“I come to you with only Karate, empty hands…”
American Kenpo Karate, sometimes written as Kempo, is a martial art codified by Ed Parker and largely viewed as a self-defense system. Parker’s style of Kenpo focuses on fast hand techniques used in rapid succession to overwhelm an opponent and ensure some strikes find their mark. Kicks, especially high kicks, can potentially compromise balance so are less common and usually directed at the lower portion of the body. Physically, American Kenpo concentrates on speed, strength, stamina, and balance. Each school’s emphasis will somewhat differ, but will also share some common core practices such as:
- Basic Principles and concepts —”Marriage of Gravity” is one such concept and refers to settling one’s body weight in order to increase striking force.
- Economy of Motion — refers to efficient movement and making sure every movement counts. Every block is a strike, every strike is a block — a block should be hard and directed at an opponent so as to injure and decrease their ability to continue attacking.
- Point of Origin — any natural weapon should be moved from wherever it originates rather than cocking before deploying it so as not to telegraph moves.
- Personalization — Parker always suggested tailoring a technique to a student’s personal strengths and needs once the “ideal phase” has been mastered.