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    Do Not Think Dishonestly
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    Every Art
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    Pay Attention to Trifles
    Do Nothing Useless

Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi
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CONTACT: Kenpo

Way of Miyamoto Musashi and Kenpo -
Do Nothing Which Is of No Use

by
Will Tracy

Two is always one too many for the anchorite, an he does nothing which is of no use; nor does he do anything of use, except for himself. Dao and Zen simplify, and by simplification the seek the Way. But the Kenpo student of today can not even find an uninhabited cave, let alone one to live in to be alone; and, the reality of our world is, there is no past, it is gone, there is no future for it does not exist. There is only now, and that too is gone as soon as it exists. The state of the Way is Now, the Void, Wu Chi.

That is the broad principle, but narrowing this requires little more than observation. The world is filled with useless motion, senseless arguments over trivia, ideology clashing with ideology, personality against personality, ego against ego, will imposed against the weak, ad infinitum. These are the things that clutter our minds, they are elements of strife and the seeds of war; and, war has led Kenpo to adopt the principles of Sun Tzu. No student can master Kenpo without understanding the strategy of Sun Tzu, but that is another subject.

The Kenpo student must seek to first remove distraction from his art, and incorporate the principles of the Way into his life; and it is here that the rings of the Nine Principles come full circle.

One who trains in a flower style, where waza and techniques are flashy and filled with extraneous movement, where students waste their time trying to conceive of every possible move, instead of being taught those moves and committing them to heart, is filled with distractions. Those who think dishonestly see imagined faults in others that are a mirror from within.

Those who are not acquainted with other styles waste their lives imagining what others know instead of knowing it themselves. Those who judge intuitively without developing intuitive judgment, see the world as they believe it should be reductio ad absurdum. They cannot perceive that which is unseen, yet they see that which does exist, or what exists only in their minds. Nor can they pay attention to trifles, because doing so would destroy their ideology. (And as a note on ideology, the student should be at least acquainted with the philosophy of Destutt de Tracy, and active and passive touch.)

Taking the principle of do nothing which is of no use into Kenpo training, the student must examine his every move. We practice wide with expansive moves for training. This is virtually useless in practice, but it is extremely important in developing our abilities. As we develop, our moves become more compact; and as we begin to know Kenpo, our moves are more subtle. This is easier to understand in Tai Chi Chuan, where Yang style has Large, Medium and Small Frame, where Large Frame, created by Yang Cheng-fu, employs wide, expansive, soft moves; while Small frame, created by his uncle, Yang Ban Hao, employed hard, compact and direct moves.

I observed the master of modern Kenpo who, as a young man, had exceptional speed, and as he developed over the years, his moves became more compact so that in his final years, his speed was not as great, but his hand movements were far shorter and direct, so that any diminution of speed was imperceptible. This is how it should be. We say in Tai Chi, an ounce can move a thousand pounds.

The kenpo fighter stands with a leading arm and clenched fist with a chambered fist protecting his mid section. Why is the fist closed? Because an open hand invites broken fingers. Yet those with more experience, or those who mimic the masters, stand with a leading arm relaxed and fingers open. Why are they open? Because it is easier to move the wrist, and the open hand gives a higher protection. This is how intermediate Kenpo students used to be taught, standing with the leading arm comfortably extended with the hand open and erect; and as a fellow student threw a flurry of right and left punches, you would deflect the punch simply by twisting the wrist in and out. An inch of wrist movement deflects the punch past the body - an ounce moves a thousand pounds. The wrist does nothing which is not of use. Thus, the Kenpo master stands relaxed with open Fair Lady's hands, seemingly doing nothing; because he is in that state of nothingness.

The beginning student used to be taught strikes, inward strike, outward strike, upward strike and downward strike. Today they are taught blocks. But why only block? If the inward strike has the same effect as a block, and also strikes the attacker, then a block followed by a strike makes either the block or the strike of no use. The Way is in training. Do nothing which is of no use.

The beginning student learns to bring the inward strike with a clenched fist from his ear, diagonally across his body and focus the strike on line across his body. That is how we used to practice. This is useless movement for the master, but it is not only useful, and absolutely necessary for beginner's training. As the student progresses, he learns that the strike never has to go beyond a point that would deflect or debilitate the attack. An inch at the point of contact moves the attacking punch safely past your body. And the progressing student learns to shift the body narrowing any target, and requiring the leading arm to move no more than an inch either left, right or upward.

As one progresses even further, the student learns to deliver as much force in the striking twist of the wrist as from a fully cocked fist and arm. This has led some to believe they can reduce the number of techniques (thereby depleting the bouquet of flowers)

Added by Roarke Tracy: My father ended here in 1999. He told me this was an early draft and I'll post what he wrote after this when I find it. He didn't intend this to be on training methods. But said the Way is in training.


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©1996, 1999, 2006, 2015 by W. Tracy. All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced without permission.

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