Many of you know that I first started my martial arts journey in Tae Kwon Do when I lived in Ann Arbor Michigan.
A friend of mine, Jeff Smith, was in it and so I gave it a try and loved it. I have longer legs so kicking always gave me an advantage. However, when I first moved to Utah, I couldn’t find any local Tae Kwon Do (TKD) dojos so I decided to take a martial arts class at college. They offered “American Kenpo” and I remember thinking “how different could it be?” So I signed up and went to my first lesson.
WOW! What a difference!
I felt dumb not knowing how VERY different another martial art could be. TKD is known for being a sport oriented art (it’s in the Olympics) and having a lot of kicks. Kenpo, in case you don’t know, is the exact opposite. It relies more on hand strikes with supplemental kicks and is oriented for street smart self-defense.
I was amazed when the chief instructor, Doug Anderson, demonstrated some basic Kenpo techniques. I remember seeing “Five Swords” and thinking … how could you defend against that?! It wasn’t about winning points in the ring. It was about keeping you safe in the parking lot.
Everything had a name (all in English) … it was built around modern day self-defense… you didn’t need to be flexible to execute the moves in the system… it was (and continues to be) a modern system of motion with logical, practical and direct application.
I knew the second I saw Kenpo in action that it was the martial art for me. Nearly 20 years later, I still think back to how easily it would’ve been to just continue to do what I was doing. It wasn’t a hard choice when it came down to it because I didn’t care how much time I invested in the other art. American Kenpo made more sense to me and I wanted the best for myself. It’s not a slam on TKD, it just wasn’t right for me once I understood the difference and determined what exactly I wanted to get out of taking a martial art.
So, if you’re interested in seeing what American Kenpo is like, I encourage you to come in and check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you see.