2nd July 2023

If you are interested in learning Kenpo and unarmed combat in general, but are discouraged by its perceived complexity and overuse of moves, then read this article. It deals as simply as possible with a key set of basics and principles that makes Kenpo work in common self-defense situations. Moreover, it does not delve too deeply into the theory of what could happen in a fight, instead, it looks at the practicalities of applying your basics into fast workable sequences of motion.

Regardless of what any detractors would have you believe; Kenpo is a fighting art; it is based on simple movements that connect through a structured framework of basics that are linked together using blocks, strikes, body and foot maneuvers. Blocks and strikes are choreographed together into workable self-defense techniques that are executed by the practitioner. As with any subject, it should be explained in a structured uncomplicated format so that the person learning it can retain the information in a structured comprehensive way.

Many view Kenpo as an over-complicated martial art with too many moves to make it effective as a serious self-defense system. It is sometimes viewed as a slap art where its practitioners slap themselves unnecessarily when executing a self-defense technique, or worse still that its techniques do not work and are no more than Hollywood choreographed make-believe. However, what they do not see are the intricate moves that are inserted into the sequential flow of a technique sequence, such as checks and parries that are designed to stop, alter, or redirect an opponent’s capability to continue their attack.

There are several steps that can be taken to learn any subject effectively, Kenpo is no exception to this rule:

Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve by learning the subject, and set specific, measurable goals that will help you track your progress.

Gather resources: Find books, articles, videos, and other resources that will help you learn the subject.

Study actively: Instead of passively reading or watching videos, actively engage with the material by taking notes, summarizing key points, and asking questions.

Practice regularly: Regular practice is essential for mastering any subject. This can include solving problems, working through exercises, and applying what you've learned to real-world situations.

Seek help: Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Seek out a teacher, mentor, or tutor who can provide guidance and answer questions.

Stay motivated: Learning a new subject can be challenging, but it's important to stay motivated by reminding yourself of the benefits of learning the subject and how it will help you achieve your goals.

Test yourself: Regularly testing yourself on the material will help you gauge your understanding of the subject, pinpoint areas where you need to focus your efforts, and reinforce the knowledge you have already acquired.

Reflect on what you have learned: After you finish learning the subject, take some time to reflect on what you've learned and how it can be applied to your life or in the real world.

I have trained for over 40 years in the system and spent over 16 years in the security industry working on nightclub doors. I would agree that there are elements of the system that should have been clarified in a much clearer manner by Mr. Parker. Some techniques have been allowed to establish themselves in the system that should have been analyzed further and in my opinion removed or modified to make them effective on the street.

Although he set out in his Infinite Insights into Kenpo series of books a detailed comprehensive list of the many basics that make up his system of Kenpo, many of his top black belts have alluded to the fact that there was much more to the system than Mr. Parker was teaching to the majority of people. This has created a shroud of secrecy from a select few, whilst giving the impression that there was more to his system than was being taught at the time.

Mr. Parker alluded to the fact that there were Master Keys to the Kenpo system but never fully explained what they were; only giving a brief outline of their basic criteria in his literature. This has led to much speculation that he only taught these secrets to a select few. Many of his old instructors keep this mystic notion alive by posting articles on social media, many of which never explain fully what the master keys are or how they are incorporated into the system or if they are a legitimate area of study.

As I have previously written, Mr. Parker always stated there were no secrets to Kenpo, so how has the myth of another highly sophisticated science version of his system been propagated within the Kenpo community?

Kenpo is based on one simple scientific fact:

"Motion with effect will keep your opponent’s height, width, and depth zones in check" 

You simply have to hit, control, or restrain the person(s) in front of you to end the confrontation in the shortest time frame possible. There is no secret to learning or using Kenpo in a fight, it is just the rearrangement of basics and the ability to strike hard and hit vital targets at will. 


Available books on Kenpo

Kenpo 21: Priority Principles

Kenpo - Eye of the Storm: Club Techniques A Beginners Guide

Kenpo - How to Survive Life: Concepts and Principles

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