Order Kenpo Katas were Created and Originally Taught
After the above Chinese Sets (Katas) were introduced into Kenpo the following Katas were created for Kenpo, using many theories and movements from these classic Chinese Forms or Sets.
Al Tracy has been giving Seminars around the US explaining and demonstrating the origins of all the Kenpo Katas. In the future this information will most likely be released on DVD.
1. Short #1 (4 Shields) – 10 Pattern Kata – Woo & Parker
A basic blocking routine, this Kata teaches two of the simplest concepts of defense against a strike—distance (stepping back) and blocking. It ties together the 4 most basic blocks (the four shields) with their most basic foot patterns. The pattern it follows—the 4 points on the compass—are often referred to as a “10 Pattern” because of the number 10 in Chinese. Because it is the first Kata taught, and introduces what Katas are, students often comment that it felt like the hardest Kata they ever learned, even though it’s the shortest Kata we teach—at only 8 steps long.
2. Short #2 (Cat Set) – Star Pattern
3. Short #3 (Single Escape set)
4. Black Belt Set
Historical Note: The above 4 Katas were the original and first Kata requirements for “Black Belt”
5. Long #1 (Shield and Mace)
6. Long #2 (Continuous Set)
7. Long #3 (Double Escape Set)
All the techniques in this Kata are defenses against grab attacks (chokes, wrist grabs, waist grabs, etc.) This Kata marks the transition into the format of the advanced Kenpo Katas that will follow, as from this point on most of the Katas will require the techniques to be done on both sides. It is by far the most difficult Kata up to this point (as it precedes Tiger & Crane).
8. Long #4 (Definitive Set)
This is “The Classic Kenpo Kata“. Comprised of 20 sections of self-defense techniques and basics, it takes between 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 3 minutes to perform. It is Ed Parker’s masterpiece—developed in the early 1960’s. If you perfect* only one Kenpo Kata, let it be this one. The Kata is always taught the same, but each student will have a slightly different interpretation. This is the way it should be in Chinese Sets or Katas.
*When one can do the Kata well enough to perform it in competition
Historical Note: Ed Parker and James Woo jointly created all of the above Katas, with the exception of the Black Belt Set.
9. Staff Set (#3 Staff Set or Chinese Staff) – Created by Chuck Sullivan
Formerly #1 Staff—this set is almost impossible for a person to do unless he or she has been trained in the use of Chinese weapons. This is a unique set in that each section shows a completely different use of the staff. A very fine set to learn the practical application of the staff rather than just “show’; however, done properly this set can be quite spectacular. Many years ago Sandy Sandoval—a Kenpo practitioner—won the Weapons Grand Championship at the Seattle Open with the #3 Staff Set. He also won the Kata Grand Championship (against all styles) with the Single Escape Set (Short #3 Kata).
10. Long #5 (Takedown or Transition Set)
All of the techniques in this Kata have a different take-down or have the opponent on the ground. This Kata contains 10 of the most difficult Kenpo techniques—but what makes it so much more challenging are the transitions between techniques. From an artistic point of view it is not one of the better looking Kenpo sets; however, it was not designed to look pretty. It is a Kata that requires complete knowledge and mastery of some very complicated techniques with intricate transitions and adjustments from one technique to the next. Technically more difficult than the Definitive Set (Long #4) and not as much fun—but very satisfying when you can do it right.
11. Long #6 (Weapons Set) – There are several versions of Long #6
All the techniques in this Kata are defenses against weapons: gun, knife or club. This is a long, difficult and extremely technical Kata. The opening to this Kata is almost a Kata in itself (it’s more steps than 4 Shields, the first Kata taught).
Historical Note: Ed Parker created Long #5 and Long #6 in the mid 1960’s—after Ed Parker and James Woo went their own separate ways. Ed Parker would not create any more Katas for almost 20 years until he created #7 and #8.
12. Long #7 (Advancing Set)
This is one of the best Katas in the Kenpo system—strictly for the advanced Kenpo practitioner who knows all the individual techniques. This is a complex and demanding Kata in the best tradition of Kenpo. Although this Kata contains many difficult techniques, the smooth transitions and placement of the techniques in relation to one another make it a fine Kata to be required for the upper ranked Black Belts.
13. Long #8 (The Twin Set)
The name “Twin” comes from the fact the techniques are done in pairs; one technique in each set is a Twin (but not an identical twin) of the other. Examples: “Darkness” followed by the opposite side of “Brushing Wind”; “Opening the Fan” followed by the opposite side of “The Sickle”. The Twin Set also contains rolls and falls as well as intricate ground work and a variety of kicks.
The Twin Set (Long #8) is one of the requirements for 5th Black Belt—and is one of the longest and most challenging Katas in any system (and this is only the “A” side—there is also a “B” side—a “twin” of the Kata!). Don’t be fooled by the “#8” designation; it is the most difficult and exhausting of all Kenpo sets. The entire Kata contains 56 self-defense techniques—almost two belt’s worth.
STORY TIME: When the Tracy brothers started studying with Ed Parker they asked him what “title” he wanted them to use. His reply was not Sensei, Sifu, or Master. It was simply “Ed”.**
Historical Note: **Ed—Ed Parker. When Al Tracy started studying with Ed Parker he was 22 years old and Ed Parker was 27—at his peak as an athlete and martial artist.
Many of the top Kenpo people refer to Ed Parker as the “Old Man”. Al Tracy’s response is that he never studied with the “OLD MAN”. The Ed Parker he studied with was a 195 pound, 6 foot tall, young, slim, trim fighting machine.
Origins of the Weapon Sets And Other Chinese Sets in Kenpo
Since Kenpo lacked any weapons forms Al Tracy spent over 30 years studying with many different Chinese Masters to enable him to add practical Weapon Sets, as well as a few other major Chinese hand sets, to the Tracy System of Kenpo.
Historical Note: When the Tracy brothers first started Kenpo (1957) there was a complete lack of any real history of the origins of the art of Kenpo. As it turned out our heritage came from the Japanese Yoshida Clan and the Kenpo art was based upon the “RENZI” sect of “ZEN BUDDHISM”—which was a self-defense system that DID NOT ALLOW THE USE OF ANY WEAPONS.
1. Japanese Sword Set – 1964-65
This set is an introduction to blade weapons—this was the first blade weapon set Al Tracy ever learned—and as such it has remained a favorite. It was taught to him by the father of one of his students who was Japanese. It is the only non-Chinese weapon set we teach.
2. Chinese Sword Set – 1964-65
3. Wong Family Hand Set (Shaolin Hand Set) – Wai Wong
This was a family hand set given to Al Tracy by Wai Wong. He was also out of the Hung Gar style, but each family had its own set that was passed down and kept in the family from one generation to the next. There is almost no other Chinese set this complete: almost all of the hand weapons are used, along with their breakdown and applications. Many hand weapons cannot be used today because of the length of time—along with the medicines used and required—for developing the hands.
4. Dark Room Staff (#1 Staff Set) – Doi Wai
This set is a good, solid introduction to the staff (“Bo” in Japanese) as a weapon—it contains many of the stances, spins, and hand exchanges that will be needed in later weapon katas—and is a set that can be used by beginners for early weapon competition. Even at the Black Belt level if done properly, with power and focus, this set can be used in competition against any classical weapon Katas. Trophies and medals have been won at all levels with this set.
5. Skylight Staff (#2 Staff Set) – Doi Wai
This set teaches you to develop power with the staff—and teaches full length uses of the staff to develop reach and power. Done properly it is as powerful as any set out there. While it has classical Chinese applications it can stand on its own against any hard style weapons. Skylight Staff is a power set that can be used in any competition when you must compete against traditional Japanese and Okinawan staff sets.
6. Skylight Spear – Doi Wai
This set is interchangeable with Skylight Staff—with modifications. These two sets demonstrate the relationship and the differences between two similar weapons—and that the spear is not just a staff with a blade at the end.
7. Chinese Set – Master Houng
8. Little Tiger – Doi Wai
There are two versions of Little Tiger. The version we teach is the one Mr. Tracy has been teaching since 1970—and NO, this Kata is neither a short version of, nor has anything to do with, the “Tiger” section of Tiger & Crane. It is a completely separate Chinese set.
9. Butterfly Knives (3 Sets)- Doi Wai
There are three Butterfly Knife sets. Butterfly Wings is an introduction to the “Butterfly Knives”. From a practical standpoint the butterfly knives are a very sensible, effective weapon and the personal favorite of many a Chinese master since they could easily be concealed. In their crudest form they are a short range hacking weapon. They are a natural for the Kenpo practitioner because of the similarity in their use to our empty hand movements. And there is the advantage they are used in pairs just as we use two hands. There are three sets that make up this butterfly series: Butterfly Wings, Basic Butterfly and Iron Butterfly.
The first, Butterfly Wings, is the introductory set. Basic Butterfly is the most practical and Iron Butterfly is the most difficult.