Chief Instructor

Mr Mark Schiffman


Mr. Mark Schiffman started his martial arts training, like so many of us, with Judo at the local “Y” in 1972. After finding that Judo did not meet the need for self-defense, he moved on to join a local “American Karate Studios”, and attained the rank of Black Belt in 1983, from Mr. Dennis Nackord. Mr. Schiffman first met Mr. Ed Parker at a tournament in York, Pennsylvania, where Mr. Parker was a guest. After driving for 3 hours in the snow and arriving late, the tournament director said; “you are too late to enter”, Mr. Parker countermanded that order with a final; “let them in”. Coincidentally, this was the first time that Mr. Schiffman won first place in competition, he was a purple belt.

Mr. Schiffman opened his studio, AMERICAN KARATE SYSTEM in 1987. After opening his studio, he was again in the market for an instructor, the IKKA recommended Joe Palanzo. In 1990, just six weeks before he died, Mr. Parker promoted Mr. Schiffman to 4th Degree Black Belt at the last East Coast training camp. Mr. Schiffman is careful to point out that he was not a student of Mr. Parker, but trained with him. He never formally asked to be his student. “I don't want to be like some other people that go to a few seminars or a few camps, and then announce to the world that they were a personal student of Ed Parker”. Mr. Schiffman met Mr. Sean Kelley in 1989 in New York, where Mr. Schiffman drove with Mr. Parker for a meeting with Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels. Through Mr. Kelly, Mr. Schiffman has met and trained with; Mr. Lee Wedlake, Master Knife Maker Mr. Gil Hibben, and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. It was at Mr. Parker's funeral in 1990 that
Mr. Schiffman and Mr. Kelley met Mr. Jeff Speakman, star of the movie THE PERFECT WEAPON. The first movie to showcase Ed Parker's American Kenpo.

When Mr. Parker died and the meeting was held to decide to form the WKKA, Mr. Schiffman met Mr. Huk Planas. At lunch, not even 3 hours after they met, they got into a philosophical discussion about the “how's and why's” of Kenpo. “Mr. Parker often spoke about ‘my boy Huk'. Finally meeting him was quite an honor”. In 1994, Mr. Schiffman was tested and promoted to 5th Degree Black Belt in front of a board that consisted of; Huk Planas, Joe Palanzo, Frank Trejo, Greg Silva, Dennis Nackord and Joe Bridenstein. After leaving the WKKA, Mr. Schiffman became a formal student of Mr. Huk Planas, and has been training with him ever since. He is the last word on how to do Kenpo, I wish I had met him 20 years ago.”

Mr. Schiffman has also trained with undefeated World Champion Joe Lewis, Mike Stone, former Elvis Presley bodyguards and Kenpo Black Belts Mr. David Hebbler and Elvis's step brother Mr. David Stanley. Mr. Schiffman is still an active student and competitor. He has competed all over the United States and Canada, and won his first national tittle in 1979 as a Green Belt. In 1994, he won the National Black Belt League National Championships in Self-Defense. In 1999, after extensive boxing training with Mr. Frank Trejo, he won a full contact boxing match against an opponent 15 years younger and 35 pounds heavier. "It was a great experience,", Mr. Schiffman says of the intense training and the fight itself, "but not one that I am eager to repeat!". His most recent victories include, in 2001; 1st Place in the "Black Belt Battle" in King of Prussia, in 2003; 1st Place in the 1st annual "Kenpo Clash", and in 2004, 1st Places in Executive Black Belt Forms, and Fighting at the 2nd annual "Kenpo Clash" held in Southamton, PA.

Mr. Schiffman has also trained with local police, and the US Marshals. He has done speaking engagements, and demonstrations for Women's groups, the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Birthday Parties, Public and Private Schools, Gun Shows, Thanks Giving Parades, 4th of July Parade, Flyers Hockey games,  Sixers Basketball games, The Charge Women's Soccer game (where he met "Gervis, from the first Survivor TV show!), and Movie Theaters.

In November of 2006, Mr. Schiffman moved to New Jersey where he is now teaching full time. See the website for details.
When not teaching, Mr. Schiffman attends as many training camps and Seminars as His time allows. Personal Quote: ‘Live each day as if it were your last, it might be, and you will have a greater appreciation of all that is around you”. .Teaching Philosophy: "Lead by Example, and be Accountable for Your Actions".

Mr. Schiffman may be contacted at (856) 324-0431 or on the net