Shaolin Chuan Fa Kempo Student Handbook
The purpose of this Handbook is to provide the Member with an introductory overview of what Kempo International is, and what it offers through the curriculum of Shaolin Ch'uan Fa Kempo.
This Handbook should prove to be a valuable resource throughout the
Member’s career in Shaolin Ch'uan Fa Kempo. New meanings will continually arise from its
pages as you grow in skills and internal stature.
But this occurs only with training and study. The value of what you now
hold depends on what you do with it.
Shaolin Ch'uan Fa Kempo curriculum. Promotion requirements.
Basic Training. Descriptions of stances
and body weapons. Stretching and strengthening systems. Diet.
Historical perspectives: Kempo, Shaolin,
Kick-boxing, Internal Arts.
Chuan Fa Kempo Assn.
purpose of Kempo International is to promote the health—physical, mental,
spiritual—of its members through fostering the growth of Eastern and Western
martial and yogic arts.
purpose of Kempo International is to promote the health—physical, mental,
spiritual—of its members through fostering the growth of Eastern and Western
martial and yogic arts.
International advocates a cross-cultural approach for the seeker of
self-development and knowledge. No one school, style, system or culture has a
monopoly on truth. We examine disciplines from the USA, China, Tibet, India,
Thailand, Burma and Japan.
hard work, dedication and perseverance needed for our studies render creative
powers that are characteristically American and uniquely trans-cultural.
Shaolin Chuan Fa Kempo is a system comprised of several martial disciplines and
yogic psycho-physical training systems. The SCFK system includes the following:
Health and Fitness Arts;
arts include 340 Kempo ¨seed¨ self-defense techniques, several SCFK animal forms, the
complete Northern Shaolin Ch’uan school of fist sets, many fist sets from the
Choi Li Fut school, combat kickboxing, a dozen weapon sets, two styles of T’ai-chi
Ch’uan, Xing-I Ch’uan, Pa-Kua Chang, Chi Kung, Kundalini yoga, and Kum Nye.
Kempo International was founded
in 1989 by Dr. Edward Orem, who also organized the system of Shaolin Chuan Fa Kempo.
lightning bolt insignia of Kempo International signals the faster-than-thought
action of unfettered intuition. This use of intuitive power, coupled with an
internal vital energy (ki
cultivated by martial and yogic studies, produces the “Superior Man” spoken
about by the ancient wise men of many cultures.
Shaolin Chuan Fa Kempo Association’s
mountain indicates the mammoth, undeniable presence of the
Self, as well as the long, arduous, pitfall-laden trek involved in
self-cultivation. The flower rising out of the muck at the bottom of the lake is
the White Lotus, representing all arts that oppose evil.
symbol at the top of the mountain indicates the total energies of the t’ai-chi, the
harmonious interaction of the forces of the Universe. The Shaolin Ch’uan Fa Kempo man
continually strives to cultivate his mind, body, spirit in a manner that harms
neither himself, his neighbors nor the earth. The Superior Man is obliged to
assist his community in dispelling or neutralizing forces destructive to the
health of people and the environment.
basic code of conduct has been a part of warrior training in every great
civilization for thousands of years. It is expected that every SCFKA Member,
whether Novice or Master, will heed these ideals of self-conduct:
yourself disciplined in all situations.
middle path and stay away from extremes.
not a show-off.
and put heart and mind into all you do.
responsibility and respect.
situations where physical confrontation is likely.
Chinese martial arts historically followed no overt ranking system--for
the most part. Within each pai ("style") or tong ("association"), members would be classified
according to their tenure. A Master generally heads each tong. The
responsibility of the Master is to maintain a standard both of technique and
conduct. Historically, in many instances, the Master has had close ties to
The dan or black
belt/sash ranking system is actually a recent Japanese invention. Dr. Jigaro
Kano, the founder of Judo, really initiated the dan or budo
system of grading. Previous to the budo system, the only approach to martial
study was that of the of the combat warrior, e.g. the kysatreya and the samurai.
These warriors protected the property of the landed gentry; generally the gentry
and their armies were the only individuals permitted to study martial technique
(Japanese buji ; Sanscrit vajramukti).
Neither buji nor vauramukti contain graded steps as indication of success in
martial skills. Successful technique meant that one could survive a life and
By the early part of this Century in Japan, the life and death struggles
on the feudal battlefields had faded into the past. For the first time in
Japanese history the general public was able to learn martial technique. Dr.
Kano hoped that the dan system could give incentive to his students: The belt
system became one method of distinguishing the skill and effort of one person
Okinawa did not have a grading or rank system prior to the early 1900's,
following the Chinese approach to study. When Ginchin Funakoshi introduced
karate to Japan from Okinawa in the early 1920's, no rating system existed for
karate. Funakoshi later adopted the Japanese dan
system used by Kano in his Judo dojo.
The dan system then worked its way back to Okinawa, as the
Japanese controlled the public schools in Okinawa. The Japanese government
encouraged the practice of Karate for the school age student.
Even kick-boxing has introduced a structured ranking system in the last
half of the 20th Century. Ancient warriors in Burma and Thailand
espoused no ranks, of course. And the Thai sport of muay
thai still maintains that the only meaningful belts are the ones gained
at a championship tournament.
The modern Burmese kick-boxing art of Bando
("The Way of Discipline") dates back to the late 1940's in its
formalization of techniques practiced in Burma for many centuries by the farmers
and villagers. The adaptation of Bando systematized a ranking procedure not
found in ancient Burma.
When a grading system is established, the problem develops as to the
criteria from which one is to be graded. Many modern followers of the martial
arts have forgotten that the grading system produces no absolute ranks. The
system is circular: The student must decide by what criteria he wishes to be
graded; and then he permits finds an acceptable person to confer the rank based
on the desired curriculum. Many students following the budo method seek only
grade and have no interest in developing human potential.
of ZTCFKA are graded numerically at 17 levels. These gradings provide an
approximate scale for the individual to judge his progress. The grades also
establish concrete initial goals, thus satisfying the dominant factor of
motivation for the novice. The grading system, furthermore, is a useful tool for
insuring an orderly acquisition of the Curriculum.
Within the SCFKA Curriculum the following plan represents one's level of
- 10th Black
Shaolin Ch’uan Fa Kempo is a system of several, principally Chinese, martial arts styles and
psycho-physical yogic studies. The system presents graduated problems of work
designed to enhance balance, coordination, agility, flexibility, endurance,
strength, and power of concentration.
Several chambers of curriculum are to be chosen from, each with its own
Taoist Longevity Arts (non-combative)
Ch’uan Fa Kempo (combative)
This course draws from such Internal Work (nei-kung)
as T’ai-chi Ch’uan, Shing-Yi Ch’uan, Pa-Kua Chang, and Chi-Kung from both
Lo Han Ga (Buddhist) and Tao Ga (Taoist) traditions. The emphasis is on learning
several systems for improvement of health-specific problems, health maintenance,
augmentation of cerebral function, and the ability to identify, store, control
and maintain intrinsic and extrinsic chi.
Weapons studies appropriate for each tradition are optional. The candidate
with a T’ai-chi emphasis can expect his study program to look something like
this before he receives a teaching qualification:
Yi Bai Ching
training for Yang or Kuang Ping T’ai-chi Ch’uan
– Fourth Years: Blue Sash
Wu Ga Chi Kung/Northern
Five Animals Chi-Kung (optional)
Pieces of Gold Brocade (optional)
· Continued postures training
· Five Animals Frolics
· Tui Shou/Push Hands
· Chien/Rapier – drills and form
· Yin-Yang Medical Chi-Kung (optional)
· Continued postures training
· Five Elements Chi-Kung
· Tui Shou/Push Hands
· Kun #2
· 18 Silk-Reeling Exercises (optional)
· Continued postures training
· Five Organs Chi-Kung
· Tao/Saber – drills and form
· Tui Shou/Push Hands
· Original thesis researching Internal Arts
· Diamond Body Chi-Kung (optional)
· 9 Segment Tantric Chi-Kung (optional)
The choices reflecting a wai-kung (external) specialist’s goals within Northern Shaolin, Choy Li Fut or Kempo are tailored from the lists below.
Contrary to popular belief regarding “Kung Fu,” few of the many arts and training of Shaolin or other external styles concentrate solely on combat. In fact, many schools exist where emphasis is on forms study and no combat or sparring takes place. The N. Shaolin candidate has two basic choices in his studies, i.e. combative or non-combative. The Choy Li Fut-5 Animals Shaolin curriculum is by definition combative, as is Kempo.
The following is a rank-by-rank description of the Shaolin Chuan Fa Kempo curriculum for combatives studies:
The lower six levels of study concentrate on 1) the Foundation
conditioning and skills program, as presented in the BASIC TRAINING and
IRON WARRIOR series; 2) several forms; and
3) 165 self-defense techniques which prepare the student for advanced
work. These first six levels utilize many kinds of strikes and kicks, but the
emphasis is on the upright grappling arts, i.e. grabs, locks, throws.
At the 1st Degree Brown Belt level, you begin researching 175
advanced self-defense maneuvers, covering attacks from single and multiple
opponents, unarmed and armed (club, knife, pistol). These techniques are added
gradually as you progress to higher skill and rank levels, for a total of 340
seminal self-defense maneuvers. I say ‘seminal’ because the total is many
times that by the time a serious student researches the many variations inherent
within the principle of each
technique. Eventually, too, you’ll add up to another 60 fist and weapon forms
to your arsenal.
Kempo Defense Arts 1 (20 techniques)
Lum Ma/5 Wheel
Wheel Fist form
Lu Lohan Ch’uan/6
Methods of the
Sa Bai Kuen/Basic Fist form
Defense Arts (25 techniques)
Iron Warrior 3
Temple Arts Fist
Kempo Defense Arts 3 (30 techniques).
Continue IW 3
Kung Li Ch’uan/Fist of Power
Jiben Ch’uan/Fundamental Fist
Kempo Defense Arts 4 (30 techniques)
Continue IW 3
Tao Lu Ch’uan/Five Attacks Fist
Di San Ch’uan/Three Fists
Staff #1 – drills and form
Kempo Defense Arts 5 (30 techniques)
Fu Hok Ch’uan Fa/Zen
Kempo Tiger-Crane form
Single Baton drills and form
Kempo Defense Arts 6 (30 techniques)
Continue IW 3.
Shao Pai Hao Ch’uan Fa/Zen Kempo
Young Crane Fist
Dwun Da Ch’uan/Short
Head Staff #2: Drills & form
Kempo Defense Arts 7 (40 techniques)
Finish IW 3
Dahn Dao/Basic Saber #1–
drills and form.
Kempo Defense Arts 8 (30 techniques)
Iron Warrior 4, Part 1
Bei Mei Hua Ch’uan/Northern Plum Blossom Fist
Pao Hok Kuen/White
Head Staff #3 – drills and form
Kempo Defense Arts 9 (30 techniques)
Iron Warrior 4, Part 2
Da Hsin Ch’uan/Striking to the Heart
Kung Chien Pu Ch’uan/Bow&Arrow
Sui Sup Ji Kuen/Cross-Grabbing
Saber—drills and form
Kempo Defense Arts 10 (35 techniques)
Breath Work of the One Finger Zen School
Wu Yi Ch’uan/Infinite Mind Fist
Fu Bok Mei Ch’uan/White Eyebrow Tiger Fist.
Sup Ji Jit Kuen/Tiger Blocking Fist
– drills and form 4th
Kempo Defense Arts 11 (40 techniques)
Stone Warrior Body Hardening Set
Tit Juen Kuen
– drills and form
Kempo Defense Arts 11 (40 techniques)
Stone Warrior Body Hardening Set
Tit Juen Kuen/Iron Strength Fist
Bei Chang Ch’uan
Siu Cern Dao
Siu Cern Dao/S. Shaolin Twin Sabers
Review of self-defense arts.
Shi Pa Lo Han Shou/18 Movements of the Arhat
Tuozhe Bu Ch’uan/Shuffling Step Fist
Fut Jeung Kuen/Buddha Palm Fist
Staff #1: drills and form
Publication of original manuscript
Tit Lo Han Chin
Tuide Tuikai Men
the Door fist
Chan Hou Ch’uan Fa/Zen
Kempo Monkey Fist
Yee Jeong Bot Gwa Kuen/Righteous and Strong Fist
rapier—drills and form
Publish original manuscript
Yi Chin Ching/Muscle Change Classic
Ling Tao Ren Ch’uan/The People’s Leader Fist
Pao Ch’uan Fa/Zen
Kempo Leopard Fist
Ping Kuen/Cannon Fist
Double Daggers form
Chien #2: drills and form
original manuscript regarding history and
philosophy of martial arts
Zuo Ma Ch’uan/Sitting
on the Horse Fist
Chan Si Ba Ch’uan Fa/Zen
Kempo Snake Fist
Chan Hong Lung
Butterfly Short Swords
Publish original manuscript
Chan Wu Ge Shou
Ch’uan Fa/Kempo 5 Animals
Staff #2—drills and form
drills and form
this juncture, the thinking ZTCFKA Member should be asking himself how each one of
these parts of the curriculum address the broad, three-part objectives, i.e. for
combat, for health, for inner development.
It is difficult to isolate or segment the effects of training with these
disciplines. The over-lapping of training effect is most evident, obviously, in
such arts as Shaolin Ch'uan, T’ai-chi Ch’uan, Shing-Yi Ch’uan, and Pa Kua
Chang. All these arts assume a common foundation having been well established
through stringent physical training, however. This inter-relationship of
defense, fitness and meditation speaks through the centuries for the power
associated with such studies.
The disciplines of Hatha Yoga, Chi-Kung and Kum Nye also have
over-lapping training benefits. Theirs, however, concentrate on the inner
development of the individual, and like the “martial” arts, presume a
modicum of physical preparation having already been established. This is not a
popular notion; most Hatha Yoga students, for example, think that their art can
get them “in shape.” This is not the approach intended by the ancient
progenitors; furthermore, the mistaken modern notions will bring abbreviated
Perhaps easiest to delineate and understand in terms of monolithic intent
are the Combat Arts. Kempo has weathered the test of centuries as a primo
in-fighting system. The Northern Shaolin, conversely, has strong long-range
tactics and maneuvers, while the Southern Shaolin systems focus on the
importance of a strong root and good hand skills.
Arguably the world’s
greatest, most effective complement of fighting techniques is gathered under the
martial umbrella of kickboxing. For millennia the fighters of Burma and Thailand
have taken battlefield challenges of all-comers with a roaring success record.
Even during modern times (post 1930) in the ring, Muay Thai and Muay Bama
(Burmese) boxers liquidate all other stylists (within the same weight classes) with consummate
Zen Tao Kempo
integrates the lightning speed of close-in Kempo, the long-distance and
foundation strengths of Shaolin, the toughness of the Combat Kick-boxer, and the
psycho-physical benefits coming from the soft arts.
Bei is a generic reference to
the fighting systems of northern China. Of the six major martial systems born in
north China, it is said that only two remain intact. One of these is a modern
product call Wu-Shu that came out of the Communist government’s desire to
replace comb at information available to ordinary citizens with an emphasis on
recreation and sport. The modern Wu-Shu art is, in fact, a synthesis of
(chiefly) northern systems. The major systems were: N. Shaolin, Cha Ch’uan,
Wah Ch’uan, Pao Ch’uan, Fah Ch’uan. And only Northern Shaolin Ch’uan has
all its forms still practiced as in ancient times.
component includes forms and drills principally from Northern Shaolin Ch'uan.
However, we also include various forms work from other schools, notably the
tough Tam and Honan traditions.
Northern Shaolin developed as a “long fist” style emphasizing kicks
over hand techniques. The trademarks of this long-range attack style are full
extension of the limbs, with large, flowing movements and acrobatic kicks
generated from deep stances. It is a style well suited for those who are
flexible, rangy, and relatively tall and agile. Thin or medium-built
practitioners fare best here.
Tui (Springy Legs) is a
10-line form covering different hand and foot combinations. Tam Tui is tough,
repetitive work that will get you ready for the core of the N. Shaolin system
comprised of the 10 hand forms. Each has its own focus on various aspects of
strength, speed, endurance, reflex response, sensitivities. Taken together, the
whole addresses the task of whole-body training. The 10 sets are generally
divided into two groups: numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are the shorter forms with
about 40 moves each. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 9, and 10 are longer (about 75 moves
each), and are usually learned later. Refer to pages 17-21 for the complete list
of the forms. Of course, forms are not the only part of Shaolin training.
The term nan refers generically to fighting styles of southern China. Our
curriculum includes the stringent foundation training and many forms from two
well-known southern systems: Choy Li Fut and Hung Ga. We do not aspire to teach
the complete systems of these combat-oriented schools.
Both Choy Li Fu and Hung Gar are well-adapted to close-quarter fighting
in tight, crowded, wet, slippery conditions. The training emphasizes strong,
deep stances, hard blocking strikes, low snap kicks, hand power for short-range
encounters. The successful student is generally physically strong, compact,
The characteristics of Kempo easily reflect some of the older off-shoots
of Shaolin, e.g. White Eyebrow and White Tiger. This is to say, short, hard,
fast hand-work complemented with a great deal of seizing, locking, breaking,
throwing maneuvers, all flowing from rather high, “natural” postures.
Typically, most Kempo schools have been nurtured in Asia by closed schools
governed by the Buddhist priesthood or/and family tradition. More about Kempo is
found in Seng Ping Tao: Path of the
This is not a sport—unlike American professional kickboxing or even
Muay Thai. Combat Kickboxing uses no gloves, has no ring, and allows any blows,
strikes, kicks or knees to any part of the head or elsewhere on the body. This
combat system incorporates elements of Western boxing, Muay Thai and Bando.
Combat Kickboxing requires grueling, strenuous physical training. The
stringent conditioning offers three advantages: 1) Develops strength, stamina
and speed of movements in defensive and offensive techniques; 2) Develops
ability to endure stress and physical pain during a confrontation;
Develops quick recuperative powers when injuries do occur.
The training program is composed of running, calisthenics, body hardening
exercises, bag training, shadow boxing, sparring, proper diet and rest. Proper
diet is essential for physical conditioning; fatty foods must be avoided;
alcoholic beverages must be eliminated; smoking must be stopped. The Combat
Kickboxer cannot afford late-night social activities: sleep rejuvenates the body
from strenuous training and grueling workouts. Eight hours of sleep is a must
for every successful boxer.
This soft or “internal” art is, in all aspects, a psycho-physical
exercise, a boxing system, and a meditation method. Most of the tens of millions
of practitioners are into it for health and meditation, so they move very slowly
during the training. But what most people don’t realize is that since the art
is founded on using the principles of change, you can—and should—move the
body and mind according to the need of the moment.
This wondrous exercise can be used by anyone, male and female, old and
young. A five year-old child and a person of 90 years or more are both able to
practice T’ai-chi Ch’uan. The complete form can be learned within three
months; pretty good acquaintance can be obtained with a year’s practice; and a
student training perseveringly for about five years can have significant
integration of mind and body, intuition and knowledge. There are delicate
details of T’ai-chi, keys to its marvels which are understood only with
faithful practice. Traditionally, a person is required to train seven years
before qualifying as a teacher.
Of the more than 100 million people who practice T’ai-chi regularly, most of them do so outside—even in severe weather conditions of northern China. The reason is simple and can be understood only when you accept the elements and embrace the opportunity to integrate with nature. Year-round, outdoor training is good for the spirit, heart, mind and body.
Shing-Yi is another of the soft arts which integrates mind and
body—hence its name, which translates to “Body-mind Boxing” or “The
Shape of Mind Boxing.” It is practiced with a light, quick, sometimes
penetrating mode—never ponderous, sluggish, tense or heavy.
The ZTCFK training program for Shing-Yi starts with recognition of the
importance of meditation postures, incorporating Santi, the foundation stance,
with chi flow.
other four basic parts to the study include:
Five basic actions/Five Elements
Splitting (Pi Ch’uan), Metal
Crushing (Peng Ch’uan), Wood
Drilling (Tsuan Ch’uan), Water
Pounding (P’ao Ch’uan), Fire
Crossing (Heng Ch’uan), Earth
The Twelve Animal Styles: eagle, chicken, phoenix, tiger, crocodile,
snake, horse, dragon, leopard, crane, monkey, swallow.
Wu Shing Lien Huan: Linking the Five Elements form. Taught after 5
Elements are introduced.
Lien Huan Si Ba Ch’uan: Snake form, taught after first six Animal
Styles are introduced.
Za Shih Chui: Varieties of Grasping. Taught after all 12 animal Styles
Shing-Yi styles are generally thought to be of several varieties: the
Honan school, the Shansi school and the Hopei school. The style presented by ZTCFK
is a product of what one Master brought from Beijing to Berkeley, CA, after a
lifetime of studies of all the major Chinese internal arts. The teachings of
Master Ying were a distillation of the sharing of many masters who gathered
every morning for years. We may, therefore, say that the ZTCFK Shing-Yi Ch’uan
is of the Integrated school.
The forms of Pa-Kua are shadows of the self, boxing against its own
shortcomings. You may think of it as shadowboxing with a high-level martial
arsenal. That unseen portion of the training is moving meditation. And it is a
health system which uniquely zeroes in on treating the state of your internal
organs. Features of the ZTCFK Pa-Kua Chang (or “Eight Forms of Consciousness”)
Boxing training include:
Double Palm Changes;
8 Circles of the Dragon;
Lu-Tang’s Eight Animals Pa-Kua;
of Original Pa-Kua.
(TAOIST AND LO HAN)
Many Taoists recluses and Buddhists monks dwelled in mountains and
forests to observe, listen, and meditate in order to gather deeper understanding
and greater knowledge of nature than is possible when living in the milieu of
Often in search of extraordinary longevity and treasures of life, these
extraordinary men (and a few women) moved from observation of nature to
experimentation and development of the body. The goal of longevity necessitated
that the body be prepared by a lifetime of practices. Thus preparation of a
strong, healthy body led to the development of these breathing exercises. For
thousands of years men have practiced and developed these breath control
techniques to improve health, correct problems and heal illnesses of various
parts of the vital organs. You can experience the benefits for yourself.
The ZTK breathing exercises are grouped into three levels. The first
level focuses on illness prevention, elimination of sickness, and the prolonging
of a healthy life. Studies from this level include T’ai-chi Chi-Kung, Tao Yin,
18 Therapies, Yin-Yang Medical Chi-Kung.
The second level aims
at rejuvenation. These studies include 5 Elements, 5 Organs, N. 5 Animals.
The upper level
exercises help calm the mind and harmonize the will. Each movement is in rhythm
with deep breathing technique. Full concentration and daily practice are
required. These studies include Bodhidharma Jing Kang Ch’uan/Diamond Body
Chi-Kung, 9 Segment Tantric Chi-Kung.
I studied many of these techniques at the Chi Kung Institute in San
Francisco. The instructor was Chiu Lim Chan, age 54 at the time (1975), who
looked 35 and had a belly as hard as a stone. He got the teachings on Wu Tang
Mountain from a 180 year-old man; that was in 1940.
is aTibetan form of psychophysical preparations for higher self-development. The
name translates to Mind-Body-Emotions Balancing,” and stems from the Nyingmapa
(“Ancient Ones”) tradition of Mahayana Buddhism. It has two phases in the
study: Phase One addresses problems of balancing and integration with 16
exercises, while Phase Two seeks to stimulate and transform energies with 21
THE YOGAS OF INDIA
“Yoga” involves more than psychophysical training. Wisdom in work,
skillful living, harmony and moderation in all matters are chief characteristics
of a Yoga-centered life. Sound familiar? It should, because herein resides the
“mother root” of all the Asian martial arts and all their attendant,
timeless power to form sound judgment in matters secular and divine.
Yoga is not a religion, but rather a science of religions. It is however,
religious in that this science brings the devotee slowly along a path of eight
stages, with the ultimate goal of becoming one with the Universe.
The “Eight Limbs of Yoga” have been codified since 200 BCE. The
stages of self-development are 1) adherence to universal moral principles, 2)
self-purification by discipline,
training with exercise postures, 4) breath control,
emancipation of the mind (from domination by the senses and exterior objects),
6) concentration ability, 7) regular meditation, 8) super-consciousness or
identity with the Universal Spirit.
The totality of Zen Tao Ch’uan Fa Kempo training addresses several of these
objectives; however we are concerned specifically within the yoga practicum with
only Hatha Yoga, which approaches all of the tasks through postures training.
Hatha Yoga is a systematized collection of asanas,
or postures, which exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body. They
reduce fatigue, soothe nerves, and result in elastic strength. But their real
importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind.
The ZTCFK Hatha Yoga component presents a 30-week course. At the end of
that time, a three-day cycle is offered which will benefit the body and bring
harmony to the mind.
Uninformed and inexperience altruists exclaim about the inappropriateness
of martial artists studying Yoga since it is founded in ahimsa
(literally, “not violent”). This
is an incomplete understanding of the word, and ZTCFK embraces the larger
definition: the love of creation. Yoga and Yogis recognize that some people are
of evil disposition, that there are those who destroy life and the earth for
pleasure. I once asked my Hatha and meditation teacher, a Brahmin priest, why he
was carrying a 6-foot staff at his side in an old photo on the wall of the
“Very good bamboo,” he replied. “Bad people come close and you
whack ‘em once here,” and gesture to the top of his cranium. “Split the
head like a melon. Very good bamboo.”
Sage advice from a Guardian of the Inner Temple. Indeed, all the ancient
civilizations cultivated superior men who fused martial skills with the Divine
ZTCFK presents an amalgamation of 2 schools for treating injuries, malaise,
disease, illness in this program:
Shiatsu (or ‘finger pressure”) from Japan. This treatment includes a
head-to-toe, general-to-localized massage (using thumbs, fingertips, palm-heel,
but toe, foot-heel) on both front and back of the body. Also featured are spinal
manipulations of atlas, thorasics, sacral discs, illiac.
Chinese acupressure techniques for organ rejuvenation, strengthening of
body shield, general tonifying.
A limited amount of traditional oriental medical theory is dealt with.
Asian and Western doctors who use pressure-point manipulation with hands or
needles have differing views as to why it works. We really aren’t concerned
with theoretical constructs here. Martial artists are highly practical people:
our goal is to get the job done quickly, efficiently, cleanl
This is a description of the training methods for postures, body weapons,
punches, finger-thrusts, strikes, blocks and kicks used in Zen Tao Kempo.
FOUNDATION STANCE: GROWING THE ROOT
As with the
foundation of a house or the roots of a tree, a weak base will not be likely to
hold your position. In most stances (other than the Crane), the tension of the
legs is outward, while the tension of the feet is inward.
Here are the chief postures for stance-work. Remember that these are not
meant to cement you to inaction; they are freeze-frames that are part of flow of
motion. On the other hand, do not neglect the leg power and balance-enhancement
which can come from isolating these postures in specific workouts. Meditate with
YOUR HAND DELIVERS YOUR CHI
These are power maneuvers, but if you try to deliver with your
shoulder-arm-hand alone, you’ll be ineffective. The power in punches is
generated by the vital flow that is translated from a solid stance to torquing
waist to snapping shoulders and limb joints:
YOUR HAND IS YOUR SPEAR
executed on a straight line. If not, much of the force is lost:
Thrust, with four-fingers
Thrust (index and middle fingers together)
Dragon, with one-finger
digits, with thumb and index fingers close together while others are open
Dragon, with middle and third fingers separated while others are close together.
YOUR HAND IS YOUR SWORD
These often are arcing, semi-circle attacks. Upper body tension is
necessary—but not too early! If you tense too soon before impact, you’ll
lose speed. If you tense too late, you lose power. Keep loose and relaxed while
on the trajectory until immediately before impact. The elbow often assists by
pulling-jerking back just before contact:
hands (fingers straight together, with wrist bent down)
Beak (2 methods)
(similar to 4-finger thrust)
(similar to 2-finger thrust)
a) 5 fingers curled to palm; b) Thumb curled and pressed against palm; c) All
fingers curled and separated.
a) Fingers bent and together; b) Fingers like 2-Headed Dragon, except thumb and
last 2 fingers form grip; c) Index and middle fingers together, with the 2 small
fingers bent and apart, and thumb is separated.
a) Similar to Tiger, but with less wrist bend; b) Fingers extended apart and
Front and inward blows—uppercuts from 6 o’clock and 4:30; lateral upper
diagonal from 1:30; downward from 12 o’clock; b) Back and outward blows—from
6 o’clock; lateral from 9 o’clock; downward from 12 o’clock.
CONTROLLING YOUR OPPONENT’S WEAPONS
If your intent is to use your arms, hands, shoulders, and legs only to
meet the opponent’s attacks head-on, you will not dominate the situation. If
you think only of “blocking” his attacks, you’ll not stop him.
“Blocks” should be simultaneously defensive and offensive in nature. That
is, a “block” should hurt the opponent and/or should become another strike
to his attacking body-weapon. Blocks should have the power of re-direction
(circular or deflection) of the opponent’s attack energy:
(upward or downward)
One hand on
wrist, other at elbow
Proper use of
your legs offers hundreds of possibilities of powerful technique combinations.
Consider, too, that kicks leave you balanced on one foot. Worse yet, you can be
suspended entirely in the air—always a risky business since airborne movement
(in kicks) is vastly slower than ground-based action.
The most important considerations in kicking are 1) good balance (the
result of forming a strong foundation, through stancework or/and running), 2)
judgment of proper distance (coming from 1000’s of kicking drills), and 3)
muscle suppleness (a product of proper, consistent loosening and stretching).
Remember, the higher a kick, the less power it has, the slower it is, the
more you’re off-balance, and the more likely the opponent will either evade or
trap your leg:
(front and side)
scissors, front, butterfly, rear
in air and on ground
(rising and lateral blows)
possible defensive and offensive combinations are fantastic. For instance, there
are about 25 weapons of the hand to strike with, six parts of the foot, plus
knees and elbows.
JOINT LOOSENING AND STRENGTH EXERCISES
Kung (8 Muscle Changes)
Ship on a
L & R
involves not only muscles, but all associated connective tissue. This includes
fascia which surround muscle fibers, as well as connective ligaments and
Don’t bounce when you
stretch; tissue reacts to bouncing by actually shortening and tightening.
Instead of bouncing, stretch slowly and comfortably (without pain), holding the
postures for long moments. Your body cannot be rushed in its growth without
painfully negative consequences which will delay your training progress.
Make haste slowly.
often placed under five categories: long, short, double, “soft” or jointed,
and throwing. The long ones were mostly used on horseback, while foot soldiers
and others not mounted used the short weapons.
The ZTK curriculum emphasizes practical utility in its choice of
weaponry. Long, short and double weapons are all part of the program; but more
importantly, we focus on learning to use defensive aids which are most likely to
be around us every day. (Of course we don’t carry around swords, but the use
of long knives and machetes in normal activity is common throughout most of the
Other considerations are recognized within this component: ease of
mastery; legal prohibitions; body development; and enhancement of ki/chi
projection. Notably, the nunchaku (though faddishly popular) has been excluded.
In spite of its devastating effects when wielded properly, we’ve rejected its
inclusion because it fails to meet several criteria: 1) It’s an exceedingly
unpredictable weapon—unless you’re willing to put in an inordinate amount of
study time; 2) it is so effective in trained hands that the police are afraid of
it, hence even its possession can get you arrested in several States; 3) it has
no counter-part in everyday activity (which means you’re relegated to carrying
The ZTK practitioner is not confined
to the specifics of the weapon studies as outlined above. He should note that he has the choice of specializing in the
weapon(s) of his choice. Appropriately advanced study material will be made
available to such a practitioner.
Following is a list of the more common traditional weapons. The first 11
listed are included in the ZTK basic weapons studies:
–staff; father of weapons, one of oldest in human history.
Do—the single, short saber, but often translates as “long knife”; “do”
is pronounced like “dough.”
Chien or Gim—a
straight, double edge sword.
Staff—like the nunchaku, this weapon was originally used to flail grain-heads
from their stalks
the “King of Weapons”; not used to throw; in the right hands it could riddle
your body like a machine gun.
Knives—more like short, squat, wide swords; used primarily in southern China,
this crowd-pleaser is the signature weapon of Wing Chun stylists.
very heavy blade on the end of a long handle; used with both hands it could cut
the legs out from under a war-horse
Cha—Tiger Fork; as the name indicates, it was used to hunt large prey
including man; you know it had to long-handled and heavy
Charn—Half-Moon Spade; another long-handled, heavy weapon; a favorite of some
Whip—not a true whip; the steel dart at the end was aimed at pressure points;
the steel or hemp chain allowed multiple attacks with a this retrievable weapon
coins—forerunners of Japanese shuriken.
Gee—two-sectional stick, known in Japan as nunchaku.
Many histories of Asian martial arts start (mistakenly) with the Shaolin
Temple and work forward; these histories reflect the agenda of the lay-writer,
usually the head or senior student of a school.
However, most authorities on Chinese history agree that most, if
not all, of the "authentic" temple arts corresponded closely with
Indian yoga. Hence the ZTKA explicit, historically related connection with the
yoga systems of India and Tibet (which also received profound Indian
Martial studies were restricted in many Eastern cultures to those
individuals born into the proper castes: royalty, priest, warrior. Chinese
martial arts did not reach the people (i.e. commoners) until 1644, after the
Manchu conquest of China. Prior to the Manchu period, and as far back as Christ,
there were tong organizations such as
the Red Eyebrows, the Copper Horses, the Yellow Turbans, and the later powerful
White Lotus Society.
The Red Spears started out as a farmers' protective association. The
White Lily and White Cloud Societies started with religious connotations, having
been founded by Buddhist
But even the quasi-religious groups later went in for violence and plunder,
imitating such organizations as the Ko Lao Hui (Society of Brothers and Elders),
which as not only responsible for anti-Tartar riots (with the motto
"Overthrow the Manchus; restore the Ming"), but also for personal
revenge and banditry. These groups did not pretend to an art form.
Even today, unsavory, illegal and downright disgusting deeds are
perpetrated by martial traditionalists of Japan, Taiwan, China, and other Asian
cultures. (This is gone into in some depth
in Seng Ping Tao: Path of the Warrior
Monk.) Many more martial organizations exist in the U.S. and worldwide
for the core purpose of cultural imperialism and political indoctrination.
Kempo International recognizes the invaluable tools for self-discovery
and development which have been passed down by generations of masters of the
Orient. We do not, however, blindly emulate the past for its own sake. Members
of KI/ZTKA should know that the American tendency to venerate exotica has been
exploited by foreign interest groups bent on following some pretty ugly paths.
This, too, is discussed at length in Seng
Ping Tao: Path of the Warrior Monk.
Continuing with the development of the martial arts in China, with the
domination by the Manchu, tongs such as the Triad Society were formed after the
infamous massacre of the Shaolin monks by the Tartar/Manchurian troops in the 16th
Century. These tongs were to serve as resistence groups against the Ching
Dynasty of the Manchus.
Throughout the world, martial arts were spread by political refugees from
such organizations as the Triads. Many of these groups posed as mutual-aid
societies for ex-patriots, but in point of fact they were secret revolutionary
bands. Even today, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the old traditional alliance of
political cause and martial arts survives: One of the most active clubs is
called "Kuo-Min Tang." In discussion, a member of the group admitted
connection with Chiang Kai-Shek's faction. Who knows? Round-eye gwai-lo rarely get straight poop…
popular belief, Shaolin boxing did not begin the Buddhist Temple by that name in
Henan Province in north China. Furthermore, Da Mo/Bodhidharma was not the
founding father of that system. The truth is that Chinese boxing has been
evolving for 4,000 years. We're looking at a continuous process
here; to segment a time period without recognizing the influences and
contributions of previous centuries is not the trait of matured judgment.
Why, then, does current popular
opinion insist on saying that the Shaolin Temple is the progenitor of Chinese,
Japanese, and Okinawan martial arts? Because
this notion increases the credibility, prestige, and acceptability given by
outsiders. And these added benefits gain new recruits. It's PR, you foreign
historical trace of systematic exercise dating back prior to 2205 BC. Made
popular by Emperor Wu, that exercise system righteously focused on improving the
health of his subjects. Though no sign of a fighting art (in written form) has
survived from those early times, we can make a reasonable deduction by
considering the question: If there was
ample leisure to develop a therapy, doesn't that imply that a defensive system
of hand-to-hand combat survival was already firmly implanted?
Apparently the first written treatise regarding Chinese martial arts was
set forth ca. 200 AD by the Yellow Turbans, a sect that helped bring the Han
Dynasty to an end. They fought unarmed, because no "common people"
were allowed to carry weapons at this time. In the Han Shu I Wen Chih
(Handbook of the Arts), almost 200 pages are devoted to defensive and offensive
strategies using skilled hand, foot, and weaponry techniques.
By the time of Da Mo's arrival at Shaolin (ca. 520 AD), unarmed
combatives were most probably systematized and being practiced throughout the
Kingdom. There is no extant material showing any martial technique being
generated by Da Mo. What the patriarch of Chan/Zen Buddhism definitely
contributed was a series of health-improvement exercises for the resident monks,
as an aid to sustaining long periods of meditation.
Da Mo's three programs of whole-self integration put in motion the
eventual development of a system of vigorous psycho-physical exercises/combative
skills which came to be known as shaolin
shu, or Temple Boxing. Martial Arts became a requirement for the monks; they
needed to protect themselves from the many criminals that lived in and around
the settlements that the monks traveled through during their pilgrimages to holy
sites. But they still devoted most of their time to spiritual cultivation.
By the time war broke out in the T'ang Dynasty (lasted from 618-906 AD),
and on through the 17th Century the Shaolin monks were recognized for
their highly developed fighting skills. However,
the Shaolin short-fighting skills met their match during the onset of the Sung
Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Quite contrary to the short-fist style techniques of
China's first five dynasties, Emperor Sung introduced the Long-Fist Style.
Though not a direct descendant of the Shaolin Temple, this style initially was
called by the generic "Shaolin Ch'uan" term. As time went on, the new
innovation specifically came to be known as chang
ch'uan, or Long Fist. This newcomer bested the old Shaolin short-fist
techniques on numerous strategically important battles.
During the years 600-1600 AD, the Shaolin monks developed both external
and internal skills, new meditation techniques, several styles of open hand
combat, many different weaponry, massage, acupuncture, herbology. In the 16
Century the monk Kwok Yuen added to Da Mo’s 18 Lo Han techniques to create a
total of 72 movements, later expanded by Kwok to 170 as he incorporated five
animal styles (Dragon, Tiger, Snake, Crane, Leopard) into his chang ch’uan.
Many other animal styles were later added, but these five are the core of
Shaolin animal studies.
The myriad of fighting
styles that blossomed in or migrated to southern China are perhaps best known
around the world for their offspring, i.e. Okinawan karate styles (shorin, goju,
kempo), and Japanese jiu-jitsu. How many of us know the schools of Hung Ga,
White Eyebrow, White Tiger, Choy Li Fut? Not so odd that we don't, as these
systems are exceedingly intricate, have a long history of being closed systems
of revolutionaries, and until the last couple of decades, not open to
non-Chinese. The arts that migrated to Japan were mere smidgeons of info tossed
to those foreigners.
Historically, southern China has been dominated by five fighting styles:
Choy, Hung, Lau, Lay, Mok. Hung Gar (or “Five Animals Family” is the most
widespread and popular, with Choy Li Fut running a close second. ZTK uses
training techniques, drills, exercises and forms from both Choy Li Fut and Hung
Ga, both reknowned as southern Shaolin short range combat systems. The present
morphology of neither system is very old, but of course their roots extend back
before our capability to discern their distinctiveness…
The Hung Family system is one of the styles to emerge from the northern
Shaolin Temple after its destruction by Manchu troops in the Ching Dynasty. Its
founder was monk Hung Hei Goon, who took his martial “understanding” to
Canton to teach the people to defend themselves from the foreign Ching Dynasty
enforcers. His system incorporated the Five Animals and Five Elements
techniques, as well as his Tiger Claw specialty. Hung developed a reputation for
being a fighter of great skill and came to become famously known as “The
The modern system of Choy Li Fut had its recordable genesis about 1813
AD. A seven year-old boy named Chan Heng began receiving martial instruction
then from three famous fighting monks in south China. After 21 years of study with these three monks, Chan moved to
Canton to found the first Choy Li Fut school, named in honor of his three
style and Chan’s school proved to be formidable weapons in several encounters,
notably the Opium War and the anti-Ching movement.
Suffice it to say that senior student followed master in a direct lineage
to Chan Shou De, who arrived in L.A. in the late 1930’s, after buying a
passport with the name of Jimmy Woo on it. Jimmy Woo was the teacher of one of
my instructors, Bob Cook. (In addition to some of the basics of Choy Li Fut, Bob
also taught me long Yang T’ai-Chi, Shing-Yi, and Pa-Kua.) In the late
‘50’s Bob was the top student of and instructor for Ed Parker (“father of
American Karate” and founder of American Kenpo Karate); as such, Bob won a
national fighting championship. Soon afterwards he met Jimmy Woo, saw what the
man’s Choy Li Fut was like, and said to himself (he told me): “Now I can
really start to learn!”
JIA: THE INTERNAL ARTS
Dreams, fairies, animal
instructors all factor into popularized histories of these arts. Even some of
the humans who supposedly "invented" the systems of Chi-Kung, T'ai-chi,
Shing-Yi, and Pa-Kua have little historical substantiation for the folk beliefs.
What we do know is that the soft arts, with one exception, appeared on
the scene intact fairly recently.
Only Shing-Yi can claim hard evidence of a verifiable genesis of more than 300
years. (The written manifestation of the art does not, of course, necessarily
reflect the truth of the matter.) And it is obvious through experience that part
of the system is older than the other. (The tracing of the development of the
Wu-Shing, or Five Elements, versus the 12 Animal Styles would be a research
topic worthy of the ZTK Associate Master candidate.)
a highly refined system of combat, kickboxing has been in existence for at least
1,000 years. The kickboxing style of Burma, then called Lethway,
became wide-spread during the reign of king Anawratha. With the help of his
lethway boxers, the warrior king founded the first Burmese empire in 1044 when
he subdued the kingdoms of Siam (Thailand), Shans and Mons, fierce mountain
peoples with intense rivalries (now embroiled in the volatile games inherent to
their "Golden Triangle" homelands: opium growing, drug-running, arms
In 1703, Pra Chao Sua, notoriously known as the "Tiger King,"
ascended the throne of Siam. During his reign, Thai boxing reached the height of
popularity. Boxing became the favorite pastime of the population. And since Siam
was at peace with Burma, the two countries collaborated to develop fighting
camps and promote numerous tournaments. The exchange of information about
training that inevitably ensued brought mutual adaptations to both Burmese and
Thai boxing traditions. These adaptations accelerated when numerous nobles and
feudal lords who owned and managed boxing camps opened their doors to include
Cambodians, Karens, and Mons, as well as the Burmese and Thais.
Perhaps the strongest changes in Burmese and Thai combat boxing came
during the 20th Century. In essence, paralleling the emphasis in
Japanese arts from battlefield survival for militarists to sporting activities
for the masses, kickboxing has developed into athletic endeavors. Since 1930,
Thai boxing has undertaken various rules and regulations from international
boxing, the adoption of padded leather gloves, groin protectors, weight
divisions, boxing trunks, boxing ring and round systems.
In spite of these modern handicaps to combat effectiveness, modern Thai
boxing has developed into one of the most rugged contact sports in the world,
gaining awe and respect from practitioners of other systems. Since there was
little difference traditionally between Burmese and Thai boxing, it is a toss-up
to determine which kingdom produced the best style of fighting. Every part of
the body, from head to toe, was used in both countries.
The boxing styles of the Burmese, Thai, Mon, Shan, Karen, and Khmer
fought under the same rules from 1040 to 1930. Strategies and techniques were
slightly different from boxer to boxer, according to various regions and
training camps from which they came. Burmese boxing was an integral part of the
Burmese military training for many centuries. The Kings of Burma and Thailand
encouraged training, practice, and growth of these combat systems. Skilled
boxers were honored and rewarded handsomely, and proclaimed "Royal
Boxers." The modern American "sport" of kickboxing is a pale and
laughable shadow of those honorable warrior boxers of SE Asia.
The Royal Boxer, the Chan Buddhist Shaolin master, and the Taoist
internal artist all share(d) several fundamental views. One common conviction is
that it is not possible to express in words what is most real, sublime, and
ultimate. Recognizing the limitations of the intellect, martial training
traditions guide with the lamp of direct experience. This partly explains the
scarcity of extant primary historical evidence in martial arts.
Another reason is because martial and mutual aid societies often exist in
spite of oppressive government. The necessity of this "orientation"
guide (an extremely rare aid for new students), occurred to me because in the
West we men have been divested, emasculated and tamed through social programming
by the culture of commerce. We no longer recount the values and histories of
righteous ancestors, fighting men who were defenders of our tribal members’ interests. Instead we defend marketing
strategies, bottom lines, and aggressive growth policies of business cartels.
These social programmers love money. What do you love?