Angles of Attack/Defense

Universal Kenpo Crest

Universal Kenpo Crest

3d Kenpo Crest

3d Kenpo Crest

The kenpo universal circle/crest/patch is a tool that most martial artists should become familiar with. The basis for the design is the combination of possible movements and directions that a technique can encompass. You have your basic directions, up and down, left and right, as well as eighth movements along the diagonals. In addition there are the circling motions both externally and internally. As you go through your techniques, you should notice that each movement (both hand and footwork) usually follows along one of the pathways shown on the Kenpo Crest. The Crest is not just 2 dimensional as represented in the standard crest, but fully 3 dimensional, as the directions encompass everything within your sphere of influence.

In addition, because of your motion, the point of origin for each of your movements continuously changes, and as a result, we are not only dealing with the full 3d movement, but motion within motion within motion. Unfortunately I don’t have a nice animation to show this in action, but I imagine that someone out there has something like this done for a kenpo technique. If not, some animator out there might be nice enough to create one for the Kenpo community.

Poetry in Motion

The Kenpo Symbol is not designed to be a restrictive tool and is not indicative of all possible motions available to the techniques – but diagrams the vast majority of potential movements throughout the techniques. The first step in understanding the kenpo crest is to understand the motions involved within the symbol itself. Get into a horse stance and chamber your hands. Focus, for now, on your right hand. Envision your hand being at the center of the crest looking downward. Throw your punch forward, and notice the direction of travel in relationship to the circle (going along the top vertical line). Pull your hand back into the chamber and notice the motion (going along the bottom vertical line). Next, perform an inward block. Notice that the hand doesn’t travel in a straight line to get to the inward block, but it traverses a circular motion. Extend the hand forward into a chop (as in Five Swords), and again, notice that the motion it takes is not linear, but circular.

Over the next week or so (and really from here on out), you should focus on each of your techniques and see the universal pattern being applied in the motions of all your movements. Instead of using both hands for the techniques do each one individually to emphasize the motion and see how it translates into the universal crest. Once you do this for a while, you will start to see the motion and angles in all of your techniques.

Angles of Attack

Force = Mass x Acceleration. We have a saying in Kenpo that there are no blocks. Each block is a strike against the attacker. Thinking of this with our marriage of gravity concept, your angle of attack should correspond to the incoming force of the attacker (meeting force with force). The second stage of understanding the angles of attack is to start applying the concepts of the kenpo crest into your techniques, and analyzing what the attacker is doing in terms of reaction when you perform the technique. How is their body moving during the attacking phase, and how are your defenses poised to utilize this motion to the fullest potential. Looking at the kenpo crest again, you should see the motion the attacker is following, and meet with an equal and opposite force, circular motions against straight motions, straight motions against circular motions – getting you to the most efficient path to attack possible.

A good practice at this level is playing the part of the attacker, and analyzing how you react to the technique being performed against you. In this manner you can start to move into the theoretical application of the technique much quicker. By analyzing the attacker’s moving parts (by being the moving parts), you can start to see the patterns of attack and start to be able to anticipate much of what an attacker is going to do before it occurs. Working the technique from both angles gives you the best coverage of how the move should work and how you will react in a self defense situation.

Angles of Defense

Everything you do in Kenpo should be contributing to the attack. You should not just block for blocking sake, but block to either strike the opponent causing a reaction, or use the block to set up your next attack. Never in your moves should you be in a situation where you are just blocking attacks. This being said, you need to understand the angles of the attacker, so you can best plan your reaction. If an attacker is coming straight at you, where is the best place for you to move. If you move backwards, you lessen the blow somewhat, but you have the risk of stepping on something and tripping because you don’t have complete visibility in the situation. If you move off at an angle backwards from the attack, you will be hard pressed to be in a good situation to start a counter attack. Sure many of the moves we teach at this level have you move backwards, but this is merely to set your base in reaction to what the attacker is doing to you in the attack. Moving straight at the attacker is an option, but your reaction will have to pristine to enable you to defend yourself properly. Stepping off to the side, again, the distance means you will be hard pressed to counter attack. Moving towards the attacker, off at an angle incident to their direction, therefore is usually the best place for you to move in a self defense situation.

In this, you close the distance gap between you and the attacker, allowing you to counter attack, you have full visibility into your path of motion and won’t have to worry as much about tripping, and you have your momentum plus their momentum to combine into a powerful counter attack. This being said, there isn’t one size fits all defense motion you can follow to be 100% sure to be safe, however, moving incidental towards your attacker is a pretty safe bet – provided you are following proper kenpo motion (moving to their outside, not inside, and along a path out of harms way).

Concluding Thoughts

There is a lot more to the universal motion than we can get into during this lesson, but should have enough concepts for you to practice as you work through your techniques. Make sure to spend some time, going forward, analyzing your techniques, and see how the universal pattern comes into play – both your motions, and the reaction of the opponent. This comes into much bigger play when we start talking about the Dimensional Zone theory in a future lesson. Until then, keep up the great work, and make sure to contact us if you have any questions or comments.

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