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Thread: What is American Kenpo?

  1. #1
    Kenpo Gary is offline
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    Default What is American Kenpo?

    I use to practice American Kenpo, at least that is what it was called way back when I started. This is what the Dick Willett schools where I began printed on the sign out front, and on the diplomas. However, Dick Willett was teaching the Tracy System.

    I guess I no longer practice American Kenpo because Tracy now states emphatically, that what I practice is not American Kenpo.

    The irony in all of this, is that none of the techniques or methods of training have changed from the American Kenpo I once practiced to the Non- American Kenpo I now practice.

    Moreover, the early IKKA included people like Nick Cerio, and the Fred Villari schools still teach the Two Man Set from American Kenpo.

    So what distinguishes American Kenpo from other non American brands of Kenpo, and how do Tracy Schools who practice finger set, two man set, and Villari schools that practice two man set relate to the art of American Kenpo?

    Certainly you need not be an American to practice American Kenpo, because
    it is practiced internationally.

    It would be nice to turn the clock back when the name American Kenpo served to solidify the various groups of Kenpo players and not fragment them.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is American Kenpo?

    Very few founding grandmasters teach the same thing the same way at 20 as they do at 60. They learn new things, they might change teaching methods, maybe they begin to dislike something they did before, so they drop it. Mr. Parker's art(s) have various generic names depending on when he taught; Kenpo Karate, Chinese Kenpo, American Kenpo, and depending on who you ask, "motion kenpo," and then there is whatever it was that he did personally that may or may not have been codified into a curricullum.

    What you do as a Tracy practitioner is similar to the way Mr. Parker taught in the 60s. Besides the finger sets, one of the staff sets, you also share Short and Long 1-3, Long 4, and Long 5.

    But I would say that the relationship between the Parker arts and the Villari or Cerio arts is far more distant. About as closely related as Tracy Kenpo is to Hung Gar, just because they share Tiger and Crane, meaning, not so much.

    Pekiti Tirsia Kali and Kenpo Karate

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  3. #3
    dhayskenpo is offline
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    Cool Re: What is American Kenpo?

    In response to the post regarding Dick Willett’s schools, maybe I can clear this up.

    Dick Willett was under the Tracy’s banner from 1966 to about 1979. During that time Al Tracy brought in Joe Lewis for the purpose of training Tracy fighters, belt testing, etc. Dick not only trained with Joe, he was also assigned to assist him as he traveled from studio to studio. Dick and Joe became very close. In the late 70’s Dick, with the blessings of Al Tracy (Tracy’s Kenpo) and Joe Lewis (American Karate System) formed the “American Kenpo Karate Association”. Dick picked the name “American Kenpo” due to the fact he credits Al Tracy (Kenpo) and Joe Lewis (American Fighting System) with his success.

    You have to remember back in the late 70’s we did not have all of the information sharing that goes on today with the internet. Therefore we did not know of the growing changes in the Parker camp. Al Tracy on his site ( ) writes of this under Historical Updates.

    So anyway; in the early 80’s we all took the Tracy’s patch off of our uniforms (I have since added one back to mine out of respect for Al Tracy) and put on Dick’s new “American Kenpo” patch. I know for a fact that Mr. Parker also gave his blessings. I know this because I was there and wore Dick’s “American Kenpo” patch in many of Mr. Parkers International Tournaments.

    Although I have a great deal of respect for the Parker group, our AKKA patch is not directly associated with them. We are only related via the Parker/Tracy relationship.

    I hope this helps.

    David Hays

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    Kenpo Gary (12-03-2007)

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