“That’s what they’re doing in South America,” he said. “Chile’s the only one that’s doing that (now), but all the other countries are starting to follow suit now, which I think is a great thing.
Even on a more recent trip to Europe in 1974, Parker said, he found the same attitudes.
“That was the big complaint of the Belgians that the Japanese were trying to take it over,” he said. “All they wanted was for the Japanese to come in and teach them, but they wanted to control their own program and set forth their own rules and regulations.”
Out of these travels and talks with martial artists everywhere, Parker has developed his kenpo art and philosophy to a state where, with the help of analogy and metaphor, he has distilled certain essential points. First, he sees the techniques of his system threedimensionally – actually, as a series of planes or orbits revolving about the practitioner which enable him to fend off attacks from any angle and launch effective counterblows.
Pointing to a chart circumscribing a human figure, Parker said that “what you see here is only one-fifth of the answer. Make five of these (around the figure of the man), then it will look like the structure of an atom. Therein lie answers I have to show you.”
Those answers he admitted have kept him ,and other kenpo instructors searching for a good while.
“A lot of kenpo instructors are searching,” he said. “I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I haven’t stuck to tradition. When you stick to tradition, you’re bound. You’re bound to see only what is in that realm of knowledge.”
It is just this rejection of tradition that has led the kenpoist to the second secret of his system, a concept based on the age-old premise that the end justifies the means.
“When I teach, I want effects,” Parker said. “If a punch comes, if you block it and you look lazy, as long as you block it, that’s all I care about. I don’t give a damn about going down with beautiful form.
“I was talking like this twenty years ago when I was a no-good-for-nothing rebel. I’m a street fighter. I’m a realist. I’ve seen guys go into a fight and bite (the other) guy’s nose off. And knowing that his nose is gone, he still hits! He’s an animal.
“What do you do for stuff like that?” he asked. “There’s nothing in the book. You know, on paper you can prove you can outrun a bullet, but would you like to try it?”
For a person on the run-someone who must acquire a quick understanding of martial arts techniques-Parker said he has developed another concept.
“The secret of the martial arts is not to have knowledge of twenty-four things as it is knowing four things,” Parker said. “That is the key to all keys. It’s more important to learn four moves and the twenty-four ways in which you can rearrange them.”
Parker said if he can teach a student just four basic moves, there is then a total of twenty-four combinations in which those moves may be used. Increase the basic four moves to five, and the total of available combinations rises geometrically to 120.
“If I have a client who’s going to Europe, and he carries a lot of money, I will then gear my instructing to teaching him a condensed version but still master the key movements.”
This combining of specific moves to create a much larger vocabulary of techniques leads to Parker’s fourth secret.
“If I taught you the alphabet from ‘A’ to ‘G’ and then taught you how to arrange them to create words, there are a lot of words that can come out from , ‘A’ to ‘G,’ ” the kenpo stylist explained. “Now, if we allow ourselves to use (the same letters) more than once, we can create even more words.”
Saying that this is as far as many martial arts go, Parker continued that many popular systems offer only a portion of the alphabet-only a portion of the vocabulary of motion-to students.
“That’s fine-that’s great,” he said. “But what about the additional letters of motion? You have to bring them into the picture. Then, your vocabulary of motion increases even more.
Let’s put it th is way I” he said with emphasis, “everything from zero to nine is constant. Everything after that is (a series of) combinations, and that’s the same thing with kenpo.”
Parker said mastery of as much of the vocabulary of motion was essential for instructors, for then, you can take out from your (instructor’s) mastery of knowledge those few movements that will work for that individual, knowing what his capabilities and limitations are.”
However, there were and are some masters of the martial arts who, even though they possess a remarkable vocabulary of motion, are not able to convey their knowledge to students adequately. Parker said he discussed the problem with Bruce Lee, whom he said he helped get a start in Hollywood.
“Bruce Lee, by the way, stayed here (at Parker’s house when he was) broke before I got him started in the industry,” Parker said. “He and I used to talk a lot. The kid was sharp. He was good. But he was one in two billion. For him to convey his thoughts and his style to another individual who lacked anyone quality that he had would never work.” Using another concept for comparison, Parker said he and Lee likened the entire body of martial arts knowledge to a mountain and that portion mastered by anyone man a piece of granite.
“He said that a man should be like a sculptor who gets a piece of granite and chips away the unessentials to get the true image of his imagination,” Parker said, continuing that he countered Lee’s comparison by asking the source of his granite.
“Lee retorted that to consider an entire mountain would lead to confusion,” Parker said, “but I said (to Lee) that’s not so. The instructor needs to know that mountain so that he can get that piece of granite (right) for that student.”
And without further assistance from the instructor, the student would be in for further trouble, Parker said he told Lee.
“Now it comes time for me to chip away the unessentials to get the true picture of my imagination. What do I see?” asked Parker. “Raquel Welch. I chip away, and all of a sudden, I end up with Gravel Gertie because I have no talent. No matter how much I try, because of my lack of talent and skill, you cannot create that image.”
Parker reiterated his recollection of Lee’s inability to communicate his knowledge-of either the mountain or a piece of granite-to someone of less ability. And this is where Parker’s teaching comes in.
“He (Lee) felt that a lot of these things were unessential,” Parker said, “unessential to him at his level. I agreed -but not unessential to the guy down here.”