Personal Stories of Ed Parker

This page is dedicated to preserving experiences told by those who knew or interacted with SGM Parker. Each is unique and told in the words of that person. If you have one and would like to have it here, please send it to me at I may edit it for length or other reasons but will ask your permission first.

This is from Mr. Gary Swan, 8th degree, LaBounty lineage. He has a studio in the San Antonio, TX area.
I just finished reading “Lessons With Ed Parker” and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to you for the time and effort you put into producing that.
It was full of nuggets and brought back a flood of great old memories; some things I’d forgotten, some things I only partially understood and some things I didn’t know at all.
You are correct when you stated that Ed Parker was a prince, I agree completely. In 1972, shortly after I’d taken over the San Antonio school, I received an unexpected call from Mr. Parker. He was in town with Elvis for a concert and he invited me to come to dinner with them after the performance.  I was stunned and absolutely amazed that he would do that.  I was very junior and certainly not a martial arts luminary. When I tell that story, people usually think of it as an opportunity to meet the “King of Rock and Roll.”  I didn’t give a flip about meeting Elvis, but spending an evening with Ed Parker was something very special.
He liked me for some reason, I can’t imagine why, we had nothing in common apart from our love of martial arts. Early in 1979, I invited him to come down to Texas for a seminar and awards banquet. My demo team performed at the banquet and Mr. Parker invited us to bring the demo to Long Beach and perform at the Internationals. I’m still scratching my head over that one. Another time, he showed up unannounced at the school I had opened in El Cajon, CA when I worked for the bums at Karate Inc. and proceeded to give me a private lesson. He told me to call him Ed. I never did.  Unmerited grace is so rarely encountered that it often goes unrecognized. I’m rambling, I’ll stop.  Thanks again.
Best regards,
This story was submitted by Sam Babikian, 4th degree, of Media, PA. Sam is known as “The Kenpo Historian” and he sent this to me after a discussion we had about an attacker’s intention reaching you before the attack.
When I was seventeen standing in a circle of school friends I looked in the eyes of the teenager across from me – and I immediately knew that he was going to attack – before my mind had a chance to ask “what kind of attack?” I knew I had to react right then immediately as the attack was imminent. So I punched directly to where his fist would be – he punched as well our fists collided his was destroyed because my knuckles hit the flat of his fist.
I told Mr. Parker of this event back in 1988 at the Kenpo camp Joe Palanzo used to host – that evening when we went to the local family style restaurant for dinner – I hung back to make sure everyone got in as a table had been reserved for our party. I was the last person in line. Mr. Parker and Joe Palanzo and other school owners had gone in first. As I inched my way in (as more and more folks got seated) I was eventually in the restaurant (instead of waiting outside the door) still waiting for more space to be cleared for our seating. 
Suddenly I was enveloped by this sense of dread – I felt like I was about to be attacked. My mind kept insisting that there was no danger I was the last person in line there was no one else behind me. The feeling persisted – I could not get rid of it and started intensifying. 
Involuntarily, still facing forward I started positioning my hands in a Left low guard Right high guard cover – eventually I could not deny the sensation anymore and I turned and faced 7:00 where most of the “feeling” was sourcing from. (even though I felt like a fool for doing so, at the time convinced that I was going to face a blank wall)
There was Mr. Parker scowling at me with a look that could kill. 
The minute I looked at his face he relaxed and all the sense of dread left me.  I asked him how he got there (that was unbelievable for me that a man of his mass could sneak into that position without being observed specially once he had been through the door with everyone else).
He just smiled. I thanked him for the lesson.