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Forum Home > General Discussion > American Kenpo VS. Brazilian Ju-Jitsu

John
Member
Posts: 32

On a night when I have been asked more questions about street fighting then actually training, I found myself defending American Kenpo, and my small little teaching business altogether, against an onslaught of commercialism and misrepresentations. During a discussion on a particular technique, the "idea" of "what if this person went down to the ground" came up. As a loyal stand up fighter I did my best to explain that in a fight, as long as you're standing and the other person is on the floor then everything is fine. I knew where this conversation was going though. I knew that in the matter of only seconds, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu would come up and questions about why Kenpo doesn't a lot of ground fighting techniques would come up as well. "Well, what happens if you both fall to the floor..........".

There is a HUGE misconception out there that Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is the be-all and end-all of the martial arts. This simply isn't the case. While it's a great martial art, and a great sport, it is NOT the premier street self defense system in the world, and that's just my opinion. One of my students said that everywhere you go, everything you see, every video you see, you see a BJJ artist defeating another martial artist. After everyone started to chime in, I finally had to lay down the law so to speak. I told them that all of those fights and videos that you see is all SPORT!!!!! There are rules. There's protective padding. There's a referee. And, as with all money making venues, isn't it possible that one of the fighters might have been paid to take a fall???? They looked like a bunch of deer in headlights. I told them, don't get me wrong, BJJ is a great martial art and a great sport, but for no nonsense street self defense, to me it's Kenpo.

One of my students said that his friend, who is a brown belt in BJJ, always beats him in sparring matches, wrestling matches, and so on. I asked my student what he was doing during those matches and his reply was that he was trying to show how Kenpo would work, but he always lost. I told him that he would continue to lose as long as he "followed the rules". He looked at me like I had two heads. I said to him that the ONLY way to show whether or not Kenpo works is to seriously hurt someone. Kenpo is designed for the streets. We have throat shots, eye gouges, eye rakes, temple shots, groin shots, and so on. If you want to beat your friend, you're going to have to hurt him very, very badly. BJJ on the other hand has submissions, joint locks, strikes and kicks, and RULES!!!!! And, because of it's popularity, we as the opponent know what's coming when we face a BJJ guy. He's going to try to rush you, take you down, and wrap you up. As a street fighter and a Kenpoist, we have quite a few techniques to defend against that. My student said that he could never hurt his friend, which I knew, and that from now on he won't spar with him, which is not what I wanted. I told him that sparing with your friend is ok and that you could learn some valuable stuff while you do that, just don't expect to show him the "true" essence of Kenpo if you're going to play his game. Kenpo only works when there are no rules. He agreed and at the same time my students started to settle down for a bit and get back to Kenpo.

An art could never defeat another art. It just doesn't work that way. We all know that. It's the training, fighting spirit, and experience of the representatives of the arts in question that determine which fighter is better. I've seen a green belt in Tae Kwon Do take out a black belt in BJJ and I've seen a purple belt in BJJ take out a Kung Fu instructor. Both times, it was never the art that won, only the fighter. So, in my opinion, when the chips are down and I get into a street fight with someone, do I want to roll around with someone on a floor that could have broken glass or rocks or whatever on it hoping to tap them out, while their friends come up from behind and start kicking me in the head and slicing me up with a knife, or do I want to be trained in an art that will let me be on my feet, aware of my suroundings, have the most lethal martial art in my back pocket PLUS some experience with ground fighting? In a street fight, I'll take the stand up art 100% of the time.

Tell me your opinion. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

June 2, 2011 at 3:58 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Robbie513
Member
Posts: 1
Agree... Your not going to lay down in a street fight to do a submission I don't see many fights now days that are Just one on one... I would learn judo before bjj. I'm acutally looking at studying American Kenpo but I'm a orange belt in Shotokan would it be wise to cross train now or wait till I'm like 2nd degree BB???
June 23, 2011 at 5:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Donald K. Carr
Member
Posts: 6

John,

Your post hits a familuar tone to my own instruction.  I train Kenpo to Soldiers in the US Army.  The Army Combatives training is the prefered technique, but choose to use the system as a tool in conjunction with my Kenpo instruction.......to a fairly high degree of success I might add.  Everyone of my students will constantly challenge me with the "ground and pound" aspects that BJJ or Army Combatives.  It generally requires me to explain the aspects of a fight.  You highlight the obvious advantages of Kenpo with no "Barrier" fighting.  This is why it easy to use this art to forge the warrior spirit and get them to think out of the box in situational training.  However, I will give kudos to BJJ/Combatives......a fight transitions and does generally end up on the ground periodically.  However, Kenpo is truely an outstanding "stand-up" form as well as "transition" form.  Many of our techniques will place us in the direct position for transitional control either allowing or preventing the fight from going to the ground.  I continually prove this through sparring and demonstartion.  This requires us to have a minimum of an intermidiate level of ability in BBJ, but is very effctive in proving the point. 

Is Kenpo better?  I can't answer that because I do not partake in the practice of down talking one form to the other, but as a veteren of many combat deployments and matches, I can say that my personal prefence is Kenpo.  As a loyal student of the art, I look to profect my style through focus and concentration, which in turn I administer these skills outside the Dojo/Pit helping me develop as a leader, a soldier, a husband and a parent.  As a advicate of the art, I learn the history and philosophy of all the forms that have made the heritage of our form, as well as those that have influenced us or we have influnced, making me a stronger instructor and mentor. 

I originally started to proctice Kenpo for it's "street" effectiveness but stay an avid Kenpoist because of the fully encompassed training aspect of the art.  There is a physical, mental, and even philosophical value to the art that challenges a true Kenpoist to strive for perfection as well as develope a strong sense in loyalty, integrity, and courage.  This is counterbalanced with traits of knowledge, kindness, and respct that is also a demend of the art. 

 

--

Donald K. Carr

Associate Master of the Art, (Hachidan), 8th Dan Balck Belt

June 23, 2011 at 3:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

John
Member
Posts: 32

Hi Robbie,

I don't know if you have to wait until you're a 2nd degree black belt in order to start American Kenpo but be aware that if you lay a foundation of Shotokan, American Kenpo is going to be extremely different. Shotokan is the essence of Japanese linear power. Very strong stances, very linear punches and movements and so on. Kenpo on the other hand is mostly circular with linear movements thrown in to combat other circular styles that we may face in the streets. Personally, and I am biased obviously, but I would either stop Shotokan now and start American Kenpo before you become too rigid and have to learn to losen up all over again or I would wait until Brown or 1st degree black belt before you start to train in another system. This way you can devote all of your attention to Shotokan when you need it the most, and that's always in the beginning. Just my opinion though.

June 24, 2011 at 8:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Patrick Beaudoin
Member
Posts: 1

Hey John, I agree. I love Kenpo although we train Kenpo Jui-jutsu as a combined style along with phillipino styles. This conversation has come up at our studio as well and you are right on, I will work on the ground if i have too, but the fight shouldnt go that far, as a true Kenpoist we are taught to end it quickly, "there are no rules" and you have to hurt someone. we have all discussed escalation and knowing what to look for as a confrontation grows, who wants to have a long dragged out fight.??

August 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

John
Member
Posts: 32

Hey Patrick,

 

I couldn't agree with you more. There is a reason that Kenpo employs rapid fire hand strikes, angles of attack, motion disruption and so on. It's so we can avoid going to the ground as much as possible. Don't get me wrong, BJJ has it's place. I just feel that Kenpo is a better no holds barred street art.

August 3, 2011 at 12:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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