I come to you with only empty hands, I have no weapons, but
should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should
it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons,
my empty hands.
The three stages of learning
Primitive or embryonic: you still don't know anything
of kenpo and you are beginning to learn the basic movements that appears
in techniques and forms.
Mechanic: You understand the mechanics involve in
the execution of the techniques, but not necessarily the flow between techniques.
You can neither react very instinctively to an attack, nor adapt the techniques
to variations in the attacks (force of the attack, height and weight of
Spontaneous: You understand both the execution of
the techniques and how they flow together. You react appropriately to an
attack without stopping to think.
Establish your base: If you do not have a solidly
based stance, you will easily lose balance and nothing will work correctly.
Keep distances: stay clear from the attacker and get
off the line of attack.
Control, disarm and execute the technique: The priority
in an attack is to control any weapon the aggressor may have and take care
of it. Once this is done, we can run the technique to eliminate the threat
of a new attack.
Strike and check: When we struck we must control and
avoid, be it with an arm, hand or leg, the possible cons of our opponent.
The check avoids vital areas to be exposed to the adversary.
Principles of force
Each technique of the Parker kenpo systemis based on one
of these principles. Although often several of these principles are used
in a technique, there's always one that stands out as the dominant force.
In fact, what we are doing is applying the physics formula
F = m · a , being the acceleration in the torque angular instead
of linear. In order to being able to take advantage of all the body mass
we must correctly shift from stance to stance, making the trunk work as
Marriage of Gravity:
It's the force we apply when we go in favor of gravity, that is, in vertical
and downwards. All the mass of the body is involved.
Back-up Mass: Like marriage
of gravity, but when moving the body in a straight line in a horizontal
Torque: It takes place when
turning or rotating and provides a great force in a small space.
Principles of movement
Economy of movement: You may not squander energy with
unnecessary movements and displacements.
Action-reaction: Each action of the opponent must
be followed by a reaction from our side.
Instantaneous acceleration: You must be relaxed right
until the moment of the impact, so that the power is maximum.
crest that represents kenpo as we now know it was created by Dick Tercell
in 1960, for the Ed Parker's kenpo association which with time turned into
The tiger: Represents earthly strength derived
from the early stages of learning. This is the stage where the individual
is more impressed with his own physical prowess.
The dragon: Represents spiritual strength
which comes with seasoning. This mental attitude is attained during the
individuals later years of training. It is placed above earthly strength
(as seen on the patch) since the individual at this stage has learned to
develop humility and self restraint. It's the intelligence that commands
The attitude of the Dragon is the ultimate goal of kenpo.
Armed with this attitude an individual will not be afraid of the opponent
but of what he can do to the opponent. Thus, he turns his back and walks
away from an unwarrented conflict confident that he could have been the
The circle: Is symbolic of several things:
It depicts life itself, a continuous cycle where there is
no begining nor end. So is it with the art of KENPO, it too is a cycle
of prepetual and unending movement or motion. Techiques follow a cycle,
movements are a part of a cycle, physical prowess, humilty and self restraint
are no more than components of a progressive learning cycle.
All moves evolve from a circle wheather they are offensive
The circle represents the bond of friendship that should
continuously exist among IKKA members.
The circle is the base from which our alphabet stems.
The circle dividing lines:
They represent the original eighteen hand movements, which
are the directions in which the hands can travel.
They are the angles from which an opponent or you can attack
They form the pattern in which the feet can travel.
That is, is a simplified representation of the Universal
The colors: Represent proficiency, achievement
The circle is gray because it is symbolic of the brain, since
it has always been referred to as gray matter.
The white background is significant of the many beginners
who form the base of the Art.
Yellow and orange represent the first level of proficiency,
the dangerous mechanical stage in learning where the student is more impressed
with the physical and thinks he knows all of the answers.
Brown, the color of the tiger's eyes, represents the advanced
students though not in great number. Also at this level the student becomes
more observant. His eyes, like that of the tiger, are keen, ever so watchful
and critical, always looking up to the higher levels of proficiency, striving
for perfection, preparing for the day he bares the level of an expert.
This level of expert proficiency is represented by the color black.
Red is that of professorship over and above black but, as
indicated by the colors of the dragon, there are still traces of white
in the dragon's eyeball, yellow or orange on the dragon's fins, brown in
the iris of the eyeball, and black in the pupils of the eyeball. This is
to remind the Professor that even he should always be so humble and be
able to go back to any level, whatever it might be, and perform the things
that he expects of others at these levels so as never to demand too much
of his students.
The oriental writing: Is a reminder of the
originators of our Art: the Chinese. It is in respect to them but not that
we serve them. The lettering to the right means Kenpo Karate, Law of the
Fist and the Empty Hand, which is the art we practice. To the left it means
Spirit of the Dragon and the Tiger, a constant reminder that we want to
attain the spiritual level and that the physical level is only a vehicle
we use to reach the higher level.
Another interpretation I've seen, which isn't described in
Parker's books, is that the top would represent the world in which we live
and the K at the bottom will be the whole of kenpo practitioners, the axe
would then represent the protection kenpo offers to its students.
The top of the crest is like a roof which gives shelter to
all who are under it.
The sides are curved conversely because like the roof of
a Chinese home it is to send evil back to where it came from, whenever
it tries to descend.
The bottom forms the shape of an axe that represents the
executioner. In the event a member is influenced by evil ideas and thoughts
contrary to our philosophy, he is cut off never to co-exist with us again.
Infinite Insights, vol. 1, chapter 2, Ed
The universal pattern
It has, same as the patch although more developed, the basic
possibilities of movement in the space.
Direction: Forward-backward, right-left, up-down,
as well as combinations of these.
Method: linear or circular.
Dimension: height, width and depth.
Angle. Sometimes expressed in degrees and other times
as hours of a clock, being the 12:00 the area in front of us when beginning
the movement or combination.
The terminology of kenpo, unlike what happens in many martial
arts, is translated to the language of the martial artist to be easyly
Some of the terms used come from traditional physics,
others are shared with other martial arts and the rest is kenpo's alone.
The definitions you usually find are a transcription from Parker "Infinite
Insights Into Kenpo" and you may find them in many sites, such as Brian's