American Kenpo Karate Heritage
The martial arts began over a thousand years ago. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, the knowledge of Kenpo Karate had reached Japan from China. During World War II, James Mitose brought the art of Kosho-Ryu Kenpo from Japan to Hawaii, passing it down to William K.S. Chow, who taught it to Edmund K. Parker, now known as the father of American Kenpo Karate.
Associate Master Rick Jeffcoat
8th Degree Black Belt
Rick Jeffcoat began training in Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate in 1984, opening his Kenpo Karate Martial Arts studio in 1995, where he and his staff honor and pass on the legacy of the martial art, American Kenpo Karate. The Heritage Tree above symbolizes the long lineage that has lead Mr. Rick Jeffcoat to be one of the top ranking martial arts experts.
Mr. Jeffcoat’s grew up studying many martial arts as a child in New York. However, it wasn’t until he was a young adult in California that he began learning American Kenpo Karate. His first kenpo karate teachers were John Corrigan and Tony Martin, from Ed Parker’s West Los Angeles studio. When Rick became a more advanced belt, he studied with Larry Tatum and Ed Parker.
He began teaching for Ed Parker when he was an orange belt and by brown belt he was teaching his own class in the West Los Angeles studio. Teaching martial arts classes was transformative to his karate training. Ed Parker described teaching best when he said, “I could just do Karate myself. I don’t have to teach anybody. Through the course of teaching others, however, I end up learning.” So for Rick, teaching was not only an altruistic act of ‘passing it down,’ as we say, but also, a way of improving and deepening his own American Kenpo knowledge.
In 1990, he began running karate classes in his garage, starting with a few students, including, Laird McIntosh, Crystal Heatherly, and his first black belt, Scott Gonzalez. When Larry Tatum opened his Kenpo studio on Green Street, he taught and managed the school for him. There, he assisted Larry Tatum to produce the famous technique videos. The videos demonstrated the art visually and gave Kenpo practitioners another way to learn the art.
In 1995, at the encouragement of his students, he opened his first school in Pasadena, California, just a few miles from Ed Parker’s original Pasadena school, opened in 1956. His own school has produced many accomplished Kenpo black belts, such as Jamie Bertchume, Garry Regier, and Steve Baca. To this day, he continues to build on Ed Parker’s legacy by safeguarding the traditional Kenpo principles of practicality, eclecticism, and evolution. He continues to share the art of Kenpo with students far and near. Now with newer technologies, such as websites and YouTube, which facilitate the exchange of information, the art of American Kenpo Karate can continue to grow at an unprecedented rate.
He has been featured as a notable kenpoist in the published book, Kenpo Continuum and in 2013, Mr. Jeffcoat was inducted into the National Kenpo Hall of Fame, an elite group of 300 of the most accomplished kenpoists nationally.