Is combination 14 really effective?

Sideblade kick

What are the chances that two people will be in the exact position to make 14 truly effective? Why would you, with good foundational training in key fighting concepts and strategy, decide to jump into the air when two attackers are so close to you? It seems to defy the very strategies and principles of Kempo as learned to the point of introducing this technique. Like my discussion on the redundancies of Combination 8 and 9, I posit that Combination 14 is due for an overhaul.

Again using the inspirational work of Prof. Nick Cerio’s Master’s Text book, he is after all in our line of grandmasters, to find something simple yet effective. What really shines is his Tiger technique. I learned a simplified version of it that I prefer to teach in my school and think that it would make a great replacement for Combination 14.

One of the first things I like is the forward advancing step.  This direction is sadly neglected in other techniques yet provides combat benefits. You are right in the opponent’s face and in a great spot for some powerful strikes.

We often learn in Kempo that there are several directions you can step to defend against an attack. The least effective but most common is directly backward to 6:00. More effective and reasonably common are stepping to 8:00ish, 9:00 and 10:00ish. Other options are 2:00ish, 3:00, and 4:00ish but these are uncommon. In ninjutsu they have techniques that attack at 12:00 angle and they take a lot of confidence and courage to execute.

My point is adding a technique at Blue Belt level that steps to this uncommon area is both beneficial and important. Kempo is successful because of its font of techniques that can be effortlessly pieced together in the chaos of combat. The more tools the fighter has, the better they will be. Shaolin Kempo Karate needs to take a cue from FMA by addressing the angles of attacks equally both in terms of footwork and incoming attack angles. The key word there is ‘equally’, in the sense that all angles should have an equal amount of emphasis.

The bottom line is this, should Combination 14 be changed to something more effective and realistic? Put your answer in the comments below.

Why are combination 8 and 9 so similar?

They both start with a block, a front kick and then a round house kick. Nine has an additional side thrust to the upper ribs. Questions I ask myself as an instructor: “Why spend so much time on basically the same move? Wouldn’t another technique provide additional skills?”

Right jab and left cross punch

The technique is no more important or effective than others. It would be better to modify the curriculum and provide another simple yet effective technique in place of combination 8? The Shaolin Kempo Karate purists are probably coughing up a lung right now in righteous indignation. I’m sure there is a reason for the similarities but I don’t think it justifies such a repetition.

What technique should take its place? A perfect example is Prof. Nick Cerio’s battering ram technique found in his Master’s Text book. It has an angled retreating move—it’s not the same step back or cat stance move so prevalent in early combinations. This same right retreat move is found in combination 20 and provides an introduction or foreshadowing of that technique.

It uses the back fist strike or upper cut, which is often neglected at early ranks. Finally, it provides a solid elbow strike to the head—a truly effective and basic move. This technique has the same number of movements and can be adapted to include other material. For instance, I utilize block 10 which is a high block against a haymaker. This in itself is a benefit for intermediate students who are now too accustomed to attacks presented as a straight front punch. It changes the attack and makes them think.

What’s more frustrating is other techniques are likewise very similar. Combination 89 and 90 are so similar that they don’t deserve to be presented as distinct techniques. I understand the value of using variations of techniques and codifying them for the curriculum. That has value and we use it both in Punch Counters and Kempo Punch Techniques. This value is supported by giving them different identifiers such as 18A and 18B. I see the Combinations as the core of SKK. These are the roots or key elements that make SKK distinct and teach the proper way to defend one self. By loading the core with filler techniques is not the way to develop effective students.

Perhaps a better way of codifying the core combinations is to base them on Master Key moves, the fundamental elements of a Shaolin Kempo Karate defensive technique regardless of initiating attack.

What are your thoughts? Put your answer in the comments below.

Lull in activity

My apologies to those who come by this blog for my lack of attention the last year or two, I’ve been busy with all sorts of things. One of which is to come up with more ideas for the blog. Previously I had years’ worth of articles written or about to be written from my monthly newsletter. Eventually that pool of resources dried up.

I’ve also been distracted by trying to maintain my skills and get a handle on my new combinations. With over 90 combinations, it takes a bit of time and focus to keep them all straight. Sadly, I’m not doing a good job of it at the moment. I won’t even mention the number of open hand and weapon katas that need constant attention.

The key to success in the martial arts is plenty of practice. The more you do the better you become. Years ago I was fond of saying, “If you’re not getting better, then you’re getting worse.”

Enough about my situation, what about the articles? I did start an on-going series of articles that I never quite finished relating the Art of War to hand to hand self-defense situations. I hope to get back to that series again. I also hope to revamp the aging website yet again. It really hasn’t changed in ten years and I’d really like it to reflect the ongoing work of our instructors and students.

My pacing for the next year is to ease back into blogging again by posting monthly. There is a plan to post videos now that I have access to a good camera and video editing software. (Caveat is I’ve said all this before and still have produced any videos. Maybe I don’t like to watch myself on video.)

Without further ado, I leave you to the next post. Thank you for staying faithful and train hard.