American Kenpo (pronounced KeNpo), also known as Kenpo Karate, is an updated system of martial arts based on modern-day street fighting that applies logic and practicality. It is characterized by the use of quick and powerful strikes delivered from all of the body's natural weapons, powered by rapid stance transitions, called "shifting." The purpose of training in this manner is to increase physical coordination and continuity with linear and circular motion. Each movement when correctly executed leads into the next, keeping an adversary's "dimensional zone" in check while limiting their ability to retaliate.
Founded and codified by Ed Parker, American Kenpo is primarily a self-defense combat system. Parker believed in tailoring Kenpo to the individual and would also encourage his students to explore the unknown areas of martial arts. Parker left behind a large following of instructors who honored his teachings by implementing many different versions of American Kenpo. As Senior Grandmaster, Parker did not name a successor to his art, but instead entrusted his senior students to continue his teachings in their own way.
Although each American Kenpo school will differ somewhat, some common elements are:
• Basic Principles, concepts and theories such as "Marriage of Gravity" — settling one's body weight in order to increase striking force, and many others out lined in his Infinite Insights Books (5).
• Every block is a strike, every strike is a block — a block should be hard and directed enough to injure an opponent, decreasing their ability to continue an attack. Every strike should counter an opponent's movement, decreasing their ability to mount an attack.
• Point of Origin — refers to moving any natural weapon from wherever it originates rather than cocking it before deploying it. This helps to eliminate telegraphing of moves.
• Economy of Motion — Choose the best available target, Choose the best available weapon, Choose the best available angle, in the least amount of time, to get the desired result.
• Personalization — Parker always suggested that once a student learned the lesson embodied in the "ideal phase" of the technique, they should then search for some aspect that can be tailored to their own personal needs and strengths.