FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This section discusses frequently asked questions with which parents and individuals should be familiar to determine which style and school is best for them. It also contains frequently asked questions about Kenpo and other Martial Arts systems, styles, and philisophies.
What style or system of Martial Arts is best for me? The best system to choose is one which adapts to your body, not one that requires your body to adapt to it. The Ed Parker Kenpo System taught by the USKKA, Aikido, and Judo are examples of such systems.
What should I know about the schools credentials? How many years have the masters trained? Can I contact their grand masters? Can the school trace their lineage back to Chinese, Japanese, or Korean systems? For example, USKKA President, Dr. J. Tindall has studied the Martial Arts for 22 years; his instructor is Master Stephen M. Snelson who has over 40 years training in the martial arts who studied directly under GrandMaster Ed Parker for about 35 years, who studied under William K.S.Chow, who studied under his father, who learned the art descended fromTamo (also called Bodhidharma and Daruma Daishi by the Japanese) during the years 515 A.D. to 565 A.D.
Ask about the school owners? Is the school owned by a national organization or by an individual? Does the owner actually teach or is teaching delegated to subordinates? Does the school follow an established system or has the owner made up his/her own? Is their a trial membership period? For example, most USKKA affiliated schools are individually owned, but follow the prescribed rank requirements as outlined by the USKKA and Grand MasterEd Parker
Also, most instructors of USKKA affiliation teach their students directly or their subordinates are personally supervised during all instruction periods. Ideally, any school will allow 1-2 free trial classes so the prospective student can determine if they like Kenpo or any style of their choosing.
Can I watch a class in progress? Are the students disciplined and respectful, but still having fun? Is the class taught by a qualified instructor? All USKKA affiliated schools are encouraged to let parents, friends, prospective students, and other visitors observe classes. Something is definitely wrong if the school will not let you observe aclass being taught or if the students are unruly during class and lack respect for their instructor. Also, the instructor or a staff member should be willing and eager to talk to prospective clients at any time. If they do so unwillingly or in a rude manner, either on the phone or inperson, it is advisable to seek another school.
How do students earn rank (progress to subsequent levels)? Some schools guarantee a belt after so many classes however, traditional schools emphasize a self-paced process which allows students to test for belts only when they have mastered required material prescribed for each belt level. For example, a beginner in USKKA affiliated schools begins as awhite belt and proceeds in turn (upon satisfactory completion of all requirements) to yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, 3rd brown, 2nd brown, 1st brown, and 1st to 10th degree black belt ranks. Typically a test is scheduled at least two months in advance and about two weeks before the scheduled test, a pre-test is given. If the student does not perform to expectations on the pre-test, they are not allowed to participate in the scheduled test. This helps them to maintain great self-confidence by preventing failure and embarrasment in front of their peers. It also insures that students at each respective belt level are of the highest quality and perform to the best of their ability.
Beware of schools that test every two months or so whether the student is ready or not; these schools are likely only concerned with your money and not the students well being or progress. The goal of instructors in the USKKA is to teach their students in such a manner that the student is better at each respective level than the instructor was. This insures great instruction, fosters goodwill and friendship between the instructor and students, and insures the highest quality Martial Artist and Martial Arts System. Failure to strive for this goal lessens ones credibility as, not a good, but a great instructor.
How many belts are offered in the system? Most traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean systems offer 8 to 10 belt levels from white to black belt. The USKKA offers 10 which is typical of these systems. Remember, it was Mr. Parker who promoted and standardized wide use of the belt ranking system in the United States despite such claims by others. In addition to the belt rank, some systems such as the USKKA will also offer stripes for each belt level (called kyu's) so that the student can feel like they are still progressing if it takes six months or more to reach the next level. However, these kyu's or stripes are not meant to be charged for separately as a test fee, they are simply used as identification for the instructor to know exactly where the student is in his/her training and as a motivational tool for thestudent.
What are your age requirements for students? Most good instructors will agree that 5-6 years of age is the minimal age for beginning Martial Arts instruction. Any younger than this is simply very expensive day care for the parent. The concepts are more sophisticated than a person under 5-6 years of age can understand.
What about emphasis on trophies and tournaments? Many schools use the instructors and students trophies as credentials. So many schools of various systems and styles have gone the competition route in which their only interest is in the next trophy. Don't be fooled by this. Just about any student can win trophies at various tournaments. Such practices promote extreme commercialism and prostitute the MartialArts. The emphasis of the school should be on teaching the student well, emphasis on performance, and emphasis on the true purpose of the Martial Arts which is self-defense. All other activities and training should be "icing on the cake".
Avoid schools that promote violence. Martial Arts are designed for self-defense, not aggression. It is not necessary to injure or severly pummel a student in order to teach them good Martial Arts skills. Oh, there will occassionally be bruises and blows which may sting, but this should not be the norm. If the student comes away badly bruised and sometimes bloody, this is not the school for you. Control should be taught at all times; this includes techniques and free-style sparring. It is not uncommon for someone to lose control, but the instructor should specifically watch for such students and you should feel free to ask the schools philosophy regarding sparring and other forms of fighting. A good school will never match a beginner up against a student more than two ranks his superior. Also, such match-ups should be strictly supervised to prevent loss of control. Absolutely no sparring shouldever take place unless an instructor is present. The breaking of bricksand boards is another questionable practice. It is not difficult to break a brick or small board and many instructors in all systems can and have done so, but an error caused by improper supervision can cause severe injury of nerves, bones, or muscle tissues. Also a brick or board does not bob and weave, bleed, or feel pain as would a real opponent. Breaking was originally introduced to demonstrate that a well placed Martial Arts punch, kick, or strike could severely injure an opponent.
What is the oldest known system or style? The oldest known system is the Kenpo system which was taught in the Shaolin Monastery in the Hunan Province of China by Tamo in 517 A.D. It was from this system that the Ed Parker Kenpo System descended and which theUSKKA teaches. The Korean system of Tae Kwon do is generally believed to be the youngest or newest system of Martial Art according to historical accounts.
What is American Kenpo? An updated and all inclusive version of Kenpo based on logic and practicality which has been designed to cope with the mode of fighting prevalent on our streets today. It was innovated by Ed Parker and has since become known as theParker Kenpo System. It involves defense and offense against punches,kicks, strikes, locks, throws, grabs, tackles, weapons, and more. Also,it involves the employment of balance, redirection of force, angles of disturbance, punching, kicking, striking, finger techniques, foot maneuvers, throws, joint strikes, spraining, dislocating, joint breaks, pressure points, control points, zones of protection and aggression, and much, much more.
What is Chi Sao? It is a training method practiced by Wing Chun stylists. The term means "sticky hands" while the concept involves the sensitive use of the arms rather than the eye sight to determine the release of a punch or strike.
What is Chuan-Shu? It is a term used in mainland China to describe the western term of Kung-fu.
What is Aikido? It is a sophisticated form of Jiu-jitsu employing circular movement to disrupt an opponent's balance by continuously redirecting the force of the aggressor. Included in the movements are throws, locks, twists, andstrikes to joints and pressure points.
What is a form? Aform is also called a kata in some systems. It is literally a short story of motion. These motions are both defensive and offensive maneuvers incorporated into a dance for learning purposes, individual training, and excercise. Forms are usually performed individually although the USKKA has several two-man forms and sets.
What is freestyle combat? A Martial Arts term for sparring with one of more competitors in classical competiton or street confrontation. The term sparring is usually reserved for tournament use for which there are very strict rules and the term combat implies use on the street where no rules apply.
What is Goju-ryu? An Okinawan style of karate founded by Chogun Miyagi. Goju-ryu is one of the five popular styles of Okinawan karate including, Kobayashi-ryu, Shoreiji-ryu,Shito-ryu, and Uechi-ryu. Kobayashi and Shoreiji are very similar styles and there are also many similarities among all 5 of these styles.
What is Hwarang-do? A Korean Martial Art system that teaches high principles and philosophies. Advocates are dedicated to the cultivation of spirit and health among the youth along with self-defense principles.
What is Jiu-Jitsu? It is an oriental form of wrestling known as the "body art". It involves twisting, spraining, dislocating, breaking, and using other like means to the joints and pressure points of the anatomy. Throwing is also an intergral part of the art.
What is Judo? Judo is a more gentle form of oriental wrestling. Referred to as the "gentle way" it employs grabs, hip and shoulder throws, in addition to arm or leg locks and holds.
What is Kajukenbo? It is an offshoot of William Chow's original methods of Kenpo Karate that was created by Adriano and Joe Emperado inHawaii which is blended with weapons use and other Martial Arts principles.
What is Kenpo? As spelled, it is a modern term describing one of the more innovative systems of the Martial Arts practiced primarily in Hawaii and the America's. Ken means fist and po means law thus, Kenpo means fist law in Chinese characters.
Whatis Shotokan? A Japanese system of karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi which emphasizes straight line power strikes and kicks.
What are Northern Styles--generally refers to those Martial Artsystems practiced in northern China. These systems place great emphasison utilizing the feet as weapons, rolling on the floor and stressed an array of acrobatic feats.
What are Southern Systems? This term generally refers to those Martial Art systems practiced in southern China. These systems concentrated more on hand instead of foot movements.
What is Tae Kwon do? A Korean system of karate that concentrates predominantly on kicks and linear motion.
What is Tang Soo do? A Korean system of karate that gives China the respect it deserves and is somewhat similar to Tae Kwon do, but utilizes the upper body more. The reader may wish to note that this is the system practiced by six time world karate champion Mr. ChuckNorris.
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