Kenpo History and Senior Bashing (long post)

Kenpo History and Senior Bashing (long post)

Joined: February 1st, 2005, 2:47 pm

December 28th, 2007, 1:34 pm #1

In my recent probes into the history of certain aspects of Kenpo's history, I seemed to have poked the wounded beast again. I was looking into the history of Kenpo development using Mr John McSweeney as a marker in those events.

Whereas I got some interesting information, I also opened the door to the usual Kenpo 'b!tchiness" towards some of our Kenpo brethren.

That was not my intention. I have read much of the 'Histories' including the Tracy website and others and some of it makes sense to me, and some of it doesn't. The information is often presented in a way that leads you to believe it comes from anecdotal evidence and personal memories. The "I was there" approach. I could give it due credence for that reason but also will continue to seek out corroboration.

I'm sure everybody who WAS there will have their own version of events, whether it be from a more exact memory, a fuller knowledge of the background or even some agenda or other. It is only by collating these and putting the pieces together will I ever get close to the truth.

McSweeney's brand of Ed Parker's Kenpo is still very much alive and kicking here in the Emerald Isle of Ireland. I personally know some of it's supporters and have much respect for a small few of them for their efforts and indeed prowess.

I also don't want to read disparaging remarks about Mr X or Prof Z. I do not air my own opinions on people publicly, either anonymously or otherwise. Ever.

It is my opinion that we should have moral values that put us above making public comment on other individuals, no matter how divergent from the mainstream view they seem to be.

Like it or not, they are part of the greater Kenpo community. Be they black sheep or long lost brothers, us voicing our opinions on them on public platforms says more about ourselves than about the object of our venom.

If someone feels that they have to put some stripes on their belt to get respect, it may cheapen our system, somewhat, but all it really shows is that it is belt colour that gets the attention of the general public. Those who are in the art and have developed discernment can recognise the quality of s/he who wears that belt. Or lack of it. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there.

At the end of the day, Kenpo is a cover all for the plethora of variations in the art that came from Okinawa in the late 1800's. American Kenpo is what Mr Parker initiated. Others may claim prior use of that name but I think it disingenuous. Chuan Fa is the same name with Chinese pronunciation. People seem to be using it to differentiate between Chow and Mitose origins. Regardless, the roots all stem from a certain Buddhist monk many centuries ago.

We can all argue till the sun goes down on an Alaskan summer about who deserves what rank and why. We can also decide to vilify some people because of how they got their rank. What we should avoid doing is openly ridicule these people. It cheapens us as individuals. Those that wear a rank that is undeserved do so knowingly, even if only on an unconscious level. We all know stories of people who paid a wad of cash or who accepted a rank in a car park against their own instructor's express wishes. We even know who some of these individuals are. So do they.

When you receive your rank in bonafide, sanctioned circumstances, from recognised masters of the art, that, to me, is when the rank should be recognised. Even if it is bestowed to firm up some business relationship. Even if money has changed hands. Recognition is not the same as respect. That has to be earned, and that is where the honourable earning of rank is more important.

There are a few Seniors out there who are rightly revered and respected. There are others who have the respect of some but not all of the Kenpo community. Without doubt, most of these "were there back when". There are some I would love an opportunity to learn from, there are others I might avail of an opportunity should it arise and didn't clash with something else. Then there are some I wouldn't have the slightest interest in even talking to.

It is these latter individuals who I wouldn't waste breath on. Honour can't be bought, neither can respect. Rank is not about how many people bow or offer salute to you, it is about the responsibility you assume for those you teach. Rank is an honour, not a right due to time spent. You should be honoured to receive it and should accept it with honour and respect to those who bestow it. This is true for those of us who tested arduously for rank, but even more so for the higher, more senior belts. There's a reason why anything above 6th in Kenpo is considered an 'Honorary' rank.

It is for this reason that some have declined the highest rank, that of 10th Degree. They feel, in all honesty and humility, that they aren't worthy of the rank their teacher died wearing. It doesn't mean they aren't as good as those who accept the rank. Their understanding of the art now may even exceed their teacher's at the point of his death (blasphemy, I know). It means that they don't need the rank to feel at ease with themselves. It may also be just their way of respecting their teacher. I really respect that.

I think that when you earn a rank, you have to keep trying to earn the right to wear it. Lapsed 2nd Degrees, who have taken time out of the art, can still wear the rank, but they have to try to earn the 'right' to wear it. Same goes for higher ranks.

The best thing we can all do to those of questionable bonafides is to offer no disrespect but offer no respect beyond common courtesy, avoid them if possible and certainly ignore any rants they publish. They are not worth a response. They are not worthy of your time.
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Joined: October 14th, 2005, 5:16 am

December 29th, 2007, 1:40 am #2

Paul,

It is good to read your post and see that you are a person who will make up his mind based on investigation and evidence that you are able to substantiate or not.

It is the way it is done by honest people and ones who are that way are head and shoulders above the rest of those, who are boot lickers and looking to buy rank or kiss up to get it.

Websites and links are a good way to go because that is the location doing the talking. If you are sent there and you observe and do your homework, that is all that anyone can expect from students and people who are striving to continue their learning process.

Questions are needed, so are answers. What you find out and do with it, is what is important.

Regards, Gary
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Joined: December 18th, 2007, 8:25 pm

December 29th, 2007, 2:42 am #3

I really dont understand why anyone would waste time and energy in trying to find out how and where someone got a rank especially if that person has no intention in ever training with the other. Its this sort of thing that makes us a laughing stock to other styles.
I feel that some people feel that the only way they can become 'true kenpoists' is to join the ranks of the bitches. Its time to forget the past and look to the futher. As long as this bitching is in kenpo we can not go forward in the way Mr. Ed Parker intended us to. Kenpo is about progressing and progressing is about moving forward not looking back.

Roll on 2008

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Joined: December 16th, 2004, 8:13 pm

December 29th, 2007, 5:33 pm #4

In my recent probes into the history of certain aspects of Kenpo's history, I seemed to have poked the wounded beast again. I was looking into the history of Kenpo development using Mr John McSweeney as a marker in those events.

Whereas I got some interesting information, I also opened the door to the usual Kenpo 'b!tchiness" towards some of our Kenpo brethren.

That was not my intention. I have read much of the 'Histories' including the Tracy website and others and some of it makes sense to me, and some of it doesn't. The information is often presented in a way that leads you to believe it comes from anecdotal evidence and personal memories. The "I was there" approach. I could give it due credence for that reason but also will continue to seek out corroboration.

I'm sure everybody who WAS there will have their own version of events, whether it be from a more exact memory, a fuller knowledge of the background or even some agenda or other. It is only by collating these and putting the pieces together will I ever get close to the truth.

McSweeney's brand of Ed Parker's Kenpo is still very much alive and kicking here in the Emerald Isle of Ireland. I personally know some of it's supporters and have much respect for a small few of them for their efforts and indeed prowess.

I also don't want to read disparaging remarks about Mr X or Prof Z. I do not air my own opinions on people publicly, either anonymously or otherwise. Ever.

It is my opinion that we should have moral values that put us above making public comment on other individuals, no matter how divergent from the mainstream view they seem to be.

Like it or not, they are part of the greater Kenpo community. Be they black sheep or long lost brothers, us voicing our opinions on them on public platforms says more about ourselves than about the object of our venom.

If someone feels that they have to put some stripes on their belt to get respect, it may cheapen our system, somewhat, but all it really shows is that it is belt colour that gets the attention of the general public. Those who are in the art and have developed discernment can recognise the quality of s/he who wears that belt. Or lack of it. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there.

At the end of the day, Kenpo is a cover all for the plethora of variations in the art that came from Okinawa in the late 1800's. American Kenpo is what Mr Parker initiated. Others may claim prior use of that name but I think it disingenuous. Chuan Fa is the same name with Chinese pronunciation. People seem to be using it to differentiate between Chow and Mitose origins. Regardless, the roots all stem from a certain Buddhist monk many centuries ago.

We can all argue till the sun goes down on an Alaskan summer about who deserves what rank and why. We can also decide to vilify some people because of how they got their rank. What we should avoid doing is openly ridicule these people. It cheapens us as individuals. Those that wear a rank that is undeserved do so knowingly, even if only on an unconscious level. We all know stories of people who paid a wad of cash or who accepted a rank in a car park against their own instructor's express wishes. We even know who some of these individuals are. So do they.

When you receive your rank in bonafide, sanctioned circumstances, from recognised masters of the art, that, to me, is when the rank should be recognised. Even if it is bestowed to firm up some business relationship. Even if money has changed hands. Recognition is not the same as respect. That has to be earned, and that is where the honourable earning of rank is more important.

There are a few Seniors out there who are rightly revered and respected. There are others who have the respect of some but not all of the Kenpo community. Without doubt, most of these "were there back when". There are some I would love an opportunity to learn from, there are others I might avail of an opportunity should it arise and didn't clash with something else. Then there are some I wouldn't have the slightest interest in even talking to.

It is these latter individuals who I wouldn't waste breath on. Honour can't be bought, neither can respect. Rank is not about how many people bow or offer salute to you, it is about the responsibility you assume for those you teach. Rank is an honour, not a right due to time spent. You should be honoured to receive it and should accept it with honour and respect to those who bestow it. This is true for those of us who tested arduously for rank, but even more so for the higher, more senior belts. There's a reason why anything above 6th in Kenpo is considered an 'Honorary' rank.

It is for this reason that some have declined the highest rank, that of 10th Degree. They feel, in all honesty and humility, that they aren't worthy of the rank their teacher died wearing. It doesn't mean they aren't as good as those who accept the rank. Their understanding of the art now may even exceed their teacher's at the point of his death (blasphemy, I know). It means that they don't need the rank to feel at ease with themselves. It may also be just their way of respecting their teacher. I really respect that.

I think that when you earn a rank, you have to keep trying to earn the right to wear it. Lapsed 2nd Degrees, who have taken time out of the art, can still wear the rank, but they have to try to earn the 'right' to wear it. Same goes for higher ranks.

The best thing we can all do to those of questionable bonafides is to offer no disrespect but offer no respect beyond common courtesy, avoid them if possible and certainly ignore any rants they publish. They are not worth a response. They are not worthy of your time.
It is true that Kenpo is looked at sideways by some because of all the extremely high ranking people and the high number of 10th degree grand masters. Not saying this is good or bad or makes any difference but I have heard it.

Kenpo isn't the first system to split off into camps and it won't be the last.

I feel that respect in the MA is based on one's ability and integrity in the art and it ultimately doesn't matter what rank someone is because their reputation speaks for it's self.

If someone isn't solid it will be revealed in time an no one will want what they have to offer. People will follow an instructor based on what they have to offer and not what rank they have.

I hope this doesn't come off wrong but take Mr. Tatum for example, if he never got another rank after Mr. Parker died it wouldn't matter because he's Larry Tatum and people want what he has to offer. Ability, knowledge, and teaching ability transcend one's rank.

The same applies to 1st and 2nd's. If they are good it will be obvious and people will respect them based on what they do and who they are as people and MA. You can toot your own horn all day and it wouldn't matter if you weren't what you claimed to be no one would respect you.

And, not everyone will like you no matter how much integrity or ability you have. You could be a great person and someone will criticize you.

I must say with all respect that sometimes "bitching" is just speaking the truth as long as it isn't presented in a mean-spirited way or behind a screen name. It's okay to question things and speak up as long as it's done respectfully. Some things in the MA should be looked at.

Thanks for the opportunity to share this with all of you. Happy New Year and all the best. JVC
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Joined: March 5th, 2005, 2:18 pm

December 29th, 2007, 6:41 pm #5

You make some good points. Some from other arts may think we have too many high ranking folks at the top of the kenpo ladder. Maybe they are right. I'm not the one to judge that.

However, when I look at some of the other arts, I see 10 year-old black belts that can't defend themselves against their little sisters. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. Man, I hate to sound so judgmental but it's true.

I would rather have a high number of ranking kenpoists than too many black belts that can't justify their rank with either understanding or action. There may be kenpoists like that who have been awarded black belts but I've never met one. I really hope that's not the case.

In South Carolina I don't have to apologize to anyone for my art, my rank or the rank of my seniors. I'll be happy to get on the mat with anyone who thinks I do.

Take it out on the heavy bag,

Chuck Peterson
peterson_charlie@hotmail.com

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Joined: January 25th, 2007, 11:34 pm

December 30th, 2007, 12:59 am #6

In my recent probes into the history of certain aspects of Kenpo's history, I seemed to have poked the wounded beast again. I was looking into the history of Kenpo development using Mr John McSweeney as a marker in those events.

Whereas I got some interesting information, I also opened the door to the usual Kenpo 'b!tchiness" towards some of our Kenpo brethren.

That was not my intention. I have read much of the 'Histories' including the Tracy website and others and some of it makes sense to me, and some of it doesn't. The information is often presented in a way that leads you to believe it comes from anecdotal evidence and personal memories. The "I was there" approach. I could give it due credence for that reason but also will continue to seek out corroboration.

I'm sure everybody who WAS there will have their own version of events, whether it be from a more exact memory, a fuller knowledge of the background or even some agenda or other. It is only by collating these and putting the pieces together will I ever get close to the truth.

McSweeney's brand of Ed Parker's Kenpo is still very much alive and kicking here in the Emerald Isle of Ireland. I personally know some of it's supporters and have much respect for a small few of them for their efforts and indeed prowess.

I also don't want to read disparaging remarks about Mr X or Prof Z. I do not air my own opinions on people publicly, either anonymously or otherwise. Ever.

It is my opinion that we should have moral values that put us above making public comment on other individuals, no matter how divergent from the mainstream view they seem to be.

Like it or not, they are part of the greater Kenpo community. Be they black sheep or long lost brothers, us voicing our opinions on them on public platforms says more about ourselves than about the object of our venom.

If someone feels that they have to put some stripes on their belt to get respect, it may cheapen our system, somewhat, but all it really shows is that it is belt colour that gets the attention of the general public. Those who are in the art and have developed discernment can recognise the quality of s/he who wears that belt. Or lack of it. There are a lot of snake oil salesmen out there.

At the end of the day, Kenpo is a cover all for the plethora of variations in the art that came from Okinawa in the late 1800's. American Kenpo is what Mr Parker initiated. Others may claim prior use of that name but I think it disingenuous. Chuan Fa is the same name with Chinese pronunciation. People seem to be using it to differentiate between Chow and Mitose origins. Regardless, the roots all stem from a certain Buddhist monk many centuries ago.

We can all argue till the sun goes down on an Alaskan summer about who deserves what rank and why. We can also decide to vilify some people because of how they got their rank. What we should avoid doing is openly ridicule these people. It cheapens us as individuals. Those that wear a rank that is undeserved do so knowingly, even if only on an unconscious level. We all know stories of people who paid a wad of cash or who accepted a rank in a car park against their own instructor's express wishes. We even know who some of these individuals are. So do they.

When you receive your rank in bonafide, sanctioned circumstances, from recognised masters of the art, that, to me, is when the rank should be recognised. Even if it is bestowed to firm up some business relationship. Even if money has changed hands. Recognition is not the same as respect. That has to be earned, and that is where the honourable earning of rank is more important.

There are a few Seniors out there who are rightly revered and respected. There are others who have the respect of some but not all of the Kenpo community. Without doubt, most of these "were there back when". There are some I would love an opportunity to learn from, there are others I might avail of an opportunity should it arise and didn't clash with something else. Then there are some I wouldn't have the slightest interest in even talking to.

It is these latter individuals who I wouldn't waste breath on. Honour can't be bought, neither can respect. Rank is not about how many people bow or offer salute to you, it is about the responsibility you assume for those you teach. Rank is an honour, not a right due to time spent. You should be honoured to receive it and should accept it with honour and respect to those who bestow it. This is true for those of us who tested arduously for rank, but even more so for the higher, more senior belts. There's a reason why anything above 6th in Kenpo is considered an 'Honorary' rank.

It is for this reason that some have declined the highest rank, that of 10th Degree. They feel, in all honesty and humility, that they aren't worthy of the rank their teacher died wearing. It doesn't mean they aren't as good as those who accept the rank. Their understanding of the art now may even exceed their teacher's at the point of his death (blasphemy, I know). It means that they don't need the rank to feel at ease with themselves. It may also be just their way of respecting their teacher. I really respect that.

I think that when you earn a rank, you have to keep trying to earn the right to wear it. Lapsed 2nd Degrees, who have taken time out of the art, can still wear the rank, but they have to try to earn the 'right' to wear it. Same goes for higher ranks.

The best thing we can all do to those of questionable bonafides is to offer no disrespect but offer no respect beyond common courtesy, avoid them if possible and certainly ignore any rants they publish. They are not worth a response. They are not worthy of your time.
I have been observing the comments back and forth about the seemingly Tracy/Parker split.
I am one of those old school guys. brought up under Al Tracy..Jim was only in the background..CIRCA 1972, Will Tracy was mentioned as a brother, but never put into the equation. At a tournament in Seattle one time both Al and Ed were there....... Al never wore stripes on his belt, and at the time both were in street cloths. Someone came up to Al and asked what rank he was. Al leaned over to Ed maybe three people down \ and asked...Ed what rank am I? Ed's answer was don't go higher then 5th.... That, is in my opinion what each of them thought about advertising!!!! This also happened to Joe Lewis the former heavy weight champ! Asked about his current rank!!!
Jack
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Joined: February 13th, 2004, 1:04 am

December 30th, 2007, 1:27 am #7

If you want proof of what Rank he mentions or how it is endorsed by 4 Grandmasters just contact him.
Besides myself, there is GM Mike Pick, GM Dave Hebler, Master Rainer Schulte, and Bill Wallace who have first hand knowledge of this title.
Rank here again is an Honor and when recognized by those of great merit deserves
it's place in history.
Joe Lewis has for over 35 years been apart of the Kenpo Community as a guest teacher or for his expertise in teaching his forte of the Fighting Arts as a Retired World Champion.
I felt obligated to say this as he is and has been one of my mentors now for over 24 years.
TCB...Sean Kelley
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Joined: January 25th, 2007, 11:34 pm

December 30th, 2007, 1:33 am #8

My first "Kenpo School" was a Joe Lewis Karate school in Wichita Falls Tx........ I met Joe no one needed in those days to even think of asking ones rank!........... It is a new generation......... I still have my Old Fighting Gi developed by Joe when he was with Al Tracy organization. He and Roger Greene from Tulsa were my teachers for free style!!!!
All respect to Joe Lewis...
Jack
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Joined: January 25th, 2007, 11:34 pm

December 30th, 2007, 1:35 am #9

If you want proof of what Rank he mentions or how it is endorsed by 4 Grandmasters just contact him.
Besides myself, there is GM Mike Pick, GM Dave Hebler, Master Rainer Schulte, and Bill Wallace who have first hand knowledge of this title.
Rank here again is an Honor and when recognized by those of great merit deserves
it's place in history.
Joe Lewis has for over 35 years been apart of the Kenpo Community as a guest teacher or for his expertise in teaching his forte of the Fighting Arts as a Retired World Champion.
I felt obligated to say this as he is and has been one of my mentors now for over 24 years.
TCB...Sean Kelley
Back off.... We have much more in common then we have being seperated
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Joined: February 13th, 2004, 1:04 am

December 30th, 2007, 2:16 am #10

My first "Kenpo School" was a Joe Lewis Karate school in Wichita Falls Tx........ I met Joe no one needed in those days to even think of asking ones rank!........... It is a new generation......... I still have my Old Fighting Gi developed by Joe when he was with Al Tracy organization. He and Roger Greene from Tulsa were my teachers for free style!!!!
All respect to Joe Lewis...
Jack
The Checker Board Gi?
Sean Kelley
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