I arrived at the dojo with my buddy and surveyed the scene. I immediately noticed the facilities were a far sight better than my gym (we trained in an abandoned railway building after all) with mirrors and nice shiny new gear and so on. It was a new club, with only a few members. There was a trio of overlarge older women, a well built maori guy, my fat friend, a taller skinny young guy, and the coach. He was, much like all kenpo coaches, fat.

I said hello to a few people and then whipped out the skipping rope and went off to the corner. not to be rude, but I had previously guessed that the warmup was going to be subpar. a few minutes later we began the warmup- it was subpar. Involved a lot of running from one side of the room to the other.

The first thing we did after the warmup was go through some weird bowing ritual that i attempted to follow and then gave up when i realised it would take probably half an hour alone to learn. I was, so far, unimpressed, and that feeling stayed with me as we went through the stances which seemed to involve standing flat footed to provide the easiest possible target to your opponent. I was also instructed to keep my rear hand at my waist to protect my stomach. Sorry boss, but I like my face more. He didn't press it when I ignored him and kept it at face level. We then moved onto doing some kind of kata (Kenpo isn't supposed to have these?) which involved only blocks- the usual fare, upper blocks, outside blocks, blah blah. Total crap of course that would only get you thrown a beating, but still. Not unusual for these sort of clubs.

After this came the meat and potatoes of kenpo- hilariously named self defense maneuvers performed with lots of foot stomping and self flagellation while your attacker looks on. The first we would learn was a defense vs a lapel grab, just in case you find yourself time warped back to primary school and someone is demanding your lunch money. It involved an outside block against the arm to bash it away, then a front snap kick to the goolies, followed by a knife hand strike to the neck, cos the guy has leaned over from the goolie smash. these are all executed with the right side of the body. I dont know what happened to mr lefty during all of this, he just sort of hung there. to be honest, this is basically a kick to the nuts. take the other crap away and thats all it is, kicking someone in the nuts when they have grabbed your shirt. Easy.

The second one was just as ludicrous, if not moreso. This involved someone grabbing you with both hands and pulling you towards them, from here you punch them in the face with your right after grabbing one of their hands with your left and crushing the other to your chest with your forearm. You then bring your right down and smash it across their extended arms, lift your right up to an elbow strike, and then a second elbow strike for good measure.

Well, where to start. at least now I know what to do if a complete ***** or a seven year old child grabs my shirt. honestly, if you cant break away from someone grabbing your hands like this with their weak arm you need to stop fighting gorillas.

After this most of the class except me and the tall guy went down the back to work on various other forms. me and tall guy must've done those two forms a million times, over and over. They didnt get any less stupid though. after a while the sensei bought out a bag, and I broke the torture by asking him if we could join the main class- bagwork I thought, fun fun. However, bagwork was short lived. We spent most of our time bashing our forearms against each others in two lines, while one person spent about a minute smacking the bag with various kicks.

Now I'm not a big guy- 5'10 and about 135-140 pounds at the time. I would say that every one of these people outweighed me. And im not usually one to brag (lol), but in a kicking contest they would be my bitches, even musclemans kicks were poor. Myself and the sensei seemed about even, but he had a few (a lot) years experience on me. one thing I will point out here- we did a sum total of about 5 minutes on punches, out of 2.5 hours, and about 5 minutes of kicking. This should give you some idea of the amount of self defense form stuff we did.

After this, the rest of the class went through more of these forms. I honestly have to admire their dedication, there is no way I could remember such a huge amount of crap, especially if i was just a yellow belt. I watched for a while, then went to a corner and shadow boxed. got some weird looks but meh, **** em. I think I was supposed to be doing the blocking kata.

Finally, it ended. no warm down, and to be honest I was dry as a bone- the hardest workout had been the skipping i did at the start, and the 40 press ups. a regular MT lesson consisted of about 300 press ups all up, so i wasnt exactly phased by this. I did a bit of skipping, thanked the instructor, and went home, vowing never to take up Kenpo.

And I wouldn't have tmie anyway since I was getting ready for some smoker fights...