By David Nishimoto
Morality guides the training of Kempo practitioners. Because the attitude of competition is removed from Kempo the training in done in a spirit of mutual cooperation. Masters share information with students to improve and close observed openings. In competitive environments the students must either pay for advanced information or be a part of the teacher’s inner circle. A certain degree of information is always withheld allowing one party to have an advantage over another. In Kempo, the assumption is the withdrawal of information creates imperfections. The goal of Kempo is to help the student obtain harmony, speed, power, perfection, and intrinsic energy. Kempo students practice in an partnership environment rather than an environment of opponent contention. The karate handshake and hug exemplify the good heart of the sharing.
In Kempo, the masters are always emphasizing the need for practice. Students must realize true learning does start until your exhausted from many hours of practice daily. Its during these times the movements are done without having to consciously think about them. The flow of energy and energy frequency creates a unique feeling. There was a reason the art flourished within the Shaolin Temples. Solitude and tranquility is a necessity to create the energy flow with the harassment of the interruption.
New movements become old movements and as natural as breathing. As the mind clears, divine inspiration to fills the void. Its during this period of time, enlightenment, innovation, and creativity exists within the individual. The insights are very stuble but the consequence have dramatic consequences. One insight, I realized after many hours of practice was the hidden strike is the one that knocks out the opponent. The half fist strike to the jaw proceeds around the opponents defense, it strikes without notice, and dislocates the jaw and traumatizes the neck.
The mind, body, and spirit integrating into one whole. If an student is in a fight, the process of response must be natural, direct, and relaxed. There is no right or wrong, only the process of the empty hand. The key word is empty. The mind must become empty. The reactions must have no pretext or assumption about their effectiveness. The range of motion will reveal itself, as the student feels the way, and responds. The feelings are quiet and the ability to listen to these feelings is the key. If a student must think about what the opponent is doing its to late. It they think that can smash them it the ground. Its more likely the intent will be revealed they end up getting smashed. For example, if an opponent is a boxer, thinking about the counter to a two hook punch, upper cut combination will result in a bad headache, the next day. The reaction may be an right outward crescent kick, left snap kick to the ribs; or a heel thrust to the knees, and a knee smash into the face of the opponent. The possibilities are really infinite and can only be expressed based on the experience and understanding of the practitioner.
What does it mean if the kempo student must hesitate during the performance of a maiming strike or a crushing kick to the groin, throat, or eyes? It means their morality is not good. The real question is why has the student engaged in such a dangerous activity. The danger itself forces a response. Not the other way around. The student does not force a response. It is not appropriate to second guess the response to real danger.
The first reaction in Kempo is to escape. Positioning away from the opponent is always a natural and prudent reaction. In nature, if you have the skill to approach a cat unnoticed and then scary it. The natural reaction of the cat is not to jump at your face. The reaction is leap away. If the cat is corner expect the claws and teeth of the cat, to cause injury. Kempo mastery of the art requires reactions to be deeply integrated into the individual. Perfection, is the uninhibited flow of motion. The three dimensional sphere around the individual is occupied with movement, energy, and flow. Nothing within in this sphere can become an obstacle. Kempo uses both the linear line and circle to strike directly or go around an obstacle presented by the opponent. The ability to project energy, listen to energy, and pure thought makes any obstacle a simple puzzle. I’ve observed how a snake fights. It remains coil and compressed ready to strike. Suppose, its fighting a cat, once the cat get in range; it strikes. The cat can be slashing at the snake, but its flexible enough to go around the strikes.
Its a myth that Kempo doesn’t use kicks. Kicking is an important part of self-defense. Its the long range weapon. Flexible and fast kicks are devastating. Kicks to the knees, groin, throat, head are all within easy execution and use. The mistake the kempo does not emphasis kicks comes from its consistent emphasis on the use of the continuous hands. The rule of Kempo is simple: the hands set up the leg strikes. Legs strikes provide the clearing technique.
So, creativity is the key to Kempo. The freestyle nature of the art allows the individual to use any and all motion. Morality restrains the individual from excessive force. Just enough force is required. However, extreme measures may be required. In those, circumstances the individual must decide to use intrinsic force to cause repairable damage. The effectiveness of Kempo is within the individual not the technique. This is the most awesome aspect of the art. All the techniques are of no value, and will seem weak and ineffective without the development of intrinsic power. The forms are dances, flow smoothly and with effort. Most martial systems of today pride themselves in their athletic prowess. They are fun to watch. If martial arts was about entertainment they will do fine. However, kempo practitioner must maintain the utmost commitment and dedication to their art. It is the concentrated and focused mind that learns to bring chi, into every punch. Intrinsic energy can be made to make the opponent feel heavy and weak. The striking capability with intrinsic energy does not require a wind up or a lot of body momentum. One to two inches more than enough to cause extreme damage. The strike starts with a physical motion, contact, the energy is already vibrating in the hand, the practitioner focus the vibration into the opponent after contact. Mental visualization, concentration, transfer the energy, and the effects go beyond anything most Martial Artist will ever understand. The key is the rooting of the body to the ground, years of continuous control of the energy in the hands, and the ability to move the intrinsic energy with the mind. Without this energy, Kempo would become another flashy and entertaining system to be toyed with. Critics would endlessly taunt the self-defense value of the art.