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.

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