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What’s with All the Attempts?

“Attempted Attacks”


Ron Chapél

It seems that most teach, “Every attack is an attempt,” and the answer is always to “Move first.” This point of view is prevalent in a lot of kenpo interpretations to mask the lack of knowledge of teachers who do not have the answers to completed assaults, or by those who have never considered the reality of the Psychology of Confrontation over just following what some teach as “the” kenpo curriculum.

When I have broached this perspective with “motion” people, they have said that “I don’t believe in defending before, or during an attack,” which is ludicrous, and it astounds me that someone might entertain that notion.

Certainly given the opportunity, one should neutralize any threat as soon as possible, even taking the offensive when it is appropriate. Multiple decades as a street cop have made me acutely aware of reality over, “techniques done on the mat at the school.”

Kenpo-Karate based on motion has degenerated to that level because of the dearth of competent instructors ever since the first generation of black belts Mr. Parker recruited to teach his commercial curriculum. They knew what worked in reality and ignored or changed what did not, all with Mr. Parker’s approval.

Subsequent generations who had gone through the curriculum had no real world experience, and instead opted to just teach what was in the manual because its easier than thinking, and much easier than creating. They “traditionalized” what was in the manuals like it was gospel, but the “manuals” were only an outline of what was, in many cases dysfunctional ideas, designed to be formalized and adjusted by a competent teacher for his students.

While some techniques were labeled “attempts,” and rightly so, many more were not but instead were treated as such anyway. I watched Mr. Parker cringe to see someone attempting a defense to “Twisted Twig,” by first handing his arm to his training partner, and than as soon as he touched it, try to snatch it back, as if that is a defense against a “wrist-flex lock and/or throw.”

Clearly some techniques have to be viewed from an “after the assault” profile perspective. If a technique says, “push,” you must wait until pushed to train for a “push.” If a technique says “grab,” you must not only wait until grabbed, but you must consider what happens to you when you are grabbed realistically because attackers bring Body Momentum to a grab as a byproduct of the assault, just like they do for a “push” and a punch. The difference is, a person can “punch” without hitting anything. You cannot grab or push without physical contact.

Why wait you ask? Because, sooner or later it is going to happen, and you need to train for it. Unless you’re going to tell me that you are always ready, and ever vigilant and will NEVER get caught off-guard, than you need to train for when it happens, because in comparison, moving first is a piece-of-cake. Which is I guess why it is the prevailing method among the warriors who don’t have to get their methods tested regularly.

Discussions should begin with “How do I survive The Initial Assault?” and recognize that each attack brings a unique set of circumstances that has to be analyzed. A punch, is not treated the same as a punch or grab. Moving before a punch strikes you makes sense if you see it coming, and that helps give you the skills to move for other “attempts.” But techniques Mr. Parker did not label as “attempts” are not to be taught or trained otherwise.

We have way too many keyboard warriors and mat experts, who need to get their head out of their butts, and talk to people who fight as a matter of course in their employment. I would rather talk to a good bouncer any day, over some black belt who studied a bunch of techniques, knows all the terms to use in a discussion, but can’t fight his way out of a Girl Scout meeting. But then again, some of those Girls Scouts are pretty tough. Much tougher than a lot of keyboard warriors, who need to go on a ride-a-long with their local P.D. and get an up close look at their worse nightmare. It’s called, reality.

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