Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Origins of kenpo's "Two Man Set" ?

I think I have some reading ahead of me. I'd like to know more about the Tiger and Crane Sparring Set, which seems to me to be the basis of kenpo's Two Man Set.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Mr. Trias and Mr. Parker photo

Bottom Row: Robert Trias, Steve (Saunders) Mohammad, Ed Parker, Jim Miller

Photo from 1968 or 69, at the Arviso Brothers Southwest Tournament.

A rare photo with Mr. Trias and Mr. Parker together, two of the fathers of American Karate.

(photo from Rick Arviso's Facebook page)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Comparison of Rank And Knowledge

(by Mr. Richard Planas, from a conversation on Facebook)

The relationship between rank and knowledge varies from one martial art system to another. Many times, especially in Kenpo, it varies from lineage to lineage; sometimes from school to school. As I travel around the world I see people being promoted all the time to all sorts of ranks. I feel people need to know what the main requirements are for being promoted; time, age, and most importantly knowledge.

In many cases people are being promoted without meeting the minimum time requirements for the rank. In Kenpo, the minimum time between First Degree Black Belt to Second Degree Black Belt is two years. Then there should be three years between each rank from Second Degree to Fifth Degree. Finally, five years between each rank from Fifth Degree and up. Again these are minimum time requirements, not maximum! You are eligible after you have met the minimum time. It's like when you get hired for a job and they say in six months you're eligible for a raise. This doesn't mean you will get the raise. You have to do a good job otherwise there's no raise.

In addition to the time requirements there are age requirements to be considered for promotion. Thirty years ago a Black Belt meant a lot more than it does today. Now every ten year old is a Black Belt of various degrees. Originally it was established that a student must be sixteen years old to wear a Black Belt which at that point would be considered a Junior Black Belt. They would not be a Full Black Belt until the age of eighteen. As for the higher ranks, the age requirements were tied into the time requirements. It was said, "The gi just doesn't get old, you do along with it." Another consideration is the titles for each rank especially at the higher levels. At Fifth Degree the title begins to include the word Professor. That would suggest the individual bearing that rank would reflect the appropriate age. You rarely hear of a twenty something year old Professor!

In addition, you do not hear of a Grammar School Professor. This leads us to the most important requirement for being promoted; knowledge. Professors are found at the highest levels of education and once again the title would infer an appropriate level of knowledge. I see that there is a lack of knowledge in Kenpo. People need to learn the rules and principles. The main problem is they are not aware of what they don't know. They never completed their schooling. It's like a doctor can't drop out of medical school and call themselves a doctor. They need to complete the entire schooling to get the degree. However it's important to note that the person with the lowest grade to graduate from medical school is still called a doctor.

With all of that said, it really comes down to there simply being two kinds of Black Belts; good ones and bad ones. Which one do you want to be?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Beginning of Kenpo in Ireland

(by Tommy Jordan from the John McSweeney Facebook page, June 16th, 2013)

Ed Parker Snr. Stated in Infinite Insights Vol. 1. that John Mc Sweeney was the first of his black belts to bring kenpo outside of the United States and in doing so made the IKKA International when he went to Ireland to study in Trinity College in 1962, and after his schooling he had developed four black belts headed by John Conway under the umbrella of the IKKA. John Mc Sweeney brought with him his IKKA black belt certificate and the Constitution of the IKKA, which had been completed in December 1962, and the Officers were. Ed Parker. President. Mills L. Crenshaw. Chairman.  Stanley A. Hall. Vice President. Charles K. Sullivan. Sec. And Treasurer. The IKKA certificate was the only cert, which John ever displayed on the wall in Fitzwilliam St. and contrary to what has been said, there never was a Kenpo Karate Assn of America CERT displayed in Fitzwilliam St. in Dublin. I have a copy of a letter which John wrote in 1963 where he states that he came here to Ireland as the European Director of the IKKA and recommends Ed Parker as an Authority on Kenpo Karate, and his intention was to spread kenpo to the rest of Europe. I have business cards and grading cards, which were used from 1961 to 1969 by Al and Jim Tracy. John Mc Sweeney. Tommy Jordan. John Conway. Maurice Mahon. Jim Rice and Peter Whitney. Pete Presswell Phil Hegarty and Martin Sleeman and all have Kenpo spelt with an N as in kenpo, and in John Mc Sweeney’s interview with Frank Di,Maria he stated that he taught the same kenpo as Ed Parker did. I believe the above is sufficient to prove that it was kenpo which John Mc Sweeney brought and taught in Ireland, and could not possibly be as some people have claimed, an off-shoot of the Ed Parker American Kenpo system.? As the EPAK did not exist, and Ed Parker did not develop it until many years later. The above also makes it clear that the IKKA did exist since 1962, contrary to claims made by some that there was no IKKA until 1964.

If further evidence is required then please relate to the book, which Thomas Mitose wrote. WHAT IS SELF DEFENSE. Techniques in that book were taught to his students  including William Chow. Chow in turn taught the same techniques to his students and Ed parker was one of his students learning kenpo karate and in turn taught the same techniques to John Mc Sweeney and also wrote a book titled KENPO KARATE where the same techniques may be seen on utube, today demonstrated by Ed parker under old school kenpo. Mc Sweeney brought those same techniques to Ireland and Ronnie Gurey taught the same ones in England to Peter Presswell, Phil Hegarty , Martin Sleeman and Pete Whitney, beginning  in March-April 1965.

My question is. How can people who were not there at the time claim that it was KEMPO-GUNG-FU, or a distant OFF-SHOOT OF KENPO, which was being taught in Ireland and England.

John Mc Sweeney began teaching kenpo in Ireland on 26/Feb/1963 and that is the day I began as his first student. His intention was to spread kenpo throughout the rest of Europe, but when he finished his studies, I believe it was his wife who did not like the damp climate here, wished to return to the U.S.(but I may be wrong in that assumption) John selected his four best students, Tom Jordan, Maurice Mahon, Jim Rice and John Conway, and had us train extra hard and also showed us how we should teach and brought us up to black belt standard. Although he was qualified to grade us to black belt he tested us for that grade and recommended us to Ed Parker for black belt as we did not have sufficient teaching hours in, as required by the Constitution.

John and his family returned to the U.S. in Nov/1964 and it was in April 1965 that I received the black belt certs from Ed Parker. It was earlier that year when Ronnie Gurey who had trained with Mc Sweeney went to Swindon, England, and began teaching kenpo to Peter Presswell, Phil Hegarty, and Martin Sleeman. March/April 1965 in Old town. They later moved to the Ship Inn where Pete Whitney joined and as the classes became bigger they moved to Walcott Common Room.

It was 1966 when Phil Hegarty contacted Tommy Jordan  from the Irish Karate Assn with a view to getting further instruction and T. Jordan went to Swindon and graded them to brown belt. The British Kenpo Karate Assn was formed and Brendan Walsh, a black belt from the IKA went to Swindon for almost a year in 1967-68 where they sought and obtained membership of the IKKA and Brendan  became the British rep for the IKKA. Jim Rice also taught in Swindon for a while.

In 1968 Peter Presswell and his wife came to live in Ireland for a while so that Peter could train for and be tested for his black belt and he was tested by John Conway, Jim Rice and Tommy Jordan, when he returned to teach in Swindon as the first kenpo black belt in Britain.

It was in 1968 when Maurice Mahon first began to teach kenpo in Jersey. C.I. Where he also taught the local Police. Maurice continued to teach there until 1970 when he returned to Dublin and left the club in the capable hands of John Jacklin and Don Cassidy and he continued to return to Jersey for Seminars and gradings.

The IKA had represented Ireland in competitions in New York and Rhode Island.

In 1966 and formed the first multi-style Assn with Shoto-Kan Wado- Ryu and Kenpo styles, and had their first competition in 1967. The Irish Karate Assn gained entry to the European Karate Union in 1968 and took part in the EKU Championships in 1969

And were signatories at the formation of the World Union of Karate Organizations in Paris 1970 and continued to take part in the above events for many years.

The BKKA were very much involved in competition at that stage and were accepted as members of the British Karate Assn in 1970, which provided them with greater access to competitions.

It was in 1972 when John Conway and Jim Rice went to L.A and trained in the New Ed. Parker American Kenpo with many of the senior black belts, and John Conway developed a very good relationship with Ed Parker. John and Jim returned to Ireland in 1972 and opened two schools where they taught the EPAK professionally.

I trained in the then new system  but I preferred the style taught to me by John Mc Sweeney, and I have continued to teach, update and streamline the same kenpo I have been doing since 1963. It was in 2007 that Peter Coyle and I were asked if we would accept 10th degree black belt grade after training consistently for 44 years, and Al Tracy, who was one of the seniors that Mc Sweeney trained with. Tom Saviano a 10th degree with Mc Sweeney, Gregg Mathson and Becky Mornar came over from the US and awarded both Peter and I 10th degree black belts.

There has been a lot of misleading information placed on websites relating to the beginning of kenpo in Europe by people who were not involved in kenpo at that time, and others had not been born in 1963. However, I believe I should be given credit for at least knowing the style of karate I have been involved in for more than 45 years and that is Kenpo karate as taught to me by John Mc Sweeney, as a Martial Art, in the true meaning of the word Martial. I was there from Day one when it began here, and I can prove it with documented evidence, and Peter Whitney in Swindon, England can do likewise with regard to the beginning of kenpo in England as Peter has been doing kenpo techniques for more than 42 years.

I have asked of those who have claimed that John Mc Sweeney and I do an offshoot of kenpo, or Kempo-Gung Fu where and from whom they first heard the above, but I never received an answer and doubt if I ever will. As this year 2008 is the 45th anniversary of kenpo in Europe I hope that the above will help to correct some of the misleading information, which has been placed on the Internet over the past few years.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Kenpo Salutation

(by Ron Chapel Ph. D. kenpotalk.com)

The Ed Parker Kenpo Karate Salute and Salutation are a combination of the "old and the new.” Divided into two parts (Salute and Salutation), that are interchangeable depending on the circumstances in which you choose to use them. The first part of the greeting or “Salute” was preserved in recognition and respect to the traditions set forth by the Chinese. The concluding portion was added to tie in the heritage of the "old" with the logic of the "new" and innovative fighting science. There is a misconception this came from Mitose.

The Salute honors the originators of the science, the Chinese.

Before the establishment of what was called "Shaolin," an open left hand resting on a clenched right fist was used as a greeting salutation or salute just before the commencement of a set or form. There were several meanings to this gesture:

1. Respect to the originator of the particular system, including all who had studied before him, with him, and presently study under him.

2. Respect to those who would observe the movements.

3. Respect to both scholars and warriors who were practitioners alike, since the left hand (open) of this salutation represented the scholar and the right hand (clenched), the man who actually executed the science.

During the period of the Shaolin in the Ch'ing Dynasty, the meaning of the gesture changed when two additional movements were added. The change was that the left hand represented the sun, the right hand the moon. With this change,the combination of sun and moon represented the Chinese character Ming, thus meaning "revolutionary defenders for the cause of the Ming restoration." The two additional movements that were added to the sun and the moon were formed by placing the back of the hands together with both palms out. The fingers at this point were in a claw-like-fashion and raised to the chest and heart. This gesture meant, "We are against foreign invasion and our hearts are for China." The last movement was to clench both hands and draw them to the sides of the waist.This pulling gesture meant, "By pulling and working together we can take our country back."

The Hungs, who were secret triad societies in China, perpetuated these movements. In short, the interpretation is;

"Scholar and warrior united together, back to back, pulling together, to defend against the foreign invaders.”

The execution of this can be seen in and is explained in the book, "Ed Parker's Secrets of Chinese Karate."

The first part of the entire greeting or the "Salute" portion was preserved in recognition and respect to the traditions set forth by the Chinese.

The Salute also has embedded within its execution self-defense movements as well, when it is executed with correct basics. 

These movements have always existed in one form or another in the Chines, and were not new. Although Mitose did come to use the hand gestures, they were usually used independent of each other, and not in the inclusive pattern of Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate.

The second part of the greeting is the “Salutation” and interprets as an explanation of the original Kenpo Creed by Ed Parker that did NOT use the word "karate" out of respect to the originators, the Chinese. With the creation of the commercial vehicle Ed Parker’s kenpo Karate, the word “karate” was inserted for public recognition. When I first learned it, the word “karate” was not present. In Mr. Parker’s book “Kenpo Karate published by Iron Man Industries in 1961, you can find the creed with the word “karate” inserted with double hyphenations to show the interpretation but it was not to be recited. With expansion and commercialism it became a part of the “Kenpo Creed.” I personally have never used it and my students were taught the original version.

I come to you with empty hands; (I am friendly and unarmed)

I have no weapons. (Both hands are place together as they form the shape of a

But should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor,
(I now cover my weapon, my fist that is my treasure, for I do not wish to use it. Your left open hand is used to conceal your right clenched fist.)

Should it be a matter of life or death or right or wrong, then here are my weapons, my empty hands.
Now that I am being forced to use my weapon, to momentarily become an animal, I pray for forgiveness for what I may do. (Both hands are placed together as if praying.)

The Salutation ends by outwardly circling the clawing hands and arms in an outward clawing movement coming to attention. (Warding away all evil in my presence and letting nothing deter me from my goal and moral convictions).

The reasons for the Scholar/Warrior analogy are important. Within the Chinese Culture there was a very strong caste system in place. The truly educated were privileged and considered too "valuable" to fight in wars and conflict. Therefore it was the "warrior" who fought but who was directed by the "scholar" in the ways of Martial Science. That is, the warrior didn't always understand the methods of his fighting; all he knew was that it "worked." The scholars devised the methods and manner and the execution of the training and the implementation of the "fighting sciences," while the "warriors" went forth and performed as instructed.

The combination of the "warrior and scholar" in a singular person was rare. Not because the scholar couldn't fight, (after all they had first hand knowledge,) but simply because the knowledge was so valuable, the chance could not be taken that they would be killed or injured in battle or conflict.

So, it is today. The truly scholarly teacher directs his students in the methods that will cause them to be successful, however because it is a true science, the student may not always understand "why" things work, only that they do. Some students will come to understand more than others based on simple things as intellect and personal conviction. The scholar and warrior insure the co-existence of each other. The warrior would not exist without the directions of the scholar, and without the warrior to train; the scholar would have no purpose.