Saturday, December 4, 2021

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Mr. Parker on Humility and Self Restraint

(from Law of the Fist and Empty Hand)

When first learning unfamiliar, yet effective, defensive techniques a large number of students are intrigued. Armed with enthusiasm, they seek further knowledge. Some try to advance too fast in their quest for defensive techniques, which actually hinders their progress. On the other hand, the enthusiastic student who works hard at one defense, and then goes on to another is the student most apt to retain these techniques, and use them effectively and without hesitation in time of need. Yet, regardless of how one proceeds to quench their thirst for knowledge, it is only common that some daydream, picturing themselves applying what they have learned to perhaps an immense neighborhood bully or a gang of ruffians and, of course emerging the victor.
However, the mastering of these techniques, though important from the physical standpoint, is not the true objective of 𝐊𝐄𝐍𝐏𝐎 𝐊𝐀𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐄. The physical techniques for preparedness develop confidence in a beginner; but as one studies the art and it’s deeper aspects, they will discover that self confidence is just a stepping stone to humility and self-restraint. When this spiritual attitude is obtained, success in daily living is just destined to prevail, and the true objective of 𝐊𝐄𝐍𝐏𝐎 𝐊𝐀𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐄 will have been attained.
Evidence of humble attitudes can be found not only in those having a knowledge of 𝐊𝐄𝐍𝐏𝐎 𝐊𝐀𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐄, but among other athletic greats in their respective fields. If a survey was to be conducted among these athletes, as to the origin of their humble attitudes, they would probably say that when the peak of their success was reached, they realized that their level of achievement was only the beginning of a new learning period. With yet many other levels to attain, one realizes how little he really knows, and thus rids himself of that “know-it-all”attitude. This does not necessarily hold true in some competitive sports where there is Team participation, but generally, applies to competition where the individual determines victory or defeat.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

More from Mr. Conatser's Facebook page

(August 13, 2021)

I was just looking at a post stating how old a couple types of "Kenpo" is.

When analyzing this one must realize the facts that the physical roots of all systems start with human execution.
Ed Parker's American Kenpo is simply a compilation of traditional basics that are employed in all martial arts systems i.e., foot maneuvers, stances, blocks, punches, strikes, finger techniques, kicks, and various body maneuvers.
The genius of EPAK is the identification of all these components which leads to understanding and finally in acurate execution.
Not only the physical components but also the mental aspects and understanding of important principles and concepts explained for depth of understanding.
Creating an organized system of drills [Web of Knowledge] to explore various types of possible encounters and possible defenses was necessary for several reasons.
1) The Self Defense Techniques are to be viewed as "Drills to develop Skills".
2) Practicing these maneuvers "INITIALLY" develops "coordination" which is Paramount to be able to execute any adequate defense-!
These hypothetical scenarios are merely exercises to instill basic logic and executable abilities to neutralize the attack and escape as soon as possible.
3) These "drills" serve as a place to teach the (principles and concepts), needed to apply EFFECTIVELY the purpose intended.
4) The execution and understanding of said material also serves as an acknowledgement or level of advancement within the system (belt promotion). This however should be the least important segment, Knowledge and Skill acquisition is Paramount.
The basis of EPAK is "LOGIC." Why would we spend ANY amount of time on illogical activity, it is a waste of time. Seek truth, which leads to understanding, which leads to application-!
*Many "Know of" much Kenpo.
*Fewer actually "know" Kenpo
*Even fewer yet actually "understand" Kenpo
The GOAL of this process, is to be able to effectively "APPLY" what you do in an actual encounter an escape with an effective outcome-!
Our Salutation <Warrior/Scholar> implies "physical" and "mental" understanding and execution. Both are needed to secure success.
Always remember...
Victory comes when the TIGER isseen, but the DRAGON prevails.
C'Mon Maaaaann...

Friday, November 5, 2021

Perpetual Refinement

 (from Mr. Rich Hales' Facebook page May 10th, 2021)

When Mr. Parker wrote The Zen of Kenpo, he said, “Kenpo never changes it is perpetually refined.”
I always try to keep this in mind when I make . . . refinements to the curriculum that I use and teach. Granted, a few of my own refinements are sometimes more like outright changes, but the process itself keeps me in check. Without checks and balances, it would be easy to drift so far from our roots we may as well stop calling our art American Kenpo.
I don’t have many pet peeves, but one is certainly when I hear people indiscriminately say things like, “I fixed that technique for Mr. Parker. If he were here today, he’d thank me.” Really? Do you think there’s any chance at all that if he were here today, he would either explain to you why he did it that way or maybe just bounce your head off the wall? Honestly, not only does Mr. Parker have a hundred times more “personal students” today than when he was alive, but damn near every one of them is smarter than he was.
Anyway, I think an honest and conservative approach to refining the system of Kenpo that Mr. Parker left us is not only allowable but should be a requirement for advancement within the black belt ranks. Not that every refinement should be accepted, many may not, but the process alone is a lesson unto itself.
The Process of Refinement:
A conservative process of refinement should end with only slight alterations to the original, but its journey should take you through a myriad of exploration and enlightenment.
This is what I tell people who want to change something Mr. Parker wrote. Imagine that you’re an attorney who has been hired to defend the writings of Ed Parker Sr. In this case, you’ll receive a thousand dollars for every self-defense technique you can defend to be true and of great value to the students of American Kenpo. With this thought in mind and $154,000 on the line, how quickly will you be to say, that one doesn’t work?
Maybe now, you may say, no this one is not as street effective as some of the others, but all the techniques must be considered as an entire body of work, not as individual techniques. Many techniques are like the difference between triceps extensions and biceps curls. Curls are easier and give you big guns. Triceps extensions are painful and much weaker than curls. Does this mean triceps extensions have no value? No, it means there’s more to bodybuilding than biceps, chest, and abs.
In hindsight, maybe Mr. Parker should have called his techniques drills instead of techniques. Think about it like this. Have you seen a football player do ladder drills? This is where they wiggle and jiggle through a rope ladder that’s laid out on the ground. Knowing it’s an agility drill makes it okay, but what if they called it a touchdown technique? I can’t help but imagine a guy running toward the goalpost crisscrossing his legs back and forth across an open field. What a stupid technique! In reality, we know that “technique” may be executed in only one brief moment and it may only be a single step, but without training the drill, the runner may have been blown off his feet by the opposing team. Herein is the essence of American Kenpo.
As an example, you can look at a small refinement I made to how the technique Back Breaker is written. It’s not a big change and it could be considered unnecessary. Few people ever read the manuals in such detail that it would ever be noticed. Only for Kenpo to be perpetually refined, as Mr. Parker said it would, I believe it’s worth a little effort now and then to keep the process moving forward. Hopefully, you can see and understand how the refinement is minor compared to how the process itself helps you interact with the material and brings other thoughts to mind. Ultimately, it’s not about changing or fixing, but about gaining a greater understanding of our art.
The Back Breaker: A classic technique of American Kenpo.
I have only refined a single movement within the sequence. Most people would never even notice the change because it's the way most of us have always done the technique anyway.
Step 4. says to drop your right foot back toward 1:30 into a left neutral bow as you pull on your opponent’s shoulders, forcing his upper spine into your left knee. Your hands should end at the level of your hips.
Then Steps 5 6 & 7 say to twist his head, break his neck, hand-sword the bridge of his nose, and deliver two downward back knuckles to both shoulders.
I love the entire sequence, but just try to keep your opponent on your knee while in a neutral bow. As far back as I can remember, we have always done this technique using a wide kneel. It's a stronger more stable stance and the angle of your left leg now provides shelf-like support for your opponent's back to rest on while you break him up into little pieces.
Note: Step 7 calls for the delivery of two downward back knuckles to the left and right humerus of your opponent’s shoulders. I originally learned this as two downward back knuckles to the collar bones. I'm neither here nor there when it comes to these targets. Many people will say the collar bones are a better target, as they're more vulnerable and when broken, quite debilitating.
I agree with this, but then everyone seems to already know this, before any martial arts training. Yet, how many people are familiar with the effects of striking the bundle of nerves that run by, around, and under the humerus bone of the shoulder? Not as many, I suspect. I'm not sure why Mr. Parker said to target the bone instead of the nerves, but it could have been to either simplify the target or maybe to hide the specific target. Only Mr. Parker would know for sure.
If you do decide to target the collar bones instead of the humerus, you'll have no argument from me, but if you so choose, I suggest you switch your weapons from back-knuckles to hammer-fists. When striking nerves it's beneficial to use a pinpoint-type weapon, i.e. knuckles. Whereas if you want to break bones a heavy hammer-fist may be more appropriate.
Note: Another example of where targeting the nerves in the shoulder comes into play is in the original Five Swords, which was called Five Count. As I was taught, this was performed with all fists and no swords. Its name came from the five beats of timing. People who are unfamiliar with the origins of American Kenpo sometimes rename Five Swords to Seven Swords, because they don't know its history.
Five Count:
1) Left outward block to opponent's right inner arm, below the elbow with a right thrusting vertical punch into his right shoulder joint.
2) Right back-knuckle to opponent's temple, followed by a left vertical punch to his face.
3) Right punch to opponent's stomach.
4) Left hooking hammer-fist to the left side of opponent's neck.
5) Right downward hammer-fist to the back of opponent's neck.
When all is said and done, a conservative approach to refining the system Mr. Parker left us, should do more to reinforce your faith in his system than it does to boost your ego by having “changed” it.