Author Topic: Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts  (Read 2627 times)

Offline Pacificshore

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Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts
« on: June 27, 2003, 12:59:13 AM »
Aside from it's historic background as it relates to having Chinese roots, what is it that truely distinguishes the various Kenpo/Kempo systems from each other?  If you take say Shotokan Karate, for the most part, no matter where you go, Shotokan pretty much stays the same.

What makes the Kenpo/Kempo arts so diverse from one another?  I look forward to the responses.  I often thought about it, but never really found an answer.

Thanks for your time :)
Gene R.
Kara-Ho Kempo


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Re:Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2003, 04:29:12 AM »
In my own opinion I would have to say the evolution of the style from person to person. For example: We may have had the same teacher and learned the same things, but when we opened our own schools we each learned things from other styles and made it our own. I see it happening everywhere.

Offline sifutimg

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Re:Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2003, 11:32:26 AM »
When I first started training in Kajukenbo with my first instructor, he added his flavor by incorporating some Choy Li Fut to his expression of the art.  So our grab arts, punch counters, and forms were much different than what he was taught.  As I have been practicing the art now and have seen others practice, I notice that there is many who add their own flavors to what they express.  So what I have gotten out of this is that the word Kajukenbo resonates with words like freedom and innovation.  Kajukenbo doesn’t lock you into a box, it challenges you to persevere.  Look what folks like Grandmaster Gaylord, Professor Al Dela Cruz, and Professor Al Dacascos, as well as many others have done with their expressions.  One of the main attributes that however have remained consistent and constant though is no matter where I have trained or visited, Kajukenbo training methods are hard-core and as real as it gets no matter what the flavor.  I can’t express enough how I truly appreciate this.  I have trained in many other styles now through the years myself and have no desire to be anything but Kajukenbo.  Things find there way into our expressions naturally as we all have our perceptual differences and unique abilities, this is very beautiful in and of itself where this type of process isn’t present in other systems.  I truly appreciate and continually pay tribute to the founders and pioneers who have made this art so great with what I would consider the “thinking outside the box” mentality.  

So to everyone on this list and other wise, who have paved the way for us young bucks to practice something so beautiful and diverse, I thank you sincerely.

I look forward to hearing others comments.

Yours in training,
Sifu Tim Gagnier
Grandmaster Tim Gagnier
Student of Great Grandmaster Charles Gaylord & Grandmaster Sid Lopez
Chief Instructor Pacific Wind Kajukenbo
Student Forever
Yamhill, Oregon

Offline John Bishop

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Re:Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2003, 12:31:50 PM »
There are good and bad reasons for the vast diversity in the Hawaiian Kenpo systems (totally differant from Japanese/Okinawan Kempo).  
In contrast to the strick traditional arts like Shotokan, Goju Ryu, Wado Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Aikido etc., Kenpo evolves constantly.  
The strick traditional arts tend to stay with what they "were always taught".   In Hawaii there is a vast mix of cultures that is rarely found anywhere in the world.  Japanese, Okinawan, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Samoan, Hawaiian, Europeans, Indonesians,  and others are all represented on the islands.  So there is a opportunity to learn fighting techniques from all over the world.  
The origin of James Mitose's "Kenpo Juijutsu" is something that will probably always be a mystery.  But close examination of his teachings and even the name of his  system tends to point out that it may be a blend of a jujitsu system and a kenpo or karate system.   So, in actuality, he may have started the evolution of Kenpo.
We do know that William Chow studied other arts such as boxing, judo, jujitsu, and kung fu.  He added some of these techniques to his "Kara-Ho" system.   And, of course Sijo Emperado's Kajukenbo system is the first example of "mixed martial arts" in America, perhaps the world.  
Americans have always looked at things and tried to figure out how to make it better, or at least make it more American.  
And you have to remember that James Mitose only taught in Hawaii for about 10 years.  He never really defined his art to his students.  At times he called it "Kenpo Juijutsu", "Shorinji Kenpo",  "Kosho Ryu Kenpo", and "Kosho Shorei Ryu Kenpo".  His first black belt, Thomas Young told me that he had never known  Mitose to use the name "Kosho Ryu' or "Kosho Shorei".  He (Young) first found out about the name from reading Mitose's book, after Mitose moved to California.
So what I'm trying to say is that Kenpo never really had any ancient traditions to adhere to.  
So people like Prof. Chow and Sijo Emperado looked at Kenpo and thought about how to make it more effective as a self defense system that fit their times.  Sijo's attitude was that he wanted to see "what the other guys had, and if it was good, we'd use it".  So, as Kenpo and Kajukenbo instructors spread across the country they supplemented their knowledge with techniques from martial artists in their areas.  
Evolution and adaptibility are the main reasons for the variations in Kenpo systems.  In strict traditional systems there is no room for evolution.  You do the techniques you do because it "has always been done that way".  
Take Aikido as a example.  Many of the attacks in Aikido are done in a downward chopping motion simulating a downward sword strike.  Weapons defenses are also done against a bokken (wooden sword).  Now in Kajukenbo (Original Method) weapons defenses are done against a knife and club.  There are no weapons katas with any of the ancient swords, spears, staffs, etc.   So Kajukenbo has adapted itself to the American/European society, where you would most likely be attacked by someone with a knife or club type weapon.  There are many other examples of how Kajukenbo and Kenpo have evolved to fit the needs of modern societies.      
As I said in the beginning, there are also bad reasons for the vast differences amonst some of the Kenpo systems.  This comes from people wanting to break away from their instructors, and others who want to be grandmasters of their own systems.  Some of these people and their systems have become outstanding contributions to the martial arts, and some have become total discraces to the arts.  You can now buy Kenpo black belts on Ebay, and there is at least one Kenpo instructor who has a 1 year video black black program.      
John Bishop  8th Degree-Original Method 
Under Grandmaster Gary Forbach
K.S.D.I. # 478, FMAA

"You watch, once I'm gone, all the snakes will start popping their heads up!"  Sijo Emperado


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Re:Distinctions of Kenpo/Kempo arts
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2003, 02:28:28 PM »
Very well done, Sigung Bishop. I think you said it all. As far as the diversity amongst kenpo/kempo offshoots or subsystems within themselves, I really believe there are more similariites than there are distinct differences. In the words of Gm. Pesare, " Everyone's a _____ sijo!" ;D