Friday, December 30, 2011

The Wind Mindset: Open and Free

Through the gateways to water and to fire, the student now may find themselves in wind state. Wind state represents a mindset of open-mindedness and freedom. This means that the student is receptive to all the possibilities that lie before them. They are fool proof! They have confidence that they attained in the earth state, a scholar mind attained from water state and passion from the fire state, all together they create the wind state.

Though by accepting that the world is always changing was a step taken in the earth state, the open-mindedness of wind state is different. By this point, your mind has changed to fully accept the possibilities. Change takes time. Just as a tree grows strong through years of rain, sleet, snow, drought and abuse, so does the student and if the student can hold on to this mindset through it all, they may attain wind state as well.

The sense of freedom is created through the passion felt through the fire state. Have you ever met someone who was passionate about what they do? They are actually happy with what they are doing and could pursue it from sunrise to sunset. They genuinely feel free in their life.

The wind state encompasses all the abilities of the earth through fire, but it comes with more freedom. The student in wind state is now making their techniques their own. The thing about all of us is that not one of us is the same. All of us are at different levels of fitness and also we all have different strengths.

Some of us can kick heads easily while others are not as flexible. Others can punch holes into bricks while others are not as strong. Every martial artist at this level becomes more acquainted with their own talents and through this creates their own kenpo karate that is right for them.

Through all the training that got you to this point, you have become familiar with what works for you and the strategies that work against your opponents. You have become accustomed to several fighting styles and can potentially defeat any opponent. You may be ready for the final level.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fire Mindset: Igniting the Drive

After kenpo karate students have shifted from earth state to water state, the next state of mind is the fire state. Fire represents passion, drive, intent and desire. The only way to get to this state is to desire to be a great martial artist. 

As the kenpo karate student evolved from the resistant earth mindset into the flexible water mindset, they began to develop strategies and tactics to take down their opponents. While engaging in sparring, the student grows. Experience is the best teacher and as the water student continues to learn how to defeat his opponents, a new path opens.

The fire state is reserved for those who have a deep passion for kenpo karate. Those who enjoy the knowledge gained in the water state continue forward to the fire state without any problem. Those who have a hard time in the water state will often gravitate back to the earth state. But just as those in the earth state had to accept change, those in the water state must seek out their passion. If it lies in kenpo karate, then so be it, but if it is elsewhere, the student may become a great water mind but will never reach beyond that.

Once that decision is made, to push further into the art of kenpo karate, those in water state will rise to fire. What this will mean for those students is greater application of their skills. Not only can punches be used to attack your opponent, but they can be used to propel him into a different position. They can be used to block. Students will be able to unlock the potential of their techniques in ways they had not imagined. Once the drive is ignited, a student can reach their full potential as a martial artist.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Water Mindset: Flexible and Flowing

The next level a student of kenpo karate should aspire to is the water mindset. Water represents fluid, flowing thought. Martial artists in water state have a better grasp of combat than those in earth state, making the flow of battle easier to see as well as allow them to ebb and flow with their opponents.

Like water, the student of kenpo karate in this mindset learns to push and pull. Push your opponent back, pull your opponent forward and so on. Instead of a resistance to change, the mental and emotional state of those in the water mindset are set to adaptation and change.

This new mind-set allows students of kenpo karate more freedom. Instead of thinking in one way, which is what sets earth minds apart, water minds can adapt to more situations. Instead of trying the same methods over and over, a student in water state tries and creates new ways to defeat their opponents.

Water is also the mindset of defense. If you watch those in earth mindset, they are usually more interested in attacking than defense. Also their attacks are very linear and easy to predict, making them typically easy to defeat. Water students will take their time with their opponents. They are studying their attacks and thinking of how to counter the techniques their opponent uses.

This is what sets the water minds apart from the earth minds. Those who have accepted that change is necessary to excel are at the point where they are desperately trying to learn when and how to use and deflect certain techniques.

Defense comes first in this mindset; if you can block or dodge your opponent, there is no need to fight at all. But while you are in the arena, it is best to discover your opponent’s combos and devise tactics to counter them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Earth Mindset: Defeat It to Leave It!

For my next five posts I would like to talk about the five elements and what they mean to the martial artist. The elements represent states of mind which can make or break a martial artist of any style including kenpo karate. In ascending order of power, the elements are earth, water, fire, wind and void. A student of kenpo karate or any other martial art must progress through these mind-sets if their goal is to become a full martial artist.

To begin, earth is an element that represents solidity, unwavering, resistant to change. In terms of mind, earth is confidence; in terms of emotion, earth is the desire for things to remain the same. This is the state where all students of kenpo karate begin, and for many it can be a struggle to grow and rise to the water mindset.

The world is always changing. It is something that can not be stopped. In battle, our opponents do not use the same techniques over and over, they use their entire repertoire of techniques to win. Not only that, but a skilled opponent uses their knowledge to its fullest and can defeat an artist in earth mindset easily.

In terms of mind, a student of kenpo karate must evaluate their confidence. With little confidence, a student can do little; with much confidence, a student can do much.

This is a major problem with students of martial arts or in school or at work. Confidence can also be evaluated as self-esteem or faith. Having a weak earth mindset is dangerous and can harm you in the future, but having a strong earth mindset can mean one of two things: easy adaptation to the next level (water) or eternity in earth mindset.

In order to progress, in order to defeat the earth mindset and move to the next, the mind must be bendable. Accept that the world changes and that in order to grow, you must change and learn. You can not remain the same. This goes for all students of life. In order to succeed in kenpo karate or in life, the mind must be open and moldable. Only then will you find your way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kenpo Karate Technique: Snapping Twig

Snapping Twig is the name of a technique practiced in kenpo karate. It doesn't consist of just a simple strike; snapping twig is a series of movements that if done correctly (and in a dire situation) can break the assailant's arm as well as throw them to the ground unconscious.
Like all special techniques, snapping twig is a technique that only works on the defense. Your opponent first steps in with a punch or shove. Your reaction is to dodge and attack his attacking arm at the wrist and the elbow.

First you'll step back with your left leg, decreasing the damage from the initial attack.  Grab his attacking wrist tightly and hold it against your body. Your right arm, then, comes up and strikes his elbow, hyper extending it or breaking it. As long as you are holding the arm correctly, your opponent should not be able to move out of the technique in time before the strike to the elbow.

After the strike to the elbow (if you haven't broken the arm (I'd advise against it, unless you really have to)), roll your right hand to the bend in elbow and pull down. By bending the elbow, your opponent is lowered. At this point your opponent will do one on two things: either attack back with his other arm or be stunned by your reaction.

If he attacks with the other arm, use your left hand, which was securing his wrist, to block the punch. If your opponent was stunned by the outcome of this confrontation, and hasn't reacted, snapping twig continues with a strike to the throat.

Step forward with your left leg while bringing your right hand to your opponents wrist. Your left hand comes up and strikes with the blade (pinkie side of hand) to the throat.

After the throat strike, strike your opponent at the left temple with a hammer fist and continue past his face to block any other attacks he may use from his right hand. While your right hand is down, strike his inner thigh. This will make him bend in the waist forward, setting you up to elbow him in the head with your right arm and slam his jaw with your left heel-palm.

Check out this video for a demo of snapping twig!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What is Kenpo Karate?

Some of you who are coming to my blog may be interested in what kenpo karate is. I realize that not everyone visiting is a martial artist and I would like to share with those visiting a little of the history of kenpo karate.

Kenpo is a martial art that takes its roots from China by way of Zen Buddhist monks. In ancient Japan, the Yoshidas were a prominent, warrior family, having influence with the emperor as well as significant control over the shinto religion--the popular religion at the time. In the 13th century Zengo Yoshida embraced Rinzai, a sect of Zen Buddhism, and eventually his branch of the Yoshida family built their own Zen temple to practice the warrior arts.

For the next 800 years the arts of the Shaolin Temple and the philosophy of Zen would intermingle with Shintoism and the way of the samurai to create the karate and kenpo karate that martial artists practice today.

Ed Parker is one of the founders of modern kenpo karate, but it did not begin with him. The art passed down the Yoshida line to Sakuhi Yoshida, who was the teacher and grandfather of James Mitose, who trained William Chow who was the first to ever call the art by it’s modern name: kenpo karate.

Ed Parker was a student of William Chow and is now credited for the formation of the art under its new name. Though the name isn’t originally his, his master William Chow gave up the name for the name Go-Shinjutsu, though his students continued to call it kenpo karate. Later Ed Parker opened up his own school and called it original kenpo karate.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Creed of Martial Artists

"I come to you with only karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons: karate, my empty hands." —Ed Parker - March, 1957
For those who do not know, Ed Parker is one of the founders of kenpo karate. Many might argue that he is the one true founder, but I would have to disagree with that on account that every master was once a student, who blossomed into a martial artist and finally achieved mastership by testing his/her limits and surpassing them. It may be later asked, then who is the founder of any martial art? But that is not the point of this post. The quote is what I wish to draw attention to. I would like to begin this blog by saying this quote is the creed of kenpo karate, and should be the creed of all martial artists.

“I come to you with only karate, empty hands.” meaning I have no ill-will towards anyone or I have no intent to harm anyone. My hands are empty and gentle. “but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons: karate, my empty hands.” meaning if one should cause me to defend myself, if one intends to harm me, then my knowledge as a martial artist, a practitioner of kenpo karate, will serve as my weapon.

A student of kenpo karate is not one looking for fights or one who wants to show off his/her skills. A student of kenpo karate, or any martial artist, is one who values certain traits above others. These include gentleness, kindness, self-control, goodness, love, forbearance, joy, faithfulness and peace.

I believe the words of Ed Parker echo these ideals and that all martial artists should practice them.