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TMA UnderGround >> Good snapshot of kenpo lineage!


7/8/09 5:22 PM
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Ogami Itto
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How accurate is this? Really shows the path kenpo has taken in America, some of the big names.

http://www.pkka.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=46
11/25/09 2:05 AM
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rvboy
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Link is dead :(
11/25/09 10:10 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Shoot. Sorry!
11/25/09 2:10 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Kenpo is an interesting subject that I'd like to learn more about. It and Tae Kwon Do really, really impacted American karate.
11/25/09 3:50 PM
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de braco
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Kenpo grandmaster Edmund Parker created the concept of the mcdojo which we all love so much.William Chow,Parkers teacher, declared himself a 15th degree black belt because he felt Parker had devalued the black belt to such a degree that 8th dan was to common
11/26/09 1:58 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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de braco - Kenpo grandmaster Edmund Parker created the concept of the mcdojo which we all love so much.William Chow,Parkers teacher, declared himself a 15th degree black belt because he felt Parker had devalued the black belt to such a degree that 8th dan was to common
Yeah, one might get that impression since Ed promoted Elvis to a high degree BB.

One only has to look at some of Parker's old kata demos on youtube to get an idea of how good he actually was. Despite his "skill" he did have a good eye. When introduced to BL he actually was afraid...er, I mean respected him.

Here's a pretty good lineage page:

Kenpo/Kempo
 
11/26/09 11:10 PM
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de braco
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It wasn't just the Elvis thing,pretty much the whole Kenpo shooting match.One thing i always found weird was the higher ranked blackbelts always refered to themselves as the officers,and the lower dan ranks and kyus as soldiers,like the moonys and army got together and merged into one orginazation.
11/27/09 12:38 AM
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WidespreadPanic
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Yeah, those guys definitely seemed to have and additional 'creep factor' or something, no diss intended to Kenpo fans. They called Elvis' entourage the Memphis Mafia and I think the guys who did MA might have added to that aura, but I have no idea.

Though I consider Kenpo a TMA which lacks certain necessary training elements, one of them did look pretty good - Jeff Speakman. However, it appears he's gone the way of many Kenpo guys and gotten very out of shape.

Have you looked at them doing kata on youtube from back in the 60s and 70s? It's hilarious. (again, no diss, just my opinion)

11/27/09 10:21 AM
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de braco
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Haven't seen the youtube,
I remember going to a friends kenpo class in the 70's and just being astounded at the "technique" though.My favorite was their grounding principle where they slapped themselves in the chest or side of the leg hard at the same time as striking the opponent.The pka growing in the late 70's and early 80's helped alot of kenpo since the studios would have to throw out the bs kenpo and only work on pka boxkicking.Fat kenpo guys are not at a disadvantage because of"Backup mass" concept,and who could forget sublevel 4.
11/27/09 11:32 AM
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WidespreadPanic
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 Kenpo/Kempo is a good example of how MA would tend to build this facade of 'knowledge' about striking and pressure points, all demoed and intricately described against someone just standing there. They took acupuncture points, added all this theoretical verbiage, and felt they had a superior fighting system. But it all breaks down when you go up against someone who really fights. Then, they'd make excuses. Oh we can't fight boxers because they wear gloves, we can't actually hit someone because it would kill them.

They'd show things which were nothing more than a speedy succession of slaps, many of the misses, but they failed to realize that the opponent was just -standing there-! It did look 'good' in the sense of in your imagination. In fact, that's what was happening 'perceptual filling'. We were taking the next step, watching the demo, in our minds, thinking 'oh, those would be devastating if they actually added power'. But, they never did, the opponent never resisted (evaded) except in a choreographed way. They had speed, but were minus timing, distancing, impact, and footwork.

Here's a demo they did in '79. Look at how open  they are with all those wide swinging motions had the opponent just gone off script and threw a hook to their jaw!


11/27/09 11:36 AM
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WidespreadPanic
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Edited: 11/27/09 9:09 PM
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Had someone taken any of the comments made by those guys (and others - Kenpo was not alone in promoting the idea you couldn't perform it in a real fight or sparring match, or someone would be killed), put on 4oz gloves and used leg kicks and said 'let's go', they'd have cried 'foul!'.

Fortunately, people came along and challenged these beliefs, and we're at the point we are now.

What's kind of funny/maddening, is people stood up and gave these poseurs a standing ovation. I doubt any of them would have lasted 10 seconds with a real fighter. All this bowing and scraping to false idols. But, in fairness, they were a product of their times. What they do now is when they come to large demos, they bring 'enforcers'. If anyone challenges them (*cough*Dillman*cough*), they get mugged and roughed up. In fact, I've had people tell me that he's hurt them during demos when they'd volunteer and stand there with their defenses down. He knew they were 'doubters', so he actually hit them, hyperextended elbows and things like that.

Yes, Kenpo/Kempo did have some rough, tough guys, like many other TMA. But, their skills were more dependent on their durability and other factors and not on this 'theoretical' martial system of slapping and air striking.


     
11/27/09 6:40 PM
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Ogami Itto
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11/27/09 9:11 PM
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de braco
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WOW! That was some sureal shit.Looked like Tatum was #1 with a bullet in the charge of the hair brigade.Loved the windmill slaps to the back technique.I got a fever,and the only prescription is more windmill.
11/28/09 12:02 AM
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WidespreadPanic
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Edited: 11/28/09 12:08 AM
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 I don't think it's a completely bogus idea to train that kind of blitzkrieg type of attack. But it should be put in perspective and they  should be trying to train it more and more with a resisting opponent.

Fighting and SD moves can be different. What you'd do in an emergency from a standing start (say if someone tries to mug you) is going to be different than how you'd 'fight' someone, say if you're 'called out', versus what you do if you're 'sparring' someone.

But most people find that simpler is better. A simple power kick, done at the right angle and entry to the oppoent's thigh in a standing start mugging against an untrained opponent will do the trick.

In a way, though, these guys were training their nervous systems to be able to go from green to red, or from quiescent to 100mph in one second. And that can be valuable. (BL is reported to have done self-hypnosis and developed a 'kill-word', so that when he said it mentally, he'd go in to full alert, full rage mode. Powerlifters do a similar thing).

But I think where Ed and Co. went wrong is that they appeared to think this 'slappy blitzkrieg' was an end-all be all. It's not. Since you train like you fight, I suspect they might have had a little trouble actually hitting a real opponent. Wouldn't that be funny. But, I'd hope they were not totally clueless and trained some kind of more realistic stuff, but who knows. Jeff Speakman did look good in his move (Perfect weapon).

As I've said before, people had these weird ideas about training (it's hard to blame them). They'd do stuff like pound their right elbow 100x a day and develop a callus and be able to break cement slabs. Then they'd walk around like they were supermen, with this lethal elbow, thinking they could kill with one blow. But we all know how hard it is even for a trained, well-rounded MMA fighter to land an elbow! Since nobody ever used this nuclear-elbow (or fist, or whatever) in a real fight, nobody knew there was more to it, that you needed alive training against a resisting opponent to functionalize your strikes. You take someone down and their 'mega-elbow' is neutralized. D'oh. :)

$0.02
 
11/30/09 11:49 AM
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Ogami Itto
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I am very interested in this on a couple of levels..

I think kenpo and TKD really had an impact on American karate and kickboxing. A lot of the roots can be traced to the competitive karate scene in the 60s and 70s and kenpo was involved. I'm really interested in this part of MA history both because I think it's legit interesting and because I love the period sentimentally.

I myself trained in "Chinese kempo" and know nothing about the lineage. I think its quite widespread and Americanized. Certainly McDojo-ized but not always. What I trained in had a heavy kickboxing and MMA emphasis.

It'd be interesting to follow the kenpo diaspora and see what developed into McDojoism and what kept real or improved. Be interesting to see if, as I suspect, a lot of kenpo guys cross pollinated with TKD guys to either focus on tournament fighting and sparring and/or kickboxing.

I think there's a lot of good shit in kenpo. I think my view of training methods and mindset - which would slant pretty heavily toward MMA and street smart or realistic MA - would be at odds with some practitioners.
11/30/09 4:12 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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One way is to break down 'Kenpo/Kempo' into it's constituent elements. AFAIK, they believed in 'weaponizing' various body parts, and then striking nerve centers in a rapid fashion. If someone is just 'standing there', that will probably work. In fact, we saw that some people did make it work, but they seem to be the exception. Therein lies part of the 'unintentional deception'. Some guys who were phenoms in many areas, with superior genetics picked up or developed a 'style' and they were able to 'back it up'. BUT their success was not due to the style, it was due to their attributes or training methods, which they may or may not have passed on to their students.

Take a guy who is incredibly tough, never quits, has an iron jaw and a bullet head. He could train literally in -anything- and claim it was the best MA. But he would be wrong.

It's all about 'training method'. We had one guy who was a BB in Shotokan who used to train alone or with one student up in the back room. He had stupendously awesome kata. He'd be drenched in sweat, snapping that gi, with perfect form. Everyone was afraid of him. But, after three years in TKD and sparring a lot, and boxing and training in the ring and doing tons of bag work, I happened to venture upon him. He saw us kicking the bag in a side room. At the end of our workout while walking out I saw him walk up to the bag and try to kick it. HE COULDN'T DO IT. His kicks missed or side swiped or his foot would hit the bottom of the bag trying to chamber. It was insane. He looked puzzled and went back to his kata. I have a feeling he couldn't spar worth a darn either. (if you can't kick a hanging bag, what's the chances you can land a kick on a moving opponent?).

It was hilarious, ridiculous, frustrating and it made me mad. I realized all of a sudden just how stupid it was to concentrate on 'kata' and solo exercises (at least to the exclusion of all else).

$0.02
11/30/09 4:28 PM
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Ogami Itto
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You know what else is interesting in those days that's sort of MMAish is sharing techniques was more common and/or possible. I mean, you might see an axe kick from TKD and try it or borrow it, ask the guy to show you it, make it part of your arsenal. Ditto various hand techniques etc.

I dunno, I don't like to think too much about, just have a handful of techniques that I am good at. Left right grab kick throw stomp stomp palm smash get away.
11/30/09 5:38 PM
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Ogami Itto - You know what else is interesting in those days that's sort of MMAish is sharing techniques was more common and/or possible. I mean, you might see an axe kick from TKD and try it or borrow it, ask the guy to show you it, make it part of your arsenal. Ditto various hand techniques etc.

I dunno, I don't like to think too much about, just have a handful of techniques that I am good at. Left right grab kick throw stomp stomp palm smash get away.
OK, but how can you enjoy training this? For me, training was always about getting better than I was last time, looking better, being more athletic, a bit of 'showing off', learning about the body, and being more effective, eliminating things which were not effective, and just enjoying the workout.

I never trained to be able to 'beat anyone up', or for self-defense. Yes, I did have SD elements in my training, I did like feeling competent and the feeling of being able to 'take care of myself'. But bear in mind the whole idea of empty-hand self-defense is full of fantasy and myth. If you have real SD concerns, get a gun.

ISTM, training SD and 'if he does this, I do that' is a waste of time.

$0.02
 
12/1/09 11:30 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Widespread, you have actually put about 6 cents into this discussion!

To tell the truth I have always trained, when it comes to hand to hand, a combination of competitive sport or sparring and self defense. I myself like one steps - you can really program your reactions pretty effectively, IMO. I should be completely honest, though - I train kendo most of the time, for the last ten years, and only keep up with my hand and foot skills with fairly regular shadow boxing and bag work.
12/1/09 12:54 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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Ogami Itto - Widespread, you have actually put about 6 cents into this discussion!

To tell the truth I have always trained, when it comes to hand to hand, a combination of competitive sport or sparring and self defense. I myself like one steps - you can really program your reactions pretty effectively, IMO. I should be completely honest, though - I train kendo most of the time, for the last ten years, and only keep up with my hand and foot skills with fairly regular shadow boxing and bag work.
When people talk about MA, they sometimes don't realize there are various 'venues' for application of this skill.

First, there's a 'standing start' type of venue, where you're at a bar or on the street or someone comes up to you. You're both 'standing still', there's not a real indication that there will be any engagement, but you're within a step of combative distance (where one can hit the other with a strike or an attack - the distance varies).

In that instance, one steps, Kenpo/Kempo style solutions might be effective. The main skills include aggression, 'accuracy', timing, reading the opponent, intercepting their intent, pre-emptive attacks, reflex speed (speed of initiation). (basically 'attributes') So if you're going to focus on this kind of situation you want to train to be as quick as possible, to hit first and not get hit. Conditioning of the body parts might be important, but conditioning of the energy systems would be less (except in that this gives you faster reaction times).

For other situations - such as sport application (sparring), fighting, mass combat (mele), or warfare, different skill-sets apply. Most of the time, people here are concerned with sporting application. Of course, all these other venues do overlap and the skills are similar at times.

Experience is still important, as working with a resisting opponent. So in your one-steps, try to include these necessities.

IMO, I've rarely seen a one-step, or three-step SD type sequence done with full attributes. The attacker doesn't move especially quickly, they can't hit the opponent with force, so they're too far away, they don't cover up to avoid a counter strike, etc.

For example, some one-steps start with the opponent doing a reverse punch. The attacker waits until they are done, the opponent keeps his arm sticking out in space and then in a relatively leisurely fashion, the response (usually a block, punch then a kick) is exhibited.

To add realism, the defender should wear gear (like the red-padded suit), take a hit and react accordingly (fall down?), and maybe even fire back.

If your one-step includes a block, or a punch then a kick, and in reality the opponent or defender would have fallen down after the punch, then the 'kick' is not there - the target has become horizontal. So it makes the whole exercise totally bogus. Yes, it might help some kind of sequence timing, but the reflex pattern would be false. You'd NEVER do this in BJJ. You don't slap on a triangle, then try to finish it by the book if the opponent has already escaped. (yeah, it's a silly analogy, but that kind of illustrates the point). Yet in TMA you see this all the time.

$0.02



 
12/1/09 1:05 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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Edited: 12/01/09 1:05 PM
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Just an additional point on the above.

If -you- are the defender and you have footwork skills, experience  with resisting opponents, then  you can 'evade' attack in the 'standing start' (SS) venue. These are not being trained in one-steps.

Also, many of the situations where (SS) are not being trained in your classical one-steps. In the car, seated at a restaurant table, attack from behind and other random situations are probably more common than having someone take a stance and throw a reverse punch.

True, it's very hard to respond to attacks from ambush, but the kind of athleticism, durability, conditioning and other things developed during training 'alive' with a resisting opponent will give you other capabilities, beyond doing one-step sparring (OSS). Durability is one (ability to take a hit and still survive and fight back).

So, given all the above, imo, OSS is probably a relatively low return investment of your training dollar.


 
12/1/09 1:20 PM
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de braco
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James Mitose wore a welders helmet all the time in prison.The darth vader look.
12/9/09 10:20 AM
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twinkletoesCT
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WOW, how did I miss this thread?????????????

I grew up in Kenpo Karate. I spent a bit over 20 years in that environment. Here is what I can add that has not been said already on this thread:

1) It's true that there are lots of "reasons" given why it isn't necessary to "test" this with resisting opponents. And it isn't consciously a defense mechanism for bogus training--they actually BELIEVE that starting from the first strike, their partner's body will behave in a predictable way, allowing them to "run the pool table" with a series of quick, powerful strikes to the appropriate areas.

Follow-up: I am TOLD, via my own kenpo heritage, that the early Parker students did a TON of sparring with few rules, and that everyone got pretty roughed up. They SAY that Ed Parker could actually DO what the techniques theoretically achieve--that once he landed a strike on you, you were going to receive several more over the next few seconds, and you couldn't do anything to stop him because your own structure and balance were out of whack. Is this true? I HAVE NO IDEA. But some instructors today who kinda "get it" say, "well, Parker could do it, but we aren't training the way he was, with all the constant sparring and testing".

2) The self-slapping thing. I've seen it done, but even my instructors looked at it with an eyebrow cocked. I have no idea how that is supposed to work. I'm pretty sure its real origin is that it provides an AUDIO cue to "just how hard you would have hit that guy if you hadn't pulled the strike" so that everyone watching can ooh and aah over that loud, snappy noise.

3) I was lucky to have an instructor who was a full contact guy, a boxer, and an FMA enthusiast. So he encouraged me to crosstrain, to find a specialty, and to bring back whatever I found in the outside universe.

I started doing what WP advocates above: taking individual skills OUT of the choreographed context, and putting on enough protective gear that we could do it with real attacks (no hanging punches) and real footwork and distancing and timing and whatnot. It worked well, but only SOME of my senior instructors were on board.
12/9/09 11:31 AM
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de braco
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Kenpo for the most part is a cult with Parker as the messiah,like Bruce Lee and JKD.The true believers will not only tell you of his superhuman martial ability,but also of the Yoda like zen genius and understanding of the infinite universe.I've heard a lot of stories about Parker easily destroying adversaries, but all the footage out there is not flattering.
12/9/09 2:54 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Twinkletoes, that was a very informative post, thank you. Sounds like as widespread as kenpo is, there's BS and then there's the true hardcores.

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