Kem = Fist, Po = Way (Technique/Method/Path), “The Way of the Fist” or more simply “Fist Way”.
Kempo is an interesting style, it is neither strictly Soft nor Hard, it contains the strong Kiai and ‘last snap’ application of Japanese Karate, yet it is ﬂowing with the complexity of the older Chinese systems.
Kempo employs both Kicking and Hand technique in Basics; however, the application favors Hand technique. For this reason, strong conditioning exercises are used to develop power in the arms. Weapons are used to extend hand techniques.
“Like a dragon move here or there / To win or lose is a moments affair” – From the Advance and Retreat Sonnet of Shaolin.
Bushido means Warrior Way or Samurai. In the days of the Samurai, to avoid the skilled Martial Artist or Warrior becoming a ruthless killer, the code of Bushido was developed and practiced.
The way of Bushido is both gentle and deadly.
The Philosophy maintained by the School today is similar, and fitting of a true student of Kempo. It has always been correct to be gentle with students, until such time that they know the Way (Do). On one hand, we do not like to see anyone hurt in the Dojo, but by the same token, students must bear up to the hard training and accept the knocks which happen occasionally.
To recognize the night we must first know the day, to feel strength, we must feel weakness, to understand the Soft, we must practice the Hard.
White and Black represent opposites, in this case regarding the degree of lightness or darkness.
Life is the opposite of death.
Opposites then, are really what the Yin and Yang symbolize.
The two fish diagram used for centuries by the Chinese as a balancing philosophy was used for all aspects of life. Certain styles of the Martial Arts have claimed the Yin Yang as their own but it belongs to no style, it is merely adopted, as in our School.
The reason it is popular in the Arts is the message it conveys as an aid to learning, or understanding ourselves and the techniques.
There are many hidden messages contained in the Yin Yang, and continued observation will develop your understanding of yourself and others.
The most important factor needed to become really good at the Art is true Spirit. This is determination and courage, displayed in every movement performed. Without this spirit, Martial Art movements become empty.
Developing this spirit requires concentration at all times. Even if you think you are not getting anywhere, you must work hard to achieve the spirit necessary to advance. Often you will have to compare your progress with a lower grade to see your true development.
You will find as you move through beginner, intermediate, and advanced, your understanding of Kempo and its theories will always be changing. Remember, that to advance to the expert stage you must follow your instructor’s teaching closely and with a serious attitude. Sometimes they will call out fast commands and order rigorous drills; these can be intimidating to newer students. But you must remember they are trying to set the pace to motivate and guide you into the area where Mind and Body become one. Those who have come to understanding and acceptance of this state will know the hard discipline is worthwhile. Do not become frustrated with your progress; often it takes comparison with a new beginner to realize just how far you have come.
“Always return to Basics” is valuable advice that has been handed down, the basic technique is the foundation on which all advanced movement and theory is based. No student will ever be “done” with their basics, basics can always be improved. If you feel that you are not progressing or your advanced techniques aren’t giving you joy, then return to basics and the rest of the art will flow from there.