My Way Of Thinking, Using Kenpo

By Paul Christ
Published on Aug 15th, 2011

As I see it, Kenpo is way of thinking.

What does that mean for my daily life?

It means I evaluate everything according the Kenposcope. For those who might not be familiar with the Kenposcope, the Kenposcope is a model created by Skip Hancock and illustrated in his book Mastering Kenpo The Path of Excellence. It is presented as a series of concentric circles that expresses the “What” of your Martial Art: Attitude first, then Logic, Basics and Fitness. (There are 5 fitness’s classified in the Kenposcope: Perceptual, Spiritual, Emotional, Mental and Physical)

In the center of the model, is Attitude, which is 50% of the model, of a fight, of anything that you might wish to accomplish; Attitude is the first 50% of your Art. In a circle around that: Logic, Basics and Fitness, which represent the next 40%.

The final small circle around the Kenposcope is for exercises, forms, sets, techniques, freestyle, drills, etc., which represent the last 10% of your Art. I think, act, train and teach, according to the Kenposcope. If someone would ask me to teach a technique, I immediately think, on what subject area on the Kenposcope?

Techniques, like Forms, Set’s and Freestyle, are listed in the last 10% of the
cycle, they are exercises to train your Attitude, Logic, Basics and or Fitness.

Let’s pick one of every Kenpoists favorite self-defense techniques, Five Swords. So, if anyone asks me to train/teach Five Swords, I think:” What would you like to train? Should I focus on Attitude, Logic, Basics or one of the five Fitnesses?”

If we use Five Swords as an exercise for Attitude, you first have to pick an Attitude. The first and most basic Attitude I try to get across to a students is: “There is danger out there and it can happen to you.” In addition to that, “You have the right to stop an opponent from hurting you.” There are lots of different Attitudes you can choose to train, but pick one and go from there.

The next topic could be Logic; the Master Key to logic is “The Three Points of View”. Put in a simple way: Logic deals with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd point of view in a situation, yours-, your opponents-, and a bystanders point of view.

Out of this master key to logic, a second circular model was developed, the Cycle of Considerations. This model was based on what Ed Parker referred to as the Eight Considerations --- See Ed Parker’s Infinite Insights into Kenpo Volume 1 Mental Stimulation. To explain this model in its most basic form, the Cycle is the ‘How” of your Martial Arts. The model is also explained in more detail in Mr. Hancock's book Mastering Kenpo The Path of Excellence.

There are 9 “considerations” in the Cycle: Attitude, Environment, Dimensional Stages of Action (D.S.A), Positions, Maneuver, Target, Weapon, Angle and Cover. All these considerations need to be trained or emphasized, and have to be dealt with in that specific order.

Again, like the Kenposcope model, Attitude is, once again, the center of the cycle, then you have to be in control of Environment, in control of the Dimensional Stages of Action between you and your opponent(s), in control of Positions, according to where you are at this point on the cycle you choose the best maneuver, a Target, the best Weapon for that target, the best Angle to get to that target with that weapon, and last but not least, the best cover to get out of the situation. This process embodies ECONOMY OF MOTION --- Entails choosing: the best available weapon, the best available angle, the best available target, all in the least amount of time, while obtaining your desired result. Any movement that takes less time to execute, but still causes the effect intended. Any movement that does not achieve the effect intended would be WASTED MOTION.

Environment is subdivided into: everything on you, everything in you, and everything around you. That means you now have 11 subjects under Logic, on which, you can train, using a technique like Five Swords. Some would be more relevant to a given lesson than others. Environment “on you” has less impact on the situation, most of the time, than Environment “Around you”, unless you are wearing a straitjacket, handcuffs, etc. Focusing on these or other variables would still not change the main Theme of Five Swords.

The main theme of Five Swords (Logic) is “Time and Environment”. That means I, the defender, do not have the time to move back and away from the attacker because he is already at Contact Stage, or the environment won’t allow me to move back and away. So I have to move forward, toward my attacker. Basically, this technique deals with controlling Environment around you and/or the Dimensional Stages of Action between you and your opponent.

The next items, in order of importance, on the Cycle are Positions, Maneuver,
Target, Angle Weapon and Cover.

To discuss each of these topics in more detail would make this article too
extensive; perhaps we’ll discuss these in another article at a later date.
Here’s a list of related subjects one could train with Five Swords:


You have the right to stop your attacker from hurting you. Be aware. Mentally, stand your ground, don't back up in conversation, argument, debate,etc.


Principle of Self-Defense: Time and Environment
The Cycle

  • Attitude - Awareness
  • Environment - on you; is there anything on you that restricts movement?
  • In you - attitude / health / skills...
  • Around you - something is blocking your way to move back and away from the opponent
  • Dimensional Stages of Action between you and your opponent - opponent is at the Contact Penetration Stage of Range, so you have to move in
  • Positions - actively position yourself, move from point of origin, and consider Height, Width, or Depth Zones
  • Maneuver - launch forward, moving up the circle, forward bowing, evaluate when to change stances as a tactic
  • Target - neck - face/eyes, floating ribs, front side of throat, back side of neck
  • Weapon - hand sword, finger thrust, front part of the fist,
  • Angle (s) - of execution, of entry, of contact, etc.
  • Cover – get away in the safest manner

(Ideas continued from the Kenposcope)


  • 5 master key basics: Hammer - Thrust – Whip, Launch and Be Neutral
  • Grafting, reverse motion, Dimensional Sequence of Muscle Movement. (Depth, Height, Width in the proximal joints)
  • Launch: as a Skill
  • Be Neutral: mentally and physically,
  • 7 types of physical speed


  • Spiritual- Courage- stand up for yourself, to move in, performing in front of crowd or jury
  • Perceptual- all the senses, consider your Dominance Profile/ perceptual speed
  • Emotional- to positively re-interpret the situation - emotional speed
  • Mental - concentration/ mental speed
  • Physical – Muscle and organ fitness, physical speed

This is, by no means, a complete list, nor is it in any form of order of importance, except for Attitude being first, then Logic, Basics, and Fitness. This is just a brief listing of what is possible. I am a Gestalt (or right) brained1 guy, so not a big fan of making lists. I do have to admit, I had a big lesson from my Logical / Mathematical (or left) brained teacher, Professor Skip Hancock. His advice was to take a topic, at the top of the page write Attitude, Logic, Basics, Fitness/s, and list everything you know about that topic under the corresponding subject. You'll soon find out that there are sub categories, but always list the more generalized principles / concepts on top before making sub-categories. You also may find that some things fall under more than one subject. For example something you may find falls under Physical Fitness, as well as Basics. In the example above, the 7 types of physical speed could be easily listed under physical fitness.

Your emphasis and list will vary as you progress in insight. Your insight will evolve, no matter where your level of understanding starts, you’ll always benefit from this method of reviewing the various ideas, theories, themes, principles, etc. associated with a given exercise.

My final remarks may be redundant, but I’m going to mention them anyway to summarize this idea,

  1. Do, focus on, or train one thing at the time. So if you are going to use one technique, for different things to emphasize,commit to that one single thing per training session. Give the idea your complete attention.
  2. “Too much refinement (too soon), and often, too little progress” to paraphrase Mr. Parker. This lesson is one I learned the hard way. As a beginning teacher I was too eager and gave too much information and refinement, too soon. This is counterproductive. So even if you are paying attention to just one thing, one can make a mistake by moving beyond that one thing too soon. You must give the student time to train on and assimilate the lesson.

How do I use all this in daily life? As I said in my opening statement, when I have to deal with someone, the Kenposcope is my checklist on how I evaluate that person. The Cycle is my checklist on what he does. When certain aspects of an individual’s persona, actions, or intentions conflict with each other, it throws up a “red flag” in my mind. If you twist my arm I might be persuaded to discuss that in another article.

Happy thinking!

1For more information on right brain left brain thinking see Unlock Your Learning Potential, with a link which discusses Dr. Hannaford's book on The Dominance Factor

Filed under Techniques and Tutorials

Author Bio :: Paul Christ

Paul Christ began training in Ed Parker's Kenpo in 1983, reaching Black Belt in 1992. In 1993, although a career police officer, Mr. Christ began working with students, mainly his colleagues but also taught at other studio's. Paul has also taught in, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and the United States. Paul was presented with the prestigious Ed Parker Award in 2003 for his contributions to Kenpo. That same year, Mr. Christ was promoted by Professor Skip Hancock as his first European Black Belt in Kenpo 2000. Mr. Christ is a student of Skip Hancock.

Other Articles by Paul Christ

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