The base style that is taught at Three Storms Kenpo, is of course Kenpo. Much has been said about the art being overkill. Instead of an on/off switch which is how most Kenpo schools teach, we look at it as a dimmer switch.
Unlike many Kenpo schools we teach fighting principles and concepts instead of giving you 16 techniques for this level, 32 for the next and so on. Anyone can copy someone else and move up through the belts. This is an easy way to make a canned system and teach it out. This makes it easier to monitor because you can give out tapes and manuals and structure something from beginning to end. This also means that anyone with a VCR and some time can copy the motion and teach it out. We encourage questions throughout the class and ask students to explain things like why the attacker fell back and to the side. This is not to say that our techniques won't look like the actually technique such as 5 swords or anything else. Good principles are good principles but we look for a whole lot more out of our students that to copy our teachers move for move.
Self -defense cannot be scripted no matter how good you are. Anything can affect a self defense situation, from what the attacker is wearing to what I am wearing, terrain, to sun shining in your eyes, rain pouring down or a variety of other things. We still follow Ed Parker's principles and and execute combinations based on the way a person may react to an attack, but we don't dictate the exact series of motions that the defender must use. We teach principles of motion and body reactions as well as weak parts in the human anatomy. We also focus on different ranges and the weapons to use at each range, as well as all possible situations including weapons, ground fighting(not submission), multiple attackers and so on. This way of teaching is harder to test an individual on, but gets better results when it comes to the student being able to adapt. We try to create teachers and not students. This gives them the ability to look at themselves and then come back to us with suggestions to help them out instead of looking blankly at us waiting for guidance in the form of another scripted technique. We also do teach forms but this is more to give them the ability to work on transitions as well as basics when a training partner is not around. 95% of our class is opponent training to deal with physiological as well as tactile concepts.
Ranges of Defense
Until about 9 years ago I thought of Kenpo as purely a stand-up art. This was changed when I read an article by Jeff Speakman talking about an aspect called Sub-Level Four. At this time I was a 1st degree black in Kenpo through my teacher Richard Shergold who has been in the arts for 25 years. I later seeked out the man responsible for this concept, Dr. Theron Chap'el. Dr. Chap'el was best friends with Ed Parker for many years as well as currently being Ed Parker Jr.'s teacher. Please follow the link on my links page to learn a great deal more about Dr. Chap'el and his concepts. I purchased several manuals from Dr. Chap'el. His concepts dealt with nerve striking as well as control techniques. This is a very basic explanation, please visit his site for more, he explains it very well.
With the introduction to such things as nerve strikes and control techniques I opened my thoughts to other arts as well as other teachers. Through books, videos and other teachers I have been exposed to a great deal. My teacher has worked with a great deal of high level Kung-fu teachers so I was familiar with aspects and forms of such arts as Dragon, Hung-gar, Wing chun, Kempo(without an 'n'), White tiger kung fu (Bak Fu Pai), Bak mei, and Iron Palm (My teacher now teaches the last three, after moving away from the Kenpo, which I took over). At first I focused on the nerve striking in order to increase effectiveness in my strikes. This involved getting books from George Dillman, Earle Montague, and Dr. Chap'el. I also cross referenced the martial way with the healing way. The points to destroy are also the points to heal in many cases.
The Slap Art
Kenpo is often called the slapping art, and the main problem is many Kenpo people don't have a clue of all the aspects of the slap check and maybe I don't even know them all, but here it goes. There are 3 main reasons for the slap check: 1. To get a rebound effect when bouncing off the body, 2. Return the hands to a protective placement fast and give a start where the attack can go in any direction fast, 3. To teach your body to strike back as fast as you strike out. Now to start with the last one. This is the one most people don't seem to know, when a Kenpo practitioner strikes out he or she does not waste the pull back but instead he or she may shear, check or strike far side targets on the attacker while returning. Arms can also be cleared to expose other targets. Kenpo hands are meant to never stop moving until it is over and the only way to accomplish this is to use physics properly "A body in motion tends to stay in motion". This can also mean striking arms when someone grabs you or striking the top of the attackers hands instead of just a pinning motion without inflicting damage. The main thing that is lost is focusing power at the right time. Kenpo has what are called major and minor strikes. This means that some strikes are meant for nothing more than positioning the attackers body or parts in order to create another target in the form of an opening. An example is a simple pass by the eyes in order to force the attackers head back through reaction and then expose the throat or neck. I have heard slap checking being explained in black belt magazine as simply a training method to prevent having to hit your training partner, this is totally wrong the reason is the opposite it gives you the skills to "tap" him twice as many times as before.
This is the hand styles as well as the stick and knife concepts. Kenpo has the sticks incorporated but not to the extent or level of skill that the Filipino arts have. All of this excitement has come from with a man by the name of Datu Kelly Worden and one of his representatives. Datu Worden incorporates many aspects of the Filipino styles and is one of very few to be ranked Datu by Remy Presas. Mr Worden is considered an expert by many in knife, stick and empty hand tactics. He is in my opinion the first person to use what Bruce Lee called JKD in the right sense. He has put together drills and principles to form a way of learning how to defend yourself. His main foundation in his system is the Filipino arts but has incorporated principles and ways of explaining things from other arts.
With this awakening to the Filipino arts I learned that what Dr. Chap'el is teaching is also in the Filipino arts. Such things as gunting, which is nerve strikes as well as control techniques which is one of the main focuses of the Filipino styles. The reason I have chose to now move down this path is it fits well with Kenpo and adds a level of comittance, and weapons prowess not seen in my exposure to Kenpo. I encourage others to seek enhancements to themselves also. The one thing I do have a problem with however is for someone to take a little of this art and a little of another and so on and call it JKD or their own martial art. Too many people in this world think they are Bruce Lee. I believe in getting a very strong foundation in one art and then expanding, and filling in gaps which was actually the part of Bruce's story that many forget (Wing chun).
After training with some of the true Kuntao/silat players on the planet, I have really turned my main influence over to the Filipino/Indonesian styles. These styles really focus on the closer ranges to fighting and a lot of elbow usage and fa jing striking. These arts and people take a technique and only end it when the attacker is done. A lot of focus is put on foot work and body positioning. These arts also make body dynamics such that it is very hard to get anything in on them once the conflict has begun. The first thing I noticed when seeing such people as Prof. Rick Hernandez, Uncle Bill, Datu Kelly Worden, Guru Plinck, Guru Bui and others move was that I could not see a distinct way defending against the style, this is what really caught me. The practioner is so compact, fast and has no wasted motion that to defend against them takes a great deal of skill and timing and even then near impossible on these people if not impossible.
More to come.......