Ted Sumner, Judan
10th degree black belt
Tracy's Kenpo Karate
Do you know this technique? Do you know that technique? How many techniques are required for that belt? What is that technique for? Oh, and what constitutes a technique anyway? We use the term technique on a daily basis in Kenpo. Ask any Kenpo stylist what makes our system unique and he will quickly answer "the techniques". But what makes a technique different from a series of movements or combinations of movements?
In order to be a good instructor or for that matter an effective martial artist, you must be able to answer those questions. What is more, you must be able to answer from both the physical and philosophical perspective. Grand Master Mitose stated that there are three physical disciplines as well as three philosophical disciplines in Kenpo, namely the War Time Arts, which we are all familiar, the Joint Striking and Push Pull Arts, or JuJitsu if you will, and Evasion Arts, which all prudent martial artists should endeavor to master.
Regardless of the discipline you are using, there are certain elements which must be present to constitute a technique, these are:
1. You must NEUTRALIZE the attack.
2. You must POSITION for advantage.
3. You must administer a SOLUTION.
4. You must ESCAPE.
NEUTRALIZE: To neutralize you must block, parry, evade, break the opponents balance, incase of a hold, or strike the opponent first. When you strike first, you strike to injure, disable or to kill. If you do not neutralize the attack, then none of your skills will do you any good.
POSITION: To position for advantage you must move to a spot where you are on balance, so that you can generate power, and in a position where you can strike with minimal probability that you will have to endure a strike.
SOLUTION: This can take the form of a strike to injure, disable or kill. Or you may disable by breaking a limb or joint (we do not use pain compliance in Kenpo) or rendering the unconscious by choking or through a nerve strike.
ESCAPE: In Kenpo we always finish any technique by disengaging contact with the opponent. We do not hold on, no matter how effective the hold, due to the possibility of additional opponents attacking while you are engaged. By the way, you can use this part of the technique, evasion, to neutralize, position, solution, and escape all at once if you wish and if it will provide an acceptable resolution to the confrontation.
Those are the elements that make up a technique. So then, we come to my favorite question, when have you finished a technique? I here martial artists complain that "I did all the movements but he kept on coming at me." Or better yet, "I couldn't finish my technique, he went down on the first strike." I have visited schools where they will fail a student on a belt test if he does not "cover out" when he finishes the technique, to which I ask again: "When have I finished a technique?"
The answer is: You have finished a technique when the opponent is on the ground, drawn up in a fetal position, and has stopped quivering. But honestly, you may have done all the movements in a technique, or you may only be part way through, and the conditions change due to his maneuvering. This necessitates the administration of what is called Free Form or Technique Blending. You simply transition to the movement that will be effective against the conditions that faces you, and keep on striking until the issue is resolved. Then disengage and prepare yourself for whatever else may come.
Remember, what makes Kenpo unique and effective is the fact that we have a response, a technique, for every conceivable situation. Unlike Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Kickboxing, or even "reality based fighting", all of which predispose that you are facing one opponent in mutual combat in a finite arena. Self-