Shorthand Motion of Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by Thomas Vince, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. Thomas Vince

    Thomas Vince New Member

    Ed Parker used many analogies to teach his art to us and he used them in ways that would help us understand the art more deeply. One popular analogy is the relationship of

    * Print
    * Script
    * Shorthand

    Each level represents the ability, motion and action understood by the student. When we were in school we first learned how to block our letters in a print form with uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. As the teacher demonstrated the proper lines and circles to use to form the letters, we tried to make our alphabet look like the teachers. We would block out our ABC's with a pencil and although each student is trying to make their alphabet look like the teachers, each student had an A or a B that looked slightly different and unique to them alone. Individual ways of moving are the same, none of us move quite the same as the other, but if it is legible than other people can now read our "story of motion" or the intended message. Phase one or the "print" phase is likened to the "beginner" stage or "mechanical" stage of movement. Within the print phase there are straight lines and circles but there is a pause between each letter and the pencil is lifted from the page to restart in another position. This is like throwing a block and then cocking the weapon in position for a strike and then striking. There is a pause between each new movement of defense or offense.

    As we progress in Kenpo we learn the second phase or what is called "script" writing in which the lines and circles still exist but the pencil makes more continuous contact with the paper and we are now connecting the motion or the alphabet without stopping. Each letter is connected to the previous one when words are being formed. So when we
    demonstrate Kenpo our "vocabulary of motion" becomes smoother and quicker because we are not stopping our motion, we are remaining in contact with the attacker by checking, contouring, tracing, grabbing, pulling and we will immediately move to the second position in one smooth flow of action. When we write in script form we can write the words much faster and still convey a clear message.

    The third phase of motion and the most sophisticated is what is nicknamed as "Shorthand Kenpo". In this phase we use a combination of script and symbols to represent specific wording or language of motion. It is designed as a form of dictation where the speed and accuracy of the language is transmitted almost as soon as the person speaks. In this analogy we understand that in order to "beat action we must meet it." Shorthand Kenpo teaches us to go to the "root" or origin of the motion. For example to stop a punch quicker we can parry and strike the arm or shoulder that fires the weapon, and even better strike or buckle the knee to control and cancel the action of the punch. When we move into the origin of the motion we can beat action and when this is accomplished the attacker is not only blocked but he is also hit. All of Kenpo techniques have "a built in offense", which means that in our defense IS our offense. When the attacker kicks he gets kicked, when he punches he gets punched. This idea is taken even beyond "Shorthand Kenpo" when we begin to employ multiple weapons to multiple targets on our attacker. Our stances, feet, hands and footwork all work together and with this knowledge we can block, kick and punch simultaneously as
    well as add finger pokes, slices, stiff leg raises and move into areas that begin to obscure our motion so that we can hide our intentions while moving as fast as our bodies can go. In order to fully understand the third phase of Kenpo you have to understand the first two and how they work together in a logical sequential manner that is based on sound scientific principles.

    Mr. Parker went on to further explain how different martial arts also have a similarity to these types of movements, but for the purpose of this article it suffices to understand the importance of a "dual" purpose when using your parries, blocks, punches or kicks, as well as employing grabs, locks, chokes and holds.

    Sincerely yours in the Spirit of Kenpo,
    Thomas Vince
    5th Degree Black
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2010

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