Bring back some good or bad memories


February 2, 2024

Priscilla Presley Taking Karate Lessons, ca. 1970s

“I think [Elvis] was really proud of me; very few women were doing karate at that time. It’s funny, in Vegas he would embarrass me, I’d be in a beautiful gown and he would say, ‘Honey, do that cat stance [for everybody],’ and he wouldn’t even think of what goes along with it in a dress. But I found I was having a great time, it’s something I felt good at, it was something that he loved and I started getting into, and I actually loved it.” – Priscilla Presley

At Elvis’ request, Priscilla began training at Chuck Norris’ school. Chuck said of his student:

“While they were still married, Priscilla called me to say she wanted to study karate with me. We had been introduced by Ed Parker at a tournament. I asked her why she didn’t study with Ed, to which she replied, ‘Ed can’t teach me because he is Elvis’ private trainer as well as his personal bodyguard.’ So I agreed and taught her at my Sherman Oaks martial arts studio.

“Priscilla came to her private lesson wearing a gi (a martial arts training uniform). She worked hard, and I soon discovered she was serious about her training. We would start her lessons with stretching exercises to loosen and warm up the muscles. She was quick to learn some basic kicks. Priscilla had studied ballet, which gave her an edge over many students, because she was already limber and able to execute high kicks with ease. Within a month she was able to kick anywhere I directed with force and precision.

“When we started free-style sparring (a free exchange of blows, blocks and counterattacks until a cleanly executed assault to a vital point is made), I tried to put a boxer's head-guard on her. Although most students welcomed the face protection, Priscilla scorned it. I remember her responding as she rejected the offer to wear it, ‘I won’t have one of these on in the streets.’ Once she even insisted on going out in the alley behind the studio to work out with the high-heeled shoes, because she said that was what she usually wore.

“Priscilla has many of the qualities I value in a person. She is open and has a positive attitude toward life. She was a great reflection in yesteryear of what we see today – women training and competing with equal diligence and fortitude to men. From her training onward, I’ve expected top results from both my male and female students. In fact, in my World Combat League, women are among the fiercest competitors.”


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