Saturday, January 14, 2017

Our Martial Arts History & Style

"Sifu, What Style of Martial Arts do we Practice?"

Occasionally, I get asked about the origin of our style. Or a student will ask about our history, traditions, and culture of the martial arts styles we practice. Sometimes, I wish there was a clear-cut answer, but there isn't. I normally just tell people we study the art of Self Defense. If they ask for more details then I can dig deeper into our history and training lineage.

Pinpointing just one style is most difficult to explain because we do not just practice one style of martial arts. However, this is what makes our school interesting, progressive, and different from all the other franchise schools out there.

What styles do we study? For simplicity, we practice an eclectic/blended style of martial arts with a basis in practical self defense. Before I go into the more detailed answer, let me say that what we teach and practice in class is dynamic. We are not a school that is holistic to one style and one curriculum. Our philosophy is a combination and practice of practical self defense aspects from several martial arts styles - striking arts, grappling arts, weapons arts, and internal arts. Our curriculum is constantly improving and evolving to include the most current and practical self-defense concepts and techniques for today's world.

Below is a breakdown of the history of our two major focus areas - striking arts and grappling arts.

Striking Arts
The short answer is we practice Kenpo (American & Chinese).

Here is the long answer. Let's begin the long answer by looking at the lineage of a few styles. One origin of our style comes from the lineage of Ed Parker's American Kenpo. Our lineage of American Kenpo has been well blended over the years with other styles and resembles a distant cousin of American Kenpo. Mr. Parker passed in 1993, and since then many different branches of American Kenpo have developed. Actually, if you view our students practicing next to traditional American Kenpo students and Kajukenbo students, our students more resemble Kajukenbo students. (Kajukenbo - stands for Karate, Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Chinese boxing aka Kung Fu.) While our stand-up self defense techniques include many American Kenpo techniques, many of our forms come from Shaolin Kung Fu, commonly referred to as Shaolin Kempo or Chinese Kempo. Now, our sparring on the other hand, rarely resembles traditional American Kenpo or Shaolin Kung Fu practitioners. Our sparring is not competition/tournament based, and includes aspects primarily from Karate, Kenpo, American Boxing, and Muay Thai Kickboxing.

Here is an image that clearly depicts many Chinese martial arts lineages. You can see the common relationship between Kung fu, Kenpo, and Kajukenbo. There are many great websites that detail the history of Ed Parker and the origination of his martial arts knowledge as well as information about Shaolin Kung Fu & Kajukenbo.

Grappling Arts
We also practice ground & grappling arts defense skills. The two main grappling arts out there today are Judo and styles of Jujitsu. We practice the self defense aspects of many ground defense and grappling arts.  Judo and Jujitsu are like cousins, with the same lineage, and over the years they have become slightly different, but still resemble each other.

The history of these grappling arts prior to the Feudal period in the 8th Century are not well defined.   However, it is clear that around the 8th century, the Japanese refined the ground arts of the time into a system called Jujitsu (aka Japanese Jujitsu or original Jujitsu), which was primarily used by the samurai during war time. When samurai war skills were no longer necessary, a man named Kano, adapted Jujitsu into an art that could be practiced more safely.  He called this version of Jujitsu - Judo or presently known as Kodokan Judo or Japanese Jujitsu.  In the late 1980's Judo became the national martial art of Japan and Olympic Judo became quite popular.

Another very popular style of Jujitsu practiced today is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ).  BJJ was developed from Kodokan Judo by Helio Gracie in the early 1930's.  Helio learned Kodokan Judo, however, he was a smaller man, and found some of the skills difficult to execute.  He adapted these techniques into a style he could more effectively execute and incorporated many of the ground techniques of original Jiu-jitsu back into the art.  He coined the style Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-jistu.

In addition, there are several other styles of Jujitsu being taught today, such as Danzan-Ryu Jiu-jitsu and Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu. Each has their own niche and take on the art.  However, all these styles of Jujitsu all relate back to the original Jujitsu from Japan.  All-in-all, we practice the self defense aspects of Jujitsu, whether it be BJJ, Kodokan Judo, Can-Ryu Jiu-jitsu, Danzan-Ryu Jiu-jitsu, etc.

In conclusion, our striking/karate style is mostly Chinese based. With a mix of skills from American Kenpo, Shaolin Kempo, and several other styles (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, etc.).  We use takedowns from Judo and our grappling defense style comes from a mix of Kodokan Judo and Brazilian Jujitsu.

While the exact origin of the martial arts is difficult to pinpoint, if you really dig you may come to the same conclusion I did, which is most martial arts come from a few distinct origins and all other martial arts styles are just different branches of the same family tree.

Want to know more?  Jump on the web and do some research for yourself.

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