KT:Universality of Kenpo

Clark Kent

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Sep 11, 2006
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Universality of Kenpo
By Dr. Dave in da house - Tue, 18 Dec 2007 18:02:22 GMT
Originally Posted at: KenpoTalk


For those of you who frequent other sites, I apologize for the redundance. I stuck this over on KN in response to a thread in which Mr. Soares and Mr. Albrechtson were dialoguing about Joe Rebelo's tri-sectional staff clip not reflecting EPAK. I'm curious about the perspectives of the folk on this board. So, here 'tis:

"Secrets of Chinese Karate listed a slew of traditional Japanese and Chinese weapons. We don't have forms for each. But we do have a system that's supposedly built on universal laws of motion as applied to the arena of personal combat.

One of my favorite discussions with Mr. Parker consisted of me just standing there in awe as he reviewed Finger Set with a pencil in each hand, finger whips converting to starting a pencil piercing via shape of the crane, then the hand opening up to allow the palm to push the pencil into a soft tissue target with a palm heel press, eraser end nestled in the cracks of his palm; finger slices converting to odd-angle entry stabs into the eyes or carotid triangle, and so on. But we can argue that a pencil is not a kenpo weapon. One of my favorite stories of Mr. Chapels that exemplifies this universal application of kenpo concepts is a lunch with Mr. P. in a diner, in which he's whipping around kethcup and mustard dispensers like blades in a blender, with deadly force and precision.

Our techniques, sets and forms are not there to teach us a response to a rear 2-hand choke, but rather how to apply the principles and mechanics of movement to combat applications. The mechanics of motion are then contextualized to whatever tools are under consideration. Just for kicks, one might consider getting their hands on a 3-section staff, and practice Short 1 & 2, Long 1, and Long 3 adapting the movements to accomodate the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon. Try it again with the Double Headed Staff described in SoCK, then again with a Chinese Broadsword, then a pocketknife, then a pair of police batons, then a small firearm (unloaded for saftey sake, or with snap caps, discharged as shots in CQB range in lieu of strikes), then again with the snap-cap pistol in one hand and a pracice blade in the other, then again with some pencils or a ketchup bottle.

When I had a small cadre of combatants under my tutelage just before the first war in Iraq, I did this with my guys from Pendleton/Force Recon. Used the kenpo system as a template for cross training modern and ancient weaponry. One of my Marines dropped into a ditch with about a dozen Republican Guard in it, refusing to surrender after having been bombed for days on end, knife in one hand side arm in the other. Emerged on the other side covered in their gore, not a scratch on him. Used kenpo the whole time...checking, jamming weapon depths, using bodies as shields, obscured angles for attack and defense, and so on. Yet, we don't have such sets and forms in the system. Supposedly.

For more fun, adapt the yellow and orange belt techniques to the 3 sectional staff. Come back and report to us that it still is not an EPAK weapon. My contention will be that...there is no such entity.

Kenpo is not the choreography. It is the stuff we are doing with our bodies while in the midst of the choreography.

Best Regards,


Please understand I ain't posting this to bust their chops or support Joes. I'm posting this because it's an important part of understanding kenpo. That the techs teach us how to use our bodies, not tit-for-tat responses to specific attacks. I know this idea is out there, but I fear it's getting lost in the concern for matching catalysts to attack/response reactions, and that the spontaneous application of kenpo -- listed by Mr. P. as the ultimate goal of the student of the motion system -- will vanish as a training concept in another 20 years.

Play nice,



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