Is American Kenpo Fake?

Discussion in 'Kenpo / Kempo - General' started by JKDJade, Nov 1, 2020.

  1. JKDJade

    JKDJade Yellow Belt

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    Wait up y'all...before you guys start bashing. Let's talk about this and ponder.

    I've studied Kenpo, both Parker and Tracy...long enough to go from wow, look at my cool black gi and patches, man I'm the next American Ninja...then to went to...him this is cool, these moves are so deadly, I can't use it all in a tournament and my sensi is a bad ***, so bad *** he can take on multiple people in a bar fight will texting...then went, well, these moves are ok, but will they really work? Then went to question them and restudy them....pressure test and reapply...then went...hmmm, well they don't all work, but I still look cool in my black GI and my strikes are fast now, maybe I didn't waste all my time and money.

    Then went, f#$% these katas and...let me just box, kick and grapple...then went...let me reexamine Kenpo, then went, yea maybe I'll try some Kung Fu (southern fist) hey this is cool...let me try black tiger kung fu...hey this cool...wait a minute..wasnt't my kenpo supposed to be Kung Fu...or quanfa...neither of these looked like my Kenpo...then went, wait minute, what was the whole point of my kenpo journey? Then went, will I entered not being able to move or strike... hmm I can do that now.. and pretty decent. Bullshido or not, maybe it wasn't so bad.


    My point is we have an art that is based on some dude named Mitose, who has a shady background, and other named Chow, whose background seems a little more solid, but has lots of gaps...then you add in Parker, who let's face it was more business man than martial artist, who put together a curriculum that is supposedly a mix of Japanese and Chinese systems...but is it? I mean, yes a block is a block, a punch a punch, and kick a kick, but is American Kenpo really based off Japanese and Chinese systems, perhaps, but to what degree?

    If we took out the Japanese techniques out of American Kenpo, how much would be left? And from what is left, how much is truly quanfa, and how much is parker bullshido?

    Similarly, if we took out the quanfa/kung fu out of American Kenpo, what would remain? And from what is left, how much is OK Karate, and how much is Parker Bullshido.

    I don't know gents, take basic strikes, stances, and holds, and blocks out of the system, and you have 200 and something techniques. Some are decent, other very questionable.

    Anyways, what are peoples thoughts on this? And yes, before someone says, aren't all MA fake? I mean, at some point, some dude said hey, look at that tiger...now check this out, this is called a tiger claw and hit his buddy ..of course after recovering from the tiger claw strike, his friend watched a snake kill a rat...and a few days alter retaliated with a snake finger strike to his freind's throat..and bam kung fu was born haha.


    BTW I am convinced if Parker was creating kenpo, say not 1960-1980, but let's say 2000's, we would all be on this forum calling it Bullshido. Especially since Parker would not look good in MMA shorts...I don't think anyone would have even taken the dude seriously, and we certainly would not be taking his friend/former friend in his checkered GI seriously either,..btw has anyone actually seen Al Tracy's son in his Florida dojo... if that guy couldnt turn his son into a proper fighter/martial artist...why would anyone trust his style.

    CHANGE MY MIND.
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I’m not here to change your mind. Your mind is made up. And that’s fine.

    Some people find it very useful and valuable. Others do not. As is true with most things in life.

    I’m an ex-Tracy Kenpo guy and I recognize the issues you raise (some, anyways, while others don’t strike me as relevant). In the end I went in a different direction and left Kenpo. But that’s me. Others feel differently.

    Your mileage may vary.
     
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  3. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    Parker's system was definitely karate (with a Polynesian flavor) with a lot of speedy, close-in techniques. In some ways it resembled original Okinawan style in this respect, along with stress on leg checks/attacks and simultaneous defense and offense. At the time, (1970's) this was innovative in karate as it was then practiced in Japan and the West. (This gap has closed over the last decade or two as the original Okinawan style has been "rediscovered.")

    His kenpo was very systemized/organized (which aided his business model) and taught many solid concepts in biomechanics and tactics. While the validity of Parker's lineage has long been suspect, and he was definitely a business oriented promoter, he was a physical force to be reckoned with. His personal technique was not pretty, but I have been struck by him several times and I can attest to his surprising speed and power. His early students were successful competitors and excellent technicians.

    There were a number of people who did not care for his personality / ego (which I fully understand) but to call the style fake or bullshido is, I think, inaccurate. *Note - my kenpo experience is from the 70's and it may be that more recent instructors have degraded the system - I cannot speak to that. I can speak to the fact that his patch was very cool and he would not, indeed, look good in MMA shorts.
     
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  4. JKDJade

    JKDJade Yellow Belt

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    Great points...I have some sort of respect for the man. He did create a good business model. He codify a system that outlasted his own time on earth. His style has created some good fighters and good martial artists over the years. My issue is two fold:
    1. The origins of his art. When I read, "Mr Parker studied Kung Fu and added the circular motion of kung fu into his art ". Really, what style of Kung Fu, what linage, which master? Anyways you get the point.
    2. In today's society we are quick to judge and an opportunist like Parker, would have never been able to create a system, as we would have laughed him. Maybe the joke is on us, maybe its not :)

    Although today we have our fair share of Parkers ie, Youtube Martial Art masters..insert names here (Karate Nerd...Sensei Seth...Jake Mace... Freddie Lee....)
     
  5. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Let's go back in time to when it was first "created".

    Parker spent a LOT of time on basics and getting those down and making them functional. Then you started to learn all of the techniques. He created a business model to attract students and most jumped right into the techniques without the basics to make them functional.

    Now, lets use another example to show why it isn't "fake" or "bullshido". BJJ has been shown to be effective by a lot of people. BUT, lets say that the new Machado model that he uses to train "Hollywood" people that really limits the hard training so they don't get boo-boos and that becomes super widespread and everyone starts to train in that method. No takedowns so you don't have to learn to fall, everything starts from the knees and no experience in dealing with strikes and more serious techniques are removed to prevent injury.

    Would you look to BJJ's roots and its effectiveness or look to the "new version" of it and say that it is "fake"?

    Same thing with a lot of martial arts. They were created by people who knew how to fight and apply their art, then as it became more popular it became watered down to market it and make money. If you look at a kenpo "offshoot" like Kajukenbo, those guys are still known for their fighting because they have kept it small and the quality high.
     
  6. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    James Woo (not James Wing Woo of Shuai jiau, he is a different fellow) and Ark Yuey Wong, both in Los Angeles. In Ark Wong’s school is where Mr. Parker met Danny Inosanto.

    Information about both fellows can be readily found on the internet, and both were well known in the Chinese martial arts community.
     
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  7. JKDJade

    JKDJade Yellow Belt

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    Good points and agree with you on Kajukenbo.
     
  8. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    I have no experience with kenpo, however, it never interested me as I've heard that it's specifically designed to evolve on an individual basis... and, as a result, no two kenpo schools are alike. I suppose that doesn't matter to some people, and it does to others.
     
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  9. KenpoMaster805

    KenpoMaster805 Black Belt

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    Kenpo aint fake its very usefull remeber kenpo karate is an updated system based on modern day street fighting it apply logic and practically its also a thinking art
     
  10. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    Look man, no disrespect to you or Kenpo... but I gotta throw the BS flag whenever I hear this type of claim.

    What could possibly happen to you now, that couldn't have happened to you in the days of Gichin Funakoshi and Kano Jigoro?

    Cutting and stabbing weapons, melee weapons, and guns existed back then too. Take out the guns, and every possible armed and unarmed scenario you could think of were experienced by homo erectus.

    "Modern-day street fighting?" As opposed to what?

    That phrase seems to be made up - as a marketing ploy to generate demand.
     
  11. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    What's funny is that, if a local martial arts school that try to sell surviving "modern-day street fighting" had a commercial on TV... I think I could picture exactly how it would look:

    It would start with a clip from a Bruce Lee movie taking place in China while it was occupied by Japan, and then you hear the caption "This may have worked back then, but today... you're going to need THIS!"

    Then it cuts to the scene where someone practicing the art taught by that dojo is beating up a group of thugs in 2020.

    To most people, this ad would be convincing. To the critical thinker, the only difference between the two scenarios is that the guys in 2020 are wearing jeans and Nikes and there's bunch of graffiti all over the buildings in the background.
     
  12. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    The difference is this - Back in the old days, martial arts was not generally taught to thugs and other commoners, so few had any formal fighting instruction. Additionally, there were no movies, YouTube, or TV, so even this informal instruction was not available. Nowadays, more of those one might have to fight have access to seeing and learning fighting techniques and have the ability to practice them at a school or home or gang crib. Therefore, a higher percentage of potential attackers have martial training and ability than in the past. Kenpo is a quick, efficient style that has the capability of handling this situation, as do several other styles. Of course, as often previously discussed, the individual's skill and fighting spirit are paramount.
     
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  13. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    LOL, you can't be serious. If your argument is "they didn't see it on TV back then," or "your common street thug is a martial artist now," then you really need to do some deep thinking on who you think the idiot is.

    Not only are your claims false, but they would be meaningless even if they were true.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
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  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Martial arts has a big history of being taught to thugs and commoners.
     
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  16. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    Yep, for western boxing... if you look up the history of any fighter from Mike Tyson's generation or earlier (and we're talking going over a century back)... odds are, they've had some run-ins with the law.

    Hell, some have even had run-ins with the law after their career was over - such as Peter McNeeley and Hector Camacho.
     
  17. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    Another thing I'd like to add... even if it was true that the common thug had a martial arts background (a statement that is completely wrong, and laughably so) who are you doing kumite/sparring with at the dojo? Now if your head sensei is paying homeless guys to come in and spar with you, I could see this argument having some merit. Otherwise, all martial artists are trained to fight other martial artists.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2020
  18. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Wait..you're saying you don't have random homeless people come into your dojo to spar with you? Let me guess, you guys aren't even using dirty/bloody knives when you spar as well?
     
  19. Rusty B

    Rusty B Blue Belt

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    You mean I'm being ripped off? Dammit, I hate it when that happens!
     
  20. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    This has been a discussion before on what being "trained" means. Many career criminals practice and train techniques that have worked for them even though they have no "formal training" of going to a school. There are various videos online showing inmates in prison gathering and practicing various techniques of coming off a wall during a patdown search or various disarming techniques. There is also the practice of "slap fighting" used by many to practice their hand techniques that is a form of sparring.

    But, as to the "updated" streetfighting for "todays methods". Again, I view it as a marketing fad. About the only difference would be that the original karate was designed as a "civilian self-defense" model and did not take into account professional soldiers using it (sorry to bust the myth on using karate on the ancient battlefield) or agreed upon ego conflicts. It was designed for someone to put a big hurt on someone and injure them or maim them to get away since there was no real "law" when they would be traveling in between villages.

    If you are going to "update" your self defense model, it should be reflected in things like de-escalation techniques and postures, understanding verbal set ups by criminals, utilizing less lethal methods than eye-gouges etc.123
     
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