Old School Kenpo is proud to be a member of the International Karate Connection Association (IKCA), founded by Chuck Sullivan and his successor, Vic LeRoux, who were direct students of Ed Parker, the founder of Kenpo Karate.
Ed Parker always stressed that Kenpo is an individual art, which every person can utilize and make their own, regardless of age, sex, size, or athletic ability.
This adaptability is what drove Chuck Sullivan and Vic Le Roux to perfect many of Ed Parker’s techniques according to the “use what works” principle .
“The way was simple,” said Sullivan. “Cut down the material and go back to our roots. Reformulating the long list of Kenpo techniques (and thus the forms) made sense to me because in meticulously examining them I felt that the techniques had far too many repetitions of the same thing. I thought that instead of spending all this time working on all these techniques and forms, why not put more stress on the basics and emphasize the concepts and principles, then give the student enough techniques to make him effective?”
This is the philosophy that drives the artistry of Old School Kenpo. This is what makes our system the most effective and most versatile of all of the martial arts.
At Old School Kenpo we embrace the principles of Ed Parker’s teaching, and the traditions around which the art of Kenpo Karate was formed, and believe that Kenpo can benefit any individual, both physically and mentally.
The Governing Body of
Old School Kenpo Karate:
The IKCA (The International Karate Connection Association)
There are a lot of martial artists “out there.” Lots of martial artists have accomplished lots of things, and many are anxious to share—and teach—what they have learned.
Any accomplishment, talent, achievement or ability that is espoused must have credibility. Credibility, of course, can be attained and/or substantiated in several ways.
The martial arts—all of the major ones at least—take a great deal of pride in citing their lineage as a heavyweight component of their credibility. A powerful heritage is vital. The further back the history of a martial arts style can be traced, the stronger its credibility is; the stronger the respect it receives.
This type of solid and tangible foundation tends to weed out and expose the all-too-common martial arts practitioners who declare themselves to be “new and innovative instructors;” who literally invent a “style” or “system,” give it an exotic name, promote themselves to a high-degree black belt, and then perch upon an exalted pedestal, ready for worship and the spreading of their newfound truths to a hungry world.
This is not to say that the rare individual doesn’t come along once in an extremely blue moon with the unique ability and foresight to tweak traditional martial arts into something truly innovative and earthshaking—Bruce Lee and his Jeet Kune Do comes to mind.
But there are far fewer Bruce Lees running around than there are “Master” So-and-Sos, possessed of self-appointed 9th or 10th Degree Black Belts in AmerAsian-Do-So-San-Skiptomylou-Karate with storefront dojos down at the local strip mall.
It provides a lot more piece of mind for most students when their studio or dojo is under the umbrella of an institution that has been around a long time. One that is based in a martial art that can be traced back for centuries. One that has a worldwide network of respected training facilities. One that is headed up by two men who are genuinely credible icons in the martial arts world.
One such institution is the International Karate Connection Association (IKCA): the governing body that oversees the training material and the rank promotions of Old School Kenpo Karate. The IKCA serves as a central point of camaraderie, standardization, and documentation for those studying the Karate Connection system of Chinese Kenpo.
The IKCA is headed up by its founders, Chuck Sullivan and Vic LeRoux. Both Mr. Sullivan and Mr. LeRoux were direct students of Kenpo’s founder, the late Ed Parker. Mr. Sullivan began studying Kenpo with Mr. Parker in 1959, and holds the distinction of being Mr. Parker’s fifth student promoted to Black Belt.
Mr. LeRoux began studying Kenpo with Mr. Sullivan at age 14, and has also formally studied other martial arts, including earning the rank of Certified Instructor in Jeet Kune Do.
To understand just why Mr. Sullivan and Mr. LeRoux formed the IKCA, one must first understand Ed Parker’s Kenpo.
Kenpo is a streetwise, “flowing” martial art that is derived from the traditional Chinese martial arts that can literally be traced back centuries to the legendary Shaolin Monks.
Ed Parker brought this system to America via roots in Hawaii (“the islands” were not yet a part of the U.S. when they were his home), via Okinawa and Japan, via their origin in ancient China. Kenpo is a brilliant and practical style that has at its heart self-defense techniques and “what-if” scenarios for virtually every type of attack or confrontation possible.
If there was one criticism of this incredible martial art, it’s that the sheer volume of techniques became overwhelming.
“We had come to the conclusion through experience,” Chuck Sullivan says, in his history of the IKCA, “the average person would never put the time into learning the entire system as we had. And let’s face it, most of the people who take up the Art are just that: your average person. Most new students never stay long enough to take anything into the future with them to make it work. It’s a shame, but that’s the cold hard truth of the matter.
“…I truly believe [Ed Parker] kept creating new techniques simply because so many of his Black Belts insisted upon it. They wanted more, so he gave them more. The problem came when those techniques were passed on to the new students. The system became a monster.
“Digging back into time I remembered something the Old Man [Mr. Sullivan’s affectionate name for Mr. Parker] said way, way back. He said, ‘I’d rather have ten techniques I can fight with than a hundred techniques that fight me.’ That became the Karate Connection’s quest.
“We had to analyze somewhere over three hundred techniques that we had been teaching over the years and get rid of the excess baggage. We had to eliminate the repetitious and weaker techniques. Others, we could reformulate into techniques that still contained the original concepts and principles. Some, we were able to use as they were. But no matter what we did, we knew that above all we had to retain the full essence of Kenpo; otherwise, it would mean nothing.
“…Kenpo techniques have always been, and still remain, the most fascinating part of the Art. It isn’t hard to understand why techniques won favor over strong hard basics, and it was my observation that the instructors doing the actual teaching wanted still more. Their appetites seemed insatiable. The basics were still there, but they seemed to be gotten through as quickly as possible in order to get to those ‘Fabulous Kenpo Techniques.’ As the demand for techniques grew, so did Mr. Parker’s ability to create them. He once told me that with the number of basic moves he had to work with, the number of combinations was virtually limitless. The only problem is, not all the combinations are worth putting together. Some things just don’t blend and flow. It’s always been my personal philosophy: if it doesn’t work, don’t do it!
“I told Vic [LeRoux that] we were going to have to go back to basics and cut down the number of techniques taught up to black belt. My feeling was and still is, when a student got his or her black belt, they could go and learn all the techniques they wanted, from where ever they might choose. But we weren’t going to turn out Black Belts who didn’t have the strongest basics we could give them. The sum total of the Art is in the basics. There’s never been a great practitioner in any style or system who didn’t have great basics. Can’t be done.
“Vic’s main concern was that if we cut the amount of techniques from what the Old Man had set up for each belt, he wouldn’t want us as an affiliate school. I told him, ‘There’s no way [Mr. Parker] wouldn’t want us as an affiliate school, no matter what we do, just as long as we turn out Black Belts he can be proud of. We’re using his basics, aren’t we? We’re using his concepts and principals, aren’t we?’
“We wanted to be independent and affiliated at the same time, and we achieved just that. In fact, we wore [Mr. Parker’s] club patch on the left side of the chest and our club patch on the right.
“Mr. Parker acted as head judge and referee at our inter-dojo tournaments and participated in our promotion ceremonies. He awarded all the 1st degree black belts and all subsequent degrees in black belt. It was at the Karate Connection School in Hawthorne, California, where Vic and I received our last promotions from Mr. Parker on Oct. 27, 1981.”
Credibility can indeed be attained and substantiated in several ways; but it always must be earned. History, heritage, and an unparalleled record of successes in the real world have proven over and over again that the overall art of Kenpo, the family tree of the IKCA, and Old School Kenpo Karate truly have that credibility.
Founded by Mr. Chuck Sullivan and Mr. Vic LeRoux, the International Karate Connection Association serves as a central point of camaraderie, standardization and documentation for those studying the Karate Connection system of Chinese Kenpo.
Chuck Sullivan began studying the art of Kenpo in 1959 with Mr. Edmund K. Parker, Sr., founder of the system known today as American Kenpo, and was the fifth person promoted to Black Belt by Mr. Parker. Mr. Sullivan has studied and taught the art of Kenpo exclusively for 48 years. Nearly all senior practitioners in American Kenpo and Kenpo in general have either studied under or been influenced by the teachings of Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Sullivan’s chief student is Vic LeRoux, who has studied with him since he was 14 years old. Mr. LeRoux was a personal student of Mr. Parker as well. Unlike Mr. Sullivan, Mr. LeRoux has formally studied other martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do where he is a Certified Instructor under Mr. Jerry Poteet.
On October 27, 1981 Mr. Parker promoted Mr. Sullivan to 7th degree Black Belt and Mr. LeRoux to 5th degree Black Belt in the art of American Kenpo. Over the years Mr. Sullivan and Mr. LeRoux became two of Kenpo’s most respected and trusted instructors and remained close associates and friends of Mr. Parker until his untimely passing.
By the late 1980’s the system of American Kenpo had grown into a curriculum that Mr. Sullivan felt had become impractical. Over a two year period, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. LeRoux looked hard at the American Kenpo system, evaluating all techniques and forms. With Mr. Parker’s consent and support they developed and implemented a curriculum of Kenpo that refined the system they had learned back down to its most effective basics. Though the amount of material was reduced, it still incorporated all Kenpo principles and concepts. In the end the new curriculum resembled the original teachings of Mr. Parker from the early 1960’s, with the benefit of keeping the best of how Kenpo had evolved over the years. The result became the school of Kenpo known as the KARATE CONNECTION
How the IKCA system of Chinese Kenpo relates to Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is probably best summed up by Mr. LeRoux in an excerpt from the best-selling book THE JOURNEY:
“If one’s definition of the whole system includes the entirety of all the moves and sets and forms and techniques and all their extensions dating back to Year One, then today I neither teach nor practice the whole system of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Alternatively, what I do teach through the Karate Connection is the whole system of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo as defined by its simplistic complete structure that includes all the basic stances, strikes and footwork, as well as the principles and concepts.”
We look forward to seeing you at Triangle Kenpo Institute.