Tracy Kenpo

Tracy Kenpo

Tracy's Kenpo is a Kenpo martial arts style with historical roots back to William Chow and James Mitose. Kenpo was an unarmed fighting style that came to Japan from China around the twelfth century. Fact|date=August 2008 Kenpo continued to evolve separately in both countries over the centuries. The Tracy's Kenpo style derives from the Japanese branch, brought to America through Hawaii by James Mitose [ [ origin page] ] . After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mitose began to teach Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu, as he termed it, more openly and to students outside the Japanese community. A student, William K.S. Chow, opened a studio and taught his own style, termed Kenpo Karate, which is the school with which Ed Parker and his students, the Tracy brothers, are associated.

Tracy's Kenpo was founded by the Tracy Brothers, Al, Will, and Jim . The Tracy brothers began their martial arts training in fencing, boxing, and wrestling. They embarked on their study of Kenpo with Ed Parker and his black belt student James Ibrao in 1957, while attending college as pre-law students.Fact|date=March 2008 Over time they developed a close relationship with Parker, and soon after Parker turned the teaching of all beginner and intermediate classes over to the brothers.Fact|date=March 2008 They developed an order in which the techniques would be taught; the advanced classes were run by Ibrao.

There has been controversy as to whether or not Al and Jim Tracy received their Black Belts (Shodan) from Ed Parker. In the Family Tree listed in the original "Infinite Insights" book by Ed Parker, Al and Jim Tracy are listed as Black Belts under Ed Parker, first generation.Fact|date=March 2008 They also have the largest number of black belts listed under their tree. Fact|date=February 2008 Al Tracy was the fifth person promoted to [ [ Shodan] ] January 2,1962. Certificate dated January 7, 1962. Jim Tracy was the sixth person promoted to black belt (January 2,1962). Certificate dated January 7, 1962. Will Tracy received his black belt bin 1961, under both William K.S. Chow and Fusae Oshita (James Mitose’s sister). Fact|date=March 2008

Opening Their Studios and Systematizing Their Style

In the spring of 1962, the Tracy brothers opened their first studio in San Francisco, which they named the Kenpo Karate Studio. As the northern branch of Ed Parker’s organization, it was there that the Tracy brothers created the three new Kyu ranks and the Kenpo "colored belt system" [ ['S/orgincoloredbelts.htm origin of colored belts] ] . They sorted the techniques into groups of 40 and divided the white belt into four levels instead of two. There would be two katas per belt. The color system for belts was due in part to the availability of belts from Japanese distributors.

As stated on their website, "But what would we use as the 4th color? Our suppliers from Japan contacted us with a offer for 'orange' belts that had came about as a mistake in the dying process. Originally we would never have considered an "Orange" belt.- Back then we were all pretty 'macho' - and what adult male would wear an Orange Belt? As fate would have it, they offered us such low price on over 1000 orange belts we could not turn it down." [ ['S/orgincoloredbelts.htm origin of colored belts] ]

Ultimately, the colored belt system became: Orange Belt - Shichikyu; Purple Belt - Rokkyu; Blue Belt - Gokyu; Green Belt - Yonkyu. Later, the Tracys added a Yellow Belt - Hachikyu - as a Youth Belt, with 10 self defense techniques as opposed to 40 for other belts. Ed Parker rejected the colored belts until finally converting to the Tracy color belt system in 1966. The Tracy brothers also created belt manuals (which contained 40 techniques per belt at that time) and gave the techniques names, like "Attacking Circle", "Raising the Staff", etc.

The Tracy brothers opened a second school, in Sacramento, in 1962, and a third, in San Jose, California, in 1963. They later changed the name of the schools to Tracy’s Kenpo Karate. Ed Parker turned the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA) over to the Tracy brothers and then formed the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA). The Tracy brothers agreed to join the IKKA on the condition that they could keep the teaching standards of the KKAA for their own students.

Ed Parker promoted Al Tracy to 3rd degree black belt on December 4, 1964. [ [ Sandan Promotion] ] The certificate is from the IKKA and is signed by Ed Parker, Mills Crenshaw, Stan Hall, and Charles Sullivan, and witnessed by Charlotte Connor, the wife of Tom Connor.

The Tracy brothers later opened more schools throughout California and other states, forming Tracy’s International Studios of Self-Defense. By 1982, Ed Parker had changed the Kenpo he had originally learned and taught so much as to make it, in Parker’s own words, "no more than 10% Kenpo", so that he changed the name to American Kenpo. It was around this time that the Tracys completely broke from Ed Parker.Fact|date=February 2008 Some students stayed with one group and others with the other; Jay T. Will, a noted martial arts referee, held high ranks from both groups.

Tracy's Kenpo Karate today teaches what they describe as "Original, Traditional" Kenpo, as taught to Al and Jim Tracy by Ed Parker, and to Will Tracy by William Chow and Fusae Oshita. Al Tracy and Ted Sumner, a senior black belt in the organization, have spent many years and considerable resources researching the history of the Kenpo system, tracing its roots from the Yoshida family of Japan to its present western incarnations. Fact|date=August 2008 Tracy’s International Studios of Self Defense [] is a worldwide organization of over 1,000 schools, based out of Lexington, Kentucky. It is the largest system of affiliated schools and the longest-running self-defense chain in the world.Fact|date=February 2008

In February 1999, Al Tracy organized the “Gathering of Eagles”, the largest gathering of Kenpoists in the world, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Gathering brought together over seventy masters, representing Kenpo, American Kenpo, Shaolin Kenpo, Wun Hop Kuen Do, Lima Lama, Kajukenbo and included some of the biggest names in Westernized Kenpo. James Ibrao, Thomas Mitose, the son of the late James Mitose, Roger Greene [] , [ Ted Sumner] , Ray Arquilla, Al Dacascos, Ralph and Rob Castro, William Chun, Jr., Sonny Gascon, Bart Vale, Larry Tatum, Adriano Emperado, Richard Lee, Sig Kufferath, Tino Tuiolosega, and John McSweeney all attended. Between 1100-1200 people attended the event, coming from all over the globe, with a choice of five seminars at any one time and eighty overall.

The second Gathering took place in 2001 and was attended by approximately 1500-1600 people. The event also included the son of Choki Motobu, Chosei Motobu, Koshiro Tanaka, Ron Sanchez, Steve Labounty, and Bob White.Fact|date=February 2008

In June 2007, Tracy's International Studios of Self Defense hosted the [ 3rd Gathering of Eagles] and the inaugural induction ceremony for the [ International Kenpo Hall of Fame] .

In 2006, Al Tracy was featured on the cover of " [ "Art of the Warrior" Magazine] ," under the heading, "Grandmaster Al Tracy, Founder of the world's largest system of Kenpo, renowned Kenpo historian, and business scholar." "Black Belt Magazine" named Tracy's Kenpo 8th degree black belt and founder of the " [ "International Shootfighting Association"] ," Bart Vale, its 2006 Full Contact Fighter of the Year. In 2007, Tracy's Kenpo 3rd degree black belt, Addy Hernandez, co-founder of [ Ki Fighting Concepts] , author of several martial arts DVDs, and student of Joseph Simonet, was named Inside Kung Fu Magazine's Woman of the Year.


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