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Sparing an American Kenpo Guy

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    Sparing an American Kenpo Guy

    Having spent the long weekend on Cape Cod, I got a chance to spar an old friend of mine, who has been studying American Kenpo Karate (and boxing on the side) for the past three years or so, and is a brown belt (I think). Here's a few observations that you may or may not find interesting.

    1. I got nailed with a weird spinning side kick to the midsection ***twice*** before I started recognizing it. Once I could recognize it, I would put my friend on his ass with great ease and he stopped throwing it, but until I got used to it, I got hit twice, and one of them was almost a knockdown.

    2. He fought out of a silly side stance, and when I round kicked him in the back, he told me that this was against their "sparring rules". I have one thing to say, and one thing only. WHAT THE FUCK? They are not allowed to hit to the back, so they fucking turn sideways, and limit all the attacks to one side of their body. Needless to say, I told him that the rules were bullshit, and proceeded to kick him on his dead side over and over again til he assumed a reasonable fighting stance. To his credit, he did so quickly.

    3. They are not allowed to kick below the waist. Once again, WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY THINKING? They are ruling out the single most common, and arguably the most effective target. When I asked why, he gave me the bullshit about knees breaking, and I had to take 20 minutes off to explian and demonstrate that knees do not break when they are hit unless you're an idiot and lock them out. Needless to say, he was clueless about how to defend from low kicks, and I could exploit that throughout the sparring session.

    4. They are not taught how to clinch and grapple. I could take him down at ease, and had free reign on the ground. He absolutely loved grappling though, and is going to look into it, which I thik is a good thing.

    5. He had really fast hands, and punched from all angles. Sometimes his punches lacked power - I guess they were designed to win points in tournaments more than anything else, but some were quite good. For example, he threw these short little backfists to the side of the head, which I didn't even bother to block, and nailed him with hooks instead. On the other hand, my left eye is still swolen from a very nice reverse punch that came in the end of a complex and interesting combo. Later that day, I proceeded to use that same combo on my brother who is a boxer, and I rocked the hell out of him. Props to the Kenpo guys.

    6. His footwork sucks. He is taught to step through both forward and back (that is he initiates the step with the foot farthest from the target) and as a result he spends half his time off balance. This is very easy to exploit.

    7. He keeps his chin down, hands up, and in general is very hard to hit. Very very easy to throw from the clinch though.

    8. In a real fight, I would have a decisive advantage. The only thing that could have been a real problem were, of all things, the spinning side kicks. As I said, I got nailed hard twice before I figured them out. While they were not enough to stop me, they could have been.

    9. And on a general note, fighting ambidextrous people is a bitch. I would love to be able to get as much snap into my jabs as I do into crosses, and he did that all day.

    ------------------------
    I remain, Hapko3
    You say what about my rice?

    #2
    So aside from his newfound love of grappling, do you think your session taught him anything?

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    Comment


      #3
      Boyd: Quite a bit. He is a very smart guy, and corrected his mistakes on the fly. Every once in a while, he or I would stop the fight and would explain what we did and why we got hit or takend down and what we should have done to pervent it. To be honest, he did a hell of a lot better than I initially gave him credit for, and learned that he needs to work on better balance, non linear foot work, low kicks, and adjust his fighting stance to a more open one.

      I learned one very important lesson - that it's a good idea to practice such "useless" techniques as spinning side kicks, so that I can defend against them.

      ------------------------
      I remain, Hapko3
      You say what about my rice?

      Comment


        #4
        Sounds like he was fighting under standard point sparring rules. Pretty common, though a sad thing, its what you'll face most often if you fight semi-light contact tournaments. The no kick to the back thing is odd though, the only thing that didn't score when I did that was on the shoulder blades, the kidneys and rest of the back were open. Didn't sound like he was applying what he should have been learning in American Kenpo to me. What little exposure I've had as involved a more frontal fighting stance, stepping with the lead foot, heavy use of angled movments and a lot of partnered drills. Not to knock the your friend, but just doesn't sound completely right for AK folks.

        He's adjusting though, and that's a good thing. If he started doing partnered drills with increasing contact as his skill increased, his AK stuff could be pretty sharp, and he sounds like a fast learner. As as to the "useless techniques", very, very few things are useless, just of limited application. He hit you with the spinning sides with power, and if you hadn't adapted fast, you would have been in a world of hurt. As to the backfists that didn't hurt, your friend simplely needs more training. I've consistantly put them to use swelling eyes shut, rattling cages and broke a nose with them twice. The power is there, if you know the body mechanics to crank them up from just tricept muscle to full on strikes. It may not be reverse punch type power, but it will rate with a strong jab from a different angle.

        Comment


          #5
          As to the backfists that didn't hurt, your friend simplely needs more training. I've consistantly put them to use swelling eyes shut, rattling cages and broke a nose with them twice. The power is there, if you know the body mechanics to crank them up from just tricept muscle to full on strikes. It may not be reverse punch type power, but it will rate with a strong jab from a different angle.
          Hell yeah backfists can be devestating. Mohammad Ali didn't beat his opponents using full force punches, he tore their face up using backfists.

          Comment


            #6
            "Here's a few observations that you may or may not find interesting."

            I found interesting.
            Thanks for posting.

            --------
            El Guapo says, ""You can buy muscles, but you can't buy COJONES!"
            --------
            The Wastrel - So attractive he HAS to be a woman.
            - Pizdoff

            Comment


              #7
              I have a Nidan in American Kenpo and the guy seems fairly typical of people that practice the art. When I was younger I had fast hands and good defense (still do) and limited clinch and ground skills.

              The rules like no hitting to the back or below the waist were and still are pretty much standard at my school and are there mainly for liability reasons. At my school the kidneys, back of the head, and back of the neck are legal targets, but anything along the spine is a no-no. Do I really think someone is going to get paralyzed during light contact sparring? No, but we have to do get to get insurance.

              The same goes with below the waist stuff. First to go were groin strikes. Then sweeps and leg kicks. The main reason was, even though we teach people how to fall, when their legs get knocked out from under them they sometimes forget and either put an arm out or not tuck their chin and get seriously hurt. This is why we also have a rule about grabbing a kicking leg.

              The worst rule we have is no strikes directly to the face. That doesn't mean no contact to the face, you can't even attempt to strike there. This is good for safety, bad for training. Now most people don't bother to guard their face. I punch people in the face all the time. People don't realize that the "rules" are mainly just for competitions and they need to adjust accordingly when training for other situations.

              Like I said, all this rules are for point sparrring at our competitions. Sparring in class is a lot more open. We don't stop for points and generally the contact level and "rules" are set by the two people on their own. The instructor will pretty much two consenting adults do whatever they want within reason.



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              Comment


                #8
                Sounds very much like TKD rules. At TKD practice, the face, sides of the head and the entire chest/abdomen area are legal targets. Below the belt and the back are off limits.

                Very easy to take advantage of :)

                Simps

                Comment


                  #9
                  Excellent Post!

                  Good analysis of the sparring session too.
                  It's also nice to know I didnt waste too much of my time learning spinning back kicks. :)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Cool. Thanks Hap.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Kail : This is interesting, because it looked pretty much like the American Kenpo I hold a brown belt in. The only real difference, I guess, is that his school encouraged more high kicks and a higher fighting stance.

                      My friend was not fighting like a typical American Kenpo guy mostly because of his boxing experience. He is used to taking hits, and is not afraid to throw them. From what I understand, that's not the norm where he trains.

                      And I'm not saying that backfists have no power. On the other hand I think it's a technique that has a limiter, but significant use, especially, as you said, late in the fight, when they are great for aggravating cuts and swelling caused earlier by your primary punches. You can get real power into a backfist, but he was not doing it, so I would trade a weak ass backfist to the side of my head for a solid hook to his jaw.

                      Punisher: These rules make sparring competitions into a game (in a way, the opposite of Tae Kyon) that could be fun, but has little if any connection to figting. At least, IMO.

                      BigRod: The kicks he was throwing were very different from your typical spinning back kick. The spinning back kicks I am pretty much used to - they are thrown every once in a while in my sparring sessions. These were spinning side kicks that come up and over into the midsection, and recognising and neutralizing them is a completely separate game.

                      Overall, sparring him was a fun and educational experience. We were going more or less full contact (that is we weren't trying to knock each other out, but weren't holding back either) for about a good hour or so (with breaks) and both had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit.

                      ------------------------
                      I remain, Hapko3
                      You say what about my rice?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Another thing which is absolutely amazing, is how little grappling you need to know in order to completely take out of their element and dominate untrained people.

                        THose here who rolled with me will testify to the fact that I am a complete beginner. I am sloppy, inexperienced, and don't even know a lot of the basics. However, I could take this guy, and my brother who does quite a bit of boxing and streetfighting, down to the ground ***at will*** and do whatever the hell I wanted once we were there.

                        ------------------------
                        I remain, Hapko3
                        You say what about my rice?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          "These were spinning side kicks that come up and over into the midsection, and recognising and neutralizing them is a completely separate game."

                          eh?

                          could you say more about this kick?

                          i have some ideas, but am confused a little.


                          peace.

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                          Comment


                            #14
                            I'm not sure about the title - I just came up with this one myself.

                            In the begining it looks like a spinning back kick, except the foot is positioned horisontaly, comes up and around, as opposed to streight in, and at an angle.

                            This could very well be a pretty typical strike in some martial arts, but I've never seen it used against me before.

                            ------------------------
                            I remain, Hapko3
                            You say what about my rice?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              How many typos can I fit into one sentence?

                              ------------------------
                              I remain, Hapko3
                              You say what about my rice?

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