Discussion in 'Kenpo - (EPAK) Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate S' started by Bob Hubbard, Jan 15, 2006.
I'm curious about that attribution of 'motion kenpo' in this article.
I understand that Mr. Chapel often refers to the study of Kenpo outside his own with this term. But giving Mr. Chapel's language premier treatment in this description of Ed Parker's American Kenpo seems ambitious.
Do any other practitioners of 'Ed Parker's American Kenpo' refer to what they teach as 'motion kenpo'?
It had never been heard of before Doc started referring to it as "Motion" or "Commercial" (which I personally still consider somewhat demeaning, as it is not nomenclature that any group of Kenpo practitioners have taken for themselves, but a label he invented to contrast SL-4). Since that is the case, I edited wikiwhatchamacallit to reflect it is he and his lineage that use this term.
Yes, many do, but like myself, only in mixed company. In all fairness it should be pointed out that I got the term "motion-Kenpo" from Ed Parker Sr. directly. The term is not a negative, only an apt description of the vehicle as is the term "commercial." Although not everyone teaches motion-kenpo commercially, that system is designed and built around a business model specifically for the purpose of commercial proliferation. Therefore both terms are correct.
There are others outside my lineage who utilize the term as well. I should also point out it is not a matter of "SL-4 versus everything else." That would be incorrect. There are many who pre-date the creation of the motion model kenpo who also make a distinction in their interpretations. Ancients like Steve LaBounty, Chuck Sullivan, James Ibrao, The Tracy's, Dan Inosanto, Dave German, and Dave Hebler, Jim Grumwald, Rick Flores, Rich Montgomery, etc also either left before it's creation or continued without adopting the motion based kenpo business concept, so I'm in very good company.
It is not unusual for those with one perspective to be protective of the point of view that is the totality of their understanding, and supports their knowledge, rank, and status investment. Moton-kenpo is "A" Kenpo not "the" kenpo. However, I also recognize and have always said that the level of significance of motion kenpo is predicated in totality on the quality of the teacher, and as such there are individuals that do an exemplary job with what is by design limited material by continuing to educate themselves beyond its limited parameters to the benefit of their students.
Motion based kenpo is neither good or bad in and of itself. It is, what it is. Like many entities it has potential, but that is no guarantee that teachers or students will fill that potential. Human nature being what it is, and adding business considerations would suggest that most would fall very short. Mr. Parker designed the material to allow all to seek their own level of competence within the boundaries of the teacher. Most who have visited or taken a class with me don't seem to have a problem with the distinction I and others make, which is quite easily demonstrable.
A little more info. . I also added some more information that I found on the main Wiki to the AK entry.
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The article on American Kenpo was based on the corresponding Wikipedia entry, and the Talk page for that does indeed suggest an SL-4 bias in the original document. But...those who contribute will always be the ones who make the page what it is!
Let me say, that out side of Doc's sphere, and I have trained with James Ibrao, Chuck Sullivan, and Steven LaBounty, there has never been a reference to Motion or commercial kenpo. It may have been said that it was made more marketable, or more of a commercial product, when Mr. Parker tried his franchise model based on what Alvin Aley's dance studio's were doing. There is no doubt he created a principle, concept, and theory driven system of martial arts, rather than the previous "technique driven" systems.
Doc and I have discussed this via email or in-threads, and I still hold the postition that he is marketing himself and his system by delineating SL-4. I have no problem with that as it is the direction he went with Mr. Parker, while other of his senior students went in other directions with him.
My point is that labeling everything as "commercial" or "motion" kenpo, is what he calls it, and has been the primary disseminator of. I would still disagree. I may call it Concept Kenpo, or theory driven Kenpo, requiring set principles of physics, [FONT="]applied kinesiology, [/FONT]and anatomy, plus Kenpo specific principles that may not fit in any of these catagories, such as broken rhythym timing, or the three states of motion.
I prefer to just call it Kenpo, if pushed it is Kenpo Karate or Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate, and here of course it is American Kenpo (EPAK). I would call what Doc does the same thing, or the *ahem* soft kenpo I saw at another school. It falls under the same umbrella of EPAK, even though the instructor is obviously limited by what they have learned. Doc being a great resource for things I am particularly interested in, but my exploring Shen Chuan for pressure point strikes and balance disruptions, dai-jitsu, hapkido, chin-na, or aikido for grappling principles that are in Kenpo, but not what we stress necessarily. Finding them within the techniques is easy, once you are willing to open your mind (like a parachute), and your studio doors to see what else is out there we may have to go up against.
Just some rambling thoughts as to why I modified the EPAK entry. Sometimes we agree to disagree, other times it is just to clarify things that really don't matter at all to 90+ percent of the students out there. No disrespect to anyone, I just did not like the generalization presented as a given, especially since it is not my experience necessarily.
I know how some can feel a bit put-off when Doc speaks of what they teach as being either Motion or Commercial Kenpo, but to a major extent I agree with him. Many of us teach either a motion based Kenpo, a Commercial Kenpo, or both.
As for me, I definitely teach the Commercial Kenpo Mr. Parker popularized in the 70s and Im proud of it. Doc knows what I teach and when he refers to it as being Commercial Kenpo, he doesnt mean it to be an insult, nor do I take it as one.
I also dont think when Doc refers to someone teaching Commercial Kenpo, he means theyre teaching Kenpo purely for profit. Although I cant speak for Doc, I think he means they have chosen to use the uniform teaching system that Mr. Parker felt would be most understood and least bastardized by the masses. I guess a less offensive way to put it may be to say some of us have chosen to teach a Uniform system of Ed Parkers Kenpo, but Im still okay with Commercial.
It would really be kind of funny if I were to claim to have never taught Commercial Kenpo, because when I first started in Ed Parkers Kenpo Karate, it was in Colton, California in 1972 and, at the time, we even had commercial play-books to sell from. It was one of those subdivided loose-leaf binders that had an answer for every question. When we answered the phone and a potential customer (student) asked a question, we would flip to that question in the book and the answer was provided. Every time the customer asked another question, we just kept flipping through the book to find all the right answers until we signed them up.
Back in the 70s there was a great sense of pride in the management of Ed Parkers (Commercial) Kenpo Karate Studios. We had hand-books, technique and form manuals, patches and full color certificates. The old Accumulative Journal was considered to be a great business tactic, because you paid full price for the book, but were only given the material as you advanced to each new belt level. That way the student couldnt just take off with the journal; quit paying dues and study at home.
I dont think anyone, who knew Mr. Parker, would argue that he would love to have been the McDonalds of martial art studios. Mr. Parker would often speak of commercial Kenpo with both great enthusiasm . . . and frustration. He was especially frustrated with instructors that joined the IKKA, used his business model, accepted his assistance and encouragement - then, when the studio was up and running, drop out, change their name and became independent again.
All this aside, lets consider what it takes to have a successful international association of karate studios, then decide if following Mr. Parkers Commercial model is such a bad idea. Just like McDonalds, a chain of martial arts studios need consistency. Consistency does not necessarily mean you have to sacrifice quality, but it does put a damper on individuality. Mr. Parker, just like everyone else, knew how frustrating it was to learn a series of kata (for example) only to discover that even though the names were the same, the movements within a kata were unique to the studio where you learned it. Mr. Parker wanted to provide an internationally uniform system of Kenpo that you could start learning in California and continue learning in Texas, New Jersey, or (old) Jersey - without having to relearn all your techniques, forms and terminology.
This does not mean we cant go beyond the base techniques and expand on the commercial Kenpo outlined in out journals; of course we can and we are supposed to. What we should not do (those of us who have chosen to use the commercial model of Kenpo) is change the base in such a way that it is no longer a uniform system of teaching. What if a teacher was to teach every technique right out of the book, but decided he didnt like all the silly names and taught the techniques as number 1 through 154? The moves may be the same, but those of us who have learned the techniques by name would be lost.
On the other hand, a concern about adhering to closely to the commercial Kenpo model is Mr. Parker certainly hid large portions of his art from view, when its studied directly out of the journal.
For example, does anyone really think Lone Kimono defends against a left hand lapel grab? I know it sounds silly, but you can squeeze by lapel all day long and it really wont faze me. But if you were to use that left hand lapel grab to rip me into a wicked right punch, I would indeed be adversely affected. So, even though my instruction is based on the commercial Kenpo model, I dont let it limit my knowledge of the art; its simply a uniform base to start from and where I go from there is up to me.
In some ways (I think) Mr. Parker was his own worst enemy, when it came to creating a business model that was based on consistency. On one hand he created a standard practice manual - then he personally taught many of us to do this material differently and emphasized how Kenpo was always changing.
On a personal note, I spent years searching for THE way our techniques and forms were supposed to be done, then one day, in the early eighties, Mr. Parker sent me a thick packet of his most recently revised technique manuals and a videotape of Jim Mitchell performing all the material from yellow through black.
(You may have seen this video offered on eBay lately for a hundred dollars or more. Trust me; its not worth it unless youre simply a collector with a hundred dollars burning a hole in your pocket.)
Now, although Mr. Parker is not seen on the video, he can be clearly heard calling out the basics, techniques, sets and forms. You can hear him telling Jim to do the techniques slowly and at full speed. He asks that the camera zoom in to show detail and to show additional angles. I was so excited to, at long last, have the final authority of Ed Parkers Kenpo in my hot little hands. . .
Then I noticed Jim doing unfamiliar moves within well documented techniques and forms. I froze the video and scrambled to look up a move in question. Sure enough, Jim was doing a fair number of things differently from how they were outlined in the manuals. How could this be? I had the most recent manuals available and a video tape with Mr. Parker personally directing every move and although they came in the same envelope - they did not match. Darn, so much for THE way of doing things.
Even with the above realization in mind, I still teach the commercial version of Ed Parkers Kenpo. I find it to be fairly consistent and I appreciate knowing that I (or any of my students) can visit with Jamie Seabook, Michael Billings, Josh Ryer, Bryan Hawkins, to name only a few, without worrying about them doing everything so differently that the visit takes away from, instead of adding to our knowledge, and enjoyment, of the art.
On the other hand there is a Kenpo studio, less than 10 miles from my house, where they do Short Form 1 with Delayed Sword, Sword of Destruction, Checking the Storm and Deflecting Hammer in a Short Form 1 pattern, instead of a simple in, out, up and down blocking sequence. We never visit the studio, because the material they teach is just so different from what I teach. Im not saying they arent teaching Ed Parkers Kenpo, but because what I teach is based on the commercial model and they have chosen to deviate so far from it, we are just not compatible workout partners.
On the other hand, when Larry Tatum ran the West Los Angles studio, we had a constant stream of Kenpo men, and women, from all over the world stopping in to work out with us. The same thing was true for Mr. Parkers Pasadena studio, which was run by Frank Trejo. Although Larry and Frank are very different when it comes to their individual style of Kenpo, they were both teaching the same commercial model of the art that Mr. Parker had designed, making interchange between other studios and guests practical.
As for Motion Kenpo - thats another story altogether. Hopefully I dont study, teach or perform Motion Kenpo, as I interpret the term. That is, I hope I am more concerned with what Im actually doing than how I look while Im doing it.
For example, I used to blaze through my techniques and forms of course my blocks werent solid, my strikes lacked penetration, I was missing checks, covers and foot positions - but I was fast! I used to envy, and try to emulate those who moved like Mr. Parker, without analyzing what they were actually doing. After all motion was all the rage. All I remember hearing about is how people moved. Boy can he move! Ya, hes got the motion down. If I didnt know better I would think I was watching Mr. Parker, he moves just like him. I even heard stories of people moving better than Mr. Parker himself.
Then, one day, Barbara and I were watching a well known Kenpo guy doing Form 5 and we were both very impressed with how well he moved - until we noticed that he left the entire left side of a technique out of the form. We asked him if he knew he had done that and all he had to say was no he hadnt noticed. We offered to go over the form with him, but he couldnt have cared less about the mistake. He moved well and we got the impression that so long as people kept praising his motion he had little need to concern himself with what he was actually doing.
Im not saying this is exactly how Doc interprets the term Motion Kenpo, but I think it may be similar. And like Doc, Im not trying to tell you what the term Motion Kenpo means to you; Im simply sharing with you how I think of it and how I explain it to my students. Doing a quick search on Google for Motion Kenpo I found a studio that is actually called Motion Kenpo. I really doubt this instructors interpretation of the term is anything close to my own, or Docs.
Remember, terminology can be much more difficult to debate than motion itself. Not long ago James Hawkins and I were bantering back and forth about the term Reverse Marriage of Gravity. I have my interpretation of the term and James has his. Its funny to go back and read how we went back and forth trying to enlighten one another, but in the end does it really matter if he thinks it means one thing and I think it means another? I would bet if we were to perform a series of techniques, side by side, they would be very similar.
For years I thought that the technique Gathering Clouds got its name from the scoop kick to the groin. I just pictured my foot down there gathering clouds. Later on I looked it up in Mr. Parkers technique notes and discovered it derived its name from the initial arm movement, which Mr. Parker described as: The name of this technique stems its name from the initial action of your defense whereby both of your arms seems to be Gathering Clouds. I guess James and I may as well have been arguing about that instead of Reverse Marriage of Gravity, because the correct answer to either question would not necessarily alter how either of us performed our techniques.
So, before you take offense to Doc saying most of us teach Motion and/or Commercial Kenpo, first study some of Docs previous writings to determine exactly what he means by Motion Kenpo and Commercial Kenpo, and then ask yourself if you share the same interpretation of those terms. Now you can take an honest look at yourself, and what youre doing, then decide if you agree with him or not.
As always Im not trying to lecture, or correct anyones thinking, Im just sharing my thoughts for those who may benefit from my mistakes . . . I mean experience.
Just so you know Rich, I shared this posted link with some of my advanced students. That was very well written, and we appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge.
Kenpo Salute brother.
Is your Kenpo based on the understanding and study of 'motion' along with the other concepts of movement Parker wrote of in the Infinite Insights Series of books?
If the answer is 'yes,' than you are in "Motion Kenpo." No biggie and not a bad thing.
Is your Kenpo generally based on the standard curriculum of form, sets, and techniques, as outlined in the Infinite Insight Series of books and in Ed Parker's technique manuals and/or the "Big Red Accumulative Journal?"
If the answer is 'yes,' than you are in the 'commercial' curriculum, or 'commercial kenpo.'
No biggie and not a bad thing.
have you ever used the word 'motion' in your description of, or defining your kenpo?
If the answer is 'yes,' than you are in the 'motion-based commercial' curriculum, and either term or both is appropriate. It is not, however a statement about the quality of what you do or teach, only the platform created by Ed Parker that forms the base of what you do. Some expand beyond that platform while others choose to traditionalize or modify
The idea that those who came before the 'motion or commercial' kenpo do not refer to it specifically with those terms is not material. What is germane is that they, for reasons of their own choosing, do not do or teach it either. They too, have chose to make a distinction calling what they do by other names with kenpo on the end or inferred as a companent root, or a part of their knowledge base.
Ancients like Steve LaBounty, Chuck Sullivan, James Ibrao, The Tracy's, Dan Inosanto, Dave German, and Dave Hebler, Jim Grumwald, Rick Flores, Rich Montgomery, Joe Dimmick, etc. NONE of them suggests they teach EPAK or 'motion/commercial kenpo either. Chuck does kenpo-based Karate Connection successfully. Dave Hebler does Original Kenpo Karate successfully. Joe Dimmick does Red Dragon Sam-Pai Kenpo successfully. Others just use 'plane wrap' American Kenpo when they beat the crap out of you, while others don't use the term 'kenpo' at all.
Meaningful conversation and exchanges begin with a common language and understanding. 'Kenpo' based on the commercial format and motion is a reality that exists. The fact I don't use that model is a fact as well.
To answer questions and have discussions, the distinction must be made otherwise assumptions cause misunderstandings and a lack of communciation. The distinction was made by Ed Parker to me in my lessons. Even he had to say ..."This is the motion way.." versus, "This is how I want it done." Others have told me as well they heard Mr. Parker use the term when comparing his art to others.
Many of Parker's contemporaries spoke of it in derogatory terms because of it's newness and pandering to the masses to make a buck. "Parker's gone Hollywood." was said in some form by several well known masters. Than many of them saw his success and attempted to do the same thing.
Parker always said, "My arts, or any art, is neither good or bad. It's only it's teachers that make that determination."
That holds true for motion/commercial Kenpo just like any other. It depends upon you and your teacher.
So the next time you have a question or make a 'kenpo statement,' personalize it as your kenpo or simply what you do, or what your teacher taught you to do. If everyone spoke this way, than labels wouldn't be necessary and we coud spend all our time talking about what will or will not work, and not what you call it.
I will, This is my Kenpo , this is what I do and it is the result of what my teachers have taught as well as what I have figured out for my self, my base line is of course making my Kenpo work for me and any one who I am Privileged to teach.
Long time no talk, I hope all is OK with you.
How you doing, "me old china?"
Thank you, Mr. Hale. I think that was an excellent post and an excellent discussion of the value and purpose of the base material as illustrated by what captured here for a quote.
Wow! I know this is an old thread, but I really enjoyed reading the posts by two very respected seniors in the EPAK world. Very insightful. Thanks, guys.
Separate names with a comma.