The Outer Rim Principle

By Melvin Ruth
Published on Jun 30th, 2012

I have been blessed with some injuries that sidelined me from training. These injuries have caused me to re-evaluate the ways I teach and have changed my approach to lesson plans. While searching for simplified terms and ideas to explain Kenpo that even children from the age of five will relate too, I have been able to expand my own knowledge of Kenpo. Researching existing concepts, theories and principles that Mr. Parker gave us, the Outer Rim Principle caught my attention and I started looking at the Outer Rim Principle in more depth.

In the Ed Parker’s Infinite Insights into Kenpo, Volume 4, Chapter 5, page 83, Mr. Parker present an imaginary oval shaped circle superimposed over the front view of a defender. He explains “This principle entails envisioning an imaginary egg shaped circle that defensive or offensive moves should be confined to, so as not to overextend or over commit them. Areas covered: height – eyebrows to point below the groin, width—shoulder to shoulder”. You’ll notice in the book only width and height have been defined. In this same book, in Chapter 6, he further elaborates illustrating more depth of this imaginary perimeter. Mr. Parker uses the Outer Rim Principle as part of his description of the Zone Theories. As I researched the Outer Rim principle through practice, it helped me to consider working with the dimension of depth. I now see the 3 Dimensional ovals on myself and my opponent from 3 different views.

The Outer Rim view typically taught is the front view, defined above, which encompasses 2 dimensions (height and width) facing your opponent. The center line would be in the center of the egg from this viewpoint (around the diaphragm).

If one could look at the width of the Outer Rim from above, it will help one visualize this view differently. When looking down from above, surprisingly one can see the egg shape with the widest part of the circle beginning at the shoulders. The widest part of the oval is approximately the width of your own shoulders. To find your proper dimension you would first measure the width of your shoulders.

Now to find the next Outer Rim view, completely extend your arm straight out and in front of you with no bend in your arm. Anchor your elbow (drop your elbow down towards the ground) to form a 45 degree angle with your arm. The depth of your arm from your wrist to the center line of your shoulder should be approximately the same measure as the width of your shoulders. This is the depth of your outer rim. Visualize the egg shape is mostly in front of your body. If you formed a fist and placed your arm in the proper position of an inward block you would find the outer shell of your egg. This is the profile egg shape that defines depth. Using Blocking Set 1 as an exercise your wrist would touch the shell of your egg in every block, except for the upward block. Even the tip of your elbow touches the back of your shell if aligned correctly.

To present this idea to my students I first define the principle and then further explain we must protect our egg. I teach them that if he/she breaks their own egg, they lose. I start by explaining how the shell of the egg is sturdy yet fragile. I refer to a Marylandtradition of "picking eggs" which is very familiar to our students.For those not familiar, in the U.S. we boil eggs for the Easter Holiday, dye them, hide them and then hunt for them as a tradition. Afterwards each child takes their prized eggs and has an egg fight. The defender wraps their hand around one egg. With the egg almost completely hidden it is ready for battle. The attacker takes their egg and smashes down crushing the defenders egg winning the battle. Both sides of the eggs are used until all egg shells are cracked. Using this familiar reference I explain the strength of the egg shell and how important it is to protect your egg. When the student keeps their limbs inside their egg they are anchored, contoured, and have correct alignment.

Filed under Instructors and Teaching

Author Bio :: Melvin Ruth

Melvin Ruth started boxing for the Highland Exchange Club in 1986. He began his formal study of Korean Martial Arts in 1988, Tae Kwon Do in Baltimore County. By 1994, Melvin joined the U.S. Army and National Guard serving honorably through 2004. After returning from various military missions, Melvin began training in Kenpo Karate in 1997. Mr. Ruth received his black belt certification in Kenpo Karate in 2003. Melvin began working with Kenpo 2000 while pursuing his black belt. He is currently refining his Kenpo as a student of Professor Skip Hancock. Mr. Ruth is a partner in M&D's Modern Martial Arts of Bishopville, MD The studio is affiliated with TheMALC and Kenpo 2000. Melvin is the Director of Infrastructure for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc. (TheMALC).

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