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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories, Philosophy » Cooking, Creating, and Kenpo

Cooking, Creating, and Kenpo

For the last 5 or 6 years, I have taken the Thanksgiving role as chief-turkey-cooker. It began when we saw a recipe for brining a tukey on Food Network’s Good Eats and wanted to try it. It came out great, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Putting the "ingredients" together is what helps you to own Kenpo

Putting the "ingredients" together is what helps you to own Kenpo

Each year since, as our tastes have changed and our guest list has increased, we’ve adjusted the recipe. So while we didn’t create the original recipe, or harvest the ingredients, or raise the turkey, we did take everything and make it into a great meal. It’s not say we’ve made the recipe better, but we’ve made it work better for us. This isn’t unlike how martial arts works too.

In Kenpo, Senior Grandmaster Ed Parker has created an outstanding system of self defense, incorporating blocks, strikes, stances, logic, motion, philosophy, and so much more. Each student since has followed a path for incorpating Mr. Parker’s “ingredients” into a “recipe” which best fits them. Ed Parker’s Kenpo allows each person to mold Kenpo to fit their body type, their strengths, and their abilities. The techniques and forms are guidelines to learn motion, concepts, and principles. (While also providing a common frame of reference for grading progress.) But the end goal is the ability to defend yourself and believe in yourself.

You could consider the techniques and forms to be “recipes” in a “cookbook”. If you perform them as is, it works extremely well. Self defense can easily be achieved utilizing these maneuvers.  But they’re also more than recipes; they are teaching tools.  Mastering the basics through the use of techniques and forms opens up the ability to create your own movement set.  Kenpo becomes yours.  In the same way experienced cooks no longer need cookbooks. They know the basic ingredients already, how they can relate to one another, and can freestyle a fantastic meal on their own.

Learning a martial art isn’t as simple as following a recipe. Far from it. The application requires discipline, training, observation, coordination and a host of other skills acquired through practice. But the point still remains that while we may not have created the individual components making up the Kenpo system, in the same we we didn’t create the recipe for dinner, we did put together the combintion which could save us in a self defense situation. Now if we could just do something about all the dirty dishes at the end of the meal . . . .

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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