Once again, it's that time of year in Memphis and that means it's nearing August 16th, the date Elvis Presley passed away back in 1977. Thousands of fans gather in Memphis Tennessee each year to celebrate the life of their hero and music ICON! Elvis was, to many folks, the King of Rock & Roll although he himself did not particular like that title. Elvis is still one of the most popular entertainers in the world even 35 years after his untimely death at his home(Graceland) which is the second most visited home in the USA next to the White House. I am a HUGE Elvis fan myself and could go on and on about Elvis and his talent. However, I will do more about him and his legacy on this blog at a later date.
Today I want to mention something that many people don't know about Elvis, that is he was a Karate Master! Yes, I said Master. He studied karate with a Korean instructer in Memhpis, Master Kang Rhee and with Ed Parker while he was in Hollywood. Ed Parker was the founder of American Kenpo karate.
Elvis was a natural at karate and began his study in the army back in 1960. Elvis was good friends with many of the karate greats including Bill Wallace. I was told by a reliable source that Elvis and Bruce Lee did meet, I have often wondered if they had a chance to train together. Elvis was awarded a 7th degree black belt in Korean Karate by Master Rhee in 1973 and was awarded an 8th degree black belt in American Kenpo karate by Ed Parker.
Elvis was working on a film project called "The New Gladiators" in the last few years of his life that was centered around martial arts. He was very passionate about the martial arts and wanted to help make it more popular in the USA.
You may remember alot of Elvis's jump suits kind of looked like karate uniforms or Gi's as we call them. He used many karate style moves in his onstage performances and in many of his films.
One last thing, Elvis recieved his first black belt in 1960 under a fellow named Hank Slamanski, this is a great story, one worth reading for any Elvis or martial arts fan.
So here's to Elivs, not only a pioneer in Rock & Roll Music, also a true pioneer in the Martial Arts world too...