Bloom's Taxonomy And Mr. Parker's Kenpo (Part 1)

By Dennis Lawson
Published on May 30th, 2010

I recently read an article on Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Bloom, an educational psychologist, published his taxonomy (definition --- the practice and science of classification) in 1956, the same year Ed Parker opened his Pasadena studio. The coincidence reminded me of Mr. Parker's contribution to the study of the Martial Arts as an educational process.| Bloom and Anderson, his student who later modified his original taxonomy, set out a series of processes for classifying educational goals. The processes are:

  1. Knowledge of / Remembering
  2. Comprehension / Understanding
  3. Application / Applying
  4. Analysis / Examining
  5. Synthesis / Evaluating
  6. Evaluating / Creating

This article started with the intriguing question, "Are you an expert at everything?" Expert is a word often used in the Martial Arts (Karate expert, Judo expert, etc.). This piqued my curiosity. How would Bloom's Taxonomy relate to Kenpo's Three Phases of a Technique, an important training method for building expertise? This educational method is fundamental to understanding the traditional exercises (Forms, Sets, and Techniques) of Mr. Parker's Kenpo. Making this comparison may also give us some insight into how Mr. Parker's expertise developed. The Three Phases of a Technique are:

IDEAL PHASE --- This is PHASE 1 of the analytical process of dissecting a technique. It requires structuring an IDEAL technique by selecting a combat situation that you wish to study. Contained within the technique will be fixed moves of defense, offense, and the anticipated body reactions that can stem from these moves. This PHASE reinforces the need to examine techniques from the MASTER KEY of LOGIC the THREE POINTS OF VIEW.

WHAT IF PHASE --- This is PHASE 2 of the analytical process of dissecting a technique. The WHAT IF PHASE takes in additional variables and involves further analyzation of the IDEAL technique. The operative concept of the WHAT IF PHASE is that every movement has consequences, especially during combat. The WHAT IF PHASE allows you to project, evaluate, and learn various reactions you may be presented with outside of the suppositions made in the IDEAL technique. This increases your ability to alter or adjust (EQUATION FORMULA) the IDEAL technique to the situation and enhances your ability to make choices in the heat of conflict.

FORMULATION PHASE --- This is PHASE 3 of the analytical process of dissecting a technique. FORMULATION involves the actual application of your alternatives to the IDEAL technique. Studying what can additionally happen within the framework of the "fixed technique", teaches you how you may apply your answers to variables in a realistic and changing environment. Further application of the EQUATION FORMULA will provide more answers and greater flexibility of thought. See EQUATION FORMULA.
Comparing this idea to Bloom's Taxonomy we get:

  1. Knowledge / Remembering --- This would refer to the basic memorization of the ideal sequence of movements (The self-defense technique Glancing Salute, for example).
  2. Comprehension / Understanding --- The student needs to understand the primary function of the pattern of movement. Glancing Salute is a defense against a cross shoulder push.
  3. Application --- The student applies the pattern of motion against a number of different attackers in a variety of environments. Physically training the ideal phase of the technique to memorize the technique in the flesh.
  4. Analysis --- Examining new variables in the "What If" phase of training the technique (Glancing Salute). Variables include an opponent who attacks:
    1. With his right hand
    2. With his left hand
    3. With his right leg forward
    4. With his left leg forward
    5. Precedes his attack with a kick
    6. Etc. The variables are limited only by logic and your imagination.
  5. Synthesis / Evaluating --- This is the process of making choices (Adding, Adjusting, Altering, Deleting, Rearranging, Regulating, etc.) to adapt the ideal pattern to the new variables by applying the Equation Formula.
  6. Evaluating / Creating --- The means of applying (Formulation Phase) the original pattern (Glancing Salute) to the new variable (opponent precedes his push with a front ball of foot kick). By training the technique in all Three Phases, the student develops the ability to solve new problems (attacks that vary from the ideal) extemporaneously.

This process can easily be applied to other traditional exercises (Forms, Sets, Freestyle Techniques, etc.) to allow the practitioner to build an unlimited number of "educational experiments" to increase understanding and build greater skill. A candid answer to the question, "Are you an expert at everything?" ---NO, but I'm Still working at it!

Filed under Instructors and Teaching

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.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

Are you a martial artist and have advice or experiences you want to share? If so, contact our editorial team about becoming an author. Be part of our community, contribute an article.