I'm interested in kenpo

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by GojuKJoe, Jul 23, 2004.

  1. GojuKJoe

    GojuKJoe Valued Member

    hey, i'm kind of interested in kenpo, it's something i would eventually like to try, although not for a while yet. I currently train in goju ryu karate, how different or similar is kenpo to that?
  2. S.Mac

    S.Mac New Member

    I'm afraid I don't know anything about goju ryu, so I don't know how similar it is to kenpo. I do know, however, that kenpo is a broad and diverse art. Depending on what kenpo system you practice (shorinji, american, etc.) or even what school you attend can mean big differences in what you are being taught.
  3. Shou Tu

    Shou Tu New Member

    the aspects of stances and such are similiar. it would probably be a better art for you to learn, since no matter where you go in the states or overseas someone somewhere teaches Kenpo.
  4. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    I'm not all that familiar with goju ryu either, but I can give you some basic aspects of shorinji kempo, and you can compare the two for yourself.

    Shorinji kempo teaches both hard (striking) and soft (throwing/joint locking) techniques. I have also been told that there is some bo work in the curriculum, but I have never been taught any, and I'm not sure how common it is outside of Japan. There is a spiritual aspect involved as well, though in most dojos outside Japan it is limited to a short meditation at the beginning of every class to clear your mind and prepare yourself for the lessons that follow.

    One main difference between shorinji kempo and karate is our use of a vertical fist for our punches, rather than a horizontal one. There are many former karate students in my class, and they always say that the toughest thing for them to get used to was the hand position. There is also more emphasis placed on speed rather than power; most styles of kempo favour quick concussive blows rather than slow but powerful ones, as in karate. In shorinji kempo we have fewer and shorter katas, and more emphasis is placed on the application of our techniques to a resisting opponent than to a memorized rehearsal of patterns.

    Training with a partner is paramount in our practice. Most of the time in class is spent working with a partner/opponent with moderate, but not full resistance to your techniques. As you progress higher your partner plays a more adversarial role and will make things considerably more difficult for you. There is, of course, free sparring (randori) as well, which is rather self explanitory.

    If you are interested and want more info feel free to pm me, and you can check out the World Shorinji Kempo Organization's website here. The WSKO oversees all dojos worldwide, and insures that correct procedures are followed and all instructors must be certified by them, so all shorinji kempo dojos are pretty reliable places to go, and there aren't many Mcdojos.
  5. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I can only speak from the perspective of Shorinji Kempo. I am familiar with Gojo Ryu, but have never studied it.

    What I have noticed over 16 years of training in Shorinji Kempo is that anyone that comes from a Karate background struggles to develop the fluidity and relaxed movements of Shorinji Kempo, they always seem to carry a great amount of tension within their bodies, this makes it difficult for them to adapt to our taisabaki. Where they really come unstuck is when trying to learn Juho style techniques.

    Shorinji Kempo has three physical areas of study, they are, Goho Juho, and Seiho. While the Goho and Juho may make it sound similar to Goju Ryu, it really is very different.
  6. Shou Tu

    Shou Tu New Member

    As i have read here Kempo/Kenpo Is not Karate?? As stated Karate is Hard and Kenpo is soft or fluid in its teachings. I agree completely with this thought. though i see several schools continue to show in their windows that they are KENPO/KEMPO KARATE. wouldnt that be a double negative in the world of MA's.

    Kenpo being soft and Karate being a harder style of MA?

  7. Omicron

    Omicron is around.

    Shorinji Kempo contains both hard and soft techniques. When Colin said it was fluid in its movements he meant that we are more fluid in the execution of our techniques, not that the techniques themselves are only soft and relaxed.

    As I believe I have read on this site, when kempo/kenpo was first introduced in the west karate was a very popular martial art, and many kempo/kenpo schools added the tag "karate" at the end just to capitalize on the karate fad and make the art seem familiar to the general public, when in fact they were teaching kempo/kenpo.
  8. GojuKJoe

    GojuKJoe Valued Member

    hey thanks for the replies, from what you guys are saying, it sunds a lot more similar to goju ryu than other karate styles. We do less kata than other systems (shotokan for example) and concentrate on applications aswell. Our techniques are also much more fluid than other karate styles, as goju ryu is much closer to the chinese systems. Kenpo sounds like a great art to study and i'm definately going to try it sometime, but i'm staying with goju ryu unless i see something better.
  9. Les

    Les Valued Member

    Years ago I had a student who came to me from a Goju Ryu background.

    He had trouble transitioning due to the vast differences between the two systems. He had trouble with the stances. He had trouble with the blocks, the varied strikes etc. Eventually, he went back to Goju Ryu after a couple of years.

    This isn't to say it can't be done, anyone ever heard of Jeff Speakman?
    He was a Goju Ryu practitioner (6th Dan) before he took Kenpo and he managed it very successfully.

  10. Les

    Les Valued Member

    Kenpo is not karate??? What is it then?

    Kenpo employs BOTH hard and soft aspects, and it can be as hard, or soft, as the individual practitioner wants it to be. The fluidity is not achieved by sacrificing power, but by controlling it.

  11. OBCT

    OBCT New Member

    i'd like to try kempo aswell at some point, but non near me. nearest thing to that is probablt wado-ryu karate, which isn't all that similar from what i gather. anyone know of kempo in derbyshire/nottinghamshire area ? yes you there, other side of a giant ocean, derbys. and notts. are both in england.
  12. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    American schools using "Kenpo Karate" might have come from early Parker usage of the term "Chinese Kenpo Karate". But yes, it is just a way to advertise. I have even seen kung-fu schools with the sign "karate" over the door (although I would think as many people now can associate kung-fu with martial arts...)

    Historically, I think it is appropriate to say that karate came from Kenpo (chuan'fa).

    OK but anyway, back on topic...

    The founder of my style ( "Geary's Shaolin Kempo" ) has trained with the same Goju instructor where Speakman got his training - Lou Angel. In our style, at the 2nd Dan and up, includes Goju kata and techniques. Of all the karate styles I have read about, Goju is probably closest to Kenpo, because of it's use of hard /soft and linear / circular movement.
  13. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Simple, it’s Kempo. I can’t speak for any other styles of Kempo, but Shorinji Kempo Goho is totally different to Karate both in visual terms and technical terms. We don’t have the same patterns or forms, even the philosophy of the forms are different, that is why we don’t use term kata (sometimes we use kata, but the kanji is different to that of Karate, and has a different meaning), we use the term hokei.

    Karate was developed from Chinese Kempo, but it also changed significantly because the needs of the people that developed it were different to those that developed Kempo. To describe Kempo as Karate is wrong, and it is very strange to call it Kempo Karate, it’s like calling it Judo Karate or wrestling boxing. Of course it would be clearer if I knew the kanji used in by Parker to write karate.
  14. OBCT

    OBCT New Member

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2004
  15. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member


    Do you know the kanji they used? I believe Karate used to use the kanji for kara that represented China, this then would translate as Chinese hand fist method, rather than the one that represents open or empty hand. This could make the difference, possibly the rest just followed on with a misinterpretation of the original meaning.
  16. OBCT

    OBCT New Member

    No idea of the kanjii, sorry. perhaps if you look around google, might track it down.
    I did find out that kempo/tode which can be pronounced karate, in chinese characters would mean "Tang Hand" as in Tang dynasty China

    In terms of it being a misinterpretation. It was more of a philosophical choice.
    'kara' as in the empiness of the void, and 'te' as in, hand, skill or person.
    could mean 'person or skill of finding the void' as karate

    'ken' fist/ as in the nature of joining (as in mind body spirit) 'ho/po' natural law of the universe.
    kempo karate would mean 'the unified person follows the natural law of the universe and finds himself one with the void'
    Or so William Durbin says.

    I'd say karate/ kempo karate refers to its lineage and whether it comes from taoist ideals or buddhist.

    All i'm saying i my earlier post, some people call karate 'kempo karate' and thats why.
  17. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    Tang Hand - That is what I have read, and the Japanese wanted it changed to remove Chinese influence.

    I've never heard of a karate school using "kenpo karate"; but i Know of many kenpo schools that do.
  18. Tigermoth

    Tigermoth New Member

    Sometimes kenpo is advertised as karate because soccer mom's like me, don't know what kenpo, or Hapkido, or any other specific martial arts style is. They know what 'Karate Kid' was and that's what they want their kids to do. Karate has become a generic term. Of course it should be martial arts but karate sure is less lettering on a sign or shirt or advertisement. How many times have you heard people watching movie say "He was doing all this cool karate stuff". ;)

    Don't harp on me about karate kid either because I have no idea what art he did it probably was karate and if it was I don't wanna hear it that wasn't the point. :p
  19. Bill Lear

    Bill Lear New Member

    What is Kenpo Karate from the IKKA Blue Belt Manual

    Although the terms KENPO and KARATE are often used synonymously, it is the Chinese who have been credited with developing these pugilistic forms of self-defense over the centuries. It's popularity, however, did not reach the Western World until the late forties, early fifties and well into the sixties. Acknowledgement has been given to the Japanese for it's introduction into the Western World. As a result, the Japanese term, Karate, meaning empty hand, is known world wide.

    Karate, which strikes with various natural weapons (side of the hand, elbow, heel of the foot, etc...) is not to be confused with Judo, Jui Jitsu, or Aikido which are oriental forms of wrestling. Karate is the Japanese term describing their art form which originally stemmed from Chinese Kenpo (law of the fist), their mother art. Today, the American version of Kenpo developed by Ed Parker is rapidly becoming the more acceptable school of thought in the United States.

    Ironically, historical examination of the Martial Arts has made a startling discovery -- there has never been a pure system of Karate. There may be specific styles that adhere to traditional protocol -- styles that are specifically outlined to follow a precise format. Styles, however, are isolated segments that are extracted from a Martial Arts system that encompasses a more total picture of what lies within the realm of self-defense. A good system takes into account strikes, strike downs, contact manipulation (throws, locks, twists, dislocations, etc...), ground techniques, multiple attacks, use of weapons as extensions to natural weapons, etc. Consequently, it is difficult to establish as accurate family tree for many self-defense styles that are now spreading to the West. Because many of these styles were founded by individuals who apparently borrowed, specialized, and contributed ideas of their own, historical accuracy has been difficult to ascertain. Therefore, since the system of American Kenpo, engineered by Ed Parker, is based on logic rather than tradition it can be said that it is neither Japanese nor Chinese, Oriental or Western. It is, what it is.

    Kenpo Karate are dual terms used by Ed Parker to describe his creation of American Kenpo. Since the inception of his system into the United States Mr. Parker has produced a number of first generation students and countless numbers of second, third, fourth, and fifth generation offspring. Unfortunately, some of his third, fourth, and fifth generation offspring, who have opened schools of their own, have been teaching impractical versions of Kenpo Karate. Mr. Parker was saddened by the lack of principles, and technical know-how void of knowledge and practicality. He felt that their teachings were perpetuating false confidence among their students. Granted, they are adopting worthwhile principles embraced by Zen, and other like disciplines, but such a "philosophy" or "way of life" is often fancy trimming used to cover up their inadequate approach to self-defense. Greater still are their claims of being Masters. They often boast of their humility in avoiding a fight and well they had better.

    It was Mr. Parker's wish to produce students free from brain washing that can get students killed. His Kenpo demands that fighting be considered realistically, a feature frequently lacking in the self-defense arts of today. Movements are to be measured against the yardstick of modern street fighting and are not to be passed of as self-defense techniques if originally intended to be exercises. It is one thing to play quick draw with blanks and quite another to use real bullets. Another item often not taken into account is physiological differences. The art must be made to fit the individual, not the individual to fit the art.

    Karate styles are sometimes criticized for not making contact when sparring. It is true that pulling one's strike(s) is comparable to playing flag football, but the experience when hitting of being hit is not worth the loss of practice sessions that may result from injuries. Working on a heavy bag is a great substitute. It affords you the opportunity to make actual contact. If this is not enough there is no adherent reason why two colleagues cannot make contact if they agree on specialized rules. Some styles attempt to solve the problem of making actual contact by outfitting themselves in armor. The drawback here is that armor is often cumbersome and therefore, may hamper the execution o effective technique. On the other hand there are styles who only prefer to shadow box.

    Considerable controversy exists among the fans of self-defense advocates as to which style is superior in actual combat. When pitted against several attackers the evaluation is not o difficult. There seems to be little chance of consecutively strangling five opponents, holding them don until they say "Uncle", or boxing five times fifteen rounds. Instead it becomes highly desirable to be able to dispense with an attacker immediately. The prescription: some form of hitting that emphasizes speed, power, and accuracy.

    In Kenpo Karate speed is achieved by relaxing your body (muscles) and conserving motion. Body limbs (arms and legs) move much faster when relaxed rather than tensed. Just prior to contact (when it will do the most good) is when you should tense your muscles so that proper force is exerted. (When skin kisses skin, tension begins.)

    When properly trained the body is capable of generating tremendous force in a short span of space and time. Motion and time are conserved in three ways, (1) When movements are direct (Unnecessary moves are eliminated. The fist does not draw back to gain greater striking distance -- It goes!) (2) During the advanced stage of your training the "ands" are eliminated from the response. Instead of blocking "and" hurting, both defense and offense occur simultaneously. (3) By combining several moves into one basic motion, strikes combined with strikes, blocks combined with strikes (or vise versa), creates faster reaction and response. For instance the fingers might proceed to the eyes, after a chop to the neck, or an elbow might sequentially flow immediately, after a fist is delivered.

    An important question often asked is what style offers a little guy the opportunity to survive. Certainly trading punches is not the answer. Even if a smaller individual can develop equal power he is certainly not capable of withstanding equal punishment. A suggested strategy in Kenpo is the use of checking. Checking helps prevent retaliation. It can be accomplished in several ways. (1) Stepping on an opponent's foot to prevent a kick, (2) Preventing the shoulder, elbow, hip, etc. from obtaining leverage, (3) becoming skilled in employing offensive moves as a means of preventing retaliation. This method of checking often forces an attacker into an awkward position and/or can effectively minimize his leverage.

    Flexibility is highly stressed in Kenpo. It permits freedom to strike any portion of an attacker’s anatomy -- from his skull to his toes. Conversely, the application of natural weapons must also be diverse. This includes the fingertips, side of the hand, knees, elbow, heel of the foot, etc. While some of these natural weapons are limited in terms of frequent use they are effective under special conditions and situations. Kenpo training does attempt to develop your ability to learn all methods of executing strikes with your natural weapons. It becomes a matter of logic for example as to when and how to hit with what.

    Something in the way of flexibility can be learned by watching the hands of the director of an orchestra. Observe the many rhythmic changes and gestures that his baton and hands go through when directing the orchestra. The timing, height, width, and depth of his hand gestures alternate accordingly. When he wants softness he lowers his baton. When he wishes for greater volume he raises it. When he wants a specific section to respond, he points. Synchronization is impeccable as he director and his baton become one with the musicians. In comparison a fight is harder to anticipate. It cannot be orchestrated, nor can it be compared to a sheet of music. You are not privileged to blend with reactions of your opponent as an orchestra can do via practice. It requires spontaneity. It is your ability to respond extemporaneously with action and reaction that is the key. Therefore, the greater your knowledge of offense and defense, along with your skill to apply it, the greater your chances are for survival. Fighting can be easy or it can be difficult. All elements pertaining thereto are important. While a good system can offer you effective and practical variables, it all comes down to you -- you are the only one that can make it work for you.

    To get to levels of spontaneity considerable practice is given to pre-set sequences. This helps a beginning student to develop coordination before advancing to higher levels of conditioned response. The more he practices the better he is able to express himself extemporaneously. As his levels of spontaneity increase he learns to alter his moves without hesitation. He soon learns that the Kenpo system that Ed Parker teaches is not based on untried theories, but proven theories that come with practice. In the words of Ed Parker, "an opponent can be struck four or five times within a second so that he will be unable to hold all of the targets that hurt".
  20. Tigermoth

    Tigermoth New Member

    I think its time to read my manual. :D

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