Kenpo Karate

Kenpo Karate Techniques

American Kenpo Karate is a very interesting art, all the moves are based on self-defense techniques. There are sets and forms which are made with parts of current self-defense techniques against pushes, grabs, holds, knife attacks, gun attacks, 2 attackers, and other forms of attack.

In Kenpo Karate, there is a question “what if…”. All Kenpo karate have extensions on their self-defense, the moves are totally prepared to leave the “what if” out of the picture. The economy of motion is another concept Ed introduced which implies using all your weapons synchronized with your body movement, so it becomes natural to execute 3 or 4 moves with 1 step-through, rear crossover, or any other technique.

Some think Kenpo has too many self-defense techniques per rank, some think a few don’t really work, and others think there should be fewer self-defenses and keep the most effective ones. We have also heard from many instructors that it would be a good idea to develop updated techniques, Ed. Parker created them in the ’60s, in those days the attacks we way different than now, and the mindset nowadays is way different.

This is a guide based on how I learned my Kenpo Karate Techniques and Requirements, there are several Kenpo systems where their requirements might be different, with different self-defense names, in a different order, and other forms you might not have heard at all. This list and pages are based on how the system was left and taught by GM Ed. Parker is the founder of American Kenpo Karate. I am thankful to have trained with many big important Grand Masters and high-rank Kenpo Black Belts from many parts of the World.

Yes, I am a Kenpo Karate black belt and I have been training and constantly learning this art since 1993. I always wanted to have all the Kenpo requirements organized like this, so I decided to create a website, I built Kenpista and then this one. This page should provide all the necessary information to succeed in your Kenpo training.


American Kenpo Basics

Ed Parker’s Kenpo Karate system is considered one of the best-documented and structured systems in the world. A system with geometry, mathematics, concepts, principles, and ideas with scientific elements. Kenpo Karate, like any martial art, is based on a set of movements and positions that would be like the letters of the alphabet. These are the letters as we would say and with these, we can create words, sentences, and stories. We must start by learning the fundamentals, the basics.

Kenpo Karate Belt Requirements

These first three ranks are considered beginners, here is where the foundation of real Kenpo begins. The White belt rank has only basic techniques and no self-defense techniques. The Yellow belt rank has 10 self-defense techniques and the Orange Belt rank has 24 self-defense techniques with some of the most famous which we will also find in the higher ranks with the extensions.

  • White Belt
  • Yellow Belt
  • Orange Belt

These three belts are considered intermediate.

On these three ranks, you will find intermediate forms and most of the core self-defense techniques in Kenpo Karate, the most famous techniques are on these ranks. In these ranks, students are a bit beyond the mechanical stage, because they can now move faster but still require accuracy, control, and timing. Another portion of our favorite self-defense techniques is on these ranks.

  • Purple Belt
  • Blue Belt
  • Green Belt

Here is where the party begins, advanced techniques start with extensions, in some Kenpo systems these extensions are taught in the black belt rank only. If the main technique is done correctly then the attacker “would not survive” and these extensions would not be needed, but see them as options in the case something goes wrong.

  • Third Degree Brown Belt
  • Second Degree Brown Belt
  • First Degree Brown Belt
  • First Degree Black Belt
  • Second Degree Black Belt
  • Third Degree Black Belt

Kenpo Karate Forms

Each form has a unique way to be presented, using fingers on the palm and on both sides to indicate the form will be presented on both sides. These forms are in chronological order where the student starts with a simple move to evolve into fully advanced moves.

It has been said the original Kenpo system would end with form 6 which has a unique way to end the form; indicating the end of the requirements for the system.

Kenpo Karate Weapons form

These are the only two forms in Kenpo Karate where we see weapons, there are sets with weapons available. These forms might not be available in all Kenpo lineages but are well known in most Kenpo Organizations.

Kenpo Karate Sets

The Kenpo Karate set is small forms for specific purposes, which are only based on certain groups of techniques. These are the most common sets available in most of the Kenpo schools and lineages worldwide.

  • Stance set 1
  • Stance set 2
  • Finger set 1
  • Finger set 2
  • Block set 1
  • Block set 2
  • Striking set 1
  • Striking set 2
  • Kicking set 1
  • Kicking set 2
  • Coordination Set 1
  • Coordination Set 2
  • Two man set
  • Club set
  • Staff set

It is important to take into consideration that these requirements, forms, sets, and self-defense techniques have been modified by some schools and lines of this art. It is also possible that they have been replaced by others, one of the possible reasons is that after the death of the founding Grand Master the style lost its creative guide, this is where some started a new way with their way of seeing the Kenpo Karate they learned of Grand Master Parker.

  • It is very sad to know that what Grandmaster Parker left has fallen into the wrong hands and has been commercialized, this happened with the Kenpo patch. Many instructors have been sued in the United States just for the fact of wearing the insignia in their uniform doing what they love, Kenpo Karate. That is why today there are so many patches of different shapes and colors.

The Kenpo Universal Pattern

The universal pattern is a very important part that must be studied by each Kenpo Karate practitioner. It is a guide of circular and linear movements that mark the trajectory of each movement, whether hand or foot, offensive or defensive. In black and with black lines, black is what we do not see and do not know.

The Kenpo Karate Patch

The Kenpo Karate patch has a great design, the dragon and the tiger stand out in the center where they share knowledge, the top represents a house or school where the knowledge is taught, the lower part has an ax shape to cut the bad from the art.

It is an art where you deepen your knowledge of the human body, you will also learn the use of classic weapons, you will learn movements that do not exist in other martial arts and you will also have the possibility of competing.

The Kenpo Creed

This is the Kenpo Creed we all know, creeds for all ranks were also written and are available in a few Kenpo lineages.

  • I come to you with only Karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, Karate, my empty hands.

Try to recite the Kenpo Karate Creed when you do your Kenpo Salutation at the beginning of your form.

What do I need to start in Kenpo classes?

First, we recommend you find a school in your area and visit its website to know more about who teaches the classes, how long has been training, and what its lineage has. You can request a trial class and see if you like it or not. You will need a karate gi, and basic protective gear such as a groin protector, mouthpiece, and basic sparring gear.

How effective is Kenpo?

There are many styles of martial arts, Kenpo Karate is one that was designed for the street, its emphasis is the work of personal defenses using various attacks, angles, and strategies to make the practitioner get out of each attack unharmed. You’ll find techniques against pushes, chokes, kicks, bear hugs, headlocks, two-man attacks, grabs, and much more.

It is an art where you deepen your knowledge of the human body, you will also learn the use of classic weapons, you will learn movements that do not exist in other martial arts and you will also have the possibility of competing.

Are there any Kenpo movies available?

Yes, there are. One of those is called “The Perfect Weapon” starring Jeff Speakman who is a Kenpo Karate Black Belt.

Kenpo Karate Techniques

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Black Belt, High School Teacher, Sports Enthusiast & Coffee Lover.