Born in Hawaii, Parker began training in judo at an early age and later studied boxing. During the 1940s, Parker was introduced to Kenpo by Frank Chow, who then introduced Parker to William Chow, a student of James Mitose. Parker trained with William Chow while serving in the Coast Guard and attending Brigham Young University, and in 1953 he was promoted to the rank of black belt. Parker, seeing that modern times posed new situations that were not addressed in Kenpo, adapted the art to make it more easily applicable to the streets of America. He developed and founded his own system calling it American Kenpo and is considered the Father of American Kenpo. One of his students was Elvis Presley.