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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » To Feel is to Believe

To Feel is to Believe

To hear is to doubt, to see is to be deceived, but to feel is to believe.  This is a Kenpo saying taught to Orange belts (both adults and kids) very early on.  In martial arts terms, it means just hearing about a move or technique doesn’t mean you understand it or can do it.  Seeing it done isn’t enough either.  You have to feel the maneuver performed on you and in turn perform it on another (in a controlled environment) to fully appreciate how the technique works.  Repetition is vital here as well.

Practicing techniques with partners develops the belief in yourself and in Kenpo

Practicing techniques with partners develops the belief in yourself and in Kenpo

Some schools put more of an emphasis on demonstrating the basics and techniques in the air (shadow boxing) as opposed to pairing students up to work on each other.  Which is great as muscle memory is being developed, but leaves out a critical aspect of learning.  Kenpoists are control freaks.  We control our bodies and control the body of our opponent.  It’s incredibly difficult to develop that level of control if you’re not practicing on another person.  And preferably it should be on a number of different people of varying sizes and weights to demonstrate everyone doesn’t move (or react) the same way.

At our school and all the schools we regularly visit, it’s a body-contact teaching style.  Even children learn to take contact and how to make controlled contact.  They get to “feel” what it’s like to actually make Kenpo work.  And that leads to a different view of this Kenpo philosophy.

The key to the Kenpo saying though may not be the “feel”, but rather the “believe”.  When you’re able to rip a technique on someone else, at speed, and with power and control, now you “believe”.  Now you have the confidence you can do it in an adrenaline-fueled fight or flight situation.  From this perspective, look at the Kenpo saying again.  Telling yourself how to do a move doesn’t work. To see yourself do it in the air doesn’t work. But to feel the move work on another person, now you believe it works and you can do it.

By the way, this philosophy isn’t restricted to just Kenpo. Think about it from an emotional perspective like Love. Hearing about it, seeing others in it, certainly not the same as feeling it for yourself.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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