Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Stances and Footwork

(recently posted on Facebook by Mr. Ron Chapel)

Footwork and stances are probably the most important aspect of any interactive martial activity. After all, everything you do and might hope to accomplish with your upper body is predicated on what you achieve with the support of your lower body platform.

Unfortunately, this is also probably one of the most misunderstood and poorly taught aspects of the arts. It is one of the first casualties of commerciality, simply because it is so labor-intensive. This is not only from a student's perspective but from the teacher as well. There is so much misinformation with regard to footwork and stances that most simply take what they do for granted. On the face of it, it seems simple considering we already know how to “move” our feet, and “stand.

But most footwork taught in the arts have taken on more of an artistic persona rather than a practical one, or in many cases in some arts, it all but completely ignored or taught as a throw-a-way afterthought.

Anyone who chooses to examine what and how they do with regard to stances and footwork would do well to start from the beginning. That is, how do bi-pedal mammals walk, run, change direction, and speed? A critical look at human anatomy and how the body locomotes itself holds all the clues, but the information is not necessarily obvious.

Why? Because the human body is unique in structure and its ability to achieve structural integrity is based on the entirety of its posture down to the smallest detail, and any change of a part can affect the hold positively or negatively.

In Martial Science, much like other sciences, there is a direct cause and effect to all activity. Martial Science draws on many different scientific disciplines, but all are in some way related to one another through the conduit of human anatomy. There exist a significant cause and effect interaction between all the many parts of human anatomy whether static or in motion. In any examination of the many martial postures and their transitions, the efficacy of its many positions are predicated upon, among many factors, weight distribution and an exacting posture relative to the physical activity at hand, and any load placed upon it.

With regard to stances and footwork, the relative position of the feet to each other, and their movement, also significantly determine whether structural integrity is created or maintained. Any variations in these categories beyond proper anatomical posture can diminish or enhance effectiveness on multiple levels offensively or defensively.

How you move your body in its entirety, the arms, feet, and even the head in particular, in martial science affects the stability of the complete body for a variety of reasons. For most, this probably is not news.

However, what is probably new information to most is that some of the basic things taught in most martial arts fall quite comfortably into the negative and inefficient category. Surprisingly their effectiveness can be demonstrated to be much less than perceived. That is, when these things are tested in the light of reality, they fall well short of their well-intended goals.

Essentially, the human-machine is a large gelatinous bag punctuated by multiple directionally dedicated and articulated appendages, connected by loose and flexible tissue. This semi-solid shape is supported by an articulated and rigid substructure we call a skeleton.

This necessary substructure skeleton supports the human body as the primary load-bearing entity, but also simultaneously provides it with mobility and sustains its general shape while affording it a measure of protection. It also supplies the major structural frame for anatomical rigidity or solid structure on demand.

This relationship between the sub-structure frame, (skeleton) the connecting tissues, (ligaments, muscle, tendons), and the containment vessel epidermis (gelatinous bag) have a constant and perpetually active interaction relationship from one jiffy-second to the next. The system software or brain constantly monitors all external stimuli from thousands of body sensors in general and certain ones in particular through the autonomic nervous system.

This utilizes a mechanism called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, (which functionally includes the Golgi Organ) and subsequently makes thousands of minute adjustments every millisecond to allow the machine on one level to function intuitively, and on another, to take directed commands from the central processing unit (brain), simultaneously.

Proprioception and kinesthesia, the sensation of joint motion and acceleration, is the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. Theses mechanisms along with the vestibular system, a fluid-filled network within the inner ear that can feel the pull of gravity and helps the body keep oriented and balanced, are unconsciously utilized by the brain to provide a constant influx of sensory information.

The brain can then send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. Why has the nervous system developed the sense of proprioception, and why is it an unconscious aspect of the sensory system? Proprioception, also often referred to as the sixth sense, was developed by the nervous system as a means to keep track of and control the different parts of the body.

So, by its very evolutionary design, the human body unit operates in one of two non-destructive modes, operating either efficiently, or inefficiently. The inefficient mode I have termed Disassociated Anatomical Movement. In order to accomplish this, this extremely complex machine has an inherent ability to “disconnect” or create a more loose and flexible relationship between its many articulated parts, expressly for the purpose of performing movements and/or postures not necessarily anatomically structurally sound, but necessary for fluid human movement.

Therefore, by the very nature of the body, not all movement is necessarily effective, efficient, or even structurally sound, even though it may be performed quite easily. This is the reason humans do not move like “rigid” robots or automatons. Humans have the ability to “learn” incorrect physical movements that will have a long-term detrimental impact on their structure. Sometimes, it may manifest itself “short-term.”

When any physical activity is taught with only an emphasis on conceptual movement or motion with no regard for anatomical structural requirements and physical mandates than inefficient movement is the most likely result. And these types of skills are readily perishable, without constant reinforcement.

The reason this can be confusing is that most martial arts instructors teach from this aesthetic perspective emphasizing the look, feel, or even sound of a movement over the proper anatomical execution to obtain the desired results.

This has created as many interpretations as there are so-called instructors. Thus, the western term “martial art” is indeed accurate because of this interpretive aesthetic perspective. Art, (in this instance artistic movement and postures) is clearly subjective, whereas Martial Science and its proper anatomical movement and postures are not. This explains why one “martial art” can have so many different interpretations from instructor to instructor, school to school, and even student to student.

Subsequently, training in improper movements like stepping back into any stance as an example is an inefficient methodology that is readily revealed in realistic practice and application. Using this most basic of footwork to obtain a stance causes the body to go into its loose Disassociated Mode to achieve the objective.

The architectural human frame is designed to locomote forward partly deriving its balance from the swinging of the arm opposite the forward moving leg. Although the body can walk and move rearward, it does so inefficiently and in a definite disassociated mode making the body weak and susceptible to any load moving in the congruent direction of the stepping action.

However, the converse of stepping backward to meet resistance moving in the same direction as you’re stepping is stepping forward when you are being pulled forward. Both of these movements are inefficient and must have correcting mechanisms to regain structural integrity. The principle area affected in all of these situations begins with the Primary Disconnect Mechanism, the pelvic bone. The same holds true in any lateral movement as well.

Stepping rearward without the mechanism makes alignment impossible. Stepping forward however because the body functions to locomote forward naturally may create alignment, but only predicated on either how far or how many times you step, or if an additional correcting mechanism is involved.

Therefore to teach any execution that by necessity requires inefficient movement forward, backward or laterally, there must be first recognition of these absolute anatomical facts, and second, a mechanism must be designed to compensate, re-connect, or re-associate the body unit into singular structural integrity for the efficient transference of power, or to resist body mass driven assaults.
Additionally as previously stated, proper weight, distribution, and postures are also mandated based on anatomical parameters, and not aesthetics. What looks right may be far from correct under the harsh light of reality.

In American Chúan-Fa™ we teach a variety of mechanisms to counter every Disassociated Anatomical Movement we may be forced, by necessity to perform. These mechanisms are known as PAM’s, (Platform Aligning Mechanisms), and/or BAM’s (Body Alignment Mechanisms), and PAS for Platform Aligning Skip. Because of their variety and complexity, they are explored in detail in the physical curriculum and are taught situationally within the context of specific self-defense technique applications.

The important thing to remember is that all rules of martial science are specific, and therefore apply to specific circumstances. Any variation of any portion of the body, no matter how minute, may cause a complete breakdown of structural integrity, as well as other anatomical properties. This means all methodologies have correcting mechanisms to compensate for inefficient movement or improper posture, associated with forced improper utilization of Proprioceptive Body Mechanisms.

In Martial Science Posture, there are rules relative to weight distribution. As an example, whenever the feet are parallel, weight distribution (absent a correcting mechanism) must be 50/50. This is the overriding base for the beginning of understanding correct postures and corresponds with the traditional Horse Stance found in most arts for a reason. However, that is not all. The position and manner of the hands, wrists, head, shoulders, fingers, muscle tension, etc. in addition to weight distribution will ultimately determine whether you are correct structurally or not no matter the stance, footwork, or posture.

The human body under load has an imperative to associate itself efficiently with only three (3) angles of resistance. These angles are 180, 90, and 45-degrees. Any angle that does not meet these anatomical mandates will be comparatively weak, and this mandate extends itself in 3 dimensions in space.

Some have found this unusual but like any other structure, the human body has its strengths and its weaknesses. A tall building has structural strength up and down resisting the weight of gravity but is comparatively weaker laterally even though acceptably sound depending upon the severity of the load. But consider a shearing lateral force that angles itself either upward or downward on that lateral surface and you begin to see how easily the building might be toppled using Newtonian Physics Principles.

But the difference is, and why Newtonian Physics only generally applies is because the human body changes its structure from moment-to-moment, so constant adjustments must be made to compensate for external loads and stimuli utilizing its strongest and most efficient angles. Solid objects don’t change shape and mass constantly, but the human body is not solid. It is a semi-solid viscous contained liquid.

The simple act of standing still in one place requires hundreds of minute adjustments of muscle, and tendons every moment. Therefore, any stance achieved goes beyond what it may externally appear to be and must include the subcutaneous structure as well as what mechanisms you utilize to bring it to the posture.

Moving forward from stance-to-stance is even more complicated, but yet simple at the same time and is an extension of the simple act of “walking” normally forward, and the same can be said of moving rearwards, and laterally.

So all of the answers are there if you have the ability, or the teacher to decipher them. It is not complicated, but its not simple either, especially if you have “learned” another martial flawed method over time that needs to be “unlearned" and corrected. That is unless you’re content with what you’re doing. In which case, none of this matters anyway.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

American Kenpo Karate dojo in Japan

If someone taught American Kenpo Karate in Japan this is what their dojo might look like.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Remembering Ralph Castro, the SF Peninsula’s trailblazing martial arts master

From his friendship with Bruce Lee to the many thousands of students he taught over a lengthy career, Castro was a key contributor to martial arts culture in the Bay and well beyond.

(by Charles Russo 3-6-19)


When it comes to martial arts culture in America, the date can land like pre-history, a forgotten and hidebound era before Black Belt Magazine or Enter the Dragon or high-profile UFC fight cards. But it was 1958—more than 60 years ago—when Ralph Castro first began (formally) teaching kenpo karate around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Castro passed away last week at the age of 87, leaving behind a martial arts legacy that in many ways mirrored the trajectory of the culture within America: from early hot spots in Hawaii and the Bay Area, through the boom times of the “kung fu craze” of the 1970s and the Karate Kid mania of the ’80s. Castro was not merely present within this evolution, but a factor in shaping it, a role that was reflected in the many photographs that lined the walls of his longtime school in Daly City where he was pictured alongside the likes of Bruce Lee, Ed Parker and Chuck Norris.

“Grandmaster Ralph Castro was a true pioneer for martial arts in America, especially the San Francisco Bay Area,” explains Gene Ching, publisher of Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine. “Beyond being the founder of Shaolin Kenpo, he was a true gentleman and a stalwart 49ers fan.”

Castro’s recent passing reflects the final days of the pioneering generation within the Bay Area who made significant contributions to the foundations of martial arts culture in America and around the world.
“Ralph went to a really rough high school in Honolulu and he was the toughest guy there.” —Coach Willy Cahill, San Bruno

Island Origins

Castro emerged from the mid-20th century martial arts culture of Hawaii, a diverse, dynamic and seriously rough-and-tumble fight culture that was the first great (though often forgotten) martial arts melting pot in the world.

Predicated on the work opportunities within the islands’ cane fields, Hawaii experienced a robust influx of immigrants from around the Pacific (and the world) in the early 20th century. The workers brought their respective martial arts styles with them, and—after factoring in the great many U.S. servicemen stationed nearby—a unique, rugged and otherwise unprecedented martial arts laboratory soon developed.

Born of Spanish and Hawaiian descent, Castro grew up in close proximity to the islands’ fight culture. In fact, his father—Rafael “Boss” Castro—made extra money by fighting in underground bareknuckle boxing matches along the docks in Honolulu in order to help support his wife and eight children.

In time, the young Castro began his own martial arts career by studying under William Chow, a gruff and volatile character who, at five feet two, went by the nickname “Thunderbolt.” Chow’s classes were notorious for their stark physicality, and as one student described the practice environment: “[Chow] was into full-on fighting in the classroom rather than sparring. I used to get broken ribs. It was bad. That’s how we learned it.”

Eventually, Castro moved to the mainland with his wife Pat and their young family (they would ultimately have seven children, and named their daughters April, May, June, July and Mia). In San Francisco, Castro began teaching in his spare time in a variety of locations, including the family living room (which was put to a halt after one of his students came dangerously close to falling out an open window). In 1958, Castro opened his first formal location on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District.

"I can’t tell you the number of late nights that [Bruce Lee] spent with Ralph Castro, and Wally Jay, James Lee, Allen Joe, all those guys. Many late nights where they would go around the room demonstrating things.”—Linda Lee Caldwell (Bruce Lee’s widow)

Early Pioneers

In California, Castro partnered with Ed Parker, another of Chow’s students, who would also make his mark on martial arts culture in America. Operating out of Pasadena, Parker was profiled by TIME magazine in 1961 as the “High Priest of Hollywood’s Karate Sect” for teaching martial arts to a number of celebrities, including Warren Beatty, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen and—most notably—Elvis Presley.

Castro became part of Parker’s International Kenpo Karate Association, an organization that would play a major part in enrolling seemingly countless Americans into martial arts practice in the years to come. Far ahead of the curve for the early 1960s, Castro offered training programs at his school for women and children in an industry that largely catered only to adult men at the time.

In 1963, Castro and Parker were introduced to a young, dynamic and fairly egotistical young “gung fu” practitioner named Bruce Lee. Although Lee was half the age of Castro, Parker and their Bay Area colleagues, they accepted him as an equal. (An old photo shows Bruce explaining some of his technique at Castro’s school on Valencia Street, during this era.)

Lee was on such a similar wavelength to these practitioners that he soon dropped out of school at the University in Washington, in Seattle, to live in Oakland and collaborate with the martial artists he had met in the Bay. What followed were many late night think tank sessions between Bruce and the likes of Castro, Wally Jay (a renowned jiu-jitsu instructor in Alameda), James Lee (Oakland native and MMA pioneer), Al Novak (East Bay kajukenbo teacher) and other trailblazing figures from the region. Collectively, their collaborations and subsequent ventures would form key foundations to the modern martial arts industry in America.

“Whenever we saw Ralph with his students at competitions, we’d all be saying — ‘Jeez, we gotta fight those guys?!’”—Barney Scollan, student of Ed Parker and Bruce Lee

Long term legacy

As the popularity of the martial arts began to bloom in the mid-1960s, Castro helped to form the California Karate Championships, an annual regional tournament held at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, which typically hosted more than 1000 participants and helped to launch the careers of martial artists such as Chuck Norris and Mike Stone.

In time, he branded his particular art as “Shaolin Kenpo” and operated numerous schools with thousands of students around the Bay Area. In 1980 he settled into his largest and final location—on Washington Street in Daly City, near the 280 freeway. 

Reflecting on his teacher’s life and legacy, Vince Ronan emphasized Castro’s love of his family and students, as well as his perennial sense of humor (and, of course—his enduring devotion to the San Francisco 49ers).

When it came to the martial arts, Ronan says that Castro was a 24/7 practitioner: “Great Grandmaster lived and breathed martial arts … and he applied his training to almost everything. The few times we’ve seen Great Grandmaster using the push broom to sweep, you could see him working on his kenpo stances and side stepping as he walked up and down the floor.”

Upon retirement, Castro passed his school into the hands of Vince and his brother Gerald, who were students of his for close to three decades.

Castro was inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame in 2002, and was honored again for Lifetime Achievement in 2017. The museum’s president, Michael Matsuda, frames Castro’s legacy in prominent and far-reaching terms: “Considered one of the early pioneers of the arts, Castro introduced the unique system of Chinese Kenpo to an American audience. Through his guidance and teachings, he has touched thousands upon thousands of lives and spread the art across the world.”

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Control Manipulation

(recently posted on Facebook my Mr. Ron Chapel)

Let’s talk about the four distances of combat as defined by Ed Parker Sr. in His Encyclopedia, and how they relate to each other and exactly where “Control Manipulation” resides. I was taught by him that there are subcategories to all four of the ranges, with each range as you progressively get closer to you attacker, encompassing additional concepts and principles, but including all of the previous ones. Thus the fourth range contains all of the other ranges principles of combat, as well as those exclusive to the fourth range itself.

This somewhat counters the different stages of action perspective some have adopted because of a lack of information regarding the full scope of Ed Parker’s Range definitions. And, although it is true varying ranges can and will dictate the availability of various fighting tools at one's disposal, they do not dictate or restrict beyond simple physical limitations normally associated with human physical interaction.

Ed Parker Sr. defines the four ranges as 1; Out of Reach, 2; Within Reach, 3; Contact Penetration, and 4; Contact Manipulation. Each of these ranges, however, has extensive subcategory information that must be learned en route to a full, and advanced level understanding of the science as he taught. Ed Parker’s son is a master at this level and he teaches almost exclusively to show how an attacker can be controlled. However, don’t think for a moment that he can’t strike if he desires to. As he puts it, “Striking is the easy stuff. If you want to know how good you are, try defending yourself with no striking allowed.”

From a commercial or motion-based Kenpo perspective, “Control” could be seen as a subcategory of “Contact Manipulation.” Because most of this information is not included in Kenpo karate (the business end of his teachings), the subcategories become significantly important to the higher levels of the science of execution.

However, when the higher-level curriculum is studied exclusive of the commercial interpretations, the subcategories may actually exchange places with the more superficial and simplistic range explanations of his Encyclopedia (completed and published after his death by his son), and terms like “contact” really become more a subcategory of “control.”

As previously stated, the first range is simply defined by Ed Parker Sr. as “out of reach.” The first subcategory for “out of reach” is “Psychology of Confrontation Theory.” As you can see, the subcategory is where real knowledge and comprehensive understanding lies. Therefore if you study the motion level of Kenpo Karate, “out of reach” is how the first range is defined. At higher levels of interpretations, “Psychology of Confrontation Theory” must be learned to supplant the obvious “out of reach” descriptor.

This is important because the Psychology Of Confrontation defines the problem parameters from which you build your solutions in the form of the technique responses. As an example; Kenpo Karate suggests that all initial punches are “step-through,” however, in reality, a step-through punch is more likely to be a secondary assault over a primary one, if it exists at all on the street.

When examined from the P.O.C. mandate whether on the street or in a contest tournament, there is a reason why the lead hand is more prominent in an attack. Time. To “attack” someone with the hand weapon that is the farthest away from your victim/opponent takes more time and is therefore slower. Remember? Distance over time equals speed. D/T=S. In a contest, it is more likely to be after some other initial action offensively or defensively. Perhaps a back-fist followed by a reverse punch that still doesn’t “step through.”

Thus punching attacks that are of the initial “step-through” variety are unrealistic and suspect in training, but prevail in the commercial arena because they are easier to defend. So, a deeper dive into the subcategories exposes the flaw in the training scenario problem-solving matrix commonly used by most everyone, because that’s the way they came up through the ranks.

Mr. Parker said to me, “I’m going to throw a right punch at you, are you ready?” I nodded and he stepped forward with a straight right to my head and engaged my Startle Reflex survival mechanism. He reminded me of his saying, “Distance is your best friend.” He said, Ron, distance is not about distance, it’s really about speed. The more distance, the slower your attacker will be because Distance Over Time will give you his Speed. The more distance, the more time, the less Speed. This one simple lesson at Range One when examined under P.O.C. will force you to make significant changes to your training and bring it closer to reality and will force a re-examination of your blocking methodologies as well.

Unlike in demos and tournaments, on the street attackers like to work surreptitiously and/or by surprise. You do not have the luxury of step-through punches, so training for the “street” for punches you’re not likely to actually see, is counterproductive.

Another exclusive Fourth Range Subcategory Concepts is “Control Manipulation.” Although most are aware of “Control Manipulation,” its definition and its general function, most are unable to resolve its omitted relationship with the “four range” definitions, or its apparent contradictory descriptive similarity with “Contact Manipulation.”

But, This holds true for every range, where the conventional and simplistic is well known, versus the in-depth unknown. Ed Parker Sr. only published the simplistic versions of his range theory because his popular interpretation of Kenpo did not contain significant depth to warrant additional information he was not generally teaching or supporting in his commercial schools or students.

“Control Manipulation” as the other extreme at distance four, simplistically and somewhat erroneously is defined as “Contact Manipulation.” This is a category of “grappling” yet popular Kenpo does not address grappling or Control Manipulation in its codified curriculum in any form.

In reality, the only concept it addresses in any range is “contact manipulation” and it only hints at Control Manipulation through techniques where victims are seized, grabbed, hugged, choked, and tackled or attempted with no clear instruction as to how to deal physically with these type attacks, yet three-quarters of the system is some form of grappling.

Because of the lack of information, most teachers of that information have addressed these attacks as all being “attempts” rather than actually completed assaults as they should be. Lacking the knowledge to address extrication from a significant lock means you must move before you are seized. They have no choice absent additional information that was lacking from their teaching.

Thus you see the origin of the term I coined 30 years ago, “SubLevel Four Kenpo” which I used for a time to bring to light additional information available. It is a subcategory of my dominant American Chúan-Fa level of Kenpo that embraces all the concepts of all the sub-level ranges but draws its name from the fourth range because it is conceptually all-inclusive. I bastardized the term from Ed Parker who often said, “Let’s work on some of the subcategory stuff” just before he twisted me into a knot.

Thus you also see why “Control Manipulation” although defined by Ed Parker Sr., is not included in the simplistic version of his range theory. But by defining it he hinted at its existence, while not including the “how” of any of its execution in the curriculum most learned. Nowhere is the “how” of a wristlock, throw, pin, offensively or defensively, or any control concept addressed in any of his writing.

The truth is most of Mr. Parker’s instructors let him down. They were supposed to fill in the blanks, but business overwhelmed most and that material is not user friendly.

Here is how it was supposed to work. In the curriculum, Mr. Parker placed techniques like “Twisted Twig.” Most know it as a wristlock takedown/throw attack. The instructors looked in the manual and taught what was in the book, but never addressed the attack side of the equation instead choosing to ignore it because of its complexity, and after the initial first generation the knowledge wasn’t there anyway.

For those who suggest there’s no grappling or jiu-jitsu in Kenpo Karate, they would be wrong. It just wasn’t spelled out because teachers were supposed to do that. You can’t write grappling techniques, you have to teach them. Mr. Parker was telling them to, “examine and learn the attack.” By doing so the defenses will get better and be realistic. Instead the victim “hands” his hand to the attacker, and as soon as he touches it, he jerks his hand away and does the technique. That’s not training that’s fantasy training. A good teacher will train the wristlock until students can execute it well. Then you teach the defense and counters. That’s real training. Learning to defend against a real attack, so that you may survive. But as I said, that level of training that requires a lot of sore wrists and falling down is not user friendly and not the core market of Kenpo Karate.

There are a few who have addressed this side of Kenpo and its Chin-Na and I applaud them. I just wish there were more. In ancient times, there was Dave German, and now modern guys like Todd Durgan, Mohammad Tabatabai, Jeff Speakman, etc are doing good things.

In the Infinite Insight series Volume One physical categorical breakdown, all of the tenants of American Chúan-Fa and its SubLevel Four sub-components are addressed in the category simplistically labeled, “Other.” At its highest levels, it is addressed and becomes American Chúan-Fa (my term) at the Black Belt level.

So before someone puts a video of a guy stepping through sticking his hand out and then freezing so the "defender" can jump around in a choreographed dance, think about what you're doing and what it is supposed to be.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Shaolin Kempo Unveiled

(from Amazon)

Shaolin Kempo is a dynamic martial art form that has wide spread branches throughout North America and Europe, yet it has been largely misunderstood and misinterpreted for a variety of factors. This book is a collaborative work on the part of two Shaolin Kempo Masters from two different countries and two divergent backgrounds. The goal of Shaolin Kempo Unveiled is to demystify the art of Shaolin Kempo and assist its multitude practitioners to arrive at a better understanding of its foundation, its core and its goals. The authors will also introduce the master keys to unlock the tremendous power and effectiveness unexplored by many Shaolin Kempo students. Follow the teachings in this book and not only will you grow as a martial artist, the effectiveness of your self-protection skills will increase exponentially. This book is not intended to be an end product. It is intended to be a starting platform to unite and promote a better understanding and practice of the venerable art of Shaolin Kempo.

About the Author

Professor Tom Ingargiola has been studying martial arts since high school and has been teaching Shaolin Kempo since 1985 ( He achieved rank in the art of Shaolin Kempo under several notable instructors. He fought professionally and retired as the New York State Super-Welterweight Kickboxing Champion ( He was promoted to Professor (10th Degree) status in 2006 by Professor Feliciano Ferreira of Hawaii. He has worked as a Correction Officer at Rikers Island in New York City, where he was valedictorian and classified as a pistol expert, as well. He is currently employed by a security organization in the United States. He has toured North America presenting Shaolin Kempo to various Shaolin Kempo clubs for over three decades. He has received numerous awards and commendations: Inducted into the United Martial Artist Hall of Fame in 1999; Male Competitor of the year in 2001 and in 2005 his school was named School of the Year by Action Martial Arts magazine. Additionally, he recently completed his Master's degree in Business Administration at Grantham University. Marlon Wilson is a fifth degree master of Shaolin Kempo. He has been teaching Shaolin Kempo in Montreal, Quebec since 1998 ( He began his martial arts at the age of 15 with Judo. He achieved the rank of brown belt. After taking some Kyokushin for a few months and Aikido for six months, he came across a Shaolin Kempo school. This was to be his first taste of his greatest martial art love. The achievement of shodan (first degree black belt) brought him to a place that needed a deeper understanding and knowledge of the history and application of this art. He started to teach for his teachers and then later on his own. His passion for learning exploded in the richness and reward of being a teacher. He remains forever a student. The responsibility to his students fueled yet another powerful passion: The need to learn everything about Shaolin Kempo and how to train more effectively. As his training continued, his depth, knowledge and skill as a martial artist grew. When the last of the available teacher of Shaolin Kempo in his area closed their doors, there was a dilemma. In a panic and feeling pressure to take over the school along with the considerable business expenses, he typed a post on a forum entitled "losing Shaolin Kempo". Of the many responses he received, one stood out, no suggestions, no attacks just a simple request, "Why don't you call me and tell me what is happening, if you want?" The sign off said that the response came from a Shaolin Kempo master. Marlon called, and that began the journey to a whole new level of learning, studying and training in Shaolin Kempo. This master's teachings and training methods unified everything he had learned and studied from all his varied searching. This began his journey to mastery...the poster who responded was Professor Thomas Ingargiola.