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En god Kenpo artikel med Huk Planas //
En god Kenpo artikel med Huk Planas
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11/1-2008, 17:44

Kim Dahl

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Her er et rigtigt godt interview med Richard "Huk" Planas fra Kampsportsbladet From Budo International.

Grandmaster Richard "Huk Planas Interview From Budo International

Q: How did you start martial arts and how did you get into Kenpo?

A: Back in the sixties I was working as a musician but one day my friend and I were driving around (Fresno, California, where I come from) and we passed by a karate school where they taught Kenpo. My friend decided to try it out but I refused to because I didn’t want to mess up my hands. After some time my friend asked me to go down to the school because he was going to have a graduation. I didn’t know where we were heading to, I knew very little about karate schools. He took me to a Kenpo school where I saw some friends of mine, who were also musicians, training and convinced me that my hands were not going to suffer any damage from Kenpo. So they talked me into it and that’s how I started.

Q: Who were the instructors in this school at the time?

A: Tom Kelly who was a first degree black belt and Steve Labounty who was a second degree black belt. They were the main instructors at the time.

Q: When did you first meet Ed Parker?

A: Every year, Tom and Steve would organize a tournament and would invite Mr. Parker. Ed Parker used to hand out certificates in promotional dinners and I first met him in one of these dinners.

Q: What’s Kenpo in a few words?

A: I always say Kenpo is a set of rules and principles of motion. You have to study them and you have to understand why we move this way or the other. We, as teachers, want questions even if in some school they don’t allow questions.

Q: What qualities do you think are important to be a good Kenpo instructor?

A: Understanding what Kenpo is, its rules, power principles and motion making sure you use them. It’s not magic, it takes a lot of effort to stop somebody in a fight that started in the first place, that’s why it’s called self-defense. You have to finish what you have started. You have to be a good student before you become a good instructor. All the people that teach say the same thing: “Your best students are the ones who will become the next teachers and the ones that carry the system on”.

Q: Can you recall any anecdote/episode with Ed Parker or one of his quotes that you like in particular?

A: What’s useless and what’s useful only comes with time, experience and logic. It takes time to come to a conclusion on your own. What I tell people is that you’re going to change your mind many times; perhaps you think something is good and logical but with time you may realize you were wrong.

Q: Did Bruce Lee have any influence on Ed Parker and therefore on Kenpo?

A: I can only presume, and I think so. The old man talked with Bruce and I see that some of the things Bruce did, we do too. I was around Ed Parker and I was around Bruce Lee but never saw them together, at least not talking about Kenpo.

Q: What’s the main problem today in Kenpo and what do you think about its future?

A: The main problems in Kenpo, I think, are qualified instructors. There are many people teaching or that were forced into it or that have been put in that situation and really they don’t know enough about Kenpo and they just teach what they are told to. It happens worldwide

Q: What parts of the program are written but not needed/necessary?

A: What is not necessary is simple: what is not useful. Everything should be useful or be teaching you something. If it’s just “busy work” (things that you’re teaching but are not really useful and you’re just teaching them to keep the student busy) it’s not productive. With this I go back to what I said about being able to distinguish between something that is useful and useless and that only comes with time, experience and logic.

Q: Does that include the extensions, as useless material?

A: I don’t like extensions, never liked them. When we teach a technique with 7-10 moves and they ask you what they are supposed to do after that I don’t think that student has learned very much. A lot of these extensions we wrote (orange and up to half purple), originally, it was only category completion.

Q: What do you mean when you say category completion?

A: It’s really simple. We take a move, a strike pattern, anything and show you all possible ways to use it from different angles (vertical, horizontal, diagonal…. Once you do that, the category is complete

Q: So, you wouldn’t spend much time on these extensions, right?

A: Like I tell my students, make up your own extensions because when it comes to a fight and you’ve applied techniques you know but your opponent is still standing ready to fight again, it’s going to be only you and him so you’ll have to be ready to improvise and come out with something on your own and make it work. Mr. Parker used to tell everybody all the time that if a person knew long form four– and fully understood what’s in it, he would hang a black belt any day on that person. There’s a lot of “busy work” in the system to keep people doing something and to keep them paying for the karate school. People don’t want to accept that at the end of the day a karate school is also a business. Every system is “guilty” of that because people make a living out of it.


Q: There are many different ways you can do one technique; do you think they are all acceptable?

A: In the old days there were many variations of a single technique and there was A, B, C, D, E, F and G and sometimes even up to H or I. However, like I said, Kenpo is a set of rules. All I do is go around the world correcting people because maybe the instructor didn’t learn the rules in the first place. Ed Parker only taught thirty-five black belts and very few of them are there still teaching. It takes a long time to train qualified instructors. But as long as those variations aren’t breaking any rule or/and principle of motion they are ok.

Q: Do you believe Kenpo has changed from the sixties to the nineties? If so, how has it changed? Anything new added?

A: I don’t think anything of value has been added. There’s nothing new that wasn’t written down already. Perhaps some new extensions have been added.

Q: Who created long form 7 and 8 and what do you think about them?

A: It doesn’t matter who made it up. First of all, if extensions were really necessary they would have been written forty years ago like the rest of the stuff was. Kenpo is not a weapon system. Weapons and weapons principles are different from empty hands rules and people who train in real weapon systems they look at the forms and laugh. What I tell people is that if they want to study weapon they should study weapon systems.

Q: In your opinion, what sets are important to teach and why?

A: Anything that has value is important to teach so if that set is legitimate and you can get something valuable out of it, then fine. Otherwise it’s just “busy work”.

Q: Why did Mr. Parker always refer to Kenpo as American Kenpo?

A: I don’t remember Ed Parker ever using the term “American Kenpo”. Both Kenpo and karate are oriental terms. Originally, it was called Hawaiian Kenpo or Polynesian Kenpo because it was put together in Hawaii and when Hawaii became a state of the United States it started been called “American Kenpo”. If China were made a state, kung-fu would be American too but it wouldn’t because it’s Chinese. But, like I said, I never heard Mr. Parker

referring to Kenpo as American Kenpo. Other people did because of those reasons.

Q: How did Kenpo started to be written with “n” and not “m” (as in Kempo)?

A: There are many different stories. I once heard that it was a mistyped word in an article in a Hawaiian newspaper and it was left like that. I also heard that it was to spell it differently from the Japanese (both karate and Kenpo are Japanese terms).

Q: A lot of people feel that “karate” should not be part of the name of our system as we don’t really do karate. Does that have any historical reason, background?

A: You’re using the term everybody knows and understands although when Mr. Parker first put up a sign of “karate” in the front of his school everybody thought it was a Mexican restaurant! It’s a generic term to use. if you’re speaking to someone who knows about Kenpo karate you just say Kenpo.

Q: After a student is examined to achieve the next belt, he receives the promotional kick from the instructor. What does that symbolize?

A: In English there are many expressions using the term to kick such as “to be kicked up in a job”, “to get kicked/booted up in a position”. I like what Mr. Parker used to say: “The instructor kicks the student to give him a little pain as pay back of all the pain he has caused the instructor throughout the time and training”. It was something representative as in the old days when a student was kicked hard, everyone nodded and thought: “Oh, he did a good job”. People used to get upset when Mr. Parker didn’t give them a good kick and think: “What did I do wrong?”

Q: About forms, do we teach anything that we could say they are wrong?

A: Wrong isn’t the appropriate word. Different from how the technique is done is more correct. This used to be done in many schools and I’ve seen people teaching some things instead of other things to hide and keep little “secrets”. However, the real reason behind that was to test the student to see whether he understood what he was been taught. If the student doesn’t realize he is violating principles or rules and doesn’t ask, then he’s not learning much. Also there are many people who learn by heart the principles but are useless on the mat.

Q: Have you changed anything from the original system?

A: I wouldn’t use the word “change” because when I explain Kenpo I do it like an upside down pyramid. To build a normal pyramid you’d have a wide base and then get to the top. In Kenpo we start with one, and then build two on top, then three on top…that’s how we keep adding to. I’ve added things and variations by the rules and principles but I haven’t eliminated anything.

Q: Would you say weapons techniques in Kenpo are correct?

A: There’s correct or good. Anything can work if the timing is right but there’s an “if” in that statement and now days there are too many “ifs”. Weapon form is the last you learn because you have to be very good to take on weapons without getting hurt real bad or killed. You can get bruises and lumps fighting with empty hands but not killed. We show you to move from inside to outside and that’s always a good idea, to get away from his back-up weapon. But

for category completion you move from outside to inside where the opponent can easily check you off and use the weapon in a blink of an eye but people don’t think about that. So we show you this category completion move at the worst possible time meaning that you shouldn’t move from outside where it’s safe to inside when there’s a weapon in between.

Q: Referring to what you just said, don’t you think some techniques should be updated since now days it’s more common to see people with different weapons?

A: That’s true and that’s what many of us have done. However, you’re talking about a situation in which you run into someone who is trained and you end up getting into a fight with him but it’s very unlikely that two people that know martial arts run into each other and fight. That’s not realistic. Besides, people who train martial arts are learning it for self-defense and from what I’ve seen they aren’t the trouble makers that go around fighting people.

Q: What do you think about the fact that there are so many high ranking black belts in Ed Parker’s Kenpo today?

A: Many people make comments about that and they wonder why Kenpo is the system with the highest number of black belts. Many of them have gotten it because of their ego. There are many people who are not qualified but had been given the black belt. The reason why Mr. Parker had black belt students is that, apart from the fact that they had earned it with time and training, he wanted to spread Kenpo and wanted to give some authority to these people who were going to be representative of Kenpo in their state or region or school.

Q: If Mr. Parker were still alive how do you think he’d react if he’d saw the development of the art?

A: I think he’d turned over in his grave. In my opinion, since Mr. Parker died Kenpo has not gone forward but it’s done a backsliding of ten to twenty years. Short after he died more than twenty organizations popped up. My friend counted over sixty and I found it hard to believe but I wouldn’t doubt it. There are too many unqualified instructors going around the world teaching Kenpo. What I try to do is show how messed up it is. They like to feel respected but that only happens when they are in that room teaching. Rank is no good unless it’s respected.

Q: Do you have any organization of Kenpo?

A: Many people think I do but I don’t have anything legitimate. People talk about training Parker-Planas lineage and that’s how it may look like it’s an organization or federation but there’s nothing on paper that says people belong to this or to that. It’s just so that people know where they are at.

Q: What is exactly Parker-Planas lineage and how is it developing in the world today?

A: People know where I come from. There are many liars out there that claim to have trained with Mr. Parker. People have seen me with the old man working with him and writing down the system. That’s the reason why I have a busy schedule and travel around the world teaching and many of my old students are doing the same too. About the development, it’s not growing in leaps and bounds but it’s growing. Some people have been training forever but have learned nothing and some have achieved a lot in a very short time. Also I always say: “If you get your rank easy, you give it easy. If you get your rank hard, you give it hard”. I don’t give ranks, I give lessons.

Q: In 1993 you made videos on forms; will you be doing other videos with techniques?

A: I decided to do DVD on what I call “problem techniques” which are techniques that cannot be learned by reading the book and that’s basically all of them. There are common mistakes you see and I picked I think forty to sixty techniques out of the standard curriculum.

Q: After so many years teaching and travelling around the world spreading the art of Kenpo what is your motivation to keep on doing this?

A: I didn’t plan to be a karate instructor. As I said earlier, I was a musician at the time. It’s just something that happened. I started teaching when I was orange belt. The art means a lot to me and that is why sometimes in my classes I yell and scream and howl but that is only because I care and I want things done properly and correctly. I’ve seen people teach with a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other telling the students what to do just to keep them busy. You can tell these people don’t care much about the students or/and Kenpo.

Q: Are you optimistic about the future of Kenpo?

A: Getting everyone under the same roof will never happen. You pick your road and you go down it. We have to understand Kenpo is not made for everybody. Are you ever going to use Kenpo in a fight? I doubt it but it’s important that what you learn you learn it without blanks.

Q: What would be your advice to anyone who wants to start learning Kenpo?

A: My advice is that you have to know what you’re getting into. This is a martial art to save your butt in the street. If you don’t train hard and realistic it won’t be there to save you. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s not magic.

Q: Thank you Master Planas.

A: Thank you as well.

"Those who learn, earn, and those who earn qualify to be tested." The Zen of Kenpo

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