Results 1 to 1 of 1

Thread: The Arguments Against Motion-Kenpo “What if” Teaching

  1. #1
    Doc's Avatar
    Doc is offline
    AKI Contributing Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Los Angeles
    Thanked 14,897 Times in 5,568 Posts

    Default The Arguments Against Motion-Kenpo “What if” Teaching

    The Arguments Against Motion-Kenpo “What if” Teaching

    Ron Chapél, Ph.D.

    In the construction of a well-designed default technique scenario, (ideal), it should take “minor” variances into account. In my teaching, this is a given. Every technique scenario I teach, regardless of level, has a base realism component of canceling additional aggression. Not just on the initial assault, but throughout the sequence through to its conclusion.

    In my view, supported by my teacher, Mr. Parker, and the way I was taught by him, that is what the meaning of "ideal" is. The problem has always been since the launch into the "commercial era" of Kenpo-Karate, (the original was not), a misunderstanding of the function of the "manuals."

    The “manuals” were never designed to "stand alone" as instructional materials. As I've stated before, the only way Mr. Parker could proliferate the commercial product was to recruit black belts from other styles and allow them to teach his concepts with their own basics and skills. These black belts were to utilize the conceptual information as a starting point and formulate their own product from it.

    There is nothing in those technique manuals that provide a definitive solution to any assault scenario, and they were never meant to be. They were in fact created to give a reasonably intelligent teacher, a loose, broad starting point to begin their own process of formulating technique scenarios for their own teaching. This was for their downline in a school or organization, to provide particular consistency for a group that worked together, with a broad general consistency to the overall art.

    Once you stepped out of the lineage, school, or organization, there was never an expectation of anything is exactly the same in the commercial product. When Mr. Parker was alive it essentially functioned as intended because only he could say "something is wrong," and if he didn't say it, no one could be criticized.

    The problem is, in business, you can't tell people they're wrong. He accepted all of these people "as is," and had to "guide" them rather than "correct" them. If someone asked him specifically "how" a technique should be done, he always replied, "Show me how YOU do it." Then he would offer advice on how to improve their interpretation of the technique. Simply put, it was not what Ed Parker Sr. intended.

    He knew it didn't make sense to teach a definitive technique in a business art where he wasn't going to be available to reinforce a definitive process. Unfortunately, the confusion was massive, in part, because of Parker himself.

    I remember standing in the back leaning against the wall in street clothes at a seminar where Mr. Parker was going over some technique ideas. One green belt leaned over to another and whispered, "Mr. Parker is teaching the technique wrong." There was never ever anything wrong with the method of teaching, only the teachers that continued to deteriorate and spiral downward in knowledge and skill every generation.

    Their lack of understanding fueled a desire to have it both ways. They wanted techniques fixed, but wanted "their idea of fixed" to be everyone else's model, while they were allowed to explore and deviate to their own desire.

    The methodology crosses over into all interpretations and levels as I teach today, and follows the old Chinese Traditional methods of "style or family" interpretations of the overall art, which was always taught in "phases" just like Parker intended.

    Parker stated, and was very specific that in the first “phase” of learning, the student should be subjected to a set curriculum with no variations, what ifs or formulations, because that is a different stage and to do otherwise not only confuses students but doesn’t allow for enough physical repetition of the set model to create new synaptic pathways or “muscle memory.” "What if" training is for mid-level black belts, and formulation was for "masters" of the basics of the art.

    The business of selling the art is what brought these things, along with 'tailoring," and "re-arrangement" concepts down to students not qualified or skilled enough to do so. However, it did keep people interested in the art and was obviously good for business. Unfortunately, it was never ever good for the art itself.

    Mr. Parker supports my position in his own words from his last I.K.K.A. Green Belt Manual. Speaking of the Ideal Phase he said,

    “In this phase, the term ideal implies that the situation is fixed and that the "what if" questions required in Phase II are not to be included in Phase I."

    His words and this is as I teach. The term “what if’ is forbidden for lower students. It is their job to learn the material, the ABC's of function if you will. It is more important to concentrate on basic skills and physical vocabulary that emphasizes body mechanics and techniques that are absolutely functional and capable of standing alone.

    Every technique in Phase I explores concepts of application and teachers specific skills that can be explored in subsequent phases or levels. Mr. Parker further explains the conceptual Ideal Technique, once again in his words from the same source material.

    “Therefore, the Ideal Techniques are built around seemingly inflexible and one-dimensional assumptions for a good purpose. They provide us with a basis from which we may begin our analytical process. Prescribed techniques applied to prescribed reactions are the keys that make a basic technique “ideal or fixed.”

    This is a control model in any reliable scientific experiment. How can a novice student begin an “analytical process” without a firm foundation to work from? When Ed Parker talked about “phases” he wanted his black belt students to take his “ideas" and concepts, and create their own fixed technique.

    That is, they were supposed to extrapolate the base technique from the manual and his conceptual teachings. He was teaching his students with schools and clubs how to create their own interpretations for their students. He wanted them to use the Phase I "motion" system to create a personal interpretation for their students while exploring concepts of what-ifs and formulations for themselves as teachers.

    When you understand most of Ed Parker’s Black Belts at that time came to him from other disciplines, you understand he had to teach on multiple levels with different people already established with schools and students all over the world.

    He knew if he began teaching someone already a black belt with students of their own “just firm basics” he would lose them. That and his own personal availability to teach what was also evolving made that impossible. If he visited a student’s school in January and taught when he saw him again the material could be different.

    To create the business, Parker had to alter the traditional method of teaching for proliferation, with the intent of returning to the "old ways" on a large scale later. "Motion" was the mass market vehicle, but not the best vehicle for the art. That would have to come later, once he had made the decision that proliferation was necessary first. When Mr. Parker created a “motion based” Kenpo, he virtually changed the Phases to suit the business.

    In the traditional sense, Phase One, was strict unalterable basics, forms, sets, and technique applications, as I teach now. Phase Two allowed for additional "considerations," and Phase Three was for Master Professors only, who influenced the material the other two phase worked from.

    When he created the "motion-base" and dubbed it Phase One, it destroyed the foundation from which all arts derive their identity. Instead, he allowed the identity to be drawn from its many ideas, instead of fixed principles of execution as other arts.

    This was the contradiction. While he quietly worked on Phase One, American Kenpo, he promoted Phase One Motion-Kenpo which had no place in traditional teaching. He told people to rely on motion, rearranging, and tailoring, while asserting that "Ideals should be fixed," and created by teachers.

    We must remember Mr. Parker was growing as a martial artist. He himself was not "fixed," and continued to change often. Motion-Kenpo was born in the later sixties, and became the problem child of his many versions of his art because it was out-of-control, and there was nothing he could do about it that wouldn't destroy the business he created.

    This crossover period between the decision to create the short-lived idea of “American Kenpo” from his “Chinese-Kenpo” and the abrupt dropping of American Kenpo to facilitate his easier commercial motion-based vehicle, (Ed Parker’ Kenpo Karate), was the cause of mass confusion that continues to this day. Most believe that Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate is American Kenpo. It is not even close. When you saw Mr. Parker explode and execute a technique, he was doing his ever-evolving Personal American Kenpo, while simultaneously teaching Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate. How could anyone not be confused? One minute he is teaching a technique utilizing “Positional Checks,” but when he demoed the same he was utilizing Pak Sao, (Slapping Checks) or a B.A.M. as I call them now.

    Ed Parker confused students because, in the business of Motion-Kenpo, he allowed the traditional three contradicting phases and a non-traditional method of teaching to exist at the same time. Realizing there was nothing he could do to stop it, he just continued sharing. However, it was never his intent for students of the business of Kenpo, to be subjected to anything but phase I motion under the guidance of a teacher who would create plausible and fixed ideas, and the art itself would have a functional ceiling until he created the next level.

    Ed Parker’s words continue;

    “In Phase I, structuring an Ideal technique requires selecting a combat scenario you wish to analyze. Contained within the technique should be FIXED MOVES OF DEFENSE, OFFENSE, AND THE ANTICIPATED REACTIONS that can stem from them.” (Caps are mine)

    You can see here Mr. Parker is talking to his many recruited and homegrown teachers of his art about the process they should use creating their own family style of his Kenpo. Mr. Richard Planas has often stated this many times. The technique manuals are just a base of ideas to get the teacher started using Mr. Parker’s conceptual guidelines to ensure function. Therefore, those who have used Motion-Kenpo as their base and then went on to create their own interpretation of techniques are absolutely correct. No one is wrong unless their interpretations are dysfunctional.

    The “hard curriculum” of Ed Parker was and has never been generally taught. Not teaching commercially allowed Mr. Parker to teach me and forced me to consider and create a hard curriculum based on his American Kenpo Idea, which was dictated by his ever-evolving desires and philosophies.

    When Mr. Parker spoke of the "what if" he was speaking from the perspective of those who had enough knowledge to design their own techniques, and the mid-level skills and knowledge they should have for Phase II.

    Obviously "tailoring" is one thing but totally deviating from the "idea" of the manual meant you had to understand the process of designing a basic technique. In that process, you had to consider "what if" from the perspective of your external stimuli. In other words, "what if" is not what he might do, but what he will do when I interact with him. Therefore when you design a default or Ideal technique you must take into consideration your attacker's possible reactions, something virtually absent from the “motion” way of teaching. That’s why you see someone throw a punch than freeze so the defender can “hit” him 20 times, and ignore reality.

    Theoretically, when an attacker launches or initiates an assault, once you come in contact with him, you must consider what the results of your interaction will be in order to anticipate and plot your next move.

    It would seem to me that this is the stage where you apply effective techniques you have learned for a self-defense encounter, to arrive at the correct solution by technique selection not so much by variation. For example, if a 400-pound man grabs a smaller person by the lapel, a technique like "Lone Kimono" may not be the best solution, they may want to redirect his energy and use an alternate technique like "Conquering Shield." The focus here would be on learning how to analyze the attacker and situation, instead of focusing on the eternal variations of an existing technique.

    For those in the learning process choosing the correct response is more important than endless variations on a specific theme.

    I would prefer to trust my spontaneity to a technique I have practiced a 1000 times, rather than tailoring a technique to something I may have done only 5 times. These two perspectives lead to many different approaches in the way you practice and learn any Kenpo System.

    The "what if" is irrelevant without a significant solid base curriculum that is "hard-wired' into your synaptic pathways, and fortified against Adrenal Stress Syndrome. It is unfortunate for many reared in the "commercial motion phase," to grasp or accept this rather obvious fact. However, those from outside the system from other disciplines who bring with them considerable skill and experience, seem to see it rather quickly when it is properly explained.

    If you are a lower level student, it is more important to choose the right technique that you've been instructed in well, than tailor a response spontaneously when you have limited information and undeveloped soft muscle memory. All of these things are intrinsically tied together, and the multiple levels of traditional study may not be explored simultaneously from the lower end of the spectrum.

    It is encumbered upon us with the knowledge to formulate proper "ideals" to ensure that these ideal techniques not only function but cover all of the relevant and simply inherent possibilities of the action. Any major possibilities should be handled in alternate scenarios. It is also important that we stop confusing Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate with "American Kenpo" which never materialized beyond Mr. Parker's own execution. The lack of codification makes this a non-entity. The term Ed Parker's American Kenpo was a euphemism created by his son after he passed away for his then company, "EPAK." While the term is indeed quite accurate, it refers to the overall relationship of his fathers' work and his position as the Father Of American Karate, not the labeling of an actual singular work of his father.
    Last edited by Doc; 04-14-2018 at 02:35 AM.
    "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

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Doc For This Useful Post:

    bdparsons (01-25-2018),MJS (01-26-2018),nelson (01-24-2018),punisher73 (01-25-2018)

Remove Ads

Sponsored Links

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. New video AKKI Kenpo Teaching!
    By Deflecting12 in forum Members in Motion
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-13-2016, 06:24 PM
  2. Kenpo Kicks - Teaching Video!
    By Christopher Stewart in forum Videos
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 04-15-2013, 12:37 PM
  3. Memory devices for learning/teaching Kenpo.
    By KenpoJuJitsu3 in forum Kenpo General
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-28-2012, 11:34 PM
  4. Teaching Kenpo full time, realistic?
    By KenpoVzla in forum Parkers Kenpo (EPAK) - General
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 10-08-2008, 11:01 PM
  5. Motion-Kenpo versus SubLevel Four Kenpo
    By Doc in forum Parker - Chapél / SubLevel 4 Kenpo™
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 08-13-2007, 08:39 PM