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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » Deflection, then Infliction of Pain

Deflection, then Infliction of Pain

Deflection, then infliction of pain is a Kenpo concept all beginners learn (kids and adults) on the path to earning their first belt. At the core, it means you get out of the way of attack from an adversary and then reengage the opponent with the intent of stopping the confrontation. The philosophy, while easy to understand, is so important to the Kenpo system, it’s ingrained in all students from the very outset of training.

Deflection then infliction of pain

Deflection then infliction of pain

Deflection refers to either moving your body off the line of attack or redirect the line of attack away from you. Blocks are the first defense taught to students. Using your power to stop or move the attack. At the same time, students learn to use their feet in conjunction with their hands to move their body out of the way. As these beginning deflection concepts become more fluid with students, they learn to redirect attacks harnessing their opponents energy through parries or side-steps. The end goal always remains the same. Stop your vital targets from being hit, either by moving the target or moving the attack.

Infliction of pain comes after the deflection to ensure you have minimized your initial damage risk before attempting the counter-attack. But the counter-attack does come and the intensity is based on the intent, power, and circumstances of the opponent’s first attack. (Whatever the attitude, so the response) Counter attacks begin with simple punches and kicks evolving into more complex body manipulation combinations. The purpose is always to use just enough offense to stop the situation and allow flight as necessary.

Every student is always focused on the “Infliction of Pain” portion of the Kenpo saying. And why not? It’s this part where the offense is shown, where the flash of the system really shines. But the key is really the “Deflection”. Wisdom my instructor, Damian Wilson, always imparts is the most important part of any technique is the first move. The move where you get out of the way. If you miss that move, you likely won’t get the chance to do any of the others. None of us are big and strong enough to take very many hits. Better to get out of the way, look for openings, and make sure the opponent can’t throw strikes any longer.

At the AKF Spirit Camp seminar in 2010, Mr. Conatser, said as we progress further in the Art we learn deflection WITH infliction of pain. Meaning we learn to move our body out of the attack or move the attack while counter attacking at the same time. Getting there takes time, practice, and patience. Racing past and not mastering the deflection step almost guarantees you don’t get to do the infliction step.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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