Is It Important To Have A Successor?

Old Fat Kenpoka

Master Black Belt
Joined
May 20, 2003
Messages
1,044
Reaction score
39
Location
Silicon Valley, CA
I can only think of one Asian-origin martial art that has stayed true to the founder and not splintered. And that art did it without naming a single person as the successor. Instead, that art chose to establish an international governing body, clear and consistent rules for international competition, and a clear curriculum. That art is Judo.

Every other art I can think of that is big enough to support more than a handful of schools has experienced the same kind of splintering as Kenpo. It is because the unity of the art is based on the leadership of the individual rather than the strength of the infrastucture built around the system. If a successor or "Soke" is appointed, that person will either want to keep things the same or to change things. Splintering is bound to occur as some people can't stand change and others can't stand not-changing. Throw in the every other instructor's need to grow, get some recognition, and run their own show and splintering becomes inevitable.

So, my answer is it's not the person, it's the process. If Parker had never ever changed his curriculum from the 32 technique version, if he had published technique manuals and requirements 20 years earlier than he did, and if he made the competition rules for the IKC's the criteria for promotion, then (and only then) would Kenpo have a chance of remaining a single unified system. By the time Infinite Insights was published, it was already 20 years too late.
 

Doc

Senior Master
Joined
May 12, 2002
Messages
4,196
Reaction score
136
Location
Southern California
Old Fat Kenpoka said:
I can only think of one Asian-origin martial art that has stayed true to the founder and not splintered. And that art did it without naming a single person as the successor. Instead, that art chose to establish an international governing body, clear and consistent rules for international competition, and a clear curriculum. That art is Judo.
That is overwhelmingly correct.
Every other art I can think of that is big enough to support more than a handful of schools has experienced the same kind of splintering as Kenpo.
Also correct. And believe it or not, the biggest and most significant defections to this day, occurred while Mr. Parker was living.
It is because the unity of the art is based on the leadership of the individual rather than the strength of the infrastucture built around the system.
Yes, and Mr. Parker's many versions NEVER were solidified during his lifetime. At any point during his lifetime there were multiple interpretations depending on who you were, what you wanted to learn, and what he chose to teach you. The transitions between and with the many different evolutions all produced students who continued on the line they were introduced to. Few actually evolved or changed with Parker. Each generation or splinter became comfortable with the material their rank was based upon, and were not interested in "new' material. Therefore if they didn't physically leave, they left philosophically and promoted their version of material Parker himself had abandoned, and their students in turn did the same. All of these versions existed and moved their lineages concurrently with each other.
If a successor or "Soke" is appointed, that person will either want to keep things the same or to change things. Splintering is bound to occur as some people can't stand change and others can't stand not-changing.
The double edged sword for sure. If he keeps things the same, they will argue about "how" Parker did it. If he changes things, then people will say he's not being "true" to Parker's teachings. If it happened to Parker himself, how could anyone stand up to such scruitiny from what would essentially be a group of peers?
Throw in the every other instructor's need to grow, get some recognition, and run their own show and splintering becomes inevitable.
Exactly. The so-called "standard" curriculum has never existed and definitely wasn't in the conceptual based motion kenpo. Sure, ultimately he settled on a set number of techniques and forms for many in the motion version, but even then he never told anyone a definitive way to do any form, set, ot technique. Only interpretive guidelines. All of this while authorizing a 16 chart for others as well in the same version of his art, and even all of that changed throughout his lifetime. I have every version of that material and the guidelines changed constantly.
So, my answer is it's not the person, it's the process. If Parker had never ever changed his curriculum from the 32 technique version, if he had published technique manuals and requirements 20 years earlier than he did, and if he made the competition rules for the IKC's the criteria for promotion, then (and only then) would Kenpo have a chance of remaining a single unified system. By the time Infinite Insights was published, it was already 20 years too late.
And even then he would have had to meticulously write definitively HOW to do everything, which he NEVER did for ANY version of his arts. Otherwise arguements would breakout along the lines of, "That's not the way Parker showed me how to do that." Sound familiar? Maybe some of the newbies will understand that.
 

Danjo

Master Black Belt
Joined
Mar 31, 2004
Messages
1,378
Reaction score
60
Location
Fullerton, CA
Old Fat Kenpoka said:
I can only think of one Asian-origin martial art that has stayed true to the founder and not splintered. And that art did it without naming a single person as the successor. Instead, that art chose to establish an international governing body, clear and consistent rules for international competition, and a clear curriculum. That art is Judo.

Even here there is more than one school of judo. Kosen Judo, which is a pre-WWII version that more closely resembles what we see in BJJ today, differs a great deal from Kodokan Judo in that the latter gives preference to throws, and the former to ground work. In Shotokan, there is the big split between them and the Shotokai etc. etc. It never ends.
 

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

Senior Master
Joined
Mar 9, 2004
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
113
Location
Dana Point, CA
Doc said:
1963 - 1990

Dang, you're old.

As for the How, and different generations...I have found myself grateful for the exposure of several different "generations" of oldsters, each having brought a different perspective and emphasis than the others. SL4 has had the deepest emphasis on "How" that I've seen yet, with impeccable reasoning behind the specifics. Sloppy feet don't move forward, and tailoring is, well, outdated? Verboten? Not suggested until you hit the nosebleeds?

Thanks Doc for showing a semi-oldster what it should look like.

Regards,

D.
 

Rick Wade

Master Black Belt
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Messages
1,089
Reaction score
24
Location
Norfolk, va
Dark Kenpo Lord said:
Without a doubt.
Dark Kenpo Lord said:

DarK LorD


I agree with Clyde not necessarily better or worse but it would defiantly be different. Mr. Parker was a strong man both spiritually and mentally when someone splintered off he let them go (i.e. Tracys). I think he would be happy with the way things are going because each of the different Seniors have their own flair. I just got done meeting Mr. Hancock and having juice with him yesterday and we talked for two hours. At first we talked about the old days and then most of our conversation was about where he and Kenpo 2000 was different. Not better or worse just different I personally found it very interesting and I gained knowledge from it. Mr Hancock If you are reading this, I would like to personally thank you for taking time out of your schedule to sit and talk to me.

V/R

Rick
 

donald

Black Belt
Joined
Jan 12, 2002
Messages
565
Reaction score
3
Location
Lake County,Ohio
I think that if Mr.Parker would have appointed a successor American Kenpo would have stayed a little more unified.
 
OP
M

MJS

Administrator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2003
Messages
30,187
Reaction score
427
Location
Cromwell,CT
Wow, this is an old thread, but in light of the recent Kajukenbo thread, I think its fitting. :) OTOH, much like what was said in the Kaju thread, perhaps instead of having 1 person, perhaps a group or board of people, would be better.
 

Wo Fat

Purple Belt
Joined
Jun 21, 2007
Messages
351
Reaction score
10
Location
Southeastern US
I personally would have preferred a system of checks and balances. The monarch style of governance doesn't seem to work well (except, ironically, everyone knows who the successor is when he or she dies). When one person is charged with ruling, too much gets done that shouldn't and too little gets done that should.

A board of elected men and women who are responsible first and foremost for the art's growth, betterment, relevance, etc., seems like the best bet.
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
11,146
Reaction score
7,434
Location
Maui
I don't know if having an appointed successor is best or not. Probably is in some respects, maybe not so much in others.
But, I think if Ed had wanted a particular successor he would have appointed one.
 

Todd Reiner

Yellow Belt
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
26
Reaction score
0
A board of elected men and women who are responsible first and foremost for the art's growth, betterment, relevance, etc., seems like the best bet.

Agreed. I think if an organization is democratic and is able to represent all members of Kaju it could work and eventually find unity. There are alot of "buts" etc with this though, it could happen. Thoughts/Ideas? :)
 

Wo Fat

Purple Belt
Joined
Jun 21, 2007
Messages
351
Reaction score
10
Location
Southeastern US
Agreed. I think if an organization is democratic and is able to represent all members of Kaju it could work and eventually find unity. There are alot of "buts" etc with this though, it could happen. Thoughts/Ideas? :)

Before answering that question, let me address the obvious: politics. IMO, there are two types of politicians. Those who make it a practice to serve all; and those who make it a practice to serve themselves. Bold proclamations about who's in charge and who isn't, usually turn out to be thinly veiled power grabs. It's good politics in the short term, but in the long term that kind of politics loses its credibility.

In that respect, I believe that the democratic approach is best. If there are multiple organizations with their own protocols and standards, that can actually be a good thing. Maybe have each organization elect a delegate; 5 delegates if you have 5 organizations. Call it a Council or a Congress or whateva. That congress can vote regularly on issues that are vital to the art -- except for rank. Rank is one of those things that people have become OCD about, and it ruins any potential for anything good. So vote on issues that are in the best interest of the art, and then the heads of those individual orgs can show top-down leadership by acting on whatever was voted. Do that regularly, and you might just have yourself a nice little functioning art.

Yeah, but ... or ... the only problem with that is ... yes, you must account for the naysayers and the like. Truth is, a functioning society is a great thing. But not everyone wants function. There are plenty who thrive on dysfunction, constant flux and chronic failures. They are usually the ones at high levels of rank, and who tend to have their loyal group of toadies, lackies and sycophants. You will know them when you see them.

All in all though, a democratic approach in the form of a congress or council is something worth seriously considering. I mean, there's already a void in leadership. Why not try something that's proven?
 
Top