Tracy and EPAK similarities



I was talking to a friend of mine last night (Shawn Monday) who came from the Tracy System and converted to EPAK he stated that they are very similar and learn a ton of the same material (i.e. Short 3 is the same in Tracy, dont know if they call it that or not)
What are the big differences in the systems? Is it all good Kenpo? are the curriculims the same? I know there are some tracy guys on here maybe someone can clue me in ;)

Michael Billings

Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Apr 5, 2002
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Austin, Texas USA-Terra
My understanding was that the Tracys left Ed Parker in the early 60's. They took the version of Kenpo that was being practiced then, and made it there own. It did not go through the rigorous analysis, and re-structuring according to Principles, Concepts, and Theories of Motion that are in modern EPAK.

I came from a Tracy derived system through 1st Black. It's checks were positional and more passive, and there was a greater emphasis on larger circular movements. It seemed to have more of a Kung-Fu connection than linear Karate moves.

The techniques were similar, especially at higher belts, but they may not use Delayed Sword (Inward Block/Front Snap Kick/Outward Handsword), but instead have Inward Defense (Inward Block/Outward Chop/Front Snap Kick.) Inward Defense was then "rearranged" by Mr. Parker, to take advantage of "Borrowed Force" following the kick and to have them still in range for the kick prior to the handsword.

Tracy's art kept more of the Chinese weapons and focused on lower stances. It was still a multiple strike system utilizing linear and circular moves, and we hit hard ... but it just was not the same. Feeling Mr. Parker hit me was like the world falling on you. Tom Kelly was the IKKA Senior advisor to the Chinese Kenpo System I was in, and I remember just thinking what he did was so much more complex (I did not know the difference between that and sophistication), and I could never learn it.

Then came Mr. Conatser and Mr. Parker and my world changed. You would have to ask a current Tracy student the difference, or actually see them training, to evaluate for yourself the difference. The last time I went to one of their camps was circa 1986 or 1987. I was glad I made the change and I have never regretted it. I still know outstanding Martial Arist that do the Tracy version of Kenpo, it is just not what we do as EPAK martial artists.



2nd Black Belt
Mar 16, 2002
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Wright City, MO
Hi Brian,

Well ... With some trepidation, here I go. Hopefully, anything stated in here is not offensive to any one ... It's not intended that way.

Tracy's Karate, to be exact, is Ed Parker Kenpo. The Tracy's originally studied under Ed Parker (as you may well know). After Ed Parker began to modify and change his art, the Tracy's kept what they already had, left the Parker fold, and there has been only some change/rearrangement since the early 70s. However, essentially, it is pretty much the same material as it was "way back when".

The basic forms, Short #1, Long #1, etc. up to Long #3 are pretty much the same in form... The interpretation of techniques within the kata are different.

Some of the EPAK techniques at the lowest level, yellow belt, are virtually the same except, again, the interpretation. Delayed Sword is a primary example. Same technique. In Tracy's it is a right punch defense, while in EPAK, it is a right collar level/shoulder grab.

Insofar as forms go, Long #4 is where major differences begin to show up, but again those are techniques. I surmise that this is because, as Ed Parker changed his system, the form became changed. Or, to keep slings and arrows off my head, mayhap the Tracy's changed it after they left. The reason I suspect that is incorrect is that nothing else was changed that drastically in Tracy's.

EPAK kept changing and modifying as Ed Parker developed and evolved. The Kenpo that the Tracy Brothers had did not go through those same evolutionary processes. EPAK scaled down the enormous amount of technique as it evolved, and became an analytical and defining method of study. Tracy's is a matter of rote repetition of already defined techniques, much like traditional systems of karate and kung fu.

Again, at the risk of suffering slings and arrows, there appears to be a niche for both perspectives in Kenpo Kulture.

Hope this helps some. It is really extremely brief, and doesn't have a lot of political, theoretical explanations or perceptions in it.
It is just simply a quick, topical overview of the differences.

Hopefully someone can add to or correct this thread as needed.