James Masayoshi Mitose was born in Hawaii in 1916. At the age of five, Mitose was sent to Japan to study his ancestors' art of self-defense, Kosho-Ryu Kempo, a direct descendent of the original Chuan Fa. He studied this art for 15 years under his uncle, a Kosho-Ryu master, and returned to Hawaii in 1935 to open the "Official Self-Defense" club in Honolulu, where he eventually promoted six students to black belt. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Mitose had to come to terms with the fact that he was Japanese by birth but American by citizenship, and he began training fellow servicemen and civilians, expounding upon the merits of his Japanese Kosho-Ryu Kempo. Much of what is now Kenpo came from Mitose's Kosho-Ryu. James Mitose passed away in California in 1981.
William Kwai Sun Chow cultivated the seeds of American Kenpo. Primarily a student of his Chinese father, Chow learned the Chinese ancestral art of Five Animal Kung Fu passed down from Bodhidharma. Mr. Chow later studied Kosho-Ryu under James Mitose, and seeing merit in both systems, Chow began to modify Kenpo. He left James Mitose in 1949 to open his own school, and it was Chow who coined the term "Kenpo Karate" to distinguish his system from Mitose's. Mr. Chow's Kenpo was a quick, vicious style developed as a response to the violence that was commonplace in the pre-statehood Hawaii. Chow was a street fighter, and while he learned many circular and flowing movements from his father, he incorporated some of the linear movements and take-downs he learned from Mitose. Some twenty years later, William Chow renamed his system "Chinese Kempo of Kara-Ho Karate." Mr. Chow died in Honolulu in 1987.
Great Grandmaster Edmund K. Parker, 10th degree black belt, is the undisputed Father of American Kenpo Karate. A native of Honolulu, Parker was already a black belt in Judo at age 16, when he began studying Kenpo with Frank Chow in Hawaii. Parker quickly learned everything Frank could teach him, and Frank soon arranged for his brother, William Chow, to help Parker reach a higher level. After only two years of training, Parker earned his brown belt. Like Mr. Chow, Parker was a street fighter and adapted what he learned to fit with the type of fighting he encountered on the streets, and Chow imparted in Parker the necessity for change in the Kenpo system to meet the modern needs of the American people. Parker organized every technique and movement into a format that could be broken down into levels for all students and renamed it "American Kenpo Karate." When Mr. Parker moved to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University, he opened his first studio. After graduating in 1956 with a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology, Parker moved to California, opened his second school and founded the International Kenpo Karate Association. By 1964, when he held his first tournament, Parker had become a household name in Hollywood, teaching his art to the likes of Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen. Mr. Parker passed away in 1990, at the age of 59, in Honolulu.
Sifu Shores holds a 10th
degree black belt in Long Chi Quan Kung Fu. He began his training in the art of Long
Chi Kwan in 1965 under Sifu Larry Adams. This was, and is now, a very secretive
Martial Art. Sifu Shores is also a two-time full contact world champion with
victories in Japan in 1975 and 1979. He is a master of many weapon and animal
forms: Monkey, Tiger and Praying Mantis, to name a few. He is a firm believer
in cross-training to adapt to many styles and to perfect his own fighting
Kenpo is now and has been one of the most influential styles he has
studied, and the knowledge of application he brings to the art is unsurpassed.
The nickname “The Technician” was given to him by the students of Austin Kenpo
Karate due to his efficiency and accuracy and ability to apply the material in motion.
In 1984 Sifu Shores was recognized by the Who’s Who of Martial Arts for
his contributions and dedication to the Martial Arts.
Sigung Stephen LaBounty began his martial arts training in 1958 at a Judo school in Forth Worth, Texas. After earning his brown belt in 1961, Mr. LaBounty traveled to San Francisco and began looking for a Judo school to continue his training. He found three karate schools in the phone book and figured they could point him the right direction, however after observing a kenpo class at the Ocean Avenue Tracy Kenpo school, he was hooked. LaBounty began his Kenpo training under Steve Fox, moved through the ranks rather quickly and began competing in the tournament circuit, where he is recognized as an international fighting champion. In 1969, Mr. LaBounty formed the National Chinese Kenpo Karate Association (NCKKA). In addition to the martial arts, Mr. LaBounty has also taken an interest in accupressure and shiatsu to aid in developing his yin side. Currently a 9th degree black belt, LaBounty is active as a Law Enforcement Self-Defense Consultant and is widely sought after on the seminar circuit.
PROFESSOR JOHN SEPULVEDA
Professor John Sepulveda, who has over 40 years experience in American Kenpo, holds a 9th Degree Black Belt (Master of the Arts). Mr. Sepulveda was one of a very few who was a direct student of Senior Grandmaster Parker before his untimely passing. Mr. Sepulveda is featured prominently in Joe Hyams' recent book, The Journey, which profiles prominent students of Ed Parker. To the uninitiated, this is a singular honor. Mr. Sepulveda has actively and successfully competed in many Open, National and International tournaments and has many junior and senior students who have also competed successfully at the same levels of competition. His students are known for their speed and explosive power as well as their character. Mr. Sepulveda has also appeared on television, in national and international martial arts magazines, and has written numerous articles on the art of American Kenpo as perpetuated by Senior Grandmaster Ed Parker. Mr. Sepulveda is the founder of the American Kenpo Training Systems, which boasts over 50 member schools in the United States, Europe and Mexico. He is one of the founding members of the "American Kenpo Senior Council" which consists of some of the best Kenpo practitioners worldwide. He has been recognized and awarded worldwide for his committed efforts in promoting Kenpo, which included the California Karate League's "Official of the Year Award," and the Associated Teachers Association of the Martial Artists (ATAMA) "Hall of Fame Award."
Sifu Jeff Schroder has been a devoted student at Austin Kenpo Karate throughout his career and is now the owner and head instructor. He has over ten years of training in Kenpo. Sifu Schroder has had the privilege to work with some of the best Kenpo teachers in the world: Professor John Sepulveda, Tom Kelly, Stephen LaBounty, Sifu Gary Swan, Michael Abedin and Jeff Speakman. Mr. Schroder currently continues his education in the martial arts while pursuing his fourth-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. In 2000, Sifu Schroder established the Chinese Kenpo Karate Association.