Kempo karate?

Discussion in 'Kenpo / Kempo - Technical Discussion' started by Blade96, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    Just a question on something my Sensei said. Maybe you can tell me if he's right or wrong. I was gonna post this question on a few different MA forums to see different responses from different people.

    I was talking about the fact I trained in kempo for 2 months last year and i had a black gi. I named the kempo sensei and my shotokan sensei who knew of him and his family said "He's a fraud. Kempo is chinese. and karate is japanese. He calls his schools and advertises as "Kempo Karate" and thats just fraudulent and isnt even right."

    Is this true what Sensei says? I only did kempo for 2 months and really dont know a whole lot about it. But I did say that I felt and still feel that school had some characteristics of a McDojo.
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    There are lots of different systems that use the term Kenpo/kempo. Some of them are closely related and come from the same roots, others are completely unrelated but share the same name.

    Kenpo Karate is a term that has been used since at least the 1950s, I wouldn't be surprised if even earlier than that. Many of the people using this term came out of the Hawaiian kenpo of William Chow. People like Ed Parker, who brought the kenpo he learned from CHow to the Mainland in the 1950s, use the term Karate as a tag-along, because nobody at that time knew what kenpo was. It was simply an unfamiliar term. So he included a term that more people of the time were familiar with, to try and avoid confusion and people wouldn't walk into his school expecting it to be a Chinese Restaurant.

    The term has largely stuck, and continues to get a lot of usage.

    Is it a strange compilation as a term? Strictly speaking, yes it is and it's not exactly accurate. But it was not done deliberately to defraud or confuse anyone. It was actually done to give an uneducated public a perspective that they could relate to.
     
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  3. Senjojutsu

    Senjojutsu Blue Belt

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    Your Shotokan sensei should be aware the only one true axiom within the Asian Martial Arts world is that the Koreans invented everything! And from that one source culture that all styles & techniques where either taught by or had ideas stolen by the Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Okinawans, Vietnamese, Hawaiians… ooops I forgot Thailand and Cambodia.

    Note: The preceding paragraph was sarcasm.

    I remember back in the ‘70s one popular saying was KeNpo was Chinese sourced and KeMpo was a Japanese-sourced style, or was it the other way around?
    :uhyeah:

    Now I will cut your Sensei some slack - because - anyone in this niche world of ours – there are certain phrases or terms that do become personal “hot buttons” – sound of nails scratching on a chalkboard. For me “soke” is one example. Or anyone who prefixes their style name with Combat or even worse “Kombat” as in “Kombat Karate”.

    Now the mixing of different cultural names within Martial Arts can be a legitimate red flag to possible fraud. I mean would not terms such as “British Croissant” or “French Sauerkraut” – or using an obvious oxymoron – "Irish Gourmet Food" – make one wonder and ask questions?

    Of course to poke the ferret and maybe get you thrown out of your Shotokan school - you could ask your Sensei about his opinions on Shotokan’s Karate first decade or two of history on the mainland (1922>) and the relationship amongst Gichin Funakoshi, Hironori Ōtsuka (Wado-Ryu founder) and other notable peers back in his day.
     
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  4. Malleus

    Malleus Orange Belt

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    Hoi! The potato is a versatile dish y'know! You can even garnish it with smaller potatoes. Maybe cheese and ketchup too. If that isn't gourmet I don't know what is.

    On the topic of Kempo I have nothing to say unfortunately, but national pride had to be defended so you'll have to forgive the intrusion. Ye'll be slagging our Guinness or our Aran sweaters next if I don't put a stop to it. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
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  5. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    LOL! I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole! Especially cause my sensei's oneof those Shotokan-is-the-best type guys. Of course he would say that though being 7th dan in shotokan.

    I've a lot of love for my sensei - wouldn't wanna do anything that might poke the ferret as you call it.

    Now I don't mind poke him a little bit - we are friends - I actually called him a homer because he is such a newfoundland patriot that he think anyone newfoundland = equals good. (homer meaning anyone who roots for the home team or local team so much they're blinded to reality. Usually hockey fans use this term.) I teased him a bit about that but that was all in good fun.

    But as for what you said - Naw - wouldn't go there.

    He's also one of those my-ma-is-the-best type guys, as I said, and I avoid those kinds of topics, threads, posts, discussion, etc like the plague :uhyeah:


    :uhyeah: Haha, that's no problem. =]

    Just basically wanted to know if my sensei was right or if he's full of horseradish (which i know he is at times, he said there are no moves in kempo that there are in shotokan, I know for a fact thats not true, for example both have the roundhouse kick, both have an x block and both have a downwards block)

    But if i ever said that too him - well you ever hear this sound before? Of a student getting pummeled? :D
     
  6. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    By this rationale, I'm going to go to my local Chinese restaurant and declare the owner a fraud. They offer a dish called Chinese spaghetti, and since spaghetti is Italian that just can't be right.

    People adopt and adapt things all the time. It's no big deal.
     
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Marco Polo actually brought spaghetti from China back to Italy where it took on an Italian flavor. It really is a Chinese dish, originally.
     
  8. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    The word kenpo is a Japanese word.
    け (ke) ん (n) ぽ (po)

    Orthographically speaking, it is pronounced "kempo", as the Japanese ん (n) is pronounced like the English letter m before a hard consonant, and prounounced like the English n or ng otherwise. One of the most common examples is the word for newspaper (lit. 'daily'), shinbun.
    し (shi) ん (n) ぶ (bu) ん (n)

    This word is pronounced "shimbun". The first ん (n) is before a hard consonant, so it is pronounced like the English letter m. The second ん (n) is not before a hard consonant, so it is pronounced like the English letter n.

    In todays systems, some folks spell Kenpo with an N...most Kenpo systems that descended from Professor Chow originally did so. Others spell it with an M, and Professor Chow himself chose to do so, changing his spelling in the 1970s.

    Karate is also a Japanese word
    か (ka) ら (ra) て(te)

    The Chinese term for Kenpo is not "kenpo" or "kempo". It is "chu'an fa".

    Therefore, both kenpo/kempo and karate are both Japanese words. Nothing "fraudulent" or "not even right" about the words themselves, or using them together.
     
  9. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Yup. Spaghetti (long thin wheat noodles) really was invented in China. However, it was the Italians that first served it with the yummy tomato sauce.
     
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  10. CoryKS

    CoryKS Senior Master

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    Lies! Nationalistic Chinese lies! Next you'll be telling me that Crab Rangoon is American or something.
     
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  11. Manny

    Manny Senior Master

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    I remeber back in the 80's when got inside of a Korean Karate Dojang, in those days and earlier the people did not know a thing about Tae Kwon Do so the dojangs were advertising as Korean Karate!!!!

    Manny
     
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  12. karate-dragon

    karate-dragon Orange Belt

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    Still think that the bottom line is that whatever you call the style, it is only as good as the instructor is. But I always worry when an instructor thinks that their style, way, kick whatever is the ONLY way and that everyone else is suspect. Or an instructor who tries to control where else you go to spar or what tournaments you attend because others might be "stealing" your secrets. More likely they are afraid that they have no secrets to steal.
     
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  13. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    Consider this. What you call your style may have linguistic, historical, or traditional lineage implications, or it could simply be a marketing tool. For this reason, it may or may not have any implications on the validity of the style. Certainly calling the teacher a "fraud" based solely on the name would be uninformed at the least, and may not have a direct bearing on what is being taught. An instructor also could be quite legitimate teaching what was taught to him, name and all. Or, the teacher may know him on a personal level beyond the name of the style, and base his opinion on his teaching technically. You must also consider, many Japanese stylists are strict Japanese Traditionalists and find anything not Japanese related to their own style, a "fraud."

    My teacher, (Ed Parker) popularized the term "Kenpo-Karate" as he began to commercially sale a "version" of his art(s). Technically the term is a contradiction as My Sweetie Carol pointed out. "Kenpo" (or Chaunfa) stems from the Chinese, while "karate" (empty hand) is definitely a Japanese term, creating at best, an oxymoron. But, Mr. Parker found the American public had no knowledge of what "Kenpo" was, while having a workable idea of the word "Karate" after World War 2. While originally choosing to do otherwise, Mr. Parker found there were only two marketable words in the American understanding of the Martial Arts; "judo," and "karate." Much like many who taught Taiji, Kungfu, Hapkido, and Taekwondo, etc commercially, they were forced to use the word "karate" to sale their art to the American Public, while Aikido and Jiujitsu practitioners used "judo."
     
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  14. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    The only scary thing about your post is, you had to label the first paragraph as "sarcasm."

    Be afraid, be very afraid.
     
  15. J Ellis

    J Ellis Green Belt

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    Remember too that just as Kenpo is a Japanese term for a martial art from a Chinese source, the word Karate also once fit into the same category. Karate was originally China-hand, a reference to the Chinese origins of the Okinawan fighting method.

    Joel
     
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  16. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    Correct, and the Japanese simple decided to change the meaning to one that suited their nationalistic traditions. Thus you have a phrase, written the same way in two different languages, with different meanings, even though the root of the Japanese word is in Chinese. Great for history buffs, but lousy for training.
     
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  17. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    LOL. well that blows apart the testimony of the top post, your honor. :p

    so I concluded now, that my sensei isn't ENTIRELY made of bs. :p but not 100% right, either.
     
  18. Sigung86

    Sigung86 2nd Black Belt

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    Bwah Ha Ha Ha!!!!!... Wait! Um... This may not be all that funny! :uhyeah:
     
  19. DocWard

    DocWard Green Belt

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    I am sitting here having read the above, puzzling over whether it would be oxymoronic or redundant. On the one hand (no pun intended), We have "kenpo" often translated as "fist law" or "law of the fist." On the other, we have "karate" or "empty hand." So, it seems to me that a fist is typically an empty hand that is closed, but I picture an empty hand as one being held out, supine and cupped, ready to be filled.

    Sorry, my brain sometimes goes on very odd tangents at the end of a long day. I did appreciate your posts, at any rate.
     
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  20. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    I see your point sir. Consider the translation "kara-te" or "empty-hand" is directly derived from the Chinese. (the Japanese had no written language and their's is heavily "borrowed" from the Chinese). One of the prominent translation of Chaunfa, Chuanshu," (Madarin or Cantonese) is "China Hand, or Hands of China." The martial export translation outside of China is "Fist Law or Law of the Fist."

    The Japanese in nationalizing the art as well as being unwilling to give credit to the Chinese, simply changed the translation without changing the writing or kanji. In a sense by simply deciding to "pronounce and interpret" a word their way, they gave it a completely different meaning and origin to suit their own purposes creating a nationalistic and cultural contradiction. Some recognizing the distinction and in blending artistic and cultural concepts of the two felt that the term "Kenpo-Karate" was appropriate. One of these was my teacher's Chinese teacher, William Kwai Sun Chow, who also had studied the Japanese Arts under Henry Okazaki in Hawaii. Thus the term was passed to Ed Parker legitimately.

    However, upon coming to the mainland from Hawaii Mr. Parker discovered a rich Chinese Culture of the martial arts and almost immediately changed perspectives as he became a student of the Chinese Arts, and settling on "Chinese Kenpo" as his artistic term of choice. Later this was to become "American Kenpo" but this would have to wait as personal circumstances forced him to seize upon "Kenpo-Karate" as an art and term that best served his purpose to "sale" the art, while "American Kenpo" became an ongoing personal project unpublicized, although the brief exposure has many confusing the two. But Ed Parker's "Kenpo-Karate" by his own admission and desire is not the "American Kenpo," of Ed Parker's creation.
     
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