“I received a call from Ed Parker Jr. at 6am the morning after his father had his fatal heart attack. He said “I’m calling my father ‘s friends to let them know he passed away..." (Lee Wedlake, Black Belt magazine)
20 years ago today, Ed Parker, the father of American martial arts and a pioneer of modern martial arts practice and principals would teach no more. While today marks the 20th anniversary of our Grandmaster's death, his legacy continues to be carried on through the 21st century. There are schools of American Kenpo on every continent. His teachings have become embedded in over a thousand different styles. Movie fight scenes often portray his work in films such as Blade, Borne Identity, and the original Pink Panther series (not to mention countless martial arts movies). The lessons he left many of us with where not always about kicking and punching though, they also included philosophies and ideals for living. Students of his have gone on to promote the physical, mental, and martial lessons that he taught while also working to create better community amongst mankind.
It is important to note however, that while much has been done to promote his art, it is not his art. Much like Bruce Lee's concept of martial arts as the art of expressing the human body, it is not his any more than it is mine, nor yours. It is what it is, it is our own. Your body, your mind, your character and spirit are your own, it is up to you to craft it. If you do not, someone else will do it for you. It is not hard, nor is it easy. It just is. You are what you eat, you become what you focus on most, you are an average of the 5 people you hang out with most often; these are all ancient words of wisdom. What work of art are you crafting?
“Time and space may separate us, but not the thoughts and memories that bind us.” - Ed Parker
We must take it upon ourselves to honor a man who has given so much of himself to the world and ultimately you, our students, and the best way we can do that is to leave a spectacular legacy of our own. The best way to lead is by a good example. Dunham's dojo leads through the example of our instructors and top students. We seek to inspire and educate those in training, to create a life of purpose and passion. The friendships, knowledge, mental focus, emotional fortitude, and physical prowess that we continually aim to perfect is our legacy. We pass this on to you, our students. We would not have it if it weren't for our many teachers and Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker would have missed his same chance to make his mark if it weren't for Mr. Chow and his countless other teachers. So on and so on it goes, for centuries. It is up to each of us to chose a path and to pass on what we find best in ourselves and to continually work to better what we find worse. Some will do this by passing on their Kenpo, some, through living by example, and some, will forget the lesson all together. Become empowered. Create the life you want. Ask yourself what you want out of life and fight for it, work for it, relish the chance to take living into your own hands as our Great Grandmaster Edmund Kealoha Parker did. I invite you all, students and non students alike, challenge yourselves to be your best and under no circumstances should you ever give up. We may fall down nine times, but we'll always get up ten.
As the New Year approaches, as we strive to get through a recession, and as you consider the life you wish to craft, consider one of my favorite quotes:
"You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing. Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have."
Norman Vincent Peale