Parker was born in Hawaii on March 19, 1931, and raised a devout Mormon. When Ed was about eight years of age his father got him started in Judo. The next endeavor for Ed was Boxing. Most boxing was done at the YMCA and Boys Clubs.
Ed’s first real training in the Martial Arts came from a fellow Church member, Frank Chow. Frank taught many of the local youth out of the Mormon Rec. Center. It wasn’t long before Frank recognized the young tough Hawaiian’s potential and recommended that Ed study with his brother, William Chow. After some time Frank Chow introduced him to William K. S. Chow. Mr. Parker trained with William Chow, while serving in the Coast Guard and attending Brigham Young University. It was 1953 that he was promoted to the rank of brown belt by William K.S. Chow.
By 1956, Mr. Parker opened his own school in Pasadena, California. There is a bit of a debate in who was actually his first black belt, some claim it was James Ibrao, others claim Charles Beeder was his first black belt. In either case, the other black belts in chronological order up to 1962 were; Rich Montgomery, Rick Flores, Al Tracy, Jim Tracy, Chuck Sullivan, John McSweeney, and Dave Hebler. In 1962 one of Mr. Parker’s black belts, John McSweeney, opened a school in Ireland, which enabled Mr. Parker to create the International Kenpo Karate Association, which came to be known as “American Kenpo” and Ed Parker was then referred to as the Senior Grand Master of American Kenpo.
Ed Parker died in Honolulu of a heart attack on December 15, 1990. His widow Leilani Parker passed away on June 12, 2006. Despite his death, the tradition of American Kenpo lives on in many schools and through many of his black belts all over the world.