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

We Were Gods by Bill Hensel

January 14, 2014


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

 One writes more often then not so one can hear ones own mind grind out an idea. So often, the reader does not resonate or simply finds the ideas put forth by the writer are not palatable enough to finish the sentences before him.  I am on the downward slope of my life and thus feel the presence of my life's end.  Perhaps these essays will cause one to laugh and bring about a little  enjoyment to the reader  though it will be only temporal at best.



     I was fly fishing with a Kenpo student of mine the other day and we both acknowledged on the way to the stream that the world we knew was no longer here. As I fished the remainder of the day a myriad of thoughts surfaced in my mind. Memories of when I ran my KENPO STUDIO came forth and the sounds of bags being hit, students sliding across the floor practicing Kenpo Forms, plus visual images of my students practicing self defense techniques on each other began to fill up my creel. The catching was slow and I decided to sit down on a log near the stream and have a bite to eat. Stream side lunches and naps are treasured activities for this old Kenpo teacher and fly fisherman alike.

      It has been over 35 years since I obtained my Black Belt in Kenpo. I am fortunate to have traveled down the Kenpo path for all these years. At 59 years of age, I still train in the Kenpo arts and try to apply the philosophical aspects of the Art referred to as Kosho Shorei daily as well. My daily routine which is always in a state of flux is one that allows for a 1 hour walk, a 40-60 min Kenpo practice session and in the evening Fly Fishing the local streams. All this put a side, while I ate my ham and cheese sandwichand washed it down with cold mountain stream water, I remembered a telephone conversation I had with the late Tom Connors Jr. in the mid 80s. We were talking  about Kenpo. Tom said, “Mr. Hensel there was a time when we were Gods”. I have never forgot his statement and over the last 30 years I have stopped by it from time to time to ponder it’s deeper meanings. I remember when a horse stance was taught and students were required to develop it. There was a time when respect in the Dojo was expected from the students and was not uncommon, like the rising of the sun each day. I remembered the joy of learning another new self defense technique and another move in a Form with each lesson. Those were exciting times. Instructors taught the principles of each technique and there was actually controlled physical contact in the private lesson between the instructor and student. How else could a student learn how to properly execute a block or make a self defense technique work. Those were the days when group classes were sweat houses, but no one complained. If by accident someone got a broken noise, there were no law suits. Control of energy, both physical and emotional were tasked of the student. Rank in Kenpo came about slowly and I remember the only reason you wanted another belt was so you could learn the new self defense techniques and Forms for the next belt. The requirements had deep pockets and the Kenpo student had to learn any where from 40- 30 self defense techniques for each Belt level. I never personally saw a Black belt on any student under 18 years of age.

     So now that my world is gone. What is left of the Kenpo world that I once enjoyed?” One of the late Masters visited a school in the Denver area a few years ago and he called me to say, “the horse stance is gone and no detail in the Forms existed. The power lines of force had been weakened do to poor body mechanics coupled with weak basics and fundamentals.” He said , “Bill why don’t you give the owner a call and see if you could help them get back on the right track.” I never made that call and figured that the current generation of Kenpo teachers  trying to keep their schools afloat in a dieing economy coupled with a student base that believes they are “entitled” would not welcome advice from an aging Sifu, who even in his prime (cira mid 1980s) was referred to by his competition as a good Martial Artist but who was too traditional.”

     I was left with one question after I finished my stream side lunch. Does the student find Kenpo or does Kenpo find the student? All I truly know is that my time has come and gone, it is truly a Brave New World.

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