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
Do Not Think Dishonestly

Will Tracy

Kenpo speaks honestly. It is open, direct and certain, yet Kenpo is also obtuse, concealed and evasive. Kenpo is the expression of Yin and Yang, with its two polar opposites, yet there is no distinction between Yin and Yang, which is without polarities. Thus, the first principle of Kenpo "Do not think dishonestly", is a negative admonitions that holds the key to thought, Intention and motion. This makes thinking dishonestly a broad concept that is a difficult for many to appreciate. While the word, Kenpo, speaks a truth, there are many who think of it dishonestly.

The modern difficulty in grasping this concept is shown in the riddle:

"A noble lady of the Imperial Japanese Court went to China where she married a great Chinese lord. She conceived, but the lord was killed in battle before his son was born. She returned to Japan to raise her infant son. Is the child Japanese or Chinese?"

The answer is quite simple: He is Chinese by birth, but he will become Japanese by culture and tradition. But the question must also be asked, "after 700 years, will the descendants of this son be Chinese or Japanese?"

For seven hundred years the word, Kenpo, in the Japanese language has meant "a fighting style that came from China"., while Kenpo, as a martial art, became uniquely Japanese; and the Chinese style from which Kenpo originated does not exist anywhere in China today. It is very much like Zen, which has its origins in China, and before that India, but which is expressly Japanese.

In the 1960's, some in Kenpo began to think of Kenpo as being purely Chinese. Prominent Kenpo instructors began to claim a Chinese, Gung Fu, heritage that did not exist a decade before. For the most part, these Chinese connections were pure fabrications, made fertile through dishonest thinking. Soon there were claims that fathers and grandfathers who had never studied Gung Fu, were actually great masters who had passed their knowledge on in secret.

The circular moves that had always been in Kenpo were suddenly not Kenpo moves at all, but Chinese. The dojo, the "Way place", was no longer a place of the "Way", but a place where moves were taught and practiced; and 700 years of Kenpo heritage and traditions were abandoned for a new dishonest way of thought. Traditions were, like the wind, gone at a whim.

Removing Kenpo's Japanese heritage was a small divergence, but it led to the very large divergence from truth and the Way for those who took that path and diverged from training. They became students of sparing, whether it is kumite, or simulated attack and defense, they are like dancers on a stage, moving at will, never knowing the Way of Kenpo. The masters of these schools chose, as Musashi might say, the flower over the nut. What they have is a flower that looks beautiful, but which withers and dies in time. To them, the nut that will grow into a fruitful tree is too course, requires too much attention, and besides, they don't have the fertile ground in which to plant it. They do not know the Way, and because they think dishonestly they prevent their students from finding the Way of Kenpo.

One must learn the strategy of the Way. But the flower schools only know theory, and tactics which they mistakenly call principles. Theories are the imagination of those masters, and they remain theory because they have never been proven. Their tactics are based on limited techniques which envision one technique for many attacks. The founder of these flower schools learned solid principles that were diluted by his students. But the Way of Kenpo develops the techniques without extremities, so a student of the school of Kenpo practices the technique to where it is many techniques, and the many becomes a strategy. The flower schools on the otter hand seek to open the blossom quickly for a quick sale, while the school of Kenpo plants the nut and nurtures the seedling until it grows into a flowering tree, its flower produces fruit like the Kusunoki of Japan and the Moi Fa of China. And when Kenpo students seek the Way, they begin to understand why Kenpo which has its roots in China and its branches in Japan is like these two trees.

One does no need to intentionally think dishonestly, in order to think dishonestly. When the master of a style presents an unproved or false theory as a principle, the student will follow, and believe it is a true principle. But the theory is false. It is not a true principle, and both the master and student have deviated from the Way.

The flower styles, like the flower, present a pleasing sight. But what is seen is superficial and only for show. They award flowers in the form of belts to those who have superficial training and promote themselves to higher rank above their peers. There is no honesty in this, and they lead their students on the same divergent path. The founder of the style had Kenpo rank, but those who held no Kenpo rank promoted him to an even higher rank, and in turn were rewarded with rank, not for their abilities, but for their generosity in giving something they did not possess.

The merchant sells flowers for what the market will bear, while the flower style master sells hallow training and belts to adorn his students as a flower adorns a woman's countenance.

The founder of the flower style of Kenpo experienced a Kenpo master who could block his punch before it had moved two inches, and another, Kung Fu master who after the flower master began a punch, could strike him first and then block the punch. From this he concluded that reaction is faster than action. He had not learned to perceive what could not be seen, and developed a false theory, which to him was a "principle" that reaction was faster than action. He deviated from the Way of Kenpo, and deviation became so great that he no longer could see the Way. Yet he led a multitude on his path, and they diverted even further until they were lost.

Kenpo, Tai Chi and Hung Gar, express the three styles that can lead to the Way. Hung Gar, like Musashi's sword, is hard and direct and trains the body to lead to yi, the mind/Intention. Tai Chi takes the soft path, where li/mind/Intention trains the body in slow relaxed moves; while Kenpo trains in a middle path. They are all quite different, but they are very much the same because they know the Way is in training.

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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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