What is Kenpo?
Kenpo is a Japanese type of martial arts but with Chinese origins. “Kenpo”, or sometimes “kempo”, came about as a Japanese way of pronouncing “chuan fa”, a Chinese character. Because of its Japanese and Chinese influence, the techniques involved in Kenpo are a mixture of the two cultures.
Kenpo’s literal meaning is “method of fist or hand” which is why it is also referred to as a type of “karate”. But because of influences from both Japanese and Chinese techniques, Kenpo evolved into a form of martial arts with a lot of variations. It is said that because of the Japanese influence, techniques are geared to more fluidity and shorter stances and movements when compared with Chinese versions. And though Kenpo is dismissed by some as just another karate variation, this martial art form has become increasingly popular on its own and has even been known for its techniques involving explosiveness in short-range battles.
But aside from its Japanese and Chinese influence, Kenpo also evolved into an American system of martial arts developed by Ed Parker. With Kenpo’s strong presence in the Hawaiian Islands, the techniques developed by Parker also became widely known as American Kenpo. This type of kenpo puts emphasis on self-defense techniques with moves delivered one after the other rapidly and successively for the purpose of overwhelming a particular opponent. Parker’s version of traditional Japanese and Chinese-based techniques were referred to as “modern modifications” to cater to present-day threats and activities. Parker also developed his style of kenpo along with alterations in the terminologies, principles, and theories of this traditional form of martial arts. At the start, Parker’s kenpo technique was referred to as “Kenpo Jujitsu” which he first taught in Hawaii. Then as his techniques evolved with more influence from the Chinese versions, his style of kenpo became “Chinese Kempo”. Then Parker changed the Asian-based terminologies and theories of this martial art form into American English and so his technique now became American Kenpo.