Kenpo / Kempo
Jeff Speakman - 1993 Instructor of the Year
Jeff Speakman and the Ed Parker Connection - By A.Kirwan
K E M P O / K E N P O F A Q
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|Interview with Jeff Speakman - Part 2.By Don Smith|
Fighting Systems: It's been a few years since Ed Parker's passing. What changes have you seen take place in the kenpo community since then?
Jeff Speakman: Personally, it has been more of what I have become aware of in the course of the last four years, then how the kenpo community has changed. When mister Parker was alive, I think many people were ignorant of the actual state of affairs of the kenpo hierarchy. Mr. Parker was this pivotal key person that we all tied ourselves to either directly or indirectly. When he passed on, I began to seek out and came upon a variety of different people.
I became painfully aware of the egos and problems and things that Mr. Parker kept at bay, which he was no longer around to do, so it became very chaotic. That chaos has continued to flourish and grow throughout the years. So I think that is what has happened in the terms of changes in kenpo. I think that people like myself and many others have become much more aware of the things and problems that have always existed, but were never allowed to come to the forefront.
FS: What is your most vivid memory of Ed Parker, as a man, and as a martial artist?
JS: I think my most vivid memories, because they are so overwhelmingly positive, were on the set of the "Perfect Weapon." I knew him, as a mentor, instructor, and father image, but most importantly someone I would refer to as a friend. We had a pretty close relationship. When I saw him on the set of the Perfect Weapon, he was ecstatic almost all the time. He was the happiest I've ever seen him and many people have shared perhaps the happiest they have ever seen him in several decades.
The thing I miss most about Mister Parker is that he was a loving, caring, touching human being. He wasn't bound by that male testosterone, ego, kind of over blown macho attitude. Whenever we saw him , we would bow, shake hands and then hug one another. It's kind of the thing in the kenpo world for those of us who know each other. That's the thing that he started, and is probably the thing I miss the most.
My most fond memory on the set of the Perfect Weapon, we were shooting nights. This was in the warehouse fight scene that just preceded the Tanaka fight scene. You show up when the sun goes down, and when the sun comes up you go home. It was a very difficult shooting schedule. He was with me every day when doing martial arts on the set. He was there to couch me. He used my trailer as his home, which is the way I wanted it.
Once he had a couple of friends visit. He was sitting in my trailer and they were talking. As they left, I was walking back to my trailer and didn't realize he was just coming out of my trailer. So it was a happen stance meeting. He just evidently been very moved in a positive way. We came around the corner, and all of a sudden he was there in front of me. He did something to me I have noticed he always did with his grand kids. We never said a word to one other, we walked around the corner and were at close range, he grabbed my face with those great big bear paw hands as I've seen him do with his grand kids. He kissed me, hugged me, and then he walked away. There wasn't a word said. They represent those kinds of feelings in the movies where something happens and then a big wind comes by and your hair moves and it feels as a spirit moves through you. That is the most fond memory I have. His love for me is so overwhelmingly evident at that moment that it gave me as it always had a great deal of confidence at what I was doing.
FS: In the first issue of Fighting Systems, you mentioned an organization called the AKKS. Can you tell us a little more about it?
JS: Yes, I am the founder of this organization and act as the senior technical advisor. We have been around for about only a year and a half. We call it the American Kenpo Karate Systems. The home base is out of New York. It has been an extraordinary experience. I will tell you, this is the first time since mister Parker died, I have had a good time in kenpo. It is because of this organization and most importantly the people who are in it. It is only going to be as positive, or only going to grow as big as the people that are in the supporting foundation of it. Not just the leader or teacher or your head, that is not the most important roll.
We have Burt Randio who is in Albany New York. He is our managing director, and Brian Heins who is our east coast director. Both guys have been dear friends of mine for many years and big supporters. It is because of the two of them that I went ahead and made this new organization. They are the ones that really convinced me that was still a good positive core of kenpo people out there. I have been through some horrific, difficult, challenging, depressing times. Those times ultimately lead to the end of several friendships that I never thought would end. I guess that's all just a part of growing up. So I was ready to pitch the whole organization concept and idea and maybe teach seminars and just do the movies. These guys brought me back in, and I am very indebted to them because it has been a very positive experience.
Now John Sepulveda is in as our national director and he has a great lineage with mister Parker starting in 1964 in kenpo. He is one of the very few people I know that was with mister Parker in the very beginning a was close to him all the way through to the end. He is an accurate representation of the evolution, changes and modifications of kenpo. I found that mister Sepulveda and I talked almost exactly the same. I was able to ask him questions about the evolution of techniques and the about the reasons why they changed. Those are the kinds of things mister Sepulveda has shared with me which has helped me understand kenpo. Now that he is the national director it gives a tremendous amount of credibility to us. The organization has grown enormously. We have more than 40 schools in the US we have six in Europe and it is growing exponentially and we haven't even advertised yet.
FS: Your motto for the organization is "lead by example, follow by choice." Where did this saying originate and what does it mean to you?
JS: It originated from me. I'm the one who came up with that axiom, and use the word axiom because it indicates that is the pivotal center and structure. It is the philosophical center and structure of what we are doing. That originated by in large because of these extraordinarily negative experiences I have had in kenpo. This is what I became painfully aware of.
People who were in authoritative positions, or were climbing to authoritative positions were not the people represented by the stripes around their waist. In other words, if you wear a black belt, 3rd black, 5th black, or 7th black, all of those are important. They all represent different things in terms of the hierarchy. When you accept higher rank, along with that comes a variety you could call a code of morality for the martial artist. What was very disappointing to me is that these people wearing these very high ranks that were immoral, irresponsible, and people who didn't live up to what they were wearing around their waist. That's okay if you're going to behave that way or be immature, or be an unethical person, but don't put on the stripes. Don't tell me your one thing and behave another way.
That radical conflict was something I've experienced in everything in life, not just in karate. If I'm going to be one of the leaders in this organization, I must lead by example. In other words I will never ask people do things that I would not do, or haven't done, or am not trying to do currently. So the "do as I say, not as I do" thing never did work, it doesn't work today, and it doesn't promote a very positive learning experience for everyone. That is the lead by example part.
Follow by choice is a philosophical decision that I made from my personal experiences in life. That is to be a leader and to evoke change. The only way to evoke change is to set an example for the way to be and people will catch that positive energy and by their own choice they will come over and be a part of that positive energy. Anything other then that is coercion and manipulation, and I'm not interested in that. If you want to be a part of what we are doing, then come on. You're more then welcome, it's open to everyone, but the price of admission is integrity. If you're not a person that has that kind of integrity and morality, then don't join our organization because you will be very short lived if you have that kind of attitude.
FS: What direction will we see kenpo take in the future?
JS: I think the only healthy positive supportive direction kenpo can take in the future is founded under the idea of being extremely opened minded. There are people that are teaching what you would call the original kenpo. Some are teaching the most updated version, and some that are somewhere in between. What we need to understand is that everyone is important. This is an art that is really odd in relation to other arts in that its basis and nature are evolution and change.
As time went on, mister Parker grew and changed, so did the art. You will find these varying wide variety of aspects of the art related to different people who trained with him at different areas of his life. You can see students, teachers, and black belts who left mister Parker 20 years before he died, 10 years before he died, and right up to his death. That does not have to be an intimidating thing, although it's seen that way by a lot of people. There are seniors that only teach the older ways of kenpo and insisted that is correct way. Some of the seniors want to learn the newer versions of kenpo. Then there are a few of them that actually know the old and the new, like John Sepulveda.
What was shocking to me, was that right after mister Parker's death, I found that there were people who were close to him at the end who were also equally arrogant about their information, saying something similar to this is the most updated version so this is the real kenpo. That's just as arrogant as saying this is the original kenpo, and this is what he wanted taught. There is no what he wanted taught. He wanted us all to explore. Now that we have explored and developed in our own areas, we should share the knowledge that we both got from him and that we have all developed ourselves.
What we need is a non intrusive format so that people can accomplish that communication. That's what I think the future is and that's what I'm trying to be a part of. I'll tell you frankly, if this endeavor I'm into right now, if this doesn't work, than I give up. I have been there, done that, and have seen the insanity. If this kind of thing doesn't work and people don't participate and support this, then they can have it, because in my opinion, it will be lost forever. It will be a sad day, because there was too much wonderful information, and too many great people all throughout the world, not just in the United States, that learned directly from mister Parker for many years and have a lot to share.
FS: We've heard about some recent developments in the art such as "Sub-Level Four."
JS: There are four depth zones we refer to in the art of kenpo, which refers to the distance away from your opponent. The closest of those four zones is contact manipulation. This is where we are in a grappling mode. I've been studying from a man named Ron Chapel. What mister Chapel has developed though the instruction of mister Parker for more than 20 years, is another level called "Sub-Level Four." This is another stage to contact manipulation we call control manipulation. Although it is quite complex, a simplistic view is more the Jiu Jitsu side of the kenpo Jiu Jitsu, that it originally was. It employs a lot more grappling, ground techniques along with nerve strikes, cavity presses, and a variety of some very close contact fighting. This structure falls within the framework of our techniques in kenpo.
It is fascinating and has opened my eyes. I've just started my studying with mister Chapel. It's like, and I'm sure you've experienced this yourself, another aspect of kenpo that I was ignorant to. I'm very excited about learning yet something else. This is yet another example of the value behind the open sharing concept.
FS: Is there anything else you would like to add?
JS: I think that what is very important today and in the future of kenpo, is to demand and supply, an open-minded forum for us to get together and share our knowledge. We will never get together and share this diverse knowledge and information if we continue to segment ourselves and put up our walls of defense in these different areas of the country, and different parts of the world. Something truly sad will happen. The total energy that Ed Parker started will be lost in our generation if we don't start communicating in an open brotherly loving family kind of a way. Instructors know that. It is the students who need to become aware of that and demand that kind of openness from their instructors.
Jeff Speakman -
1993 Instructor of the Year
Jeff Speakman has three things going for him in his honorable quest to unite the fragmented kenpo karate community. First and foremost, he has a rich training background that includes seven years as the personal protégé of the late American kenpo master Ed Parker. Second, as an actor with two films to his credit, Speakman possesses a larger than life image and carries considerable clout when dealing with the public. And third, Speakman has the determination to see his goal through, no matter what obstacles are placed in his way. Kenpo karate has been besieged by grandmaster "wanna-bes" since Parker's untimely death in December 1990. A number of longtime members of Parker's International Kenpo Karate Association (IKKA) split with the organization following the grandmaster's Dassina. Forming federations of their own while claiming system seniorship. A war of words ensued between the rival groups"I'm the official head of kenpo" . . . "No you're not; I am"which served only to tear the style apart and create an image of a kenpo system in disarray. Enter Speakman, who is attempting to go from Street Knight (his second film) to White Knight in an effort to champion the kenpo cause. "I want to heal the kenpo world and bring [practitioners] together, have them recognize their differences and respect them, and create unity in the kenpo world," Speakman asserts. "I gave my word [to Parker] I would do this. I have given up a lot of my life to fulfill my obligation to Mr. Parker." To this end, Speakman has spent a great deal of his time barnstorming across the United States and traveling abroad to deliver his message of peace and harmony among kenpo practitioners. He was greeted warmly by students at most of the kenpo schools he visited. "I would walk in, they would look at me, and tears would show up in their eyes," Speakman notes. Without a doubt, it's been an emotional roller-coaster ride the last few years for kenpo stylists. Many have wondered "Who is the head of the system? Who should I train with? Who can I trust?" According to Speakman, you will be in good hands if you align yourself with his United Kenpo Systems. The black belt actor, who starred in the highly successful 1991 film The Perfect Weapon, formed the organization following Parker's death to hasten kenpo's healing process. "Our goal is to provide an organization where everyone can feel welcome," Speakman claims. "This whole argument about 'Ed Parker taught me first, he taught me last, or he taught me best" is not what it is all about. It is about getting along." Some felt that when Speakman left the IKKA to form his own association, he was doing so to improve his own lot in the kenpo community. Not so, he says. "[The IKKA] was not an environment where I could continue to complete my commitment to Ed Parker," he explains. "I have tried to be an honorable man. I just want to do the right thing. I did not leave the IKKA for money or rankthat is asinine. I don't care about being the head of an organization, and I don't make my money in karate, so I can afford to be honest. I am not in it for money or [belt] stripes. I am in it to provide a place for kenpo to continue to grow and flourish. it really isn't any more complicated than that." It is the ever-present memory of Parkerhis instructor, friend and father figurethat keeps Speakman going despite occasional setbacks and turmoil. "The camaraderie of working with Mr. Parker was a feeling I am sure I will never have again," Speakman relates. "The family, the togetherness, the unbelievable opportunity I had to learn kenpo right from the [head] man was something I cherished dearly and never took for grantednever. The martial arts is not about who you can hurt; it is about who you can help. It is about life, friendship, love, family and togetherness." Such devotion to and love of one's martial art should not go unrewarded. Which is why Black Belt magazine is proud to name Jeff Speakman its 1993 Instructor of the Year.
Jeff Speakman and the Ed Parker Connection - By A.Kirwan
Jeff Speakman and the Ed Parker Connection - By A.Kirwan
American movie star and Kenpo Karate 6th degree black belt, Jeff Speakman recently travelled to Ireland to visit his friend, Ed Downey and members of the American Kenpo Karate Systems Ireland. Ranked among the world's top Karate Instructors, Jeff Speakman has also carved out a name for himself among the Hollywood moviemakers. He has successfully completed eight films and a new twenty-two TV serial 'Kickboxer and the Kid'. Mr. Speakman has all the persona and charisma of the proverbial Hollywood star, but there is more. Despite his tremendous achievements to date there is humility about the man impossible to ignore.
Student and protege of the legendary founder father of KENPO - Ed Parker, Mr. Speakman is keen to talk about the great man who has a hugely positive influence on his life. "I was incredibly in awe of him in the beginning", Mr. Speakman remembers. But I learned a lot more about the man and about his dreams and aspirations. We became great personal friends. He taught me a lot about Kenpo but even more about life. He was a dynamic man whose intellect and spirituality were so profound, he taught me that along with toughness and power of Kenpo, the real through spirit of the martial arts is to develop yourself and your spirit to become a better human being".
So how did the martial artist end up in the movie business? "I headed to Los Angeles to get involved in the karate business and ended up in the movie business", he said. In doing so he completed one of Ed Parker's life-long dreams to take his Kenpo art to the world through film. Sadly, three months before Mr. Speakman's debut movie - 'The Perfect Weapon' hit the screen Ed Parker died from a heart attack. The movie was to be a milestone in Speakman's life. It is a personal favourite of his because of the emotional ties, but one he hasn't been able to watch in over six years. The Instructor in the film used Ed Parker's first Black Belt. There is really part of him in that film.
Jeff Speakman remembers his friend and Kenpo Master with great affection. "He was a man who accomplished everything that he wanted to do in life. The only thing he didn't do was to make the trip in the movies- I did that for him- and he died without ever having seen it. There are profound implication in this", he finished.
Following the release of the first film, Mr. Speakman took the publicity route visiting many karate clubs in many cities. This was something that he and Ed Parker had planned together. "But then I had to go to all of these places alone", he recalls.
"It was wonderful meeting so many people, other Black Belts, who knew him longer then I did. They all knew about me through Ed. He told them I was like a son to him and strangely he never told me that."
Jeff Speakman took his acting career seriously from the early days. He spent a number of years taking acting lessons before his chance came along. "I had a vision of what I wanted to become through the martial arts and through acting," said Mr. Speakman. "I also wanted to prove that I wasn't another bonehead martial artist trying to make it in the movie business".
There was one particular event though, that solidified this vision. "When Van Damme released his first film 'Blood Sport,' I kept thinking over and over as I watched him. If this guy who is a ballet dancer, can do that, wait till they see what I can do".
So he is an actor who does martial arts or a martial artist who can act? "The truth laughed Mr. Speakman is that I am a Martial Artist who learned to act and it's from there that I have moved forward".
Many of his films may not be suitable for children, but the latest release 'Escape to Atlantis' due out in Ireland very soon is a movie made for kids. He regards this as his best acting work to date. "There's a little bit of martial arts in it". This is the kind of movie that he is keen to promote. He believes he has a responsibility to pass on lessons learned to others. "Those (children) are the ages I'm really trying to get to and affect their lives" he says on a more serious note. "They need guidance to avoid drug, help them to make the right decisions in their lives. Young people need to learn how to develop and become full human beings.
Jeff Speakman takes his duty very seriously, "Ed Parker taught me that life is a learning process. There are things that he passed on to me, things that changed my life, now it is my responsibility to pass the same message on to others".
He believes he has been very fortunate to have had such a say in the way his movies end up. He has assisted director, producer and editor in getting the fight scenes just right "Kenpo is an extremely violent type of martial art," said Mr. Speakman. He understands the editor's responsibility to edit. "I have been very fortunate in that I have had full control over the choreography of the fight scenes in all my films" said Mr. Speakman. He also gets involved in the cuts and editing. "I am such a perfectionist when it comes to martial arts" he insists, "I know how these scenes are supposed to look" whether it's movie making or martial arts Jeff Speakman can not talk about the success of either without mentioning his mentor Ed Parker. The relationship enjoyed by student and Master seems as much alive to-day as it was back then - A relationship that has had a profoundd effect on his life. "His influence on me was the influence that signified a true martial arts master".
"In the first and only article that Ed wrote about me in Black Belt magazine, published in the U.S. and one I didn't read until after he died, he said I never taught Jeff Speakman how to be good, I taught how to discover how to make himself good". That for Mr. Speakman is the difference between a martial arts teacher and a martial arts master.
The self-discovery, the heightened awareness and the inner strength that are so central in Mr. Speakman's life continue to assist him on his journey. "Ed believed that life was a journey not a destination" he said, "other people are so important in all of this. I remember early on Ed Parker saying let a smile and a handshake guide your way through life. It is all about choice. That is the way I choose to live ". Jeff's students in Ireland said he is known throughout the karate world for the respect he shows to others. From white belts to black belts, from students to experts, he lives out his philosophies in his treatment of others. Did this influence from Kenpo or Ed Parker? "For me they are one in the same", said Mr. Speakman seriously. "It is all about choice," he said. "The energy from within, the energy around us that can be directed and redirected in an extremely positive and powerful manner. I could have chosen to make the whole thing a negative experience like Van Damme did". He has little regard for the actor who lays claim to martial arts. "I have no time for rehab clinics, the drugs, this guy is on my side of the fence he says angrily, he should know better, he claims to have the discipline of the arts. He has a huge responsibility to all the teenagers who regard him as a role model".
What does the future hold for Jeff Speakman? "I enjoy making movies," he said. "I have changed as a result, but who doesn't? Life is all about change". He seems perfectly with life so far, married to Jacqueline with three teenage children he appears to be making all the right choices. He is intent on emphasising how important the personal aspect is in the greater scheme of things. He talked about one of the greatest events in his life. "Included in the credits of my third movie, 'The Expert', is a special dedication. The movie is dedicated to Brian Smith, a thirteen year old boy who died from cystic fibrosis". Mr. Speakman had explained that the boy's parents had contacted him to say Brian was very ill but he was a big fan of Jeff's. "I was working on the film at the time. Just after a shoot, my wife Jacqueline hands me the cellular phone to say that Brian was on the line. The boy knows he was going to die soon and the person he most wanted to speak to was Jeff Speakman. I told him that if he could get well, I would take him on the set and he could see the film in the making. This is exactly what happened. Brian was given the VIP treatment. We gave Brian all we could; we took him to toy stores and bought him anything he wanted. Inevitably, he died shortly afterwards. That little boy validated my experience as a human being said Mr. Speakman emotionally. I was very moved by that experience. This boy knew he was dying; yet he wanted to meet me first. We dedicated the film to him because he was part of the spirit of the movie".
There are three more movies due for release, 'Scorpio 1', with Robert Carradine, 'Land of the Free' with William Shattner and 'Memorial Day' with Bruce Whites. In Memorial Day he plays one Captain Ed Downey. During the making of the movie Mr. Speakman had to cancel coming to Ireland for the European Kenpo Karate Championships. "At about $100,000 a day they would not release me from the set" said Mr. Speakman. As a way of apologising to his friend, Ed Downey he adopted the Celbridge Instructor's name in the film. And finally a question that we all have an answer to: He was once asked if he had three wishes, what would he choose? Jeff Speakman said, "I'd only need one - more of the same".
K E M P O / K E N P O F A Q
K E M P O / K E N P O FAQ
1.1 February 16, 1994
contributers : Bryan Zarnett email@example.com
Paul Seaby firstname.lastname@example.org
The following FAQ is for the Kempo/Kenpo arts in general and is not
to one particular Kempo/Kenpo school. In most cases, during this FAQ, the
wording "Kempo" is used to describe both Kempo and Kenpo. Please send me any
feedback, questions, complaints, etc about this faq. Please note, that this
faq, in no way (just incase anyone thinks it is), meant to be offensive and if
you think it is...well...sorry. Any corrections to any information given as
well as additions are much appreciated.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.0 A Brief History of Kempo
2.0 The Direction of Kempo
3.0 Differences between Kempo and Kenpo
4.0 What are the different styles of Kempo
5.0 Birthdates in Kempo
6.0 What "arts" compose Kempo
7.0 Does Kempo use weapons other than hands and feet
8.0 Does Kempo have kata
9.0 Any books or videos?
10.0 Black and White Gis?
11.0 Simularities between Kempo and other arts
12.0 is there a Kempo school near me?
13.0 Kempo Orginizations
14.0 Mitose Kempo Family Tree
15.0 Kempos speed striking
1.0 A Brief History Of Kempo
* NOTE * Certain names in times are in conflict and the most commons
where used in this document
The art of Kempo, also written as Kenpo is unique as far as its
in two respects; it is considered by many the first eclectic martial art, as
well as having its founding roots stretch back to 520 BC The person who was
a catalyst of the way of Kempo was a prince and warrior of southern India
called Bodhidharma. According to the records of the Lo-Yang temple,
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk under the tutelage of Prajnatara and it is
presumed that upon his death bed that Prajnatara requested Bodhidharma to
travel to China where he felt the principles of Buddhism where in decline,
and that the knowledge of dhyana (Zen koans) should be known.
It is estimated that in 520 BC during the Southern dynasties that
entered China and travelled northward to the kingdom of Wei where the fabled
meeting with emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty began. This meeting is recorded
do to the intense conversation and discussion of Buddhism and dhyana which
took place. The meeting was to no avail, his words to the worldly emperor
meant nothing, and thus, sullened by his attempts, Bodhidharma left the palace
of the emperor and travelled to the Honan province where we entered the
Shaolin temple and began a martial history.
Bodhidharmas depression grew once he reached the famed Shaolin
Prajnatra's telling was true. The monks where in a raged condition
physically and mentally diminished do to the excess amount of time the monks
spent in meditation and little else. Many of the monks would often fall
asleep in meditation while others needed assistance in the basic nessicities
of life - so feeble was there condition.
For an unknown period of time Bodhidharma meditated in a cave at the
of the temple seeking for a way to renew the feat of Buddha's light, as well
as letting the monks regain control over there lives. Upon his return
Bodhidharma instructed the monks into the courtyard, from the strong to the
feeble and began to explain and work with them in the art of Shih Pa Lo Han
Sho, or the 18 hands of Lo Han. These techniques which are the foundation
for almost all martial arts today where never originally intended to be
utilized as methods of fighting but where a manner in which the monks could
attain enlightenment while preserving there bodies health.
During the Sui period, approximitly forty years or so after the
Bodhidharma it is told that brigands assaulted the Shaolin monetary; one of
many attacks that would occur until the early twentieth century. During
this first invasion, the monks attempts at defending there temple where futile,
there skills where not attuned to fighting techniques and it looked as if the
temple would fall. A monk of the temple, with reference only as the
"begging monk", during the last seige of the temple by the brigands attacked
several of the outlaws with an array of aggressive hand and foot techniques,
killing some and driving the remaining attackers away. The other monks where
so inspired by the display of this single priest that they requested tuteledge
in this martial style as a means of protection. In later scripts this fighting
art was recorded as Chuan Fa or Fist Method.
Over several decades the fighting arts of the Shaolin temple grew
said to prosper over 400 arts in total over the next several centuries.
Several decades after the fight of the begging monk, a master of Chuan Fa
called Ch'ueh Taun Shang-jen was said to have rediscovered the original Shih Pa
Lo Han Sho which had been lost for many years. Ch'ueh over a period of time
integrated his art of Chuan Fa with that of Lo Han increasing the total
number of techniques from the original eighteen to total of seventy-two. For
several years after this period Ch'ueh travelled the country side of China
promoting his art in several gruelling fighting matches until he came
upon a man named Li in the province of Shensi. Li, a master of Chuan Fa as
well as other martial ways (including rumours of Chin Na) travelled and trained
with Ch'ueh for some time developing the ciriculim of Chuan Fa to form a total
of one-hundred and seventy techniques. Furthermore, they categorized these
techniques into five distinctive groups distinguished by various animals who
instinctive reactions best reflected the movements of this new Chuan Fa.
Upon there return to the Shaolin temple of which both Li and Ch'ueh belonged
they presented to the other monks wu xing quan, the five animal form and
brought to the Shaolin temple a new stage in martial arts evolution.
Over the next several centuries the history of Chuan Fa and its
advent to Kempo
is ragged in its tales and difficult to gain accurate descriptions. What is
known is that the art of Chuan Fa remained and is still practiced in China, but
its teaching also found its way to Okinawian Islands and the Ryukyu kingdoms as
well as Japan. In both places, the art was referred to as Kempo or Law of the
fist. Between the Sui and Ming periods (an 800 year gap) it is considered that
many a wandering monk travelled across Japan and Okinawa bringing with them a
working knowledge of the art of Kempo which explains its wide-spread
distribution. The art of Chuan Fa which translates into Kempo would have been
taught as a supplement to the daily spiritual training the monks endured.
Many of the monks would often choose disciples or teach at various Buddhist
temples bringing forth the word of Buddha, and the power of Chuan Fa. From
there the art of Kempo could easily spread among the commoners and nobles alike
Another reason for the founding in Kempo can be seen in the numerous
Japanese and Okinawian made to China to learn the fabled art of Chuan Fa. Some
people would disappear for many years, presumed dead by there families, only to
resurface as a master of Kempo and other martial arts. One such man was named
Sakugawa. Sakugawa lived in the village of Shuri on the island of Okinawa and
travelled to China during the 18th century to learn the martial secrets of the
Chuan Fa masters. For many years Sakugawa had not been seen and many believe
he had died in his journeys, but after much time he did return, much to the
surprise of his kin. Sakugawa has learned the secrets of Chuan Fa and had
become a master of some repute himself. Over many years of refinement the art
Sakugawa had learned slowly was renamed to Shuri-te and is considered the
predassesor to many forms of modern Karate.
Another member of Shuri, Shionja also travelled to China as Sakugawa
did but on
his return in 1784 brought with him a Chinese companion named Kushanku. Both
men brought with them the art of Chuan Fa which they had studied together
in China and began to demonstrate around Okinawa. Its is believed that Kushaku
and Shionja had the greatest influence in Okinawian Kempo styles than any other
Unfortunatly, the eveolution of Kempo in Japan is just as abrupt and
although a flurry of attention to the art was brought during the reign of
Hideyoshi Toyotomi's plans of conquering China. It is referred that many a
samurai on there return from China whether during or after the war brought with
them extensive knowledge of Chuan Fa and throughout the years modified it to
include there own arts of Jujutsu and Aikijutsu and it is at this state where
the greatest evolution of Kempo takes place since the time of Li and Ch'ueh.
At the begining of the seventeenth century two families, Kumamoto
brought knowledge of Kempo from China to Kyushu in Japan. This art was
modified throughout many years into its current form which is referred to as
Kosho ryu Kempo, or Old Pine Tree school and it is from here that most modern
forms of Kempo are derived. In 1916 at the age of five, James Mitose was sent
to Kyushu from his homeland in Hawai for schooling in his ancestors are of
self-defense called Kosho ryu Kempo. For fifteen years he studied this art
which was a direct descendent of the original Chuan Fa. After completing his
training in Japan, Mitose returned to Hawaii and in 1936 opened the
"Official Self-Defense" club in Beretania mission in Honolulu. It was here
that the five major Kempo influences; Thomas Young, William Chow, Edmund Howe,
Arthur Keawe and Paul Yamaguchi would study and bring Kempo to the world.
In 1934, before Mitose's return to the United States, the term
first used. In an issue of Yoen Jiho Sha newspaper an advertising for the
visit of Chogun Miyagi, afamous karateka and founder of Goju ryu karate do, to
the island of Hawaii. The use of the two terms is under speculation. Some
suspect it was simply an advertising scheme while others believe that Chogun
Miyagi's Goju ryu was actually a pure form of Kempo, and that the term karate
was simply more well known.
William Chow is perhaps responsible for the largest leap of Kempo to
general public. William K.S. Chow studied Kempo under Mitose for several
years and previously had studied his families art of Kung Fu. Chow united,
like many Kempo masters before him the arts of Kosho ryu Kempo and his family
Kung fu to form a new art which would eventually be referred to as Kara-ho
Kempo. In 1949, Chow had attracted a number of students to his own teachings
and opened a dojo of his own at a local YMCA. To make a distinct variation from
Mitose's Kempo, Chow referred to his art as Kenpo Karate. Throughout the next
few decades Chow made many innovations to the system including the use of
circular techniques of his Kung Fu, as well as various kata or forms based on
the primary linear and circular techniques of his art.
One of Chows most flourishing students was a Hawaiian native named
Parker. Ed Parker as he was known was the last highly significant figure in
the current tale of modern Kempo unleashing it to the world as well as
propelling it into his current form. In 1954 Edmund Parker earned his black
belt in kara-ho Kempo and two years later became a household name, teaching
his art to the likes of Elvis Presley, and Steve Mcqueen. Ed Parker further refined and defined the techniques of Kara-ho Kempo till he perfected his
American Kenpo Karate system. Ed Parker is often referred to as the father of
From here, Kempo and its other forms take many twists and turns,
evolving into new states of being.
2.0 The Direction Of Kempo
With all things certain paths are given directing us on various
roots to a
final goal. Sometimes this goal is reached in a very short period of time,
while at other times that goal is never completed by expanded by as new paths
cross the original. The direction in which Kempo leads its practioners is
similar to that - its goals are represented in a sphere, constantly expanding
with the final goal only being the beginning of a new stage.
Kempo is a unique martial art having been founded several centuries
ago in the
Chinese Shaolin temple, thus bringing with it a certain air of mystery. As a
martial art, Kempo is referred to as a Do. The Do is referred to in Buddhist
Zen scripts as a path towards enlightenment. Lao Tzu, a priest of Taoism said
"Mastering others requires force; Mastering the self requires enlightenment.."
This phrases sums of the full circle of what Kempo strives towards. Although
on its surface Kempo can be seen as a unique form of self-defense, hidden
beneath its physical exterior are levels where characteristic centralization of
mind and body form. At this level, Kempo's practioners up from a simple form
of fighting to a higher level of ability - a level of enlightenment. Ying
Kuchan, a Shaolin monk and master of Kempo after a lengthy period of meditation
in a Zen rock garden spoke of Kempo saying "Kempo is the power of adaptability
and yielding; the harmony of all things working together."
On the surface, Kempo's uniqueness lies in its comprehensive and
means of unarmed defense. Shaolin Kempo Karate proper is both an armed and
unarmed system of combat incorporating applications in varying appearances and
method. On an external level, Kempo is a no holds barred fighting system of
offensive and defensive methods with equal emphasis of striking techniques with
the hands and feet; immobilization and controls; projections and takedown; as
well as weaponry and various spiritual and healing arts. Shaolin Kempo is a
street wise defensive art that does not restrict its students in methodology.
Clawing hands evolve into slashing feet. Cunning joint locks turn into
devasting hip throws. Evasive blocks turn into breath closing chokes.
The possibilities are endless. The only true fighting systems are
there are no rules applied. From the books of the Han dynasty we learn
"Nothing is impossible to a willing mind." And it is from this saying
that we can derive the upper principles of Shaolin Kempo. What sets Kempo
apart from boxing, wrestling, and Sunday night football is an emphasis on
centralization of body and mind, a concept understood by very few. Many people
are quiet happy with only the surface value of Kempo taking its studies for
reasons of physical health, self-defense, or a Monday night hobby. But for
what level of imperfection will you settle for in yourself? If there is more
to Kempo why not grasp it. Kempo tries to build a persons psychological persona
as well as turing the ego self into the egoless self. The true Kempo is not a
means of felling an opponent by force of hand or weapon, nor was it originally
intended as a means of arms. Kempo calls for a bringing of inner peace to the
self, and the universe around us. A master of Kempo is not only a master of
self-defense, but a master of himself. In the end, the direction of Kempo
was best described by Bruce Lee when he commented on his art of Jeet Kune Do;
"To have no way as a way; To have no limitations as a limitation."
3.0 Whats the difference between Kempo and Kenpo?
Nothing. Actually, the only difference is in the translation of the
its english form. The word Kempo and Kempo are both pronounced the same and
both mean "Law of the Fist." When the Japanease Kanji for Kempo is brought
into english, either a "m" or "n" is placed in the word. Its sorta like saying
"Qi" or "Chi", "Gung" or "Kung." Generally though, the more "traditional"
(lightly used) forms of Kempo use the "Kempo" form, while the more non-
traditional or contemporary versions use "Kenpo." William K.S. Chow was the
first person to use the term Kenpo to show his break from the Mitose family
Kosho ryu kempo.
4.0 Styles of Kempo
In no way is this a complete list of Kempo styles. The following is
a list of
Kempo styles that I have some information, if even vague amounts on. If you
have information on forms of Kempo not listed here, please send me some so I
can add it to the FAQ. The following list is of "unique" versions of Kempo,
thus the 50-thousand versions of American Kenpo, etc, although refered to as
different names (although they are the same) are not listed.
KOSHO RYU KEMPO - This style of Kempo was brought by visiting monks
to to the
Mitose family in the 15th century. Over the centuries this form of Shaolin
Chuan Fa was blended and refined with forms of Jujutsu that where common
to the area as well as Rinzai Zen philosophy, Kyudo, and other arts. Kosho,
the name of the Mitose clan means "Old Pine Tree", and the Kempo art is refered
to as "The Old Pine Tree Style." The current "grandmaster" of Kosho-ryu Kempo
is Bruce Juchnik who uses the term Kosho Shoreiryu Kempo to descibe Mitose's
school of Kempo. Mitose's son Thomas Barrow Mitose also teaches the true for
of his fathers art and is considered by some the true grandmaster of the Kosho
KARA-HO KENPO - Founded by William K.S. Chow, a student of James
Kempo offshoot is a blend of the Kosho ryu Kempo and 5-animal Kung Fu of the
Chow Family. Kara-ho Kenpo utilizes many circular as well as linear
techniques and requires 500 such techniques to be learnt for black-belt status.
Currently, karaho Kenpo is under the evolution of Sam Kuoha who has added
various new techniques as well as 12 kata based on Chow's original 12
base linear techniques. Karaho Kenpo is urrently the fastest growing Kempo
organization with currently over 5000 members to its teachings.
SHAOLIN KEMPO - The Shaolin Kempo system was formed by Fred Villari,
of American and Shorinji kempo systems. Fred Villari's system tends more
towards the Kung-Fu element and utilizes the techniques of the 5 animal Chuan
Fa to a large extent. Added to the Kempo system was white tiger Chin na
techniques as well as various Aikijutsu projections and immobilizations.
AMERICAN KENPO - An offspring of Kara-ho Kenpo, Ed Parker's American
system is the largest and most well organized system in exsistance. Parker
took what CChow taught him and organized every technique and movement into a
format that could be broken down into levels for all students. Parker felt
that innovations he added to his Kenpo eventually made up 85% of the system
and thus he renamed it American Kenpo Karate. The American Kenpo system can
proudly be seen in the moves "The Perfect Weapon", and "Street Knight" starring
4th dan, Jeff Speakman, one of the heads of the United Kenpo Karate Association
and protege of Ed Parker.
NICK CERIO'S KENPO - Nick Cerio's Kenpo was founded in 1974 and
Chow and Parker with the creation of the style. The Cerio kenpo school
believe in the "old method of training", and teaches most of the shotokan
forms, kung fu and kajukenbo forms, TKD kicks, Japanease stances, as well as
Jujtusu. Weapons of both Chinease and Japanease systems are taught and
maintains many traditional forms. Cerio calls Chow his "teacher" and
Parker his "coach"
I am acknowledging the following Kempo systems although I have no
Nippon Kempo Okinawian Kempo American Shaolin Kenpo
White Tiger Kenpo Go Kempo Ju Kempo
Kajukenbo Sam-Pai Kenpo Lima Lama
Won Hop Kuen Do
5.0 Birthdates In Kempo
James Masayoshi Mitose December 20, 1915
William K.S. Chow July 3, 1914
Ed Parker March 10, 1931
6.0 What martial arts compose the cirriculim of Kempo?
In general, most systems of Kempo consists of 4 primary arts which
can be seen
in 95% of Kempo system in both Okinawian and Japanease systems of Kempo, and
consist of primarily Chinease influences.
( i) 18 hands of Lo Han (ii) 5 Animal Chuan Fa
(iii) White Crane Chin Na (iv) Jujutsu
Other arts that can be found in Kempo schools include:
( i) Aikido or Aikijutsu (ii) White Crane Kung Fu
(iii) Various weapon arts (iv) Sumo
( v) Calligraphy, etc
7.0 Does Kempo use other weapons other than its hands and feet
In Kempo scools, defenses against knives and clubs are seen from
and up, and are considered prime weapons in which to defend against. Kempo
also teaches its students how to use weapons to increase there understanding
of defense. Weapons that are taught are both Chinease and Japanease in variety
and vary widely. Some schools of Kempo teach the 8' staff, while others teach
Chain Whip, and sai. Weapon training often begins at the green belt level,
although in some schools it is restricted to those of black belt level and
higher. In most Kempo schools, the primary weapon skills taught are:
( i) Knife (ii) Stick(s) (iii) Half Staff (Jo)
(iv) 6' Staff ( v) Sword ( vi) Chain
8.0 Does Kempo have forms?
Many people think that because Kempo is a highly-directed
that it contains no kata or forms. This is very untrue. Kempo has many form
with a notable characteristic of having both circular and linear movements as
well as hard and soft techniques. Kempo forms are used to teach speed and
coordination of strikes as well as movement, projections and immobilizations,
and various principles of fighting. Many Kempo systems of Kempo utilized a
numbering system for there kata, instead of refering them by name to make
them simpler to remember. It is far easier to remember Kata #3 than
Naihanci-dai. The American Kenpo system utilizes the terminoly of Long Form
# and Short Form # for many of there kata (i.e. Long Form 1). In such systems,
often in the advanced levels, the forms take on names, such as Dragon-Tiger
Form, Statue of the White Crane,etc. Another interesting thing to note is the
use of the Pinan forms in many systems as well as common Okinawian, Chinease,
and or Japanease forms.
9.0 Any books or videos?
There are a large amount ,and more out every day. These are the ones
most popular although I have noticed a few new ones coming out.
What is Self Defense James Mitose
Infinite Insights of Kenpo Ed Parker
Martial Arts and Real Life Fred Villari
The Zen of Kenpo Ed Parker
Encyclopedia of Kenpo Ed Parker
Kenpo Karate: Law of the fist Ed Parker
Secrets of Chinease Kenpo Ed Parker
Kempo Karate: Art of Self Defense Fred Ward
When Kenpo Strikes (video) Panther Video
Nick Ceiros Kenpo (video) Nick Ceiro
Kyushu Jutsu (book & video) George Dillman
10.0 Black and White gis
A common conversation is the Gi's worm by Kempo students. All
begining in Kempo wear the traditional white gi, but as they progress they
are allowed to wear a black gi as a sign of rank. it is common for many
high-ranks to wear either black or white gi, and at black belt levels to
combine the two such as white top, and black pants. I can find no historical
sense in the use of the gis, although I know that Mitose often wore
a black gi and his students wore white.
11.0 Simularities between Kempo and other arts
Kempo and other martial arts have various simularities in technique
principle, primarily because of the diverse and eclectic background of Kempo.
11.1 Tae Kwon Do and Kempo
Many of the ariel and spinning kicks of TKD have been brought to
Kempo in the
recent times often used primarily in "sparring situations." Certain jumping
and spinning kicks where inherit in the Kempo system such as the Jumping Front,
Side, Back and Roundhouse kicks, as well as spinning back, and crescent kicks.
11.2 Karate and Kempo
Karate and Kempo share the closet simularities in techniques do to
similiar backgrounds. It is believed by many that Karate has its origins as
an offshoot of Kempo. 95% of all Karate techniques if not more can be found
in the Kempo systems.
11.3 Jujutsu and Kempo
Many of Kempo's immobilization and projection techniques arrived
Japanease Jujutsu. The various loin throws, shoulder and hip projections, as
well as sweeps are a direct inheritance of Jujutsu, although Kempo does not
contain as wide an array or extensivly developed series of throws as Jujutsu.
11.4 Aikijutsu and Kempo
In the last few years, many Aikido and Aikijutsu techniques have
way into the Kempo art, gracing the study of Chin na with new principles and
ideas. The most common techniques are Shiho nage, Irimi nage, as well as
11.5 Kung Fu and Kempo
Although Kempo was originaly a "kung" style, it has over
the years thrown away
many of its Chinease aspects for a more Japanease "hard style" approach.
Still, many soft techniques can still be seen in Kempo, primiarly the five
animal techniques, chin na, and weapon skills.
12.0 Is there a Kempo school near me?
if you live in North American, 9 out of 10 times there will be a
in your vicinity. There are about 150 Fred Villari Studios of Self Defense
teaching Shaolin Kempo, a few hundered plus American Kenpo scchools. As
far as Europe is concerned, the scop is a bit smaller but still numerous (6 out
of 10?). In Toronto, Canada where I live, I know of 7 or 8 Kempo schools of
13.0 Kempo Organizations
*NOTE* Part of this list was taken from Inside Kung Fu Novemeber 1993
Ed Parker's International Kenpo Karate Organization (IKKA)
The IKKA was formed in the 1950s as the Kenpo Karate Association of
but in the 1960s changed it as many of his students starting teaching around
the world. Ed Parker was the president of the IKKA till his death in 1990.
His wife Leilani is now president. The goal of the IKKA is to perpetuate the
system by having the various "Ed Parker" high black belts teaching the system
at various schools and seminars. The family continues to produce the
International Karate Championships and has 11 regions including U.S., Canada,
Chinease Kara-ho Kempo Schools
In just five years, grandmaster Sam Kuoha has built one of the
organizations in the world with over 60 kara-ho schools and 5000+ students.
Students of the organization keep in touch with the THUNDERFLASH
newsletter which is distributed quarterly. To contact the Chinease Kara-ho
kempo organization, 13320 Camino Canada #6, El Cjon, CA 92021; (619) 443-2611
Worldwide Kenpo Karate Association (WKKA)
The WKKA was created in Baltimore on Feb 28, 1991 and has grown to
in less than two years. President Joe Palanzo is preseident and created the
organization after the death of Ed Parker do to "philosphical" differencs
with the IKKA. The WKKA can be contacted at 1400 B Riesterstown Road,
Pikesville,MD 21203; (301) 484-7122
United Kenpo Karate Assoication (UKKA)
Headed by Jay t. Will, the UKKA was founded in October 1991 with the
of further the ideas of Ed Parker, without the worry of political aspects.
The group wants to keep the parker lineage and has the goal, "to bea place to
be a part of something." as well as "Offering a home, to be a part of the Ed
Parker family tree." The UKKA can be contacted through Jay T. Will at Jay T.
Will Karate Studio, 11 South Columbus St, Lancaster, OH 43130; (614) 654-6038
National Chinease Kenpo Karate Association (NCKA)
Founded in 1969 by Steave La Bounty, a member of the IKKA, was
created to form
a "small, intimate groyp which could interact more with students", and not as
a rivalry. The NCKAs goal is to insure integry of the art through competent
instructions, fidelity to the principle of self-denial, and humility, and to
guarentee promotion through endeavor. The NCKA can be contacted at National
Chinease Kenpo Karate Organization, 1630 Pat brooker Rd, Universal City, TX
71848; (512) 658-7437
Nick Cerio's International Martial Arts Association (NCITMAA)
Founded in 1989 with 70 schools and 4800+ students, the NCITMAA was
teach Cerio's unique art of Kempo which includes shotokan forms, kung fu and
kajukenbo forms, TKD kicks, Japanease stances as well as jujutsu. For more
information write Nick Cerio's Kenpo, P.O. Box 9550, Warwick RI 028889;
Fred Villari's Studios of Self Defense
Headed by Grandmaster Villari, this organization is the controlling
head of the
Villari Kempo System and tries to united all Shaolin Kempo schools. The Ontrio
branch is headed by Henry Choo Chong.
United Studio's of Self Defense
An offshoot of the Villari Studios, the United studios which is
still run by
Villari I believe, teachs Kempo as its main source but also teaches Tae kwon Do
and Wing Chung in the same school with the intention of creating a common
learning ground for many martial arts.
Masters of Self Defense
A breakoff from Fred Villaris studios and formed by one of Villari's
ranked students, Fred bagely. The organization was formed after certain
"politcal" differenec occured and is run by many high ranked black belts.
The Masters of Self Defense boasts over 50 schools and teaches the Villari
Shaolin Kempo System.
14.0 Mitose Kempo Family Tree
The original source is unknown (Inside Karate or Kung Fu I think)
typeset by Paul Seaby (thanxs).
James Mitose Hoon Chow
(KOSHO-RYU KENPO) (SHAOLIN KUNG-FU)
William K.S. Chow
(Chinese KARA-HO KEMPO)
| | | |
Ed Parker Adriano Emperado Masaichi Oshiro |
(AMERICAN KENPO) (KAJUKENBO) (TE-KEN JUTSU KAI) |
| | |
----------- ------------------------------- |
| | | | Nick Cerio
| Marino Tiwanak John Leone Sid Asuncion (KENPO KARATE)
| (CHA03 KENPO) (KAJUKENBO) (KENKABO) |
| | | Fred Villari
|--Ralph Castro | | (AMERICAN SHAOLIN
| (SHAOLIN KENPO) | | KEMPO)
| Bill Ryusaki Al Dacascos
|--Joe Dimmick (KENPO KARATE) (WON HOP KUEN DO)
| (SAM-PAI KENPO) | |
| | Malia Bernal
|--Steve Sanders | (BODY DEFENSE)
| (B.K.F KENPO) -------------------
| | |
|--Jim & Al Tracy Sonny Gascon Benny Urzuidez
| (TRACY'S KENPO) (GO-SHIN JUTSU) (UKIDOKAN KARATE)
| (LIMA LAMA)
15.0 Kempos speed striking
An often intersting topic is Kempos "speed striking"
techniques. The speed
striking technique is primarily for building up the hand speed of the Kempo
student which will eventually translate into combat effective speed of
strikes in a confrontation. A good example of speed striking is seen
throughout the move "The Perfect Weapon", and is a key training and fighting
method. A Kempo student tries to build his reaction speed to a point where
10 or more strikes can be applied in a few seconds (someone noted 6 strikes
per second or something).
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