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Thread: The Parker Cult

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    Exclamation The Parker Cult

    Hello all,

    I just want to warn people in advance about this post. This has been on my mind for some time, but I've waited to post for fear of a possible flame war. I hope that we will be able to discuss this in a rational, adult fashion. However, I've seen the utter lack of that type of behavior in too many threads now, so I may be just "whistlin' Dixie." As the saying goes, I'll hope for the best but expect the worst.

    Who the heck cares about Ed Parker?

    OK, there, I said it. Now let's try to get over the initial shock and horror of it. I'll preface my comments by clarifying that I mean no disrespect to the memory of Mr. Parker or to the sentiments of his family. I only mean to spark some thought. (In fact, that was the pont of my previous post, but considering the source of those comments, I thought it would be better to leave those statements out of our discussion.)

    What I mean is: why are Kenpo folks so caught up over what Ed Parker did or said? He's been dead some 15 years now, right? How and why does he still have such an impact on people's thoughts and ideas about their art? Obviously, most of us, aside from Chow's direct students, owe the introduction of Kenpo to the US to Mr. Parker. For that, we all owe him a great deal of thanks. And, for the most part, it seems apparent that he's got it. But, every time someone asks a serious question about a Kenpo technique or the system in general, the threads get inundated with Parker quotes and references to his books. Why is that? Are we incapable of independent thought? Will we be forever tied to his ideas, his wishes, and his methods?

    Once again, I'd like to state for the record that I mean absolutely NO disrespect to Ed Parker or his family.

    Curious to see how this will go,
    MH
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by MHeeler
    Hello all,

    I just want to warn people in advance about this post. This has been on my mind for some time, but I've waited to post for fear of a possible flame war. I hope that we will be able to discuss this in a rational, adult fashion. However, I've seen the utter lack of that type of behavior in too many threads now, so I may be just "whistlin' Dixie." As the saying goes, I'll hope for the best but expect the worst.

    Who the heck cares about Ed Parker?

    OK, there, I said it. Now let's try to get over the initial shock and horror of it. I'll preface my comments by clarifying that I mean no disrespect to the memory of Mr. Parker or to the sentiments of his family. I only mean to spark some thought. (In fact, that was the pont of my previous post, but considering the source of those comments, I thought it would be better to leave those statements out of our discussion.)

    What I mean is: why are Kenpo folks so caught up over what Ed Parker did or said? He's been dead some 15 years now, right? How and why does he still have such an impact on people's thoughts and ideas about their art? Obviously, most of us, aside from Chow's direct students, owe the introduction of Kenpo to the US to Mr. Parker. For that, we all owe him a great deal of thanks. And, for the most part, it seems apparent that he's got it. But, every time someone asks a serious question about a Kenpo technique or the system in general, the threads get inundated with Parker quotes and references to his books. Why is that? Are we incapable of independent thought? Will we be forever tied to his ideas, his wishes, and his methods?

    Once again, I'd like to state for the record that I mean absolutely NO disrespect to Ed Parker or his family.

    Curious to see how this will go,
    MH
    Mr. Parker was the founder of American Kenpo, where would we all be if he never did this? I know I would probably be stuck with some rinky dink Kim's Karate place (I mean no offense to anybody who is taking that). Where would you be? Even though I have never met Mr. Parker because I started my training in 1997, I am still told stories by higher ranking black belts about the things he did both on and off the mat. So I am now and forever in this "Parker Cult." I ean totally no disrespect to you sir, so do not take it like that.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by parkerkarate
    Mr. Parker was the founder of American Kenpo, where would we all be if he never did this? I know I would probably be stuck with some rinky dink Kim's Karate place (I mean no offense to anybody who is taking that). Where would you be? Even though I have never met Mr. Parker because I started my training in 1997, I am still told stories by higher ranking black belts about the things he did both on and off the mat. So I am now and forever in this "Parker Cult." I ean totally no disrespect to you sir, so do not take it like that.
    Yes, I agree with you. In fact, I mentioned exactly this in my first post. My point was not to rehash Ed Parker's work and contributions. I think those are all well established.

    I was trying to point out that, long after his death, Ed Parker's name is still bandied about as the end authority on all things Kenpo. To me, this seems puzzling. Is there a prerequisite waiting period before we can move out from under his shadow? Or are we doomed to forever repeat his life choices?

    And, by the way, I take no offense where none is intended. Thanks for the courteous reply. I only hope that this thread will continue to be so polite.

    Thanks,
    MH
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Respect is important. Rememberance is important. When you follow the teachings of a great man, it can point you in the right direction.

    The danger is that respect becomes deification and rememberance becomes canonization. When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, then Kenpo will be dead.
    Alan Wortman aka Old Fat Kenpoka

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Kenpoka
    Respect is important. Rememberance is important. When you follow the teachings of a great man, it can point you in the right direction.

    The danger is that respect becomes deification and rememberance becomes canonization. When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, then Kenpo will be dead.
    I agree with everything except for one thing. I would say: When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, Kenpo would be stagnant. (Kenpo will die when nobody is training in it anymore.)

    I believe the system is a good one. Do I think there are things that can be added? Sure. Do I think things can be changed? Yep. Do I think the whole system needs to be revamped from the ground up? Nope.

    There is plenty of room for growth in the system without having to go back and constantly rework it's base techniques and structure. It's nearly impossible to build something that will last on a foundation that is constantly changing. I think Parker laid down a good foundation and left enough for following generations to build on.


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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Lear
    When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, Kenpo would be stagnant.
    That's the best thing I've read on any forum in quite a while. Well put.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    ...I'd add that ritualizing the notion of the future, and ignoring the lessons of the past, is at least as dangerous for, "the future of kenpo."

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcr
    ...I'd add that ritualizing the notion of the future, and ignoring the lessons of the past, is at least as dangerous for, "the future of kenpo."
    The way I read it, the past is the foundation that the future is built on.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Those that do not know the past are doomed to repeat it.
    Just because you do something one way, does not mean that everyone else does it that way, or that it is even the correct way.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcr
    ...I'd add that ritualizing the notion of the future, and ignoring the lessons of the past, is at least as dangerous for, "the future of kenpo."
    I don't know if we are hijacking the thread by going off on this tangent, BUT:
    I like what Alan said:
    The danger is that respect becomes deification and rememberance becomes canonization. When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, then Kenpo will be dead.
    and What you said here Robert.
    Thing is, I think the truth lies inbetween.
    That if we focus on the past exclusively, the present suffers.
    If we focus on the future exclusively, then we could end up reinventing the wheel.... and forget important elements and lessons learned.

    Between these two extremes is much wisdom I think. Learning from and respecting the past a great deal while looking forward to and setting up the best future we can imagine by concentrating TODAY on doing the best we can in analysis, study of existing principles and lessons, creative/original thinking ....
    it's good to think about these things.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by MHeeler
    Hello all,
    Who the heck cares about Ed Parker?

    What I mean is: why are Kenpo folks so caught up over what Ed Parker did or said? He's been dead some 15 years now, right? How and why does he still have such an impact on people's thoughts and ideas about their art?
    Will we be forever tied to his ideas, his wishes, and his methods?
    MH
    Mr. Parker had a tremendous impact on people, for better or for worse....and we can learn from both. For those of us that Love the legacy/Art that he created..... the impact is for the better. Besides simply being very charismatic, his energy and his ideas were contagious as heck!!! He could touch on just about any subject with anyone and bring a refreshing level of insight, honesty and 'horse-sense' to it that could teach even someone who was an expert at something they already 'thought' they knew. In this way, the things that he was doing and did can still teach us all. He left behind a body of knowledge that was staggering, and he didn't leave it all with just one individual or even a small group of individuals. One time when he was asked where people should look to find 'real' Kenpo, his Kenpo knowledge, after he's gone: He said "Combine my top 20 students and you'll have a good start.". The art of Kenpo is known for being able to 'taylor' to the individual because that was an important feature of Mr. Parker's own ability/personality. It was said that he could comunicate with anyone about anything. One of the most important things he did, I think, was not so much all the 'answers' that he gave us... but the excellent questions.

    I think it's true that Mr. Parker wanted his students to think for themselves. When teaching ((acording to the many accounts I've collected)) he'd often have a specific lesson in mind.... but he'd not "Tell" it outright (usually), he'd often lead the student...logically....to arrive at the same conclusions through the right questions at the right time. Very effective way to teach, make the student come to their own conclusions/realizations.... because you can easily forget what someone 'says' to you, but it's much more difficult to discard something that they helped you realize for yourself. I think though that this lead to a dependence upon him and his questions. I'd think that the most valuable thing we could do is to do our OWN analysis of things, to evaluate and discriminate w/in the why's and wherefores of our own Kenpo for ourselves. ((By 'our own kenpo' I intend to relate that I don't feel that Kenpo is something outside of ourselves, seperate from who we are individually...there's my Kenpo, there yours....)) OR: on the opposite side of that unfortunate coin some feel that they need to step up and fill Mr. Parker's sizeable shoes. Not possible (either litterally or metaphorically). 99.9 1/2% of the worlds population couldn't even come close. Besides... like a very wise saying that I like says: "When seeking to emulate a great man, don't try to walk in his footsteps...rather.....seek what he saught." Some have learned from Mr. Parker's questions and gone on from there with their own questions Some have done this, seeking what he saught. It's my opinion that Mr. Mills is one such person, not the only one...but I think a significant one.

    Why care so much about Mr. Parker?
    Because there's MUCH to be learned by his ideas, questions, methods and works! and....because he positively touched the lives of so many and made such a significant difference to so many more.
    BUT: That's why I think it's a mistake to call American Kenpo Karate (under any banner) PARKER Kenpo.... he gave OF himself and taught us his art, but he didn't give us Himself. It's our Kenpo. We can honor him in other ways definitely, but "Parker Kenpo" is two things slammed together: a living art combined with a dead mans name. We must learn of and from Mr. Parker's lessons and examples...but to remain stuck in that place, to make Mr. Parker the Center of Kenpo is to make Mr. Parker into the art....and that's where the "cult" comes in. When that happens, the worship of Mr. Parker is a rut that the art cannot excape. When the Center of Kenpo are the concepts and principles, the methods... that he gave us....then it stays alive and we honor him the best.

    It'd be like a scientist emulating Einstein (sp?), they learn from him and his methods....but they certainly don't stand still and say 'that's enough', they challenge his concepts and assertations.....while still holding him in HIGH regard as one of the absolute greatest. Or....it's like a 1 star General having studies Sun Tzu, Musashi, Machiavelli (sp?), Alexander, Washington, Patton, McArthur, Eisenhower......etc. etc.. That 1 star General won't try to BE these people, but revere, and learn from them all and move forward....applying these older insights to newer circumstances.

    So we should study the greats, learn from the greats and appreciate the greats, but NOT try to BE the greats......just try to be Great ourself.
    Mr. Parker is American Kenpo's first and greatest "great".

    The shoulders of the Giants are there to be stood upon, but it's up to each of us to 'stand' for ourselves and look to see how far we can see.

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Hmmm, do we get a free hat and membership badge when we join this cult??

    Serious, EXCELLENT answer Brother John, to an equally excellent question. I agree with it 100%

    That's why I think it's a mistake to call American Kenpo Karate (under any banner) PARKER Kenpo....
    In regards to this, most people I know will use the term "Parker Kenpo" simply to differentiate between the different styles, including myself.

    Although I have met a few on the extreme and fanatical side n_n*So it is very easy to see why it could be seen at a cult-like status.
    Susan A. Spann

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    Member of the Estrogen Mafia and Proud Owner of THIS Thread (FOREVER D:< )



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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    MHeeler,
    SGM Parker created American Kenpo. Those of us that are passionate about EPAK do not find holding it's founder in high esteem any different then JKD practitioners holding Bruce Lee in the same. Isshinryu and Shimabuku, Goju and Yamaguchi, Shotokan and Funikoshi, Judo and Kano, Aikido and Ueshiba, TKD and Choi..... you get my point. These men created the very systems that practitioners spend countless hours learning and training. It is partially out of respect, admiration, and on some levels, thanks.

    In your post you asked about Independent thought. Yes, I have it, and as such, I think EPAK is the right system for me. I use my personal experiences in fights through the years to draw from to make the system workable and applicable to me, for me, and I have a pretty good understanding of how American Kenpo can maximize my strenths, and minimize my weaknesses.

    If a person is not going to use the knowledge and efforts of SGM Parker, and follow the teachings he prescribed, then why bother studying EPAK? Im not a big historian, nor do I profess to know the history of Kenpo before SGM Parker, but I am fine with that. Those that study Kosho Ryu hold Chow in the same regard as we hold Ed Parker.

    In closing, I dont understand why you'd come into a kenpo forum and asked why kenpo practitioners hold its founder in high regards. Its human nature. To answer a question you asked in your posts, yes, we will always be tied to his thoughts and ideas on American Kenpo, HE CREATED THE SYSTEM. If you do not want to be linked with Ed Parker, his thoughts and interpretations, find another system to train and study that he did not create. Or better yet, create a system of martial arts yourself. Doing so would ensure that you are not following anyone elses thoughts and ideas. Have you ever heard of Ralph Dunbar? Me neither, because he didnt create anything that I choose to pursue.

    Gary Catherman

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    MHeeler's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    The danger is that respect becomes deification and rememberance becomes canonization. When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, then Kenpo will be dead.
    I think this statement is a much more succinct re-statement of what I was trying to say. Thanks for that. I tend to get caught up in my own verbosity.

    I believe the system is a good one. Do I think there are things that can be added? Sure. Do I think things can be changed? Yep. Do I think the whole system needs to be revamped from the ground up? Nope.

    There is plenty of room for growth in the system without having to go back and constantly rework it's base techniques and structure. It's nearly impossible to build something that will last on a foundation that is constantly changing. I think Parker laid down a good foundation and left enough for following generations to build on.
    I'm beginning to see the truth in statements like these. In my estimation, I end up at odds with most other kenpoka (and other martial artists in general) primarily because I have no real stake in the perpetuation of any style or system. I don't own or run a school, and I have no interest in becoming an instructor. My interest is for my own education and skill, and perhaps for any mini-me's down the road.

    I can see that constant reworking of a system would lead to a chaotic foundation, especially for any newcomers. However, I think most of my questions and comments are more likely to apply to people who have significant experience and skill. At least, that's the way I intended it. Thanks for bringing it up.

    ...I'd add that ritualizing the notion of the future, and ignoring the lessons of the past, is at least as dangerous for, "the future of kenpo."
    I'm not sure which particular lessons you mean, but I definitely did not mean to suggest that we ought to ignore previous discoveries. All knowledge and education is a process of accretion, like climbing a ladder. One really can't start halfway up without some help. At the same time, I see no real use in stopping at a mid-point either.

    The way I read it, the past is the foundation that the future is built on.
    Absolutely. A good foundation, in any area of learning, is imperative for proper growth. But growth beyond the foundation is the goal, is it not?

    Those that do not know the past are doomed to repeat it.
    I think those who do know the past repeat it just as often. Perhaps the more important idea is to understand the chain of events which led to past discoveries (or failures). By understanding the goals and motives of past innovators, we can more readily apply those lessons in the present, as well as in the future.

    Thanks for all the replies,
    MH
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    it's good to think about these things.
    That it is, my friend.

    I think though that this lead to a dependence upon him and his questions. I'd think that the most valuable thing we could do is to do our OWN analysis of things
    I think you've hit the nail on the head, so to speak. This time, I think you have preemptively plagiarized me. Excellent post.

    MH
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Those of us that are passionate about EPAK do not find holding it's founder in high esteem any different then JKD practitioners holding Bruce Lee in the same. Isshinryu and Shimabuku, Goju and Yamaguchi, Shotokan and Funikoshi, Judo and Kano, Aikido and Ueshiba, TKD and Choi..... you get my point.
    I agree. There is no difference. I didn't mean to imply that this type of behavior is unique to Kenpo.

    If a person is not going to use the knowledge and efforts of SGM Parker, and follow the teachings he prescribed, then why bother studying EPAK?
    I think that, by studying American Kenpo, one is already using the knowledge and efforts of Mr. Parker. I'm only asking if it is not appropriate to use our own knowledge and efforts to go even further.

    I dont understand why you'd come into a kenpo forum and asked why kenpo practitioners hold its founder in high regards.
    Actually, that is not at all what I asked. True, I was crass in asking "Who the heck cares about Ed Parker?," but that was simply in order to get the blasphemy out of the way...an attention grabber, so to speak. I did not intend to denigrate his memory or belittle his contributions. If you read the entirety of my post, you'll see that I clarified that statement further.

    we will always be tied to his thoughts and ideas on American Kenpo, HE CREATED THE SYSTEM. If you do not want to be linked with Ed Parker, his thoughts and interpretations, find another system to train and study that he did not create.
    Yes, you're right. I think I misspoke in asking the question in that way. Of course we will be linked to Ed Parker. How could we not be? Rather, what I meant to ask was this: Will we, as kenpoists, forever be limited or constrained by his ideas and methods?

    Or better yet, create a system of martial arts yourself. Doing so would ensure that you are not following anyone elses thoughts and ideas.
    I have no desire to create a "system," for myself or for anyone else. Kenpo, for me, is purely a tool, a means to an end. In that regard, I value everyone's ideas on self defense and combat. By considering all points of view, I don't limit myself to one person's paradigm. And, I'll admit, I'm most often limited by my own, as are we all.

    Have you ever heard of Ralph Dunbar? Me neither, because he didnt create anything that I choose to pursue.
    While I may never have heard of him, he might have just the thing I'm looking for. Fame and name recognition are not the only indicators of achievement or excellence.

    Thanks,
    MH
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    Smile Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by kalicombat
    MHeeler,
    SGM Parker created American Kenpo. Those of us that are passionate about EPAK do not find holding it's founder in high esteem any different then JKD practitioners holding Bruce Lee in the same. Isshinryu and Shimabuku, Goju and Yamaguchi, Shotokan and Funikoshi, Judo and Kano, Aikido and Ueshiba, TKD and Choi..... you get my point. These men created the very systems that practitioners spend countless hours learning and training. It is partially out of respect, admiration, and on some levels, thanks.

    In your post you asked about Independent thought. Yes, I have it, and as such, I think EPAK is the right system for me. I use my personal experiences in fights through the years to draw from to make the system workable and applicable to me, for me, and I have a pretty good understanding of how American Kenpo can maximize my strenths, and minimize my weaknesses.

    If a person is not going to use the knowledge and efforts of SGM Parker, and follow the teachings he prescribed, then why bother studying EPAK? Im not a big historian, nor do I profess to know the history of Kenpo before SGM Parker, but I am fine with that. Those that study Kosho Ryu hold Chow in the same regard as we hold Ed Parker.

    In closing, I dont understand why you'd come into a kenpo forum and asked why kenpo practitioners hold its founder in high regards. Its human nature. To answer a question you asked in your posts, yes, we will always be tied to his thoughts and ideas on American Kenpo, HE CREATED THE SYSTEM. If you do not want to be linked with Ed Parker, his thoughts and interpretations, find another system to train and study that he did not create. Or better yet, create a system of martial arts yourself. Doing so would ensure that you are not following anyone elses thoughts and ideas. Have you ever heard of Ralph Dunbar? Me neither, because he didnt create anything that I choose to pursue.

    Gary Catherman
    Hi Gary,

    I think your post is a good one.

    I just want to point out that Kosho Ryu people hold James Mitose in the same position as EPAK people hold Ed Parker.
    We consider William Chow a great practioner, just like we feel Ed Parker had a lot going for his inovations.

    The problem is when you use the word CULT. (I have done that in the past and only because a religious connection existed). So I can see where MHeeler might use this term (because of the numerous articles relegating EP to that position with his cult of admirers. The LDS church and all that. History has a way of showing up at times.)

    In these days you have Cult movies and Cult this and that, as in Elvis had his group of admirers, then some one uses it as his cult of admirers.

    It might bring some testi thoughts or remarks, but I thought MHeeler antedated his thinking with the original post. (redundant) so no point in going in a direction, as to attack.

    I also believe it is a legitemate response on your part. I believe this thread is being handled very well considering the fire that could erupt at any time.

    My main input is for you to remember it is James Mitose, Father of Thomas Mitose and Grandfather of Mark Mitose that we are making our (allegatons some might say) thoughts known, as to the founding person who brought Kem/npo to the Hawaiian Islands and then to the mainland in one form or another.

    Regards, Gary

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    Thumbs up Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Lear
    I agree with everything except for one thing. I would say: When ritualizing the accomplishments of the past becomes more important than inventing the future, Kenpo would be stagnant. (Kenpo will die when nobody is training in it anymore.)

    I believe the system is a good one. Do I think there are things that can be added? Sure. Do I think things can be changed? Yep. Do I think the whole system needs to be revamped from the ground up? Nope.

    There is plenty of room for growth in the system without having to go back and constantly rework it's base techniques and structure. It's nearly impossible to build something that will last on a foundation that is constantly changing. I think Parker laid down a good foundation and left enough for following generations to build on.
    Very well said
    Quote Originally Posted by Miyu
    In regards to this, most people I know will use the term "Parker Kenpo" simply to differentiate between the different styles, including myself.
    As do I
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    "To understand the heart & mind of a person, look not at what they have already achieved, but what they aspire to do." -Kahlil Gibran

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    kalicombat is offline
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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    MHeeler,
    After reading all the replys to your post, and your replys to those replys, why'd you even start this thread?? You post off the wall rhetorical questions, and then back down from them or agree with the disagreements?!?!?!?!
    If you realy must be active on the forums, find a good potato salad recipe and post that, or better yet, start yourself a blog and you'll have a purpose to your rantings.

    Just my opinion,
    Gary Catherman

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    Default Re: The Parker Cult

    Quote Originally Posted by rmcr
    ...I'd add that ritualizing the notion of the future, and ignoring the lessons of the past, is at least as dangerous for, "the future of kenpo."
    The truth is in the pudding.

    Regards, Gary

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