Some of you might be scratching your heads and
saying "What?" about this point... Alliance running an article on the
Eastern MA? What is the world coming to! Well, as part of our salute
to Kung Fu Movies and all COOL things Eastern, I wanted to share some
good links and info with you on the art of Kempo / Kenpo.
First off, some of you may wonder why the two names? Some folks spell it with an M, others with an N. In any case, the meaning is the same - The Way (Law) of the Fist! This is the same meaning as the Chinese term Chuan-Fa, and the Indonesian term Kun-Tao.
Kempo is a Chinese based art form, that depending on what branch of the Kempo tree you look to might also be influenced by Hawaiian, Japanese, or American sources (yes, I know Hawaii is part of America, but the influences from there are farther reaching as Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures.)
Overall, the style is known for having both Hard and Soft techniques, rapid-fire hand strikes, joint locking, and a great number of self-defense scenario drills. Again, depending on which school of Kempo you study, this will vary. Even within one school (say "Ed Parker's American Kenpo") you will find great diversity, with some teachers emphasizing the speed striking, others the nerve point work, and still others the street defense techniques. This is because in many ways, Kempo is an individually tailored art "Make the art fit the person" Ed Parker would say.
While those of you in the arts may roll your eyes, those unfamiliar with the Eastern styles may now be asking "So just who IS this Ed Parker you keep going on about?" Well, Mr. Parker was the undisputed Father of Kenpo in America. He was a very influential man in the martial arts world here throughout his lifetime. He put the arts in the public's eye, writing books, appearing on TV, teaching many celebrities back in the early days (50s-60s) and founding a tournament (the Long Beach Internationals - where a young man named Bruce Lee was first noticed after Ed invited him to show his skills) that still happens each year.
This public aspect aside, perhaps Ed's greatest contribution to us all was in his ability to analyze the art and break down the many principles involved in each technique to allow a student better understanding of the the major and minor keys that would make each technique effective. This kind of scientific investigation transcends style! If you have read the article we did on Duality Training, then you have had a glimpse into some of Ed's ideas.
Another influential Kempo Master was a Japanese man named Doshin So. He was a double-agent during WWII, living in China and sending reports back to Japan. He was friends with a number of Chinese martial arts masters, and learned quite a bit of Kung Fu during his time there. After the war, he returned to Japan, only to have a hart attack that the doctors said would kill him within a year. He went back to China to apologize to the men he had befriended and then betrayed, before he died. The Chinese masters not only forgave him, but they helped cured him with Chinese medicines, and he stayed on in China, learning more Kung Fu.
When he returned to Japan, he found his country overrun with gangsters who preyed on the weak (remember this was in the years after the war and many parts of Japan were in a state of semi-chaos) He started to teach Buddhism and Kempo, and basically formed his own gang to fight the criminals. His new art, Shorinji Kempo (Shaolin Fist-Way) was both a religion and a martial art, and is considered an official religious organization in Japan. At their temples in Japan, modeled after Shaolin, the modern Shorinji monks practice religious devotion, Kempo skills, and healing Shiatsu massage.
American Kenpo Self Defense Techniques
Basic techniques of Ed Parker's system from American Kenpo Karate of Modesto, CA
Basics of Defending Against a Knife Attack
Good article on Kenpo theory relating to blade defense from Storm Kenpo.
Elvis Presley - A Dedicated Martial Artist
Yes - The KING was a Kenpo practitioner! See the Kenpo patch on Red's gi (uniform)? Elvis also had the Kenpo crest on his guitar, and used Kenpo in many of his films (like when he knocked the leopard out in Harem Scareum?)
Hawaiian Kenpo Karate
Bill Ryusaki is an old-time Kenpo expert and this site gives drawings, photos, and written descriptions for dozens of kata (forms) and waza (techniques) for his Hawaiian Kenpo Karate system.
This is a great article by the Karate Connection (old time Ed Parker black belts) on how to easily construct durable life-sized training dummies for practicing Kenpo on. These let you hit hard against a realistic target, and are so easy to build every martial artist should have one!
Another art from Hawaii is Kajukenbo, with it's name representitive of the arts sampled in this street fighting style (KArate, JUdo, KENpo, and Chinese BOxing) This site provide history and a number of articles!
Kenpo Karate Articles Part One and Part Two
Here are a number of short articles on aspects of Kenpo from Infinity Kenpo in Ohio.
Kenpo Karate Techniques
Photo illustrated basic Kenpo defenses from Dr. Len Brassard's Family Martial Arts Center!
This is a fantastic resource page. Their online journal "The Flame" has complete written techniques for all the self-defense techniques and forms up to Black Belt level.
Kenseikai - Profound World of Shorinji Kempo
The English language home base for world of information on Shorinji Kempo. This group has created animated GIFs for literally hundreds of techniques and combination of the system! This is an amazing site! YOU MUST CHECK THIS OUT!!!
Neal's Shorinji Kempo Page
Tons of links ond historical info on Shorinji Kempo to be found here, including listings for dojo around the world.