Question about Legitimacy of What I Learned

MacHudde

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I have been doing a lot of research into my previous martial arts training and although I know this one school and "Grandmaster" have been discussed enough on various forums, I would just like some opinion and clarification on the matter. Back in my late teens and early twenties, I attended a Kung Fu school that taught two distinct styles, they taught Kempo as the base up until black belt. Then you could learn and more advanced style. The opinions and clarification that I need are regarding the Kempo I was taught. My Sifu, was a student of Temple Kung Fu in Edmonton, during the 70s. Most people on these forums and other forums know all about Temple Kung Fu and their Grandmaster Olaf Simon.

We know thanks to the transcripts from the lawsuit against Olaf Simon that he had no formal martial training. The Kempo that he learned, was stuff he was shown by Margitte Hilbig that she learned from Ed Parker or on the occasion that he was shown by Ed Parker when he went down to the States. From my understanding, even though he was not formally trained he still decided to grant himself the rank of Grandmaster. The fact that this guy was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt HOF baffles me. But I digress. What I want to know is if the Kempo I learned is even legit. I know that Temple Kung Fu was pretty much a McDojo. The school that I attended, I don't believe was a McDojo because it did not have the obvious McDojo red flags. The other style that my Master learned, came from a legitimate school with lineage.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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This is a tough question to answer. I suppose the first thing to address is whether or not the issues with temple kung fu invalidate the kempo aspects of it. Olaf is not the first person, nor will he be the last, to falsely rebrand what he learned. My best guess would be that this happened during the kung fu craze. A similar thing happened with karate, where schools rebranded themselves as karate despite not being Japanese arts, when schools started claiming ninja ancestry, and more recently when schools added grappling, and tacked "jiujitsu" to the end of their school names.

It's dishonest, yes. They are not teaching what they're claiming. But it doesn't mean that the original art is not legitimate. If a Korean immigrant comes to the US and claims to be teaching karate and jiujitsu instead of TKD/hapkido, it doesn't mean that you're not learning legitimate TKD/hapkido. It doesn't mean that you are, it just doesn't disqualify it.

I'm not familiar with the lawsuit, but does it confirm that he learned directly from ed parker, and a student of his? If so, that likely means there's at least a basis of kenpo in his style. If he lied in a lawsuit, and the parker family found out, you can bet that would have become another lawsuit against him/his system.

Regarding the Canadian hall of fame...that also doesn't mean much. My experience with BB hall of fame is not that they're regulatory, or do any validation. It's more that they reach out to people and offer the privilege of joining the organization in exchange for money. Any time you see someone with bb hall of fame, especially if you see a bunch, it's a good assumption they just paid for the marketing/award.

So now on to what I can answer. If he learned specifically American kenpo/ed parker's direct kenpo, it's very easy to determine if it's "legit".

If you remember any of the techniques, google their name and compare what you learned to the videos you find. There will always be variations, but if it looks pretty close, than it's probably legit in that sense.

Plenty of people have made their own styles of ken/mpo based on the principles of American kenpo, and most would call them legitimate. If the names don't match up with what you remember, that's likely the case. In that case, the question is - does it work? If you try the techniques on a non-compliant individual, can you get them to work properly? If you spar, using the skills taught there, how do you do? Those are really the only questions that matter.
 
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MacHudde

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I did a bit more research and from what I can determine, he did actually learn some stuff from Ed Parker in the 60s and 70s along with stuff that Margitte Hilbig showed him that she learned from Ed Parker. However, he didn't learn all of it. Since no one gave him accreditation, he gave it to himself. He then kinda created his own style of Kempo and called it Moo Kempo or Moh Kempo. From what others have said there is no denying he was a skilled martial artist back in the day and he had a natural fighting ability. It's just the origin story he told for 50+ years was a complete fabrication.

I did do some comparison of the techniques and forms and the basic ones look the same. Here are the Kempo forms we learned.

Kempo Short Form 1
Kempo Long Form 1
Kempo Short Form 2
Kempo Long Form 2
Kempo Short Form 3
Kempo Long Form 3

This is the staff form we learned. To me does not look like it's Kenpo. If anyone knows what form this is from, I'd like to know.
 

Bill Mattocks

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I have been doing a lot of research into my previous martial arts training and although I know this one school and "Grandmaster" have been discussed enough on various forums, I would just like some opinion and clarification on the matter. Back in my late teens and early twenties, I attended a Kung Fu school that taught two distinct styles, they taught Kempo as the base up until black belt. Then you could learn and more advanced style. The opinions and clarification that I need are regarding the Kempo I was taught. My Sifu, was a student of Temple Kung Fu in Edmonton, during the 70s. Most people on these forums and other forums know all about Temple Kung Fu and their Grandmaster Olaf Simon.

We know thanks to the transcripts from the lawsuit against Olaf Simon that he had no formal martial training. The Kempo that he learned, was stuff he was shown by Margitte Hilbig that she learned from Ed Parker or on the occasion that he was shown by Ed Parker when he went down to the States. From my understanding, even though he was not formally trained he still decided to grant himself the rank of Grandmaster. The fact that this guy was inducted into the Canadian Black Belt HOF baffles me. But I digress. What I want to know is if the Kempo I learned is even legit. I know that Temple Kung Fu was pretty much a McDojo. The school that I attended, I don't believe was a McDojo because it did not have the obvious McDojo red flags. The other style that my Master learned, came from a legitimate school with lineage.
I can't speak to your individual situation. But I can offer my opinion on the general notion of legitimacy.

All martial arts were started by people who trained others on what they had learned themselves. Systems don't go back forever; all began somewhere.

Many people promote themselves, or join organizations that promote them. That by itself doesn't mean the training is useless. It can be an indicator of potentially poor training, yes. But by itself, it doesn't prove anything. Legitimacy is a word. Nobody can say a person can or cannot fight because they were trained in a system others might consider illegitimate.

Recognized 'legitimate' systems are a good shorthand for having some level of confidence about what kind of training goes on. It's a good thing in general. But by itself, it doesn't prove anything about an individual instructor or student.

I usually tell people to take a look at a potential instructor's lineage, try to ensure that they are from a recognized line of training. But again, that's just a good general idea; it doesn't prove that an individual instructor can teach or that their students are or are not well-trained.

There are too many utterly untrained individuals out there that are demons fighting to suggest that only 'legitimate' lineage training can produce good students. But it's a reasonable guideline.
 

JowGaWolf

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I did a bit more research and from what I can determine, he did actually learn some stuff from Ed Parker in the 60s and 70s along with stuff that Margitte Hilbig showed him that she learned from Ed Parker. However, he didn't learn all of it. Since no one gave him accreditation, he gave it to himself. He then kinda created his own style of Kempo and called it Moo Kempo or Moh Kempo. From what others have said there is no denying he was a skilled martial artist back in the day and he had a natural fighting ability. It's just the origin story he told for 50+ years was a complete fabrication.

I did do some comparison of the techniques and forms and the basic ones look the same. Here are the Kempo forms we learned.

Kempo Short Form 1
Kempo Long Form 1
Kempo Short Form 2
Kempo Long Form 2
Kempo Short Form 3
Kempo Long Form 3

This is the staff form we learned. To me does not look like it's Kenpo. If anyone knows what form this is from, I'd like to know.
Kempo has always been strange to me.
 

JowGaWolf

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In terms of legitimacy. I've only cared about the function of a technique. Is the technique functional or is it for show? If there is more show than application, then it wouldn't be a legitimate fighting system for me. If a technique is legitimate, then it should work if someone is taught the application. If the teacher is legitimate, then he should be skilled and knowledgeable enough to teach you how to do the technique even if he cannot use it. In other words. I could teach you how to do Jow Ga kung fu fist and I should be able to give you enough information so that you can share it with others and teach them how to do it even if you cannot do it yourself. But if that information degrades significantly then so will the application. Eventually you'll end up with a form that reminds you of something done incorrectly.

The more you can use the techniques the easier it is to spot.

This probably sums up why there is so many variations of kempo
 

Hot Lunch

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In terms of legitimacy. I've only cared about the function of a technique. Is the technique functional or is it for show? If there is more show than application, then it wouldn't be a legitimate fighting system for me. If a technique is legitimate, then it should work if someone is taught the application.
This is something that a fresh new student with no prior martial arts training is not able to assess. That's where the "as long as it works" argument falls short.
 

JowGaWolf

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In terms of legitimacy. I've only cared about the function of a technique. Is the technique functional or is it for show? If there is more show than application, then it wouldn't be a legitimate fighting system for me. If a technique is legitimate, then it should work if someone is taught the application. If the teacher is legitimate, then he should be skilled and knowledgeable enough to teach you how to do the technique even if he cannot use it. In other words. I could teach you how to do Jow Ga kung fu fist and I should be able to give you enough information so that you can share it with others and teach them how to do it even if you cannot do it yourself. But if that information degrades significantly then so will the application. Eventually you'll end up with a form that reminds you of something done incorrectly.

The more you can use the techniques the easier it is to spot.

This probably sums up why there is so many variations of kempo
More about the variation.

 

JowGaWolf

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This is something that a fresh new student with no prior martial arts training is not able to assess. That's where the "as long as it works" argument falls short.
They should be fine if they stick with the basics and not get caught up in the showmanship of demos
 
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MacHudde

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I think why my validity question comes into play due to a couple of things.

  1. Given that there are 30 schools active now that came from Temple Kung Fu, with thousands of people having been trained by either going to TKF or from past students, you don't really hear much about Simon being mentioned in the Kenpo community (unless you count forums), however, I referring to for example The Art of One Dojo or other Kenpo practitioners.
  2. It's almost like he left such a sour taste in everyone's mouth that people just want to forget him or he really did not make as much of an impact as some think, or it was so long ago that no one remembers.
I guess in the end, on a personal level my belts are valid, I learned the techniques and was graded by my master and head instructor and I passed. I couldn't go and get outside validation now as that was almost 30 years ago and I forget half of it.

I think what rubs me the wrong way is Olaf Simon himself and the lies and fabrications he told about his lineage, about him receiving an 8th-degree black belt from Ed Parker, or that he beat Chuck Norris in a match. All of that put the rest of us who learned from students he taught and so forth in a no so good light. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.
 
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JowGaWolf

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Given that there are 30 schools active now that came from Temple Kung Fu, with thousands of people having been trained by either going to TKF or from past students, you don't really hear much about Simon being mentioned in the Kenpo community (unless you count forums), however, I referring to for example The Art of One Dojo or other Kenpo practitioners.
Most people are heard of if they are really good, bad, or in the center of drama. My guess is that there are probably a lot of people in kempo that you haven't heard of yet.

I think what rubs me the wrong way is Olaf Simon himself and the lies and fabrications he told about his lineage, about him receiving an 8th-degree black belt from Ed Parker, or that he beat Chuck Norris in a match. All of that put the rest of us who learned from students he taught and so forth in a no so good light. The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.
Yep. Sometimes it's like that. But time passes and it becomes less important.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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What I want to know is if the Kempo I learned is even legit.
My old school location was a Kempo school run by Tony Martinez. He was Ed Parkers student. I had sparred with him. He was very fast. I have heard that Ed Parkers produced many good fighters. If someone can teach you how to fight, he is a good teacher by my definition.


tony_martinez.jpg


Most of the Kempo guys that I know all spar like the following:

- Right side forward.
- Left back hand beside right ear.
- Right leading arm drop down to the right knee.
- When opponent punches him, his leading drop right arm will hit back with a ridge hand.

Does your branch of Kempo also spar like this?
 
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Hot Lunch

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If someone can teach you how to fight, he is a good teacher by my definition.
Kimbo Slice had more than enough credibility to teach people to fight had he chosen to do so. But the only thing he could've taught anyone was what he grew up having to do. Not a particular system that people are interested in and seek out schools for. Some people want a system with decades or centuries of history behind it, and there's nothing wrong with that.
 
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MacHudde

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My old school location was a Kempo school run by Tony Martinez. He was Ed Parkers student. I had sparred with him. He was very fast. I have heard that Ed Parkers produced many good fighters. If someone can teach you how to fight, he is a good teacher by my definition.


View attachment 30662

Most of the Kempo guys that I know all spar like the following:

- Right side forward.
- Left back hand beside right ear.
- Right leading arm drop down to the right knee.
- When opponent punches him, his leading drop right arm will hit back with a ridge hand.

Does your branch of Kempo also spar like this?
Similar but it was left-side forward, right hand back beside the head, and left leading arm dropped down. Similar to how Ed Parker is in this stance but the leading hand is down more.
 

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Kung Fu Wang

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Some people want a system with decades or centuries of history behind it, and there's nothing wrong with that.
MA is to learn some skill on the body. MA is not to learn some information in the head.

When someone stabs a knife toward your chest, you may have 1/2 second to respond. 2000 years of MA history won't be able to save your life at that moment.
 

Hot Lunch

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MA is to learn some skill on the body. MA is not to learn some information in the head.
If that's what someone is looking for, sure.

When someone stabs a knife toward your chest, you may have 1/2 second to respond. 2000 years of MA history won't be able to save your life at that moment.
Neither will a "cool" "new" martial art. You're done if the other person has a knife and you have nothing. Period.

In the end, the idea of telling people what they should or shouldn't want is probably not a good one.
 
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Kung Fu Wang

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If that's what someone is looking for, sure.
There are 2 kind of MA teachers.

A teacher who can teach you

1. all the basic and style history.
2. his best fighting skill.

1 is easy to find. 2 is much harder to find.

My teacher told me that when he was young, he wanted to learn a special technique from a teashop owner. He spent 1 and 1/2 years doing free labor in that teashop. Finally, the teashop owner taught him that 1 special technique. The teashop owner then told him never come back.
 

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You're done if the other person has a knife and you have nothing. Period.
I've had a knife pulled on me three times. One time did, admittedly, cost me an eye, but I survived. The other two times (both in the ER) I was unharmed. So... no. This is not correct.
 

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