Kempo Karate, also known as Kenpo, is one of the most popular forms of Karate that was developed in the West. The word “kempo” means “law of the fist”, and this form of martial arts has long been regarded as a combination art for the fact that Kempo Karate involves the use of hard fist (Karate Do), soft fist (Ju Jitsu) and weapons (Kobudo).
On the most basic, Kempo Karate teaches sparring and sparring drills for one particular purpose – to help the students learn and understand the fundamental movements as well as the application of the kicking and punching combinations. This is actually where the Kempo Karate sparring techniques come in.
Well, the Kempo Karate sparring techniques can be classified according to the intent of the training. As what I’ve mentioned earlier, Kempo Karate is a combination art. It is often used primarily for self defense, self control and for protection from weapons. However, unlike the other forms of martial arts, the Kempo Karate diverges from traditional Karate in several important respects. With this fact, the students who want to learn the Kempo Karate sparring techniques are highly encouraged to change and adapt the old and modern Kempo Karate sparring techniques.
There are two major techniques involved in Kempo Karate sparring for self defense. The first is the so-called Tuite or grab hand techniques, and the other is the vital point attacks or the Kyusho Jitsu. Both of these Kempo Karate sparring techniques are highly considered as they help the students develop their skills by allowing them to practice with a variety of threatening situations. The basic self defense techniques involve defense against grabs, pushes, punches, holds, kicks, and weapon defenses.
The vital points Kempo Karate sparring techniques as basically considered as the most striking and sophisticated techniques in the martial arts. They are properly used against selected anatomical points of the nervous as well as the circulatory systems. Note that it is also these vital points Kempo Karate sparring techniques that will temporarily disable an opponent beyond his capability to retaliate. As what most experts say, in this kind of self defense technique involved in Kempo Karate, the key is precision, not strength.
As the students progress in learning the self defense techniques of Kempo Karate sparring, they will be taught with the forms and katas, or the higher level of Kempo Karate sparring techniques. These techniques are considered to help the students develop a sense of self-awareness and self-expression. As such, the movements involved in this level allow the students to develop their reflexes as well as timing in a controlled environment while engaging in a sports activity. This is basically where the advanced and combination Kempo Karate sparring techniques come in, such as the front thrust kick, spinning heel kick, shoulder throw, off balance, roundhouse kick, triple jumping crescent kick, etc.
Finally, Kempo Karate sparring teaches the students how to use weapons. As far as I know, this is strongly considered in every Kempo training to increase the students’ understanding of self defense. So it is usual that defense techniques against knives and clubs are taught from the yellow belt and up. The so-called empty hand Kempo Karate sparring techniques such as the bassai, tomari seisan, sai, kama, nunchaku and others are also introduced here. Note that both the defense against and use of weapons techniques of Kempo round out the students training to the first degree black belt, known as shodan.