Los Angeles: *Where It All Began*
EKKA Grandmaster Barry Elwood grew up in Los Angeles in the 1970’s where self-defense was crucial due to widespread gang activity.  Even as a competent street fighter, in order to survive these violent surroundings, he trained in boxing and martial arts.  Mr. Elwood started training in Kenpo Karate in 1967 in Glendora, California and was one of the early students taught by Grandmaster Dave Hebler and
Sr. Grandmaster Ed Parker, the founder of American Kenpo Karate.

He received his black belt on April 12, 1975 in Pasadena, California at Ed Parker’s original Kenpo Karate Studio.  Mr. Elwood has been involved in Kenpo and other styles of martial arts for over 40 years.  He has participated in all aspects of the arts including boxing, kick boxing, karate, weapons training, forms, full combat tactics and also holds numerous honors in the martial art world. From this he has established himself as a highly respected Kenpoist and teacher of this art today.

​In the year 2000 EKKA, or Elwood’s Kenpo Karate Association, was established in Reno, Nevada.  At that time Mr. Elwood had bestowed upon him by his Kenpo peers the rank of tenth degree “Grandmaster” of his new EKKA/MMA Kenpo system. Today, Grandmaster Elwood continues to carry on the Ed Parker Kenpo legacy with the same high standard and belief that was taught to him by Mr. Parker in that small studio in Pasadena, California where it all began.


​​Black Belt Test  4/12/75 

Barry Elwood
Grandmaster Ed Parker
Master Dave Hebler
My Instructors
LA Pasadena, California
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EKKA/MMA Messiah Martial Arts Lenage Instructors​





​​​​​​​​​​​​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.
​W​​​​​​​illiam 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.
​​G​​​reat 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.

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SGM Dave Hebler is an internationally recognized author, martial arts/self-defense instructor, lecturer and author. One of the true pioneers of Kenpo Karate, Dave began his martial arts journey under the late Senior Grandmaster and Founder of American Kenpo Karate, Ed Parker in 1959. In 1974, Dave was the first student promoted to 7th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate by SGM Parker. Today, SGM Hebler is a 10th Degree Black Belt as bestowed by the Original American Kenpo Karate Association (OAKKA) in 1991 and holds the distinction of being one of the most senior active American Kenpo stylists in the world.
As a master self-defense instructor, with over a half-century of teaching experience, Dave has, literally, spent his entire adult life helping people learn how to defend themselves against violent physical assaults.
For a number of years, Dave was Elvis Presley’s personal bodyguard. As an integral part of Elvis personal and professional life, Dave’s primary responsibility was the personal safety of Elvis at home as well as at recording sessions, personal appearances, concert tours and various recreations 

The Qualities and Characteristics of Rank

First Degree Black Belt
A first-degree black belt (junior instructor) has achieved a certain level of physical expertise. Understanding the concepts and principles of motion, he has become a formidable fighter defensively and offensively. However, his skills outstrip his ability to communicate and teach, so teaching is essential to any further progress.

Second Degree Black Belt
For the second-degree black belt (associate instructor), the ability to teach has begun to reinforce newfound skills. He has discovered that “to teach is to learn,” and this is accomplished by a re-evaluation of past mistakes and bad habits. A new sense of responsibility appears, and he must begin to cultivate an image of authority within the school.

Third Degree Black Belt
At third degree (senior instructor), the black belt finds that first and second-degree black belt look to him for guidance and direction in the execution of techniques. He now has the authority within the school environment to organize a curriculum, express policy and set up tests.

Fourth Degree Black Belt
At fourth-degree black belt (head instructor), the black belt acquires the privilege of overriding others within the school after careful discussion, as well as a more mature ability to communicate that allows teaching first, second and third degree black belts. Together with these responsibilities, the fourth-degree black belt assists the master instructor in seminars, demonstration and other public functions at which the school and the art are represented. His physical expertise should be noticeably above that of more junior black belts, particularly in terms of speed, power and timing.

Fifth Degree Black Belt
The fifth-degree black belt (associate professor), has reached the level at which he begins to teach the art beyond the realm of the school. Although the school curriculum has been carefully spelled out, he is no longer bound by it and has acquired the ability to tailor it to fit individual student needs. At fifth degree, in short, the black belt now moves on to a broader base of responsibility.
Sixth Degree Black Belt

Sixth Degree Black Belt
The sixth-degree black belt (professor) has now reached a level at which he can not only teach the art but also begin to positively formulate its concepts and principles outside his school. As a result, caution becomes imperative. He has advanced to a critical point in his art, and it is at this point that his accumulation of time in grade becomes his defense against teaching what he cannot later retract.

Seventh Degree Black Belt
At seventh-degree black belt (senior professor), a noticeable change takes place in the black belt’s understanding of his art. He becomes capable of ascertaining the problems that lie within the teaching of the curriculum. Working from a broader base and beginning to teach locally, nationally and internationally what was once taught mainly at home, he now recognizes that his former ways may not work abroad and must be tailored to particular minds, cultures and agendas. He has realized that while the language of the art remains the same, the varied applications of that language must be fitted to the environment. In brief, a seventh degree who goes out to teach in the world must have learned to tailor his teachings to the place and the people.

Eighth Degree Black Belt
At eighth-degree black belt (associate master), the black belt’s concerns shift to exploring areas of physical mastership that were not visible to him in the past. His art eventually begins to expand physically and mentally, so much so that a definite physical change becomes evident, expressing the fact that he has begun to settle into a physical mastery. Thus, movements are less contrived because they are in the process of becoming embodied within him.

Ninth Degree Black Belt
At ninth-degree black belt (master of the arts), the black belt has reached to a level where, at any given moment, he can choreograph a technique by reaching a “super-conscious” level. No longer separate from the art he has internalized, he has at last embodied it and become an element of it. What he teaches and what he physically embodies are indivisible. His contributions to the martial arts inside and outside the community are many, and his rank is backed by at least 25 years of sacrifice and service.

Tenth Degree Black Belt
Tenth-degree black belt (senior master of the arts) represent a lifelong endeavor to help all humankind. The rank is so respected by peers and students that the person’s word affects the course of the art.
B​​​​​eginner:  White Belt, Yellow Belt
Intermediate: Orange Belt, Purple Belt
Skilled:  Blue Belt, Green Belt
Advanced:  3rd Brown Belt, 2nd Brown Belt, 1st Black Belt