Food For Thought
First Generation?   Article By: Senior Master Richard "Huk" Planas
Please note that this article was written on April 20th, 1996.

“Since Mr. Parker died he has ten times more first generation students than he had when he was alive.”

It has now been about seven years since Ed Parker died and I am always running into people that claim to have studied with him personally for many years.  Fortunately, there are still some people out there that know what “First Generation” really means.
There are many people that went to one or two seminars with Mr. Parker and had there picture taken with him, took it home or to their school and hung it up next to their rank certificate and “Wa La” instant proof for all to see.  Here I am with my teacher, Ed Parker!  If you ask them to perform one of the higher forms or ask them about a basic rule or principle of motion in the system, they probably do not know what you are talking about.  Besides these type of people, there are also a lot of people that have basically bought their rank.  These are people that made Mr. Parker a lot of money, so in return he would give them a promotion as a thank you.  Just the other day I was told about an article on the Internet that this guy had studied with Parker for thirty three years, I said to myself, "I have to find out who this person is."  When I found out, it was just another case of "B.S.", with a capital "B".  I say this because I happen to know the person and, in fact, I used to teach him once in a while.  I tell people all the time that since Mr. Parker died he has ten times more students than he had when he was alive.
This brings me to the original family tree and I say "original" because someone is in the process of making a new one.  As some people know, it was my idea to make the family tree.  I told Mr. Parker, shortly after Bruce Lee died, to take look at all the people claiming to have studied with Bruce and opening schools teaching his Art of Jeet Kune Do.  I told Parker that we should make a “Family Tree”, so the same thing does not happen to us.  He said that was a very good idea and that I should start gathering all the information I could and he would do the same.  After the lists of people were gathered, he took the information home and I did not see it again until the tree was made.
The tree came out in volume one of the Infinite Insights series, just in time for the Internationals.  When I checked in to the old Vagabond hotel, I went out by the pool where everybody hung out.  Mr. Parker saw me and yelled across the pool, "Hey Huk, come in my room.  I want to show you something."  When I walked into the room he handed me a large folded up sheet of paper and just before I grabbed it he pulled it back and said to me, “Huk before you read this I want you to know I'm just covering my ass.”  When I opened it and saw all the names (a lot of which did not belong), I said, "What a bunch of crap!"  Again Parker stated, “Like I said, I'm just covering my ass.”  He also told me that he put most of my students directly under him.  He said, "I hope you don't mind."  I told him I did not mind and that they would probably like that anyway.  As a result it looks as though I did not have many students, but that was far from the truth.  After looking at some of the names on the tree I said, "What's this guy and this guy, etc... doing on here?  They haven't even been on the mat with you."  He just smiled and laughed a little and said, “I know I can't fool you.  You know these guys.”  My response was, "So do a lot of other people."  He just slapped my shoulder and said, "Don't worry about it!"
Open Mindedness  Quote By: Writer Gary Sitten
"Open-mindedness is vastly overrated.  Arriving at old age with a completely open mind may not be much of a 
character reference; it might mean you never cared very strongly about anything that ever happened to you."
Paying Attention  Quote By: Unknown
Please note that this quote was displayed on the wall at the University of Pittsburgh.

"Most people don’t know to pay attention.  Why?

Because there minds are already filled to capacity with their own thoughts, conclusions and personal notions.  In order to pay attention, one must become completely free, open and clear.  This is what makes paying attention to anything so difficult.  To pay attention to someone, anyone, means that he has something to offer us that we don’t have.  Most people have egos that cannot bear this thought.

To pay attention we must become humble people."
The Comparison of Rank And Knowledge  Article By: Senior Master Richard "Huk" Planas
The relationship between rank and knowledge varies from one martial art system to another.  Many times, especially in Kenpo, it varies from lineage to lineage; sometimes from school to school.  As I travel around the world I see people being promoted all the time to all sorts of ranks.  I feel people need to know what the main requirements are for being promoted; time, age, and most importantly knowledge.

In many cases people are being promoted without meeting the minimum time requirements for the rank.  In Kenpo, the minimum time between First Degree Black Belt to Second Degree Black Belt is two years.  Then there should be three years between each rank from Second Degree to Fifth Degree.  Finally, five years between each rank from Fifth Degree and up.  Again these are minimum time requirements, not maximum!  You are eligible after you have met the minimum time.  It's like when you get hired for a job and they say in six months you're eligible for a raise.  This doesn't mean you will get the raise.  You have to do a good job otherwise there's no raise.

In addition to the time requirements there are age requirements to be considered for promotion.  Thirty years ago a Black Belt meant a lot more than it does today.  Now every ten year old is a Black Belt of various degrees.  Originally it was established that a student must be sixteen years old to wear a Black Belt which at that point would be considered a Junior Black Belt.  They would not be a Full Black Belt until the age of eighteen.  As for the higher ranks, the age requirements were tied into the time requirements.  It was said, "The gi just doesn't get old, you do along with it."  Another consideration is the titles for each rank especially at the higher levels.  At Fifth Degree the title begins to include the word Professor.  That would suggest the individual bearing that rank would reflect the appropriate age.  You rarely hear of a twenty something year old Professor!

In addition, you do not hear of a Grammar School Professor.  This leads us to the most important requirement for being promoted; knowledge.  Professors are found at the highest levels of education and once again the title would infer an appropriate level of knowledge.  I see that there is a lack of knowledge in Kenpo.  People need to learn the rules and principles.  The main problem is they are not aware of what they don't know.  They never completed their schooling.  It's like a doctor can't drop out of medical school and call themselves a doctor.  They need to complete the entire schooling to get the degree.  However it's important to note that the person with the lowest grade to graduate from medical school is still called a doctor.

With all of that said, it really comes down to there simply being two kinds of Black Belts; good ones and bad ones.  Which one do you want to be?