Monday, December 27, 2010

Kenpo Karate Staff Set

Hi Everyone,

I trust that you all had a very Merry Christmas, or if you don't celebrate Christmas, a happy holiday with your family. I will get back to answering questions on my blog in the new year, but for now, I would like to post a video of me performing the American Kenpo Karate Staff Set. The video was taped by Chantel on December 23rd of this year, so it is "hot off the press". God Bless!

Friday, December 17, 2010

When to Train

In my next few blogs, I will be answering questions that people have posed to me regarding Kenpo Karate or the martial arts more generally.

Here is a question I was just asked: “When is the best time of day to train outside of class?”

Let me first say that I believe the key to training is to train consistently. So often today people have such a hard time devoting huge blocks of time to exercise because they have so much other work that needs to get done. I think it’s best to try to find a time (however short or long that may be) when you know you are most likely to follow through on your commitment to train. For example, if you have a hard time sticking to an early morning workout (that’s me), how about taking your lunch hour and devoting that time to your training? For instance, if I am not teaching Kenpo over my lunch hour, I usually take that time to work on my forms, sets, self-defence techniques, weaponry, stretching, and push-ups and sit-ups. Other times, I use that hour of opportunity to go the gym. I usually spend at least 30 minutes on cardio machines, and then finish the workout with some weight training. I also recommend pad training and sparring to work on one’s cardiovascular training if possible. Indeed, working out over my lunch hour has become so routine to me over the years that I now have a hard time refocusing in the afternoon without it. As a martial arts instructor, of course, I also workout in the evenings as well, either through training with my students, or spending some time alone to train.

It is also important to consider that each individual is different. For example, some people have a difficult time falling asleep at night if they workout too late. This happens to me only on occasions where I have put my body through a very intensive workout and my body feels too tense and sore. Typically, however, a hot shower and some relax time unwinding with my wife allows my body and mind the time to relax and get back to its normal state. Conversely, there is also some evidence that working out in the morning can improve sleep patterns. The evidence for this finding is not overwhelming, however, and it may be that the reason for their better sleep patterns has less to do with their morning workout and more to do with the fact that these individuals have better mental health, wake up earlier than most people to be able to get their workout in, and eat more healthy foods throughout the day.

Lastly, although I believe it is possible to over-train one’s body (we all need days of rest), to be the best you can be you have to learn to practice even when you don’t feel like it. Mediocrity in whatever one does in life results from only practicing when you are in the mood. Hence, learning to discipline one’s mind by programming the brain to develop strong work habits and to persevere is something that we should all continue to strive for. Nobody gets to the top of what they do by only training when they feel like it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Family Tree of Black Belts

This January will mark 16 years straight of running my Kenpo Karate school here in London, Ontario. We have changed locations a few times, but have happily found our home at the Berkshire Club, at 500 Berkshire Drive, over the past several years. In addition, this January will mark my 26th year of training in the art of Kenpo Karate. Our school has never been stronger, thanks to the help of God, my wife, my black belt and brown belt assistants, and of course, my dedicated students.

In case some are unaware, there is a valuable resource on the internet which keeps track of all the students I have ever promoted to black belt. It can be found here:

As can be seen, I have promoted 21 students to black belt level over the course of almost 16 years. Of the 21, the following 6 black belts continue to train with me to this day: Craig Cote (3rd Degree Black Belt), John McDonald (2nd Degree Black Belt), Matt Trejo (3rd Degree Black Belt), Alexa Vreman (2nd Degree Black Belt), Ryan Welsh (1st Degree Black Belt), and Evan Wiley (3rd Degree Black Belt). I have also recently welcomed 3 other black belts from different schools that have joined my school over the past month, all of whom may eventually test for black belt level and higher in American Kenpo.

Just over 2 years ago, I made a change in my lineage and decided to follow the direction of the Chinese Karate Federation (CKF) under the tutelage of CKF President, Sean P. Kelley. In addition to his tremendous knowledge of the Kenpo Karate system, Mr. Kelley is a strong leader, and someone in whom I have developed a very close friendship. Unlike many Kenpo organizations, in the CKF the focus is not on one person, but rather the gathering or alliance of some of the best Kenpo Karate practitioners and martial artists on the globe. Moreover, the CKF is about refining and evolving our skills in ways that move beyond the academic stage of training into the more combative realm. Too many black belts today think they “have arrived” upon obtaining a black belt. The reality is that one’s training is just beginning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

CKF Kickboxing and Use of the High-Wide Kneel Stance

One of the great things about being part of the Chinese Karate Federation (CKF) is that amount of time we spend working on Kickboxing. Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of participating in four Kickboxing seminars taught by CKF President Sean P. Kelley (7th Degree American Kenpo Karate, 5th Degree in Joe Lewis’ American Karate Systems), and one seminar on kicking techniques as taught by Bill “Superfoot” Wallace (10th Degree Black Belt), who is also a CKF Board Member. I have also had the honor of teaching a Kickboxing seminar in Bradford, Pennsylvania at one of the CKF events. Most of these seminars finish with some hands-on sparring with lots of opponents before we call it a day.

A key rule that we emphasize in the CKF when working on Kickboxing is to “face our work” by use of high-wide kneel stance. In this stance, the rear foot is positioned on the ground as a bracing angle, allowing the foot to be launched quickly from that location. In essence, the foot is like an aircraft getting reading to take off, positioning itself as a catapult carrying its mass in a forward position. The value of this position is that it aids in the force of a strike when hitting a target. Moreover, by proper use of economy of motion, it eliminates the “and then” by not forcing you to waste energy and time. A good fighter knows this. Indeed, “position” is one of the eight considerations of combat in American Kenpo.

Interestingly enough, the vast majority of Kenpo Karate practitioners do not face their work when they do their Kenpo (I used to be in this boat as well). This can be detected by the posture that people take when preparing to spar or execute self-defense techniques. Just prior to the act of engagement, most Kenpo Karate practitioners will use the neutral bow stance, which the law of physics show is an improper position. In short, learn to face your work!