What is Kenpo Good For?

Discussion in 'Kenpo / Kempo - General' started by Danjo, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    We're hearing things all the time about how Kenpo/Kempo is or isn't street effective etc. The same is true of every MA out there. The answers from practitioners range from: "Heck yeah this is street effective as is!" to "Not really, but I do it for the love of the art." to "Well, it's good for the reflexes and everything, but it couldn't really be used to fight with without modification."

    When I read that Sheriff memo that Doc posted I thought I'd start a separate thread to discuss this aspect of it. Is Kenpo effective for real fighting? If not, why do you do it? If so, give some cases in point of where you've either used it, or have seen it used in a real fight and whether it had to be modified or was used as it was taught. Also include if TKD, Karate, Kick Boxing, Muy Thai etc. could have been used just as effectively in the same situation.

    The point of this is to figure out whether Kenpo in particular and the Martial Arts in general are worth pursuing if one is looking to learn how to fight. If not, why did the Masters of old create it? Why did they do it the way they did? Did fights happen differently than they do now? Did untrained attackers attack differently [having been exposed to the existence of traditional MA techniques form the media] than they do now and thus allowed the traditional techniques to work then where they wouldn't now a days? Have they evolved into something that doesn't work, but that used to work the way it was first taught? Has too much showiness crept in? Has the need to teach it to the masses watered it down? Too much point sparring crept in? Do the techniques work, but only if they are applied correctly, or do they not work at all as is and always have to be modified? If they DO have to be modified, why were they created the way they were in the first place rather than the way that really works?

    In other words: What is Kenpo good for? If it's not good for fighting as is, why are we doing it as is?
     
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  2. ChineseKempoJerry

    ChineseKempoJerry Yellow Belt

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    I too saw that memo from Doc. It is, what it is. Some people will take something and turn it into whatever they need it to be. Some will need self-defense, some sport, and for some, a type of filler to complete the void in their life.

    One thing remains constant - fighting has universal laws or truths, no matter the style you study. If you study well, you will start to understand how simple fighting really is!

    If you want to look pretty while you are fighting, well . . . . good luck!

    Let us remember there are only so many ways to punch and kick someone?

    Best Regards,

    Jerry
     
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  3. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

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    I've practiced a lot of different arts and, in general, if an untrained and unskilled attacker presented, the effectiveness of an art would come down to the level of athleticism in the attacker. I've seen some street fight videos where two guys are going crazy and alot of the assumptions that certain arts make have no basis in reality. For example, does a "blocked" punch stay blocked?
     
  4. hongkongfooey

    hongkongfooey Black Belt

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    I think that most people are too hung up on the fighting part of MA's. Honestly, when was the last time someone on forum was in a fight that didn't stem from ego or mouth overloading *** syndrome?

    The vast majority of the adults that I know haven't been in a fight of any kind since they themselves were a young person with a big mouth and a lot of ego.

    I myself do Kenpo because I like to do it. I enjoy the interaction with my instructors and classmates. I enjoy the hard contact. I always wanted to do martial arts. Now I am.
     
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  5. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    Right. So are the ways that we are taught to fight sufficient for those ways or do they have to be modified to be of any use? If they are not sufficient, then why were they designed that way in the first place?
     
  6. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    So does any big strong athletic guy have it over a smaller less athletic guy regardless of the smaller fellow's training? Would someone be better served going to a gym and pumping iron and runing a track than practicing the martial arts?
     
  7. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    Yep. I've heard this one many times before and it has the advantage of not being refutable. If you're not learning Kenpo to fight, then it is of no use asking whether it is effective in a fight. It would be like asking "How battle efective are the Samurai sword tactics in real battle?" Answer:"Who cares since we don't have wars with those any more?"

    But is Kenpo in that same catagory? Is it as outdated as Kendo for fighting? But then, why would it be? The weapons of warfare have changed over the years, but the human body has not? Did no one really know how to fight before the 20th century or the advent of the UFC?
     
  8. Makalakumu

    Makalakumu Gonzo Karate Apocalypse

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    I think that both are ultimately required if one's goal is self defense. Also, in regards to one's training, the need to be honest to that goal is essential.
     
  9. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Purple Belt

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    In my opinion, I don't think it is a matter of whether or not people of the past knew how to fight. I mean if you take two combatants and everything being equal, then the superior combatant will win plain and simple. What would make them superior? Well it could be their conditioning, their tactical/strategic mindedness, their physical build, etc. They just didn't use the same terminology that we obviously use by today's standards. In the end, fighting is fighting straight up, trained or untrained. Does one have to gouge out one's eyes to be successful? Or can one be pummeled to death?? That all depends on the seriousiness of the fight. Times have changed..back then a fight often meant to the death, nowadays, there are too many consequences to face, more people around as witnesses, video cameras, or simply friends of the combatants that won't necessarily go that far, unless of course its a street-gang type fight. Just my 2 cents!
     
  10. hongkongfooey

    hongkongfooey Black Belt

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    Danjo,

    Don't get me wrong. The self defense aspect of Kenpo is very important to me. I do believe that the system is effective. People need to realize that Kenpo is a contact activity. The techniques will work if the proper amount of force is applied. If someone is not being hit or hitting their training partners, they're kidding themselves. I am not advocating beating each other senseless, but, I have seen classes where advanced belts literally whined if they received a little bit of contact. How are these people gonna defend themselves if they can't take a shot in a sterile environment like the classroom?

    Sadly, there are many Kenpo schools like that out there. We really are becoming the next McDojo system. I have been in schools that only worked in the air, not on a live body. Schools that professed to generate their chi into strikes that would totally incapacitate their opponet. I have been in Kenpo schools that didn't even teach a form of Kenpo of any kind.
    I have been in Parker system schools that would make Ed Parker roll over in his grave. Slappy, fast movements, but no stances or power in the strikes. Why is everyone so concerned with speed above everything else?


    I don't believe that Kenpo is outdated. It just needs to trained right.
    This is my second time around in Kenpo. My first school's teacher was a good martial artist, he just didn't want to teach. But, he did want the money, though. There are a lot of teachers like that out there.

    Dave
     
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  11. hongkongfooey

    hongkongfooey Black Belt

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    Don't forget blood borne pathogens, like HIV and Hepatitis
     
  12. celtic_crippler

    celtic_crippler Senior Master

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    I can tell you from personal experience that the Kenpo I learned/am learning is very effective for self-defense. Kenpo has benefited me in other ways as well though. I've learned patience, discipline, and developed a hunger for overall self-improvement. However, I think that Kenpo fulfills different needs for different people.

    As far as the art being an effective form of self-defense for the street, I think it's important to look at how American Kenpo is defined by the Encyclopedia of Kenpo: An updated and all-inclusive version of Kenpo, based on logic and practicality, that has been designed to cope with the mode of fighting prevalent on our streets today.

    So, step back and take a long look at what you're practicing and training with. Then take a long look at your envirnonment. What's going on in the world today? Gangs are prelavent on the streets today so are you practicing multiple attacker techniques? Every day you see a news story about someone getting a gun pulled on them. Are you practicing defenses against this? UFC is a major influence and whether they're trained or not, people tend to mimic what they see on T.V. So, are you training against shoots and takedowns?

    Our environment is constantly changing. The great thing about Kenpo is that it's a very flexible system. The principles behind the techniques and maneuvers are sound. You just have to be creative and aware enough to adapt them and change as your world changes around you.

    IMHO =)
     
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  13. evenflow1121

    evenflow1121 2nd Black Belt

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    Lol, Blasphemy. No in all seriousness good post. I kind of look at martial arts now in a different light than I did when I was younger and perhaps that is one of hte reasons your post attracted my reply, great post BTW. I sort of compare not just Kenpo but any martial art to taking the State Bar Exam, no matter how many questions you do, no matter how many hours you put in, no matter how many work shops or courses you invest in, there are no guarantees you are going to pass it, but what you do have is a greater chance of passing. Like wise, in any martial arts, no matter how much time and effort you put in, there are no guarantees that you are going to become this unbelievable fighter and be ready for any situation, at any time, at any point in your life, but you will have a better chance of being ready than you would without it.

    Is Kenpo effective? As a practicioner and as biased as this may sound, Yes I believe it is. Is it ineffective? It certainly can be like anything else. A lot of it comes down to the student and the particular teacher. If you have a lousy teacher, or if you choose to enroll in some Mc Dojo chances are your kenpo is not going to be very effective, if you are a lousy student, chances are your kenpo will not be very effective either. I am pretty sure that the techniques can work without applying them fully, that however does not mean that one should not teach them fully, it just means what it means sometimes you might knock someone out and not have to complete the entire thing, in other instances and especially in a spur of the moment situation, you may forget the technique and do something else, however, if you had a good teacher I d be pretty certain that whatever you pull off that got you out of that situation safely was as a result of his or her teachings.
     
  14. Danjo

    Danjo Master Black Belt

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    My thinking is that there is a high correlation between how effective a MA is and what it's origins are.

    If it was originated as a sport, then it's fighting value is going to be reduced. If it was originated by a street fighter, ie, Motobu, Chow, Emperado etc., then its fighting value will be greater.

    Of course it still goes to how it is taught and trained. Even the most effective MA will not work if it's done poorly. Another category are those MAs that have been so modified by successive teachers that have never fought outside of sparring or a tournement that they no longer serve their purpose as a fighting art. Some one, or someones decided that they knew better than the founder and changed it so much that it no longer works very well. Some changes are made due to tournement needs and so that they look better to an audience when doing a kata. Some are made because of the limited contact allowed in a tournement and so certain techniques that suit a point fighting system are emphasised and ones that are more appropriate to the street are played down or discarded altogether. Either way, the MA is watered down to where it cannot be used as is.

    Some arts intentionally had the more combative aspects of the art removed to make it more conducive to teaching them to school children in a physical education class and were then further removed from any fighting value so that the deep stances etc. would look better when doing forms.

    Either way, I cannot imagine a true fighter teaching garbage that didn't really work to their students.

    This isn't to say that this stuff would work in a sporting event without changes. Rules, referees and the fact that you're facing a skilled martial artist and athelete change things immensely.
     
  15. Gentle Fist

    Gentle Fist Master Black Belt

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    I think there is already plenty of McDojo's out there with the Ken(m)po banner. It really comes down to the instructor and their objective. Some instructors only care about paying rent for their studio as well as their mortgage. Look at guys like William Chow. He taught out of a YMCA had little to no money and could kick the crap out of any man on the island and over on the mainland for that matter.

    Simply put, he didn't do it for the money. Martial Arts is primarily all business now, and less than half of the people out there really know what the hell they are doing.
     
  16. SKKnidan

    SKKnidan White Belt

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    Kempo is effective if you train the right way. If you expect your attacker to stand there after doing a straight right punch then you are dead, but if you move quick , strike quick, hit hard and know a little grappling the kempo foundation is excellent.
     
  17. Inkspill

    Inkspill Orange Belt

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    American Kenpo is the most sophisticated Karate, however, not all Kenpo is equal. American Kenpo, when executed correctly, is effective. It is important to ask, is MY Kenpo effective? For many, it isn't. It's a combination of things that contribute to this, you can't teach what you don't know, and if you don't learn what is taught, you end up with junk.. all sorts of things that lead to crappy Kenpo. It starts with the basics.
     
  18. Humble Student

    Humble Student Yellow Belt

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    I could not have said that any better sir.
    But I am even sure that even SGM Parker would agree that it is not the art but the person training that matters.
    And there intent for training.
     
  19. LawDog

    LawDog Master Black Belt

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    It is the Instructors who make a system effective and their students who will someday carry it on. The true martial artist does not train to street fight but rather to prevent it. The professionals train with the intent of fighting.
     
  20. Manny

    Manny Senior Master

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    Well done, for sure your words are wise ones. If I get a dolar for every single moment somebody tell me for example TKD not works out in the streets (I am a TKD BB) for sure maybe I will not be a rich man but I could pay my family a good six month Europe trip.

    The same I've been herd about judo, many people think judo is nothing more than a sport but believe me I would not engage with a nice judoka on the mat not even in the streets.

    Manny
     
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