree “Pitbull” Kretschmer who started the first IKKA oriented Web Site in 2001, Kenpo.de in Germany. Andree became a Black Belt in 2001, 25 years after he started his Kenpo Journey with the WAKS. Salute to you both.
A host of American Kenpo Instructors have found their way to Europe and are now teaching Seminars with different groups in different countries throughout Europe. Larry Tatum was the first to come over to teach a seminar in Jersey, and I believe it was in 1981. During that time he filmed the awesome as well as doing this awesome video “Walls of Defense” at the incredible “Gorey Castle”
I lay no claim to have been in Europe first, second or third, just that I have been there to do what I did in the name of SGM Ed Parker and the IKKA. All well documented within this Book or the picture DVD.
Yes! Not enough time to have done more teaching.
Would I change anything? Yes, I would be a little more Diplomatic.
Yes! A picture that appeared on Hans Hesselmann’s Web Site which had the caption: “First European Kenpo Black Belts”! It should have said either: “My first European Black Belts” (since it was MY picture and I was very proud of them) or “First European IKKA Black Belts.”
Some People liked me, some did not. However I salute you all, since we all love the Art of Kenpo.
A humble student of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo