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
The Way is in Training

Will Tracy

There are many ways for the beginner to train, as he must first developer strength, coordination and stamina before he can understand what he is learning. One who is too weak to throw or block a punch, can hardly understand the movements, and that prevents him from understanding that a block is also a strike. Even a strong student will find that his body is moving in ways for which he was not trained, and find himself physically weak in those areas. Then too, he may have the strength, but lack the coordination to exercise the move with ease. And even if he has the strength and coordination, he may lack the stamina for the practice required for Kenpo Karate.

As daunting as this may be, still, the beginning student who is without strength, coordination or stamina, will take one step at a time; one move at a time; one technique at a time, and even with his first day of training, when taught by a Kenpo Karate master, he will be on a path to the Way.

Like Musashi's Five Rings, there are five essentials in Kenpo training: Technique, Principles, Perception, Intention and Movement.

The first move the student learns is the last move the student learns, as the student will gain understanding as he encounters the five essentials, which like the Five Rings, are circles of progression. Thus, the student will begin on a path to the Way if the first move does not diverge from the Way. But the student will not know if his move diverges, because he will not even understand the Way of Kenpo.

The first move in Kenpo is the beginning of a technique, just as the first move in Tai Chi Chuan is the beginning of a posture. The first move is repeated a thousand times, in a hundered different ways, in techniques that defend or attack, or which attack as they defend. It is the hundreds of techniques that are done dozens of ways that leads the student to understand the principles behind the techniques. But principles are empty when the student does not know all the techniques he can employ. Thus, one who understands principles will none the less be defeated if he does not know and practice the myriad of techniques required to know the opponent.

The Way requires training by a master of Kenpo, because one who has deviated from the way, or has reduced the training to meaningless theories, cannot possibly lead the student to the Way. A student may learn techniques and principles, but never perceive the Way because of limited training; and one can only be trained in Kenpo, true Kenpo, by one who knows the entire system. The true Kenpo master cannot teach a student. He can only show the student the Way and it is the student who must learn the Way for himself. But he cannot learn the Way unless he is taught the Way. This paradox, like the Zen koans cannot be understood unless one first understands.

In this cycle of training, practicing, learning, understanding and perceiving Kenpo, one begins to understand Intention, and through the cycle again, when knowledge gives way to perception, the student finds that learning many things does not teach understanding. Yet it is only through learning many things that one can come to understand Intention, and perceive that which cannot be seen, and know the opponents Intention before it is transmitted to movement.

Thus, after rigorous training one learns that stamina reaches a breaking point, while endurance pushes beyond to understanding. Thus in the recycling of the Five Rings and Nine Principles, the student will continually gain insight into the five essentials of Kenpo training. And the student who has been taught hundreds of techniques, with hundreds of variations will slowly come to understand the technique principles, and perceive what the opponent can do before he can do it. But this sense of perception can only be obtained by knowing the depths of Kenpo and having a knowledge of all arts.

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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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