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Open Letter to Mr. Speakman

Dear Mr. Speakman:

My name is Rainer Schulte. From 1978 until 1990, I worked for Senior Grandmaster Ed Parker as the Representative and Head Instructor for the IKKA in Europe. I guess you could consider me one of the ‘Old Timers’ who traveled extensively with Grandmaster Ed Parker. Like you, I owe my movie debut to Mr. Parker, as I worked with the ‘Old Man’ and Larry Tatum in TO KILL A GOLDEN GOOSE back in the 1980’s.

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting you personally, your name and work are familiar to me through my close friends Sean Kelley and Dave Hebler. I very much enjoyed your work in THE PERFECT WEAPON. I know Mr. Parker worked with you on the set. He would mention your work with pride, as he was pleased to have his art finally exposed to the public in the context of this movie, which was a great asset to the Kenpo community. For that I thank you.

At this point, Mr. Speakman, I would like to give you a few thoughts on the Kenpo community in Europe, with which I am very familiar. Numerous American Kenpo instructors have made their way to Europe (especially to Germany) to teach at various seminars and camps. By and large, this has been a lucrative source of income for them. The European Black Belts have searched the websites, and have been excited at the prospect of learning the true Art of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo through the teachings of yourself, John Sepulveda, Lee Wedlake, Richard Planas, Ron Chapel, Doreen Cogliandro, Gilber Velez, Larry Tatum, Gary Ellis, and others. The European clubs and schools have enthusiastically invited MANY Kenpo masters through their doors.

Sadly, the Europeans have often been left scratching their heads over the claims of individual instructors that “everyone else is doing Kenpo wrong” and that they are the only ones “doing Kenpo as Ed Parked wanted it to be done.” The gossip this type of behavior has caused, and the questions it has raised have been overwhelming for people whose only objective was to learn from good instructors of the Art. They are confused as to why the Americans can’t seem to get along.

In this vein, the speech you delivered on your recent visit in Balve has been brought to my attention. This was a venue in which many dedicated martial artists had come to train and meet you. Apparently, many of them left not only discontented, but also with many unanswered questions in their minds.

I am gravely concerned over the fact that someone who was close to Mr. Parker, and trained by Larry Tatum, an excellent instructor, would stoop to claiming he is “the only one doing Kenpo correctly.” This is not only untrue, Mr. Speakman, but is also a serious disservice to students looking to join the Kenpo family. Your ego-based assertions presented American Kenpo as being a backstabbing, power hungry, politically maladjusted collection of self-centered primadonna instructors who have no concept of decorum, protocol or etiquette.
In the interests of loyalty, not to mention truth, I would have to ask why you felt it was in any way appropriate to publicly insult your own instructor, Mr. Tatum? This was the man you trained with in California, and the man you received rank from. Mr. Tatum managed Ed Parker’s school in Santa Monica until 1988, and I must remind you, has a loyal following in Europe of people who enjoy his teachings. These people certainly did not need to be exposed to your startling lack of Kenpo Brotherhood, nor did the other Kenpo instructors who visit Europe need you “poisoning the water” there for them.

I feel obliged to point out to you that Mr. Parker himself, was quoted as saying, “Larry Tatum is a guy who moves like me, looks like me and is one of my top guys along with Tom Kelly who he is working close with.” I hope you would not presume to questions Mr. Parker’s judgment of his own student.

I know you mentioned the “exhausting test” you went through with Ed Parker when you were being examined by him for rank. And I’m certain this is true. You went through an “exhausting test” along with the likes of Dian Tanaka and Brian Hawkins to name just two students from your era. My point is that, although you are “a” Torch Carrier of the Kenpo Flame, you are not “THE” Torch Carrier of the Kenpo flame. You, like me, are one of many students of the Legend named Ed Parker. At this point, in light of your recent regrettable “performance” in Balve I would have to question your worthiness to carry that Torch.

It is with profound sorrow that I send this letter off to you. But the flurry of negative response in Germany to your recent visit has made it necessary to express the points I have made.

I hope you can appreciate my views and take them in the spirit they are intended. I regret any pain this letter may have caused you, and still hope we might meet one day in Kenpo brotherhood.

Rainer Schulte
CKF Board of Directors

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