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Kenpo Instructor: Shows students the way to balance, strength

By Sean Pearson

Homer Tribune

Instructor Jesse Smith may have first entered into the ancient fighting concepts of Kenpo Karate out of necessity, but it is the balance and concordance with the environment that Kenpo offers that keeps him involved in the martial arts and motivates him to pass his knowledge and skill on to others.

"My parents first introduced me to Kenpo when I was in the seventh grade," Smith said. "We were living in Hawaii, and that's a pretty tough place to grow up. My parents basically said, 'You really need some help,' so they signed me up for Kenpo."

Smith began taking Kung Fu when he was 4, so the moves and concepts of karate were not new to him. And the fact that Kenpo originated in Hawaii was enough of a connection for Smith to keep him interested in it for the next 15 years.

According to Smith, Kenpo karate bridges ancient fighting concepts with modern scientific principles to create a powerful form of self-defense. However, Smith said he sees it as more of an overall improvement in life than a course in self-defense.

"It's a way of fine-tuning your way of living and striving for your own potential," he said. "There are a certain set of basic moves, but once those are mastered, the focus really then shifts to individual strengths. It is a very fluid and ever-changing form of karate that is unique to each individual's strengths and abilities."

Kenpo was brought to America by martial arts expert Ed Parker in the 1960s, where he taught it to four students. Parker introduced newcomer Bruce Lee to America. Lee, known for his martial arts work in several films, followed many of the Kenpo philosophies of karate. After Parker passed away, only one of his students, Chuck Sullivan, continued to teach Kenpo. It is under Sullivan, a 10th-degree black belt, that Smith has received most of his training.

"I feel very honored to have studied directly under Chuck Sullivan," Smith said. "He has been an incredible teacher."

Smith is currently offering Kenpo karate classes of his own through Homer Community School. Classes started this week, but Smith said it is not too late to sign up, and no martial arts background is required. In fact, Smith said that it often helps when the person has not already had training in any form of martial arts.

"Sometimes people who have already trained in a different form of martial arts come in with some preconceived ideas about how they should stand or move," he said. "It almost seems to set people back." Students will start at a basic level with stances, maneuvers, blocks, kicks and punches, and then move on to more advanced levels. The advanced levels include 55 self-defense techniques. Through the program, students will have the opportunity and ability to earn belt rank, eventually moving to black belt status. Smith is currently training and teaching at the black belt level.

Smith said that students should be at least 5 years old, but most of the restrictions end there.

"You don't need to be in great shape," Smith said. "The idea is to be ready with whatever you have. The main purpose behind Kenpo is to be prepared to defend yourself no matter the circumstance."

In other words, don't expect to be doing any fancy "Karate Kid" moves on day one.

"We don't spend a whole lot of time having people stretch out in the class," Smith said. "If you are walking down the street and find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself, you can't exactly ask the person to wait until you've stretched out."

For more information about the class, or to register, contact Jesse Smith at 235-8978.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenpo Karate Black Belt Jesse Smith practices his moves at Bishop's Beach on Monday. Smith is offering classes in Kenpo for interested individuals 5 years or older thought the Community Schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An International Karate Connection Association Affiliate School