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Thread: Universality of Kenpo

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    Default Universality of Kenpo

    For those of you who frequent other sites, I apologize for the redundance. I stuck this over on KN in response to a thread in which Mr. Soares and Mr. Albrechtson were dialoguing about Joe Rebelo's tri-sectional staff clip not reflecting EPAK. I'm curious about the perspectives of the folk on this board. So, here 'tis:

    "Secrets of Chinese Karate listed a slew of traditional Japanese and Chinese weapons. We don't have forms for each. But we do have a system that's supposedly built on universal laws of motion as applied to the arena of personal combat.

    One of my favorite discussions with Mr. Parker consisted of me just standing there in awe as he reviewed Finger Set with a pencil in each hand, finger whips converting to starting a pencil piercing via shape of the crane, then the hand opening up to allow the palm to push the pencil into a soft tissue target with a palm heel press, eraser end nestled in the cracks of his palm; finger slices converting to odd-angle entry stabs into the eyes or carotid triangle, and so on. But we can argue that a pencil is not a kenpo weapon. One of my favorite stories of Mr. Chapels that exemplifies this universal application of kenpo concepts is a lunch with Mr. P. in a diner, in which he's whipping around kethcup and mustard dispensers like blades in a blender, with deadly force and precision.

    Our techniques, sets and forms are not there to teach us a response to a rear 2-hand choke, but rather how to apply the principles and mechanics of movement to combat applications. The mechanics of motion are then contextualized to whatever tools are under consideration. Just for kicks, one might consider getting their hands on a 3-section staff, and practice Short 1 & 2, Long 1, and Long 3 adapting the movements to accomodate the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon. Try it again with the Double Headed Staff described in SoCK, then again with a Chinese Broadsword, then a pocketknife, then a pair of police batons, then a small firearm (unloaded for saftey sake, or with snap caps, discharged as shots in CQB range in lieu of strikes), then again with the snap-cap pistol in one hand and a pracice blade in the other, then again with some pencils or a ketchup bottle.

    When I had a small cadre of combatants under my tutelage just before the first war in Iraq, I did this with my guys from Pendleton/Force Recon. Used the kenpo system as a template for cross training modern and ancient weaponry. One of my Marines dropped into a ditch with about a dozen Republican Guard in it, refusing to surrender after having been bombed for days on end, knife in one hand side arm in the other. Emerged on the other side covered in their gore, not a scratch on him. Used kenpo the whole time...checking, jamming weapon depths, using bodies as shields, obscured angles for attack and defense, and so on. Yet, we don't have such sets and forms in the system. Supposedly.

    For more fun, adapt the yellow and orange belt techniques to the 3 sectional staff. Come back and report to us that it still is not an EPAK weapon. My contention will be that...there is no such entity.

    Kenpo is not the choreography. It is the stuff we are doing with our bodies while in the midst of the choreography.

    Best Regards,

    Dave"

    Please understand I ain't posting this to bust their chops or support Joes. I'm posting this because it's an important part of understanding kenpo. That the techs teach us how to use our bodies, not tit-for-tat responses to specific attacks. I know this idea is out there, but I fear it's getting lost in the concern for matching catalysts to attack/response reactions, and that the spontaneous application of kenpo -- listed by Mr. P. as the ultimate goal of the student of the motion system -- will vanish as a training concept in another 20 years.

    Play nice,

    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: Universality of Kenpo

    interesting post Dave, and while I think there is truth in there, it doesn't extend all the way.

    I do see your point, and I agree with you in that with kenpo, or any well understood and well trained martial art, one ought to be able to pick up any useful item and use it effectively as a weapon. But I think perhaps this works best with improvised weapons like pencils and ketchup bottles.

    When you get into the realm of traditional weapons, there are definitely better ways to use them, and if you haven't received that training you probably aren't going to figure it out yourself, or at best you will figure it out very slowly.

    Sure, you can pick up a Dao (Chinese Broadsword) and see how you can adapt it into short two, or something. You might come up with some interesting and even effective ideas. Heck, anybody can actually pick up something like a sword and be dangerous with it even with no training.

    But without guidance in proper use and proper technique for that weapon, you won't reach a sophisticated understanding or skill level with that weapon. Simply being "dangerous" with a weapon is not the same as actually being skilled with it. Being skilled with it means you can be as dangerous with it as you want to be. Simply being dangerous with it might mean you are also dangerous to yourself. Studying the body of techniques that has been developed to effectively use a specific weapon is the best way to understand that weapon in the fullest sense. But simply assuming your understanding of a physical art such as kenpo will automatically translate into skill with a weapon is not a reasonable view, in my opinion.

    I think knives are perhaps more universally applicable. But things like three-section staff, spear, double headed spear, sword, broadsword, chain whip, etc., take specific study to tap the true potential of the weapon.
    Michael


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    Default Re: Universality of Kenpo

    Michael:

    I agree to a point. I just made a 3 section staff in the garage, and spent about 10 minutes reviewing Shrot 3 with it. The counter manipulation components blend nicely with the weapon. Poor understandings of weapons' strengths and weaknesses -- and the subtleties necessary for bringing out the strengths and overcoming the weaknesses -- plague even many of the traditional arts that have forms for them. Tri-sectional staff is a weak and unrelaible flail that requires tricky recovery after flail contact at short or long ranges, but is highly flexible and powerful lever. Yet, most forms displaying it have been tweaked for good looks, and rely more on poor pivots and global spinning movements, than on positioning and "chin na" type apps. For which it is exquitite. Great for tying up horse legs, entangling shields, and breaking swords and pole weapons in a defensive grid; not so hot as a fancy pair of long Chinese nunchaku.

    Alongside my kenpo training, I also spent some time in a classical kung-fu system with weapons (including broadswrod), and a bunch of time in kenjutsu & kendo. By opening up the ellipses around the body and slightly modifying stancework to keep from lopping off ones own feet or calves, many of the kenpo techs are outstanding vehicles for capitalizing on the strengths of broadsword. Kenjutsu is one of the courses of study that aided me in "getting" some of the finer points in the scraping, pulling, penetrating, rebounding, returning, reversing, etc. parts of kenpo.

    Perhaps my own ideosyncracies, but I have found that studying minutae in kenpo has aided my weapons training, and studying weapons has aided my understanding of kenpo application. They are not -- to me -- exlcusive. Rather, they share more than many will likely bother to discover.

    But that's just my own experience. Others results may vary.

    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: Universality of Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dave in da house View Post
    Michael:

    I agree to a point. I just made a 3 section staff in the garage, and spent about 10 minutes reviewing Shrot 3 with it. The counter manipulation components blend nicely with the weapon. Poor understandings of weapons' strengths and weaknesses -- and the subtleties necessary for bringing out the strengths and overcoming the weaknesses -- plague even many of the traditional arts that have forms for them. Tri-sectional staff is a weak and unrelaible flail that requires tricky recovery after flail contact at short or long ranges, but is highly flexible and powerful lever. Yet, most forms displaying it have been tweaked for good looks, and rely more on poor pivots and global spinning movements, than on positioning and "chin na" type apps. For which it is exquitite. Great for tying up horse legs, entangling shields, and breaking swords and pole weapons in a defensive grid; not so hot as a fancy pair of long Chinese nunchaku.
    yes, I think there is truth here.

    Alongside my kenpo training, I also spent some time in a classical kung-fu system with weapons (including broadswrod), and a bunch of time in kenjutsu & kendo. By opening up the ellipses around the body and slightly modifying stancework to keep from lopping off ones own feet or calves, many of the kenpo techs are outstanding vehicles for capitalizing on the strengths of broadsword. Kenjutsu is one of the courses of study that aided me in "getting" some of the finer points in the scraping, pulling, penetrating, rebounding, returning, reversing, etc. parts of kenpo.

    Perhaps my own ideosyncracies, but I have found that studying minutae in kenpo has aided my weapons training, and studying weapons has aided my understanding of kenpo application. They are not -- to me -- exlcusive. Rather, they share more than many will likely bother to discover.
    I think the key here is that you DO have a background in weapons training. This gives you the platform to stand on and recognize commonalities and similar methods and principles in kenpo. Those common threads, methods, and principles do exist, but without the experience one cannot recognize them even if staring them in the face. This experience also gives you the background to successfully experiment with the three section staff and short three. You are blending two things that you know, experimenting with how they can come together. But without some level of prior experience in both arenas, I think you would not come up with much.

    I do feel that any training you do will affect all other training you do. Experience in one system will affect training in another. Training with weapons will affect empty hand training, and kenpo, and training in kenpo will have an affect on how you understand your weapons. I think you cannot separate those experiences from each other. Even if you practice them as separate and distinct methods, there will still be influence creeping in, and I say that as a good thing.

    But if you took a kenpo guy who had no experience with weapons training and gave him a Dao to play with, what he would come up with would be pretty rudimentary. It may be effective to a point, but very rudimentary and likely inefficient technique.
    Michael


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    Ray
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    Default Re: Universality of Kenpo

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dave in da house View Post
    I stuck this over on KN in response to a thread in which Mr. Soares and Mr. Albrechtson were dialoguing...
    Yikes...there ain't no Mr. Albrechtsen, just "Ray"

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