A few quick questions

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by StoneDog, May 18, 2005.

  1. StoneDog

    StoneDog Valued Member

    Back in the late 80's I took about 2 1/2 years of "American Kenpo Karate." While the school seemed to be a blend of western boxing and some of the Japanese styles of kenpo that I have just read about, I'm not sure exactly where it would have registered on the McDojo meter. In a (largely academic) effort to figure this out, I have a few questions for the experts. :)

    1) We learned a form which I believe was called "Zanshin" and involved primarily powerful punches, blocks and front kicks. There was little forward movement in the form but plenty of 90 degree turns. I know the name and spelling may be way off, but does this form ring a bell with anyone?

    2) The self defense drills seemed, at the time, to be startlingly effective although the instructor said that unless we practice vigilantly the best we can hope for is to use some of the techniques (but not the entire drill) to get ourselves out of unwanted trouble. The clincher was that most of the drills were done with a closed fist such that a 2 inch knife could be used in a overhand dagger-style grip. The knife was useful for hammerfist strikes, for example. More frightening though was how the knives lent themselves to slicing open opponents when the self defense drills were followed to completion. For example, when escaping a rear headlock (drop to horse stance, elbow to the solar plexus, hammerfist to groin, C-step behind, elbow to chin & slice as the fist follows up from the groin). In fact the instructor claimed that the techniques were originally developed by men that carried these short knives in their sleeves while working on boats, etc. Has anyone heard anything similar to this, at least with respect to the original techniques built around small knives? Or is this just sensationalizing basic techniques so they seem more like "Secret Ninja Moves".

    3) Finally, every once in a while my teacher's teacher would lead class. The workouts were painful but very instructional. He claimed that someone in his style had been video taped performing a few techniques against a sensored dummy. Apparently this teacher was able to apply over 27 lethal blows to the test dummy in under 2 or 3 seconds. I have no idea if the numbers are correct, but does anyone know of an American Kenpo master (or Japanese for that matter) that performed such a test in the early 80's? I know this one is a stretch, but the story sounds a little McDojo now that I look back on it. My sincere and respectful apologies, of course, if the story was true. :)

    Last edited: May 18, 2005
  2. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Hit n RUN!

    American Kenpo Karate is usually also known as Parker's American Kenpo Karate. Do you remember the name of your instructor, and did he have a lineage back to GM Parker??

    As for the kata you mentioned, I personally have not heard of that kata. I've heard of Sanchin kata, but that is not to say the kata you mentioned dosen't exists.

    I'm not sure about the explanation about the SD drills you learned.

    Don't know about your third question either

    So my question is what are you looking to gain from this past experience?

    Are you now training is a dojo that is opposite of this past experience?

    Only thing I can say is that you have some type of past experience to compare when shopping around for a new dojo to join.
  3. StoneDog

    StoneDog Valued Member


    Well, I am comparing that experience to my current experience. Reading another thread about "What is Kenpo/Kempo" and specifically Bill Lear's description of American Kenpo jogged my memory. Many of the concepts that Mr Lear mentions are exactly what I learned back then.

    I'm now taking freestyle American Karate with roots that go up through Keith Vitali, Joe Corley and many others that I'm sure I don't know about. There seemed to be more of a traditional feel to the first school while my current school is a more sport oriented. Consequently I haven't heard any of the instructors articulate the concepts mentioned by Mr Lear.

    "Sanchin" could very well be the proper name for the kata, not Zanshin. Thank you.

    My American Kenpo school was owned and run by a gentleman named Robert Ray. The school had financial problems and closed down about the time I left and I don't know what happened after that. He would've been in his early thirties I suppose and this was in '87 or '88. I want to say that his teacher was a Mr Dan McGuire or Maguire but again, this was a while ago and unfortunately I don't remember all the details.


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