Honoring a Hero – Master Francisco Conde

On August 23, 2010, the martial arts world lost an icon – Master Francisco Conde, who suffered a long-term illness that took his life at age 78.  Few martial arts Masters become legends, and even fewer are humble enough to step away from their legacy to turn the spotlight onto others.  Master Francisco Conde was a rarity in today’s world of ego driven “look at me” mentalities.

Conde wanted no recognition.  He cared more about the young generation of martial artists and through his integrity and honor he avoided the media explaining that they should focus on the young new-comers and not him.  Honesty and humility glowed throughout Conde’s soul and those who knew him respected him.

Conde was an Army veteran who served four tours in the Korean War and two tours in Vietnam.  He was a military man through and through beginning his service in 1949. After being discharged for one year, he re-enlisted since he preferred the military lifestyle.  Throughout his travels, both in and out of the military, Conde studied an array of different martial arts including Judo, Kajukenbo, Isshinryu, Kyokushinkai, and Moo Duk Kwan to name a few.

Although born in the Philippines in 1931, his travels as a young boy took him to Japan for a brief time, and then in 1948 he moved to the United States just before entering the military.  He trained in every country he stayed at (Philippines, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and U.S.) under highly respected instructors such as Adriano Emperado, Ed Parker, Taek Moon Koo, and others.

In 1963 Conde founded the Oriental Defensive Arts Association (ODAA).  He was an innovator and believed that much could be done to develop the martial arts to work better for current times.  He was constantly refining techniques that he felt were outdated, much like American Kenpo founder and friend Ed Parker.

Conde was a successful tournament director on the East Coast for several years, and because of his strong reputation, there were always numerous attendees.  Aside from his tournament successes, he also developed martial arts equipment.  He designed the chonchaku, which was a modern day nunchaku made from polypropylene.

Conde’s teaching abilities were superb.  His students gleamed with passion every time he taught.  Chinese Karate Federation President, Sean P. Kelley, knows this first hand as Conde was his first instructor and the man who groomed him as a young boy teaching him how to handle bullies who were picking on his friends.  According to Kelley, Conde made him a fighter through intense training.  “He could bring the best out of anyone,” Kelley explained.

Kelley went from white belt through 3rd degree black belt under Conde, was a member of Conde’s fight team and also helped teach at Conde’s school.  Many memories are cherished by Kelley including being introduced to Ed Parker through Conde—a moment that impacted Kelley’s martial arts journey for the rest of his life.

Conde’s daughter Renee explained that one of the greatest things that she had ever witnessed was watching her father teach.  “He had a magical ability to adapt the teaching process to any and every individual he came in contact with, from the overly hyper seven year old to the middle aged woman who put on a gi for the first time,” she explained.

“When watching my father teach, there was always a perfect moment in which the student had a revelation, an understanding of how to make his body move in a particular way and the purpose of that movement. You could see the student’s eyes light up, and, as he finally executed the move correctly, a new passion for the martial arts was born.  If you looked hard enough at my dad, you could see a small smile on his face too.”

Francisco Conde will always be a martial arts pioneer who will be honored by those who he taught, served with, and came in contact with.  His legacy is now etched into the hearts of many martial artists who can share the stories of a true American hero.

Stay Tuned for Upcoming Attractions

We are in the process of tweaking our new Web site and have many great things in store for you.  Check back often to read up about our phenomenal organization.  If you have any questions about the Chinese Karate Federation and our philosophy’s of the Ed Parker American Kenpo System I invite you to e-mail me at michael.miller@millersdojo.com as I am the Public Relations Administrator and I will answer any questions you have regarding what we do as an organization and why.

Our goal, aside from perpetuating the art of Senior Grandmaster Edmund K. Parker’s American Kenpo, is to assist those seeking for improvement in their lives.  We have many qualified black belts who all have something unique to offer with different areas of expertise.  Aside from that our networking is second to none.  We CAN help direct you where you need to be.

We focus on the science of the American Kenpo System understanding the whys that go with the hows.  In our lineage you learn the academic, sport, and combative side of Kenpo, with a direction of more academic to combative.  It’s important to learn to speak the language of Kenpo as well as execute the part.  Walk the walk as you talk the talk.

Enjoy the upcoming attractions and if you need anything don’t hesitate to contact us.  TCB!

The History of the Red Belt


–Bill Larson

The history of the “Red Belt” in the Martial Arts has a long and honorable tradition that can trace its roots back through antiquity. You will see the Red Belt or Red Sash used in many of the Korean and Chinese Kung Fu systems. Many different styles and systems in the Martial Arts wear the Red Belt as a sign of mastery, worriorship or scholarly endeavor.

The American Kenpo System designates the use of the color “red” is to be worn on an individual’s Black belt, as a designation of one’s Rank, utilizing a red stripe as a symbol of progress. When the late Grandmaster Ed Parker was alive, the highest rank to be earned in American Kenpo within the International Kenpo Karate Association, under Mr. Parker was 7th Degree. You will find this to be true under the IKKA Black Belt Family Tree. After the rank of 7th Degree Black Belt, an individual was required to sit before a board of Masters and/or Grandmasters in order to advance in rank. However, there were a few other individuals within the organization that were been appointed to a higher rank, most notably the late Elvis Presley (8th Degree Black Belt). In Kenpo, one’s Black Belt has traditionally displayed red stripes or a red “block” (signifying 5th Degree). Additionally, the tradition or requirement for all Black Belts was that for the individual to remain in rank a specified number of years before being promoted to the next rank. The Black Belt must remain at the current rank (seasoning) for the same number of years as the numeric level of the next rank of promotion. This is a custom that can also be seen in military service. For example an individual who wears a 6th Degree Black Belt must wear the rank for at least 7 years, prior to being considered for promotion to a 7th Degree Black Belt.

Senior Professor Sean Kelley after wearing the rank of a 6th Degree for 7 years was then promoted to 7th Degree under the auspices and approval of a board of 3 Grandmasters and additional Senior Masters. At that same time, Mr. Kelley’s career shifted in its focus to emphasize more of the “combative” or “War like” applications of the American Kenpo System, under the guidance of his teacher Grandmaster Michael Robert Pick.

To mark this change or emphasis, Mr. Kelley reversed the colors of his own Black Belt (with Red stripes) to a Red Belt with Black stripes. Our Kenpo System points out that: every concept, principle, theory, idea or theme with regard to motion has a forward, reverse and an “opposite” Therefore; our belts must indeed adhere to the same idea. This is why there must be a concept of a Red Belt in the Kenpo System…