KT:The Sacred Cow of EPAK

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The Sacred Cow of EPAK
By JayWilson - 11-05-2014 12:15 PM
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk

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Recently read in a discussion that, if I am teaching Ed Parker&#8217;s concepts and principles/methodologies of Kenpo, then I &#8220;am obligated&#8221; to teach the &#8220;full system&#8221; as laid out in Infinite Insights Volume 5.

I quickly confessed, Ifeel no such obligation whatsoever. I feel an obligation to seek his process, to look beyond the commercial model, to seek further refinement; I feel obligated as a teacher to instruct my students on how to effectively defend themselves using the Concepts and Principles set forth by Mr. Parker.

But no obligation for the &#8220;material of the system&#8221;. About a third of the techniques, out. Three quarters of the extensions, gone. The second level sets, bye. Category Completion? Naw.

Now, in past discussions, the argument has been made that, if I&#8217;m not teaching it as laid out in II-5, then I&#8217;m doing teaching Parker Kenpo. Well damn, I didn&#8217;t create these techniques, nor did I codify any of it.

By that argument, the folks doing the 16-tech-per-belt format aren&#8217;t doing Parker Kenpo either.

By that same argument, all the folks who don&#8217;t have Nunchaku Set aren&#8217;t doing Parker Kenpo either (isn&#8217;t that ALL of them)?

Now, if I may segue a short distance, I understand the semantics-based argument of &#8220;of course you aren&#8217;t doing Parker Kenpo, only Ed Parker did Parker Kenpo&#8221;&#8230;..we&#8217;re not talking about that.

I personally feel that &#8216;EPAK&#8217; has become something of a sacred cow and &#8216;Big Red&#8217; has become the Bible for many practitioners. Mr. Parker himself wasn&#8217;t done with his art, so who the Hell is anyone else to presume that it&#8217;s complete/finished/perfect/set in stone?

But what do I know? I&#8217;m merely a &#8220;lower ranked&#8221; black belt (as indirectly pointed out to me recently by an un-named tenth).


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stickarts

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Although we teach the whole system privately, our base group class curriculum does not. Most people like it, some dont. This has worked for us 20+ years now.
 

Takai

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The Sacred Cow of EPAK
By JayWilson - 11-05-2014 12:15 PM
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk

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Mr. Parker himself wasn&#8217;t done with his art, so who the Hell is anyone else to presume that it&#8217;s complete/finished/perfect/set in stone?

I think this hits the point right there. My Kenpo lineage comes down through Steve Fox. And a lot of what I learned doesn't look the same as the later incarnations as Ed Parker continued to refine his "system". Does that mean that I didn't learn EPAK or that I learned an "inferior" version. I don't feel that way. Ed refined the way he taught the principles but, the principles really never changed. In the end it just comes back to the basics. Focus on those and everything else makes more sense. Just my .02.
 

stickarts

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It's the same in some other arts as well. Modern Arnis changed quite a bit over the years right up until the passing of Professor Presas. But the basics are the basics.
 

tshadowchaser

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20 some odd years ago when I was studying EPAK I could go down the road, or east and west of where the school I was in, for maybe half a mile and find another school teaching EPAK and what was being taught was taught differently. All those instructors where under Parker and most went to study with him off and on.
The core of the training was the same the way it was presented might have been different but the knowledge was still there and Parkers influence was differently there.
Some instructors had more knowledge and more years of study under Parker so what they taught might have more in it but it was all EPAK
 

oldsoldier2006

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I got removed from the EPAK scene as life took over shortly after EPS's death. I knew of the infighting, the fracturing and forming of factions and associations, and the proliferation of 10th degree BBs that claim to be the "true disciples" of Mr. Parker. I trained "EPAK" as a kid and wasn't mature enough to have a lot of insight as to what was being taught or why. Admittedly, I was a student for primarily cosmetic reasons like bragging rights so I wasn't invested in the politics of it all. When EPS died, I had already stopped training months prior because my teacher up and vanished. (I didn't train at a school; I trained under a BB from a local school).

The question posed in the OP sounds to me like a test of purity. I don't think anyone out there whose last name isn't Parker can really answer what is and what isn't EPAK. Personally, I've moved on to training BJJ and Judo where there only overarching principles determine whether you're learning one or the other. Belts dictate more effort and dedication and to a lesser extent, skill level. Criteria is loose and can be dictated by the individual instructor. The principles all come from the earliest iteration of the art itself. Honestly, Judo doesn't have this problem. If there are subsets of Judo, I don't know about them. BJJ seems to have two major schools - Gracie and Machado and honestly, I don't know that there's a major difference between the two. At the end of the day, it's all Jiu Jitsu and what works, works.

Now apply this lens to Kenpo. Whether it's Tracy, Parker, Mills, Planas, Speakman, Tatum or whoever. Is what you're learning working? Is it doing for you what you want it to? Are you losing weight? Are you in better shape? Do you feel more confident that you can defend yourself? If so, then what's the fuss? 9/10 incoming students to any school/academy don't really know what they're signing up for beyond "taking karate". Adherence to an overall curriculum or worse yet, minuscule aspects of the curriculum don't make or break the success of a student in their quest to learn martial arts, whether they have belt-based expectations or otherwise. BJJ has taught me that from concepts come techniques, not the other way around as I feel it has been argued by some.
 
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