Out with the Old, In with the New

Or why we must untrain bad habits and replace with new good habits

The first three ranks of our school (white, yellow and orange belt) are not called beginner ranks. They are called candidate ranks because new students are a little below beginner-level curriculum. Some may walk in an awkward, unbalanced fashion, others may have a limp posture or roll over their own feet. The first thing our training does is correct these idiosyncrasies and mold the student into a coordinated Kempo artist.

White belt boy punching

White belt boy punching

In addition to learning the jargon of Kempo training, the new student, the neophyte candidate, must learn how to stand and move in a balanced way. Front position, horse stance and crane stances teach these fundamental postures.

Kata, and all Kempo techniques, require proper movement at all times. We don’t hunch over, we don’t lock our knees, we don’t fall over our feet, nor do we plop at the will of gravity. Kempo artists control all their body movements. They keep their knees bent, they maintain a straight back, they turn their feet so their toes line up with the direction of their movement, and they gently place their foot down.

The most difficult task for instructors of the candidate ranks is convincing these new students that they must give up the bad movements and learn the new ones. Coordination can be learned, but must be embraced and practiced often. Once they gain a familiarity with martial biomechanics and Kempo terminology, they can advance to the beginner levels. Enter the formal Shaolin Temple for regular, intense training. This proper motion is how one can spot an excellent proponent of the arts.

When left to their own devices, people learn bad habits with regards to biomechanical motion. Kempo training helps you learn proper biomechanical movement, but first the training must untrain the bad habits and instill good habits. As the saying goes, “Out with the old and in with the new.”