Tracy’s Kenpo Karate

adapted from Martialpedia

A kenpo style that is often referred to as Original or Traditional Kenpo by its practitioners. Tracy’s Karate was founded by the Tracy Brothers, Al and Jim. The Tracy brothers began their martial training in fencing, boxing, and wrestling. They embarked on their study of Kenpo with Ed Parker and his first Black Belt, James Ibrao, in 1957, while attending college as pre-law students. Over time they developed a close relationship with Mr. Parker, and soon after Mr. Parker turned all the teaching of beginner and intermediate classes over to the Tracy brothers, who would develop an order in which the techniques would be taught, and the advanced classes were run by James Ibrao.

Al Tracy was the powerhouse of Ed Parker’s studio, and, as seen in the brochure used in 1962-64 by Ed Parker, Al Tracy did all the breaking demonstrations. The Tracy brothers would also run Mr. Parker’s studio when he would periodically return to Hawaii.

Some have tried to stir up 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”, by Ed Parker, you can see that Al and Jim Tracy are listed as Black belts under Ed Parker, first generation. They also have the largest number of Black Belts listed under their tree!

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 (Shodan) January 2,1962. Certificate dated January 7, 1962. Will Tracy received his Black Belt (Shodan) in 1961, under both William K.S. Chow and Great Grand Master Fusae Oshita (James Mitose’s sister).

In the spring of 1962, the Tracy brothers opened their first studio in San Francisco, which was named Kenpo Karate Studio and was 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”. Ed Parker adopted the new 8-kyu system, but 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, in 1963, and 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.

In 1964, the Tracy Brothers were promoted to Sandan, 3rd degree black belt. Ed Parker promoted Al Tracy to 3rd Degree Black Belt on December 4, 1964. 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 schools throughout California, as well as other states, and formed the Tracy’s International Studios of Self-Defense.

By 1982, Ed Parker had changed what he called American Kenpo, so much so as to make it in Parker’s own words, “no more than 10% Kenpo.” It was around this time that the Tracy’s completely broke from Ed Parker.

Al Tracy’s Kenpo Karate remains to this day teaching “Original/Traditional” Kenpo, as taught to him by Ed Parker, one of the most realistic combat scenario based systems of self-defense available.

Tracy’s International Studios of Self Defense is a worldwide organization, based out of Lexington, Kentucky, comprised of over 1,000 schools. It is the largest system of affiliated schools and the longest-running self-defense chain in the world. Al Tracy has organized the largest “gathering” of Kenpoist in the world. A true historic event called the “Gathering of Eagles”, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, February of 1999. The Gathering brought together over seventy masters, representing Kenpo, American Kenpo, Shaolin Kenpo, Wun Hop Kuen Do, Lima Lama, Kajukenbo, etc., and included some of the biggest names in Westernized Kenpo; James Ibrao, Thomas Mitose, the son of the late James Mitose, Ted Sumner, Ray Arquilla, Al Dacascos, Ralph and Rob Castro, William Chun, Sonny Gascon, Bart Vale, Larry Tatum, Dave Simmons, Adriano Emperado, Richard Lee, Sig Kufferath, Tino Tuiolosega, John McSweeney, and the list goes on and on. 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, and others included Koshiro Tanaka, Ron Sanchez, Steve Labounty, and Bob White.

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