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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » A Humbled, Kenpo Snob

A Humbled, Kenpo Snob

Ok, I’ll admit it. For most of my life I’ve been a Kenpo karate snob. In my eyes, Kenpo was better than all the other martial arts because (my perception) it had an answer for every situation. But through exposure to others arts and a profound statement from Mr. Damian Wilson, I’ve come to realize otherwise. While I still love Kenpo, I believe cross training in some other arts has tremendous benefits.

Ground defense is as important as stand up defense

Ground defense is as important as stand up defense

Mr. Wilson said to me a well rounded martial artist should be able to defend long range, short range, and close range attacks including grappling/ ground work. It was like a “Well duh” bomb went off in my head. Being comfortable with the first two ranges, I’m definitely lacking in the third. How could I apply it and teach it to my students if I wasn’t comfortable with it? So I swallowed my Kenpo pride and looked for a solution.

I believe most Kenpo principles apply whether you’re standing up or on the ground. But predominately they’re taught standing up. Applying these principles from your back as opposed to on your feet takes some creative work. It can be done, and should be. But training with individuals who devote their primary practice to ground work makes good sense. No need to reinvent the wheel if a solution is already available. So I found a good instructor who understands my goals and have begun cross training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And we’ve begun adding a few of those drills to our regular Kenpo class workouts.

If a school bully pushes one of my students to the ground, I want them to have the experience on how to stop the attack. But should it get through, then they also need to know how to get back up while defending themselves. They also need to know how to deal with a bully who tries to attack while they’re still down. Understanding basic ground attacks gives them experience on what to expect and, with practice, the ability to use the knowledge to prevent the attack from occurring.

Devote time to a particular move before deciding whether it does or does not work for you. It’s a Kenpo saying blue belts learn. I had always considered it to apply to Kenpo techniques and maneuvers. But why should it have that limitation? Couldn’t it apply much more broadly?

Kenpo karate is the best martial art for ME. My comfort level will likely always be on my feet, but with further practice the comfort level might not be so one-sided. So I continue to work on grappling and ground work. My Kenpo journey has become more of a martial arts journey. It’s opened up a whole new level of excitement to see what other arts can offer to improve my martial arts skills and those of my students.

Who knows, now that I’m becoming less of a snobbish Kenpoist, I’ll come to be ok with the other arts who scream introductions to the judges at karate tournaments. Or that could still be a while.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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