KENPO Kenpo, as spelled is a more modern term describing one of the more innovative systems practiced on Hawaii, Europe, New Zealand and the Americas. It employs linear as well as circular moves, using intermittent power when and where needed, interspersed with major and minor moves that flow with continuity. It is flexible in thought and action so as to blend with encounters as they occur. Kenpo is the first Americanized martial art. Students are encouraged to alter moves, but not the underlying principles, to fit individual body structure, or to compensate for handicaps. Teaching methods also are Americanized, relying on practical demonstration, everyday experience, and familiar nomenclature. Historically, kenpo, as kenpo jiu-jitsu, was introduced into the Hawaiian Islands by James M. Mitose on December 7, 1941, at the beginning of World War II. As taught by Mitose, kenpo emphasized the attacking of vital anatomical areas by punching, striking, chopping, thrusting and poking. Similar to Japanese atei-waza in that it also employed throws, locks and takedowns, it differed technically and philosophically. Kenpo teaches how to maneuver so that the opponent unwittingly places himself in a precarious and vulnerable position. Mitose taught William K.S. Chow, who had also studied Chinese concepts from his father. It was Chow who Americanized kenpo by adapting Mitose’s aproach to the American environment. Ed Parker. a Hawaii native and disciple of Chow, greatly revised the old methods to cope with modern day fighting situations. While Parker’s teachings retain a traditional flavor, he has contributed practical, realistic, applicable concepts and principles. Parker, recognizing the need for an updated approach to the martial arts, experimented with more logical and practical means of combating modern methods of fighting and thus emerged with his own interpretation of the art. To reach his conclusions, he analyzed combative predicaments from the viewpoints of the attacker, the defender, and, uniquely, the bystander or spectator. From these observations, Parker disproved theories and concepts which had earlier been considered combat effective. His greatest insights came by studying himself on film in reverse.
Parker then systematized and categorized all the basic kenpo elements into a logical order of progress for step-by-step instruction. Eventually, he conceived one of the most in-depth and sophisticated training manuals for instructors to date. It gives a clear, precise and thorough understanding of what kenpo entails, with every move within this system methodically and scientifically thought out. Kenpo basics fall into eight categories: stances, blocks, parries, punches, strikes, finger techniques, kicks, and foot maneuvers. The system is divided into three major divisions with relative subdivisions: basics (including forms); self-defense (divided into methods of attack and methods of training for an attack, both of which are further subdivided); and freestyle (tournament and street, with the former subdivided into light contact and full contact). Kenpo belt ranks are: white; yellow; yellow with orange tip; orange, orange with purple tip; purple; purple with blue tip; blue; blue with green tip; green; green with brown tip; brown with one, two, then three black tops. The kenpo black belt ranks, which progress from 1st degree to 10th degree, are: black with red tips up to 4th degree, a solid 5″ strip for 5th degree; additional tips above the strip for 6th to 9th degrees; and two 5″ strips separated by a 1″ space for 10th degree. In order to become a black belt, all kenpo students affiliated with Parker’s International Kenpo Karate Association. the governing body of kenpo, must write a thesis on a subject usually selected by each student, and must create a new form. Unique to this style are Parker’s teaching methods wherein he parallels the moves of the martial arts with the study of music or the alphabet. Each move learned, for example, whether offensive or defensive, can be considered an “alphabet of motion.” When these are combined they form “words of motion.” Combinations of these then form “sentences of motion” and so on, allowing a kenpo practitioner to draw upon a large “vocabulary of motion.” (ED PARKER)
Advanced Kenpo Karate, Jay T. Will, 1980:
Infinite Insights Into Kenpo, Ed Parker, 1982;
Kenpo Karate for Self-Defense, Jay T. Will, 1977.