Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Laws of Kenpo: Law 2 Strike First

The Law: 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.
The kenpo curriculum also includes numerous grappling and throwing techniques, but research has shown they are used in less than 25 percent of the encounters practitioners have found themselves in, and they are ineffective against multiple attackers. Because grappling uses four times as much strength and energy as striking does, it has been deemed a last resort suitable for use only if your opponent penetrates your first and second lines of defense: your feet and fists, respectively.

Grey Commentary: I think that while the law of first strike and the idea of not waiting around for your opponent to assault you before deciding to act is sound, I feel that this is not applicable to every situation especially in cases of self defence or in work related environments such as security and law enforcement
I believe as far as the grappling commentary is concerned unless you are in a LE or security position grappling and locking up on an people and essentially trying to effect some kind of an “arrest” is not wise your goal should be to strike quickly and fiercely and get off the line of attack and get far away. Grappling with the intention of breaking a limb is applicable in my eyes as it is an effective way of incapacitating a foe that being said there are much faster ways of breaking limbs. My priority is to strike quickly and get as far away from this fight as possible if I am not being paid to be in this fight why would I ever want to stay there?

My stance on that is also not a whole “police/security vs civilian” argument it is simply examining the requirements of the situation if I am a police officer or a security officer I will need to detain the subject I am fighting with because they may be involved in a criminal investigation or might be trespassing and property or might need to be detained for other reasons related to their assault or attempt to flee. If I am a civilian and I do not have devices to restrain an individual it is not an effective use of energy to attempt such techniques.

The one spot I do see an applicable stance on locks and grappling would be to remove an intruder (like the bathroom window) from your home or place of business. strike first with multiple attacks some stunning blows followed by a power shot or two, circle around to a side, apply a joint lock and remove them from the area. That is in my eyes a very street relevant stance for grappling tactics.

The Laws of Kenpo: Law 1 The Circle and the Line

The Law: 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.

Grey Commentary: I think Circle and Line makes some sense from the most basic of positions. If the opponent steps in with a jab roll over the lead hand to cover the face shuffle step around to their side and then follow with a jab to the temple or a body shot or even a side kick the options are near limitless. That being said there may be instances where such a tactic is not the wisest option where I do not want to count them circling with a linear strike and then be inside their reach and instead circle around with them to maintain a fix on their position possibly circling with them will also allow me a position near an exit to allow me to escape in a street scenario or I may just not want to get close to them by going with the linear attack. Always have options.

The comments of circular blocking motions like parrying or circular outward/inward blocks has its place but I feel this is also relevant to linear fighting as well. I believe that checks and parry’s would be more applicable to circular movements as the goal is speed and not power where as a linear block would be more solid and have more power behind it.

The idea of the line overcoming the circle is a practice found in other traditional asian martial arts like wing chun which is a very linear style of fighting with regard to the centre line concept and its striking styles these styles can also found in parts of kenpo. I feel that both have their place but the reaction to a circle does not always need to be a line nor a line a circle.

This law need not also be applied from the movement of the body but from the angles of a strike, liner strike blocked by a circlular block, followed up by a liner strike of your own circling into another strike of your own followed by one more linear strike. Like the old boxing adage of head, body, head, body

Here is a video from Kenpo Master Larry Tatum. The video is a clip from one of his DVD’s and cuts out near the end but still offers some commentary on the law from a striking application. In this video Master Tatum reacts to a right straight punch with a right handed inward block, followed by a ridge hand to the neck, followed by an elbow to the face, followed by a hammer fist to the liver.  

Musashi's nine principles from the Book of Earth

"To all Ways there are side-tracks. If you study a Way daily, and your spirit diverges, you may think you are obeying a good Way, but objectively it is not the true Way. If you are following the true Way and diverge a little, this will later become a large divergence. You must realize this."
  1. Do not harbor sinister designs. Think honestly and truthfully.
  2. The Way is in training. One must continue to train.
  3. Cultivate a wide range of interests in the ten skills and ten arts. Then one can definitely find the benefits of hyoho and develop oneself.
  4. Be knowledgeable in a variety of occupations, and learn the thinking of people who work in them.
  5. Know the difference between loss and gain in worldly matters.
  6. Nurture the ability to perceive the truth in all matters. It is important to build up an intuitive judgment and understand true values.
  7. Be aware of those things which cannot be easily seen with the eye. Develop intuitive judgment and a mind that freely controls one's body.
  8. Do not be negligent, but pay attention even to the smallest details. Keep them in mind all the time, so as to avoid unexpected failure.
  9. Do not engage in useless activity. Do not argue about useless things. Concentrate on your duties. 
The nine basic attitudes listed are essential for freeing your spirit from negative thoughts that would interfere with the journey. They must be constantly drilled and you must take them into your heart. only once you have accepted these attitudes are you able to proceed.