The Early Years

MJS

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What was training like in the early years with the Tracys? Were things taught differently than they are today? How were the classes structured? Level of contact then compared to now?

Just throwing out some general questions, as I think its nice to reflect on the past vs. the present. :)

Looking forward to the replies!:ultracool

Mike
 

kidswarrior

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What was training like in the early years with the Tracys? Were things taught differently than they are today? How were the classes structured? Level of contact then compared to now?

Just throwing out some general questions, as I think its nice to reflect on the past vs. the present. :)

Looking forward to the replies!:ultracool

Mike

As an SKK cousin, I'd be very interested in this, too. :asian:
 

KenpoDave

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Well, I am not from the early years, but I have teachers that are. I find it hard to believe that there was more contact in the old days than now, but I can't speak for every school. I only know how I was taught and how I train.

I think that the biggest difference is in the fact that there are now a large number of kenpo masters that have been doing this for 40+ years, they are all over the place, and they are on the internet sharing information.

They did not have that, but thanks to their dedication, continued learning and study, or obsession as we all really know what it is, those of us today have much more available to us.
 

Jim Hanna

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I also am not from the very early days. Mr Tracy has told stories though. For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

I know that "breaking" was also important because Mr Tracy did alot of the breaking at demos.

Lastly, the student composition was different. They were all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

Jim
 

kidswarrior

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I think that the biggest difference is in the fact that there are now a large number of kenpo masters that have been doing this for 40+ years, they are all over the place, and they are on the internet sharing information.

They did not have that, but thanks to their dedication, continued learning and study, or obsession as we all really know what it is, those of us today have much more available to us.

Jim Hanna said:
For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

Lastly, the student composition ... was all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

I'm starting to get some knowledge gaps filled in. Thanks for these replies, and keep 'em coming. :)
 

Jim Hanna

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and they wore those little white gis that were two sizes too small. LOL

For more information you should visit Will Tracy's web site or visit the San Jose Kenpo web page. Mills Crehshaw has posted there and has addressed the training and what kenpo was like before Mr Parker brought it to CA from Utah. These are the guys that were there. Mr Crenshaw will be attending the upcoming Gathering of Eagles in Chicago in June. I'm looking forward to meeting him.

Jim
 

distalero

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When the Sacramento school on Riverside Blvd (the one that is listed on the original brochure and described as the Tracy's second school) changed hands (or whatever the transaction was) in the 60's, the students, including most or all of the senior students, all trooped over to the Fulton Ave. studio, or so I understood (there were some satellite practice groups that I heard about, but I don't have any detailed knowledge of them). A year or so later (late 60's) I began working out at the Fulton Ave studio. That studio was seen to be distinct from the Tracy brothers at that point, but obviously there was an overlap; really a continuation. Workouts were lots of falls, rolling and diving falls, as mentioned, including a judoka throwing us so that we'd be familiar with that sort of thing, no breaking that I know of, lots of technique practice including the "line" and two and 3 man attack practice.
Forms were in the picture by the late 60's; Form 1 through 5, Book Set and Two Man set (they were two very distinct forms, not "the same thing" as I've heard many years later). There wasn't padded contact sparring like there is nowadays, just shin and mouth guards. "No contact" (always a misnomer when the blood begins to boil :D) was the rule in general classes, but you could negotiate with your partner for whatever level of pain you wanted. There were separate brown belt classes which included blackbelts, and there may have been a black belt class at some point, but it was a relatively small population of students so it was as far as I know really a senior student class. Saturday classes were more of the same, but there was frequently an emphasis on "bar room fighting" ie, objects in your way (objects to use :D) and that sort of thing.

There was bag work, hanging bag and held bags. Makiwara work was left up to the individual to construct and use, although I remember some sort of rig in the back that was used as a makiwara.

The above doesn't answer the question exactly, of course, but it gives you a sense of what the overlap/continuation was.
 
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I also am not from the very early days. Mr Tracy has told stories though. For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

I know that "breaking" was also important because Mr Tracy did alot of the breaking at demos.

Lastly, the student composition was different. They were all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

Jim

Well I didn't run into the Tracy system until 1972, and had already spent 22 years doing other stuff, but I can give you want went on 35 years ago.
Yes, Kenpo back then was a "hard" style. The flowery crap was not done.
And, Kenpo back then had 40 techniques per rank. None of this 12 techniques per belt rank crap.
There was NO safety gear except groin cups. We taped our toes together and fingers together so they wouldn't break.
And, Kenpo back then had "sets", which were later renamed forms. Things like "Four Shields" (Short I), "Shield and Mace" (Long I), etc. I did put the compete list on kenpotalk sometime this year.
We also did makiwara training.
We weren't worried about law suits.
When someone slandered us, we'd visit them and "rectify" the situation so they knew where we were coming from, and we had no problems with the law.
The Master Keys were NOT near as sophisticated as they are now.
In my first studio of 235 + clients I had 3 women. The rest were mostly in their 20's and were rednecks and blue collar workers.
Very few professionals (Doctors, Lawyers, MBA's).
Dr. John M. La Tourrette
 

Dave Simmons

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I also am not from the very early days. Mr Tracy has told stories though. For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

I know that "breaking" was also important because Mr Tracy did alot of the breaking at demos.

Lastly, the student composition was different. They were all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

Jim

I started back in 1961. Classes were tough a lot of basics proper position, low center of gravity and conditioning. Makiwara training, sparring and multiple attack scenerios. Protective equipment was basic cup and supporter. Shin protection was done by wearing elastic stockings with a piece of ectofoam(sp?) over the shin area. Lots of tape on hurt toes, fingers and ankles. Hands were thin elastic hand material taped. Contact was accepted to make sure technique was correct. One had to know how to break fall etc. Back then when you sparred you would not stop until the ref/teacher pulled you apart. One learned quickly what worked or what needed to be changed. Survival was a mark of learning by mistakes etc.
 

JadeDragon3

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Well, I am not from the early years, but I have teachers that are. I find it hard to believe that there was more contact in the old days than now, but I can't speak for every school. I only know how I was taught and how I train.

I'm not a Kenpo stylist but I have been studying kung fu since the early 80's and the training that I did then versus now was a lot tougher. When we sparred in class it was almost full contact and the only required safety equipement that we had to wear were hand pads and a mouthguard. That was it. We wore tennis shoes or went bare foot when we sparred. It was tough. We trained on a concrete floor covered partially by a thin piece of carpet. There was no air conditioning in the summer and in the winter all there was was a small carosine heater. So basically the winter training was cold and the summer time training was hot as hell. We had people coming into the school off the street all the time wanting test thier skills against us and of course we obliged them everytime. We weren't worried about lawsuits either. I think the rerason training was tougher back then is because this was a time when people WERE NOT lawsuit happy like they are today. You could be a little bit tougher and rougher in those days (not that that was so long ago) or even in the 60's and 70's.
 

Spartan

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It seems like Tracy's back in those days was much more in a "classical" karate format. But I guess that's all anyone knew back then.
 

KenpoDave

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It seems like Tracy's back in those days was much more in a "classical" karate format. But I guess that's all anyone knew back then.

Perhaps. I think it more likely that the methods used in the early 1960s are what we now consider "classical."
 

TenTigers

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I trained in the late 70's early 80's and there were no pads, except mouthpiece and cup-sometimes.
Instructor: You have a cup?
Student: No
Instructor: You have a girlfriend?
Student: No
Instructor: You can fight.
We had sleeveless gi's-not because of any fashion statement, but because they got ripped off during sparring. So did hair. Groin kicks were good, shins too.
"Light contact, no face" rules were ..bent. Hey, accidents happen! But it was never malicious, and everyone was ok with it.
 

chrstnkenpoist

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I also am not from the very early days. Mr Tracy has told stories though. For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

I know that "breaking" was also important because Mr Tracy did alot of the breaking at demos.

Lastly, the student composition was different. They were all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

Jim
I also am not from the very early days. Mr Tracy has told stories though. For example, when a student walked into the dojo, the first thing he did was toss his rolled gi across the floor and then do a front roll onto the floor in order to get to the locker room.

They did alot of work on rolls and falls, kicking from the ground, getting up safely, etc. Stances and basics were worked incessantly. Form practice came later. When Mr Tracy started Kenpo, there were no forms.

I know that "breaking" was also important because Mr Tracy did alot of the breaking at demos.

Lastly, the student composition was different. They were all young, fairly athletic men--no women, no children, so its easy to imagine how the work outs were geared.

Jim
 

chrstnkenpoist

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not sure if this was ever replied to, so here it goes. Not sure if you are saying Mr. Tracy created Kenpo, or if you're saying when he started training in Kenpo under Mr. Parker? What Mr. Tracy taught was based on what he was originally taught by Mr. Parker before the changes that brought us what is termed American Kenpo.
 

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