Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Be the Lion

There's a movie that I like called Poolhall Junkies. It wasn't a great movie or anything many would remember, but Christopher Walken had a great line in it near the end, and I think it applies to kenpo karate.
You watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? You got this lion. He's the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He's laying under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He's so big, it's so hot. He doesn't want to move. Now the little lions come, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn't do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. They start to move in. The jackals; hyenas. They're barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that's in his domain. They do this, then they get closer and closer, bolder and bolder. Till one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is.
 I say this because as a lion, a kenpo karate student must be able to stand up for themselves. There comes a time (usually for young students) when they may be bullied or picked on by someone looking to prove themselves. The martial artist must not back down.

However, it is also the martial artist's job to pick their battles. There is not reason to fight a person for fighting's sake. Also, to fight someone over words is not the best time to fight either. Only fight when you absolutely have to and not to show off or be a bully. A true martial artist knows that. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Gun Defense

I was watching some of these videos and I thought that I would post them here. All are kenpo karate techniques that defend against guns. Enjoy!

The first three are from the American Center for Chinese Studies and the last is Expert Village.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Grasp of Death

Yup it's that time again where I go over a technique in kenpo karate and give you a possible counter if you find yourself in that situation.

Grasp of Death is a defense against a side headlock. You would be bent over with your head locked in your opponents right arm. To escape, you turn your chin towards the wrist to make sure you can breath. After that, take your left leg and step forward in order to jab your knee into their calf in order to get his knee to buckle.

After that, with your left hand, either grab he thigh very close to the knee or grab the groin itself. This should make your opponent release your head. Escape and grab his arm, step in front of him to make it harder to retaliate against you and then arm-bar the arm you have a hold of to throw him to the ground.

After that running or some sort of technique to the head is good.

Now let's say that for some reason you have an opponent in this situation and he proceeds to use this technique on you. There is a chance that you will have your groin grabbed, which is not a happy feeling at all. Odds are that he will at least buckle your knee and that will be your indication that he is performing the Grasp of Death. However, in most cases, your balls will be grabbed simultaneously.

Focus on the head lock. Keep your arm tight and drop to your knees. He'll have to come down too. Once your on your knees, sit on his hand (if its still there). It will probably hurt, but the sudden shift of you kneeling with him still in the choke hold will more than likely make him need his hand to support himself on the ground.

If you can sit on it, he will have to submit to the ground. There would not be much he could do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Shaolin Soccer

So I watched Shaolin Soccer this weekend, and I figured I'd give a review of it for all you avid readers out there... or something.

Great movie! I love the style of Stephen Chow and company. I've only seen Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, but both are very fun. Basically Stephen Chow's movies use a lot of the same humor you would find in a cartoon. For instance, slipping on a banana peel. It may sound like an old gag, but it is very entertaining to watch a live rendition of the act.

And much like any anime series, the practice of kung fu makes every master a super hero. Like Steel Leg (Stephen Chow's character in Shaolin Soccer), who can kick a soccer ball so high into the sky that it could possibly bring down a satellite.

His movies are also filled with memorable characters. Like the best friend who wants nothing to do with him. Or the accountant who is nothing but numbers and probability. Much like a cartoon, the characters are relatively one dimensional, but that is partially what makes his movies so entertaining.

There is character development, don't misunderstand. The story focuses on a washed up soccer star who wants to show up his old rival and create his own, all-star soccer team and also Stephen Chow's character who has been trying to spread the way of kung fu to everyone in China.

Good movie! So check it out! And that's it for me. Sooooo... Talk atcha later!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Calm and Balance

It may surprise many to know that kenpo karate isn't about punching and kicking. Though the art of kenpo karate did arise from a need to defend one's self, it has become something much more than that. Kenpo karate can also be described as a way to find balance and calm.

Like yoga, kenpo is about movement and focusing your movement. Though it isn't bending and stretching, kenpo karate stretches the mind to think in new ways instead of the old.

For many, maintaining a cool mind can be very hard. Often we would prefer to lash out with our emotions instead of keeping a collect face. Through the study of kenpo karate or any other martial art, one can become as cool as a cucumber without stressing any common instigators.

Some tips on staying calm:

  1. Before you react, think about what is actually going on. Why is your temper rising? Who or what is making it or is it something deeper?
  2. Take some deep breaths and think about something else. Breathing helps the body relieve stress and taking your mind off the stresser can cool your head. I recommend something funny.
  3. Try to understand the point of view of the stresser. Why are they acting this way and what can I do to help.
If they are just trolling or are a hateful, angry person, there is very little you can do, so just move on.

Balance is keeping your mind, body and soul positive. Being positive is better than being negative because it creates a more enjoyable atmosphere for everyone. Being negative is an easier path, and often feels good for a while, but in the long run it only makes you unhappy. By maintaining a positive balance, you can enjoy a better life.

Staying in balance is much like staying calm. Think positive; I know it sounds lame, but if you picture the positives as well as what you want to do in life, you will stay more focused on achieving those goals and create a happier you than before.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Universal Kempo Karate Association

Some history of the Universal Kempo Karate Association and some basics performed by the black belts of tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Captured Twigs

Captured Twigs is a kenpo karate defensive technique used to defend against a bear hug from behind. The attacker attacks from behind, bear hugging the defender and capturing his arms in the bear hug. The defender pins the attacker's hands in place by grabbing with his left hand.

Then the defender steps to 9 o'clock with his left leg and squats into a horse stance, bringing with him the attacker, who now has to bend to keep the bear hug in place. As you step into the horse stance, your right hand should be in a hammer fist and striking the attacker in the groin. This will obviously stun the attacker.

This stunning technique should make the attacker loose his grip on the bear hug. At this point the defender lets go and gets the attacker's right hand away with a palm block. Also in this instant the defender will step his right foot into the 5 o'clock position.

Next the defender strikes with an elbow strike to the attacker's chin. After that right hand checks the attacker's right arm while the left hand guards the face and the right leg goes to a cat stance. And finally the defenders does a right snapping knife-edge kick to the inside of the right knee. That is Captured Twigs.

Now if yo have to defend against this, the prime objective you have is to guard your nuts. You may take several shots to the balls if you are not careful and make sure your opponent is completely in front of you the whole time. When your opponent steps into the horse stance, quickly move behind him to avoid the groin shot.

At this point you will be bent over. Depending on your relationship with ground fighting, you may want to knock out his knees and pin him to the ground. If not, you may be able to strike him in the balls from behind.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Getting Rest

So, I'm sick, and yet here I am writing another article. It wouldn't be an issue really to take a day off, but I promised to make an entry every day, so here I go.

Being sick sucks. I just came down with a cold and I'm feeling sooooooooooooooooooo tired. I tried to take a nap, but that didn't seem to work, because I was worried about you guys in cyber space. :)

But as one martial artist to another, in order to be at your best, you need to rest (that rhymed! yay me!)

Though you may feel that you need to practice every day and also that you can put a little more effort to increase your skill level, there is nothing wrong with taking a day off.

Sometimes we press ourselves too hard trying to accomplish much in a short amount of time. But all that does is make us hate whatever it is we're doing. You can't follow the Way if you hate it. It will become a burden that will eventually be too hard to carry.

So some tips to keep up your strength:
  1. Drink plenty of fluids
  2. Eat plenty of protein and vegetables
  3. When your body, mind or soul is tired, rest and let it rest until it is ready for more training.
Thanks; it's nap time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Short 1 Kata

Step right into a horse stance with hands in chamber position.

This kata demonstrates the four basic blocks, done twice, while moving your horsestance around.To further illustrate, each the kata is like this:
- Block two punches from the north with inward blocks. Turn your head and see the attack from your left and yell, "kiaa"
- Block two punches from the west (left) with outward blocks. Turn your head and see the attack from over your left shoulder and yell, "kiaa"
- Block two punches from the east (behind you) with upwards blocks. Then you turn your head and see the attack from the right and yell, "kiaa"

- Block two kicks from the south (your right) with your downwards blocks. Turn your head and see the finish, "kiaa"

- Return to start position and bow out.
Please refer to the video for further instruction:

That should give you a demonstration of how to do the form. Please check out more videos from <a href="">Shodanx</a>

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kenpo Karate: 5 Intangibles

With all the hype that mixed martial arts brings to the martial arts community, many individuals are led to believe that kenpo karate is just another sports. The truth is that often schools forget what the core of the kenpo karate training is.

A dojo is not a gym. It is not a place where kenpo students can get a vigorous workout and just mark another tally off their to do list (though that can sometimes happen). The dojo is a classroom where students learn more than just how to defend themselves.

There are five lessons that a kenpo student learns when immersed in a martial art: discipline, perseverance, integrity, courtesy and intelligence.

Discipline sounds like a naughty word. The world equates it to a punishment, but the truth about discipline is that it is a way to learn control. The kenpo student disciplines their mind to focus on the task at hand. They discipline their bodies through practice and the their minds through study and asking questions. Discipline also teaches a student to quiet their minds, bodies and souls to achieve a sort of internal understanding which develops as the student progresses.

Perseverance is a very important lesson. No one should believe that the obstacle is too big to defeat. They should realize that there is always a way to solve every problem and a different perspective for each lesson. It is through perseverance that a kenpo student grows and blooms into a martial artist.

Integrity is a word that had more weight than a fist or foot. With integrity a kenpo student earns respect from their peers as well as those above them. It also keeps those more aggressive from striking out at one out of respect.

Courtesy is a great way to treat everyone. Be kind, gentle, thoughtful and respectful. It is an art that is often discarded as weak, but in reality it is a hard path that only those with true discipline can travel.

Intelligence is something that a kenpo student gains through constant practice and study. Some students are gifted with vast intelligence while others struggle to understand the more complex matters of life. True intelligence is earned through study and a student who does not study is not a martial artist.

Though kenpo karate is written off as a sport, it is much more than that and to believe that it is just another way to shed some pounds is ignorant. Now most sports strive to teach these intangibles, which they should, but often they are not as easily absorbed as with martial arts. The difference here is that through kenpo karate study a student focuses on the internal and not so much on the scoreboard.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Deflecting Hammer

Deflecting Hammer is technique number four in the list of techniques learned for American Kenpo Karate yellow belt test.

Deflecting Hammer is a kenpo karate technique that defends against a right front kick. The defender shuffles back diagonally, just enough to avoid the kick while also deflecting it with a right downward hammer. This keeps the attacker's momentum going forward, leading him to a possible right hand punch. The defender then left hand blocks the elbow and right elbow strike to the neck or face.

In this instance, it is hard to determine a proper counter. If you were in the position of using a front kick defend yourself against a kenpo karate attacker, they would use your forward momentum against you and use it for their ultimate elbow strike.

One defense comes to mind: instead of following up with a punch, plant your foot after the hammer deflection; you'll know what is coming anyway since you know this defense as well. Plant your right foot and immediately turn and do backside kick. This keeps your momentum going forward and will be a little surprise to your attacker who may not be ready for this type of follow up.

You may even try a turn and left outer swordstrike to the neck.

As always, give me you feed back below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Swords of Destruction

By now you've figured out that I am going through techniques in the yellow belt test for American Kenpo Karate. Sword of Destruction is very similar to Delayed Sword. In fact they are practically the same technique only in this case you are defending against a left hook punch instead of a right punch.

Left hook comes at your temple, your left foot steps to the 8:00 position while blocking with your right arm. You counter with a right front kick to the groin and then right swordstrike to the neck. Essentially Delayed Sword from the other side.

Now for a possible counter to this technique if it should be used against you. Your opponent is stepping inside after blocking your punch. You know he's going for your groin so you have a couple of options:
  1. You can use the similar counters from Delayed Sword.
  2. Step your left leg back to 5:00 position and right side kick into the chest followed by a left straight punch or any varying techniques that don't interrupt the flow of the side kick. This counter would also work in Delayed Sword.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Alternating Maces

Alternating Maces is another technique in Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate. Like the previous post, it is required for yellow belt promotion, and I will try my best to come up with a suitable defense against it.

As I've said, a skilled kenpo karate student is very fast. Delayed Sword and Alternating Maces are two techniques taught at the beginner level, but like I said before, your basics are your bread and butter.

Alternating Maces is a technique that defends against a two armed push, the kind that may be used in a school fight or possibly a bar. The defender rotates the hips and right inner block and push down on the arms. Just a fluid motion of blocking and pushing down (I hate to use the term blocking here, because it isn't really a block, but it is close enough).

Because the attacker initiated with a push, chances are that his momentum will keep him going forward. The defender then punches (left handed) the solar plexus to stop the opponent. After this stop, the defender uses a back fist to the temple.

A couple of things come to mind. 1, as the attacker's arms are pushed downward, the attacker's motion is directed downward and forward. What a I give to those who are defending against another kenpo artist who does the common defense of Alternating Maces is a kamikaze attack: a forward roll.

Because your arms are going down anyway, direct your hands down to start the roll. More than likely your opponent will not see this coming. As you are rolling, your legs go up. If you can miraculously kick him in the face, kudos to you. However, if he is an amazing artist, he will be able to counter this with a jump back, so you must be able to land on your feet.

2, You know what is coming next after the pushing down of your arms: a punch. If you are able to redirect your velocity, you can avoid it. Swing your back leg (at the time of conflict) to the side of the other leg in order to go sideways and either inside his body or outside.

On the inside of the punch, their is a possible counter of your punch to his solar plexus. On the outside, you could punch into the arm pit or you could wrap your arm under his armpit and then around his neck and put him into a full nelson.

If anyone has any other ideas, comment below. I'd like to know.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Karate Kenpo: Delayed Sword

I want to start a series on kenpo karate techniques and go over possible counters to them. Though a kenpo karate student may know how to do the technique, what would happen if another artist should happen to use it on them? I'd like to disect the technique, and find a counter.

As most of you know, Delayed Sword is a technique from Ed Parker's American Kenpo Karate school required for a student to recieve their yellow belt. Though yellow is still a beginning belt, your earliest techniques are almost always a martial artist bread and butter. To begin, I'll describe the technique.

Delayed Sword is a technique that counters a right hand punch or grab. Regardless of initial technique, the technique counters the right hand of the opponent.

The attacker punches with the right hand. The defender blocks with a right inward block, knocking the punch away and then follows with a right outward downward diagonal handsword strike to the attacker's neck.

After that strike, the defender uses a right front scoop kick to the groin to finish off the technique, then planting the right foot into a left neutral bow stance.

Now because you know the technique, you should be able to defend against it, right? Well with all kenpo karate techniques, speed is invaluable. Your opponent will be quick if they are as used to the technique as you should be. However, I believe that if you are just as quick, you can catch your opponent unaware.

So you punch and your opponent initiates the Delayed Sword technique. You know what is coming and if your opponent is using this technique, he should be be fast. You have to be faster.

After he blocks your right hand punch and is about to move in with the sword strike, pivot on your left and step your right leg back. This way you should be facing your opponent's back or side.

From here, you may be able to do a roundhouse kick to your opponent's chest. However the reach may be too far. I would suggest instead using your left foot and attacking the right knee.

As you step back, your opponent may be off balance; your neck has moved and isn't as easy to hit correctly. This will confuse the novice kenpo artist, and, as this counter is new, may surprise the seasoned warrior.

Your opponent may be off balance from the swordstrike, making a knee kick similar to the final ax strike to a falling tree.

That is my counter. If you would like, please tell me any problems or other variations in the comments below.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Yin Yang

As a youngen, I didn't understand what the yin yang was. All I knew about it was that is was Asian and that all the cool people wore them. So of course I had to have a medalion too.

What I heard about it was that it was a representation of opposites. Light and dark, right and wrong, cold and hot, stuff like that. But now I come to realize that though yin yang does symbolize opposites, it doesn't entail absolute opposite.

Yin yang is a symbol representing complementary opposites, meaning that neither is absolute but both exist in a system, differing in approaches...

Really it is really hard to describe. The best way to describe it is in terms of kenpo karate artists. One kenpo karate artist may view kenpo karate as an art-form, purely seeking knowledge and learning. The other seeks strength and learns as a means to defeat his opponents by fighting and gaining experience.

As it relates to the way of strategy, both systems reach for knowledge but in differing ways. By study, a kenpo artist will find many ideas in the Way. By fighting, a kenpo artist gains experience that allows them to go farther.

Fighting is the best way because experience teaches better than a book. However, in practicing the movements, an artist at least will gain the musculature to perform when needed. But by far real experience is the best teacher.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kenpo Karate: 10 Hand Strikes

Kenpo karate is an art that contains many techniques. These listed below are 10 hand strikes that a kenpo karate student would learn:
  1. Straight punch - stays palm up while in chamber position at the hip, but when fully extended, knuckles go up. 
  2. Vertical punch - starts palm up, like the straight punch, but when released from the chamber position, the knuckles are vertical with the thumb up.
  3. Inward hand sword - palm up to shoulder and, using the blade of the hand (pinky side), strike the neck of the opponent, going inward.
  4. Outward hand sword - palm down, raising arm across the chest, strike the neck going outward.
  5. Palm heel - like a straight punch, strike using the palm in a thrust motion.
  6. Back knuckle - raising fist to opposite shoulder, strike using the back of the hand, preferably the knuckle.
  7. Finger thrust - open hand, fingers slightly spread, and jab.
  8. Finger poke - using index and middle finger together, strike withe a thrust. Typically to eyes or soft vulnerable areas.
  9. Inward slice - using index and middle finger, slice across the eyes from outside to in.
  10. Outward slice - using index and middle finger, slice across the eyes from inside to out.
Those are ten hand strikes used in kenpo karate.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kenpo Karate: In Regards to Art

Every martial art is special... Does that sound as cheesy to you as it does to me? Regardless, every martial art, whether it be kenpo karate or kung fu, brings something good to the table. But what is also created when a martial artist begins to learn a way is an integration of personality and art.

Every martial artist is different. This goes primarily to body type. Usually big martial artists are strong and built to take a hit, whereas smaller martial artist are more agile and have to be more precise in their targets.

This is not a rule, however. At my school, my master loved jumping kicks. Being a big kid, I wasn't great at them, but as I grew up in the school, I became much more agile than I would had I not had to do all those jumping kicks.

Each master teaches skills to what they excel at, that is why so many schools are broken off and also why so many arts teach different techniques. This is not to say that kenpo karate and kung fu are the same but rehashed arts. Every art has it's home, but every master makes it their own and in turn teaches their pupils the techniques and skills they excel at as well as the skills they not excel at, giving more emphasis on their own style.

This is good because every artist is different. My school loved kicks, however I was more into punching and hand techniques. Therefore, hand techniques are a strong center in my art. I still know the kicks and can perform some of the more advanced techniques, however I preferred to keep my legs grounded at the time.

This was strictly because (and here I am, handing out my darkest secrets) I believed that kicking was like handing your foot to your opponent.This is erroneous in the fact the same can be said for a hand, but loosing your balance and falling to the ground could lead to loss--depending on your confidence in the grappling arts.

This comes to my next point: whatever art you study, it is important to remember that it is only a foundation art. Foundation art meaning it is the art that sets the ground for further study. Study all arts and learn the weaknesses and strengths. Continue until you are confident in your ability completely. That is the Way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Do Nothing Which is of No Use

I like to think of this passage like idle hands... but really what Miyamoto was talking about was all the extra movements a martial artist might do that does not lead to a victory.

I will admit I love watching talented martial artists show their stuff with complicated manuevers and flips and spins when performing a kata or weapon demonstration, and frankly that is ok. Miyamoto was strictly speaking about one on one fighting. The battle shouldn't last too long and the martial artist should be interested only in movements that dispatch his/her opponent quickly. Though it may take skill to coregraph a flip or two into a fight, there are too many things that could go wrong with it.

If you are up against a skill martial artists and you use such acrobatics, it will be easy for your opponent to trip you up. Your focus should be on your opponent, not on foot and hand placement for some acrobatic technique.

Let me be clear, you do want to focus on your foot and hand placement, but only on the points they will be striking on the body of your opponent (so many prepositions...)

Acrobatics are fun and can really add flair to your art. I am not saying that they are bad to practice, but when you are in a real fight, they can become more of a liability. There are, however, ways to make your acrobatics combat ready. Turning back flips into kicks to the chin is an obvious maneuver. However without proper practice and training, your flip kicks will not be effective. And once again, against a martial artist opponent, it will be difficult to pull off.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Pay Attention, Even to Trifles

This means to pay attention to every detail of your opponent. Take in their size and their movements because you may find something that will aid in your victory.

It is easy to see from a person's walk what kind of mind they have. Do they have confidence? Are they self-conscious? These are things that can be perceived with enough training and people watching.

Also pay attention to the way they fight. Do they attack first? What do they lead off with? Are they switching up their attacks? Do they favor a hand or a foot? Pay close attention to every detail of your opponent to answer these questions.

It may seem like these questions are pointless, but through experience and training, you begin to notice certain things about how a person fights. You can see what techniques they prefer and also how they like to attack.

That's really all there is to it. Pay attention to every detail of your opponent's movement. In time, you will be able to discern what is what. Also remember that an experienced martial artist will use tricks to confuse their opponent. They will monitor their actions and movements and devise tactics to throw you off balance. Become aware of this and learn to adapt to any situation.