Why Adding Ground Fighting Will Help Anyone's Stand Up Game

By Scott Marker
Published on Jul 27th, 2010

Senior Grand Master Ed Parker said for years his system was developed to handle the environment of modern day street situations. He modified existing techniques and added new ones in the development of his system. Initially, major changes in his movements were made; then, smaller changes (refinements) when he discovered a more efficient way to get the job done. The system was always in a state of change/refinement.

I was always kind of a rebel when it came to my Kenpo training, always looking for ways to improve my game, my personal style, and also to make sure what I was doing was realistic for the environment in today's street; just as SGM Parker did for years.

First, I worked on improving my stand-up by changing the way that I did things and also adding in grappling; specifically for stand-up where locks and chokes were applied. The change had to be in both how I applied those locks AND then using that knowledge in how I defended those locks.

One of my fellow instructors, Joe Jones, helped me with the stand-up locks and chokes, specifically the chokes. Joe had learned the proper way to do locks and chokes from Joe Cowles (Wu-Wei) who had a Jiu-Jitsu/Wing Chun blend. Joe Jones had a couple of standing chokes that I also added to my game.

Then, in 1993, I was heavily influenced by Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, now called the UFC.

We (Rulon Day, Joe Jones and I) then started to include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into our game. Since no instructors in BJJ were in Idaho, we mostly learned from tapes; our Kenpo knowledge of movements and analytical thinking made it fairly easy for us to pick up the concepts. After finding an instructor that was based in Salt Lake City (Professor Pedro Sauer, black belt under the Gracie's) we brought him to Boise for seminars and traveled when we could to SLC, eventually getting blue belts from Pedro.

We then started to push to develop ground techniques to be added to the Kenpo system or at least into the Kenpo 2000 association. We all worked together to develop the techniques. The techniques were basically Kenpo techniques that failed and you ended up on the ground, so now you better know the ground.

With Professor Skip Hancock's blessing and assistance in naming the techniques, we added them to the belt requirements. We had ground techniques introduced for each belt from white to brown. (All techniques are on my Facebook, under videos)

Our school, Boise Valley Kenpo/Jiu-Jitsu hosted grappling camps to help introduce the new techniques. There was a great turnout from schools across the United States, mostly from the Kenpo 2000 association but a few from outside of that. We did the camps three years in a row, 2000-2003.

My Kenpo background has helped me in all aspects of life, to improve systems in the martial arts, other endeavors, and even in sales. For teaching ground techniques/grappling, I have modeled my teaching method from Grand Master Ed Parker; using stories, analogies, and metaphors. That has helped me become a better instructor and a better martial artist myself. I can quickly teach techniques and concepts on the ground by using metaphors like Spiderman, Superman, Backpack with Velcro, "Listen to what he's thinking", Mr. Freeze, and many, many more. They make the learning very quick to pick up and remember for both kids and adults, with little to no experience.

Over the years I've had several adult instructors contact me after taking one of my classes at the annual Kenpo 2000 Gathering, and tell me that they just love the way I teach using those analogies/metaphors. It was easy for them to remember and they've been teaching Superman and Spiderman to their students that week! I always have to smile to myself as that's probably the biggest compliment I can get ever get as an instructor.

Learning grappling has greatly improved my stand-up. Many of the ideas that I learned on the ground can be applied to the stand-up and stand-up to the ground.

Additionally, many techniques in the Kenpo system have grappling applied against you in the attack, by trying to choke you, arm lock you, wrist lock you and also in the defenses you have to know grappling/manipulations. There is grappling jiujutsu and judo influences all throughout the Kenpo system. SGM Ed Parker talked about it himself. Being able to defend yourself from someone that is an experienced grappler choking you from behind definitely forces you to change the way you've done it before against inexperienced attackers.

So, if you haven't included ground to your Kenpo game or have just dabbled a little in the ground game, then you need to remember what SGM Ed Parker once said at one of the belt promotions I was at. Laying the two belts in front of you before getting your new belt/rank he said, "The L stands for LOTS to learn, no matter what rank you are, even black belts..."

Note: I will be writing a follow-up article on easy ways to start to incorporate more ground into anyone's game.

Filed under Techniques and Tutorials

Author Bio :: Scott Marker

Scott Marker was awarded his first black belt from the International Kenpo Karate Association in 1991. He received his fifth degree black belt from the Kenpo 2000 association in 2007 under Professor Skip Hancock. Scott earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through the Rickson Gracie American Jiu-Jitsu Association by Professor Pedro Sauer in 1997. In 2009 he was promoted by Keith Owen to purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Pedro Sauer Association.

Over the years Scott competed in many local and international karate tournaments, winning numerous trophies. One trophy he is most proud of was when he competed and won his match in the first official mixed martial arts (MMA) tournament in Boise, Idaho in 1996.

He has taught numerous martial arts seminars to students from all over the United States. Looking back at his martial arts experiences, Scott feels very fortunate that people have been tolerant of his outspoken views and ideas that went against the status quo. “Professor Skip Hancock, my Kenpo instructors, and other fellow instructors put up with my outspoken views for years.” Scott and a fellow instructor at his school were awarded the first Ed Parker Award from the Kenpo 2000 association for their contributions to the continued evolution of the martial arts over the years.

Among his other accomplishments are being head of officials for Idaho Athletic Commission MMA, publisher and author of a book on sales that shows the beneficial parallels between the martial arts and sales. Scott was so influence by SGM Ed Parker’s teaching methodologies; he incorporated some of the ideas into his book, “Let’s Get It On!” “Real”istic Strategies for Winning the Sales Game.

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