The Tracy brothers began their training in fencing, boxing, and wrestling. They began learning Kenpo from Ed Parker and his first Black Belt James Ibrao in 1957, while attending college as pre-law students. They developed a close relationship with Ed Parker. Ed 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, the advanced classes were run by James Ibrao. Al Tracy was the powerhouse of Ed Parker’s studio and did all the breaking demonstrations. The Tracy brothers ran Ed Parker’s studio when Ed Parker returned to Hawaii.
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 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.
In 1964, the Tracy Brothers were promoted to 3rd Degree Back Belt (Sandan). 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 standards of teaching of the KKAA for their students.
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.
Tracy’s Kenpo Karate remains to this day teaching Original/Traditional Kenpo, one of the most effective systems of self-defense available.
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