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The King and Karate

By Rosa García Mora

“Humility, bravery, respect, loyalty and stoicism.” It was the motto of our Karate and Taekwondo classes, to which I have dedicated my entire life. As a martial arts practitioner, 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, courage and strict discipline that extend to your real life.

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

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


Elvis began practicing Karate in Germany in 1958, while he was serving in the military. There he met the master of the Shotokan modality, Juergen Seydel, who taught him his first Karate classes, in his house in Bad Nauheim.

In 1960, during an exhibition in Beverly Hills, he met the greatest representative of American Kenpo, Ed Parker, who would later be his coach, 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 December 16. September 1974, at Teacher Rhee’s school in Memphis.

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

Whenever Master Rhee spoke about Elvis he did so with great affection and admiration and told us funny anecdotes.

On one occasion during training and in full display of kicking techniques, Elvis’s pants tore. This used to happen frequently to him at concerts and in rehearsals (an example can be seen in the rehearsals of the documentary “That’s the Way It Is”) since his movements were really brutal. Whenever this happened to him, Elvis felt very embarrassed, so he said to Master Rhee: “Master, my pants are torn and I’m not wearing underwear… and now what do I do? But he immediately reacted and realized that he could not continue doing kicking techniques and, since Elvis never lacked ease and resources, he changed tactics and began to do a demonstration of self-defense, in which kicks are not used, and so he could 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, but also the spirit of Karate that was imprinted on him, and that was intimately linked to his person and his facet. as an artist.

And as it could not be otherwise, Karate was also the object of his generosity since he financed the Tennessee Karate Institute, and paid all the expenses of the European tour carried out by the United States Karate team.

Article written and provided by Rosa García Mora

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