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Thread: The Correct Way?

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    MJS
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    Default The Correct Way?

    Reading some threads recently on the various forums, I see debates regarding changing the material, improving things or keeping it the way it is, SL4, motion, commercial, how this person does a technique and why its right/wrong, etc.

    So, my question is, with all of the various instructors out there, who is teaching the true way? I see reference made to certain people, actually one group, that was supposedly privy to things that others were not.

    Is Larry Tatum not teaching an effective method of Kenpo? What about Mr. LaBounty, Mr. Conatser, Mr. Palanzo? Reading some of these posts, I get the impression that unless you're in that 'special group' then what you're doing will not work.

    Now, I was not there to see a good portion of these people back in the day, when they were training with Mr. Parker. I have had the chance to see Mr. Tatum once as well as Mr. Palanzo. From what I saw, their stuff was pretty effective to me.

    So, how about some clarification...who's teaching the right way?

    Topics like this tend to get a bit tense, so lets try to keep things somewhat civil.

    Mike

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    I don't believe that there is an answer to that question. There is no "true way" that is right for everyone.

    Mr. Tatum, Mr. LaBounty, Mr. Conatser, Mr. Palanzo (just to name a few) all teach legitimate "kenpo." However, a lot of what they teach is based in part on their unique experience and understanding of what they learned from Mr. Parker. The principles taught are pretty much the same, but their methodology may differ.

    That doesn't take away anything from their students or the art. As a matter of fact, I think it contributes to it and helps it grow. Eventually, their students will add their own flavor and make the "kenpo" their own.

    My sifu has a great analogy (I think anyway) that sums it up pretty simply. Kenpo is like a stew. Your instructos provide the broth, but eventually you will flavor it to your liking. You may like carrots in your stew, while I like potatos, and someone else likes onions. End the end it's still a stew (kenpo), but flavored to suite your needs.

    Bottom line, if it works and is effective, then it's kenpo. Does the stew you're eating take care of your hunger?
    "It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." – Charles A. Beard

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    I think that the "True way" is one that adheres strongly to:
    1. Basics FIRST
    2. LOGIC
    3. Principles

    ...the rest is neither true nor false, just there. I think that those three ingredients are the things that set Kenpo aside from other systems and styles. NOT that others do not have those, but those form our core... no matter what camp you are or are not from.

    Your Brother
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    ~ David Bly

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Greetings.

    I refrain from declaring things "correct" or "incorrect".

    Because many things that are done actually can work.

    Yet they are not "optimal" or yield "maximal" results or output.

    And this optimization is the result of anatomical considerations, psychological considerations, kinesiological output and physiological constraints.

    Understanding human anatomy and biomechanical phenomena should be the base of training. Also logical study the the actions and reactions of the human body, specially involuntary ones brought about by manipulations that are based on structures, not necessarily pain compliance, should dictate the sequencing to take advantage of the common weaknesses of human bodies.

    So some understand this, some don't. Here's the thing.

    If your training is just based on kinematics, it will not take advantage of the knowledge we have of kinesiological/mechanical outputs like force, energy, momentum, impulse, etc.

    Thus there will be a lack of an optimization mechanism to find a measurably "better" performance.

    Does that make sense?

    Enjoy!

    Juan M. Mercado

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    When I met Mr.Parker, I was deep-heavy-hard core into the modelling components of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. In a nutshell, the idea was to micro-study someone who was really good at something, for the purposes of determining exactly WHAT is was they did, and HOW they did it, that made them really good at it. That, and my exploration into techniques for achieving altered states in training and using them for improved performance, were the only things that kept me in the door after being properly introduced.

    Main point: My eyes were cued at the time to look for subtleties demonstrated by exemplars. Comparison is a necessary part of this: Look at the exemplar who can do some thing X really freaking good, and then at a novice who can't. What's different? Only by identifying differences -- even between experts -- can you start to distill the "difference that makes a difference".

    Mr. P. moved in ways others did not; even some of his most advanced students. He (in kenpo terms) inserted things into his performance of kenpo techs others did not. He utilized the space around his body in ways others did not. As a modeler, it was my job to stop him when he did it, and ask him what he was doing and why. Oddly, he didn't know he did much of this; was unaware until someone stopped him to point it out. There was, however, much he WAS aware he was doing, and would grin as if caught...sort of a "you weren't supposed to see that" thing.

    Some of his senior students were taught this stuff, or were part of the development of the things he knew he did. Some spent enough time around him, that they just mimed his movement...monkey see/monkey do. In miming him, they ended up doing the same things he was doing. I'll bet, even to this day, that those who mimed him are still discovering how intriguing some of the things they copied are. How positiong a hand hither instead of yon helps the body to generate more speed or power, or recover from the generation of such speed and power, but that the position in question was never taught, specifically.

    In contrast, some seniors were political allies, spending very little time with the old man on the mat. Not enough time to glean the subtleties in Mr.P's performance, or copy them into their own ".exe" files. So, right there, we have at least three different levels of understanding of the little differences that make a difference: 3 potential guys, all seniors, each moving differently for different reasons. One having been taught how to move, specifically; one having unconsciously copied it just as a result of his generous exposure to his instructor; and one who knows kenpo just fine, moves athletically and well because he's been in it for 40 years, but never had access to the subtleties that open up entire new dimensions. All 3 respected kenpoists, moving differently, from different points of understanding, but probably with the same amount of red on their belts.

    So, we have kenpo in a spectrum...good, better, better still, etc.

    Sad part is, the spectrum also contains the far left of the number line of scale...low numbers, negative numbers. People who move like crap, but believe "balls to bones" (great matrix line) that they are doing it right or well, because their instructor said so. Scary part is when they can quote scripture chapter and verse -- Infinite Insights, Encyclopedia, etc. -- to support rheir sub-par executions, and use this ability as proof to themselves and the world that thier way is the right way. Then you see them move; the stances suck, the strikes lack power or focus, they control of an opponents options isn't there, and so on.

    And again, it's all on a spectrum. I can find 2nd & 3rd gen blacks with a good amount of red, having come from pristine pedigrees, who move like garbage. Take some time; work with them; make some good clean-ups as we explore together and learn together. Then I can get on the mat with some of the oldsters, and learn that there is a vast canyon between where I am, and where I could/should be. Still so much to learn, with them viewing my poor/weak/needy basics with the same "room for improvement" eyes I viewed the guys I worked with.

    It's all a spectrum. Different points on a range. As such, I have elected not to deal in good or bad; right or wrong; but rather in improving my own place on that scale: To improve my own kenpo, and try to drag uphill with me any who are willing to follow.

    Sorry for the wind-bag thing, but it's an issue near and dear to my heart.

    D.
    Clear mind, clear movement. Mastery of the Arts is mastery over the Self. That in this moment, this motion, the thoughts, memories, impulses and passions that cloud the mind must yield to the clarity of purpose, and purity of motion.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Myslef I'm a very strong advocate for there being no single correct way to perform Kenpo, but rather than take my word for it, let's check with Mr. Parker and see what he has to say on the subject:

    __________________________________


    "There are two things that people tend to forget and it is because they forget these things that I believe strongly in keeping my system loose and open."

    "People are always looking for what the other guy intends to do; however, they do not anticipate what he "does not" intend to do."

    "The second thing they forget is, '. . . that can hurt you.'

    A man does not usually plan a move, he just does it."

    "A person who is rigidly dependent on the "one right way" to execute a technique to combat the opponents move is likely to be in a great deal of trouble."

    Official Karate Magazine Nov. 1975 V-7 No. 53

    __________________________________


    "Kenpo is the most updated version of the martial arts, employing more concepts and principles than in other arts now."

    "And though there may be plethora of content available to students of Kenpo, the real truth (their mastery of the art taken as a whole) may be gleaned in one fashion only."

    "When it comes down to the end, what is true for one person may not be true for another."

    "The real truth for both lies in the moment of actual combat."

    Black Belt Magazine July 1979 V-17 No. 7

    __________________________________


    "I teach these techniques not for the sake of teaching the techniques, but for the principles that are involved in the techniques."

    "And even then, these principles have to be altered to fit the individual. My system is structured to bring out a style of an individual. His style will be determined by his anatomical structure."

    "The other day, one of my black belts asked "Mr. Parker, how do you do this? There's got to be one way to do it." I said that there is no one way for everybody."

    Black Belt Magazine Nov. 1985 V-23 No. 11

    __________________________________


    "There is no one correct way for everybody to do a certain martial arts move."

    "Four plus four equals want? Eight. Now, what's six plus two? Right, eight again. And five plus three? Seven plus one?"

    "Now, did I use the same numerical combination each time to get eight? No. And it's the same in Kenpo."

    "Each Kenpoist can arrive at the same result a little differently, depending on his or her own style."

    Karate Kung-Fu Magazine Sept. 1986 V-17 No. 9

    __________________________________


    Note:

    These and approx. 400 to 500 additional "Ed Parker" quotes will be available in a future version of The Kenpo Journal. The new section will be called "Q & A with Ed Parker"

    The "Q & A" information is based on my collection of more than 120 magazines and newspaper articles on Mr. Parker that span 30+ years.
    Last edited by Rich_Hale; 07-06-2007 at 04:07 PM.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dave in da house View Post
    To improve my own kenpo, and try to drag uphill with me any who are willing to follow.
    If at the end of the day that's all I'm able to do; I will have considered myself successful.

    Respects,
    Bill Parsons
    Triange Kenpo Institute
    www.trianglekenpo.com

    "I know Kenpo!" "Cool... do you know how to use it?"

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Kenpo is only as good as the person practicing it.

    Blue Belt
    A.K.K.I.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJS View Post
    Reading some threads recently on the various forums, I see debates regarding changing the material, improving things or keeping it the way it is, SL4, motion, commercial, how this person does a technique and why its right/wrong, etc.

    So, my question is, with all of the various instructors out there, who is teaching the true way? I see reference made to certain people, actually one group, that was supposedly privy to things that others were not. ...
    What, the moderating getting a little too tame, so you had to ask a question like that? *heh-heh!*

    I think Mr. Mercado, Dr. Crouch and Mr. Hale pretty well said what usually comes out as the concensus here when this comes up. There's no right way to learn/do kenpo. There are different methods- lile the anatomical and physiological aproach of SL-4, or the speed and psychology of Dr. LaTourette, for example. There are also most definately crossovers in all methods, and (huge) differences in understanding between instructors and practitioners.

    If what you do works, it could be said to be "right." If you want it to work better, seek advice from the more knowlegable. So simple, ...

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    One thing I know about Mr. Planas, is that he is a stickler for the way it was when he was teaching. There are a few things I believe he would alter if it was 'his' system. But, he teaches Ed Parker's American Kenpo.

    Some of the things I see in others works, I can now see as 'expressions' of what I learn in my Planas lineage. I imagine, that some who look at what I do, could see 'expressions' of their lineage. I sometimes wonder if those 'expressions' are really 'shortcuts' - more advanced information presented at an earlier stage, to self-aggrandize the teacher, as demonstrating some of the 'super secret' kenpo.

    I've got a few more years (decades) to gain a sufficient understanding of my Parker / Planas lineage before I begin to examine the contrasts offered by others.

    None of what I offer here is meant to diminish any others' lineage. Only to represent that (by blind fortune) I began with the Encyclopedia of American Kenpo. First, seek to undestand.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    There are a lot of them teaching the right way. Differently? Yes!! Wrong no!

    Don't let them fool you there are a lot of great instructors out there. Whos technique is correct? who cares if it works. Just be careful when you pick an instructor. Look around. If you like the way an instructor teaches go with him. You will be glad you did. Some people teach one way and some another. Be sure you like his teaching methods.

    I am Most Respectfully,
    Sifuroy

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    This goes along with a topic I was going to start this weekend. I think all of the seniors are teaching people the right way, but kenpo was never meant to be stagnate, each of us tailor it to fit us.

    I say our experiences help us season our kenpo to our own choice of Flavor.
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Wow, nice to see all the great replies! Rather than reply to each post, I'll just throw in my .02 and we can hopefully continue the thread.

    I agree with those that said that everyone had something to offer. Like I always say, you could take 10 people, have them to the same technique and I'd bet that we'd see 10 slight variations and rightfully so. As someone else said, everyone took something different from Mr. Parker.

    Some people will look at how much time each person spent with the source. Goes something like this. Please keep in mind, these are examples, not fact. If Tatum spent 20 hrs. a week with Parker, Planas and Palanzo only spent 3hrs., then Tatum must have more knowledge because he spent more time. Mills spent time with Parker, has a huge following, but is frowned upon because he made a few changes. There are quite a few Seniors out there who are all very respected and have produced many students, so obviously people are happy with what they're getting.

    Commercial, motion, SL4...the list goes on and on. I'm sure everyone has something to offer. Its all Kenpo, just some variations.

    Mike

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJS View Post
    ... everyone took something different from Mr. Parker.

    Some people will look at how much time each person spent with the source. Goes something like this. .... If Tatum spent 20 hrs. a week with Parker, Planas and Palanzo only spent 3hrs., then Tatum must have more knowledge because he spent more time. Mills spent time with Parker, has a huge following, but is frowned upon because he made a few changes. ...
    Apparently, everyone also brought something different to the table as well, and some refused to change/exchange what they brought. I'd have to disagree with those who say the more time spent with Mr. Parker, the more you learned. Some can learn more in five minutes with a master than others could in a lifetime. Depends on intelligence, willingness to learn, ability to work, etc. Doesn't mean any of them are wrong, but could some be better for having paid attention? I'd say yes.

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJS View Post
    Reading some threads recently on the various forums, I see debates regarding changing the material, improving things or keeping it the way it is, SL4, motion, commercial, how this person does a technique and why its right/wrong, etc.

    So, my question is, with all of the various instructors out there, who is teaching the true way? I see reference made to certain people, actually one group, that was supposedly privy to things that others were not.

    Is Larry Tatum not teaching an effective method of Kenpo? What about Mr. LaBounty, Mr. Conatser, Mr. Palanzo? Reading some of these posts, I get the impression that unless you're in that 'special group' then what you're doing will not work.

    Now, I was not there to see a good portion of these people back in the day, when they were training with Mr. Parker. I have had the chance to see Mr. Tatum once as well as Mr. Palanzo. From what I saw, their stuff was pretty effective to me.

    So, how about some clarification...who's teaching the right way?

    Topics like this tend to get a bit tense, so lets try to keep things somewhat civil.

    Mike
    A minor rant. One of the things that rubs me a little bit the wrong way is I get an impression from some that if you weren't an Ed Parker student, then you couldn't possibly be as knowledgeable as someone who wasn't. Just look at some of the discussions/arguments over lineages and you'll get my point. One could take that to mean that once the original seniors are gone, then kenpo will forever be substandard because there will be no one left who studied under "the man".

    I think that having been a student gives you a leg up in understanding what kenpo is all about and insight into what he was thinking but there are plenty of superb teachers out there who truly do get the meaning of kenpo and are very worthy to carry on the legacy of Ed Parker, even if they were never one of his students.

    Who's teaching it the right way are those who hold to the principles of kenpo as laid down by Ed Parker but who also make sure the quality of instruction maintains a high standard, regardless of the particular "flavor" of kenpo that's being taught. Anything else to me would not be the right way.
    Be careful what you say, some may take it the wrong way.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Greetings.

    The answer to the question has been answered indirectly, not by a single response, but by the process of those responding and the messages they've posted.

    Here's what I mean.

    The proof that Mr. Parker accomplished what he stated in his books about several of his goals about martial arts and Kenpo is the discussion we're having here.

    One of the most important goals was to promote clear goal oriented thinking and logical argumentation as base for actions. This is my gauge as to what "correct" Kenpo is. Not lineage, not tradition... performance and logic.

    And many of our discussions and performance show this "correctness".

    For that I am glad.

    Juan M. Mercado

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    The term "true way" can and will lead to different interpretations for different people. This is an ages old argument/discussion, and one of the reasons for the existence of the many styles within even a particular culture and/or lineage line.

    Mr. Parker himself spoke a great deal in the early days defending the various forms of his own arts. Many suggested his Kenpo was not "pure." They were essentially saying the same thing, that Parker's Kenpo compared to the cultural traditionalists was not a "true' or "pure" art. He always replied with, "What is pure? Everything that everyone has ever done, came from someone else and has been modified for various reasons. Some good, some bad."

    Even the strictest of the strict "doist" arts that demanded conformity stylistically and culturally, eventually had multiple splinter styles, methods, and changing philosophies. The same can be said for even their combative arts like jiujitsu, that originated as a component of the Samurai Arts, and evolved in one direction to a "do" art (judo), and still many other directions as jiujitsu styles or ryu's as well.

    This phenomenon was repeated over and over again in all the styles, cultures, and disciplines. Of course the American Culture has from its inception into the arts accelerated the process, usually driven by profit motives, but not always.

    When I was growing up in the arts in the fifties and sixties, those (in the arts) could probably name 95% of all the styles and disciplines that existed at the time. Now, everyday I hear of a style or am asked the question, "Have you ever heard of blank style?" Sadly the answer is no.

    But my own teacher did what everyone else did or is doing so why is that a bad thing? Mostly because modern martial arts, particularly in this country where "doing your own thing" is part and parcel of the culture, and is encouraged by the business of the martial arts. There was a time when arts were revised and splintered only by very extraordinary men who had spent a great deal of time effort and commitment to one discipline before envisioning a better way. Only then, after having an in-depth knowledge of what they were doing did these extraordinary and intelligent men embark on another path.

    Today, every student who has made it past blue belt thinks he knows a better way, because he's been told "its ok to change the art so it works for you." In truth there is nothing wrong with this philosophy and it is a major player in what drives the martial arts business. But there is huge misunderstanding in this philosophy promoted by Ed Parker Sr. himself.

    He said, "Make the art fit you, so you will be effective." He made the art personal for the individual ultimately as it should be. What he didn't say is, "After you have personalized the art for you, teach it that way to someone else."

    I remember growing up learning basic math, then a bunch a folks came along who decided to teach math a "new" way. The answers were the same, but they suggested different methodologies to get there. It confused the crap out of everyone, and eventually most came to the conclusions that the old fashion way of learning math yielded better results. They were right.

    Mr. Parker had a simple way of determining whether a new method was worthy of implementation through his own method of "Comparative Analysis." Having done this he would classify everything as; "ineffective, somewhat effective, more effective, and most effective." This is how he drew conclusions about what he wanted, and how to implement it. But he cautioned me, "It is never as simple as it seems. Remember Ron, even the ineffective may have a purpose in teaching someone to ultimately be most effective.

    So "one true way?" No. It doesn't exist. It's a myth that many strive to find, and is part of the experience for some. But also keep in mind that some do a better job than others, and when it comes to kenpo, there was only one Ed Parker.
    "Nothing is more dangerous than the conscientiously ignorant, or the sincerely stupid." - Martin Luther King Jr.

    "Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens." - Ed Parker Sr.

    "It's much easier to quote, than to know." - Ron Chapél


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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    The problem I have with "the way Ed Parker did it" is not because he taught different material to different folks, or that the material changed over time...it's the way the phrase is used.

    "The way Ed Parker did it" or "The way [my senior] does it" is used to justify just about every segment of Kenpo, including aspects that perhaps deserve a different or better description/explanation.

    Sometimes "the way Ed Parker did it" means that the Kenpo hasn't been watered down to facilitate the Kiddie Karate classes. Sometimes it is used to justify a non-combat aspect of Kenpo, such as the number of techs per belt or the star power of Ed Parker. And sometimes it is used as an explanation as to why and how things are done. This is, IMO, the source of a lot of the strife....as lineage is given as the reason for something instead of anatomical correctness/mechanical efficacy that fits a person's proportions.

    Just my thoughts.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Kaur View Post
    This is, IMO, the source of a lot of the strife....as lineage is given as the reason for something instead of anatomical correctness/mechanical efficacy that fits a person's proportions.

    Just my thoughts.
    "Just"? Damn good thoughts, me thinks.

    One item to add: Mr. Parker was not god, and he knew it. If you could come to him with a sound and logical argument about the "why" or "how" of a thing that could inform change, he would consider it and adopt it.

    In psych., there's a thing called "locus of control". It refers to whether we do things in certain contexts because others expect it from us (external LOC), or we expect it from ourselves (Internal LOC). I will be glad of the day when kenpoists say simply, "This is the way "I" do it, and here's why... If, on the merits of your argument, I can be persuaded to change for the better, I will." Internal LOC. Based on logic.

    There are things I do now that I could say, "That's the way Doc Chapel does it", but, enjoyably, he has based the stuff in our conversations on mechanics. So I can credit him with the codification, but list the "why" as being based on biomechanics. Which I happen to have a thing for. Logic, applied to movement in defense. Good stuff.

    Dave
    Clear mind, clear movement. Mastery of the Arts is mastery over the Self. That in this moment, this motion, the thoughts, memories, impulses and passions that cloud the mind must yield to the clarity of purpose, and purity of motion.

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    Default Re: The Correct Way?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJS View Post
    who is teaching the true way?

    Is ______ not teaching an effective method of Kenpo? (Will) what you're doing ... work?

    So, ...who's teaching the right way?


    Mike
    I see these as three very different questions.
    1) The 'true' way would seem to require adhering to a predetermined plumb line.

    2) An 'effective' way would mean anything that works, and different teachers and schools could diverge widely while still being under the same umbrella.

    3) The 'right' way is a call for judgment, for excluding all but one. But this begs the question of who's qualified/chosen to be the definer of 'right'.
    Do not do injury, if you can possibly avoid it. -- Tielo, 6th Century Ireland

    I personally would like to see more people working to develop their own skills than wasting time trying to be a kenpo policeman. -- Bob White

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