"Original" EPAK techniques?

Discussion in 'Kenpo - (EPAK) Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate S' started by MSalinas, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. MSalinas

    MSalinas White Belt

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    Hi everyone, as you can see I'm a noob to the forum. I have been studying martial arts for over 14 years but never trained in American Kenpo. I have read some of Ed Parker's books in the Infinite Insights series, some written by Lee Wedlake, and have watched quite a few kenpo videos. So, I have only a rudimentary understanding of it, but want to delve a little deeper.

    My reason for this particular post is, I would like to find out which American Kenpo techniques are closest to what Ed Parker taught in the "pre-commercialization" days, if you will. As I understand from reading various sources, American Kenpo underwent quite a few changes as Mr. Parker refined them (adding, changing, removing, etc). And it eventually evolved into the 24 technique system until his death. So, out of the 24 technique system as it existed at the time of his passing, which techniques were most representative of the early system that Mr. Parker taught, before all the changes?

    I apologize if this has been asked...I did the usual search but could not find out a lot in terms of forum replies. I did find a few things that have kind of helped my inquiry, but want to get opinions from you more experienced Kenpo practitioners. For example, Tim Bulot believes that the Brown Belt techniques represent the "heart" of American Kenpo. I read and watched some interviews with a few Kenpo exponents who say the stuff taught by Chuck Sullivan in the Karate Connection syllabus is the closest. And the Tracy brothers seem to think that what they teach in their system is "true kenpo".

    I guess what I am trying to ask is, if a noob like me comes to American Kenpo and sees all the techniques and wonders, "which of those techniques is closest to what people learned in the early classes taught by Mr. Parker?". I think, not every technique that ended up in the 24 technique system was there in the beginning, correct?

    Looking forward to some replies.
     
  2. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    The Yellow & Orange belt techniques are the heart of kenpo, and I would put the Brown Belt techs as the hairstyle of kenpo. LOL
     
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  3. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    I tend to agree with Touch of Death on this. If we could get Bob White back for a while we might get a better answer from him.
    I know we had many Kenpo people here for a while but most went when a forum was made for them.
    I do not remember anyone ever saying which where original techniques when I studied EPACK
     
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  4. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Ummm... isn't it just barely possibly that all the people you mention are right? No art is all things to all people, after all. And Ed Parker changed his own curriculum, so obviously it was never intended to be cast in stone.
     
  5. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Take a look at the early video of Ed Parker, the DNA is clearly there for many of the core AK techniques.




    At one point I had a really bad copy (on VHS) of even older video, I think with SGM Parker and Chuck Sullivan, but I can't find an online source for it. It ran through a bunch of techniques and the "black belt set" which was the two man set. Anyway, as I recall the techniques were pretty similar.
     
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  6. Takai

    Takai Senior Master

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    My background is Kenpo and from my understanding Parker made several "refinements" through the years. As far as the original techniques I would have to agree that Yellow and Orange have a good deal of the core curriculum in it. While Parker taught techniques he was really trying to train principles. (Just like every other art I have encountered).

    As a side note the "original" EPAK did not have any forms in it..at all. Parker hated them. Up through Long 3 (As well as Book Set and Staff Set) was to my understanding created by James Woo to help "commercialize" the system for Parker. i.e. every Karate system has these we have to give people something to compare it with.
     
  7. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    If you want more answers to kenpo in general. I would check out KenpoTalk (also run by Mr. Hubbard).

    If you want a look at Parker's kenpo as it was closest to Prof. Chow and what was originally taught, check out the following book.
    Kenpo Karate Law of the Fist and the Empty Hand Ed Parker 9781453618806 Amazon.com Books

    The 62 techniques shown were originally the techniques required of beginners to learn and earn their brown belt. If you really study the pictures, you will see many of the techniques still contained in the system.

    The Tracy's kind of did a "frozen snapshot" in time with Ed Parker's kenpo. They did not stay with him after he really started to add the chinese influence in how things were done and started to go mainstream and bring in other people from other arts on a conceptual basis (what some refer to as the "commercialization"). So you can see what the system looked like when it was still a 32 technique per belt progression. As to everything in yellow/orange. Don't buy the hype. Yellow belt was added in as an after thought to get beginners to earn a quick belt and get motivated to continue, that is why there is only 10 techniques.

    As to the forms, Ed Parker got input from Sifu Woo, but always had final say on what the forms would be. So even though they were designed mainly by Sifu Woo, they were still put through the "Ed Parker Filter" of what he wanted his kenpo to be. The Tracy's still include the other chinese forms that Woo gave out that were later dropped by Ed Parker. Some of these include Panther Set (book set), Tiger/Crane, and Two Man Set.

    Other stuff, such as extensions and the #2 series of some of the sets were designed by other people and were kind of used as a filler and were not used by many schools/organizations. Same thing with the "Freestyle Techniques" that Ed Parker designed. Many did not like them and never learned/used them.

    So, as others have said. "Original" is kind of a misnomer because it is all his original work. More importantly is to follow his evolution and how he modified his kenpo to fit his vision of what he wanted to accomplish with it. Some people like the later stuff with the more chinese flair/influence of the Ark Wong/Mok Gar style of speedhitting. Others like the more linear style feel of what the Tracy's teach. Etc. etc. etc.
     
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  8. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    Blindside, Takai,and Punisher thanks to all of you for the information you have supplied
     
  9. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    The other caution about using yellow and orange as being the "most original" is that remember that the original techniques were split into base technique and extension in the later AK curriculums. So what a current practitioner sees as "orange" isn't going to match the proto-technique simply because that tech has probably had its finish split off.
     
  10. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I think the most important thing is to train your *** off. Ed Parker did, as did the people who trained under him. That's the advice he always gave, "train your *** off....then train some more." Most people think of him in a media light, but he was first and foremost a fighter.

    I have never officially trained in Kenpo, but I've worked out in Kenpo schools a whole lot of times, (probably in the hundreds) mostly sparring, sometimes having fun and sometimes not having fun. (hey, you know) The three schools I frequented seemed to have a policy - "Want scrap? Bring a mouthpiece, kid."

    So we did.

     
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  11. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Besides my other two cents, there was originally just an inside, and outside defense mindset, and the techs them selves are just simple variations.
    Sean
     
  12. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    Well, no reason for me to say anything. You quite accurately said it all sir. :)
     
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  13. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    It would have been nice if you had left me some room for a reply, instead of covering the topic so thoroughly that - "I got nothin' ":)
     
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  14. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    LOL, sorry about that. The history of arts and "how" and "why" they are what they are has always fascinated me, along with the founder's biographies. I think it's one of the keys to that old phrase, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought.” (Matsuo Basho).

    Especially in arts that we have direct contact with the founder or direct students of the founder that were able to really ask questions about the mindset and thought process of what was being thought of when an idea was "set to technique".
     
  15. Doc

    Doc Senior Master

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    See, once again you leave me with nothin'. :)
     
  16. SenseiHitman

    SenseiHitman Orange Belt

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    I have a list of 90 techniques that I teach to my students. The techniques are all from the katas, Little Cat (short 2) through Kempo 7. When I teach Kenpo(I also teach Jujitsu) they are the only techniques I teach. My instructor claimed he learned the list from Bruce Juchnik. Professor Wonser told me these were the original techniques of Ed Parker's Kenpo. Of course, I have no way of knowing, but I can say that conceptually the material was light years ahead of what was being taught by the Traco or Ed Parker schools in Phoenix during the 1980s and 1990s. I know that the commercialization of Kenpo make it weak. For example, the Kempo 7 I was taught has advanced footwork, advanced double kicks/switch kicks, rolls and breakfalls and even a throw done with your belt. It is the longest kata in the system. The long 7 that the Tracys teach starts kind of the same (in a sloppy way) but does not have any of the advanced footwork or kicks or rolls/breakfalls. The long 7 taught at Ed Parker schools now is a simple stick kata. I was told by Professor Wonser the Kempo 7 I do was the original and is a secret kata. Some of the kicks are so difficult, I have never able to master them. The rolls and breakfalls and throwing techniques are easy for me since I have a nidan in Jujitsu, but they are very difficult for the typical karate student. This kata was so difficult to learn that I could see why the Tracy version was watered down in the interest of commercialization. I suspect the original Kempo 7 was abandoned because it required the practitioner to be in top physical condition and required too much co-ordination. When Kenpo was commercialized they removed the zen and replaced it with the dash for the cash. My advise to anyone that wants to study Kenpo is look into Kajukenbo. Those guys are tough. Stay away from the Mcdojos aka. EPAK TRACYS AKKA IKKA etc.
     
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  17. SenseiHitman

    SenseiHitman Orange Belt

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    Another Kempo school I would suggest looking into is the Shorinji Kempo of Doshin So. His book; What is Shorinji Kempo? is one of the best books written on the subject of Kempo. It is a far better read than; What is Self Defense? by Mitose. In Doshin So's book one can learn the physics behind following the attacking limb to the core and how to apply leverage in escapes, joint locks, throws and pins, and he explains it in a mathematical format. Doshin So also teaches the philosophy of Zen and Taoism and how Kempo is a concept not a technique. In my opinion, Doshin So was the most knowledgeable Kempo masters of the 20th century. Another great book on the subject of Kempo is; The Bodhisattva Warriors by Terrence Dukes. This is the single most important read for any Kempo master. Mitoses book is put together like it was written by a teenager who never went to college. The other to books were obviously written by well educated men. Shorinji Kempo and Kajukenbo are the real deal, the bulk of the Ed Parker/Tracys students are very weak and do not even understand the most basic elements of Kempo. For example, all the slapping of statues and calling it self defense is fake and in Kempo we like to keep it real. On the subject of books Ed Parker's books are no where near as good as the books by Doshin So or Terrance Dukes.

    My ultimate advise is, rather than chasing after some Key moves invented by Parker, learn the rules the moves are made with and make up your own. Kempo is the truths theories and laws not the techniques.
     
  18. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Kajukenbo has the exact same problem, kenpo does.
     
  19. SenseiHitman

    SenseiHitman Orange Belt

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    I have never studied Kajukenbo, but when you go the Kajukenbo schools around here you see people actually punching and kicking each other, you see people being thrown to the ground and strangled and in general, you see people sweating their buts off working out. If you go to the local EPAK or Traco schools ( or whats left of the Traco schools like ACS ) you see people standing around talking about karate or slapping statues. I have to admit, I can only speak of the Kajukenbo schools in AZ and how they compare to the nearby Kenpo dojos. I guess I should have said if you come to the Metro Phoenix area Kajukenbo is what I would recommend to someone looking to study Kenpo. Their are no Shorinji Kempo dojos in the Phoenix area I am aware of so I can only judge them by the masters book and what I see on videos.
     
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  20. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thank you. Kajukenbo, is only as good as the guy in front of you. There are multiple organizations, and some are better than others. I studied with Kimo Fieriera for a bit. Good stuff. Then I tried a, Garage Kaju class, and never wanted to be there again. LOL
     

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