Thursday, September 30, 2010

New article added

I've posted a new addition to The Kenpo Instructor's Handbook in the Members section of my website at Here's an excerpt.

Group versus private instruction

There is no doubt that private instruction is of great value. Tutoring is a service touted in all areas of skill-building endeavors. Group instruction is cost- and time-effective. Mass instruction spreads the expense of the facility and teacher amongst the students (or their parents/benefactors).

I had lots of private time with Ed Parker and other teachers. I used it to ask the questions I always wanted to and the discussions that would often go with the answers were valuable. In a group that opportunity is often missed due to time constraints or the composition of the group. When a mixed class of white to black is working and the black belt has a question, it often requires an in-depth answer. That may not help the white belt and lack of time may not satisfy the black belt. If there’s no time after class to talk the learning opportunity can be lost. And this is the point of the article. While private time is perceived as being the best vehicle for learning, that simply may not be so.

That said, I am a fan of the semi-private or small group session. I like to tell people that two or more brains are better than one. You can have the “fertile, prepared mind”, take notes furiously, and ask great questions. Yet when you have that other brain there, that perceives things differently, it may generate a question you may never have thought of. That question can open up a whole new line of thought, bring to light facts you never considered and the like. That’s the value of group instruction. It touches more than one individual, spreads cost, allows input and discussion from more than one source and triggers other insights. Peer pressure tends to make those involved stay involved. If you’re going to take privates you have to accept the responsibility that goes with it.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Guard

These two patches were sent to me by one of our Georgia black belts, Greg Schreffler. Greg joined the Georgia National Guard after 9/11 and was the oldest man in his unit.
   Greg has been overseas on a few tours and recently contacted me to advise he's back from Afghanistan. Looks like he took the flag right off his uniform, and that always means the most.
Thanks, Greg!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Update on martial encyclopedia

A while back I wrote that a new book had come out and that I had written the section on Kenpo. I also said I didn't know how much it cost for the two volumes. John Corcoran of Martial Arts Success magazine sent me a copy of his review and the price shows as $180! But it IS some good reading.

Europe visit

I'll be over in Germany to see Marc Sigle this weekend. It's his 40th birthday! He's got some instructors teaching seminars this weekend and I'll be doing some teaching. You can drop him a Happy Birthday e-mail at
   I'll cross the Channel to England to see my old friend Gary Ellis in Plymouth, too. It's been too long. I'll do some classes in Plymouth the following week. Hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What do teachers make?

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO of a large corporation, decided to explain what he thought was the real problem with education. He asked the group, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" Thus, he implied, teachers who make little money aren't as useful and/or worthwhile as business people who make more by working in the market place.
To stress his point he said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?" She paused for a second, then began . . .
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
"I make a kid receiving a C-plus feel like he-or-she won the Congressional Medal of Honor."
"I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for five without an IPod, Game-Cube or movie rental."
"You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)
"I make kids wonder."
"I make them question."
"I make them apologize and mean it."
"I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions."
"I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything."
"I make them read, read, read."
"I make them show all their work in math, make them use their God-given brains,not a man-made calculator."
"I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity."
"I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make them stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in the United States of America."
"Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life!"
Bonnie paused one last time and then continued."Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because those people are ignorant. You want to know what I make?"
"I MAKE A DIFFERENCE! What do you make Mr. CEO?"
His jaw dropped, and he went silent.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chicago seminars

The weekend seminars in Chicago were successful. Members of several schools attended. Three sessions covered takedowns, grafting and multiple attackers. In takedowns we worked the differences in trips, buckles and sweeps. The multiple attacker session was designed to change perspective by moving one of the attackers' point of origin. The tag line for that one was "The purpose of this research is______."  I got that line from Dr. Rowe. Grafting is always fun and we started with Wing of Silk and took off from there.
     Mr. Zoran Sevic of Saviano's White Tiger in Addison took the classes. You may recognize his name, he has a website called He asked a question I had never thought to ask. It was "Where did the cover-out come from". Did Prof. Chow do it? Did Ed Parker innovate it? I never saw the Castro's do it in CA. I'd seen Danny Inosanto do it while demonstrating Kali, but he was a kenpo man before going to the Filipino systems. Zoran presented  a theory that one of the Emperado brothers integrated a form of it and we (Mr. Parker) picked it up. We're looking into it. Thanks to Zoran for that.
  Mr. David Zorich was there, too. He's my boyhood friend and now a 4th dan judo teacher in the northwest suburbs. Always good to see him. (Over 40 years now, David!)
  Come out and hang with us next time. In the spring, when the temps go back over 70. Thanks again to Kurt and Barb Barnhart for hosting. See their site at By the way, interview podcasts with them are uploaded, see the link at my site homepage,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Analysis paralysis

In my last post I wrote about an analysis technique and mentioned that kenpo people sometimes get so wrapped up in talking about techniques they don't actually do the techniques. There's a term for that in our system and it's "analysis paralysis". It also applies to trying to think of what you should do in an attack situation but you take too long to think instead of reacting. When you're thinking about what you're going to do to him, he's probably already doing something to you.
   "Do something, even if it's wrong" is what you may hear. You can, but think about this. Doing something wrong can be interpreted two ways. It would be wrong in any context to block so that the attack is redirected into your face. It can be "wrong" if you did a parry instead of a block. "Wrong" in that the standard technique may call for a block but "right" in that it kept you from being hit.
  That's the problem with getting locked into the standard sequences. You tend to think any change is wrong. But we're taught that flexibility in thought and action is important. So we get mentally "double-weighted" and are stuck. Know that the standard, reference technique exists to illustrate principles. Change is good in application. Don't change the standard for the next person because you may eliminate the principle taught that triggered you to figure another answer.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cage fighter vs police

Cage Fighter Attacks Three Colo. Officers
A competitive cage fighter is accused of assaulting three police officers at an Aspen lodge until officers zapped him twice with a stun gun, police said.$54495

New article posted

Those of you who subscribe to my website at and read the articles in the memebr section have a new one. Sorry it's late but I've been focused on KenpoTV.  This one is on the idea that what works for you can work against you. Here's an excerpt.

Let’s talk about posture or alignment. We know that when we work against an opponent we are trying to affect or control their alignment. We want them off-balance. We “break their waist”; we change their alignment through disturbance or impact. We need to get their head out of line with their hips to the front, back or sides. That changes the available levers the body needs to accomplish certain actions like punching, kicking, grappling and lifting. When using impact it also causes pain so they are thinking about something else and less likely to do what they want. This is the very reason we teach student to stand and move a certain way. It keeps that necessary alignment to allow the power delivery and control we want.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More on an interesting teaching technique

Doc Rowe saw my post and wrote back with the below, which he gave permission to post.

Lee, saw your blog about Dr. Clatworthy and me. He actually pulled the same technique you do to me in push hands. As we progressed he led me on and I figured I finally got him. I said "newborn babies can't tolerate cold!" -got ya. He looked at me and said "why is that?" I looked at him and admitted I didn't have the foggiest idea, never actually thought about it, it just was. He said "bull sh..t you, damn well better find out."

Ten years later, after long days in the lab and extensive studying I presented a number of research studies at national meetings and published a series of articles on newborn thermoregulation in the medical literature and wrote the article in the standard textbook of Pediatric Surgery on temperature control of the newborn surgical patient.

What my boss didn't know was that after every dueling session I sat down and wrote down the troubling questions that we uncovered in my trusty notebook and they formed the basis for much of my research and the basis for my NIH grants on how the newborn responds to life threatening challenges. Much to my embarrassment I became internationally recognized as the pioneer in the field of newborn surgical physiology. You know I fell a little awkward about talking about this stuff but the above is a true story and illustrate the profound and life changing effect a true teacher can have on his student. Marc
Marc gave me one of those little notebooks, which he calls an auxilary brain, and I tote it with me from time to time when I sit with him. He's one of those guys that if he's talking you should be listening and taking notes.

Joe Palanzo's black belt test

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An interesting teaching technique

Dr. Marc Rowe and I were talking about his days as a pediatric surgeon-in-training and he related an interesting story about how his mentor taught using an interesting technique. His boss asked him "how are babies different from adults?" He followed that by telling him that since was the boss he'd go first (good leadership example. Or a way to bag your student). "Babies are smaller than adults", he said. Marc countered with something like "Babies can't talk". The distinctions got more and more fine as they progressed. This technique requires one to think hard and intelligently about similarities and differences. We could use it in discussing kenpo techniques.
   Kenpo people love to talk about relationships of techniques, opposites and reverses and the like. So much that sometimes we get wrapped up in that and not doing the physical end. We point that out by saying "Less yak and more smack". But having what Doc calls a "fertile, prepared mind" and a discussion of this type can certainly be illuminating.
   Thanks to Doc Rowe for the story.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kenpo TV has a new look

Webmaster Tom has given our site a new look. Check it out at
New info has been added to all levels, including a women's self-defense clip based on the isolation in Long Three.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

For the tai chi people

Came across a website used as a reference in the Harvard Health report. Tricia Yu comes from the same tai chi lineage as I.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Manchester seminar

Kid's seminar
A few weeks back I was up at Steve White's Manchester Karate Studio in New Hampshire. As always, we had a good turnout and the group was enthusiastic.  

Steve recently had a birthday and his program manager Lee MacDonald just "tied the knot" and is off to Europe for his honeymoon.

I saw some old friends up there including Bill Gaudette from MA and Jeff Hardy from Concord, NH. Hadn't seen Jeff in years and he looks great. His son, Kyle, came along, too. Looks a lot like his dad. My guy from MA, Lance Soares was there, too. Lance is opening a club in New Bedford soon.

The adults did some joint locking techniques in one session and gun defense in another.
The studio has a big anniversary coming soon, I think it's 25 years. Congrats to the team at MKS!

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Leadership

Lance Soares up in Massachussetts sent this along. It's worth the read.

Many people do not qualify as leaders, but are always on the lookout for a good one. People complain of lack of leadership and yet perish the thought of stepping up to the plate themselves. Just imagine if leaders could show up on call. Wouldn't that be a wonderful circumstance to experience? But, the reality of the situation is that leaders come from within the ranks of those they serve more often than not. True leaders serve because they are called to service. If a person looks at what they can get before what they can give, their leadership position will not endure.
The functions of positional leadership are designed to meet the needs of those who support a leader in their role. Imagine a pyramid as a base and consider the foundation of the structure as it rises to a pinnacle or point. The point is the culmination of the edifice, but the support is in the structure below. As with leadership, a person doesn't rise to the top without personal effort, nor does a person stay in this position without positive action. Leaders need to cultivate an alliance with the group they represent.
Consider that a good leader serves as a spokesperson for the group. This is one aspect of their role. Another equally important aspect is that they serve as a visionary and sets the pace for the group to follow. The Biblical quotation, "Without vision the people perish" is a good reminder for leaders in any field to stay ahead of the norm. A leader should maintain the status quo, but also have an eye on growth and development. Leaders who are stagnant do not maintain equilibrium in the organization, but begin a downward spiral. Leaders who are in motion, utilize the energy of the flow to empower themselves and their organization to new heights.
As in life, when you're green you grow, when you're ripe you rot. There can be no status quo leadership. By definition, a leader must think intelligently and take action. Nothing less is acceptable.
Be Your Very Best Always,
Judy Williamson
Director of the Napoleon Hill Learning Center
at Perdue University Calumet

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm an "independent scholar"

A few weeks ago I came across an old file that had an article I had been asked to write on the Kenpo system by two men who were compiling a book. I wondered what had happened to that project and recently I found a two-volume set delivered to my door. The set is entitled Martial Arts of the World; An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation by Thomas Green and Joseph Svinth. Green is an associate professor of anthropology, Svinth is an editor.

Volume 1 is titled Regions and Individual Arts and that’s where you’ll find my entry. It’s listed under the Americas. Volume 2 is titled Themes. The first book breaks the arts down, as have others, into where they come from or are largely practiced. You’ll find some unusual information on Zulu stick-fighting and Mongolian martial arts mixed in with more mainstream systems. The second volume is interesting in that it discusses belief systems, globalization, police and military use, political use and secret societies.

I verified as much as I could with seniors in the systems such as Sibok Tom Kelly. I kept it balanced. It was an honor to write it. The independent scholar thing? That's how they listed me in the contributer list. I guess it's better than "karate guy".