By Dennis Lawson
Published on Nov 15th, 2015

 I’m currently working on the expanded second edition of Talking Kenpo – Best Practices in Marital Arts Training. In this new version, I will do my best to answer the many questions and comments I’ve received since the book’s original publication in 2012. The revisions of the second edition will include a new chapter on Control. Control is the larger idea involved in many of the questions I’ve fielded over the last three years.

 The process of dealing with questions and grouping them under the heading of Control reminded me of a story or two that I’ve decided to tell about myself. As a young instructor, enthusiastic, but lacking know-how, I dealt with a question regarding Control from one of my students. Like many young men with limited experience, he had concerns over the reality of what he was learning in the studio. He began questioning our training methods, quite aggressively as I remember, while a group of us were in the dressing room. When he loudly referred to “pulling our punches”, I’d had enough. My anger took over. I launched across the room half-dressed and at full speed! I startled him by “placing” a backnuckle strike within an inch of his temple. I bellowed, “In Kenpo, we don’t pull our punches, boy! – We control them!” So much for a certain young black belt’s self-control; I hope that I learned from my emotion driven reaction, but that student never returned to training.

This kind of kinesthetic response to questions was not uncommon for me in the beginning of my teaching career. I recall another student who was adamant that he should be able to wear his diamond stud earring while training on the mat. Instead of arguing with him, or better yet, discussing it calmly, I simply palm heeled his left earlobe driving the base of the stud into his neck. Yelping with pain, he quickly understood that wearing jewelry on the mat was not allowed for reasons of safety. That student stuck around, continued his training, and became an exemplary black belt in his own right. Win some, lose some.

Regulating the depth penetration of our strikes is only one application of the principle of Control. There are many methods, both physical and psychological to prevent an opponent from taking action. Control in Kenpo is a much larger idea. Talking Kenpo version 2 will also deal with a number of other topics including: The Dimensional Stages of Action, Training Basics More Effectively, and Going to the Ground with your Opponent. Look for it soon. I expect to publish this second edition of Talking Kenpo no later than June 2016.


Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

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