Meeting the Senior Grand Master

by Stephen LaBounty (2007-10-26)
Ed Parker

It was sometime in 1962. After class, Al and Jim Tracy were talking about going to see their teacher Ed Parker at a tournament at San Francisco State. The host of the tourney was Nishiyama Sensei and Mr. & Mrs. Parker were to be in attendance. I believe that the Senior Grand Master was there to observe how the tournament was run, in anticipation of organizing his first International Karate Championships the following year.

Classmates Ray Burton, Bob Gobbi and I went to the gym, watched our very first Karate tournament, and more importantly, got our very first opportunity to see Ed Parker, author of the book "Kenpo Karate" and "Secrets of Chinese Karate," and the shadowy master of our teachers.

The first thing I remember about SGM was his presence. He had control of the gymnasium (from my perspective anyway), was young, fit, and looked ready for anything. Mrs. Parker was beautiful, sort of a cross between movie stars Dorothy Lamour and Hedy Lamar, and held her own in the crowd. I remember that though she gave way to her husband when the martial arts were being discussed, she wasn't shy about giving her opinion on other subjects.

I had three black tips on my belt and felt like the proverbial star gazer wearing a bowling shirt that said "Joe Lunchpail," but I wanted to shake his hand and introduce myself. I finally did as he made his way to the bathroom. I actually planned my ambush half an hour earlier and the plan worked. "Ed!" I said, "I'm Steve LaBounty, a student of Steve Fox's and the Tracy brothers." His reply, accompanied by a big smile, was simply "Hey [you have to put a Hawaiian/pidgin accent to that word], I'm Ed Pawkah, good to meet ya."

For me, and for most, those words began a lifelong search for the next move, form, book, movie and so on. He launched many famous martial artists' careers through the IKC, and gave them a stage to be seen, to perform, to learn, and to excel. He gave us a system that is subject to it's own principles; Prefix, suffix, delete, add, insert, re-arrange, etc. This system, like any great body of work, is influenced by societal changes, human understanding and development and our desire to create. This was built into his system, it had to be.

I am still his devoted student and could not have such a site without him. This site is dedicated to his memory and brilliance, but mostly to his teaching, from which I am still learning even to this day.

From "Ed" to "Senior Grand Master," his smile and his friendship and mastery continues to inspire and evoke and I am thankful for it.