Essence Kenpo Lineage
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2018 – It’s been about 33 years since I first step foot into a Martial Arts studio. Today, I’ve accumulated about 7 years of training in one style or another. While I have more time in training than most, I’ve not had the opportunity to advance in any one system to my own satisfaction. So I decided to create Essence Kenpo, a personal, modern freestyle system of self-defense with traditional benefits. It is a mixed martial arts system at it’s core, very adaptable and open to personal preference, with concepts that will appeal to the artist, the competitor, the self-defense expert, the traditionalist and everyone in between.
This is my personal lineage and the foundation for my knowledge base, and no, it’s not expected to be duplicated by anyone nor is it better or worse than any other path that you may choose for yourself.
1985-Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, 1.5 years, intermediate level Green Belt. This is a Korean style, about 70% legs emphasizing high kicks and flexibility, 30% hands. It had strong yet mobile stances and was a hard style with linear movements. Forms had more angular movements at higher ranks, and forms were emphasized at all levels.
2000-Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu, 1.5 years, intermediate level Green Belt. This is an Okinawan style, and in contrast, was about 50% legs to 50% hands. The kicks were lower or mid-range more often than it’s Korean counterpart. There was a lot of bag work and punch/kick combinations moving up and down the mat, footwork was a focus. There was also an after class Aikido session that I was able to take advantage of for part of my time here.
2000-Jeet Kune Do, 4 months, no ranks. I found a Jeet Kune Do concepts school to practice at where I learned the basics of Boxing and Thai Boxing, which are not difficult techniques to learn. There was plenty of pad work involved here. I was also able to jump into a few Submission Wrestling classes, no-Gi, and picked up a few moves as a result.
2006-Shaolin Kenpo, 1.5 years, advanced level Green Belt. This is a Chinese and Japanese style, with harder Japanese style forms at the lower ranks and softer Chinese style forms at the more advanced ranks. I was able to train 3 days a week here, and 1 of those days was dedicated 100% to sparring. During the sparring class, I’d have 2-3 matches on average and much of it was about as close to reality without being reality as you could expect without stepping foot in a ring or cage.
2010-Kodokan Judo, 1 year, White Belt. This is a traditional Japanese style and Olympic sport that also has a solid following in MMA due to it’s effective nature. It’s by no means as gentle as it’s name, The Gentle Way, implies. These classes were about an hour and a half, the first part was newaza on the ground, emphasizing chokes, pins and locks, and the second part of class was throw practice from a standing position.
2012-Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, 5 months, White Belt. This is a Judo/Japanese Ju-Jitsu combination minus the emphasis on throwing or pins and plus more tactics to use on the ground (especially from your back) that would otherwise be illegal or a no-no in Judo. I was fortunate enough to practice at the Lion’s Den in Middletown, CT before it closed suddenly. Like Judo and Shaolin Kenpo, training in this style was very helpful in terms of learning reality based self-defense without it being reality with plenty of 3-5 minute rounds on the ground.
2014-Kum Saja Do, 6 months, Gold Belt. This is a Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, Aikido, and Judo combination art. It was definitely a hybrid and I would characterize the style appropriately as a hard-soft art. You could identify the Wing Chun influence right from the beginning with strikes that you wouldn’t find in any other style besides one that came from China.
2017-Black Dragon Kenpo, 1st Dan. This was my first try learning by DVD. I picked a simple system that was more or less a collection of techniques with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean influences with a handful of relatively simple forms including a Jo Staff form.
2017-Essence Kenpo established, Soke, 5th Dan.