Laws of Kenpo

I can not take credit for these as I found this and liked it.   Although I did change two of the laws to be more applicable to MSD Knepo Karate, for the most part, this is a copy of the original article I found.

I believe the original article was published in Black Belt Magazine.

 

Kenpo Law #1: The Circle and the Line

The first law of kenpo states that when your opponent charges straight in and attacks, you should use your feet to move your body along a circular path. You should also consider moving your arms in a circular pattern to deflect the oncoming force.

When your opponent attacks you in a circular fashion, however, you should respond with a fast linear attack —along a straight line from your weapon to his target. Just as the circle can overcome the line, the line can overcome the circle.

Kenpo Law #2: Strike First

This principle has several meanings. First, it indicates that kenpo is primarily a striking art. Seventy percent hands and 30 percent feet is the classical breakdown, but you can change the proportion according to the circumstances or your body build.

The second meaning is that if a confrontation is inevitable—a thug is climbing through your bathroom window at 2 o’clock in the morning and he starts swinging a baseball bat—you should not wait for the aggressor to attack first. You need to hit him first with a foot, a fist, an elbow or a knee. You also need to hit hard and hit continuously until he is subdued.

Kenpo Law #3: Multiple Strikes

Kenpo is different from many karate styles in that it teaches you to strike first and strike often in rapid succession— high, low, straight in and along a circular path. While unleashing such rapidfire strikes, it becomes difficult to kiai (shout) in conjunction with each one.

Therefore, you should forget about issuing a kiai with each blow; in fact, doing so means you are expending excess energy.

Your first and second strikes should be designed to stun, distract and slow your opponent. Your third and, if necessary, fourth strikes are the power blows. Remember the kenpo maxim: First set your opponent up, then take him out.

Kenpo Law #4: Targets

If you had to punch a hole through a wall, would you rather hit a half-inch of sheet rock or a 2×4 stud? The answer is obvious, and it’s also why kenpo advocates striking “soft” targets. No one ever broke his knuckle punching an attacker’s temple, no one ever fractured his instep kicking an attacker’s groin and no one ever injured his knifehand striking an attacker’s throat.

In Japan the makiwara board is used to toughen the hands, and in Thailand muay Thai fighters harden their shins by kicking banana trees. Kenpo is different in that it teaches the path of least resistance and least pain. Precisely targeting the temple, face, nose, neck, solar plexus, stomach, groin and floating ribs is superior to simply pummeling away on random parts of the aggressor’s body.

Kenpo Law #5: Kicking

Kenpo’s mandate to kick low is based on logic. A roundhouse kick and spinning reverse crescent kick to the head may be flashy and impressive, but such maneuvers take longer to execute because your leg has to travel farther.

They also expose your groin to your opponent’s kick. Because kicking high requires superior balance and focus, you should practice your leg techniques high. But deliver them low for self-defense. Furthermore, kicking low to the legs—executing a “pillar attack”—can break your opponent’s balance and his leg.

Kenpo Law #6: Do not Waste Energy

Energy is precious in a fight and cannot be wasted unnecessarily.   Movements need to be relaxed and free from restriction.  Once a body is tense it fights itself to move and wastes energy.  However, the loose and relaxed fighter save energy and be much quicker.

The principle,  point of origin, should also always be used.  In Kenpo you do not wind up to strike or block, rather you strike and block from where your body is at that moment in time.

Kenpo Law #7: Motion is important

Kenpo is taught using may techniques and forms but it is not the technique that is important but rather the movement behind the technique.    For example, an inward block is taught to block a full swing hook punch but, in reality, there are better blocks that can be used.  However, the motion of blocking from the hands point of origin is important to learn as it is repeated in many techniques as strikes and blocks.  It is the same motion.

A person studying Kenpo starts with technique and forms but has to transcend the forms and techniques and understand the motion.   Then, at any point in time, the motion can be used offensively or defensively in a fight.

Kenpo Law #8: Mobility

Mobility may be the easiest kenpo principle to understand. It holds that a moving target is harder to hit than a stationary one. As basic as that sounds, many martial artists fail to implement it.

Kenpo teaches that there are three types of fighters: the statue, who has little mobility and will not retreat; the runner, who has to be chased around the ring; and the steamroller, who just keeps coming at you. If you are any one of these, be careful because you are predictable and can thus be defeated. To transcend mediocrity, you must mix things up and no matter what, keep moving. If your stance is upright and your movement is good, you will be able to put yourself in a superior position relative to your opponent.

Kenpo Law #9: Flexibility

The law of flexibility is the law of survival. Kenpo is unique in that it adapts to your build, personality and spirit. If you stand 4 feet 10 inches tall, it makes little sense for you to focus on kicking when your greatest strengths may be mobility and quickness. If you are a 110-pound woman, it makes little sense for you to grapple with a 230- pound assailant. The old kenpo masters showed their wisdom when they proclaimed that in a fight for your life, you should use what you know best and forget about the sanctity of the style. Every practitioner has different attributes that can make him or her effective.

A tall person with long legs may have an advantage with kicking; a short person may have an advantage with his hands; and a heavy person may have an advantage in grappling. The law of flexibility allows them all to develop their own repertoire of techniques from within kenpo.

Kenpo Law #10: The Warrior Spirit

The final principle of kenpo is composed of two essential components: the internal and external. A rabid dog may pose a formidable threat, but it possesses only the external component of the warrior spirit. Inside, the animal is not thinking. To have a complete warrior spirit, you must be ferocious on the outside but calm and tranquil on the inside.

Samurai warriors used to say that any day is a good day to die. That did not mean they sought death. On the contrary, they wanted to preserve life— especially their own. But they knew that if they went into battle with fear in their heart, they could die or sustain a serious injury. They knew that only by embracing and accepting death could they focus everything on the physical task at hand: defeating the enemy.

Your kiai, facial expressions, stance and on-guard position must all work in unison. Following the principle of yin and yang, you should be hard on the outside and soft on the inside. When used in this way, warrior spirit can be more important than physical skill.

Following Kenpo’s Laws

Perhaps the best way to put the 10 laws of kenpo into practice is to think of them as keys that can unlock the doors of higher learning. Remember that they are not written in stone, as there are exceptions to every rule.

 

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