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AMERICAN KENPO - Founding of the IKKA

The exact date of the founding of the International Kenpo Karate Association, IKKA, is in question, but it was not earlier than November 1963, and may have been as late as January 1964. It certainly was not in 1960 as some claim.

Ed Parker was teaching private lessons at the Beverly Hills Health Club when he founded the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA) in August 1956, in preparation for opening his first Kenpo Karate Studio at 1840 Walnut Street, Pasadena, California in February 1957. (The picture is how the building looks today) The KKAA used a rendition of the Overhead Club Technique as it's emblem.

The idea of forming a new organization in apition to the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA) had been discussed since 1959, but the concept back then was for the formation of the International Karate Federation, of which Kenpo, represented by the KKAA, would be one of the many karate styles. However, Ed was never able to get any support for the IKF from the Japanese karate styles.

The first time any of the Kenpo students in California recall any discussion an International Kenpo Karate organization was at a meeting of the black belts in Chicago where most of Ed's top students attended Robert Trias' first karate tournament in August 1963. Ed Parker was still using the KKAA certificates in December 1963, and the first time anyone in California saw a IKKA certificate was in the spring, 1964.
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The first certificate issued by the IKKA was to John McSweeney, as Shodan, dated September 27, 1962. However in 1962, John McSweeney received a KKAA Shodan certificate, dated August 26, 1962. Chuck Sullivan, who would later become the secretary of the IKKA was promoted to "First Degree Black Belt" in September, 1962, and received a KKAA certificate. Likewise, Dave Hebler, who was promoted to Shodan in October 1963 received a KKAA certificate, as did Sterling Peacock. And Ralph Castro recalls that Ed Parker sent Will Tracy to talk to him about joining the IKKA in late December 1963 or early January 1964.

The IKKA was the brainchild of Mills Crenshaw who was one of Ed's early BYU students, who had traind with Ed Parker for no more than 4 months. It should be noted that Ed Parker only taught non Island students at BYU between January and June 1, 1956, when he graduated and moved to Pasadena where he began his job with the Los Angeles (Pasadena) Probation Department on June 4, 1956.

Although Ed had talked about forming a new organization, he had reservations about an organization he could not control. John McSweeney (Ed Parker's 8 Shodan) had gone to school in Ireland in late 1962, and opened a school there the following year. The Kenpo Karate Association of America was not well received by the Irish, and John asked Ed to create an international organization.

Mills Crenshaw saw the opportunity and had IKKA belt certificates made which used the "Parker emblem". Ed was so impressed with the new certificates that he formed the IKKA sometime in late 1963 with Ed Parker as President and Mills Crenshaw as the "Chairman of the Board of Regents". Mills Crenshaw, who had no more than four months training (February through May 1956), and who held no belt grade or rank in the Kenpo Karate Association of America, and Stan Hall, who had never trained with Ed Parker, and held no rank, promoted Ed Parker to Godan (5th degree black belt) and Mills Crenshaw to Sandan (3rd degree black belt.) A year later, Mills Crenshaw, through the IKKA promoted himself to Yodan (4th degree black belt) and Ed Parker to Kuban (9h Degree black belt), which would have made Ed Parker at the age of 33 the youngest Kudan in martial arts history, something not even his instructor, Professor Chow, would claim; and, this would set the standard for all of the later American Kenpo, where students with little or no rank would promote their instructors to ridiculous ranks.

Ed Parker officially withdrew from the KKAA at a meeting held at his International Tournament, in August, 1964. This left James Ibrao, Rich Montgomery and Rick Flores (Ed Parker's first three black belts) as the highest ranked and most senior black belts in that organization. But since Ibrao was on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters, and the others were no longer active in Kenpo, leadership of the KKAA was given to the Tracy brothers.