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TMA UnderGround >> Good snapshot of kenpo lineage!


1/15/12 2:41 PM
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nottheface
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Though just because it's generic doesn't mean it's bad. While I don't train it any more, I don't think my time Mitosi's Kempo to have been wasted. I provided a broad foundation and was really the first art that I did that had punching, kicking and throwing integrated.

I will say that I tended to stay with the boxing-like striking I was introduced to first by my family, and my throws were still the shuai-chiao throws I grew up with. But at style where striking/throwing was integrated certainly helped me put it all together better. And credit where credit is due, it is where I learned to first kick.
1/15/12 8:26 PM
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PoundforPound
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As far as Kosho Ryu goes, how close is that really to Mitose's kenpo?

As far as I know it traces back to Bruce Juchnik who only had contact with James Mitose when he was in Folsom prison. Hard to imagine learning an entire system from someone behind bars.
1/16/12 4:16 AM
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nottheface
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Probably depends on how long you visited him. To be honest, I don't know how close it really is. I do know that it seemed markedly different from Kaijukempo and the American Kenpo I've seen.

One thing that did strike me as odd back then was how everyone seemed to eventually cross train in Escrima or Arnis. Something about similar approaches. It's been 20+ years so it's a little hazy for me.
1/16/12 2:14 PM
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twinkletoesCT
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nottheface - Though just because it's generic doesn't mean it's bad.  

 I agree 100%.  My apologies if I gave an impression otherwise.

I hold a shodan in Budoshin JJ, which I would describe as an *intentionally* generic style of JJJ, and that's actually what I LIKE about it!
1/28/12 11:25 PM
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ikt
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Ogami Itto - Shoot. Sorry!


so in Kenpo ;)
1/28/12 11:36 PM
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PoundforPound
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nottheface - One thing that did strike me as odd back then was how everyone seemed to eventually cross train in Escrima or Arnis. Something about similar approaches. It's been 20+ years so it's a little hazy for me.


From what I understand original kenpo (perhaps due to religious origins) is all empty hand. It defends against weapons but doesn't really teach how to use weapons.

To fill that gap escrima was perfect, and it just so happens that Hawaii was an escrima hotbed back in the day. One of the kajukenbo founders was even related to a guy that beat Floro Villabrille.
1/30/12 7:50 PM
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nottheface
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Something that I really liked about Kosho-Ryu Kempo is how it formed a really good foundation to layer other arts on top of. The movement was natural, and the general approach of getting an understanding of body mechanics, worked for me. If a given technique didn't work for you, you could drop it and do something else pretty easily. That flexibility is something that I really did miss when I tried other martial arts. I could integrate boxing punches and shuai-chiao or judo throws and MT kicks fairly easily.
2/2/12 10:11 PM
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de braco
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 TTT
9/20/12 2:30 PM
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Huggy Bear KP
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I truly enjoy the "professional opinion's" of the masses. It's so easy to tear apart a system because of the flashy antics of some poor representation. As far as the comments about the Kenpo system posted here, they all seem to be commenting on the past. Can we all agree that MA has evolved since the days of EP and BL ? I would say so. To mock something only shows immaturity and lack of knowledge. Have respect for all systems and learn the best that it has to offer and adapt it to something that works for you. Modern day MMA is a great example of taking things from the early days of combat sports and adapting to the skills and abilities of a new generation. I assure you that nobody I know of in the MA community laughs at true practitioners. showbaots and big mouths have NO PLACE in real MA.
9/20/12 4:55 PM
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otisbwags
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Any discussion of Kenpo should include George Pesare, the godfather of kenpo in New England. I believe he trained under Sonny Gascon. He definitely was involved in and promoted bare knuckles limited rules fighting in the 70s. I personally witnessed this.
9/20/12 4:58 PM
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otisbwags
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Any discussion of Kenpo should include George Pesare, the godfather of kenpo in New England. I believe he trained under Sonny Gascon. He definitely was involved in and promoted bare knuckles limited rules fighting in the 70s. I personally witnessed this.
10/3/12 4:50 PM
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Carlton Fist
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otisbwags - Any discussion of Kenpo should include George Pesare, the godfather of kenpo in New England. I believe he trained under Sonny Gascon. He definitely was involved in and promoted bare knuckles limited rules fighting in the 70s. I personally witnessed this.

I made a post on the UG about the match. This video shows some footage of Pesare's student Roger Carpenter and his opponent during a match. Possibly on one of the first NHB matches in the US. Got little response.
10/3/12 4:51 PM
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Carlton Fist
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Said match at about a 1:22 in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywzp5hTc_hQ
10/6/12 8:59 PM
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shen
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Kenpo is just like the various styles of American Jujitsu--not the techniques, but the culture.

I watched that clip of George Pesare promoting some woman, maybe in her late 40s (?) to 10th Degree Black Belt and thought this is EXACTLY what it is like in the (non-BJJ) Jujitsu world. Unlike in say Judo, everyone gets these insanely high ranks, simply by virtue of showing up to a not especially demanding class a few days a week.

I watched my own teacher --who taught Danzan ryu jujitsu at a YMCA and trained 2 days a week-- get his 10th degree Black Belt when he was in his mid 50s. His rank was recognized by all the DZR Jujitsu orgs.

Ranks like that are an insult to the very few who TRULY deserve them. 10th dan is a rank for an absolute GIANT in the martial arts community, not a rank for average, recreational practitioners.

11/6/12 8:59 PM
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Dougie
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I did ED Parker American Kenpo under Richard "Huk" Planas lineage and would go to many camps and seminars and other Planas schools. Huk did a lot of Filipino stuff because it was his heritage being of that descent.

During the time I was with them I got to meet many EPAK guys and train with them and get private lessons etc. Frank Trejo, Dave Hebler, Dennis Conatser, Joe Polanzo, Sean Kelly, etc. I used to hang out with Ed Parker Jr. a lot.

Oddly enough every one of them all had interests in other arts that they cross trained in so they would show you how they incorporated that art with EPAK. For me, I learned that EPAK was like the thief of arts. They took what was useful and used it.

I spoke a lot with the older guys like Ron Chap'el, Larry Tatum, as well about what Bruce lee and Mitose and Chow were like from the people who had met and trained with them or met them coming up. Of course you get many stories but you hear strings of truth in all of them. Mitose supposedly had a lot of knowledge and Chow was just a powerful man with skill but what Parker was doing was combining them.

Parker was not afraid of Bruce Lee. Parker had huge hands and a was generally a gorilla of a man who was fast and not afraid to fight. Universally, those who met them both and either trained JKD or EPAK pretty much said that Lee was learning things from Parker and that Lee's greatest gift was that he could learn something and 5 minutes later be doing it technically perfect, even better than the teacher. (Of coure I heard good and bad stories but that is for another time)

For EPAK, the real start of problems was "Big Red" which was the manual that was created to franchaise the system. The system was orgainzed to keep a person in the school and keep them training there for a minimum of 3 years and always have material to give them.

Old school guys like Hebler though learned few techniques and more principles but the new book of techniques became the bible and just like the bible people argued over what way they were to be done. Parker showed people things differently all the time and some of it was based on the student, some Parker, some how he felt that day or what he thought of you. But every student thought that THEY had the RIGHT version.

My own instructors encouraged me to try other arts and so I did. Eventually I left Kenpo because the politics really were not for me. I got to work with guys like Larry Hartsell, Vlad Vasiliev, etc etc. I found BJJ and MMA and I loved them and have been here ever since.

Ed Parker's American Kenpo is a not a bad place to start as a martial art, just don't get stuck there.

11/6/12 10:03 PM
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PoundforPound
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Dougie - I spoke a lot with the older guys like Ron Chap'el, Larry Tatum, as well about what Bruce lee and Mitose and Chow were like from the people who had met and trained with them or met them coming up. Of course you get many stories but you hear strings of truth in all of them. Mitose supposedly had a lot of knowledge and Chow was just a powerful man with skill but what Parker was doing was combining them.


The way I heard it Ed Parker never trained directly with Mitose and was not impressed with him when he had him over at his school for a visit.

William Chow on the other hand taught Parker almost everything he knew. Parker basically took what he learned there, dropped some of the techniques and modified others, then combined the result with kung fu to create American kenpo.
11/7/12 8:40 AM
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Ogami Itto
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Dougie:

(Of coure I heard good and bad stories but that is for another time)

STORIES, PLEASE!
11/7/12 9:13 AM
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Dougie
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PoundforPound - 
Dougie - I spoke a lot with the older guys like Ron Chap'el, Larry Tatum, as well about what Bruce lee and Mitose and Chow were like from the people who had met and trained with them or met them coming up. Of course you get many stories but you hear strings of truth in all of them. Mitose supposedly had a lot of knowledge and Chow was just a powerful man with skill but what Parker was doing was combining them.


The way I heard it Ed Parker never trained directly with Mitose and was not impressed with him when he had him over at his school for a visit.

William Chow on the other hand taught Parker almost everything he knew. Parker basically took what he learned there, dropped some of the techniques and modified others, then combined the result with kung fu to create American kenpo.

As I understand it, no, Parker never trained directly under Mitose but he did visit the school at times. I have heard weird stories about Mitose from people who met him when he visited. Mitose had some ideas that were really not part of what they "understood?" He had skill but he also had "alternative" ideas that sound almost "Dillman-ish."

From all accounts, Chow was a powerful man, not huge but had no problem laying down and arse-whooping with the info he knew.

The kung fu is a truth. A lot of what was in the forms supposedly came from Parker's interactions with Kung Fu guys. He wanted to put the concepts into the forms(Kata) so that they could be explained without needing to show how it applied on the body like the techniques.

The techniques became a real stumbling block. They taught the concepts great but a lot of people were unable to move past the techniques and apply the concepts outside of the techniques. The old school guys learned the concepts and had to figure out how to apply them. The new school guys learned the concepts and then had to learn to break away from the techniques.

The whole EPAK school system was the result of a Canadian backer looking to assist Parker in franchaising the system and schools. They took the format from the Fred Astaire dance schools with a monthly fee and private lessons etc. The techniques were developed to give concrete material to teach and allow for belt testsing fees. Mostly because if you charged a price the American public wanted a concrete item for their purchase. So just as you could say you could dance the foxtrot or the tango, you could do delayed sword, or thundering hammers.

As a school owner you could be given assurances that you would have materials to teach and retain students for 3 to 5 years depending on how you applied it. As well as the monthly fee, the private lessons, the belt testsing and and the tournaments would ensure a basic salary for the owner. Of course it also ensured that Parker had seminars and fees for his IKKA as well as franchaise costs.

This was not a bad thing. It ensured that everyone got paid, people learned stuff and the art spread. Where it broke down was that people thought the techniques WERE the art, not the concepts. It was like being lost in the forest because you couldn't see past the trees but people didn't want to leave the trees/forest behind.

Parker had to keep ahead of his students and for the most part, every person who I ever met in any art who trained with Parker said he was. The issue is that when you start grading students to black and beyond you have to keep yourself at a rank above. After Parker passed, people went nuts with the rank thing imo. However, again the rank thing was based on military/educational ranks and titles which the american public was used to and understood. No more shodan, nidan etc. It was junior professor, senior professor and colours.

Again, all this is what I have gleemed over the years and I do not claim to be an expert but I like to think I am a half decent historian.

11/7/12 9:23 AM
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Dougie
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Ogami Itto - Dougie:

(Of coure I heard good and bad stories but that is for another time)

STORIES, PLEASE!

Like Bruce Lee trying new stuff out back of the school and bashing himself in the face with nunchucks? Parker actually had an instructional about how to use nunchucks. I do not know if Lee was already working with them or not but the story goes that he was out back of the school and fooling around and smacking oranges etc and he walloped himself in the face.

There was also a story about how pretty much everyone was sure Lee could be an action star because he had the skills legit and if he could just break past the stereotype of being asian he was set. Until someone mentioned that Lee sounded like he was talking with 42 marbles in his mouth. Hearing that, Lee started diction and enunciation lessons soon after.

Just funny stuff like that.

11/7/12 5:09 PM
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PoundforPound
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William Chow definitely was a great martial artist. It's not just Parker's American kenpo that traces back to him but Adriano Emperado's kajukenbo as well.

I do wonder what exactly it was that James Mitose taught. Some people will tell you that he was just a con man who repackaged Okinawan karate and that Chow was the one who first combined Japanese linear movements with Chinese circular ones.
11/8/12 12:01 PM
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Ogami Itto
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So what *are* the concepts of kenpo? And what do you mean by learn the concepts and break way from the techniques - techniques being "first I hit him here then turn, backfist to groin, then wrist lock, then stomp..."?
11/8/12 1:13 PM
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Dougie
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Yeah, the techniques are what people locked onto and the concepts of back up mass and torque etc were not removed from the technique and applied elsewhere.

It's like learning to drive a car on one road and knowing how to turn, speed up or slow down but then being unable to do the same things on an unknown stretch of road because you never practiced driving on it. You know how to drive but not outside a controlled and practiced situation.

I hope that makes sense.

11/8/12 2:34 PM
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Ogami Itto
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Dougie - 

Yeah, the techniques are what people locked onto and the concepts of back up mass and torque etc were not removed from the technique and applied elsewhere.

It's like learning to drive a car on one road and knowing how to turn, speed up or slow down but then being unable to do the same things on an unknown stretch of road because you never practiced driving on it. You know how to drive but not outside a controlled and practiced situation.

I hope that makes sense.


It absolutely makes sense.

*sigh* So interesting to me. I studied "Chinese kempo" but by the time I got to it it was pretty much more like kickboxing and was being merged with grappling. I loved it but I don't have a lineage there.
11/8/12 5:38 PM
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shen
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Edited: 11/08/12 6:17 PM
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Great discussion!

I understand that James Wing Woo (not to be confused with Kung Fu San Soo's Jimmy Woo) was the primary "Kung Fu" guy Parker learned forms from. The "Book Set" is based on a Tiger-Crane (I suppose Hung Gar) set, IIRC.

FWIW, I trained like 2-3 lessons in the Wing-Woo system as a 12 year old (under a sifu named Vick Walker) but my twin brother hated it, so our mom stopped taking us. I didn't realize for 20 years that the Wing-Woo system referred to James Wing Woo.

Wing Woo is still alive (or was last I checked). He is around 90 and teaches in his backyard in Hollywood. I've visited him twice, just to watch him, as I'm not really a Kung fu guy anymore (did Hung Gar & CLF years ago). But he is amazing and always makes me want to study with him! lol. He is THE stereotypical Kung Fu master with the white beard. VERY old school. He keeps a low profile. His house/kwoon is just a few blocks from the old location of Gokor & Gene's Hollywood Dojo for those who know where that is.

Anyway for people deeply interested in American Kenpo history, he's still around.


[Edit here's his website:

http://jameswingwoo.com/2000/12/01/brief-history/ ]
11/9/12 12:18 PM
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nottheface
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Ogami Itto - So what *are* the concepts of kenpo? And what do you mean by learn the concepts and break way from the techniques - techniques being "first I hit him here then turn, backfist to groin, then wrist lock, then stomp..."?

What I remember from my conversations with American Kempo guys, was that they learned a lot of combinations and the teaching was all about execution. By contrast, our class was a lot of theory about how to drop someone you wanted to "fold the body" and then they'd show some techniques as examples of how you might do it. There was generally a "hard" way, a "soft" way and a few in between and you just kind of picked what worked for you.

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