Mr. Shawn Knight

6th Degree Black Belt & Co-Founder Of The American Institute of Kenpo

Shawn Knight (1973-Present) studied under the direction of Bill Packer for 15 years. With a background in wrestling, he found Kenpo to be exactly what he needed to balance his knowledge. From his very first lesson, he knew that Kenpo would become his primary focus. Mr. Knight began teaching at the age of 17 and found his life's passion therein.

Over the years, Mr. Knight has been involved in many schools. He "cut his teeth" in the Pueblo Colorado school - a five year period that he looks back on fondly. Devoted to his training; he would drive from Pueblo, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico every Friday to attend Mr. Packer’s Black Belt Class.

In addition to teaching across the country, Mr. Knight and Mr. Pilch host a yearly training camp where they bring in the top instructors from various disciplines to expand AIK’s knowledge base and share with the martial arts community. All AIK events are non-political and all are welcome who wish to learn and share.

Some of Mr. Knight's accolades include:

• Began Kenpo training 1990

• Certified Kenpo Instructor 1992

• Tested & Promoted to 1st Black Belt 1994

• Black Belt of the Year 1995 (AKKA)

• Tested & Promoted to 2nd Black Belt 1995

• Instructor of the Year 1996 (AKKA)

• Tested & Promoted to 3rd Black Belt 1997

• Worked for Arizona Department of Corrections 2000-2001

• Opened Broadway School September 2001

• Tested & Promoted to 4th Black Belt 2002

• Co-founded American Institute of Kenpo (AIK) 2005

• Inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall Of Fame 2006

• Promoted to 5th Black by AIK’s Black Belt Board 2007

• Certified Kickboxing Instructor for Pima Community College 2007

•Presented AIK Founder Belt by Sigung and AIK’s Master Council 2009

Accepted as a personal student of Sigung Stephen LaBounty 2010

• Tested & Promoted to 6th Black Belt by Sigung Stephen LaBounty 2015

Mr. Andrew Pilch

6th Degree Black Belt & Co-Founder Of The American Institute of Kenpo

Andrew Pilch (1977-Present) began studying martial arts at the age of nine in New Mexico. He changed styles several times until he became a student of Mike Winkeljohn – 7th Degree Kenpo Black Belt and former ISKA, IMTO and CHKA World Middleweight Kickboxing Champion. In 1993, Mr. Pilch broadened his studies beyond the traditional Kenpo to include kickboxing and grappling. In 1998, Mr. Pilch moved to Tucson to manage a school - which he later purchased.

Some of Mr. Pilch's accolades include:

• Began Kenpo Training 1986

• CertifiedKenpo Instructor 1993

• Tested & Promoted to 1st Black Belt 1995

• Instructor of the Year 1997 (AKKA)

• Tested & Promoted to 2nd Black Belt 1997

• MMA & Kickboxing Fighter

• Tested & Promoted to 3rd Black Belt 2000

Co-founded American Institute of Kenpo (AIK) 2005

• Promoted to 4th Black Beltby AIK’s Black Belt Board 2007

• Certified Kickboxing Instructor for Pima Community College 2007

• Inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2007

Presented AIK Founder Belt by Sigung and AIK’s Master Council 2009

• Head Kickboxing and MMA Coach for AIK

• Promoted to 5th Black Beltby AIK’s Black Belt Board 2011

Accepted as a personal student of Sigung Stephen LaBounty 2012

• Tested & Promoted to 6th Black Beltby Sigung Stephen LaBounty 2015


The American Institute of Kenpo has enlisted a Master Council to give us guidance and to set policy in times of divergence. Each member of AIK’s Master Council has many years of experience and they bring a wealth of knowledge, insight and real life know-how to assist AIK.

We thank each member for your continued service and the special place you have with The American Institute of Kenpo - Until the last day…

Sigung Stephen LaBounty

9th Degree Black Belt & Founder Of Stephen LaBounty’s American Kenpo

Sigung Stephen LaBounty sits at the head of AIK’s Kenpo Lineage and he is AIK’s Senior Instructor.

Arguably one of the most widely known Kenpoists, there are many in American Kenpo who say that Steve LaBounty is the true definition of the "Warrior Spirit." Having initially come to Ed Parker in 1966 with a background in Judo and having a Black Belt under Al & Jim Tracy (only their third), Mr. LaBounty went on to distinguish himself in the Martial Arts, carrying Mr. Parker's banner wherever he went.

Both a National and International fighting champion, he is widely sought after on the seminar circuit where he is legendary for his "fighting drills”. Mr. LaBounty has spent many years in police work and is active as a Law Enforcement Consultant and trainer. Having reached a level of excellence in the "Yang" side of the martial arts, he spent years pursuing an education related to the opposing "Yin" side, and today, as a practicing Acupressurist and Herbalist, teaches seminars in bodywork to martial artists.

At times outspoken, he is always willing to support events and causes he feels will bring the brotherhood closer. A friend to many in the Kenpo community he is often sought after for his wisdom and experience and was one of the founding members of the American Kenpo Senior Council.

AIK is honored to stand in (and be a proud echo of) the lineage of Sigung Stephen LaBounty! We are grateful for his continued instruction, guidance and council - Until the last day…


Mr. Lee Wedlake

9th Degree Black Belt Master of the Arts

Lee Wedlake started studying Judo in 1967 at the Shindo Kan school in Chicago, IL., run by Blaise Joseph Zorich,where he achieved the rank of Brown belt. In November, 1972 he initiated study of Chinese Kenpo at a school in Evergreen Park, IL. He left that school as a Brown belt and was later promoted to first degree Black belt on June 2, 1975 by Michael John Sanders, a Kenpo 5th Dan, of Sterling, IL., wholater promoted him to 2nd Degree Black in 1978. After Sander’s death in July 1979, Mr. Wedlake began studying with “The Father of American Karate,” Edmund K. Parker, at Pasadena, CA. starting in November, 1979. He was trained by both Parker and Frank Trejo for two years and promoted to third degree in 1981. He was introduced to Richard “Huk” Planas at the 1982 International Karate Championships and studied concurrently with Planas and Parker. Parker, Trejo, Planas and Joe Palanzo promoted him to fifth degree in September 1986 . Ed Parker promoted him tosixth degree on November 19, 1990, approximately one month before Parker’s passing.Trejo andPlanas promoted him to 7th degree on June 27, 1993. In October 1998 during the annual Kenpo Camp in Ft. Myers, Huk promoted him to 8th degree. He and Planas parted ways in 2002. In October 2006 he assumed the rank of 9th with the approval of Kenpo seniors and peers.

Lee has written and published eight books on Kenpo. They areKenpo Karate 101, Further Insights into Kenpo, Kenpo Karate 201, Kenpo Karate 301, Kenpo Karate 401, Kenpo Karate 501, Kenpo Karate 601and his work on Ed Parker entitledLessons with Ed Parker.In early 2015 his next book,The Kenpo Karate Compendium, is expected to be released by Blue Snake Books.In addition he has had numerous articles published in several martial arts magazines including theJournal of Asian Martial Arts,as well as theMensa Bulletinand aviation magazines. He has a DVD series and you can find hisonline learning site

Mr. Wedlakeserved as Ed Parker’s representative in the Midwest for 11 yearsand was on the board examiners of the International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA). He was the US representative for Jeff Speakman’s AKKS, on the board of the Worldwide Kenpo Karate Association (WKKA), was the Illinois State Representative for the American Karate Association (AKA)and is on the board of directors of the World Registry of Black Belts, Organizations and Federations (WRBBOF). The Chinese Karate Federation was co-founded by himself and Sean Kelley in the 1990’s while he lived in Florida. Today Lee serves as the senior instructor of the Progressive Kenpo Systems group, founded in the late 1990s,with schools across the globe. He was recognized as aShihan“Chief Grandmaster Instructor” by Shidokan International’s 10th degree, Richie Bernard,in January 2009. In addition, he holds instructor certification in Russian Systema under Vladimir Vasiliev and has taught Yang tai chi since the early 1990's.

Mr. Wedlake is a 9th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo and is a tremendous asset to the American Institute of Kenpo. We are honored that he has accepted the position on our Masters Council and we are thrilled to have him be a part of the AIK Family!

Mr. Mike Winkeljohn

7th Degree Black Belt & Founder Of Wink’s Gym & Partner at Jackson’s MMA

Mr. Mike Winkeljohn is a two time world kickboxing and muay thai champion. He has a long and decorated fight career and now trains some of the most well known fighters in the world at Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts.

Mr. Winkeljohn holds a 7th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo but he is above all, a great teacher and coach.

Mr. Winkeljohn serves the American Institute of Kenpo as a Masters Council Member. He offers his guidance, council and his advanced insights to bridge the gap between Kenpo and full contact fighting.

The American Institute of Kenpo is grateful to Mr. Wikeljohn not only for the inspirational example that he sets, but also for all of the hard lessons and unforgettable memories.

Mrs. Rebecca Knight

Knight, Rebecca copy

6th Degree Black Belt & AIK’s Director of Operations

Often Mrs. Rebecca Knight lives somewhat in the shadow of her husband. However, Shawn Knight (her husband) says,

“Rebecca stands right beside me in all aspects of our lives together and I find myself within the confines of her shadow almost daily. There are no words that could adequately express my gratitude for the person that has influenced me beyond the scope of all others in my life”.

Managing the studio, Mrs. Knight serves as the Director of Operations forthe American Institute of Kenpo; she tirelessly serves AIK and her students alike. Although her demeanor is quiet and at just over five feet tall she is no imposing figure, you will find her to be a giant inthe art of Kenpo.

Mrs. Knight is also featured in an organization that spotlights the accpmplishment of the Women of Kenpo.


Lee A. W. Sprague(1960-2014) was the consummate warrior; his technical abilities, tactics and combat mindset were unmatched in his field. What stands far above however, was Mr. Sprague’s unique ability to draw the very best out of his students. He had a way of leaving his presence with you long after the lesson was over. He became the little angel (or devil – depending on circumstance) sitting on your shoulder that provides you unmistakably correct advice, that is often so difficult to follow.

Mr. Sprague’s teachings have made all the difference and saved the lives of his students in countless moments of crisis (physical and otherwise). It is atremendoushonor and privilege that the American Institute of Kenpo had Lee Sprague as a founding member of AIK's Master Council. His guidance, teachings and Warrior Spirit will be echoed by AIK until the last day.

Bill Packer(1946-2005) was one of Grandmaster Connor's most notable students. In 1972 he founded the American Kenpo Karate Academies, Ltd., which further spread the influence of Kenpo to the American public. Master Packer was the consummate teacher, trainer and mentor. Some of his accomplishments include: 136 World Rated Fighters, 20 World Titles, 9 North American Titles, 10 U.S. Titles, Premier Inductee of International Instructors Hall of Fame, and 1982-International Kickboxing Trainer of the Year.

“Mr. Packer was a tremendous teacher, leader and friend; he will be missed by those who knew him and trained under his tutelage. We appreciate all the time we were able to spend with him (on and off the mat). We thank him for all that he has taught and given us. Mr. Packer will be honored by AIK and ALL of our associates until the last day…”- Shawn Knight & Andrew Pilch

Tomas Connor(1929-1989) was one of Ed Parker's first-generation students. Tomas Connor and Ed Parker founded the Chinese Martial Arts Association. Master Connor later formed one of the largest karate organizations in the world, Traco International. He continued to be a major influence in the development of Kenpo and school management systems worldwide.

Ed Parker Sr.(1931-1990) was a direct student of William K. S. Chow. Many martial arts professionals credit Ed Parker with almost single-handedly preparing America for the martial arts. Virtually all American Kenpoists today trace their training back to Ed Parker. A Black Belt Magazine Man of the Year and frequent cover story subject (including its premier issue), Ed Parker is regarded by many in the martial arts world as not simply the undisputed "father of American Kenpo," but as the "father of American Karate" as well. He is the Senior Grandmaster of American Kenpo.

William K. S. Chow(1914-1987) is the man who was most responsible for laying the foundation of an American version of Kenpo. As a Chinese-Hawaiian, his background gave him connections to both the oriental and American points of view. Chow studied under both his Chinese father and James Mitose. From his father, he learned the circular movements characteristic of the Chinese styles. From Mitose, he learned the linear movements and takedown techniques.

James Mitose(1915-1981) was born in Hawaii but had learned Kenpo while living with relatives in Japan during 1920-1935. James Mitose claimed his lineage to be (Bodhidharma—Zen Master Rinzai–Choki Motobu–James Mitose) in his bookWhat is Self-Defense?An American citizen of Japanese ancestry, Mitose had respect for his Japanese heritage, but his loyalties were to the United States. At the start of World War II, he enlisted in the Hawaii Territorial Guard. Because of gratitude for his fellow guard members' lack of prejudice toward him, he founded what he called the Official Self-Defense Club for guard members and associates. This was the first formal, open introduction of Kenpo in the U.S. From the beginning, Mitose emphasized the self-defense aspects of Kenpo, stressing that it was not equivalent to violence. He also downplayed the sport aspect of Kenpo. Although similar in movement to boxing, Kenpo's philosophy was geared toward self-preservation. In Japanese, the word Kenpo means "fist law," which distinguishes it from the Japanese word for boxing, ken-to, which means "fist fight."


Ming Dynasty(1368-1644 A.D.) and Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.) were the “Golden Periods” in Chinese and Okinawan martial arts. In fact many systems taught today were born and expanded on during these periods.

Chueh Yuan(Yuan Dynasty 1260-1368 A. D.) increased Tamo’s original 18 hand movements to 72 and great effort was made to popularize his version. He then collaborated with Li Ch’eng and Pai Yu-feng to further expand the 72 movements to 170.

Yuen Fei(Sung Dynasty 960-1279 A.D.) developed a series of movements on surface development through the utilization of body tension and detailed his set of 12 lessons in his bookPatuanchin.

Tamo(527 A.D.) was the 28th East Indian patriarch of the Buddhist faith. He was also known as Bodhidharma. He created the 18 hand movements (then called Go-sinjutsu) that became the forerunner of Shaolin Boxing. Tamo taught in the Shaolin Temple, which is generally considered the foundation of the martial arts.

Hua T’o(190-265 A.D.) was a brilliant surgeon who created exercises (forms) for defense and health based on mimicking animal postures.

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