Thomas Connor’s History & Tree

Thomas Connor (1929-1989) Master Connor began martial arts training at the age of 7 years in the local Wing Chun and Hung Gar schools located in Newark, NJ and New York City. He studied continually until the age of 15 years at which time he enlisted in the U.S. Army by falsifying his age to fight in World War II. At the end of the war he returned to the United States to study linguistics. During this educational period, he honed his fighting skills and proceeded to win a series of Golden Gloves awards. Being a World War II veteran, a linguistics expert and having extensive knowledge of the fighting arts, Master Connor was the ideal candidate for intelligence work. From approximately 1950 to 1959, Master Connor worked for the U.S. Government as an operative in Central America and Mexico. As an agent for the U.S., Master Connor was able to broaden his martial arts training to include Jujitsu. In 1960, an exhausted Thomas Connor moved to Mexico with his young family to retire.  With time to meditate on life, Master Connor decided to return to the United States to begin teaching the martial arts. By 1965, Master Connor was running a very successful self-defense school and dance studio in San Jose, California. That same year, Master Connor formed a partnership (COPAR Kenpo) with Ed Parker and the two proceeded to open a series of Kenpo schools in San Jose, San Francisco, and Phoenix, Arizona. Within a short period of time, Master Connor’s extensive knowledge and skill earned him the title of master in Ed Parker’s original Kenpo system. It was during his time in California that Master Connor continued his involvement and training in Chinese Wushu or “Martial Arts”. Master Connor frequently visited Chinatown in San Francisco to meet and train with other Wushu practitioners. It was in Chinatown that master Connor learned how to use the two-headed chain and many other Chinese weapons. By the early 1970’s, the partnership between Master Connor and Master Parker had expanded to include the Tracy Brothers (TRACOPAR Kenpo).  Master Connor’s interests has also expanded to include bodybuilding (Master Connor won numerous bodybuilding including the Master’s Division Mr. America). However, by the late 1970’s the partnership has dissolved and Master Connor remained as owner of a great many Kenpo Schools (TRACO International) [Tom Connor II, Interview]. Tom Connor’s mastery of Chinese Martial Arts, boxing, Jujitsu, and professional bodybuilding were incorporated into what was to become a very strong, yet highly artful form of American Kenpo. This unique system would later be named “American Kenpo Karate Association” by Bill Packer, one of Master Connor’s original students.

Thomas Connor’s Black Belt Tree

Ron Baker Vicki Bowman Sharon Bozik Pat Cassidy
Robert Cockeran Thomas Connor II Tim Cooper Phillis Edamatsu
Dela Escobar Jonathan Fillmore Ray Fisher Cecil Ford
Robert Gibbins Phil Gilbert Paul Hansen Steve Hansen
Gaylann Harper Henry Harper Paul Harrington Henry Harvey
Peter Hill Shawn Haffman Jay Huff, Jr. Jay Huff, Sr.
Joe Kelly Mark Lawrence Rick Lister Gary McGhee
Enrique Nuñez Bill Packer Pete Rangel Mike Shelton
Steve Skelton J Staler Charles Stanley

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