Origin of Kenpo Karate
Setting History Right
BYU Judo Dojo
Blackbelted Mormon
Tercell's Kenpo Emblem
1965 and Beyond
Ed's First Shodan
IKKA Founding
Other Black Belts
Kenpo Seniority
Stillness of Movement

The Way of Kenpo
The 9 Principles
   Do Not Think Dishonestly
   The Way is in Training
   Every Art
   Intuitive Judgment
   Pay Attention to Trifles
   Do Nothing Useless

Yang Cheng-fu Tai Chi
Bong Soo Han As I Knew Him
Michael Chong
Apology to Ralph Castro
Jewel Shepard

CONTACT: Kenpo Contact

Way of Miyamoto Musashi and Kenpo -
Pay Attention Even to Trifles

Will Tracy

We have examined the flower and nut so far in the larger sense, without speaking of them as vessels through which understanding is gained. When a correct path to the Way is entered, the student becomes the nut that, with proper training and discipline will sprout, grow and eventually send out a myriad of flowers. But the nut can never come into existence without the flower, and in Kenpo training, the flowers are the techniques or waza. So this must be taken to the smallest, personal sense, attention is given even to trifles.

When confronted by a large man, we see his mass, but it is only when we pay attention to the smallest detail that we can truly comprehend the man. All battles are waged through deception, and deception is most often in the larger sense, the position of the head, the facial expression, arms, legs and posture. But the truth which is found in the Way, is first observed in attention to the autumn hair that rises or stiffens on his arm or the nearly imperceptive twitch of his scalp - every trifle. And thus, the rings circle within rings, and the path becomes more clear. The Way is in training, training in the Wind of tradition, in techniques, in principles and in strategy.

Every Kenpo master trained by rote, they practiced by rote and they learned by rote; and as every technique was committed to memory they paid attention to every detail, to every trifle. To master Kenpo, one must first know Kenpo. The student must know every hand foot, elbow, knee, shoulder, head and body weapon, every technique, every principle and every strategy, and he must know the smallest detail. There are schools that say you only need a limited number of techniques, and reduce the techniques to single waza, because you will learn to think for yourself. This is not the Way of Kenpo for it is axiomatic that "one may know how to win a battle without being able to do it."

It is a trifle of which every student must be aware, that Kenpo does not teach the student to think for himself. Kenpo teaches the student how to think and when a student knows how to think, he of necessity will think for himself. This is a small divergence, but it leads to a large divergence because without fail, the school that teaches the student a few techniques and to "think for himself" does not teach true Kenpo. Instead they teach ideology, to see the world as it should be, or as they believe it to be, and not as it is. They see only what they want to see, and fail to see the details, the trifles that are contrary to their ideology.

Kenpo teaches the Nine Principles; do not think dishonestly, the Way is in training, become acquainted with every art, know the Ways of all professions, distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters, develop intuitive judgment and understanding of everything, perceive those things which cannot be seen, pay attention even to trifles and do nothing which is of no use.

Any Kenpo student who follows these principles and learns strategy will learn how to think. Thinking for one's self is not a strategy. The world abounds with informant people who think for themselves, who ignore facts and detail and think for themselves. They think for themselves, but they do not know how to think. Knowing how to think is the heart of strategy, knowing the Nine Principles is the path to the Way, and the Way of Kenpo is not to think, just do it. In the Way, your thought is to have no Thought and your intention is to have no Intention.

If the Kenpo student understands nothing else, he must understand the mind (li / Intention) is first controlled by thought, and then without thought. But in order to come to that state, the student must pay attention to the trifles within. What is the nerve impulse that raises the arm? How can the arm be raised without strength? What is the sensation hidden by the larger sensations? You will never know unless you pay attention to trifles.

It's easier to understand this through movement than thinking about it, and there was a time (when I was a student) when the instructor would have the student hold a strike and concentrate on the sensation of how it was executed, and what brought the hands to completion. Most student's arms would drop after only a few seconds, but those who paid attention to trifles could mentally recreate the movement and thereby discover the origin of the movement.

This of course can be expressed better in Tai Chi Chuan than in Kenpo, because the postures are performed slowly and with (at least the intent of using) Intention (use mind not strategy). However, even the fastest of Kung Fu styles can produce the same result. Twenty five years ago, Bak Fu (White Tiger) Master Doo Wai and I would exchange styles, and where Kenpo moves are fast, the long Bak Fu forms are done with the same speed as a single Kenpo technique. Yet as different as Bak Fu is to Kenpo and certainly, Tai Chi, we both arrived at the same place, because we were both on a path to the Way. Neither of us could have arrived at that point with a few techniques, or without paying attention to trifles. I was the first non Chinese Master Doo Wai certified to teach Bak Fu, but my purpose was to be acquainted with every style, not to teach them, and to this end I brought Doo Wai to the United States so he could teach his style in this country.

The circles of the rings continue. Training leads to perception, which leads to attention to trifles

Added by Roarke Tracy: My father ended here in 1999 just before his accident. I asked him if there was more, and he said there is, but he didn't want to concentrate on making it coherent.

He told me the conclusion of this subject is, "Those who do not pay attention to trifles, fail to see reality, they create a philosophy of, Cogito Ergo Est, 'I think, therefore it is'. They think dishonestly."

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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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