Kenpo Roots & History Part 2

Kembudo-Kai Kempoka

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hongkongfooey said:
Dave,

I know that Palanzo and I believe Planas started the WKKA shortly after Mr. Parker died. I had also heard a rumor that there were some inquiries about rank promotions from other Blackbelts before Mr. Parker was even laid to rest. I find this appalling if true. Could you or Doc shed some light on this issue. If you don't want to answer, I can understand. This is a touchy subject for some people. I you do want to answer, PM me if you don't want to post public.

Thanks,

HKF

Too much mud-slinging in kenpo for me to want to join in more than I already have. There were some guys who leaped for the kenpo throne pretty much upon the news of Mr. Parkers passing. Some guys were instant; some put more thought into how to be thorough about it; some stayed out of the mess, but ended up having to go similar ways with the due passage of time and inevitable dissolution of more sensible (?) organizations in kenpo. Unfortunately, there were a few folks who were so sure they should be the next king, that they pestered the family to recognize thier ascension to the throne before the family even had time to digest or grieve their loss. My deepest respects in this regard go to the guys who just quietly went their way to do their thing.

Generally you'll see new groups in kenpo form for one of four main reasons:

1. Money - it is more profitable to own the organization, and keep the cash for testing, patches, yearly dues, etc.

2. Power/Ego - It is more gratifying to be on top of the mountain, than near it or on it's slopes.

3. Change - What happens if what you teach is no longer what you learned? Add some stuff; take some stuff away...this is, arguably, one of the most controversial reasons to start a kenpo splinter faction.

4. Sadness over quality concerns/Nostalgia - there were a couple guys who were fairly close to Mr. Parker over one or more of the decades prior to his death. Each had their unique experiences with him, and each considers theirs to represent a certain quality. Some of these guys come out of kenpo retirement after seeing kenpo done poorly. They haven't been in any existing loops, and don't really want to associate to the way they see any current guys doing it, so they start their own gig and re-hash what they remember from their time with Mr. Parker. Some of those oldsters rock, and some would have done kenpo a better service if they stayed under a rock.

They aren't all bad. Some guys are doing really outstanding jobs of representing kenpo in their teaching.

I recently read a list of 9ths and 10ths on Mr. Conatsers website. Reading over it, you get a mix of responses. Well, you pretty much get two responses. "I could see that; that makes sense...he's pretty much as deserving as any other guy on the list," Or, "what? Him? Why on earth..."

Regards,

Dave
 
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pete said:
unfortunately, you are getting one side of a bigger picture.

me, i'm a nobody, and far be it from me to say Doc is wrong (or right for that matter). what Doc and Dave say makes a lot of sense, and i will NOT dispute for one minute the accuracy and integrity by which Doc has graciously elaborated relating to his relationship, training, and friendship with SGM Parker. Further, i have no reason to doubt that he was taught differently and explored different material with his friend and teacher.

this happens all the time with good teachers and their students, whether they be friends or not.

then there is the commercial, hamburger, motion, dance school stuff that also makes sense for the masses... but, are we expected to believe that people like larry tatum, steven labounty, tom kelly, joe palanzo, etc were not taught at the same level of quality as Dr Chapel? Could it be possible that these men, proteges if you will, were given much of the same instruction, or if different, then at the same level of quality, as each other and Doc alike?

Maybe these other seniors were taught the 'advanced concepts' not to teach to their kids and weekend warriors, but to hold for those students who earn it... maybe?

Seniors like Tatum, LaBounty, Kelly, Palanzo are all men with at least 40 years in the martial arts. yes business is business, but i give them all credit that they would have figured it out on their own by now~

pete.
Good points, but you have to remove LaBounty from the other names. They are newbies in comparison and not considered 'seniors' from where Steve and I sit. I have students who made black before those guys. LaBounty was Tom kelly's teacher who was Huk Planas' teacher, to put things into perspective.

As I've said before, what came after the business was marketed is a different branch of the tree that neither Steve nor I subscribe to, he has a quality product as do I, but he and I don't do the same thing. The level of 'quality' (to use that word) for one branch will not equal another branch higher on the tree. I am only an expert in my teaching but I can tell you this, if its based on motion, and not anatomy than it is the business model.
 

jazkiljok

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hongkongfooey said:
Revisionist history? Who's version?

exactly. how does this seem to be revisionist history? what specifically in Doc's article are people taking issue with and based on what (hearsay, direct experience, other written accounts)?

this thing about who of Ed Parker's close friends/students learned seems irrelevant to the articles.

or did i miss something?
 

Brother John

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lady_kaur said:
Not only understanding and ability, but also the interest of the student, and where they want to go with their art. That seems to apply to many different types of art. Studying music at the college level, an instructor has a certain amound of ground that s/he has to cover with their students. That material is also framed by what the student is interested in and how the student interprets what is being taught.

A great music teacher can produce great performers, but a great music teacher rarely produces identical performers.

Is it possible that Kenpo is the same way?
I think this is an Excellent point, Lady Kaur!!! It should be considered I think.

Your Brother
John
 

Kenpoist

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It is always interesting to learn more history on the formulation of Kenpo and SGM Parker’s teaching philosophy, but I find the article a bit discouraging. It is true Kenpo was taught on many different levels to many different people, but it seems as though the article let’s all of us commercial kenpoist’s know that we are not being taught the “real” nuts and bolts of the intended system. The 3rd,4th, 5th and so on generations must really be getting a watered down version, as we know that when you pass something down the grapevine, a little is lost each time. Those of us 2nd generation student’s have to wonder if SGM Parker trusted our instructor’s enough to give them inside knowledge of the “real” kenpo.
Regardless of the version of kenpo we are now studying, I think the art is still superior to so many being taught around the world. Are there some loopholes in the commercial curriculum? Sure.

What is the best way of supplying the Kenpo community with the tools necessary to make Kenpo the premier system once again, since it seems not to be evolving? With all the infighting and jockeying for positions after SGM Parker passed away – who are we to believe has the best intentions for the Kenpo community at large?
 
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Kenpoist said:
It is always interesting to learn more history on the formulation of Kenpo and SGM Parkers teaching philosophy, but I find the article a bit discouraging. It is true Kenpo was taught on many different levels to many different people, but it seems as though the article lets all of us commercial kenpoists know that we are not being taught the real nuts and bolts of the intended system. The 3rd,4th, 5th and so on generations must really be getting a watered down version, as we know that when you pass something down the grapevine, a little is lost each time. Those of us 2nd generation students have to wonder if SGM Parker trusted our instructors enough to give them inside knowledge of the real kenpo.
Regardless of the version of kenpo we are now studying, I think the art is still superior to so many being taught around the world. Are there some loopholes in the commercial curriculum? Sure.

What is the best way of supplying the Kenpo community with the tools necessary to make Kenpo the premier system once again, since it seems not to be evolving? With all the infighting and jockeying for positions after SGM Parker passed away who are we to believe has the best intentions for the Kenpo community at large?
All your points are very well stated sir, and I agree with most of your assessements. Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways. A commercial product has to be designed for the masses. All ages, genders, and varying levels of commitment. It cannot drive away business/money, or be such that younger people loose interest, or older/more fragile people find it too strenuous. Many compromises must be made, Are the grappling schools packed with children women, and older men? There's a reason. Commercial Kenpo was designed to give you the best overall experience available on a mass scale. That it does very well, but that doesn't make it THE 'shiznit.' It does make it the 'commercial Shizzle.' Or as Ed parker said, "If everybody is doing it, than it can't be the absolute best stuff. - Ed Parker Sr.
 

Atlanta-Kenpo

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Doc,

Surely there are other qualified 1st generation instructors out there who have the same understanding of EPAK as you. Or are you the one left holding the holly grail? What about Mr Planas, Mr Wedlake, Mr Palanzo, Mr LaBounty ect. Are all of these men masters in the comercial product only?

Who has the knowledge Doc? Are you really the only one or are other instructors just more particular (As was Mr Parker from my understanding.) about whom they teach what too?
 

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Atlanta-Kenpo said:
Doc,

Surely there are other qualified 1st generation instructors out there who have the same understanding of EPAK as you. Or are you the one left holding the holly grail? What about Mr Planas, Mr Wedlake, Mr Palanzo, Mr LaBounty ect. Are all of these men masters in the comercial product only?

Who has the knowledge Doc? Are you really the only one or are other instructors just more particular (As was Mr Parker from my understanding.) about whom they teach what too?
Hopefully Doc will answer your question, but if he doesn't, and I suspect he may not, then I'll try to answer.
It is obvious by now that everyone learned something different. Each student had different goals. Some wanted to open studios while others wanted nothing more than the knowledge. The skill set to open a school and keep it running is slightly different than that of being a cop (no eye gouges and all that stuff people like in the studios).

So who has the knowledge? I think the better question to ask is, "Where can I get the knowledge?"
Some of the best instructors around don't make a dime off of their students. Check with these instructors first. The ones who teach out of their garage. The ones who are retired from their primary source of income and don't really need the school. The one who has fewer students.

This is NOT to say that people with students are incapable of teaching at a higher level. Simply that when teaching to the masses you must cater to the average skill level. Work too fast or too detailed and people give up because they feel they are not actually retaining anything. Work too slow and attempt to perfect someones skill and people leave out of boredome. "You made me do the same form three hundred times".... This is what Doc means by commercial kenpo. Everyone takes it as an insult, but it's not. The people running these business' are genius. They make a living off of Kenpo. That's not easy.

For fun I can tell you who I have heard Doc mention as respecting in the martial arts world.
Cliff Stewart - Pentjak Silat. He is a body guard and boy does he have stories.
Lee Wedlake, Steve Labounty, Steve Herring, Kevin Mills, and going way back, Jimmy Woo, Ark Wong, Si Il Choi (Spelling).

That is not by any means a complete list. Only the ones I remember hearing him mention.
 

Atlanta-Kenpo

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I completely agree with the list that you gave and there are many others out there that you did not mention. My point in asking the obsurde is just that obsurde. Anyone who has been around EPAK or any other combative art out there for any time can and should be able to tell you were the knowledge is and how to get it.

Everyone is talking about who knows what and what is thier rank is and at what time and what there rank should be (blah blah blah). Give me a break! No wonder EPAK is in the shape it is in. To much yackin and not enough smakin. Shut up and train is what I say.

We all know who the good instructors out there are and if your with someone who you don't think has the knowledge then find someone who does and train under them.

Doc even said it himself. It is easy to get caught up in the mucky muck of it all. We all know that there or many people out there with strips and can't back it up. Man how pathetic is that!

There are those of us out here not only doing their very best to be true to EPAK but also trying their hardest to be true to themselves and at the end of the day that is what counts. to know.


Full Salute
 

hongkongfooey

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Atlanta-Kenpo said:
Doc,

Surely there are other qualified 1st generation instructors out there who have the same understanding of EPAK as you. Or are you the one left holding the holly grail? What about Mr Planas, Mr Wedlake, Mr Palanzo, Mr LaBounty ect. Are all of these men masters in the comercial product only?

Who has the knowledge Doc? Are you really the only one or are other instructors just more particular (As was Mr Parker from my understanding.) about whom they teach what too?

I wouldn't say they were all taught the commercial product, but I will bet you that they all teach the same material differently. I remember that reading that Ed Parker would teach some people but never really show them anything. The man wasn't dumb. He knew that there were people trying to take advantage of him.
 
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Atlanta-Kenpo said:
Doc,
Surely there are other qualified 1st generation instructors out there who have the same understanding of EPAK as you.
Honestly, I really don't know. I do know my understanding is unique to me and the teaching I received in terms of knowledge and direction.
Or are you the one left holding the holly grail?
I seriously doubt that. In fact when Mr. Parker passed on, I thought many were doing as I was. It took me by surprize when many didn't approach things the way I was taught. Mr. Parker didn't suggest it was unique beyond the law enforcement mandates or the Ark Wong connection we worked on. He did however, as Edmund Jr. put it, "Keep me on my own little island." I seriously doubt I was the only one. I get a general sense that those running a business were taught only what was needed. The business is wholly incompatible with the type of material I teach. You can't teach both. They are diametrically opposed to each other. You can't 'polish' up the business version. You have to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch.
What about Mr Planas, Mr Wedlake, Mr Palanzo, ...
All capable men for sure, however all came at the beginning or during the commercial motion based product. Richard (and Tom Kelly) spent a great deal of time assisting Mr. Parker in putting it together, however ...
Mr LaBounty ect. Are all of these men masters in the comercial product only?
Mr. LaBounty predates the commercial product as I do, and has never subscribed to it. Does he do what I do? No. Does he do motion kenpo? No. He has continued to educate himself, and does some tremendous things in the arts, and always has. They don't come any better or classier. Whereas the others describe who and what they are by what they teach and expound. All intelligent and capable, but beyond what is generally known, who is to say what they do or do not know? Not Me. I only know from their writings, teachings, and students they appear to be based in the motion product.
Who has the knowledge Doc?
You do sir. Everyone has some, but it does have to be put in context to be understood. Then there is the stuff you don't know that needs to be added to it, and only a knowledgeable teacher can do that.
Are you really the only one or are other instructors just more particular (As was Mr Parker from my understanding.) about whom they teach what too?
That sir is an excellent question, and I can assure you I am not alone. Even if that was the intent, it is not likely. However, those who are and have been in the business of kenpo in many cases are just that. In business. Those who were in business were taught business kenpo to be successful. If they were financially successful, so was Mr. Parker. When Mr. Parker visted my clubs/schools, he didn't do things I'd seen him do in seminars and demos with others. He went in a different direction, and sometimes even different from what he would share with me privately. More particular? I bet quietly there are a lot of unassuming Parker guys out there teaching like Rich Hale in his school garage, or Steve Hearring, with a small but loyal following of really good students. I bet you dollars to donuts, that's where the really good stuff is. :)

"Green is the universal solvent, it can delute anything." - Ed Parker Sr.
 

IWishToLearn

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Aaaaannything Dr. Chapel?

I have some rust on my brake shoes that I've been looking everywhere for a solution to its removal. :)

*Ducks and runs away.*
 

Atlanta-Kenpo

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Doc,

I wasn't really trying to put your feet to the fire but rather make a point to the board (Please see my last post.). But as always you come through with high flying colors even when the difficult thoughts and ideas are proposed. I really appreciated your post on rank and man what a breath of fresh air. Hell, I don't even wear the belt that I toolk so much pride in at one time any longer. I guess I have just become a t shirt and sweat pants king of guy.

Like you said : It is out there and those who really want it will find it by any means nessary.
 
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Atlanta-Kenpo said:
Doc,

I wasn't really trying to put your feet to the fire but rather make a point to the board (Please see my last post.). But as always you come through with high flying colors even when the difficult thoughts and ideas are proposed. I really appreciated your post on rank and man what a breath of fresh air. Hell, I don't even wear the belt that I toolk so much pride in at one time any longer. I guess I have just become a t shirt and sweat pants king of guy.

Like you said : It is out there and those who really want it will find it by any means nessary.
Well you know, when you take the ego out (I'm too old), and you aren't recruiting or selling (asking for money) it's pretty easy to be honest. Honest! :) I just consider myself to be very 'lucky,' and Brother John reminded me of that recently and made me think. People would do anything to be in Mr. Parker's company. And yet, here I was a poor young black kid who just happened to go to school with a Chinese Grandmasters nephew (Douglas Wong), just happened to meet Ed Parker at a local gathering, just happened that he liked me and we became friends, just happened he decided to teach me, just happened that he never charged me because I couldn't afford it anyway, it just happened that I came along at the right time, it just happened I went into law enforcement which he loved, just happened I lived close enough so we saw each other regularly, just happened we liked the same things like movies, sweet potato pie, and root beer, it just happened, .... well you get the idea. When you consider everything and all the truly great martial artists that touched my life, I was and am one very 'lucky' guy who had one very special "Dad," "uncle," "Big Brother," "Best Friend," "martial arts mentor." Would you believe when I go into Chinatown's Won Kok today, the waiters call me "sifu?" I must be dreaming.
 

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Doc said:
Well you know, when you take the ego out (I'm too old), and you aren't recruiting or selling (asking for money) it's pretty easy to be honest. Honest! :) I just consider myself to be very 'lucky,' and Brother John reminded me of that recently and made me think. People would do anything to be in Mr. Parker's company. And yet, here I was a poor young black kid who just happened to go to school with a Chinese Grandmasters nephew (Douglas Wong), just happened to meet Ed Parker at a local gathering, just happened that he liked me and we became friends, just happened he decided to teach me, just happened that he never charged me because I couldn't afford it anyway, it just happened that I came along at the right time, it just happened I went into law enforcement which he loved, just happened I lived close enough so we saw each other regularly, just happened we liked the same things like movies, sweet potato pie, and root beer, it just happened, .... well you get the idea. When you consider everything and all the truly great martial artists that touched my life, I was and am one very 'lucky' guy who had one very special "Dad," "uncle," "Big Brother," "Best Friend," "martial arts mentor." Would you believe when I go into Chinatown's Won Kok today, the waiters call me "sifu?" I must be dreaming.


Sir:

I would like to ask somethings from a different perspective:

Do you revert to any of your friends in Martial arts when you have some doubt about something?

What was your stronger points in martial arts when you met Mr.Parker?

Yours,

Jagdish
 

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Doc said:
Honestly, I really don't know. I do know my understanding is unique to me and the teaching I received in terms of knowledge and direction.

I seriously doubt that. In fact when Mr. Parker passed on, I thought many were doing as I was. It took me by surprize when many didn't approach things the way I was taught. Mr. Parker didn't suggest it was unique beyond the law enforcement mandates or the Ark Wong connection we worked on. He did however, as Edmund Jr. put it, "Keep me on my own little island." I seriously doubt I was the only one. I get a general sense that those running a business were taught only what was needed. The business is wholly incompatible with the type of material I teach. You can't teach both. They are diametrically opposed to each other. You can't 'polish' up the business version. You have to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch.

All capable men for sure, however all came at the beginning or during the commercial motion based product. Richard (and Tom Kelly) spent a great deal of time assisting Mr. Parker in putting it together, however ...

Mr. LaBounty predates the commercial product as I do, and has never subscribed to it. Does he do what I do? No. Does he do motion kenpo? No. He has continued to educate himself, and does some tremendous things in the arts, and always has. They don't come any better or classier. Whereas the others describe who and what they are by what they teach and expound. All intelligent and capable, but beyond what is generally known, who is to say what they do or do not know? Not Me. I only know from their writings, teachings, and students they appear to be based in the motion product.

You do sir. Everyone has some, but it does have to be put in context to be understood. Then there is the stuff you don't know that needs to be added to it, and only a knowledgeable teacher can do that.

That sir is an excellent question, and I can assure you I am not alone. Even if that was the intent, it is not likely. However, those who are and have been in the business of kenpo in many cases are just that. In business. Those who were in business were taught business kenpo to be successful. If they were financially successful, so was Mr. Parker. When Mr. Parker visted my clubs/schools, he didn't do things I'd seen him do in seminars and demos with others. He went in a different direction, and sometimes even different from what he would share with me privately. More particular? I bet quietly there are a lot of unassuming Parker guys out there teaching like Rich Hale in his school garage, or Steve Hearring, with a small but loyal following of really good students. I bet you dollars to donuts, that's where the really good stuff is. :)

"Green is the universal solvent, it can delute anything." - Ed Parker Sr.

Doc,

I respect your opinions but I have to ask:

What REALLY IS "motion kenpo" and what makes it so inferior to what you are doing? Why are guys like Tatum, Planas, and Palanzo doing things that you view as inferior? And if I took a private lesson from each one of them, could they teach me the same Kenpo that you teach?

BTW - I limit my school to a maximum of 50 students, teach out of my garage 2 days per week, and run a fighting class out of a big club every Thursday night.
 
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Jagdish said:
Sir:

I would like to ask somethings from a different perspective:

Do you revert to any of your friends in Martial arts when you have some doubt about something?
I have many friends from various disciplines, but most of my interactions with them is physical only to make a point, but primarily philosophical because they have found no flaws in my physical teachings. One of the things we do in our "lab" is physically challenge everything. I'm 'lucky' (there's that word again) to have some of the most intelligent and highly educated friends, students and associates around. They run the gammut from hard core military officers/government agents/special forces types to street cops, to lawyers, to doctors, and computer geeks who work on top secret govenment contracts and aerospace projects. Not one of these people will allow me any 'slack' in my teaching, and everyone is encouraged to always challenge me physically on any aspect they feel is flawed or will not work. They hammer me with questions and demand hard answers.
What was your stronger points in martial arts when you met Mr.Parker?
Don't know, never thought about it. From what perspective are you speaking?
 
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Seabrook said:
Doc,

I respect your opinions but I have to ask:

What REALLY IS "motion kenpo" and what makes it so inferior to what you are doing? Why are guys like Tatum, Planas, and Palanzo doing things that you view as inferior?
"motion Kenpo" is simply Ed Parker's business model that he made the most popular form of Kenpo in the world for obvious reasons, that is based conceptually on the understanding of abstract "motion." However, I never use the word "inferior" and neither did Ed Parker. The level of this particular art is predicated on the skill and knowledge of its teacher, however it also does have a built in functional ceiling because of the nature of its design. There is a contridiction between accomodating the maximum number of people of all ages and genders, and teaching the intracacies of an academic based physical science.

Anyone teaching from this model will have limitations because of very significant knowledge that is not contained therein. Everyone knows this and has made a decision as to what they want to teach.

Visitors acknowledge rather quickly the depth of the available information goes well beyond anything thay have seen or felt, short of the Old Man himself. Some post here and will probably give their experiences. Some have come from other 1st generation Parker kenpo as well. "A guy who hand makes anything, should be better than a guy on an assembly line." - Ed Parker Sr.
And if I took a private lesson from each one of them, could they teach me the same Kenpo that you teach?
In my opinion, no. They were 'born' into motion kenpo, so that is their perspective. They have spent their lives making a living teaching, promoting, and perfecting the particular flavor of kenpo they know.

The myth is that some information has been 'left out' of motion kenpo, and therefore someone can teach it on many levels at the same time. Although in some ways this is true, the reality is that the bulk of the information was never there by design. This means that the 'basics' could be 'polished' and adjusted, but much of the applications would have to change in some instances, and completely eliminated in others.
BTW - I limit my school to a maximum of 50 students, teach out of my garage 2 days per week, and run a fighting class out of a big club every Thursday night.
Then you are not commercial, but you are teaching from the commercial syllabus. Some very good students can come out of that arrangement. You sir, are "into the art" first and are doing in many ways what I was doing when I met Mr. Parker, working for parks & rec and youth services. I had always taught in clubs and youth programs. When I went into law enforcement I began teaching credit and non-credit courses at colleges and universities much like Mr. Parker. I have never owned a 'business' teaching the art. It allows me the freedom to concentrate on the art, and to teach studuents of my own choosing.
 

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Doc said:
"A guy who hand makes anything, should be better than a guy on an assembly line." - Ed Parker Sr.
Odd, isn't it that in our quest to make standardized interchangable components we have lost the craftsmanship of the past. The skills required by the worker are less than what the craftsman has but the product/process is consistant and repeatable. Whereas, the craftsmen may produce "expressive" inconsistancies between products, the craftsman requires more skills and his products are just as good (not always interchangable).

Today we can purchase nails, cheaply and in large quantity made by machinery with little human intervention. In the past, a smith could support himself by making nails by hand.

I suppose that Kenpo shouldn't be our product, it should be our craft.
 
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Ray said:
I suppose that Kenpo shouldn't be our product, it should be our craft.
Whoa, I like that. Kenpo for me is definitely a craft. For some it is a product, and I think the difference between the two is obvious upon comparison.
 
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