Kenpo Karate Master Jeff Speakman Suffering From Cancer

On February 3, 2013, Jeff Speakman, student of kenpo karate legend Ed Parker and founder of kenpo 5.0, announced that he’s suffering from throat cancer. Specifically, he was diagnosed with a stage-4 tumor in his esophagus.

“Because of the proximity to my vocal cords, surgery is not an option due to the possibility that my voice may be lost during surgery,” Speakman posted on his Facebook page. “It is for that reason that I have elected to move forward immediately with chemo and radiation therapy.”

Speakman, 54, said his doctors are optimistic and his hospital, City of Hope in Duarte, California, has a 90-percent success rate treating this type of cancer.

To receive updates or to express your best wishes, visit the Facebook page for Jeff Speakman’s Kenpo 5.0 — World Training Center.…

Taejoon Lee: Hwa Rang Do Sword-Fighting Demo

From July 30 to August 7, 2010, the World Hwa Rang Do Association held its 50th-anniversary celebration in Los Angeles. It included black-sash testing; a tournament that attracted practitioners from as far away as Italy; and lectures by Dr. Joo Bang Lee, the art’s founder, and Taejoon Lee, the art’s grandmaster. For many, the highlight of the 10-day event was Saturday’s banquet, which featured a demonstration of hwa rang do grappling and sword fighting, speeches by Joo Bang Lee and Taejoon Lee, and the screening of a broadcast-quality hwa rang do documentary. In this exclusive video shot at the banquet, Grandmaster Taejoon Lee and several of his students demonstrate hwa rang do sword fighting.

10 Kenpo Laws Every Martial Artist Should Know

For decades, kenpo has been renowned in the West as one of the most effective and efficient martial arts in existence, and for hundreds of years before that it enjoyed a similar reputation in Asia. Much of that success can be attributed to a set of fighting principles that has been defined and refined into an exact science through the efforts of scores of masters who knew the meaning of trial by fire. This article outlines 10 of those laws for the benefit of all the martial artists who have not had the opportunity to experience them firsthand.

Kenpo Law #1: The Circle and the Line

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.

Kenpo Law #2: Strike First

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.

Kenpo Law #3: Multiple Strikes

Kenpo is different from many karate styles in that it teaches you to strike first and strike often in rapid succession— high, low, straight in and along a circular path. While unleashing such rapidfire strikes, it becomes difficult to kiai (shout) in conjunction with each one.

Therefore, you should forget about issuing a kiai with each blow; in fact, doing so means you are expending excess energy.

Your first and second strikes should be designed to stun, distract and slow your opponent. Your third and, if necessary, fourth strikes are the power blows. Remember the kenpo maxim: First set your opponent up, then take him out.

Kenpo Law #4: Targets

If you had to punch a hole through a wall, would you rather hit a half-inch of sheet rock or a 2×4 stud? The answer is obvious, and it’s also why kenpo advocates striking “soft” targets. No one ever broke his knuckle punching an attacker’s temple, no one ever fractured his instep kicking an attacker’s groin and no one ever injured his knifehand striking an attacker’s throat.

In Japan the makiwara board is used to toughen the hands, and in Thailand muay Thai fighters harden their shins by kicking banana trees. Kenpo is different in that it teaches the path of least resistance and least pain. Precisely targeting the temple, face, nose, neck, solar plexus, stomach, groin and floating ribs is superior to simply pummeling away on random parts of the aggressor’s body.

Kenpo Law #5: Kicking

Kenpo’s mandate to kick low is based on logic. A roundhouse kick and spinning reverse crescent kick to the head may be flashy and impressive, but such maneuvers take longer to execute because your leg has to travel farther.

They also expose your groin to your opponent’s kick. Because kicking high requires superior balance and focus, you should practice your leg techniques high. But deliver them low for self-defense. Furthermore, kicking low to the legs—executing a “pillar attack”—can break your opponent’s balance and his leg.

Kenpo Law #6: No Block

Kenpo emphasizes economy of movement and economy of time. Hence, its no-block principle teaches that to avoid being struck by a punch or kick, you should move your body out of harm’s way. The most advanced defense taught in the martial arts, it was perhaps best expressed by the old Shaolin priest in the Kung Fu television series: “Avoid rather than check; check rather than block; block rather than strike; strike rather than hurt; hurt rather …

The Life of James Mitose: Kosho-Ryu Kenpo’s Founder

“Kenpo is my family’s art.”

On December 30, 1916, in the rural North Kona district of Hawaii, a Japanese couple gave birth to a child they named Masayoshi Mitose. In the years that followed, he adopted the given name James and rose to fame as the man who brought kenpo to the West. Through his own words (in italics) and actions, we can trace the steps of this remarkable martial artist.

Born on a coffee plantation, James Mitose remained there until October 22, 1920, when he traveled with his sister to Japan and lived under the care of their grandfather.

“I was to take over the family business, including religious activity.”
Their destination was a village named Kumamoto-Higashi-Tomochi.

“I learned kenpo in a large temple on a mountain named Akenkai.”
For two years, he cleaned the temple, swept the floors and served the monks and members. Only then was he allowed to receive an education.

“The temple was serving as a school, in which we had some ritual of Indian style.”

Half of each day focused on religious activities, including the study of Sanskrit. The other half focused on kenpo.

“There are many grades or classes in the organization, starting from, say, archbishop or bishop [and] down to a monk. It is different from karate, different from black belts [and] brown belts.”

James Mitose had his head shaved in the tradition of Buddhist monks. He learned the Japanese interpretation of Buddhism, as well as Christianity and various religions from India and Tibet. He prayed to his ancestors and the Buddha so that all things would succeed. He studied the Bible and learned Greek philosophy. The philosophical aspect of kosho-ryu kenpo, the art he later founded, was heavily influenced by those studies, especially the edicts to do no harm and to blend in with the environment.

“There was a time in the temple [when I] planted a vegetable [and] killed earthworms by mistake, and I was not allowed to eat for three days. In Japan, [it] is known that if you kill anyone, it would for seven generations be suffering with the child. Everybody suffers, so you cannot do such things.”

Japanese stories were told to the youth. Those tales would later define the essence of kosho-ryu kenpo and the way it related its philosophical views to everyday living. The stories eventually found their way into James Mitose’s books, which he wrote to convey his message of peace.

James Mitose’s training at the temple included lessons in human anatomy, escaping patterns, energy collection, Japanese yoga and nutrition, as well as a body-contact art that revolved around pushing and pulling skills. He also learned balance, coordination, timing, and concepts of motion and movement.

“When there was a funeral in the village in the winter, I accompanied [the procession] as a pallbearer.”

The temple monks always strived to give back to the community. Because even the closest hospital was too far for the villagers to walk to, the monks often worked as doctors when illnesses arose. James Mitose became a natural-food specialist. He learned about herbs and used his skills to help the villagers. In the surrounding areas, he and his peers often traded manual labor for food and other goods.

“I was educated to take care of myself. Unless I work for the day, I should not eat. So rather than go out begging for the foods, I tried to raise foods myself, in group activities with other members of the organization. Except Archbishop, all others were engaged in such physical work, in the planting of rice, in the field, cooking the rice, chopping the firewood.”

A turning point came in James Mitose’s life when his training and dedication helped him transition from monk to minister at age 18. His mind began to wander from the temple, however, and his body soon followed.

“I was relieved from the group life and became free.”

For the next two years, he toured the countryside with others from the temple. He worked with local law enforcement and eventually came across a military exercise being conducted on the mountainside to ready citizens for battle.

“At the time, even the elementary schools were taught military training in preparation for war with America.”

Propaganda spread throughout Japan. Every citizen was ordered to take up arms and, if need be, defend the nation. Violation meant immediate prosecution and likely imprisonment. That, of course, stood in opposition to the monastic way of nonviolence.

“In our Law of Fists, we are not supposed to obey the order of even the emperor or the supreme commander of the military forces. My brother and I were against those military operations. Some were arrested. The people around me suggested I return to Hawaii as quickly as possible. Otherwise, I might be jailed [in] a