Saturday, June 27, 2020

Professor Chow performing Overhead Club technique

The above drawings, which are based on the photo of Professor Chow performing Mitose's Overhead Club technique, were used in some of the early kenpo advertisements.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Early Kenpo History

(from Mr. Ed Parker Jr.'s Facebook page January 3rd, 2020)

When my Dad trained in Honolulu he took Chinese Kenpo from a friend at church named Frank Chow. The cause of my dad's training with Frank is based upon the following story.

Frank was talking to my dad and he said that he got jumped by 3 attackers somewhere in the streets of Honolulu.

To lend some perspective to this event, Frank was half my dad's size, so my dad is thinking as this played out, "how could Frank tell a lie in the doors of God right there in the church at Kalihi?"

As my dad was already skilled at the use of Judo when this conversation took place, he couldn't understand how someone in a fighting art could take on more than one attacker at a time.

Frank explained to my dad that he used his brother's art of Chinese Kenpo which contained a skillset for dealing with multiple attackers.

This is where the lessons between Frank and my dad started. In a short amount of time Frank said to my dad that he could teach him no more and that my dad had to train with his older brother William if he wanted to gain more knowledge in the art of Kenpo.

So my dad found himself going to the Nu’uanu YMCA where William professionally known as Professor William Kwon Sun Chow taught Kenpo.

Under their uniforms they wore a Nu’uanu YMCA shirt. I recall first finding that shirt when I was a teenager.

In order to give honor and pay tribute to my father’s past I have artistically recreated the Nu’uanu YMCA shirt that my dad and fellow students wore when they trained at the Nu’uanu YMCA in Honolulu, Hawaii.

You will find my tribute in the text on the outside ring of the design.

Currently the Nu’uanu YMCA where they trained has been relocated as the old YMCA was demolished and in the old location today sits a Safeway store.

On the walls of the new Nu’uanu YMCA location is a tribute plaque to Professor Chow.

The names of endorsements from my father, myself, and other key people connected to the lineage of Professor Chow are included on the brass plaque.

The address of the original YMCA is in the text on the shirt and was located on the Pali highway not far from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout where countless visitors have traveled to see on the island of Oahu.

(to purchase a T shirt, phone case, or other items with this logo please visit Mr. Parker's official products website:)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The best art to fight grapplers and strikers alike

(from a recent post on Facebook by Mr. Sascha Williams)

As I saw yet another discussion online, where some Kenpo black belts stated that Ed Parker's Kenpo doesn't teach how to fight grapplers, I thought that I should speak up.

It seems that many people think that since we don't have techniques that start in a compromised grappling hold, that then means we don't train against those attacks.

But that is a false conclusion. 

Here's what a lot of black belts don't understand:

Kenpo trains us to cancel the INITIATION of a grappling attack, rather than the CONCLUSION of it. (This is often different in many grappling arts. Most wrestling matches start AFTER both opponents have already grabbed each other.)

But in Kenpo, we don't use that approach.

Saying that Kenpo doesn't defend against a mounted guard position (for example) is the illogical equivalent of saying that Kenpo doesn't defend against guns, because we don't have any techniques that start at the moment when the attacker already put a bullet in us.

When obviously, we reacted too late.

Saying that Kenpo doesn't cancel grappling attacks is just as ridiculous of an idea as saying that Kenpo doesn't defend against kicks and punches, AFTER THE FACT! ("How come Kenpo doesn't have a good technique that I can use AFTER my opponent broke my jaw with a right punch, and knocked me out with a left punch? I thought Kenpo is against strikes!")

So, imagining a fight where you failed to react in time, and instead allowed the opponent to CONCLUDE his attack, is not going to provide a practical solution. ALL fighting systems would fail at that point.

For Kenpo street fighting, we don't allow our opponent to get a grappling hold set up in the first place. THAT is the survival tactic.

Just like in a gun defense, you don't wait until your opponent aims at your head and pulls the trigger. You react to PREVENT the setup. You're not supposed to stand there and allow it!

Every move of every Ed Parker technique needs to be practiced against a possible strike of your opponent, but also against a possible grab, hold, lock, or takedown attempt by the opponent.

A grappler can't grapple effectively without using his arms and hands. And in virtually all attempted grappling attacks, the attacker needs to get BOTH of his hands on you first.

And THAT is where Ed Parker's Kenpo shines.

Let's keep in mind, that if you cannot stop a grappler from grabbing you, then how could you stop a puncher from punching you?

That's the question that never gets properly addressed.

If a grappler grabs both of your arms, and you did NOT prevent that, then how could you have prevented him from punching you?

The real issue is actually a psychological one. As strikers, we often DO make the mistake of allowing a grappler to grab us.

And we are guilty of doing that, BECAUSE a grab doesn't seem dangerous enough. ("That's not going to knock me out. That's not going to hurt me.")

But a strike does, so we are more alarmed about that.

But in Kenpo our job is to always recognize the potential danger in ANY of our opponent's attempts. We don't wait until it's too late before we try to counter.

Regardless if the attack is a kick, a punch, a tackle, a hold, a takedown, a knife, a gun, etc.
In Kenpo we prevent. (Rather than retaliate after the fact)

And that's done PRIOR to allowing us to be compromised. And each and every Ed Parker technique teaches us that.

So when you do 5 swords (for example) and you chop the (bent over) opponent to the back of his neck, we don't just think how nicely the next strike (palm to face, first move of extension) flows. Sure, that's great. One strike flows into the next one. But that's only a small portion of why we use this strike.

That palm to the jaw (and following eye hook) is to prevent the opponent from tackling you from his bent over position. That's important to understand.

And a wrestler would be likely to do just that. He sees your legs, he can't straighten his back, but he can EASILY turn this position into an advantage IF we don't expect it.

But many Instructors just aren't aware of this being a part of Ed Parker's Kenpo.

Yet we teach students to change the way they respond to strikes all the time. That's what we're all good at.. We teach our students to not turn away, or close their eyes, or not to just cover their face with their arms, even though that's often our original, natural human response.

But it's ineffective, so we help students to find a better (read: earlier) response. And we drill that a lot. But then, many Kenpo Instructors fail to change the student's original, natural reaction to getting grabbed. Boys in particular, play wrestle. As humans, we're natural grabbers when we fight.

But just like we're not good blockers before starting martial arts training (with many bad habits, like leaning backwards, turning our head away, retracting our arms, when we should extend, etc.)
We also aren't good "grappler checkers". We are usually conditioned wrong here as well (from childhood).

In wrestling, when our opponent grabs both of our upper arms or shoulders (the classic wrestling setup), we are conditioned to grab his arms back. That's what virtually all wrestlers do.

But that's a HUGE mistake, and it now prevents us from using our best tools, which are blocks, checks, and strikes.

It's the law enforcement equivalent of holstering your firearm when you see a suspect with a knife, and pulling out your own knife instead.

There is a reason why cops who face a knife wielding attacker are taught the phrase "The fool brought a knife to a gun fight."

Every Ed Parker Kenpo technique teaches us how to cancel a grappler. But not by waiting, and reacting too late. Many Kenpo practitioners simply do not realize that every position, in every Kenpo technique teaches us the best check(s), and the best strike for that specific situation.

The reason why Hooking Wings (for example) uses an upward elbow after the outward looping back knuckle (4th strike in the technique) is the same reason as ALL strikes in all Kenpo techniques: Greatest probability of success. And that means: He can't block it, because we selected a strike that circumvents any of his possible attempts to stop it. In other words, we use the elbow, because: 1. He can't get either of his arms in there in time to block it, and 2. He can't do anything about his chin being where it is, and being unprotected.

So Kenpo teaches us how to SELECT superior strikes by considering: 1. Which target can I hit that he cannot protect in time? And 2. Which strike can I use that he cannot block in time?
Every single Ed Parker technique answers those two questions.

So, in Hooking Wings, we chose the elbow because there's nothing he can do about his face being exposed, and nothing he can do to prevent us from striking it with our elbow.

THAT is what makes the upward elbow the superior choice in this particular position/situation.

But let's also realize that the elbow perfectly checks the opponent's attempt to "go with" the back knuckle, and try to reach down to grab our legs to knock us on our backs, usually using his shoulder, while grabbing the backs of our legs. If your opponent were to do that, wouldn't you use the elbow to take care of that? Or would you allow him to take you to the ground in order to grapple?

(And if you are, are you sure you're really doing Kenpo?)

I have been in many, many street encounters. I fought single opponents, and multiple opponents. I've been knocked to the ground a few times, but still won my fight. When I had the privilege of studying directly with Mr. Parker, I was simultaneously running my IKKA Kenpo school, and working in loss prevention security. I arrested hundreds of suspects, almost always completely by myself. I had no partner. I had a badge and a set of handcuffs. Nothing else (except Kenpo).

During my private lessons with Mr. Parker, I had discussions with him, regarding my security work. He was quite fascinated with this subject and asked me questions about it. I have also fought in many tournaments, and did very well.

I mention this to demonstrate that I am not talking from a viewpoint of mere theory or imagination or naiveté.

I believe that comprehending the tactical characteristics which I describe here is vital to learning spontaneity in Kenpo. If we don't understand the criteria which make a specific strike superior in a given situation, how could we possibly choose the best way to proceed?

If a student falsely believes that the best next strike is whichever is the most powerful (as an example), it might be easily cancelled by the opponent, and be rendered ineffective. THAT is the problem which Mr. Parker solved. The criteria is always: Highest Probability of Success. Nothing else trumps that. Nothing else is more important than that. And that is what makes Ed Parker's Kenpo the great martial art that it is.

I urge any Kenpo student to take this aspect very seriously. I do. And I do so, because Mr. Parker did so, and designed the techniques around this concept.

 P.S.: I am not writing this to criticize other hybrid Kenpo systems, but rather to help those who are committed to furthering their training in unaltered, Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Fight Before the Fight

(from a recent post on Facebook by Mr. Sascha Williams)

I created a new post on this subject for clarification, as this is an important aspect of street readiness.

The statement of this post is very accurate, although typically misunderstood. And it is based on concepts contained in Ed Parker's Kenpo.

But it's not magic, or chi, or anything supernatural at all.

The tactics, prior to actual contact with an opponent are, however, crucial in nullifying the opponent's tools. In virtually every street fight, there's a "fight before the fight", but only experienced fighters are good at this. Most others fight more or less blindly.

We can observe some of this in point fighting. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best reasons to engage in point fighting as preparation for real fighting. The best point fighters are masters at making their opponent miss. A bad one, in contrast, will run into strikes, while desperately focusing on his/her own attack.

A good point fighter will rarely agree with the opponent's timing of engagement. What I mean by that is that a good fighter will not let their opponent determine WHEN the two of them will meet in fighting range.

A good fighter knows how to never be at the receiving end of the attacker's best entry technique. If your opponent suddenly charges forward with his best attack, that is often (but not always) the WORST moment to counter. It's a much better strategy to thwart the opponent's efforts by changing position, or creating distance, or keeping the attacker in check.

In comparison, most less experienced fighters will attempt to "match" the opponent's timing and strike back at the exact same moment that he approaches.

For anyone who has seen Frank Trejo's famous scene at the IKCs, where he simply shuffles back to avoid a kicking attack, but then quickly shuffles forward with his punch, that video demonstrates my point perfectly.

Frank won that exchange long before he punched. He set a trap for his opponent by shuffling back. That caused the opponent to: 1. Abandon his present attack, and 2. Wrongly believe that he must first advance further forward before being able to strike again.

In other words, the attacker is walking into a simple trap. Frank "convinced" him that the moment that the two would meet would be later than first anticipated, and further back in the ring than the opponent thought.

But in reality, that was a deception. (Mr. Parker labeled this a "depth deception", as there are also width and height deceptions.) So the factor that made Frank's tactic superior to his opponent's tactic, was 100% PRIOR to touching his opponent.

I have been in many street fights, but also a lot of point fights. And while most other aspects of point fighting are not nearly as practical for actual street defense, this particular one nevertheless is.

In a street situation, the major difference being that a trap can be set differently, often achievable by controlling angles and positional checking, rather than only controlling distance and timing.

For example, if an inexperienced attacker gets "in your face",( close enough to see his cavities), and remains unprotected, with his chest puffed out, and if he does that while allowing us to get into a "hidden" fighting stance (stepping one foot back, bringing one hand high, so basically a fighting stance that doesn't actually look like a fighting stance, but yet provides us the protection and readiness of a fighting stance), well, then we are now in a much better position than him, and it let's us know that he is probably not aware of his vulnerability (if he's still standing too close, with his chest puffed out, and totally unprotected, since an experienced fighter is very unlikely to take that risk.)

So just by repositioning ourselves and observing our opponent's ability to identify the danger he is now in, we then get the information we need to more accurately estimate our chances of success.

No touching yet, but the jockeying for position made us a winner of the "fight before the fight", and increased our chances of victory dramatically.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Kenpo's Volume of Material

(from Mr. Dennis Conatser's Facebook page March 1st, 2013)

Many have commented on the amount of Physical/Intellectual material (Basics, Forms, Sets, Techniques, numerous drills and intellectual documentation that FGM Parker developed and taught.  I call the sum of our Systems make-up, “Kenponents” {Kenpo Components} or the Tools of Kenpo. [See the Kenpo Store for this poster}

This is entirely due to the genius of what became our Founders passion and desire to share and continually improve His Art of Kenpo based upon Logical and Pragmatic exercises, not just the Traditional. Starting initially with what he termed Key fundamentals, he continually evolved and developed a Unique Martial Art System second to none. As this process progressed, he had the foresight to take copious notes and maintain organized files on his experiences both personal as well as those from students. The notes eventually became the source of several publications such as pamphlets, books, accumulative journals, teaching guidelines, telephone answering guides, business guides, specific terminology, visual aids (Universal Pattern), he was in process of a large video series, and many other projects.

As you can see, a monumental task which as the popularity of Kenpo developed his seminar schedule increased, it then became necessary to record, clarify, and illustrate his findings by writing down and organizing his works to assist the vast amount of students globally due to his limited personal appearance schedule. This however was not the only reason for the myriad of Kenpo material we are blessed with today. A great teacher teaches so that each and every student can learn progress and achieve according to their individual abilities.

Most all of us learn through Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, or Tactile learning styles, composed of a combination of perception and memory. To help clarify and assist our memory after attending a personal lesson or class, these “notes/works” were invaluable. They were never originally meant to be initial or solo guides without personal face to face instruction.

As FGM Parker’s concepts and principles became tangible, first through simple Basics, various organized drills and exercises during classes, the desire and importance to “recall” all the various Drills, Self Defense Techniques, Forms, Sets, and Freestyle exercises led to their naming, categorizing, classification or codifying to assist or shortcut the students’ progress. Explaining the intent, theme or purpose of each exercise ‘completely’ takes explicit explanation which is equally important. As one might imagine, explaining, clarifying, and supporting all the interpretive aspects within Kenpo clearly, it became necessary to elaborate for comprehension through written documents.

To many, Kenpo appears to be an extremely complicated System, yet FGM Parker felt that anything that was complicated was constipated! Our system is NOT complicated rather sophisticated. Sophistication is nothing more than simplicity compounded.

It really is a matter of intelligent and diligent instruction to not only “Know Of” this tremendous Kenpo plexus, but to actually “Know” the material then to “Understand” its interwoven elements. Once this is truly realized and understood, you will discover the “Master Keys to Kenpo” and find that much of the syllabus is extremely similar/interrelated yet offering many valuable options/variations/explanations to the “Keys” seemingly copious examples, yet few in executable principles.

No other System has the logical and organized formatted outline that we enjoy in Ed Parker's American Kenpo. One is hard pressed to find a System that encompasses the inclusiveness that we enjoy, yet there is still much to elaborate on in greater detail within the established outline.

Each Instructor teaches a unique perspective, yet we all should... Seek … compounded simplicity~!

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Kicking from the Horse Stance

(Informative comments by Mr. Sascha Williams from a recent discussion on Facebook about whether or not there is any benefit to practicing kicks from a horse stance.)

If you practice Mr. Parker's Self Defense Techniques, you should practice certain kicks from a Horse stance.

While I had the opportunity to work on Kenpo's material with Mr. Parker directly, I believe that once I respond here, some of you will realize that what I'm about to say, you actually already knew, but you might have not thought about it.

I doubt I am the only one who realizes that the first technique in the Kenpo system which actually employs kicks from a Horse Stance is Scraping Hoof, which employs a Scooping Heel kick, as well as a knife edge kick from a Horse Stance.

Then, there's Destructive Fans, which executes a sweep kick from a Horse Stance, but one could argue that it's not specifically a "kick", as Mr. Parker didn't specify further, other than stating to "sweep the opponent's leg" from a Horse Stance position.

But then there's Reprimanding the Bears on 2nd brown, which employs a front thrusting ball kick from a Horse stance.

I realize, the question posted might have been more about "traditional" kicks (Roundhouse kick, Side kick, back kick, etc.), but that just demonstrates how Mr. Parker thought differently than most people.

Personally, although not contained in any technique from a Horse stance, I would recommend to also practice the Back Scoop kick (aka vertical hook kick) from a Horse stance, since that has practical application.

And then that would also expand to the Reverse Snap kick, in the event that the opponent isn't close enough for a Scoop kick, but yet at the perfect distance for a snapping version of that kick (i.e.: Reverse Snap kick.)

Regarding the advantage of a scooping kick, the general answer would be: In the right situation, it will be the fastest strike available, with the highest probability of success.

Just like a hook punch.

Essentially a hook kick (which is what a scoop kick is), just like a hook punch, or hooking heel palm, etc) takes advantage of the fact that there is an unprotected target available as we retract our arm or leg.

A hook strikes on the return (after passing the apex). So it benefits from Forward Momentum (in addition to Rotational force), but all of this moving towards 6:00 o'clock, so retreating (aka Advancing to the Rear).

Like the first strike in Striking Serpents Head.