Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sexual Intercourse and Athletic Performance

While many people hold their own views and opinions on this subject, I anticipate that most responses are based on mere opinions, gathered from personal experience or more likely superstition. Muhammad Ali, for example, was known to abstain from sex (or at least he said that he did) for several weeks before a big boxing fight believing that sexual intercourse zapped him of his energy and focus needed the day of the fight.

One argument for abstaining from sexual intercourse the night before an enduring athletic workout is that being sexually frustrated can lead to increased aggression. Evidence, however, suggests that sexual intercourse the night before an event does not alter physiological testing results, the latter of which was measured by strength and endurance of the palmar flexing muscles (1). Similarly, a randomized crossover study found that oxygen pulse, maximal aerobic power, and double product were not significantly affected by sexual intercourse 12 hours prior to the athletic performance (2). This should not come as a surprise given that the sexual intercourse only burns approximately 250 calories per hour, or a little over 4 calories per minute (3). So unless you are having sex that lasts for hours, the reality is that you are not burning a truckload of calories, contrary to what many people believe. Moreover, if you are having sex for hours on end, chances are your performance will be affected the next day - but by way of fatigue, and not the fact that you had sex the night before.

It is also possible that sexual activity the night before a major competition can be beneficial both psychologically and physiologically. If one has a tendency to be anxious, and thereby not be able to get a good night sleep the night before an event, sexual intercourse may help one relax, get a better night sleep, and therefore allow one to be more mentally and physically prepared the following day. It should also be noted that the linkage between sexual activity and athletic performance is not a clear one. For instance, other covariates such as diet and stress also factor into the equation with respect to athletic performance.

In short, little evidence exists that sexual intercourse the night before an event can produce negative outcomes in terms of one’s athletic performance the following day.


McGlone S, Shrier I. Does Sex the Night Before Competition Decrease Performance? Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 2000; 10(4):233-4.

Boone T, Gilmore S. Effects of sexual intercourse on maximal aerobic power, oxygen pulse, and double product in male sedentary subjects. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1995; 35:214–217.

Mirkin G. Sex before competition. Report #6750. Mar. 10, 1996.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

High-Ranking Black Belts That Don’t Spar

In American Kenpo Karate, as in other arts, there are many high-ranking black belts that simply do not spar. They are full of knowledge and skill, and can make their self-defense techniques look virtually flawless with minimal effort, but yet they are missing a critical component to their training - having someone stare straight back at them, while trying to hit them with whatever possible. They hold 7th degree black belts and higher, yet the last time they have slapped on the gear against a notable opponent was, say, 10-20 years ago.

Many people believe that continuous sparring is simply about two people trying to hurt each other, and because one has progressed to some supposed level of mastery, he/she is beyond that level of training due to age, knowledge, and skills acquired. I don’t buy it. The true warrior, in my eyes, is one that puts his whole body and heart into his training regime, of which sparring cannot be neglected. The higher the rank, the greater should be the level of one’s commitment.

While one must be in top physical shape to engage in full-contact sparring (particularly against good quality opponents), the reality is that continuous sparring is just as much a mental game as it is physical. Indeed, much of a fight is devoted to strategy, and learning how to adapt your fighting style to fit the situation, which is based in large part on how your opponent fights. Much of that “mental game” is lost when one’s training routine is based almost exclusively on demonstrating self-defense techniques on a partner for which the attack is already predetermined. Furthermore, in addition to the use of punching and kicking techniques, continuous fighting allows for use of takedowns, and possibly ground-fighting with submissions. Again, this sense of realism is lost when high-ranking black belts stick to just teaching, practicing forms, weaponry, or choreographed self-defense techniques.

While martial arts is clearly more than just learning how to fight, I don’t think black belts should lose sight of the fact that martial arts is, in turn, also a lot more than being able to pull off a victory in forms at a tournament, or being able to dazzle the audience with one’s speed while executing choreographed self-defense techniques.

Which gets back to the title of this blog. Why don’t most high-ranking black belts spar on a regular basis, let alone hardly ever?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Online Shopping Can Save and Make You Money

I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know about an amazing Money Saving Program that my wife has recently become part of.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Street Fighting or Personal Growth?

Someone asked an interesting question today. The person stated that given that we are more apt to obtain a lifestyle disease than we are to be violently attacked on the street, why is there so much emphasis on street self-defense and not much in the way of lifestyle modification?

I will answer that from my perspective, although I am confident that much of what I state can be applied generally. First, in my early days of training back in 1985, and probably continuing on through the lower ranks of black belt, I was fascinated with the street-fighting applications of movement contained in American Kenpo. I wanted to learn how to be a "fighting machine", and I was confident that through proper instruction in American Kenpo, I could get there.

As I continue to grow, mature, and develop in my Christian walk, as well as my relationship with my wife and two daughters, my perspectives on life have changed. That doesn’t mean I don’t love fighting full contact because I do it all of the time. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t love "working" what I believe are the most practical self-defense techniques known to man, which I believe are contained in American Kenpo. In fact, I love sparring and self-defense techniques more than I ever have. What it means, however, is that my character has changed. I don’t need Kenpo to prove to myself that I can fight; I need Kenpo for personal growth.

Through a stringent daily Kenpo Karate plan, I am exercising more than I ever have in my life, both in terms of frequency and duration. Doing so allows me to stay in the best shape that I possibly can, and gives me the mental focus to tackle all other areas of my life. It helps me grow spiritually in my relationship with Christ. It helps me focus my attention on my wife’s needs and desires in our marriage. It also helps me be a better father and "kid" with my two daughters.

Additionally, I also use Kenpo Karate as a tool to help others. Through Kenpo, I teach my students that with diligent practice, they too can achieve what they want in life by learning the acquired discipline, focus, and perseverance. I also teach them that association breed’s similarity, and thus the people that we choose to hang around are the same ones that we will most likely end up being like. So, for example, if we choose to hang around people that love bars, drinking, and smoking, the probability rises that we will have to fight given the location and atmosphere of these places. Conversely, if we hang around people who love to exercise, that say no to substance abuse, avoid bars and strip clubs, in most likelihood, we won’t ever be in a situation where we have to engage in a real fight.

Question: what are you taking martial arts for?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blinding Sacrifice

3rd Degree Brown Belt Technique

Blinding Sacrifice works as a defense for an attempted two-hand front choke. It is related to Parting Wings and Thrusting Wedge, all three of which are contained in Long Form 3.

As the attempted choke comes at us, we immediately step in with our right foot to 12 o’clock while thrusting our forearms forward as we wedge the inside of our opponent’s arms. As we do this, our fingers attack the opponent’s eyes. We then continue the circle of our arms and clear the opponent’s arms out of the way, while delivering a double underhand groin shot with our claw hands. In anticipation of the opponent’s head coming forward as we grab and pull the groin, we should have our head in position to deliver the head but.

The next part of the technique is the “sacrifice”, the term used in Kenpo techniques when we have to break a rule. As we draw our arms behind the opponent’s back, our arms are lower and underneath of the opponent’s, thus breaking the rule of keeping our arms above our opponent’s. We do this, however, to execute double back fist strikes to our opponent’s kidneys (making sure to use back-up mass when doing so), as we pull back to the cat stance with two vertical outward blocks, which in this case are really checks. We then step back in and deliver a four-finger slice to the opponent’s eyes, finishing with two thumb strikes. As the opponent’s arms come up from the eyes strikes, we then frictionally pull the opponent’s arms down to cancel his height zone (putting weight on the opponent’s feet), and immediately circle our arms back up for two inverted roundhouse punches to the opponent’s temples. We then collapse our two forearms so as to attack the jaw on both sides of the opponent’s face (some versions teach this move as a brace with the left hand, while letting the right forearm go for the jaw break). We finish the technique by grabbing the top of the opponent’s head with both hands and delivering a right knee strike to the opponent’s face, while landing with a right foot stop to the opponent’s right instep and foot. Note that it is possible to execute the knee to the face with the rear (left) leg, however, it is done with the front knee for category completion purposes.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

ECKS London, Ontario, Canada Kenpo Karate Training Camp!!!!!

This is a quick reminder that the ECKS training camp will be held in London, Ontario, Canada from August 17-19th at Paul Dawdy’s Olympic Karate, 425 First Street. The ECKS camp is open to Kenpoists from ALL backgrounds and lineages. Seminar instructors include Steve Arsenault (8th Degree American Kenpo Karate Black Belt), Jamie Seabrook (6th Degree American Kenpo Karate Black Belt), Jason Arnold (5th Degree American Kenpo Karate Black Belt), Paul Dawdy (5th Degree American Kenpo Karate Black Belt), and Pat Robinson (4th Degree American Kenpo Karate Black Belt). Topics include Orange, Purple, Blue, and Green belt technique extensions, position recognition and family groupings, mental attributes, environment and target availability, Kenpo forms and sets, and Modern Arnis applications.

Below is the agenda for the Kenpo Karate camp:

August 17
7:00pm Environment of Kenpo-Seabrook
8:00pm Kenpo Advanced Extensions 2nd Black-Arsenault
9:00pm Kenpo Requests-Arsenault

August 18
2:00pm Arnis Applications-Dawdy
3:00pm Kenpo Advanced Extensions 3rd Black-Arsenault
4:00pm Position Recognition/Groupings-Arnold
5:00pm Mental Attributes and Set-Robinson
6:00pm Kenpo Forms Requests-Arsenault

August 19
9:00am Kids Seminar!
10:00am Kenpo Advanced Extensions 4th Black-Arsenault
11:00am Kenpo Sets and Forms Requests-Arsenault

Kids Seminar $20
Teen Camp $99
Adult Camp $150
After August 1st Please Add $20
Family Discount 25% OFF each additional family member!

To register, call Steve Arsenault at: 1-508-998-3937

Hotel Information:
Delta London Armouries
325 Dundas St
London, Ontario

Airport Inn & Suites
2230 Dundas St
London, Ontario

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Today my heart is broken and my eyes are frequently filled with tears. Early this morning I lost my favorite uncle in his battle with colon cancer. I have a hard time writing this, but I know that God wants me to and I am going to answer His call.

For the past 17 months, I have known that Carmen's time here on earth was limited. I knew how much he wanted to spend what limited time he had left with his wife and beautiful children. He did that. And while his pain is gone, he is still so deeply missed.

When terminal illness or tragic accidents occur in life, we often run through a varied amount of emotions. Why did this have to happen? Why didn't God intervene? How will I go on in life?

About a week ago, I had a one-on-one talk with Carmen as he lay in his bed in the hospital. I told him how much I love him, and that although I can't understand why some things happen in life, that I wanted him to know that he is so loved by God. I told him that I needed to know with certainty that he would be my neighbor in heaven. He told me how much he wanted that and how much he wanted to reunite with all of his other loved ones soon again. I told him that by putting his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, that God guarantees eternal life, and would remove all sins immediately. After asking me a few questions regarding faith, he did that! We then hugged me for what seemed like eternity and kissed me over and over on the cheek.

I want the world to know that cancer is not too great for God. No matter what you are going through, you don't have to go through it alone. The Bible states in Proverbs 18:24 that, "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother"; that friend is Jesus, who won't leave you nor forsake you.

Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God.

- Notice that we are ALL on the same playing field…we are not good enough without Christ

Romans 5:8 - But God Commendeth His Love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

Romans 10:9-10 - That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved

Acts 4:12 - Neither is there Salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Should Junior Black Belts Be Able to Judge Adults in Tournaments?

Most martial arts schools have a Junior Black Belt program. That is, once a student has learned the appropriate amount of material in a children's curriculum, he/she is able to advance to a Junior Black Belt rank. From that time on, the student will have to continue to train persistently until one is physically and mentally prepared to earn a 1st Degree Black Belt, as subjectively determined by one's instructor. In my school, it typically takes another 2 years for a student to move from a Junior Black Belt rank to 1st Degree Black Belt. Such a student typically needs to be 16 years of age, be able to compete physically in sparring with an adult of any size, and have spent many years dedicated to the art of Kenpo Karate.

One of the key factors that differentiate a Junior Black Belt from a 1st Degree Black Belt is age. In my opinion, awarding a 1st Degree Black Belt or above to a child or a young adolescent gives children a false sense of security, which is often accompanied by a large ego. The child looks at his/her rank and assumes that because of the rank, they are in a position of authority over adults. The reality, however, is that virtually any adult with no martial arts experience could toss little Johnny like a beach ball if he ever decided to attack a child.

The commercialization of martial arts continues to explode. About a year ago, I showed up to judge at a local martial arts tournament. As soon as I stepped in the door, my body froze as I saw many kids running around with full black belts on. Some adolescents were as young as 13 with 3rd Degree Black Belts. Later that day, I saw a Junior Black Belt (probably around the age of 10 or 11) judging in the adult Brown Belt divisions. I truly feel that this is just so wrong. Adults should be taught and judged by adults. This is not a humility issue that I am struggling with here; this has to do with standards. Even if in a rare situation where I feel that a Junior Black Belt has acquired the appropriate amount of knowledge to judge in a tournament relative to his/her adult competitors, it still gives these Junior Black Belts the wrong message. It tells them that they are in positions of authority over adults because of the rank that is tied around their waste.

I recommend that Junior Black Belts that are interested in judging be allowed to evaluate the children's divisions. To judge the adult divisions, however, I strongly encourage one to be at least 16 years of age, and holding the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt or higher.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Matt Hughes

If you are a UFC fan, you know who I am talking about – the 9-time UFC Welterweight champion. But more impressive than a 43-5 win-loss record in mixed martial arts, with victories over the likes of such greats as BJ Penn, Royce Gracie, and Georges St. Pierre, is the fact that Matt has touched the lives of so many fans around the globe.

Every week Matt writes on his blog which is updated on his website. While one might expect blogs about his training regimen, and how he plans to knockout any of his upcoming opponents, in reality, you won’t find this. What you will find is Matt’s humility and open devotion to the Lord and how God has personally changed him. You will find a Matt who is not hesitant about sharing his vulnerabilities in life, and how he is devoted to overcome them with God’s help. You will find a Matt who takes the time to write about how important family is to him, and how God has richly blessed him in so many ways.

I highly recommend all of you to visit Matt’s blogs regularly at the following website address:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Evading the Takedown Via Footwork and Zones of Sanctuary

As mixed martial arts continues to rise in its popularity, one question that many dedicated students are asking their instructors is, “What can I do to avoid someone from taking me to the ground”?

To keep this simple, we need to revisit our four key zones that you should be learning (especially in the intermediate and advanced levels of training) in American Kenpo Karate:

(1) Out of range control - when an opponent is far enough away where we cannot reach him with our hands or feet. There is still is an element of control, however, since a quick and deceptive feint could very well get the opponent to move and be caught off guard for a possible attack.

(2) Within range control - when we are close enough to be able to touch the opponent.

(3) Penetration control - we have passed the opponent's defense and are now able to effectively reach the opponent with punches or kicks to the body, legs, and head.

(4) Manipulation control - we are close enough to be able to apply joint locks, chokes, and so forth.

If our opponent is within range control, we are vulnerable for a potential takedown. And while it is possible to keep an effective distance from our attacker via good striking and footwork, the problem, of course, is that when we have reached penetration control, our opponent is, in turn, close enough to take us down.

In 2005, I had the opportunity of fighting full contact against a top-notch kick-boxer and jiu-jitsu black belt. I really didn’t know what to expect from my opponent until the fight had started, but one thing is for sure, I learned quickly what was so critical in the fight: (1) great footwork, especially moving off to a zone of sanctuary (2) endurance (3) perceptual speed. Perceptual speed allowed me to take quick steps off to a zone of sanctuary when my opponent attempted to lower his height, and reach for my hips. Sometimes it was close, in the sense that I had just barely avoided the takedown. I found, however, that stepping on the outside of his front leg was most effective because his forward motion when he committed the attack was still to 12 o’clock.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Jeff Speakman Interview: His Comments on Rank

One week ago, a very interesting and controversial interview by Jeff Speakman hit you tube and got a plethora of feedback (positive and negative) from Kenpoists across the globe. I would like to comment on some of the points that he made in his interview.

Jeff commented that he had personally tested for every degree of black belt, all the way up to his current rank of 7th degree. For those that have not been in Kenpo for a long time, one must know that honorary promotions are not that uncommon, especially after 5th degree black belt since there is technically no new material beyond 5th degree. I admire his devotion to have to test for each rank, and to not get rank the easy way, which is often an honorary promotion at a Kenpo camp. To continue to get out there and demonstrate one’s abilities shows his commitment, both on a physical and courageous level. He also commented that after 5th degree black belt, one should wait a minimum of 5 years between each dan rank, and that that was Ed Parker’s standard. While I can’t comment on the latter guideline (other than to say that I am sure exceptions were made), I think the 5-year minimum timeframe is an effective standard since it teaches black belts patience and perseverance. By having a 5-year minimum, it will show who is truly in Kenpo for the long haul, and who is undoubtedly committed to spreading the art on a global scale.

As for the Kenpo seniors who refuse to put on a 10th Degree out of respect for Ed Parker, I think that is awesome and takes great humility. But at the same time, I see nothing wrong whatsoever of the likes of Larry Tatum, Huk Planas, Dave Hebler, Frank Trejo, and Mike Pick wearing the 10th degree. These guys are Kenpo legends who have spent their entire lives spreading and promoting this great art that we so love. Their rank should not be questioned by any of us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kenpo Karate’s Elbow Strikes

As most of us are aware, Kenpo Karate uses elbow strikes throughout the entire system. We even have an entire set dedicated to their use, in Striking Set 2. But how many of us, for example, have actually executed a solid inward elbow to something solid to get a more realistic sense of how it might feel, and to ensure that we are hitting with the correct part of the elbow?

To become more familiar and proficient with their use, I highly recommend working the various elbow strikes on focus pads and heavy bags to get used to making solid contact. Once we have become more confident in our ability to execute the various elbow strikes while maximizing our potential power, try striking something more solid that will not break, but be sure to put on elbow pads before doing so to prevent injury. Some dedicated martial artists, for instance, will try using elbow strikes on a motorcycle helmet that someone is wearing. This, of course, will give us a more realistic sense of what it would be like to execute an elbow to an opponent’s head.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Black Belt As Role Model

The Internet is unbelievable. One quick Google search and we can pretty much find out whatever we would like about a specific instructor in the martial arts. Now with things like Myspace and Facebook, people are giving out a truckload of their personal information including home address, telephone number, email address, cell number and so forth.

As a school owner for the past 12 years, I am very much aware of the responsibility that I hold with regard to others. More important than the skills that I possess, is the moral conduct of my behavior and speech. I am astonished at the number of black belts representing this great art of American Kenpo that are constantly using vulgar and obscene language via the Internet. My question is this: what do the children that you have taught think of all of this? Surely, if they have not read any of its content, at least some of their parents have. Where is the joy in life by constantly spitting out every four-letter word to get your point across?

Here is another example. I am astonished at the number of high-ranking black belts out there that verbally let everyone know via the Internet how “smashed” they want to get on the weekend. Just a thought: Do you ever wonder why your not getting many phone calls from prospective students? Look, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with having a glass of wine or a beer (I actually hate beer, LOL). But when the aim is to constantly get “hammered”, there is a serious problem. What does that say about your acquired discipline? It says that you try to find satisfaction and peace in life via alcohol because you can't find it without it. And by letting everyone know via forums, Facebook, or what have you, people are not taking you as top martial artist seriously. Put simply, they don't think you are the real deal.

As black belts, we have a reputation to uphold. Let's not put on a mask and try to pretend we are something that we are not. Let's actually live it by treating everyone with respect.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Learning the Equation Formula

As Kenpo practitioners advance in their comprehension and proficiency in the system, they learn that there are eight actions that can be applied to any technique formulation. Ed Parker called it the equation formula (Seabrook 2006):

(1) PREFIX it, add a move or moves before it,
(2) SUFFIX it, add a move or moves after it,
(3) INSERT, add a simultaneous move with the already established sequence,
(4) REARRANGE, change the sequence of the moves,
(5) ALTER the weapon, the target, or both,
(6) ADJUST the range, the angle of execution, or both the angle of execution and the range,
(7) REGULATE the speed, the force, both speed and force, intent and speed,
(8) DELETE, exclude a move or moves from the sequence.

As a Kenpo Karate instructor, I believe that it is important for Kenpoists with considerable experience to work on the above 8 actions as they apply to self-defense. However, introducing the equation formula (or the what-if stage, rearrangement concept, ect) too early to students, in my opinion, confuses them and gives them less confidence in their ability to apply the ideal phase techniques in a street altercation.

There is more than enough material in American Kenpo (forms, sets, techniques, sparring) to learn in the beginner stages of learning; and because of the patience and discipline required to memorize all of that material, students want to be assured that they are learning techniques that will work. Teaching students the techniques in the ideal phase, and allowing them the opportunity to make those work will accomplish that goal. Bombarding them with the equation formula too early is counter-productive.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Consistent Daily Practice

One of the best tips I can give to martial artists around the world is that if you want to be the best you can be, you need to practice as much as possible. This seems obvious, but how many of us can honestly say that we practice as much as we would like to? This may sound harsh but I am convinced that mediocrity in any areas of our life (Kenpo included) is the result of practicing only when we feel like it. Conversely, being the best we can be is the result of practicing if when we don’t feel like it.

This past Saturday was my daughter’s 5th party. Morgan had 23 kids (not exaggerating) over to our house for a 3-hour party. Luckily, the weather was fantastic and my wife and I were able to host the party outside in our backyard. Given the special occasion, I took the day off completely from Kenpo Karate and enjoyed every minute with my family. It was actually a well-deserved break because up until that date, I had practiced 41 days straight for a minimum of one hour of Kenpo Karate. Some days over the span had been as long as 3-5 hours in one day. That may seem like a lot, but as a 6th Degree Black Belt in American Kenpo Karate, and as a school owner, I believe that I have the responsibility to train that hard not only to continue to improve my skills, but for the betterment of my students. The more my students see me improving, the more motivated they will be to improve as well.

Most of my training is completed outdoors. I much prefer a tennis court or park to practice then a comfortably padded floor with mirrors to look at myself. No, I am not knocking dojo training, but I enjoy the sunshine and different terrains offered outside. I like training in my bare feet to toughen my feet, as well as in shoes to give a greater sense of realism.

By practicing daily, and conditioning my mind to pattern the consistency in this behavior, practicing Kenpo is not just a duty for me, but a devout passion. It allows me to stay in top physical shape, relaxes my mind, and makes me feel good about myself. The more confident of a person we are on the inside, the more it will reflect on the outside in how we treat others.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Recommending a style of martial arts

I often get asked by people who are not involved in the martial arts what style I would recommend to suit their needs. I read many arguments about which arts to avoid due to their lack of practicality and logic, and I also read about arts that almost everyone states are some of the best. I am not buying it. No art can save you. The key to any art is the instruction that is being transferred from teacher to student.

Of course, I am a die-hard American Kenpoist. But that does not mean that I would necessarily recommend an American Kenpo Karate school to someone over another art if I feel the quality of instruction is severely lacking at the Kenpo school. An instructor has the responsibility of striving to become the best he/she can be, and that knowledge should be passed on to students.

I always here about how great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is. I find it ironic, however, how 15 years ago, you didn't know many people teaching that art, while now it seems that virtually every school needs to have it as part of their marketing tool just to compete with the other schools in the area. The problem is that much of what is being called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at many schools is weak at best, and the instructors claiming to teach it should not be because they have not been adequately trained in the art. So, for example, if someone asks me if I would recommend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, like Kenpo, it highly depends on the particular school and the instructor who is teaching it. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gained most of its hype from the Gracie's, who believe me, are in a class of their own.

Here is another example taken from Japanese and Okinawan arts. Too often I hear practitioners of these arts bickering about which katas are authentic. My questions is: what difference does it make if the applications in the kata are not practical with respect to street self defense? In my eyes, the practitioners that can make the movements in the kata work on the street are right. I could care less how much older one kata is over another. I am just being honest, but I have seen many “self-defense” movements taken from traditional kata that are so impractical that they shouldn't be taught whatsoever. Why? Because the instructor who is teaching those movements has not sought out proper instructor by a true master in that art who has full knowledge of the movements contained within the kata.

At my school, I value quality instruction and quality students over commercialization. You will not find a class full of kids with black belts on. You have to earn your rank with integrity and perseverance. When I hear about the latest “graduating class” of black belts (which usually means about 20-40 students with a mean age of 10) my stomach feels like it is going to turn over. Hats off to any school of any art that values the martial arts over commercialization.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Response to Will’s Question:

“Is there a comprehensive video demonstration of effective pure kenpo technique on the ground in various jiu jitsu, judo, or wrestling holds? I truly am interested in ground kenpo.”

I would definitely recommend Master Lee Epperson’s videos. Lee is an 8th Degree Black Belt in Gaijin Ryu Ju Jitsu and also holds a 5th Degree Black Belt under Grandmaster Larry Tatum in American Kenpo Karate. Lee Epperson can lock anyone up in a pretzel in about two seconds!

Besides his tremendous skills, and devotion to the martial arts, he is truly one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

For more information, I recommend you visiting this website:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Response to Will’s Questions:

“What are the 10 master key techniques? Why are they master key?”

Those are two very good questions Will.

The 10 master key self-defense techniques in American Kenpo Karate are:

Thundering Hammers
Five Swords
Lone Kimono
Shielding Hammer
Repeating Mace
Intellectual Departure
Locked Wing
Thrusting Salute
Parting Wings
Hooking Wings

In response to your second question, here are a couple of excerpts from my latest book, American Kenpo Mastery: A Guide for Students and Instructors:

“Master key techniques are self-defenses that can be used as base moves and applied in many different situations. Techniques that are similar in nature to the master key technique can then be thought of as altered formulations of the master key technique. By learning to recognize how various movements are interrelated, Kenpoists reduce their reaction time and improve their level of spontaneity when executing their self-defense techniques.”

And later on I note:

“Although the above ten techniques are all considered master key self-defenses, they should not be thought of as necessarily better than the others. Instead, they provide a model to see how many techniques are related to a single technique. The ultimate goal is to be able to use any self-defense technique as a base move and to recognize how other self-defense techniques similarly relate to it.”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Response to Marvin's Question:

“Do you also keep track of the time you spend doing stretches and exercises? If you spend 1 hour per day practicing, do you do much other exercise?”

Hi Marvin. Thanks for asking. I don’t keep track of how much time I devote to stretching or other exercises, but that’s certainly another option. The only thing outside of logging my daily martial arts training routine that I keep track of is the amount of push-ups that I do (minimum of 100 per day).

In terms of other exercise, martial arts are my passion so about 99% of my exercise is through the martial arts. I do have two young daughters (ages 2 and 5) so they definitely keep my active. I also do some occasional long distance biking but the vast majority of my cardiovascular workouts are via continuous sparring or long forms.

I will post a similar question on my new Kenpo forum and see what other people are doing. Please click here:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Black Belt Titles and Academic Degrees

Maybe it's just me, but I think the whole concept of associating a higher degree (dan) of black belt in Kenpo with a given academic degree (ie, BA, MA, PhD) is silly. What makes Kenpo that special that we have to put all of these extra degree equivalents beside our name? No, I am not knocking Kenpo. I love the art to no end. But doesn't this whole notion of wanting to have an academic degree beside our name fit the North American model of greater ego, and trying to get the most possible out of something through the back door, also known as the easy route?

I know what some are going to say in rebuttal. There is no easy route in American Kenpo Karate. Someone who has devoted 20+ years in Kenpo has put in more time than most students that have graduated from a university. I actually attended university for 6+ years, and graduated with an MA in Sociology. So what does this have to do with my 6th degree in American Kenpo? Sorry, but not a lot.

Why doesn't Oscar De La Hoya,, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis or Floyd Maywether get a PhD title? They have mastered boxing, have they not? I would even argue that they have put in much more mat time over the years then many Kenpoists holding higher dan levels. But is boxing different? Is it apples and oranges? Are we in Kenpo so special and so unique that we are deserving of having a BA, MA, and/or PhD title beside our name? C'mon guys.

Let's get back to the gym and stop worrying about whether we deserve an MA or PhD.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Snapping Twig

Purple Belt Technique

Snapping Twig is designed for someone coming at us with a front, left hand chest push. Taking the angle of least resistance, we step back with our left foot to 6 o’clock into a right neutral bow while executing a right inward palm strike to the outside of the opponent’s left elbow, simultaneous with a left palm strike to the inside of the opponent’s left wrist. The strike creates a fulcrum, which will break the opponent’s elbow. The elbow break will also control the opponent’s width, which means that the attacker will not be able to turn into you and deliver a right punch with his free hand. At this point, we execute a frictional pull with our right hand (hooking over the opponent’s left arm and pulling it down past our right hip) while simultaneously delivering a left thrusting handsword to the opponent’s throat while shifting into a left forward bow to maximize torque. As we pivot back into our right neutral bow, we hit the opponent with a diagonal right raking hammer fist to the nose, while push-dragging forward to 12 o’clock and finishing with a right elbow sandwich to the opponent’s head.

Here is something cool to experiment with. Let us assume that after delivering the left handsword to the opponent’s throat, the opponent backs up (thereby leaving your raking hammer fist out of reach). If that is the case, try doing a left front crossover at the same time that you deliver the right raking hammer fist. As you continue on from that point in the technique, try delivering a right front kick to the opponent’s knee, and then finish, of course, with the right elbow sandwich.

Have fun!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Summer Seminar Special!!!

From June until the end of August, I will be running a special on my martial arts seminars. During the summer months, the fee will just be $300 excluding travel and lodging expenses. No money for food is necessary. The $300 fee will entitle your martial arts school to three seminars: (1) a seminar for children (2) a seminar for adults (3) and a seminar for instructors. Private lessons are also available upon request.

Seminar topics include, but are not limited to: (1) Learning how to adapt to different sparring strategies of your opponent (2) Street Self-Defense techniques (3) The How’s and Why’s of Forms (4) Sets (5) Multiple Attackers.

For more information, please contact me by email at:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Logging Your Training Time

Since January 2004, I have kept a daily log of everything I have practiced as it pertains to the martial arts. I access and save my log on a Word file, which allows for easy accessibility and data entry.
It is relatively easy to remember what one has done in the past week or so. But keeping a log will allow you to do so much more. By logging your practice time, you can make sure that you are balancing out your training routine, by spending ample time on material throughout all of the belt ranks. Typically, for example, the majority of one’s practice time is in what they teach regularly, or perhaps what they can get through in a short period of time in today’s fast pace society. But logging allows you to see where you have not devoted enough time. So, if you are a 1st degree black belt, for example, you may see that you have practiced Short Form 2 perhaps 30 times full-out this year, but have only practiced Long Form 3 or Long Form 4 say 5 times. If this is the case, this should encourage you to devote the next few days or perhaps weeks to really fine-tune Long Forms 3 and 4.
By logging my practice time, I make sure that I have practiced all 96 extensions at regular speed at least every month, in addition to all of the base techniques. I also make sure that I have practiced my sets and forms several times monthly. I also keep track of how many days I have taught Kenpo throughout the year (if you want to modify this, you could keep track of how many classes that you have taught, for example). I keep track of all of my weapons forms and empty hand forms that I know from other martial art styles (typically Kung Fu), as well as drills practiced, and how many days I spar in a given month.
Since January 2006, I have even kept track of how many days per month (or year) I have practiced Kenpo Karate one hour or longer. This really helps me train harder and to set goals. In 2006, I practiced 318 out of 365 days for one hour or longer, and I am “dead set” on beating that this year!!
In short, I really encourage everyone to log his or her mat time. Also, let me know of any ideas that you come up with that are worth logging as well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kenpo Stances vs. Traditional Japanese and Okinawan Karate Stances

You have probably heard it said time and time again, “Stances are the most important basic fundamental in the martial arts.” Yet ironically, many martial arts instructors who say those very words to their students are teaching impractical stances. This is quite common in many traditional Japanese and Okinawan styles where instructors tell their students to get as low and deep as they can during kata practice to build leg strength and to develop more power in their strikes. The problem with such teaching is that you lack mobility. When was the last time you saw a guy fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship using a very low/deep stance as taught by many traditional karate instructors? It just doesn’t happen, because they are not practical.

In Kenpo, on the other hand, the stances we use during our forms are the same ones we would employ during a sparring match. We don’t tell students to get as low as they can during kata practice, but then to “ignore that rule” when in an actual fight. Such teaching is too contradictory, and in fact, dangerous. Forms are, in effect, Kenpo’s method of shadowboxing so practical stances is paramount.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kenpo Karate Training Camp

Hi Everyone,

Paul Dawdy and myself will be hosting a Kenpo Karate Camp in London, Ontario, Canada, from August 17-19, 2007. As our special guest instructor, we will be bringing in 8th Degree Black Belt, and President of the East Coast Kenpo Systems (ECKS), Steve Arsenault, from New Bedford, MA, USA. Steve Arsenault has been in the martial arts for the past 36 years, and was former vice-president of the Worldwide Kenpo Karate Association (WKKA). Other camp instructors include Jason Arnold, Paul Dawdy, Pat Robinson, and myself.


Paul Dawdy's Kenpo Karate
425 First St, London, Ontario

Friday August 17th

7:00-8:00pm - Understanding the Nature of the Attack (Jamie Seabrook)
8:00-9:00pm - Kenpo 2nd Black Advanced Extensions (Steve Arsenault)
9:00pm - Kenpo Requests (Steve Arsenault)

Saturday August 18th

2:00-3:00pm - Modern Arnis Applications (Paul Dawdy)
3:00-4:00pm - Kenpo 3rd Black Advanced Extensions (Steve Arsenault)
4:00-5:00pm - Position Recognition/Family Groupings (Jason Arnold)
5:00-6:00pm - Mental Attributes (Pat Robinson)
6:00-7:00pm - Kenpo Forms Requests (Steve Arsenault)

Sunday August 19th

9:00-10:00am - KIDS SEMINAR
10:00-11:00am - Kenpo 4th Black Advanced Extensions (Steve Arsenault)
11:00-12:00 noon - Kenpo Sets and Forms Requests (Steve Arsenault)

Registration due August 1st

Kids Seminar $20
Teen Camp $99
Adult Camp $150

Family Discount of 25% off each additional family member

Make Checks to Steve Arsenault

Mail To: Kenpo Karate
3057 Acushnet Ave
New Bedford, MA

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Higher Degrees of Black Belt

As we all know, very few students who commence their training in the art of Kenpo Karate are able to obtain a black belt. Most get involved in other activities, or are unable to effectively manage their time in such a way that they make Kenpo a priority. Of those that do reach black belt, some view this achievement as the ultimate goal achieved, and no longer want to continue on in their endless journey as a lifelong martial artist. Sadly, this is more common in McDojo’s where almost all emphasis is on the one destination – black belt.

But for some, black belt level is a whole new beginning. It starts the process where one is now the lowest level (in terms of degrees/dan ranks) of the black belt levels. It also means that to obtain future degrees of black belt, one will have to commit even more mat time, as well as more years of sacrifice and dedication to continue to progress.

In American Kenpo Karate, there is required material to learn up to the rank of 5th Degree Black Belt (Associate Professor). For that level, one has to learn Long Form 8, which is an intricate and long form that is performed with two knives simultaneously. But then what? What happens after one has completed all of the required material for further advancement in the art of Kenpo Karate? Has does one continue to improve and take their Kenpo to the next level?

The answer isn’t a difficult one: PRACTICE! One thing that I know about this great art of American Kenpo is that there is a lot of material. We have 154 self-defense techniques, plus an additional 96 extensions from the Orange, Purple, Blue, and Green belt base self-defense techniques. We also have 11 forms (Short Forms 1-3 and Long Forms 1-8); and unlike most other martial art styles, we also have many sets, which essentially are prearranged movements similar in context to forms, but more specifically designed to isolate our basic fundamentals. I can speak for myself by stating that there is more than enough material for me that I can work on mastering throughout my lifetime.

But does it need to stop there? Is diligent practice all one truly needs to progress in terms of advancement in Kenpo Karate (or any other art for that matter)? Of course not. To obtain higher degrees of black belt, it is essential that one is actively teaching the art to students. For 4th degree black belts and above, teaching should not only include one’s own students, but teaching at seminars locally, nationally, and even internationally as well. Book publishing and/or DVDs are another excellent way one can spread the art to others, and to continue to learn and improve in one’s skill. Furthermore, one should still have a teacher! This is tough for some, because it means that one has to swallow his/her own pride to realize that they don’t have all of the answers.

Question: What else does your martial art school (beyond time, practice, and new material) require for higher degrees of black belt?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Clipping the Storm

Green Belt Technique

This technique is designed for someone coming at you with a right step-through thrusting club attack, most typically via the short end of the club. Commencing in a left neutral bow, we take a quick step off to 11 o’clock while simultaneously delivering a left handsword to the outside of the opponent’s forearm (the right hand is now cocked at our right ear). Make no mistake about it. The initial left handsword, if executed correctly, will not only “deaden” the opponent’s attacking arm and cause extreme pain, but it should also cause him to drop the club. It will also put weight on the opponent’s feet, thereby canceling his height zone. If he still has a hold of the club at the point, the immediate follow-up move is a right inward handsword, preferably to the opponent’s bicep, not the wrist. This shot hurts even thinking about it, and I have never had an uki to date still be able to hold the club after that shot. Note that as we deliver the right inward handsword, we should also pivot into a left forward bow as we do it, to maximize our potential power on the handsword through utilization of torque. We then finish with a left outward handsword to the opponent’s throat while simultaneously sliding our right foot into a right cat stance, followed by a right heelpalm strike to the opponent’s chin as we step behind the opponent’s right leg into a right neutral bow.

Clipping the Storm is also contained in Long Form 6. In the form version, we have a different starting point than we do in the written version, the latter as I mentioned, which starts in a left neutral bow. In Long Form 6, however, Clipping the Storm comes directly after finishing the end of Unfurling Lance on the left side, which finishes with a left side kick to the attacker’s left knee and a left inward handsword to the right side of the opponent’s neck. To see Clipping the Storm from that starting point, and to see the master of his craft perform this technique, I highly recommend you visit the following link:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Family and Kenpo

Last night, after reviewing a bunch of the Kenpo forms and sets with my students, I battled it out with one of my top black belts, Scott Southwell. This isn’t anything unusual, as Scott and I fight full contact at least once per week together. We usually fight after an already exhausting night, whether it be because of kicks drilled up and down the floor, techniques with resistance on partners, forms and sets training, or hand drills. As a 6th degree black belt, I try my best to lead by example, by not just telling my students how to move, but by getting out there and doing it with them.

After going home last night, I thought about my training routine, which is a literal 7 days per week. I acknowledged that the reason why I put my body through such rigorous activity (and sometimes pain) in Kenpo is simply because I value the art so much.

What about the other areas of my life? Do I truly value the marriage that I have with my wife Chantel? I do, but I am always striving to make it better. I love her to no end, and because of that, I need to commit time to be with her, to recognize her needs, and to continue to grow in our marriage. I need to continue to step up to the plate with my children, by being the father that God intended me to be, and to help Chantel out whenever possible with our children. Marriages that our built on martial arts first, and then family second, will likely not survive, and if they do, it won’t be the joyful marriage and family atmosphere that you and your wife both deserve.

It’s easy for us to say that we BELIEVE that we should put our families before martial arts, but does it show in our actions? Since obtaining my Kenpo Karate black belt in 1990, I have taught literally thousands of different kids. What I am seeing over the years, unfortunately, is growing proportion of children that are growing up without a father. Some of these fathers are long gone, and want little to nothing to do with their children anymore. Other fathers were physically abusive, either to their wife, children, or both. Still others turned to alcohol and drugs as “escapism”. They blame their wife saying, “It was her fault”; the reality is that they took the drink and the drink took them.

What do you value in life? I value God and my family FIRST. And when I fail that order (which is sometimes the case), I sit, think, and pray about change for the better. “Till death do us part”…those are BIG words. And every day I get out of bed, I face them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Rearrangement Concept

Rearrangement is really what Kenpo is all about. Since the self-defense techniques in American Kenpo Karate are ideas (as opposed to rules that offer no other alternatives), these ideas or movements can be rearranged to fit the situation or circumstance. Essentially rearrangement allows one to add, delete, adjust the choice of weapon you are striking with (i.e. heel palm, vertical fist, half-fist, hammerfist), adjust the target you are planning on hitting, rearrange your sequence of moves, and insert extra moves on the opponent when necessary.

Rearrangement eliminates the word “assume”, the latter of which is common in some “traditional arts” that emphasize a “one strike, one kill” methodology. As Grandmaster Larry Tatum noted in an October 2004 Black Belt magazine article, “Depending on one technique would be like betting all your worth on one spin of a roulette wheel.”

One of the simplest ways to work the rearrangement concept is as follows. Have a training partner execute a right punch towards your head. Counter the punch by stepping back and executing a right inward block to the right hand punch. After the block, immediately counter with a right handsword to the opponent’s neck, and then fold your arm so that it becoming an inward elbow (or elbow sandwich if you wish) to the opponent’s head. Finish with a right hammerfist to the groin. Therefore, you should have four simple moves: (1) a right inward block (2) a right handsword (3) a right inward elbow and (4) a right hammerfist.

But now try this. After executing the right inward block (1), have your partner block your right handsword (2) to the neck. As a result, you will find it is necessary to alter your next target. For example, after your partner blocks your right handsword (2), try to next hit him with the hammerfist to the groin (4), and then go back to the handsword to the neck (2), which would mean you would then finish with the right inward elbow (3). This is but one way of altering the order of the same sequence of moves and you can change it up any way that you would like. Note, however, that it was NOT necessary to create new techniques to get the same desired effect. Instead, we kept with the same basic four moves, and simply rearranged them to fit the situation. What you will discover is that four basic moves rearranged can produce 24 combinations.

The problem is that too many instructors introduce the rearrangement concept way too early in their students’ training. A beginner/intermediate student needs to work on mastering the required self-defense techniques in the ideal phase. When taught the ideal phase techniques properly, the student will eventually recognize how to graft into other ideal phase techniques, and deal with the “what-if” of self-defense techniques when learning the extensions. Through consistent and diligent practice, a student will reach a stage of spontaneity, whereby the rearrangement concept becomes “second nature”.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Parting Wings

Purple Belt Technique

One of the most neglected aspects of self-techniques is the nature of the attack. In Parting Wings, the angle of least resistance is to step back to 6 o’clock in reaction to the opponent’s two-handed high push. Notice that I had said “reaction” since the opponent has actually made contact with the push. As we part the arms with left and right extended outward blocks (palms open), the left neutral bow provides the bracing angle for the push. Anchoring our elbows will also aid in the parting of the opponent’s arms.

To improve economy of motion, we then round the corner from the right extended outward block (palm open) as we continue the flow and execute a right inward handsword to the opponent’s ribs as we shift into a left forward bow. We then shift back into a left neutral bow as we strike with a left outward handsword to the throat. The base technique ends with a right middle-knuckle strike to the opponent’s solar plexus as we shift back into a left forward bow, while using a gravitational check with our left hand to clear the opponent’s arms out of the way and/or create an effective path for the middle-knuckle strike.

Parting Wings is one of Kenpo’s 10 master key techniques.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Deflecting Hammer

Yellow Belt Technique

This technique was designed for someone executing a right front thrust kick towards our ribs as we start in a right neutral bow. As we shuffle back, we simultaneously deflect the kick with a right downward block, while continuing that line right into a shuffle forward and right inward elbow to the opponent’s face as we check the opponent’s right arm with our left hand. In other words, be sure to continue the circle (don’t stop the motion) from your downward block to the right inward elbow. Note that using a traditional horizontal downward block to the opponent’s kick can cause injury to our arm depending on the force of the kick, and we also run the risk of hyperextending our elbow. Furthermore, we lose economy of motion when a horizontal downward block is employed. The downward block should be done with a closed fist (hence the name Deflecting HAMMER). Using a downward parry increases the risk of injury to our fingers.

Another suggestion to improve economy of motion and the continuous flow of the right inward elbow strike is to shuffle back to 6 o’clock. Stepping off-line to 7:30 reduces borrowed force from the opponent’s kick, and the opponent will no longer “land” right into the elbow strike as he plants forward from the right thrust front kick. Also since Deflecting Hammer is taught for Yellow Belt level, stepping back to 6 o’clock is very conducive for beginners to learn and follows the same footwork patterns as other beginner techniques whereby you step away from the attack and utilize your dominant (right) side.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Physical Fitness & Nutrition

As a martial arts instructor, I feel I have a responsibility not only to others but also to myself to stay in top physical condition. The Bible states, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). These are big words, and as a Christian, I want to treat my body with respect and honor, and not fill it with constant alcohol, nicotine, or foods with processed sugar, for example.
I try to eat foods with high nutrient content. For example, I try to get my proteins from chicken. My wife and I buy the whole, cooked chickens every week from our local grocery store, and I also eat a lot of chicken breasts. My wife loves broccoli so I eat a lot of that as well, mostly in whole-wheat pasta. I also eat salads, pretty much every day. My salads are usually spinach salads, complete with tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. I also try to have regular fruit consumption to ensure that I am getting my carbohydrates from good sources. Don’t get me wrong; I also enjoy junk food. But I try to watch how much I eat, and make sure that my eating is consistently healthy.
In terms of physical exercise, I practice Kenpo Karate diligently pretty much 7 days per week. In fact, on the average month, I will only take 1 or perhaps 2 days off from my training. My workout routines are quite intense. On some days I will practice all of the Kenpo forms, both slowly, and then full out. On other days, I may just work all of the sets to isolate my basics. On a given day, I might just focus on kicking techniques. Thus my focus would be on Kicking Sets 1 & 2, which believe me, can get extremely tiring, especially when you try to have a knack for detail, and you are giving it your all. Still on other days I may just work the self-defense techniques. Depending on time availability, I could work as many as 100+ techniques on a given day.
I don’t lift weights. Perhaps if I had more time, I would. But I truly feel I get more that enough resistance training. Here are a few ways I train resistance:
(1) By working my techniques over and over on a resistant uke
(2) By practicing my weapons forms (some weapons are extremely tough on the arms and upper body, particularly the tonfa, saber, sai, ect.)
(3) By doing a LOT of push-ups.
As the summer season hits, I highly recommend training outside, and on different terrain. Train barefoot to toughen up your feet, as well as with shoes on to get a better sense of realism and feel. Just make sure to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Summer: The Most Important Season For Martial Artists

The most important season for improving one's skills in the martial arts is the summer. The reason is that many students get involved in other activities during this time (i.e. camps, soccer, baseball) while those that remain diligent in their training get to take advantage of smaller class sizes, and henceforth, their capacity to absorb new knowledge is endless. Indeed, the summer months have given me the opportunity to share knowledge that is not always possible with large class sizes. For example, in the past, I have been able to use these months to teach traditional and modern weaponry from a Kenpo perspective, advanced forms, techniques with extensions, and intense sparring sessions.

For those that take the summer off (or any month or two throughout a year for that matter), many simply don't come back. Although their intentions were to jump right back into the swing of things come September, many are apprehensive about returning because they don't feel their skills are where they should be relative to the rest of the students who kept training. For those that do return, I estimate that only about 50% will stick with it.

The longer the duration of time off from Kenpo training, the less likely you are to return, and I say this with 100% confidence. There is a lot of truth to what Mr. Miyagi said in the first Karate Kid movie, “Either you do karate yes, or you do karate no; you do karate guess so, get squashed like grape”.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cross-Training or Cross-Referencing?

You have seen them. You open up the yellow pages and find a martial arts school advertising instruction in a half-of-a-dozen different martial arts styles. You think to yourself....WOW! What a deal. You can learn 6 different arts all at one location. There is kick boxing, traditional karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido.....and so on....And the studio owner is an expert in all of them!

Now that is what I call cross-training!!

The reality is, however, that the vast majority of martial artists cross-train in different arts because they lack the patience and desire to learn their base system correctly. When a perceived deficiency in their art is unraveled, they are quick to jump the band wagon onto another art to fulfill this supposed deficiency.

Guess what? I was one of them.

Having started Kenpo Karate back in 1985, I achieved the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in 1990. In 1991, I obtained my 1st Degree Black Belt in Modern Arnis (I started Arnis in 1987) as well as my 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate. That same year I started training in Black Dragon Kung Fu and achieved the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in 1994. Seven years later I received a 1st Degree Black Belt rank in Shorinji-Ryu Karate. This is not to take away from these important achievements in my life. Training in Modern Arnis, for example, gave me the opportunity to train under one of the world's best stick and knife fighters on the globe, the late Grandmaster Remy Presas. Likewise, training in Kung Fu gave me the opportunity to take my sparring to new levels, learn very intricate forms, ground-fight, and learn a truckload of weapons.

All of this time, however, my base art that I constantly trained in was Kenpo Karate. I currently hold the rank of 6th Degree Black Belt (Professor) in that art and received my rank under Grandmaster Larry Tatum in 2004. Through consistent practice and seeking out some of the best Kenpo instructors on the globe, I have learned that a lot of Kenpo's supposed deficiencies were due to my lack of understanding. I have come to realize, for example, why everything was implemented in the system the way it was, and how each component of the system (be it forms, sets, techniques, extensions, sparring, weaponry) is important. I have learned that one need not cross-train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu to learn how to fight on the ground. Kenpo can be applied on the ground just fine; I just needed someone like Larry Tatum to show me how.

Cross-training is not the answer; cross-referencing is. The difference is that the latter concept allows you to explore the value of other arts via seminars or the exchanging of ideas, while allowing you to see how these different arts relate back to your base art. By contrast, cross-training means that a large portion of your time is devoted to learning a different art than your base art. This means that you are taking ample time away from growing, learning, and improving in your base art. You are seeking answers and exploring different opportunities that most likely existed right in your base art, although you didn't seek proper instruction to find it out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jamie Seabrook Books

For those interested in expanding their knowledge of the martial arts, I have two published books available for purchase:

Martial Arts Revealed: Benefits, Problems, and Solutions

American Kenpo Mastery: A Guide for Students and Instructors

Martial Arts Revealed provides a thorough examination of many important facets as they relate to the martial arts. For instance, the reader will learn about modern vs. traditional methods of self-defense, choosing a martial art style conducive to your body type and personality, the psychosocial benefits of martial arts training, injuries in martial arts, and steps to getting everything you deserve out of your training. For more information about the book, and to make an order, click here:

American Kenpo Mastery is written particularly for Kenpo practitioners that are seeking to better understand their art in all of its forms. Topics include the history and evolution of American Kenpo, a discussion of the forms and sets in American Kenpo, self-defense techniques, methods of Kenpo sparring, testing procedures and rank advancement. Terms are also defined within the relevant text, whenever practical, because American Kenpo concepts, theories, and principles may be a new language to you. In addition, a glossary of terms is provided at the end of the book. Appendix A provides a listing of common curriculums taught in American Kenpo: the 32-technique system, the 24-technique system, and the 16-technique system. Appendix B provides a guide of general notes I have made for myself of self-defense techniques. For more information about the book, and to make an order, click here:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Body Position, Environment, or Range?

I was watching a clip of Ed Parker teaching a seminar. He asked the class to rank, in order of importance for a street altercation, the following three terms: body position, environment, and range.

Fortunately, I knew the order: environment, range, and then body position. Would that have been the order that you ranked them?

Where you and your opponent are in terms of location (environment) is crucial. Here is a humorous example that Ed Parker gave. Let’s assume that two guys are in a bar in Alaska. The two of them start arguing, and one proceeds to rip his shirt off as if to say, “the fight is on”. In response, the other person decides to step outside in the freezing cold so that his opponent (if he decides to immediately follow him) will be without a shirt. Clearly, environment is working to the one’s advantage that still has his sweater on! Now given that both are outside in the freezing cold, and one person is without a shirt, one would guess that in all likelihood, the one without the shirt is going to be in a big hurry to get the fight over with so that he doesn’t have to fight in such cold climate. Environment is crucial in any fight, and is an important factor in which technique one could employ.

Range is less important than environment but more important than body position. Range allows our perceptual speed to “read” the opponent’s attack so that we can respond with an appropriate defense (or better put, OFFENSE). Range is simply the distance between yourself and the attacker. If you knew for certainty that a specific gun could only shoot 200 yards, you could stand at 300 yards away from an attacker and do the Macarena! You won’t be shot. No, don’t really try this; I am just throwing some humor at you. But the point, nonetheless, is that range is very important once environment, and I would argue target availability, have been established.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Short Form 1

Yellow Belt Form

Short Form 1 is the first form in American Kenpo Karate. The form is used for defensive purposes as we are continuously retreating from a punch with a front hand block. The blocking sequences follow this course: two inward blocks, two outward blocks, two upward blocks, and then two downward blocks. When performing this form, it is important to keep our head at a consistent level while transitioning from one neutral bow to the next. Short Form 1 form teaches four basic angles of attack, as you will notice that the foot pattern looks like an addition sign. The primary power principle is torque, and counter-torque can also be found in the second outward block and the second downward block.

As one progresses in training, try doing Short Form 1 in reverse. Doing so allows one to see how the movements can be both defensive and offensive and how manipulation control can be applied. Note that manipulation control is a category of grappling and is the last (fourth) of the combat ranges. In this range, you are close enough to the opponent to be able to apply various joint locks, chokes, and so forth.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Do the kenpo extensions contain new material?

While it is true that the extensions offer many of the same movements already contained in the base techniques, the extensions uniquely demonstrate how upper body principles can also be applied to the lower half of the body. That is why you will find more leg sweeps, foot maneuvers, and leg buckles in the extensions than in the base techniques.

Kenpo karate practitioners that argue that the extensions are meaningless or “busy work” often argue that there is nothing new in the extensions that are not already contained in the base self-defense techniques. A closer examination, however, will show otherwise.

Take the extension of Thrusting Salute, for example. The last part of the extension calls for right downward punch to the groin or bladder of the opponent, which cannot be found in any of the base techniques or other extensions. Similarly, the neck throw in-sync with the right reverse bow as we buckle our opponent’s left leg in the extension of Destructive Twins is also completely new.

More important than just some new movements, the extensions offer “what-if” scenarios should the ideal phase techniques not work as planned. That is what the equation formula is for.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Christian Faith

I grew up in a Catholic home and was raised Catholic all of my life. As I entered university, the reality is that I wasn’t living a Christian life. I believed in Jesus and who He said He was, and I believed that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God, but my actions just didn’t match my beliefs. I wasn’t a “bad guy” by the world’s standards; I was sort of what one would expect from a young university student.

My life was focused on Kenpo, higher levels of education, physical fitness, and partying with the guys. Somewhere Jesus fell into the group, but mostly only in my thoughts. Several years later, I reunited with a past girlfriend named Chantel, and she is now the love of my life, and wife of almost 6 years.

In 2002, around the time of the birth of our first daughter, we decided to get real about Jesus. So, after driving by a local Pentecostal church called Glad Tidings Assembly (GTA) in London, Ontario, and reading their really cool signs, we decided to check it out. The first sermon was about a Perfect Savior for a Perfect Storm, the Perfect Savior of course being Jesus. Now lets not forget – I am man, and like many men, we are strong and shouldn’t show our emotions (don’t worry, I really don’t believe that). But after listening to the sermon, and having had a few tears roll down, I knew a lifelong journey with God was about to begin.

While I always felt the Holy Spirit calling me to more, or should I say, to obey His commands, this church wasn’t going to let me off the hook. No, they don’t condemn anyone and say, “you’re bad”, since in reality we are all “bad”. We have all got a “past”, and God’s standard is perfection. But for the first time in my Christian walk, I felt cared for, not just lectured to. I soon came to realize the importance of Christian fellowship, of being held accountable for actions, and for using God’s gifts that He has provided us for His glory. Fortunately, God never consults my past to determine my future.

So what in the world does this have to do with Kenpo? Well, as I stated earlier, Kenpo has always been who I am. I live this stuff, and have so for the past 22 years. But now, as I try my best to live a Christ-centered life, my focus is on using my skills to help others in their growth, not just as a martial artist but also as a person. Let me put it another way. If you’ve got good presentation skills, it’s easy to stand up and teach a class of 20+ students at one time and teach about honesty, humility, courtesy, integrity, and self-control. But as an instructor and role model, do you live it? If you answer “yes”, by whose standards are you judging this? I am choosing God’s standards, and even though I fall down, I don’t stay down. I get back up and fight the good fight of faith.

I know a lot of people read my blogs. One only needs to check out the tracker to be aware of this. I also know that being a Christian isn’t easy from a world standpoint. But one thing I can assure you is that being a Christian has changed my life. I believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). I don’t hide from success because I am afraid that I will fail. I don’t fear ANYONE EXCEPT GOD. I choose to rejoice by choice. Most importantly, I now have ultimate peace, because my mind is constantly on the Prince of Peace.

God Bless everyone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Deal With A Good Counter-Fighter

I once heard, and used to believe, that an aggressive style of sparring, where you are consistently on the offense and going forward is the most effective way to spar and that these types of fighters are the most dangerous. But as I have learned to adjust to many different types of fighters over the years, I no longer think that way, at least for me. In my experience, the most dangerous type of stand-up fighters is the one who is an effective counter-striker. This type of fighter typically has excellent timing and waits for his opponent to make an offensive mistake (often via telegraphing) before counter-striking.

Counter fighters don’t waste a lot of energy chasing their opponents around the ring, but to think that they don’t at least occasionally go on an offensive blitz, perhaps leading to a knockout is untrue. If fighting full contact, a good counter striker that hits his opponent with a hard counterstrike will often go “all-out” to finish the fight if he senses that his opponent is in trouble.

So how should one deal with a good counter-fighter? First, we have to remember to change things up. If we are consistently throwing the same combination together that typically works for us against lesser skilled opponents, the counter fighter is going to read that and be all over us. Note, however, that that doesn’t mean we need to try movements that we don’t typically use. Muhammad Ali basically only used his left jab and right cross when he fought but his opponents rarely knew when he was going to throw them. Second, I recommend the use of feints. A feint is a false lead used to deceive an opponent into thinking a particular attack is coming, when in reality, you are planning something different. The goal of a fake is to get your opponent to commit himself (which is a good thing when fighting a counter fighter) so that his timing is off. If you can make his counterstrike ineffective, you should be able to land some big blows as you go on the offense.

Good luck, and again, let me know how it works!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Is the “What-If” Stage of Kenpo Techniques Detrimental to Beginner Students?

I have been to a lot of seminars and Kenpo classes where it looks like the Kenpo beginner student looks as lost as a goat in a hailstorm. They are desperately trying to learn the mechanics of the technique being taught but within a few minutes, the instructor is asking; “now what if this happens instead?” This goes on and on so that by the end of the class, the student has learned a least 5+ what-if factors where the technique could go wrong in its application. After so many “what-if’s” the student becomes less confident in the ideal phase technique as it is supposed to be taught. They leave the class thinking they have learned some cool stuff, but that ultimately, they don’t know if they could ever make the ideal phase technique work because there are so many other factors involved.

Hence, I think it is extremely important that Kenpo students first learn the ideal phase techniques against ideal attacks, and that they work these over and over so that the techniques become spontaneous. If taught in this manner, should something go wrong when executing an ideal phase technique, there will be many other ideal phase techniques that one could graft into. Isn’t this what we also do in sparring? We often put a combination together in the hopes of making good contact with our opponent, but somehow, somewhere, something goes wrong? And when it does, do we fall to the floor and curl up in the fetal position? No, of course not. We “graft” into other sparring techniques that have worked for us in the past and get right back into the game mentally and physically.

Through consistent practice, the Kenpo practitioner learns that there are so many ideal phase techniques that he/she can call upon in a moment’s notice should the situation warrant it. Additionally, one learns that the “what-if stage” that is so often taught to beginner and intermediate students, is already built into the system as one learns the extensions of the ideal phase base techniques. The difference is, however, that students that learn the what-if stage as part of the extensions have already put in several years of mastering the ideal phase techniques, can perform them well, and have COFIDENCE in them.

Friday, March 9, 2007

How to spar against someone who always runs away!

This type of fighter can be really frustrating at times to spar against. You want to hit them, maybe even show them your punching and kicking power, but it seems that every time you put a nice combination together the opponent retreats really fast to avoid getting hit. It kind of reminds me of one of boxing’s classic fights: the rematch between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in November of 1980. During this fight, Duran wanted to go “toe-to-toe” with Leonard, confident that if he did so, he could take Leonard out. Then something that will be long remembered happened. In round 8, after having received considerable taunting by Leonard, and a lot of footwork to avoid a slugfest, Duran quit by walking back to his corner because he was apparently so frustrated.

Let’s get back to sparring strategy. You want to hit your opponent but he keeps moving away. Instead of wasting so much of your energy by hitting nothing but the air because your opponent keeps retreating, you need to do something to trick your opponent so that he doesn’t run away. I recommend slowly inching your way in to the opponent until you are close to “within range control” (the second of four zones in Kenpo sparring). Recall that “within range control” is where we are close enough to at least be able to touch the opponent. If we can inch our way in without the opponent quickly running away, which can be done with consistent practice, we can then deceptively explode with our offense and hit the opponent before he is able to take off retreating. Try it out, and let me know how it works.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Gripping Talon

Blue Belt Technique

This technique works for someone grabbing our right wrist with his/her left hand (hence, a direct wrist grab). Again, the hand that we worry most about would be the opponent’s free hand, which in this case, would be the right hand. As such, what we want to do in this technique is counteract that free right hand so that we don’t get hit with a punch.

While many Kenpoists teach and practice this technique for a static grab (that is, someone just grabs our wrist and stands there), in reality, this is not realistic. The catalyst in this technique is a wrist grab followed by a pull forward.

Our immediate response is to rotate our wrist outward, while moving our left hand under the opponent’s grabbing hand. At the same time, our left hand grabs the opponent’s right wrist and pulls down (height cancellation by putting weight on the opponent’s feet) as we simultaneously step in with our right foot into a right neutral bow and execute a right hammerfist strike to the opponent’s groin. By stepping forward with our right foot, we are taking an angle of least resistance, assuming a non-static attack. Also, make sure as you strike with the hammerfist to the groin that the opponent’s left arm is against our chest (could be an elbow break), thereby further canceling the opponent’s width and ensuring that the attacker cannot collapse his left elbow directly into our chest if that gap is available.

A good graft at this point would be to go directly into Crossing Talon, albeit on the opposite side as taught in the Orange Belt technique curriculum. Should we choose to continue on with Gripping Talon, the next part of the move calls for a right inward elbow to the opponent’s left ribs, followed by a right outward elbow to the right ribs. This elbow pattern is the same as that executed in Triggered Salute (Orange Belt technique), except that we are now working the outside of the opponent’s body. Should the opponent drop considerably from the initial groin shot, we can skip the elbow strikes (instead of trying to force them into the targets) and just continue on with the technique at that point. In any case, after the elbow strikes, we then do a left rear crossover towards 1:30 as we simultaneously execute a right back knuckle strike to the opponent’s left ribs. We the step our right foot to 1:30 as we land into a right reverse bow, which acts as a buckle to the opponent’s left leg. In-sync with the right planting foot, we add a right looping wrist strike to the opponent’s right side of the neck. This sets up the opponent’s head for the right knee strike. After the knee, we add in a right heel-palm to break the opponent’s left elbow at the same time that we plant into a right front cross-over, and then continue on into our standard cover out.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jamie Seabrook Seminars – March 23, 2007 and April 14, 2007

I will be conducting two martial arts seminars on March 23 in London, Ontario at the Berkshire Club.

The first seminar is a short one, and will be for kids only. It will run from 6:00-6:40pm and I will be teaching sparring strategies against various types of opponents. While sparring gear is not mandatory for the event, please have your child bring gear if he/she has it. The cost of the seminar is $10.

The second seminar is for adult intermediate/advanced level ranks and will run from 6:45-8:30pm. All martial art styles are welcome. I will be teaching one of Kung Fu’s most revered forms, Fu Hok Surng Ying, commonly known as the Tiger and Crane form. The cost of the seminar is $20.

On April 14, I will be conducting three seminars in Cambridge, Ontario at Karate for Christ Canada.

The first seminar will run from 9:00-10:15am, and I will be teaching children the American Kenpo Karate set, Striking Set 1.

The second seminar is for teens and adults and goes from 10:30-11:30am. I will be teaching street self-defense techniques in this seminar, with a focus on self-defense concepts, principles, and theory.

The last seminar is for instructors and runs from 11:45-1:00pm. During this seminar, I will teach dynamic blocking by way of Blocking Sets 1 & 2. No knowledge of these sets is necessary prior to the seminar. If time permits, I will demonstrate how control manipulations and releases can be found within these sets.

If you are interested in the London and/or Cambridge seminars, please correspond with me by email at:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to Spar an Aggressive Opponent

You know the type. I am discussing those people in sparring who are constantly trying to take your head off and that are almost always on the attack. Here is what NOT to do: what most people do! Most individuals back up to try to avoid getting hit from aggressive sparring partners, and then to try to counter-attack. This is not a good fighting strategy. Backing up is NOT the answer. Action is faster than reaction and it won't be long before you get "clipped" with a nasty shot.

Here is what has worked for me (and many other fighters) that have had to spar these types of opponents:

You need to stop the opponent's aggressive offense before he is able to build his momentum. One way to do this is to try to hit him as soon as he starts his offensive sequence. This involves good timing and perception on your part, but with enough practice and consistency in sparring, you will discover its advantage as a method of defeating this type of fighter.

Try it out and let me know how it works.

Friday, February 23, 2007

How to practice forms and stay motivated

If you only study one style of the martial arts, you may over an extended period of time lose interest in performing the same katas over and over again. The reason is that people often become bored in life with the mundane, that is, the same routine over and over again. Like marriage, for example, katas need “romance” to keep things refreshed and alive! You don’t believe me? Then why is it that I am often very impressed with the skill level of someone performing a specific kata, and then five years down the road, the same person performing the kata doesn’t move with the same fluidity, balance, posture, or agility? Is it because the individual has practiced it less and less over the years? Perhaps. But maybe, just maybe, it is because the individual has less interest in the kata then he/she did when it was first learned.

Here are some refreshing ideas to keep the fire for kata burning:

(1) Go through your forms very slowly to accentuate the finer details before commencing the form at regular speed

(2) Visualize an attacker coming at you as you are performing the form. Do this when practicing the form slowly as well as at regular speed

(3) Be sure that your counterattack and offense during the forms was enough to stop the opponent from coming back for more. Do not be concerned about how fancy you look

(4) Practice your kata blindfolded or with your eyes closed

(5) Try to end the kata in the same position that you started the form

(6) Try choreographing your form to one of your favorite songs. I have always loved “The Power” by Snap!

(7) Practice outdoors in the spring, summer, and fall, and get a tan while you are at it!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Are you training for the most common street attacks?

There are so many martial arts schools that do not have self-defense technique curriculums required for the various belt ranks up to black belt level and beyond. Those that do are often training for self-defense scenarios that are unrealistic in nature, the most common of which is the right step-through punch. I see so many instructors teaching this attack, yet simple observation shows me that the students in the dojo can’t even execute the attack correctly because it is so anatomically unnatural! But somehow, this attack is supposed to be common for the street? Go figure.

Here is a fact. The vast majority of people who throw a punch on the street will do so via a right step-through roundhouse punch. This punch will usually occur after a series of verbal attacks, often complimented by pushing.

Another common attack is the wild haymaker punch. For those attackers that have been drinking, one of the easiest ways to deal with this punch is to execute a fast front ball kick to the opponent’s midsection as he exposes his centerline while executing the attack. The momentum of the opponent’s attack, combined with the hard front ball kick on the way in should drive the opponent into Section 320, Row M, Seat 5.

Question: what types of self-defense scenarios are you training?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Should you be practicing your self-defense techniques on both sides?

There is no doubt that American Kenpo Karate is a right side dominant martial art and that this can be said of many martial arts styles. The reason that it is right side dominant is that most people are right handed. For people who are left handed, they usually have no difficulty learning the system since Kenpo is based on proper body mechanics.

One question that I guessed asked from time to time, and one which is particularly important in American Kenpo Karate where there are 154 self-defense techniques to learn to obtain a black belt, is if one should be practicing their self-defense techniques equally on the left side to balance things out and to make oneself an overall better martial artist? The answer quite simply is no.

Why? The reason is that when we are stressed, and there is someone trying to take our head off, our brain will respond via the dominant side regardless of how much time is devoted to training on the left side. That doesn’t mean in anyway that we don’t need to be effective on both sides. What it means is that the right and left side movements are utilized differently. In effect, what American Kenpo does is take advantage of a person’s strength on both sides.

Moreover, trying to devote time to practicing techniques on both sides takes away from the time needed to practice the system as was designed. It also blinds one’s potential of being able to see things from your style’s dominant side.

I have heard many people claim that they are ambidextrous. Ambidexterity, however, in the truest sense, is not possible. Take advantage of learning your style as designed.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My recommendations for martial arts instruction in London, Ontario

With the rise of so many commercial martial arts schools that promote kids to black belt like candy, don’t worry, not all are like this!

In all of the schools below, you won't find people playing tag for points when sparring. The fighters can HIT and TAKE IT, and the students learn a full range of martial arts skills and maneuvers. All of the head instructors are very experienced and teach realistic street self-defense.

The following schools are all top-notch and are my top five picks (in no particular order) in London, Ontario:

(1) Northern Black Dragon Martial Arts - Paul Chau

(2) Round One - Brad Fowler and Leo Loucks

(3) White Dragon Kung Fu - Mike Doucet

(4) Team Tompkins Muay Thai and Submission - Shawn Tompkins

(5) Universal Karate Studios - Jamie Seabrook

Monday, February 5, 2007

Great Sparring Drill

Watch most beginners spar and you'll notice the desperation in their faces, as well as in their offense and defense. Most punches are attempted "home runs" as the fighter tries everything to ward off the oncoming attack and land the "big punch". The fighters, especially in the early stages of training, are often timid about being hit, and are way too tense, resulting in slower reflexes on defense and the tendency to get tired really quick. The same occurs among intermediate and advanced ranked students, particularly those who spar very infrequently. You will also notice a natural tendency for beginners to close their eyes, both when being struck at, as well as when on the offense. This is a bad habit to develop and one that must be overcome.

One of my favorite sparring drills that I developed several years ago is as follows. Two people partner up. One person removes his belt, while the other wraps his belt around the waist of himself and his partner. The end of the belt is then tied together so that both partners are literally within breathing distance of one another. The two partners are wearing their handgear and begin throwing punches at one another. Obviously being that close together, it is imperative to (1) keep your hands up at all times (2) keep your elbows in to avoid shots to the kidney, ribs, and midsection (3) keep your eyes open at all times. This drill is extremely tiring and forces one to learn to put hand combinations together, to pick targets appropiately, to avoid dropping one's hands as is so characteristic in point fighters, and to gain confidence in fighting in-close or what we in Kenpo call the control manipulation range.

This drill can be practiced with a partner for any length of time, but for a good workout, I recommend 3, two or three minute rounds. Once loosed from being tied up with your partner, and you return to your regular continuous sparring routine, you will find your hand speed is lightning fast, that you will be able to hit with awesome power, and that your combinations will flow with excellent continuity.

Try it today, and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Sparring - Are you getting the real deal?

Too often martial artists spend the vast majority of their time working on kata or weapons-based kata. Parents, especially at McDojos, view their child’s success and skill based on how many trophies little Johnnie can win while doing everything in the air. Even worse, martial art studio owners can boast of how many “world champions” he has produced in point-sparring, a type of fighting which is highly conducive for kids of all ages. Why? Because it is very possible that little Johnnie could outpoint an adult 5-3, but wouldn’t be able to defend himself against the same opponent for more than 30 seconds if there were no stops.

I know what your thinking. I must be one of the guys who have not had much success in kata or point-sparring in tournaments. Not true. I too have “played the game” with a considerable amount of success, but this whole sport karate thing is really starting to get carried away. Kids as young as age 7 or 8 are obtaining their black belts. By the time these students are 16, some of them are as high as 4th degree black belt!

In a real street encounter, there are no stops every time a punch or kick makes contact. There are no warnings or disqualifications if someone kicks below the waist, or for punches too hard to the body or the head. There are no “time-outs” so that your instructor can give you a few pointers of how to land a quick reverse punch or lead leg side kick for the final point. No, I am not recommending that full-contact sparring is a necessity for everyone, but I do advocate continuous fighting with a certain degree of heavy contact.

Kenpo Karate (and many other arts for that matter) is known for its practical and lethal street self-defense techniques. But there is a big difference from being able to move fast, and hit with considerable accuracy when the attack is choreographed and your uki moves exactly as planned. It is a whole different ball game trying to make it all work in continuous sparring when nothing is choreographed and the guy staring back at you is trying to take your head off.
We need to spar, and we need to spar often. We need to make our fights more “real” so that we are better prepared for an actual street encounter. Through continuous fighting, we build up endurance, learn to put our combinations together more effectively, and truly learn what it is like to have to take a few hits and then come back. If the vast majority of our sparring sessions are point-fighting, we aren’t getting the real deal.

Martial arts is about many things, but the last I checked, self-defense is one of its top priorities. Is it not?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Thrusting Prongs

Orange Belt Technique

This technique works for a front bear hug with our arms pinned. That stated, it is important to learn to respond to the low bear hug as the opponent is coming forward, rather than after the bear hug has been fully applied.

As the opponent attempts the bear hug, we step back with our right foot into a left forward bow, taking an angle of least resistance. The forward bow provides the bracing angle that prevents the opponent from driving us back and taking us to the ground. Note that a forward bow provides the brace for a low tackle, whereas a neutral bow provides the brace for a high tackle (e.g., Striking Serpent’s Head). At the same time that we step back, we drive our thumbs up to the opponent’s bladder or groin area. When doing so, be sure to place our thumbs firmly against our fists to give the thumbs support and back-up mass for the strikes. Also, make sure that you move your arms directly from point of origin. This will ensure that we are able to effectively and efficiently get to the bladder or groin area with our thumbs. The bladder shot will create some distance for the next move.

After the bladder shot, our left hand traps the opponent’s right arm as we deliver a right knee to the opponent’s groin. The trap cancels the opponent’s width and also prevents the opponent’s right arm from going up and hitting our face as he reacts to the knee kick we deliver to the groin. With our right knee still in the air, we immediately deliver a right side kick to the opponent’s left knee or shin, which further cancels his width.

We then finish with a right inward elbow to the opponent’s head. Note that Thrusting Prongs is the inside version of Gift of Destruction where both techniques utilize a break to the opponent’s elbow followed by a right inward elbow.