Is Kenpo Karate really a useful martial art when facing your foes in the street?

Is Kenpo Karate really a useful martial art when facing your foes in the street?

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  1. If you understand it correctly absolutely it is one of the most Street effective there is however a lot of schools only teach the ideal phase and students believe that you have to do that entire long complicated technique you’re never going to pull all that off under pressure there are three phases to each technique in American Kenpo now if you’re referring to Chinese Kenpo I’m unable to answer that question I did not make it very far in that as I thought initially I was learning American and I transitioned when the truth came out that my instructor was a liar

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  2. Yes and no. As Mike Puorro pointed out, Kenpo teaches a very aggressive form of self defense and if you follow the pre-choreographed moves in response to an attack all the way to the end he’s right. The defenses of Kenpo are designed to link movements together to break a person down to not being able to get back up. They include groin kicks, and rapid attacks to vulnerable pressure points, muscles and joints and even the eyes and ears as part of the baseline system.
    What is also true though is you’ll execute movements in real life, how you practice most in the dojo. A lot of Kenpo schools teach the aggressive defenses but also cross train you in sport fighting for karate tournaments or, like my school, provide other more sport oriented systems like Muay Thai and BJJ to cross train in. If you’re experienced and have the control, you can also change your primary targets when executing techniques in the real world so that you don’t permanently disable a person.
    So in my case i do both so that i have a rounded approach to my martial arts. I practice Sho Biyn Jiu which has a base of Kenpo but mixes in some other arts to round it out a bit (ground fighting and some more kicking techniques than would be in Kenpo as taught by Ed Parker). I do want to know that i can put someone down though, if they choose to attack me when I’m out with my family or something.
    I know there will be nay sayers because so many associate McDojo’s and Kenpo because of Fred Villari’s system and chain school (Villari’s Self Defense Center) that turns out so many people that buy black belts over the course of a year or so. My instructor spent 15 years as a cop and often had to defend himself in the field and in some cases was forced to use some of his Kenpo to defend himself. Under a real instructor, practicing for real world scenarios Kenpo works. He’s often said the principles of Kenpo were some of the most useful in the field because of how they teach you to use each movement to line up the next movement and how flexible Kenpo defenses are. They are also designed to work in close quarters scenarios and has been assessed by some because of this and the contact point reaction drills that it’s like Wing Chung on steroids.
    You might start a baseline defense technique and because of how you end up aligned with the person in a real world scenario vs. in the dojo, you might realize midway through that the end of your technique isn’t going to work the way it does in class. The positioning might feel more like a part of a different defense or align you for a different strike, kick, takedown or whatever. As long as the movements connect to one another in a fluid way, it’s still Kenpo and that principle is an important one. This also happens if your first strike fails or they block something you weren’t expecting in the middle of your counter to their attack. You have to be flexible and be practiced enough to change your execution on the fly.
    See this video here. The instructor in it is demoing different applications for the beginning of the defense technique in Kenpo known as “crossing talons”. As you can see, he starts the baseline defense but changes the execution to rearrange the movements a few different ways all of which could be used to permanently disable and/or, with the neck snap, kill his would be assailant.

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  3. Is Kenpo Karate really a useful martial art when facing your foes in the street?

    Kenpo is just bad ass. It’s an OK combat system for sport like point fighting and kick boxing but it really shines in multiple opponent street fighting. It was designed for defensive and offensive protection. Having roots back to the days of bandits and brigands, one needed fighting skills when the law wasn’t around to intervene. Kenpo roughly translates to “Law of the Fist” and it was named that because sometime the only justice available was at the end of a fist. Originally the art was just called Kenpo and even in earlier times in China it was called “Chuan Fa” which basically meant the same thing . Only after Kenpoist brought the art to America was the surname Karate added to Kenpo. I surmise that it was because Karate already had roots in America that the Karate term was added. Whatever the reasons ,today the art is usually referred to as American Kenpo to identify with the reality of modern day street combat. Kenpo utilizes defensive maneuvers from grabs, holds, locks, chokes, punches, kicks, throws, multiple opponents, weapon wielding opponents with a club, knife or gun as well as combinations of all of these attack, Offensively one studies the art of attacking vital points located in the five major anatomical systems; bones, muscles, nerves, blood and breath. for example after an opponent extends their arm to you a strike to the inside brachioradial muscle and nerve followed by a strike to the carotid sinus and throat which will cause pain in the arm and a drop in blood pressure to the opponent causing them to pass out. The Kenpo system is developed by working with a partner both learning to develop the accuracy and speed necessary to escape, target the vital points, strike multiple areas and obscure counter attacks. This practice is done slow and then the speed and power is increased so that it becomes real time eventually. One half of the art is hitting while the other half is getting hit and learning how to armor the body and organs to withstand average amounts of impact. That’s Kenpo in a nutshell, Bad Ass.

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  4. Let me let me start by saying I love Kenpo Karate over every other karate or kung fu Wing Chun or everything else with the exception of Krav Maga which is the best and teaches real effective Street defenses but since most of Kenpo relies on the horse stance you stand a good chance of getting struck in the groin as most Street Fighters Target the groin. No American Karate is really traditional karate traditional karate utilized throws chokes joint manipulation Etc traditional karate is a better self-defense but it is little utilized anymore in my opinion if you want a real good street fighting Defense krav maga is the way to go teaches ground game and effective and devastating strikes

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  5. No. My foes in the street are such tough guys, I need something really useful. Sometimes I will be walking down the street and my foes will just keep popping up out of nowhere. It’s crazy.
    In the US, a gun cost $50. Bad guys carry them. Kenpo is useless against a gun. There are knives and other weapons in every kitchen and tool box. Kenpo is useless against a knife. People looking to jump or maim someone on the street usually travel in groups. Kenpo is useless against a group of bigger stronger people who have already gotten the drop on you. In fact, virtually every martial art is useless against a foe on the street because those street foes often carry guns, knives, other weapons, or travel in groups.
    Most trouble where non lethal force is an option can be avoided by walking away or calling 911 on your cell phone. Most trouble can be avoided period.
    Any martial arts instructor who tells you that a particular style is effective or useful in a street situation is an idiot. Effective against who? A bigger stronger younger more aggressive/experienced street fighter?
    My style is called No go duh. It’s simple. I don’t go places where trouble is likely to occur. If I am confronted with a criminal, I give them my money and call the cops afterwards.
    In my 20s, when I was a more aggressive putz, I got in a stupid avoidable physical confrontation. I had practiced years of traditional karate and boxed in college. But ultimately I grabbed a hold of him and wrestled him to the ground because I had spent hours wrestling in high school and it was instinct. The difference was that my wrestling had been pressure tested against other well trained wrestlers. I knew it was effective and worked. Id gone live several hours a day for years and competed in live contests regularly. I’d also sparred in boxing so I’d been hit before and didn’t freak when he sucker punched me, and I returned a very hard counter. But at the end, I was a young athletic guy who knew how to wrestle and control him. I wasn’t going to stand there and trade punches or kicks with him.
    Kenpo could be a real art where you’re really sparring regularly and hitting a heavy bag; or it could be dancing and punching air in a McDojo. I would be very surprised if you got the experience from most Kenpo schools needed to defend yourself on the street against a boxer, wrestler, or kid who’d been in a lot of scraps. Those are the type of people who go looking for street fights. Getting punched in the face or thrown down on the ground is a unique experience. You need to have live sparring. It’s hard to get the equivalent of 5 or 6 years of middle and high school wrestling, every day going live, by going to most for profit studios. If you are talking schoolyard fights with your classmates, wrestling can’t be beat. Nobody gets hurt and you avoid getting hurt yourself. If you are talking real street fights, it’s a big risk to try and bang with someone on the street.
    Kenpo Karate is a useful place to drop your kids off for an hour or two at the mall so you can work at Starbucks on your laptop.

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  6. Some of the strongest fighters I have seen have their foundation taken from solid, old-school, Ed Parker Kenpo.
    On the other hand, I have “played” with some modern Kenpo artists who just didn’t have that same edge. They lacked those little touches that would make their stuff more practical.
    That being said, some of the best Kenpo artists switched to Bruce Lee’s style (which was tweaked to become his JKD), because Bruce Lee was able to beat them easily with what he knew.
    So, is JKD better than Kenpo?
    Well, I have seen some strong schools, and I have seen some weak schools.
    Sometimes, it’s not so much the style as the quality of the teacher.

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  7. With risk of being flamed, I’ll say not really. It does look impressive, but as I see it, is more bark than bite. 2 KK fighters can be enjoyable to watch, I do agree to that. The trouble is when an opponent does not conform to the set KK moves, and just headbutts the KK guy.
    That’s my tuppence, and it’s completely subjective. But it’s what a Krav Maga practicioner is seeing.

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  8. No and here’s why.
    No situational awareness – Karate (namely Kenpo) lacks situational awareness training. This is very bad. Karate trains you to deal with fights. It doesn’t train you to defend against attacks which are unexpected. Alot of Karatekas who were attacked got punched before they realized what happened.
    No power – In alot of Karate styles, the punches lack KO power. This makes it harder for you to quickly take out any attacker. Karatekas tried punching their attackers in combat and it hurt, but didn’t do much damage. They kept going.
    No defense against weapons – Another problem with Kenpo Karate is the lack of realistic defenses against armed attackers. The flashy stuff is very unlikely to work in the heat of combat. Just got done making a video showing Karatekas who got attacked. Most were hospitalized or killed. One in particular got pushed to the ground. Before the Karateka could get up, she got hit in the head with a stone. Her head was bleeding profusely and she was helpless at that point.

    No defense against multiple attackers – Another problem with Kenpo Karate is the lack of realistic training against multiple attackers. One Karate champ. got approached by a group of armed attackers. They stabbed him to death. The girl in the Amanda Knox case fought back against multiple attackers, but she got stabbed and died with a slit throat.
    In conclusion, it’s not really useful for self defense. Karate will get you beaten or killed on the streets.
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  9. IMHO Kenpo is like most “traditional” styles: it’s street effectiveness will greatly depend on how you train and drill.
    I have found that you need to train with the energy, power and contact you will encounter in the street.
    Kenpo’s hundreds of techniques introduce you to a wide variety of strikes, blocks and mechanics. But in IMHO, you need to go beyond one-step sparring where you’re defending straight jabs, reverse punches et al delivered one at a time from a passive attacker. You need to be able to deal with haymakers that come arcing down, attackers that fight back, multiple opponents and weapons.
    In my experience, very few “traditional” schools put students through drills that let the students experience, least wise deal, with these situations. More to the point, very few schools and teachers have drills that enable students to use the complex/fancy techniques in street situations.
    Most sparring devolves into at best, simplified kickboxing, and at worst point-fighting. Kickboxing usually involves a couple of go-to moves that could be useful…if done with power: Thai kicks and crosses.
    IMHO, point-fighting is entertaining and decent cardio, but gives a false sense of security that a student has the juice to deal with the Street. Pulling punches is not a good attribute for the Street.
    Sorry for the drawn out reply, but the simple answer is Kenpo is effective if trained and drilled properly.

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  10. My Black Belt is in Kenpo, but not the American variety. I have survived and won when it mattered, in real fights. It has gotten watered down in the American variety, but in my family we have far better footwork and real live bare knuckle, no pad sparring. Just look up Anthony Thomas Martial Arts on You Tube. You can see it there.

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