Elvis' Kenpo Karate Decal

Kenpo Decal on guitar

On two of Elvis' guitars he put a Kenpo Karate Decal, his ebony Dove and his 68 J200.  The symbol or "'The Parker Patch' as it is traditionally called, has become the hallmark of American Kenpo."

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"The patch (from the original plates) was designed in 1960 by Dick Tercell for the Kenpo Karate Association of America (KKAA), which was the beginning of American Kenpo.  The KKAA had been founded in 1956 by Ed Parker, the emblem used on the original certificates was a depiction of the "overhead club" technique. The first KKAA black belt certificate that used the Tercell emblem were awarded in January 1961. Ed Parker remained the head of the KKAA until 1964, when the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA) was formed, and the KKAA was turned over to Ed Parker's senior black belts. While Ed loved the design of the KKAA patch, it was not his original design and he could not copyright it."*

The Design**

The Tiger

    Represents earthy strength derived during the early stages of learning. This is the stage where the individual is impressed with his own physical prowess.
The Dragon
    Represents spiritual strength which comes with seasoning. This mental attitude is attained during the individual's later years of training. It is placed above earthly strength (as indicated and observed on the patch) since the individual at this stage has learned to develop humility and self-restraint.
    The attitude of the Dragon is the ultimate goal of Kenpo. Armed with this attitude an individual will not be afraid of the opponent but of what he can do to the opponent. Thus he turns back and walks away from an unwarranted conflict confident that he could have been the victor.
The Circle
    The circle is symbolic of several things:
    1. It depicts life itself, a continuous cycle where there is neither beginning nor end. So is the art of Kenpo, a cycle of perpetual and unending movement or motion. Techniques follow a cycle, movements are part of a cycle, physical prowess, humility and self-restraint are no more than components of a progressive learning cycle.
    2. All moves evolve from a circle whether they are defensive or offensive.
    3. The circle represents the bond of friendship that should continuously exist among Kenpo practitioners.
    4. The circle is the base from which our Alphabet of Motion stems.
The Dividing Lines
    The dividing lines in the circle represent:
    1. The original eighteen hand movements, directions in which the hands can travel.
    2. The angles from which you or an opponent can attack or defend.
    3. The pattern in which the feet can move.
The Colors
    The various colors represent proficiency, achievement and authority. The circle is Gray, symbolic of the brain (as in "gray matter").
    The White background is significant of the many beginners who form the base of the Art.
    Yellow & Orange represent the first level of proficiency, the mechanical stage; the dangerous stage in learning where the student is more impressed with the physical, who thinks he knows all of the answers.
    Brown, the color of the Tiger's eyes, represents the advance students, though not great in number. At this level the student becomes more observant. His eyes, like that of the Tiger, are keen, ever so watchful and critical, always looking up to the higher levels of proficiency, striving for perfection, preparing for the day he bears the label of an expert.
    Black represents the level of expert proficiency.
    Red is that of professorship over and above Black. But, as indicated by the colors of the Dragon, there are still traces of White in the his eye, Yellow and Orange on the his fins, Brown in the iris of his eye, and Black in the pupils of his eye. This is to remind the Professor that he too should always be humble and able to go back to any level, whatever it might be, and perform the things that he expects of others at these levels so as never to demand too much of his students.
The Oriental Writing
    This is a reminder of the originators of our Art, the Chinese. It is in respect to them, but not that we serve them.
    The lettering on the left it means Spirit of the Dragon and the Tiger, a constant reminder that we want to attain the spiritual level and and that the physical level is only a stepping stone or vehicle, that we used to reach the higher or spiritual level.
    The lettering to the right means Kenpo Karate; Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand.
The Shape
    The top of the crest of the patch is like a roof which gives shelter to all who are under it.
    The sides are curved conversely because like the roof of a Chinese home it is to send evil back to where it came from, whenever it tries to descend.
    The bottom forms the shape of an ax, representing the executioner.

*American Kenpo Karate
** copied in its entirety from "About the Parker Kenpo Patch"

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