I’ve recently began practicing my techniques, blocking set and kicking sets as well as short form 1 in my very small closet sized bedroom. This may seem counterproductive or ridiculous to some, but it really helps a lot when doing American Kenpo. For Sungadan, it definitely would not work at all. The stances and movement is far too wide for me to make any progress. In contrast, for American Kenpo, it actually helps me keep my form and stances tight and sharp and prevents me from using unnecessary space to do the movements. I find this really beneficial because I have the tendency to do wide large movements if I have the space to do so. Practicing American Kenpo in such a small space does not allow me to practice large movements or wide movements for any of the forms or techniques. I recommend this to anyone who is practincing American Kenpo or anyone who is practicing another martial art that requires small, close to the body sharp movements in each technique. Please leave comments! Let me know how this works for you: what problems do you encounter with this method of practice? What benefits you from working the techniques and forms in this type of space? Are there any other practices that you could recommend? Let me know!

Good luck!

A Symbol of the Ideals and Beliefs Taught in American Kenpo Karate

This is the crest of American Kenpo Karate. Actually, it is one of many crests as each school has its own variation. I tried to get a close to the original as possible, or at least as close to the ideals that Mando says he was taught. I asked him what each part of the crest symbolizes and this is what he told me:

“It varies between schools. It’s so diluted that many patches have many different meanings. Hear is how I learned it and what it means to me:
The top of the patch is like a roof. It protects and shelters all who are under it. The sides are curved because of the belief of many Chinese monks. They are curved so that they may repel evil demons and spirits and send them back to where they came from, should they descend onto your protection. The bottom is in the shape of an axe, the weapon of choice for an executioner. Should anyone in the home of Kenpo should ever be influenced by greed, gluttony or evil, they are executed and removed from the protection of Kenpo. The Tiger represents strength: A white belt that is strong and affective, but lacking the fundamentals of a mental fight. The Dragon represents Spirtual Strength: A Black belt with enough trainging to be deadly, even without ever physically touching an opponent; very wise and accurate. The Chinese writing on the left side of the image mean something like “Kenpo Karate, Law of the Fist and Empty Hand.” The right side literally translates to “Spirit of the Dragon and the Tiger.””

Thanks to Mando who has been kind enough to lend his knowledge, expertise and wisdom to my lessons, blogs and to you all out there in the world. Without him, my dream of learning a martial art may have never become a reality.

COMING SOON! Since I cannot seem to find many suitable videos on youtube or anywhere else on the web that demonstrates well executed techniques, forms, etc. I have asked Mando if I could film him doing each of them so that everyone who visits here and wants to see exactly what I am talking about in action, can finally do so wherever they are in the world. Therefore, very soon I am going to start filming Mando demonstrating the techniques of American Kenpo Karate as I learn them over time so look in the links and media categories very soon for video demonstrations on each technique, form and set. Over time, as I advance, he may also demonstrate how to apply them in real life and/or in tournaments, adjustments and the philosophy of American Kenpo Karate and martial arts.

Talk to you all again very soon!

There are, of course, many notable differences between the art of Sungadan and the art of American Kenpo, but the most evident one at first look is the difference in movement. For instance, in Sungadan, the stances are very wide and open. They require a lot more space than American Kenpo, which in contrast, is very close and in tight proximity to your body. I find it very awkward to practice each of them concurrently, both of which take a lot of focus to do, yet even more so on my part so as not to confuse the moves and stances between the varying styles. Therefore, in order to make it easier on myself, I have found that practicing American Kenpo in smaller spaces or rooms really helps to keep the moves closer to my body and to not waste the energy doing each of the techniques and forms by putting my arms and legs to far out of the way. The exact opposite is being practiced for Sungadan. I use my larger sized living room and focus on the open, wider movements to tackle these techniques because the radius of movement is a lot larger. I find this very helpful not only for movement and precise technique practice, but also for fitness. There is a lot of aerobics type workout involved in Sungadan, which requires more space while American Kenpo really does not require as much space and focuses more on strength training. Both do require quite a lot of cardio and strength training in the end, so of course, practice, practice, and then practice again! Because for some reason, your sensei or shifou ( teacher or master, respectively) will never EVER tell you that’s enough or that you’re good enough. So, that being said, there is never a limit to your what you can learn or to your potential. It is limitless. So aim high and good luck!

After spending this much time practicing the little that I have learned so far in martial arts, I’m starting to realize how much it affects your mind. I think that while it affects everyone differently, it has a profound effect on each of us, whatever that effect might be. For me, it’s a clarifying, calm experience, the same I experience during those moments of extreme fitness where you’ve just finished X amount of push ups or some other crazy exercise, one you never thought you would be able to complete so much of. You’re standing there, panting and sweating so much the salty sweat is threatening to burn its way into your eyes and yet, while you’re amazed that you were even able to do something like it in the first place, you almost crave more of it. You crave more of that feeling, that almost mind numbing clarity. It’s the same feeling for me with martial arts. I get that quiet focus which, to me, feels exactly like my meditation sessions and my mind recognizes that even though my physical body is in pain at the moment, I’m fine and I can do more if pressed. And I’m addicted to not only this kind of clear mindedness, but also the pain that brings it to me. It’s an odd feeling of not quite infallibility, but more of a possibility.. like anything you want to do is possible. And personally, I think we all need more of that feeling in our lives. That feeling that nothing at all can stop us in the world, that the world may even be working in mysterious ways, working to help us on toward our goals. I’m addicted to that kind of feeling. And, of course, it may just be that my body and mind are addicted to the endorphins that are being released every time I do this, but there is something to it. Something about it that feels a bit more fulfilling. Just food for thought. I leave you with this awesome quote from a book I really love. I definitely recommend it to those who like reading philosophical fiction about the journey to self discovery and life, etc.

When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
(The alchemist to Santiago, echoing the words of the old king.)