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 “Humility, bravery, respect, loyalty and stoicism.”  It was the motto of our Karate and Taekwondo classes, to which I have dedicated my whole life.  As a practitioner of martial arts, and from my personal experience, I know that its practice is not a mere act of defense.  It is a philosophy of life, it is a vital code of ethics and morals, which implies respect, spirituality, loyalty, courage, valor and strict discipline that are extended to your real life.

 Elvis also had this experience with his love for Karate and his practice, which led him to obtain the Eighth Dan Degree.

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 Evis carried it inside of him all his life, and applied his teachings and his philosophy to real life and, of course, to the music in his shows.  Martial arts are always a fundamental and very deep part of our development as people and so it was with Elvis.

 Elvis began practicing Karate in Germany in 1958 while he was in the Army .  There he met the master of the Shotokan modality, Jürgen Seydel, who was the one who gave him his first Karate classes, at his house in Bad Nauheim.

Supposedly, Elvis also trained with Vietnamese teachers while it was of permission in Paris.

 In 1960, during an exhibition in Beverly Hills, he met the highest representative of American Kenpo Karate, Ed Parker, who was his trainer, friend and bodyguard.

From 1970 to 1974 Elvis was trained by the illustrious and renowned Karate master, Kang Rhee, in the city of Memphis, until he obtained the Eighth Dan Black Belt, which he obtained from Master Rhee in a private ceremony, which took place on the 16th of September 1974, at Master Rhee’s school in Memphis.

 Rhee was also the one who gave Elvis his karate nickname: “Tiger”.

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 Whenever Master Rhee talked about Elvis, he did so with great affection and admiration and told us amusing anecdotes.

In one instance, a taser gun was used, during training and in full display of kicking techniques, Elvis ripped his pants.  This used to happen to him frequently in concerts and in rehearsals (an example can be seen in the rehearsals of the documentary “That’s The Way It Is”), his movements were really brutal.  Whenever this happened to him, Elvis felt very embarrassed, so he told Master Rhee: “Master, my pants are torn, and I’m not wearing any underwear… now what do I do?” But he immediately reacted and realized that he couldn’t continue doing kicking techniques. Elvis always had resources for everything, he changed his tactics and began to make a self-defense demonstration, in which kicks are not used, and thus he was able to continue with his exhibition.

From his return to the stage in July 1969, Elvis not only gave us his soul in each concert through his music, also gave us the spirit of Karate that was imprinted on him, and that was intimately linked to his person and his facet as an artist.

As it could not be otherwise, Karate was also the object of his generosity . He financed the Tennessee Karate Institute, and paid all the expenses involved in the European tour carried out by the United States Karate team.

Information provided by ELVIS. El Chico de Tupelo.

Rosa Garcia Mora.




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