Self Defense School Of Kenpo - Tracy's Chinese Kenpo ( Fist Law - Chuan- Fa )

Self Defense in empty hand, stick and edged weapons - Private Instruction - No Belt Testing Fee's - No Contracts

Fast Food Karate by Bill Hensel

February 16, 2014


Without fear I undoubtedly will be wadding into opulent waters and thus will wade in over my waders.” by Bill Hensel


     The first time I heard the phrase “Fast Food Karate” was back in the late 80s. If memory serves me accurately, I was talking to Greq Gram either on the telephone or at a karate tournament in the Denver area. I guess the location is not important but the conversation was.  Mr. Gram used the phrase to describe what we were seeing in the Martial Arts.

      The late Ralph Kruse was the most prolific tournament promoter in the Rocky Mountain region beginning in the early 70s . It was at his tournaments that I first saw the beginning of the symptoms of this disease that would desecrate the Martial Arts though out the United States. In the beginning his tournaments were respectful of the traditional values found in the Martial Arts. As time went on the all mighty dollar took up residency, trophies were given out from first place to eighth place. Everyone was a winner. Often the center judges judged in blue jeans and t shirts and I wondered what was next.  One tournament in 1990 had a center judge wearing a T Shirt that said , “get in the ring mother fucker”. By then I had stopped competing in tournaments and no longer advocated them in the Tracy schools that I had in the area. The Traditional values that I was teaching in my studio were no longer being reflected at karate tournaments locally.

      This Progressive Movement that was sweeping across the Nation had leeched into the public school system and was becoming firmly embed throughout the Karate community. Black Belt programs were being sold to parents who wanted their 4-6 year old children to study the Martial Arts. The spin off was that children were now becoming Black Belts all over the country. After all, these Progressive paradigms advocated everyone was a winner there were no losers. In time the coveted Rank of Black Belt would mean little or nothing at all.  We are now seeing students directly out of College expecting top level positions in companies. They don't understand they need to have work experience in a chosen field of study to get to the top in their field.

      The Great Grand Master,  Ed Parker and I confronted this issue  head on. He admitted there were Kenpo Black belts in his organization who were not knowledgeable of his recommended requirements. He was attempting to rectify this problem. Shortly after he died, I began seeing Kenpo Black belts teaching 10 techniques per belt. In fact I had a husband and wife visit my Tracy studio cira 1995 and they told me they were Green belts in Parker Kenpo system. I thought they had 24 techniques per belt. They said, no they had ten techniques. After a walk though my studio in which  all the Belt  requirements were displayed up on the wall in the main training room,  I noticed a strange look upon their faces. When we arrived back to the lobby they admitted they had only been taught ten self defense techniques total. Two techniques per Belt. Then they looked me straight in the eye and asked if they could keep they could remain  Green Belts  if they studied at my studio. I said no that would not be fair to them or to my own students  and kindly suggested  they should find a Parker studio to study at. They walked out the door. I sat there dumb founded. There seemed to be no end to the mediocrity. Not being in the Parker system I personally had no bone to pick. I had been there and done that.  It wasn't any of my personal business what Parker Kenpo Black belts did within their own system or organization. I only hoped that the day would never come,  that I would witness Tracy Black belts watering down the requirements.  ( so far this has not happened to my knowledge)

      Back in the 80s and 90s a few of the more progressive Kenpo studios told their students I was far to traditional. They never realized that they paid me a great compliment. I'm watching the very destruction of this Great Republic which is a function of the Progressive Movement. I will always teach from a traditional foundation. It is the only way I know how to teach and there fore keep the corner stones of Kenpo firmly intact.  I'm of The Old School. The flame that burned hot though out the late 60s and deep into the 90s in the world of Kenpo is no longer present. However the Spark of Traditional Kenpo can still be found if one is fortunate enough and wise enough to discern it's presence.

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