Friday, March 27, 2009

Using Concepts ,Principles and Formulas...

.... to get the old grey matter working use a simple chronological list as a formula (amongst other things formula can mean “A prescription of ingredients”)

Here are some starter lists of things to look at when analysing the Club set

When performing
1. Posture
2. Balance
3 Flexibility
4 Timing.

When striking (strictly in this order)
1 Accuracy
2 Speed
3 Timing
4 Power (power like all principles is complex, my simple rule is "don't add power to something you don't understand", if you were showing someone how to use a sledge hammer for the first time, hopefully you would not say to them "just pick it up swing it over your head, shut your eyes and hit the boulder as hard as you can", because if you did you would be putting everyone in the immediate area in real danger.So when learning or developing something "logically" "power" is usually lower down the list).

When manipulating
1 Fulcrums.
2 Levers.
3 Alignment,(directive force!)
4 Timing.
As seen from the lists above Timing is a major factor in making a lot of Kenpo "stuff" work. Using various timing patterns for the same or similar sequence of movements can reveal specific answers as well as speculative interpretations. Just like a good comedian good timing is always needed to deliver the punch line!!
Work with these 3 short lists to begin with, then make your own lists for developing different areas of training.


As a kind of simple but fruitful equation use the versus tool,as expressed “Vs”
Mr Parker uses the "Vs" (versus), equation constantly during his work, lines vs. paths, circular vs. linear etc, this valuable little exercise is one of his "tricks" that will help you discover some of the “secrets” that are hidden right before your eyes. When applied to Club Set it opens up whole new vistas of exploration.

The simple Vs equation should not be used to find a "winner" but to gather information, it does not have to be interpreted ike the boxing match Vs, say Ali vs. Frazier to find out a winner(I know my age is showing).

The out come is what you can discover or discount, it would be naive to suggest for example that when linear vs circular, that circular "won" and linear is now disregarded,( I know once again I am stating the obvious)

DEAD SPACE - The gap between moves of a technique sequence.It can also be thought of as unused points on a circle or circles of motion. The filling of DEAD SPACE includes the active use of the principle of CONTINUITY OF MOTION. This is termed SEQUENTIAL FLOW.

Once again to address the Power Principle quoting Ed Parker "flow first power later",

a friend of mine and an instructor said to me I teach flow now power now, when i quoted the above to him, I pointed out that "later" was relative and it could mean later in a session, later that day, later in the year, but it is good practice to teach flow first.


Refers to having an extensive knowledge of Martial Art movements. Each individual move, whether it is offensive or defensive Is considered as being a "letter" of motion.

Combinations using the same arm or leg form WORDS OF MOTION.

Combinations employ­ing both hands and/or both feet are considered SENTENCES OF MOTION.


Com­binations create alternatives. A reservoir of alternatives offer you countless variations that can be tailored to suit whatever the situation calls for.

This is what you are trying to achieve by practicing the Club Set or Club Form (kata), expressing the harmonious blending of Club and Body using a vocabulary of motion.

When Developing :
Good basics are essential (especially your stances),

Under­stand the idea of each movement,

Train with intensity,

Develop an unconquerable attitude(this should not be miss understood as a "loud and abrasive attitude").

Follow the following "ideas" and you will gain the benefits of the use of more complete SENTENCES OF MOTION, some of which are:
1. Keeps your opponent mentally, and physically off balance.
2. Reduces your opponent's opportunities to retaliate.
3. The additional diversification of targets and weapons to insure multiple effects.
4. The increase of your flexibility of thought according to the prevailing predicament.
5. The increase in your Vocabulary of Motion.
6. May provide the necessary formulations needed when confronted with particular 'What If" situations.
7. "In every offense there is a defense and in every defense there is an offense. The insertion of sequentially flowing moves may provide simul­taneous built-in offense as well as defense.
8. May provide a balance between the use of MINOR moves and MAJOR moves.
9. Increased Vocabulary of Motion through the use of REVERSE MOTION.
10. Increased Vocabulary of Motion to call upon as you need to tailor for specific combat situations.
11. Additional vocabulary to feed your opponent's reactions with your action.
12. Teaches you how to employ your action to cause a reaction that will feed your next action.
13. May increase efficiency by getting more strikes in a shorter amount of time.
14. Increases efficiency by increasing your opponent's body reaction speed.
15. Supplies you with Vocabulary that may be needed in the event of unanticipated reactions or timing by your opponent.
16. Aids in attacking all of your opponent's ZONES OF PROTECTION.
17. Adheres to the concept of CROSSFIRING to give you maximum cover­age in nullifying your opponent's arsenal of weapons.
18. Leads you toward the GASEOUS state of our Art.

The above 18 ideas are copied directly from the works of Ed Parker

As stated earlier just because you have a club doesn’t mean it's the best choice of weapon. A weapon should increase options not decrease them, keep an open mind and don't become "weapon fixated" to the determent of the rest of your "arsenal of answers".

Your mindset should allow you to use all available natural weapons when using single or double clubs.

The following examples are just ideas and by no means a complete list.

HEAD Be careful when "Butting" you may come off 2nd best.

SHOULDER a shoulder "Nudge” can off balance an opponent or use as a fulcrum.

ELBOW Slipping in a well timed elbow shot can come as a real shock to an opponent,

FIST You can punch with a free hand or with the hand holding the club.

CHEST The chest (and other body parts) can be used as a extra fulcrum for manipulating.

THIGH thigh can act as a fulcrum below the waist.

KNEE a knee strike can "set them up or finish them off"

SHIN use a path of action to strike or pin with the shin.

FOOT a well placed kick can effect the outcome……incomplete list……develop your own ideas (any questions on the terminology used in this blog email me or reference Ed Parker's written materials)


A word of advice before beginning to explore the motion of the club, or any other type of motion for that matter, temper your ideas with a smattering of logic, use the available material (Mr. Parker's Infinite Insights series are bursting at the seams with information just waiting for you to analyse and adapt to your needs).

Do not be afraid to be creative, put your own interpretation on things, the things you come up with may be significant.

A major tool in development is the Equation Formula.Which is briefly to any given base, a single or multiple move you can:

PREFIX a move

SUFFIX a move

INSERT a move

REARRANGE the moves

ALTER targets and/or weapons

ADJUST the range or angle

REGULATE the force or intent

DELETE a move

I titled this blog entry Using Concepts Principles and Formulas, I finished this entry with Ed Parker's Equation Formula, I would like to state that one the "ideas" that floats my particular Kenpo Boat is the rearrangement idea,

REARRANGE - Shifting or changing the sequential order of movements. One of the key ingredients of the EQUATION FORMULA.

I sometimes like interpret the rearrangement "ingredient as

"don't just look at it,take it out of its box and play with it",

this is meant to free up peoples approach towards training.

Well that's all for now on CPFs,just going to finish off with another EP quote

"Progress requires charting your course for a successful journey in the world of ideas"

Follow the link below for a brief look at The Developed Club Set.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Richard Matthews

Try to remember that the person you are training with may be more skilled or less skilled than yourself, so if speed and force are increased disproportionately to one of the training partner’s abilities then someone is going to get injured. Train intelligently and follow a couple of safety guidelines. Safety First will lead to a sustainable learning gradient in training.

Based around Mr. Parker’s”Ten Commandments of Safety" when using weapons.

1. Start your training without a partner.

2. Practice in a spacious area free from obstructions.

3. Always maintain proper grip for control.

4. Start off with wide and exaggerated moves, before learning to condense them.

5. Move slowly at first, and then gradually increase your speed.

6. At first practice moves with minimal force, then gradually increase the energy exerted.

7. To be in control of your actions,

A. First practice Shadow Boxing type drills.

B. Move onto equipment drills.

C. When your ready work interactively practice with a partner of some ability.

8. Be conscious at all times of the weapon and its movement. You are responsible for its actions.

9. Be flexible adjust to an ever changing environment.

10. When you experiment with new ideas exercise caution.


When striking vital areas, manipulating or choking don’t play "chicken" with a partners body.

When building safety into your practice, it begins with your safety, your partner’s safety, bystander safety, which leads to a development of "our" safety. Consider Safety First a priority.



The rolled newspapers is a Dennis Lawson idea and works quite well. (Dennis also gave me a valuable lesson on contact penetration with a set of nunchaku, which I will refer to later in this blog, when I relate E.P.s Traffic Cop story!))
Rolling up tabloid size newspapers then wrapping them in masking tape can produce some versatile and surprisingly long lasting "dummy" clubs.I say versatile because depending on how tight the clubs are rolled effects their density, so if the clubs are rolled in such a way that they are hollow in the centre ( a tube) then partner work can take on a more realistic feel to it because of the degree of contact that can take place without any specialised protective equipment being worn.Be careful though when using the above method, because a tightly rolled and wrapped newspaper can produce a similar effect as a rattan cane (believe me).

Another old favourite Dummy Club is plastic conduit covered with foam insulation and finished off with electrical tape. These work ok but don’t stand up to that much real punishment and you should be aware of any sharp edges protruding from split or cracked conduit.

Be warned most "dummy" clubs will have detrimental effect on a training partner when the butt of the weapon is used in a hammering, thrusting or similar fashion.


Range is the distance between that exists between you and your opponent/s; distance is the degree of separation.

Critical Range or Distance is important because this is where interactive action occurs, even in a Dojo or training environment Black Dot Focus (which basically is total awareness of your environment) must be at its height in the Critical Range, this when things happen “extremely” fast and success or failure can be determined.
On the street your life can depend on your ability to embrace one of Kenpo's most important concepts, Black Dot Focus. Total Awareness.(as opposed to total paranoia)

The basic stages of range in a self defence situation are

out of contact,

within contact,

contact penetration,

contact manipulation.

I refer to these stages of range as basic because if more than one attacker is involved or if one or both of you are armed then the degree of separation may not be the same for all parties involved. If this is the case then immediate on the spot assessment (as always) is a massive priority and will be the crucial factor for response.

Weapon Fixation seems to be a unhealthy by-product of weapons training.

If you are armed with a club or clubs then your range of motion will be increased, directionally as well as dimensionally, but if you be come fixated with the weapons in your hands at the expense of the rest if your natural weapons (fists, elbows, knees, feet head, etc.), then I would suggest that your actual range, mobility as well as “your choices” have decreased.

You should be prepared to give up a weapon in an instant if it is going to give you the advantage that will lead to a successful outcome.

Just because you have a club in your hand does not mean that its use is the best course of action , a free hand may have the immediate answer to the problem you are faced with, also the use of a weapon in a situation may be totally inappropriate for that situation.

"Situations alter cases, broken noses alter faces"

The basics of range are easy to understand, but become complex to gauge and intricate to apply, this is the challenge of judging distance.
Judgement (on all levels) is a major factor that determines the outcome of a situation.

The unarmed challenges of range are heightened when you try to blend in the use of a man made weapon.

As stated above gauging distance can be a complex process, the danger is making important judgement calls complicated.

Complexity and intricacies are stimulating, complications are stifling and hinder assertive action, which is a priority in fighting, as Mr. Parker said

"He who hesitates, Meditates in horizontal position"

When considering range alterations, remember it applies just as much to your opponent(s) as it does to you, this may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked.

Freestyle* points fighting is one of the best training methods for developing the Judgement of Range and real timing skills. Range is not static, but is constantly altering both directionally and dimensionally.
Range change may not be instigated by you or be to your advantage.

There is a Kenpo self defence technique culture of standstill while I hit you, this is OK as a starting point, but to improve and to realistically develop your abilities to use range, a more realistic interactive approach to club (and unarmed training) training needs to be developed.

Freestyle practice does not have to be competition orientated, nor does it have to be stop start or with heavy contact. The method that I prefer is light continuous, any contact issue I have with my abilities are usually sorted out with varying types of bag work.



This is a position of relative safety, your opponent can't reach you and you can't reach him. I say relative safety because in the case of a weapon or object it can be thrown, which is a common "street" tactic used to distract attention when attacking. “be aware out of “contact” is not the same as out of range” RM

Out of contact Individual or Solo training (White Dot Focus, being mainly aware of yourself with minimal awareness of surroundings) is a mindset that can be adopted when practising The Set in the "air", with out fear of interruption you can concentrate on yourself,.

When practising forms in this heightened state of personal awareness you can get lost in the form, which is different than losing the sequence of the form, I have experienced this and witnessed it in others.

John Davis comes to mind, at Bethany beach 2007, when performing Form7 (Club Form), he wandered off the prescribed pattern of movement, because I am developing this Form as a Club Set progression I was focusing on what he was doing I realised that Johns unprescribed angle variations were not “an error of execution” but a release from the Kenpo burden of sequence completion.

If I did not thank you before, thanks for the lesson John.


At this stage you must be really switched on and in tune with your immediate
environment. Things happen extremely quickly, not only can you reach your opponent but he can reach you.

Within contact is a good starting point to begin interactive partner drills,e.g.
Simulate striking your partners wrist, elbow or other body part by striking your partners club.

Accuracy is a priority skill at any level of Kenpo, not just weaponry.

Speed accompanies Accuracy, build your Speed in proportion to your skill levels.

The Delivery Force of the club should be a little way down the list of priorities for the moment.

Be careful, lots of sore thumbs at this stage.


At this stage of range weapons can penetrate targets, which magnifies the injuries that can be sustained by your opponent or yourself.

Contact penetration is an extremely dangerous range and development of it should "at first", really be restricted to equipment such as bags etc.

There are types of body armour, which will allow for contact penetration practice; also a modified or "dummy" club can be used in a lot of contact penetration scenarios.

You can of course "Rip" into each other with the clubs to prove how tough (or stupid) you are, but that's not for me as I have to get up for work the next day.


This range can be sub divided into another 3 basic categories, which are,


At the contact manipulation stage contouring and leveraging are employed to twist, sprain, lock, dislocate, choke, strangle take-down etc.Once again extreme care should be taken at this range when working anti joint manoeuvres with a partner. The rules of “tap out" should be followed rigorously.

DO NOT mess around with club manipulations; you should not attempt them unless you know what you are doing and what the consequences can be.

Your tactile sensing is enormously reduced when applying an arm bar with a club, so the temptation of the untrained is to exert too much pressure to a compliant partner’s elbow, which could result in injury, and then you'd have no body to work with.

Chokes and strangles are only for the more adept and should only be performed under supervision.

DO NOT play "chicken" with some one else's throat or neck Do not put any pressure at all on a partners wind pipe.


Control manipulation involves moving an opponent who is under control to a more suitable position.

Basically once you have locked him up, you can then walk him away. A “come along" is an example of control manipulation.

CONTROL MAINTENANCE.Control maintenance involves employing a method of restraint while you maintain a stationary position of dominance, while in this position you should be able to prevent any further retaliation from an opponent, by limiting his range of motion and / or creating a pain centre/s.

These Four Basic Stages of Range OUT OF CONTACT, WITHIN CONTACT, CONTACT PENETRATION and CONTACT MANIPULATION must begin to blend together, so that an opponent’s actions becomes less of a surprise and your counters more immediate.

In armed and unarmed Self Defence Technique “scenarios” to successfully apply a manipulation it is a good idea to precede the move with a penetrative strike.

To get a lock or leverage on some one the concept of misdirection can be very useful.

Creating a pain centre in one or more areas of the body with a strike, then immediately following up with a lock to another area can be viewed as a valued use of misdirection.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Richard Matthews

"Situations alter cases, broken noses alter faces"
In Kenpo, a weapon without an cutting edge is a "Club", a weapon with a cutting or piercing function is known as a "Lance" and a firearm is known as a “Rod”.
A Club can be, according to the dictionary
“a blunt instrument or a heavy stick suitable for use as weapon".
This is significant, any heavy blunt object (heavy is relative) without a cutting or piercing function can be classed as a "Club”. So when exploring Club Set don’t become weapon fixated, it’s not just the training baton used in dojo that you should be developing.
Every day objects from your immediate environment are more likely to be adapted for use in a "real situation”, the kind of club or baton used for training will probably not be available.
It is an interesting exercise adapting environmental objects for self defence purposes.
Note :
If attacked (or you attack) with, say, a bottle, the characteristics of the weapon would change if the bottle were to become broken during the incident,it would go from being a blunt offensive weapon (club), to a piercing, potentially lethal weapon (lance), the action or response should be tailored accordingly.

Twirling and twiddling the club are helpful in the Dojo as manual dexterity or weapon familiarisation drills or for showmanship in competitions, these exercises should not be dismissed as "baton Twirling”,although in an actual arena of combat "The Club" should be thought of first and foremost as a weapon so twirling and twiddling have limited offensive or defensive value.
The Kenpo club is a blunt instrument with the potential power of a”violent storm" that can be instantly unleashed, of which the outcome (as with all combat situations) is never certain so personal awareness must be at its height when working in “storm conditions”.

To be able to wield a club in a devastating storm like fashion it will take the skill and judgement that can only really be gained through realistic and intelligent practice.
So if you want to develop your club training “Ask yourself this Question”,
How do I really want to use the club?
(Below is my personal Club development answer)
My answers to “How do I really want to use the club?” was:
"I want to be able to use the club/s as I would use my natural weapons, at all ranges, in all dimensions and equally with both hands.
"I want to use the club/s to push, pull grab, hug, hold, lock, choke, strike and takedown".
"I want to make sure that all of my natural weapons are available at all times to back up the club/s or vice versa".
These were my answers at the start of my Club Set development stage,these "answers" became the base premise for that development; really the reader of this blog should re-ask the question to include their own needs.

Answering a question like this is only the start of a personal development program, no matter what the subject is!

(this section is for information, so dont cut up your rattan canes)
Whether you begin by using a cut down broom handle or buy pre cut rattan canes, the baton can to be tailored to the needs of the practitioner.
Before you start hacking away at the house brush or butchering your Escrima sticks, take a moment to think what your needs may be.
I have collected clubs of various sizes, materials, weights and shapes to fulfil whatever training ideas that have arisen and I will probably collect a few more as new ideas or needs come along.The two recognised ways to measure the Clubs for Kenpo training that I have come across are;
1st) from the point of the extended fore finger to the tip of the elbow ( just out of interest this measurement is supposedly the biblical "Cubit"). Note ; this is the size of the club used in the series of photo's used in this blog.
2nd) Is the same as the first method plus a fist span.
When using this method of measurement the club can be gripped in the long or short held fashion, there is a protrusion at the "Butt" or "Tip" from either side of the "Fist" or the point of the elbow depending on grip. This protrusion can be used to effectively to penetrate or manipulate.
The club is now “ideally” sized for practising single and double Kenpo club routines.
The off cut (the smaller piece), if you are using bought and pre-cut rattan cane is usually just wider than the width of "a" fist when gripped in the palm of the hand.This off-cut makes a very versatile little weapon so don't discard it, because it can become an important tool to train with to further your understanding of “anything can become a weapon”.
By measuring, cutting and tailoring the club to your needs, it is no longer just a piece of purchased timber, it starts to become your club, your personalised weapon. Having said this, don’t become fixated with just one style of weapon.
I use any sized club as well as various other objects (flails, chains, pick axe handles, small axes, metal pipe, thick electric cable, various sized knives and rocks!) to further develop ideas using The Set as my base or point of reference.
Note; even though I have mentioned above a list of objects that I train with it, try to think of them as just that "objects" and do not develop any un healthy fascination for them, when working with a Weapons Set IT SHOULD BE LOOKED ON AS A SET OF CHALLENGING EXERCISES TO DEVELOP THE HARMONIOUS INTERACTION OF THE WEAPON AND BODY.
Having shared all the above info about tailoring the Club, please realise that this is what I did while trying to work “solely” within the parameters of the Kenpo system. These days I usually just practice with standard 26inch Rattan Canes, why because of availability and a “loosely evolved international recognised standard size”.

When considering the Club to maximise your efforts when striking it is a good idea to consider the principles of Surface Concentration and Penetration. A quick reminder of these two important rules
Usually (if the forces exerted are the same), the smaller the area struck, the less the external damage, but, the greater the internal effect and vice versa.
Refers to the extension of power beyond the surface area of contact when striking with a weapon, man made or not.
These two above factors play an important role in attacking Anatomical Weak Points e.g. Nerve Centres, whether you are armed or unarmed.


By decreasing the area of contact the degree of penetration is increased, if all things are equal in the execution of the move .
To improve the clubs effectiveness when striking simply round off one or both ends of the club to a dull point (the nature of the weapon is that of a blunt instrument, so don't be tempted to sharpen it to a point so that the club becomes a piercing weapon, its one thing to aggressively poke somebody in the solar plexus with a blunt club and another thing to do it with a sharpened one, gaol time is one thing to consider)
The Butt or Tip of the Club (rounded off or not) is an ideal tool for striking the many vital points of anatomical weakness found on the human body.
Many books and charts now exist as references for "vital point" striking. My early referenceses are from the Ed Parker Kenpo charts and diagrams that exist in the Infinite Insights etc.

To improve on the club as a manipulative weapon, I experimented by cutting down a pair of hexagonal nunchakus to make a set of short clubs. The angular shaft has an extra penetrative effect when rolling the club in wrist or elbow for joint locking techniques, Scraping and other Frictional applications are enhanced with this kind of Club.
The angular shaft goes some way to maximising your efforts when applying manipulations.
A squared stick with four right angled edges is extremely effective for striking or manipulating, because of the surface concentration principle, the right angles and corners add a piercing dimension to the object.
As a repeated reminder do not become weapon fixated, discard statements like "I can only use a rattan baton or a correctly measured Kenpo Club, because that’s what I train with" if you dont your ability to adapt will decrease, because in the unlikely event of ever being in a "real" self defence situation you probably won't have your neat tailored Kenpo club or Rattan cane on your person.

Finding the Grip.There are two basic Kenpo club grips, which are long held and short held or extended and inverted, also the less used but (in my opinion) just as relevant centre grip
These grips are a good starting point to become familiar with the club and to start developing manual dexterity as well as *manual ambidexterity when practising.
*important note
it is important to develop manual ambidexterity because your more coordinated hand may be injured, you may have acquired the weapon with your less coordinated hand or you may be carrying something valuable!
To find the ideal starter position for the regular Long Held/Extended Grip, holding the club vertically, grip tip of the lower case (bottom) with the 1st hand (right or left), palm in, just using the thumb, index and fore finger of that hand, then grip directly next to it with the 2nd (right or left hand, so that fists are butted up to each other, with the "pinkie" of the 2nd hand touching the thumb and forefinger of the 1st hand, remove the 1st hand, now the 2nd hand will be positioned on the club to strike, pin, manipulate apply pressure, leverage amongst other things.
To find the ideal starter position for the Short Held /Inverted Grip, hold the club horizontally in front of you; grip the lower case (bottom) with the 1st hand (right or left) palm down, just using the thumb, index and fore finger of that hand, now with the 2nd hand grip alongside the 1st hand, the thumbs of the two fists should butt up to each other. Remove the 1st hand and adjust the position of the club so that it runs snugly up the inner forearm, with approximately "an inch to a fist" (depending on length of baton!) span of club protruding beyond the elbow when the arm is bent.
These two Grips are Basic starting positions and should be modified to the needs and conditions, of the practitioner.
Central GRIP
As a guide ,cross balance the club horizontally on your extended index finger (I find palm up easier) , move it until you find the centre, grab the club so that its centre lines up between your fore finger and ring finger.
Use these methods a couple of times, until you become familiar with the Clubs, then just trust your judgement.
Some other possibilities are,
Two hands holding one end of the Club,with palms down or one palm down, one palm up.
One hand holding the tip and one holding the butt,with palms down one palm down, one palm up.etc,etc
Experiment with different types of Grip as well as altering and adjusting your grip while performing a movement, yeh! Twiddling and Twirling.
The basic gripping action has numerous variations.How you grip the club depends how it comes into your possession. Some methods to consider are.A constant pressure with all the fingers and thumb of the gripping hand concentrating the grip in the index, forefinger and thumb area.
Constant pressure with all the fingers and thumb but with an extra exertion being applied with the little finger.... etc.,etc.
Which ever variation you choose to hold a club, the key factor is it must give you instant control over the weapon, without which effective use of the weapon will starts to diminish.

(as opposed to just reacting!)
To stretch the principle of "Point Of Origin”, the position or location of the weapon may not be an ideal one when the action begins, but your response with the weapon must "be the most effective in the least possible time" e.g. avoiding wasteful angles, embellished moves, telegraphing of movements etc.
Applying a good grip in an instant can be a matter of urgency. If a club is used in an actual defence situation (not in the luxury environment of the Dojo) :
there will probably be very little if any warning,
no warm up period,
no neat little baton twirling drills to get you in the mood or to impress onlookers,
no on the spot instruction,
no assurance of outcome,
no confidence building moments,
but there will probably be a lot of adrenaline flying around.
As with all aspects of self defence "how you train is how you respond” and not necessarily the "way you fight" ! If you only train to "fight" then you are limiting your options, if this is you’re only premise then I suggest your broaden your outlook. Unless of course, your are into sports martial arts.
When training for an event you train for some thing that you know will happen at certain time and at a certain place. A Tournament or a Grading.
When training for self defence, you training for an event that you hope will not happen and if it does happen there will probably be no control of the time or place of the incident.
Your surviving such an event relies on a lot more than just being able "to Fight", please trust me on this.
So you must firstly be able to control the Club if it is to be used properly, a correct grip leads to good control so it is vitally important. The initial grip of the club will be a determining factor in your subsequent action as well as the outcome of the situation, practice and experiment with different types of grip and acquiring the club from various sources e.g.
From an opponent, by disarming them.
From a third party, by it being handed, thrown or rolled to you, learning to catch a thrown baton or picking it up from the floor while its moving or while you are moving and its not or its moving and you are moving can be an interesting excerise.
From the environment, aquiring things that are in the vicinity, this may mean modifying simple structures!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Richard Matthews

”I come to you only with karate, empty hands, I have no weapons, but should i be forced to defend my self, my principals or my honour, should it be a matter of life or death or right or wrong, then here are my weapons, empty hands".

Kenpo is fundamentally an unarmed form of self defence even though quite early on in training we are introduced to weaponry, from the defence against weapons perspective.
So do we need to have a weapons curriculum?
The uncomplicated answer is, yes, because of the "balance and logic" of Kenpo as a system, if there are unarmed self defence situations, then of course there must be armed self defence situations.

Kenpo's four “basic” situations:

1) Attacker and Defender unarmed.
2) Attacker armed Defender unarmed.
3) Attacker unarmed Defender armed.
4) Attacker and Defender armed.

So if weapons are part of the self defence scenario then logic dictates that knowledge of there uses should follow.

The synonym for club (a blunt instrument) in Ed Parker's system of Kenpo is "Storm".
The term storm is meant to give a certain feel to the use of a club, almost an identity, this feeling must be apparent when training with a club in an offensive or defensive mode.Storm has more than one “literal meaning”, but, they all seem to be applicable to the Kenpo Club.
STORM (dictionary) atmospheric disturbance, a violent upheaval, a sudden overwhelming attack, to move violently or to assault with speed. A concentrated outpouring of missiles or blows, to set upon with violent force.....
When you associate any of the above meanings to the Club it is obvious that it is a weapon to be treated with respect, when attacking with or defending against it.
At an actual moment of self defence you will probably be unarmed, the likelihood of having a club in your hand ready to use is remote, the chances of having two clubs in your hands and ready to go are exceedingly remote, the chances of you being armed with two clubs and encountering someone who is armed with two clubs in a “real situation” are off the scale, also if you are wandering in “normal” civilian life with one or two clubs concealed about your person then I think its time for a reality check (a regular reality check should be the most important check in Kenpo !)
So, in reality the opportunity to wield the clubs regularly (in any society), in a “real situation”*, are to say the least few and far between.*as opposed to a competitive one!
But if you are studying the clubs as a martial weapon for self defence, then you must accept that is better to have the knowledge of a weapon, than not to have the knowledge of it, if a club comes into your possession during a serious incident then it is a distinct advantage to be able to use it “quickly with confidence and some sort of trained ability”.
Also if you understand how a club can be used against you, then a realistic defence may be built against it.
Training with the Clubs will measurably improve your Kenpo/ Martial Arts ability depending on how much time and effort you apply to improving your understanding of man made weapons.
Environmental awareness, speed, timing, distance judgement, muscle tone and much more increases with training.
As a bi-product of practicing The Club Set (as presented briefly at the end of these notes) you will help to improve your unarmed delivery of Kenpo!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Richard Matthews

The brain's function of “thinking”, consciously or subconsciously, is a constant human activity, just like breathing.

As Kenpo practitioners we know the benefits that can be gained from analysing and developing one of our most natural functions, breathing, the system also encourages practitioners of all levels to develop their ability to "Think", (it is or "should be" especially addressed at brown belt level).
Earlier in this blog I made a bold statement," like the tradesman who couldn't read the instructions I had to think", maybe there was something or someone that could help me to develop a method to improve my thinking.I decided to have a look around and see if there was anything that could help me.By accident at an airport bookstore I found a book, “De Bono's Thinking Course".

I found that the concepts and formulas presented in his text compliment Kenpo's analytical approach to the Martial Arts.I have applied a few (by no means all) of his formulas for "thinking" to all areas of my personal Kenpo training.

The Five Minute Think

The first time I really applied De Bono's "Five Minute Think" method, was to the self defence technique "Twisted Twig" (defence against a (or attempted) wrist lock), it gave me a whole new way of looking at and analysing techniques.By using De Bono's ideas I found it allowed me to use Mr. Parker's ideas such as:-
“The Equation Formula,
The Three Points of View,
The Ideal / What if / Formulation concept,
Analogies and Quotes” with a greater degree of flexibility.

Other people may already have the ability to look at Kenpo this way, but for me it was just what I needed at that stage of development.

De Bono’s book and Ed Parker's referential materials helped switch on the little cartoon light bulb above my head.............. DING!

Here are a few of De Bono's thinking guidelines, later on there is a section on the "Five Minute Think" as adapted for Kenpo.

Consider All Factors.

Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices.

Examine Both Sides.

Aims, Goals, Objectives.

and one of my favourites.

Plus (points), Minus (points), Interesting (points).

Abbreviated as ...C.A.F., A.P.C., E.B.S., A.G.O., P.M.I..

All the above work hand in glove with the analytical aspect of the system these simple formulas can add a little bit of "juice" to your Kenpo,”to improve your Kenpo training don't just be a "doer" or a "thinker" but be "a doer and a thinker”.
"Improving your thinking skill is actually much, much simpler than most people believe”. De Bono
"not until the brain shifts into gear with the body, will the intangible become tangible” Ed Parker.
Telling people to learn to think, may seem like pointing out the obvious, but if you assume that just like breathing you can already "do that” it may be a useful exercise to look a some of the things, martial or other that you assume you can already do adequately!

When using the "5min Think” stick to rigidly to the time frame.
The 5 min Think is there to enrich your Kenpo practice, not to encroach on it.
The De Bono, formula is as follows
1st minute Target and Task.
2nd & 3rd minute Expand and Explore.
4th & 5th minute Contract and Conclude.

For Kenpo,
Pick a Target, i.e. An inward strike with a club (you could pick a single basic move all the way up to a Set or Form or a Principle of Motion).What's the Task, i.e. developing the strike, to maximise your effort.

2nd & 3rd MINUTE
Expand, you could look at the connection between the club and the pivotal points of the body, i.e. the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hips or even the balls of the feet.Explore how timing the twists, turns and drops of various body parts can directly effect your ability to strike with the club.

4th & 5th MINUTE
Contract, pull all of your ideas together and pick a couple to focus on,
i.e. the rotation of the wrist and the anchoring of the elbow
Conclude, the need to do some heavy bag work, to get the feel of what it is like to strike some thing with maximum effort, which is "at real speed, in real time and with full power".
The above exercise should lead you towards examining the differences and similarities of maximising your efforts and exerting maximum effort.
This simple formula can be applied by a group or an individual, in a class situation, a dead time situation like waiting for a bus, or periods of rest and relaxation.
Parts of it can be targeted for longer periods of thought, such as Expand and Explore.
Take the principle of Balance and Expand on it from a Kenpo point of view.
A starting point could be does Balance simply mean being able to stand on one leg while kicking? or is there more!!.
Explore the possibilities of conceptualising Balance to see where it may lead you in an unrestricted thinking process, you cannot be "wrong" because it’s your thoughts nothing more or nothing less.This may seem strange but, unique ideas whether good or bad, have to come from somewhere, you never know it might be an idea of yours that can be the innovation that triggers a positive change.

Note: I believe that the majority of Kenpoists at various times in their training will apply this formula whether they are aware of or not.This formula was applied to every section of the club set.

"A true martial artist is not one who fears change, but one who causes it to happen"
Ed Parker

Sunday, March 8, 2009

15 Years Ago !

Richard Matthews
In 1980 I moved from Newcastle in N.E. England to Jersey a 45 mile sq. Island just within sight of the French coast and a 40 min flight from the UK.Because of that slight isolation that an islands separation creates, I have found that people stick with things that little bit longer here. That was certainly the case with my interest in the "Kenpo Club". During the 80s my efforts where focused on developing my Kenpo, but I also developed rudimentary nunchaku and single and double stick drills for my own training. Mr. Parker's guide to the nunchakus and Fumio Demuras basic nunchakus book became my references, some times actually contradicting one another, but I found this refreshing.By the time the 90s came around and I was introduced to the "Club Set" via a blurred and stapled copy of Club Set #1, now I was ready for some real stick work, all I needed was a weapons instructor.At this point I really needed a guide, but there where none locally, so because of this I started to try and develop the "set" myself.Also, in the mid 90s I began learning Kenpo’s Club Form 7, I tried to keep my personal development of the Set and the learning of the Form as two different topics, if that's possible.

What I had was a "primitive" idea of how to use a flail and a club, as well the "Club Set"(which needed exploring), coupled with a knowledge base in Ed Parker's Kenpo System.When it is all you have then you have to work with it, so I did.Also I had inherited a misguided idea, which was, "that if you study Kenpo then you already have the ability to pick up a set of clubs and perform self defence techniques", I found this to be fundamentally flawed, so I dumped that idea and was able to start from scratch.

What I needed was a concept to work from. I modelled "The Web of Knowledge" as the base idea to try to use the motion of "The Set" to ensnare or capture and retain information.I needed to think about how I used my natural weapons as a Kenpo practitioner and the modifications necessary to transfer the principles of unarmed combat to armed combat.

started with an "idea", because the first step in development is usually an idea.The Kenpo idea of "Flow First, Power Later" got the ball rolling.The first thing I noticed was that for me the Set didn't flow at all, it was full of "Commercial Breaks", this may have been because of the way "The Set" had been shown to me, but it didn't have that "Kenpo feel" to it.

My initial plan to address this was to use the club in a similar fashion to a flail, because when using a nunchaku you cannot afford to be mechanical, wooden or robotic for long, if you do not learn to blend with the action of the Flail its going to get you.This then made me look at the relationship between the 3 main joints of the arm, the shoulder (proximal), elbow (medial) and wrist (distal)
When the power created by the body, is transferred to the stick, through the use of these 3 joints, the wrist joint plays a very important part in producing an effective use of the club, either by flexing rotating or remaining static..This is an example of how I thought, through out the development of The Set, looking at what I wanted to achieve and then seeing if I could use the set to capture or ensnare it,e.g. how to employ the dimensions of Height, Width, Depth mixed with Speed, Travel and Time into The Set.
Or just seeing a seeing a wrist locks, trying it with a stick, then incorporating the motion into the set.This applied to such things as:-
Not becoming weapon fixated.
Vital point striking.
Lines and paths of action.
Surface concentration.
As well as things like exploring the difference between "maximising you effort" and “exerting maximum effort".
All of the above and more are incorporated into The Set to give "specific answers as well as speculative interpretations to the use of the Club"
So this was the situation, I am working in a degree of isolation, happy in my ignorance, trying to develop something I have a only rudimentary knowledge of.......15 years later I am still working on it and putting my notes on this blog!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Richard Matthews


"My introduction to the "Club", was via the Kenpo's Systems Self Defence Techniques and its CLUB SET #1.In the early 90s I began to learn The Set "mechanically".Later a visiting instructor showed me the sequence, then afterwards said something along the lines of "it was of very little merit and far too basic".This statement did two things,

A. Initially it made me ask myself, why bother learn The Set.

B. But then it inspired me to work on The Set to find if there was any "merit" in learning it.

The answer to the part A, If its all you have then, you “have” to work with it.

Although I had worked with the Nunchaku and I have a background in Butchery and Fishmongery. I had no "real trained" knowledge of martial arts weapons aprt from the Bo Staff.

So personally I needed to learn the set, as a base for my personal development of Kenpo weaponry."I had a skeleton, now i needed to put some meat on the bones.

Nowadays there are a lot of Filipino orientated arts readily available to study, which if I where starting now I "may have" to look to for guidance.But when I began practicing” The Set” the only guidance I had were the theory, concept and principles of Mr. Parker's System, also one of his (brown belt)analogies, the one about the tradesman...

"who couldn't read the instructions, so had to think".

I have been influenced for better or worse by every Kenpo Practitioner that I have ever seen (at any level) wield a club. If anyone can see their influence in what I have portrayed then I am pleased.

As it has turned out Club Set was brim full of merit and held a wealth of information, just waiting to be explored and developed, when looked at positively and inquiringly, it has become my reference point for weapons development as well as a reference point for my ongoing investigation into Kenpo ClubForm 7.

I approached the Set with an open mind, broke it down and worked it; this blog is taken from my personal note pads and jottings, a result of my endeavour so far.I say so far because what is presented here is just part of a developing, personal insight into one of Kenpo's weapons,

The Club.

The vast part of this guide has been adopted and adapted from the concepts, principles, theories, guidelines formulas, etc., generated by ED PARKER'S KENPO, it had to be, because, "it’s the only Art" of which I have any kind of insight.

"Monkey See Monkey Do"

When performing sets or forms lots of physical energy is expended, but, mental or even dare I say, spiritual content can be lost, if practitioners of any art stay in the beginners "monkey see monkey do" mode.I believe the Kenpo system has the ingredients too free a practitioner in the early stages of development from this mode, but only if the practitioner wishes to challenge him or her self to do so!

The Club Set was the first time I fully moved out of the "monkey see, monkey do" mode and attempted to explore "The Art", using Mr. Parker's Guidelines.The ideas presented here are not meant to replace anything that exists, but hopefully, enhance them.

Note; I did not set out with a burning desire to change anything, or "leave my stamp on something", but rather had an occasional and casual relationship with Club Set, which went through varying stages of enthusiasm, and now has found its way to this blog and shortly a DVD, so please approach with an open mind.

Anyone who was swept a long with the Nunchaku craze of the 70s and bought or even made a set of "flails"(as I did), has probably still got the lumps and bumps on there bodies to remind them of how awareness and accuracy must grow proportionately to the speed and power when "spinning the chucks”, well its the same with the clubs the lessons of environmental awareness are priority.

The environment as it applies to Kenpo is ..."what’s in you, on you and around you"..

..this was an important baseline for my insight into the Kenpo Club.

My guide for developing some thing new is:-






in this order

"The mind is like a parachute, works well when its opened"