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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories » Do you train with intent?

Do you train with intent?

In addition to Mr. Duffy and Mr. McCallum, the third instructor at the American Kenpo Federation annual Spirit Camp in early October was Mr. Dennis Conatser. Mr. Conatser is a fantastic teacher as he pushes you to think beyond the traditional movements of Kenpo. He wants you to discover avenues in Kenpo many don’t always explore and apply what you can to your martial arts experience. Having trained and traveled for many years with Mr. Ed Parker, Mr. Conatser’s perspective is unique and always entertaining.

When you train in Kenpo karate, do so with intent.

When you train in Kenpo karate, do so with intent.

The first class Mr. Conatser taught at Spirit Camp was to the beginner ranks. One of his opening points was about how you train, and therefore training with intent. Mr. Conatser called on me to stand up and perform Striking Set 1. So I did. After finishing, Mr. Conatser winked at me and called out Mr. Wilson (my instructor). “Is that how you taught him to do it? Nevermind, you come up and do it.” Now Mr. Wilson was standing in front of the class doing Striking Set 1. When complete, Mr. Conatser asked him, “What’s the purpose of this set?” The answer was to practice strikes. So the next question was how do you practice them. Mr. Wilson did the set again; this time with substantially more power behind the strikes.

Mr. Conatser’s goal was for us to see each set, each technique, and each form has a point beyond learning the sequence of moves. Memorization and coordination are important when you first learn the maneuver, but as you continue to practice you need to do so with intent. As demonstrated with striking set, it is not enough to learn only the order of strikes for the set. But you also need to do them with the same determination as if called upon in a fight or flight situation.

So how do you train with intent? My interpretation is you first have to get the motion down of the maneuver you’re trying to do. You should be able to perform the technique without having to remember each step. It should flow. Once you reach that plateau, the focus can shift to intent. What is the technique designed to accomplish? What are the targets? How much power is needed to stop a confrontation if you had to use it on the street? How close to that power can you get and not hurt a training partner? Knowing the answers to these questions, find a workout buddy and begin slowly ramping up speed and power. Now you’re training shows determination and intent. If you can perform the technique (sets, forms, and sparring) as well with control and intent, on the street you’ll be even better prepared.

Mr. Conatser expounded on many more points in addition to training with intent. Yet this concept was reiterated numerous times throughout the weekend. Becoming a martial artist capable of defending yourself involves more than knowledge, it requires application. To be effective at applying Kenpo, you have to train like you mean it: with intent.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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  • “Train with Spirit”
    “Live with Honor”
    “Act with Courage”
    The AKF Motto – what does that first line mean to you? It’s not just a catchy little phrase I came up with. That’s what good about seminars and camps…sometimes other people will phrase things differently or explain things differently that you have heard over and over again and it will click for you…that little light bulb go on inside your head and you get it.

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