A kenpo legend passed away yesterday at his home. Tom Kelly was Mr. Parker's right hand man for many years. He was on the American team that trounced the European team and those fights are seen in a video called The New Gladiators.
Mr. Kelly was called Sibok, a Chinese term for senior student. He was the senior. Mr. Kelly was Mr. Steve LaBounty's first black belt. He was Huk Planas's first kenpo teacher. He served as the Executive Vice-President of the IKKA and was the tournament coordinator for the Internationals.
Sibok is credited with creating the Kicking Set, now called Kicking Set One. He added the tradition of turning belt knots to the side. I'm told he created or influenced some of the other sets, too. It was he, along with Huk, that helped Mr. Parker create the first manuals for the 1970 curriculum that all others are based on today.
In the years after Mr. Parker passed he worked with many groups but had a strong association with Mr. Joe Palanzo and the WKKA. He could be found at their yearly gatherings in Baltimore. A few years ago I was asked to be there and had hours of private conversation with him.
I had an invitation out to him to be part of our upcoming event here in Austin, TX in October. I knew he'd been ill and had been kept informed of his condition through Mr. LaBounty and one of Mr. Kelly's students. He had called me a few weeks ago and I missed him. I was unable to reach him afterward and I regret that.
My condolences to his family, and those in our community who knew him.