"The word kenpo translates as "fist law" or rather "the method of the fist." It is a broad term - like "martial arts" or "self defense" - that carries a complex and colorful history: it can be described as a Japanese word for a Chinese concept that was heavily influenced by the Okinawans, and uniquely interpreted by the Hawaiians. Better yet, kenpo would also be integral to the rise of martial arts culture in America." - Charles Russo

Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the Dawn of Martial Arts in America - (page 94)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Kenpo Based on Motion v. Chinese “Chi”

(by Ron Chapel kenpotalk.com 3-22-18)

“Chi” is a term that is used across the full range of the Chinese Culture, and is included in all of its diverse sciences. The reason for this is these sciences are all interconnected to and relate to the human body. This includes of course what my teacher, and I chose to call Martial Science. Additionally, you have medicine, philosophy, art, calligraphy, etc. The term has a range of meanings from the mundane to the esoteric depending on the context and the user's intention.

In Martial Science, it is the result of anatomically correct neuromuscular coordination, major and minor sub-skeletal alignment, in conjunction with mental focus and proper breathing and timing. Briefly, it is a kind of energy created by the extremes of biomechanical efficiency, cultivated by sophisticated and knowledgeable training.

"Chi" has also been described as an esoteric type of “life force” in Chinese Medicine and in the Chinese Cultural Philosophy. Common descriptions use terms like electricity, or energy flow as if it is a fluid. As a fluid, you’ll hear phrases like “let it flow.” Expressed in electrical terms, it can be “discharged, strong or weak, positive or negative.”

Often the fluidic and electrical analogies are used in consort with each other. Expressing it this way embodies it with the characteristics of bio-energy that has the qualities of a fluid and some unseen force simultaneously.

Discussions of “chi” centered on the life force analogy began with Chinese Philosophy. Under Taoist teachings, “chi” is the moving or animating force of the universe and is everywhere. The earth, heavens, and man are all a part of “the force.” For a man, life and chi are synonymous. No chi, no life. When the chi has been drained, disturbed or unbalanced there is illness or weakness. When it has been completely drained, death ensues. These functions of chi are all governed by natural laws.

Even the modern Western Medicine interpretation gives this perspective merit. It has been shown through a process (although controversial), called Kirlian photography that all living things have an “aura” and a “life force” that can be seen and recorded on film. This energy or life force is so strong that the aura it manifests continues to display parts of the anatomy long after they have been removed through injury or accident.

An amputation of a limb continues to maintain its “aura” emanating from the main life force as if this energy supports and perpetuates the whole of the being. The process has also shown, once an individual has passed away, the life force and its aura cease to exist. It has been further shown that individuals with well developed “chi” are capable of visualizing another’s “chi” through their own “aura’ with the naked eye.

Chinese Philosophers classify force of this type as “vitalism.” The Chinese Doctrine of Vitalism suggests the functions of living organism are due to a vital principle separate and apart from physicochemical forces. In other words, there are processes that are not fully explained by the laws of physics and/or chemistry.

Defining "chi" as a kind of biomechanical efficiency is not unique to physical activities like the martial arts. When applied properly it becomes Martial Science. In any physical discipline “chi” is viewed as a "quality." In competitive physical activities phrases like “He’s on fire,” He’s really feeling it,” or “He’s in the zone,” are common explanations for what cannot be easily explained otherwise.

When used this way, "chi" refers to the resulting product, of proper alignment of the human body, and all its parts necessary to perform the function at the maximum mind-body focus. This results in efficient movement and the optimal and maximal use of what can be sometimes described as an effortless force. In striking situations when executed properly the effects although devastating, seem effortless to the person performing the action.

Sometimes so much so, they report not even feeling the contact despite the results. Proper chi is, therefore, the optimal skeletal alignment and most coordinated use of the muscular and neuromuscular system, for the expressed purpose of generating the maximum amount of force with the minimal amount of effort, in conjunction with the mind and breath.

Put more simply, the utilization of maximum force and effect with a minimum amount of effort. Without it, there is no “chi.” Without “chi” there is no efficient biomechanical movement. One cannot exist without the other. They feed on each other, and the catalyst to begin the process is built around the proper teaching of body mechanics. In western martial “arts”, this is lost, or more correctly, never found knowledge.

This philosophically contradicts the common misinterpretation of Ed Parker commercial Motion-Kenpo Karate Concept of “Economy of Motion.” Just because a motion is economical does not necessarily translate into efficiency on a grand scale. Motion-Kenpo Karate Concepts do not address the internal because by design they favor “motion efficiency over anatomical proficiency.” This favoring of motion has its advantage in that it allows a student to learn to use simple motion to possibly overwhelm an attacker rather quickly. Motion-Kenpo Karate’s only true stated goal is quick individual self-defense skills, and with proper instruction, it can do that very well.

Motion-Kenpo Karate at its greatest depth explores motion in conjunction with its “Mathematical and Alphabetical Re-arrangement Concepts.” Because the possibilities and combinations are endless it can be “explored” forever, but this is “motion constipation,” and will never yield advanced knowledge beyond its motion base. Ed Parker was aware of this pairing of terms that created a commercially successful oxymoron, but because it was not representative of the whole of his methods, it was of little concern at the time.

Besides, it served and continues to serve its purpose quite well for those with the intelligence to understand and teach it.

If one were to examine a true biomechanical model, proper body alignment focuses on some fundamental elements. The use of the complete body as an efficient, integrated unit is paramount in execution. There is no singular part of the human anatomy that once moved, does not affect another part of, or the entire body in some way. Then, in conjunction with the correct coordination of the relaxation and the contraction of appropriate muscle groups, we finally, add the proper alignment of the sub-skeletal structure to transfer and/or receive external stimuli or force.

Although this rather simplistic analysis of “chi” appears to be expressed in western scientific principles, an examination of 18th and 19th century Tai Chi shows that they discuss and place fundamental emphasis on many of these same essential biomechanical factors. Thus the explanation, although expressed in western terms is definitely Chinese, not western.

Although “chi” or the internal is not represented in “Kenpo Karate,” it is represented in the more complete and true Kenpo product philosophy Mr. Parker worked on but never codified. I call my interpretation of his work American ChĂșan-Fa and its basics American Tactical Kenpo. Ed Parker always spoke of “…sub-categories of distance four” in Kenpo, and that is where the sub-title of SubLevel Four Kenpo came from which falls outside the definition of the four distances or ranges of combat.

Here the relationship between antagonists is more intimate and specific in applications. This is where all the elements necessary to produce “chi” are greatly expressed but not exclusively. This is where the “whole” of Ed Parker’s genius resides and it exists exclusive of the terms “karate” and dominant “motion” concepts. I personally use the descriptive Martial Science term because it applies to all physical movement, along with its American ChĂșan-Fa Tactical Kenpo Martial Science components.

Kenpo Karate teachers have realized their art is incomplete but many have not shared this with their students. Like parents, they answer questions with “because” while omitting the “I said so.” Martial art teachers often use the word "chi" similarly, as a catchall term for any aspect of the martial arts that they themselves don’t understand, understand only in a vague sense, or find difficult to articulate.

Kenpo Karate violates some very important rules of learning. There is an assumption that learning any art happens in gradual stages and that each stage is laid on a foundation of what the student has already learned. Kenpo Karate routinely gives students information out of order and context through “what if” scenarios creating confusion. Taught properly, there is a very strict order to learning. Oftentimes, however, the student will ask questions about some aspect of the art that cannot usefully be answered because the student simply does not know enough to place the answer in context. Kenpo Karate by design must focus on self-defense skills immediately. Long-term benefit normally found in traditional martial art training is eschewed in favor of immediate, albeit limited, success.

In the western arts, "chi" is used to describe phenomena that do not lend themselves to verbal articulation. Many aspects of physical arts are not easy to talk about; they are subjective feelings. Thus in sports, you hear phrases such as "in the groove," etc." In the creative arts, you will hear such things as "the words flowed out of me," "the band clicked," or "I found my rhythm." These types of expressions reflect very real experiences that are common to people involved in that activity. However, the experiences are not easy to articulate in concrete terms. Therefore, “chi” may be used as a catchall metaphor. To someone outside the art the metaphor makes little sense, but to someone who has had the same experience, the metaphor is clear.

However, on the less legitimate side even in “Kenpo,” sometimes the term "chi" is used as nothing more than a way to hide the teacher's ignorance. It seems an unfortunate reality that in all times and places martial arts fraud has been prevalent. Not just recently in contemporary America, but in the Japan of Miyamoto Musashi's time, and pre- World War II Hawaii. Unfortunately, high percentages of martial arts instructors do not know or understand their own art in any depth. Thus, the use of terms such as "chi" provides a convenient cover for their ignorance.

The fact that such a central concept as chi has multiple uses is a result of a number of factors, not the least of which is the reality that fraud, charlatanism, incompetence, and ignorance are prevalent in the martial arts. We can take some cold comfort in realizing that the use of "chi" to cover fraud and ignorance is not a recent phenomenon but rather a traditional part of the martial arts of any nation or of any time period.

The two fundamentally different views of chi owe their existence to factors in Chinese Culture. However, beyond that, there are also factors in Chinese culture that have lead to the multiple and sometimes confused understandings of “chi” in the martial arts as it spread outside of China.

Firstly, most of the theory surrounding the Chinese Martial Sciences including the concept of “chi” dates back to pre-modern scientific methods. The martial arts were not subjected to modern scientific methods of scrutiny until late in the 20th century. Prior to that, Chinese martial arts practitioners were long on practical experience but lacked the type of quantifiable information that is the basis of modern scientific study.

Because of the many wars and conflicts, the availability of human bodies for experimentation and examination for the effects of applications were quite plentiful. It wasn’t difficult to discover what worked, but the quantification of the “why” scientifically was not yet available. Because of this, it was difficult to distinguish the separate entities inherent in high-level martial science skill and performance. Therefore, the Chinese themselves used terms like "chi" vaguely to describe a mix of principles that could not be separated through experimentation.

Even in western boxing as well as other modern athletic endeavors, the various scientific approaches to human performance have only recently begun to be measured and validated scientifically. In addition, China has always had a tradition-bound culture for most of its history. This has manifested itself in a very specific relationship between students and teachers. All arts are regulated strictly. Two basic rules are that teachers do not "explain" to students and students do not question teachers.

This tradition extends itself to all student-teacher relationships. If the martial arts teacher says something, the student will never inquire beyond that and the teacher will not explain beyond his own statement. As a result, vague and confused ideas are passed on, and that includes "chi."

A third factor is that Chinese language and literary forms, do not lend themselves to specific discussions of martial science. The classical Chinese is purposely vague and overly flowery. “The rising eagle grasping with the invisible talon.” Although great for poets and philosophers, it is poor when it comes to concrete discussions of things such as science.

To make sense of martial arts material written in classical Chinese the reader must have a background in the martial arts. Even so, written material in Chinese does not lend itself to do much to clarify what “chi” is. Taken together, these three factors are in large part responsible for the different frameworks and nuances of meaning that "chi" has in the modern martial arts.

Chi as life force is the most widespread and traditional explanation. Chi as biomechanics is the most provable explanation from a scientific perspective. Moreover, regrettably, ignorance is the most common use of the term.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Kenpo legends in Chinatown


(from Ron Chapel's Facebook page, 4-11-15)

At the "Homecoming" Dinner at Won Kok in honor of Mr. Parker in 2003

Seated at table, left to right: Huk Planas, Stephen LaBounty, Tom Kelly

Standing behind those seated, left to right: Zach Whitson, Doreen Dirienzo, Frank Trejo, Dian Tanaka, John Sepulveda

Sanding last row: Dave Hebler, Dennis Conatser, Robert Liles, Ed Parker Jr., Ron Chapel

Monday, July 9, 2018

GM Nick Chamberlain


(from the Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense Facebook page, 7-5-18)

Good Afternoon From Chamberlain Studios!

We hope you all had a terrific 4th of July with your families! Keepers of the Flame 2018 is now less than 2 weeks away...!! Early registration pricing has expired, but there is plenty of time to register & attend and tell your friends about it! Visit our Facebook Event page: Keepers of the Flame - Train With The Masters for updated information on the event, or see the bottom of this message for more details.

Our next instructor highlight is:

GM Nick Chamberlain!

Nicholas David Chamberlain was born on April 5th, 1963, in Boston, Massachusetts. After returning to England with his parents, Dr. Chamberlain grew up in the countryside north of London. In 1978 he returned to the U.S. to finish high school and began his training in the Martial Arts. Achieving his Black Belt in Kenpo in 1979, he graduated in 1981 and opened his first school in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, that same year, teaching American Kenpo Karate. In 1982, he was fortunate to begin training in Seven Star Praying Mantis and Eagle Claw under Master Lo Man Biu, in Boston's Chinatown district, and continued until Master Lo's untimely death six years later.

In 1984, after completing an apprenticeship with Shihan Rocky DiRico, Dr. Chamberlain was accepted as a student under Professor Nick Cerio of Providence, Rhode Island. It has been Professor Cerio's guidance that has been the driving force in shaping Dr. Chamberlain's Martial Arts ever since. In 1984, Dr. Chamberlain's rank was recognized By Master Ed. Parker, under the auspices of the International Kenpo Karate Association (I.K.K.A.), which at that time was represented by Professor Cerio in New England.

In 1997, Grand Master Cerio promoted Dr. Chamberlain to Fifth Degree Black Belt in both Nick Cerio's Kenpo and American Kenpo Karate. Dr. Chamberlain has trained under Master Ed. Parker in American Kenpo; Master Tadashi Yamashita in self defense; Professor Wally Jay and his son Leon Jay in Small Circle Jiu-Jitsu; Master P. Chan in Wah Lum; Master Rick Beauchamp in Wah Lum and Kenpo; Master Joe Lewis in Technique, Master Carlos Machado in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Martial Traditions and Bo under Fumio Demura, Shihan. Dr. Chamberlain holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in traditional Heike-Ryu Jiu-Jitsu under the head of the system, Sensei Vince Tamura, and a first degree Black Belt in traditional Kodokan Judo under Sensei Tamura and sensei Jim Webb, the past president of the United States Judo Association.

Professor Chamberlain also instructs Karazenpo-Go-Shinjutsu under the guidance of Bruce Corrigan of Tennessee, and the systems founder, Sijo Sonny Gascon of Hawaii. He holds a 5th degree Black Belt in this system. In 1999, Dr. Chamberlain was invited by Master Al Tracy to teach Nick Cerio's Kenpo at the first International Gathering of Eagles, the largest grouping of senior Kenpo masters in the world, held in Las Vegas. He was again invited to teach at the second Gathering of Eagles, in August, 2001, where he was honored to teach in front of Chosei Motobu sensei, the son of the fabled Choki Motobu from Okinawa.

In response to the horrific acts of violence against the United States of America on September 11th, 2001, he founded Fight Back America, a 501(c)(3), Texas non-profit corporation. The mission of Fight Back America is to provide Americans with the knowledge, training and skills they need to protect themselves. The program was initially envisioned to train flight crews to defend their plane in an emergency and then the mission was expanded to include others considered "in harms way".
In 2003, Dr. Chamberlain formalized his system of martial arts under the name Gasan Ryu Kenpo (Moon-Mountain Style of Kenpo). In September of 2003, at the Dallas headquarters school, Dr. Chamberlain was promoted by Grand Master Al Tracy to 8th Degree Black Belt in Kenpo.

The following year in 2004, Dr. Chamberlain traveled to Tokyo, Japan with a group from the hombu dojo, and stayed at the Kodokan, the world headquarters for Judo, where he trained with sensei Jim Webb and other instructors. While in Tokyo, he renewed his friendship with Soke Koshiro Tanaka, the head of Fuji Ryu Tai Jutsu and trained in knife self defense. Also in 2004, "Nick Chamberlain's Kenpo Karate Studio" was renamed to "Chamberlain Studios of Self Defense", to better represent the wide range of material being offered.

In 2006, he was invited to teach at Sijo Emperado's 80th birthday, where he covered Gasan-Ryu Kenpo/Kajukenbo techniques. This year also began the use of the dojo for several TV shows including episodes in Dennis Rodman's "Geek to Freak", two episodes for Veria TV (Karate and Fitness) two other cameo style spots (Chiropractic and the Feldenkreis Method) and various media shots for magazine ads.

On August 12th, 2007, Dr Chamberlain was promoted to 1st degree Black Belt (Shodan) in Kodokan Judo by Jim Webb, under the supervision of Vince Tamura, sensei. Later that year, Dr Chamberlain was inducted into the International Kenpo Hall of Fame in Chicago, Illinois. Also in 2007, he traveled to Beijing, China where he trained with Sifu Cao Man Liang, Shanghai, where he trained in Yang style Tai Chi, and Hong Kong where he visited with Sifu Lee Kam Wing of the seven Star Praying Mantis system.

In 2008, he co-founded CrossFight™, (now Chalkline Fitnesss) a strength and conditioning program involving medical oversight and testing, nutritional counseling and supplementation, and the strength and conditioning component utilizing exercises taken from the martial arts, yoga, plyometrics, and resistance weight training, among others. CrossFight™ received the readers award that year from the Dallas Observer magazine for the "Best Sweat" in Dallas!

In 2011 Dr. Chamberlain was inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame, celebrated the 30th anniversary of Chamberlain Studios, shot an episode for "Stan Lee's Superhumans" on the History Channel and opened the new Lakewood dojo in East Dallas! In the summer of 2011 Grandmaster Tracy promoted Dr. Chamberlain to ninth degree Black Belt.

2012 proved to be a success with Chamberlain Studios winning "Business of the Year" from the East Dallas Chamber of Commerc due to community outreach programs and "Best Martial Arts Class" from Metroplex kids as voted by their readers.

2015 Professor Chamberlain promoted to 10th degree Black Belt by Grandmaster Al Tracy at the Gathering of Eagles in Chicago.

In 1992, Dr. Chamberlain received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, from the University of Massachusetts. In 1996 he received his Doctorate in Chiropractic and a concurrent B.S. in Human Anatomy, from Parker College of Chiropractic, in Dallas, Texas. He is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and is taking post doctoral studies in orthopedics, rehabilitation and pain management.

Dr. Chamberlain is in private practice in north Dallas: 21st Century Chiropractic and Rehab. He concentrates his practice in the areas of work, sports and automobile related injuries. Dr. Chamberlain is a former adjunct Professor at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch, Texas.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Chamberlain is active in the martial arts through local karate events, seminars and tournaments and is the former team doctor for the Christian Wrestling Federation.

In rare moments of free time, he is an avid chess player, scuba diver, potter and traveler. Seen to the right is one of his wood fired sake sets. These are made for the Black Belt promotion ceremonies in Gasan Ryu Kenpo. Other Japanese inspired items are made for the annual Mizutaki dinner and local restaurants. Chamberlain Studios instructors turn out in force for a self defense workshop for a thousand participants, presented in conjunction with the Dallas Police Department and local civic groups following a series of assaults in North Dallas.

In 2016 he was honored to present "Last Man Standing" a tribute seminar series honoring Great Grand Master Al Tracy, a martial arts pioneer, innovator and leader. The weekend brought together instructors from across the country and from overseas.

In 2017, GM Chamberlain and his school hosted the "The Gathering of Eagles and International Hall of Fame" which was a fun and successful event held in Dallas, TX. This year, GM Chamberlain is proud to host Keepers of the Flame, happening July 13, 14, & 15, 2018!

We will be sending out a new instructor highlight almost every day between now & the beginning of the event, but If you do not see yourself on the event schedule, and you plan on teaching at Keepers of the Flame 2018, please send us a note and we will make sure correct that!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

(from the Tracy's Kenpo Karate International Studios of Self Defense Facebook page 6-9-18)

Okay, so rumors are flying, mostly from competitors. Tracy's remains STRONG and stubborn as ever.

I (Pat) am freshly arrived near Austin TX (Rolling Rock) [Round Rock] and ready to join up with awesome Kenpo Grandmasters Ted Sumner and Greg Mattson & Becky Mornar to establish a Kenpo community here. We plan to set up a dojo and an *actual* Central Training center which is what Al originally wanted, with very experienced studio masters, in the heart of America. Can't wait!

Apologies y...et again for being behind on so many things. Once settled here, I promise to stay current ... As I have dear Kenpo pals who will help & support, which I didn't have since Al passed. (And will kick my butt when needed, LOL!)

Thanks again for the loyalty and support. Love our amazing Kenpo family.