John McSweeney has trained with some of the best in the field of martial arts. His most famous teacher was the late Grandmaster Edmund Parker, who brought the art of Chinese Kenpo to the United States. Parker has a rich heritage passed down from William Chou. Parker was not only a master practitioner of the arts but he also had a vast wealth of knowledge in Chinese history and traditions which made him one of the most sought after instructors in America. Among the first to learn from Parker was Master John McSweeney. John, being a well-educated man, and a physical strong and capable man, was quick to drink up Parker's knowledge and skills. John McSweeney was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father was an attorney and his mother was a school teacher. John was raised in the a tough city neighborhood, and fought for his survival. He always had an interest in the pugilistic arts, having taken lessons from his father. When he grew older, he joined armed forces boxing teams. He excelled in his boxing career and won many of his encounters. This is what lead him to further his training with the study of Judo and Jujitsu, although by 1959 he had given up Judo, finding it to be too much of a "sport". His instructor in Jujitsu was Gene Combs, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army and head of the Jujitsu team. Gene was a back belt in the Aichido Jujitsu style. He was a tough man, and fully capable of handling anyone with his Jujitsu knowledge.
Gene took a liking to John's skills and his determination to learn and master his art. He taught John long and hard until he finally realized he had shown him all he could. However, John was still eager to learn more, so Gene recommended that he next study a hard hitting art, such as Kenpo, to enhance his knowledge. Gene felt John's hitting power would be ideal for such an art, since that was what John did best. He recommended Ed Parker, whose reputation as a fighter was well known by martial artists. Master McSweeney sought out Ed Parker, who was easy to find, since he was the only one teaching this art in Los Angeles. John introduced himself to Parker. Parker took an immediate liking to McSweeney. He saw in John the quality of man he was looking for to pass his art . John McSweeney recalls during his interview with Ed Parker how Parker kept walking around saying, "John McSweeney, I know that name from somewhere". Parker felt there was some kind of link between them he could not put his finger on. But, he knew he liked John and therefore took him under his wing to study his Kenpo style, and the birth of a new Kenpo Master had begun. Master McSweeney always had a deep respect for all his teachers. There were no ritualistic ceremonies between John and his teacher. Parker, with all his knowledge and skills, was a man's man. He was easy to talk to and it was easy to understand his views on the art. Between the two men was a simple bow for respect, and the rest was man to man instruction. Master McSweeney saw in Parker something he wanted for himself, the knowledge of Kenpo that Parker possessed. He felt Parker looked, acted and proved his ability more than once.
" He was promoted to Shodan by Ed Parker in September, 1962 after having received the unanimous approval of the entire Kenpo Yuudansha which included Grandmaster James Mitose and Grandmaster, William, Professor, K. S. Chow, among others. And he was issued the first IKKA (International Kenpo Karate Association) certificate and given the first rank of Shodan in the IKKA."
Will Tracy, January 1997