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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Personal Stories, Philosophy » Kenpo can be a Vessel to Leadership

Kenpo can be a Vessel to Leadership

After a recent sparring class at our school in which Mr. Damian Wilson was a guest participant, he and I began discussing the progression of various aged students. As is often the case for us, the conversation turned to the philosophy of Kenpo and teaching it. Mr. Wilson really threw me for a loop when he said he was actually teaching leadership and Kenpo was the vessel he was using to do so. All of the life lessons we incorporate into the self defense training, such as discipline, loyalty, obedience, self-confidence, honor, clarity of thought, determination, quick decision making, patience, control, having fun, and compassion really build young individuals up, setting them on a path to leadership. He said we could do that kind of teaching through other mediums like football or even ballet. But we chose to do it with Kenpo since it’s our passion.

Kenpo is a vessel to learning leadership skills.

Kenpo is a vessel to learning leadership skills.

Let that sink in a second.

Wow. The obviousness and beauty of the statement floored me.  Spectacular.

I have always approached teaching Kenpo as something I needed to do for and with my kids simply because of how much Kenpo helped my self confidence when I was growing up. But I am in a leadership position, on the mat and off, in part because of the influence of Kenpo. From me, students learn to believe in themselves, to not be a victim, to always look for solutions, and have fun. While the terminology may not match Mr. Wilson’s exactly, the similarities are striking.

Do people come to martial arts like Kenpo seeking leadership training? Almost absolutely not. They come seeking self defense, self confidence against bullies, exercise, camaraderie, or any combination of reasons. The process may not be for everyone, but the ones who stay become better equipped with the tools of leadership, even if they chose to not actively use it regularly.

Other schools may not use Kenpo as a vessel to build leadership skills. But ours does. I’ve seen the results first hand in my children and other students. When you witness the students demonstrate quality life (leadership) skills in action, it sends goosebumps up your spine. In it’s own way, it’s more rewarding than seeing them do flawless self defense maneuvers.  Kenpo, it’s a vessel for leadership skills.  And goosebumps.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX


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