Kenpo – The beautiful but brutal art

We caught up with Carl Bell, a colleague at insure4sport as he looks to make a comeback after a 10 week layoff after a serious hernia operation. Before his injury Carl was all set to gain his yellow belt after eight months of hard training but unfortunately the injury has set him back. He hopes to comeback stronger than ever, he has given us an overview of the art of Kenpo, and his plans for progression.

What is Kenpo?

Kenpo or Arashi Kenpo to more traditionalists is effective self-defence techniques taught within clubs. Kenpo is a combination of Karate, Ju Jitsu and Kung Fu techniques, although Kenpo was originally created back as early as 200BC. The style used today is a mixture of several different techniques, for example it was used by James Mitose (a Japanese American martial artist who brought the art of Kenpo to the United States starting in the early 1940s.) in 1942 , Mitose then trained William Kwai Sun Chow  AKA Mr Chow (instrumental in the development of the martial arts in the United States, specifically the family of styles referred to as kenpo/kempo) who trained Ed Parker AKA Edmund Kealoha in 1956.

The style that Parker developed is now the system used in almost all dojo’s (place of study) teaching Kenpo or Arashi Kenpo/ American Kenpo today. Every dojo will use Ed Parker’s system but will all have their own slight alteration, therefore each dojo will have different methods for grading and progression, but the theory stays the same as it was back then.

Kenpo is based around animals and each fighting style has been nominated an animal, for example the snake would be quick and snappy for blocks and strikes, most commonly used in Karate or Judo. Whereas the lion techniques are strong, but not so quick, so grappling or take downs, most commonly used in Ju Jitsu or again, Judo.

Why Kenpo?

Before deciding on Kenpo as my new hobby, I was entertaining the idea of boxing and a few other martial arts, but upon visiting the school, it became very clear that they were very serious about martial arts.

From the student’s respect to the sensei (instructor) and to one another it was clear that there was such camaraderie between the group that it seemed like a little family. The grading and quality of the work was what made me consider Kenpo, that and the way that Kenpo I thought could help me in my personal life.

My Kenpo Experience

From the moment I first walked in to the dojo to date, I am still just as excited about what I can achieve from Kenpo and many of the other students go for various reasons. I knew nothing about Kenpo at the start, but within eight months I have learnt so much not just about the art but also about myself. I am excited about where I train and love every second of it.

I always promote Kenpo and do not go 1 day without talking about it. If people ask about it I tell them it’s much more than just; martial arts and fighting. It teaches a person more about themselves, keeps you fit and healthy whilst giving you great confidence.

Every belt I get, every certificate gives me a boost and makes me realise that I am capable of achieving whatever I want as long as I put in the work, the time and the effort.

Next Steps

I am hoping to be back in the sensei in the next week or so, but am conscious that I don’t want to rush back to early, my main goal when I return is to work very hard to achieve my yellow belt as soon as possible and then onto the orange and furthermore.

Stay tuned as we’ll be checking in on Carl’s progress as he aims to climb the Kenpo belt ladder.


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