The Funeral

The first to arrive at the funeral, I had been asked to do something for the Parker family that I knew was very important. Mrs. Parker had asked me to ensure no one took any pictures of her husband as they had done at Bruce Lee's funeral. Mr. Parker's black belts were positioned in various critical areas and instructed that if anyone took a picture the camera was not to leave the room under any circumstance.

Jack Autry
Jack Autry, close family friend

During the viewing, it was extremely difficult watching some of the biggest, baddest fighters in the world breakdown in tears as they paid respect to Mr. Parker. Tears rolled down my cheeks when I saw Mr. Parker, resting so peacefully, in his casket, his hair neatly combed and his right hand neatly folded over his left hand at the waist. This took almost 4 hours and we finally had to close the door to start the services.

At that funeral as all of Mr. Parker's Kenpo Karate family assembled we saw another large group in attendance that none of were aware of. Later we found out they were church members from his congregation. We all learned that day that as well known as Mr. Parker was in Kenpo Karate, he was also well known among church members.

It was so interesting to me it was almost like a man who lived two lives. I never thought the same about Mr. Parker after that day. I was a little unhappy because I did not know that side of him very well, but I see through the years that there was much more to Mr. Parker than 10th degree black belt and I wanted what he had. I really respected that he never smoke or drank anything, he would have to get real mad to use any four letter words and most of all the man truly loved his family. I really respected that and I wanted to be like him. He taught me so much in all those years but I have learned much more about life since his passing.

I have so many questions for him and our Lord, Jesus Christ, when I get on the other side. By no means, am I trying to parallel their lives for Mr. Parker had many human flaws. Although Mr. Parker was far from perfect, he loved the Lord and tried to follow him. Mr. Parker was a missionary without realizing it. The full extent of his influence for good throughout the world may never be fully realized but his impact is immediately apparent in the Kenpo Karate world.

Another thing that really impressed me at the funeral service was how his children could go up in front of thousands of people in the church and talk about their dad. I wanted what the Parker family had. Each Parker child that spoke made me cry. I had to move so that no one would see me. Little did I know that most of the people in the church were crying also. I learned from Mr. Parker and my Kenpo brothers, how to fight any man and never be afraid but the true battle in life is not against man for our enemy is not flesh and blood but we wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, again spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

This was it! This was the final chapter of Mr. Ed Parker, death had overcome his body but Ed Parker knew as he discussed many times with Elvis, that death was a re-birth into another sphere of learning and development and that he had read about it. They had often spoken of the body, no more than a robe that clothed a spirit. Now, Mr. Parker's body was before us and he had experienced this transformation, he had returned from the mortal to the spiritual. His mortal body was now disrobed from his spirit. My turn is yet to come, time would place me in the same realm that Mr. Parker was now in. He no longer had to suffer the frailties of the flesh. No more hardships, no more worries, it was all behind him. As I prepare to leave, I bid him farewell, saying in my mind, that we would meet again, when my time comes.

This day was to write an end to an illustrious era that had lasted for more than four decades. As the service concluded at the church, my car was the first car behind the Parker family car. I made it a point to be as close to them as I could for the entire day. We arrived at the cemetery and I think the line of cars went all the way from the church to the burial site.

When we finally got to the gravesite I found myself standing and supporting Mr. Parker's brother Joe, watching my friend carrying Mr. Parker to the gravesite. We stood there; two grown men crying openly both hoping the tears would release the tension and settle our emotions. The service at the gravesite was fairly brief and ended with all of us giving him one final salute and bow to our teacher and dear friend. I thought of a song “I'll remember you” by Don Ho. I choked with emotion.

Jack Autry

Written by

Jack Autry lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the father of 5 children: Jack Jr., Dan, Tammi, Anthony and Angelo. Jack received his black belt from Ed Parker. He currently holds the rank of 8th degree black belt and has been a practitioner in Kenpo for over 45 years.


  1. Warren says:

    WOW!!! You have painted such a clear picture of this sad day and in such a wonderful way. I know you have more story’s to share with us Jack so don’t stop writing them…PLEASE!

  2. Jeff Dukes Sr says:

    The real amazing thing about what was said about our Father and mentor, hit home I hope for all Kenpo practitioners, that SGM Parker was also a missionary for Jesus Christ /God, and through whatever understandings and learning that they have done as far as life skills and tribulations that they go through, like myself, come to one point, the core of Kenpo and our understanding of Motion, that it all ends with God, as the center, of it all.  Now SGM Parker can really instruct all of you, in becoming better people and practitioners, because he is with God almighty. I miss you and pray for you and your family everyday of my life. 
    My Heart and soul goes out to all Kenpo Brother’s and Sister’s and there families and loved ones. We miss you Sir and will always love you for who you were and who you are to our lives, and our Childrens lives…….Oss

  3. Robert Shadpour says:

    Jack, I am not at all surprised about your skill of story telling, and only the true ones.  No one takes the place of a good teacher, master or a friend.  I work with you every day for the past almost 4 years and I learn everyday from you, not by your preachings alone, but by your actions that are aligned with your preachings.  I am truly proud to have a friend like you in my life.  I have no doubt that Mr. Parker, whereever he is now, is very proud of his once student, Jack Autry. When I was reading your writing about MR. ED PARKER, you were describing him as I have observed YOU to be like during this last 4 years we are together. May God bless you and the soul of Mr. Ed Parker. Robert Shadpour