Kenpo Kwai International
martial arts training

Frequently Asked Questions

Things that people often ask before joining a martial arts school.

What age can the student start Kenpo?

Most good instructors will agree that 7-8 years old is the minimum age for beginning any martial arts instruction. Any younger than this is simply very expensive day care for the parents! The concepts are more sophisticated than most children under this age could grasp, but having said that there are some outstanding exceptions, younger children training with parents show great potential, if not pushed too hard. Certain arm and wrist locks are forbidden to children under twelve because the bones in the arms are not fully hardened and ‘greenstick’ fractures can occur.

What is the ‘Kenpo Kwai International philosophy’?

throwKenpo is a comprehensive logical and extremely practical mode of self defence designed to cope with ‘one on one’ bullying, and street violence, and multiple attackers. It incorporates defence against attack, by armed and un-armed assailants, using pressure point attacks, punches and kicks, locks and throws basically anything, can be defended against. In addition within Kenpo there are techniques to counter all holds lock and attacks, and to counter, counter, which gives the student a mind that is ‘free’ and which will therefore react to situations more quickly in both sport applications [especially MMA] and street self defence situations. There are aspects of all martial arts in Kenpo from Ki to Karate to Aikido to grappling.

What does Kenpo mean?

‘Ken’ means fist and ‘Po’ means law so Kenpo means ‘fist law’ Kenpo is greater than the sum of its name and greater than the sum of its parts. The Japanese martial artists have greatly influenced the development of Kenpo, so have the Koreans and the Chinese.

So what makes your Kenpo style so different?

punchOur Kenpo is a very straight forward way to learn self defence the basics can be learnt quite quickly. It is practical and designed for devastating workability; we develop and use the hands and feet equally to meet the student’s ability. There is nothing practiced in Kenpo that will not be used in an actual ‘real life’ situation, unlike other styles where you can spend valuable hours learning a set routine come dance that has no practical use whatsoever. Our style is characterised by its fluid grace, lightning speed, versatility and awesome effectiveness.

How do students earn a rank in Kenpo?

Some schools guarantee a belt after so many classes or hours training, some even take a photograph and put it on the Dojo wall with a blackbelt and say that is yours in x amount of years, for huge amounts of money, however, traditional schools emphasis a system which allows students to test for belts only when they have mastered the rudiments of self defence, and the required material for each belt level. For example in the Kenpo Kwai International, a beginner begins as a white belt [this comes with the ‘GI’ the uniform that we train in, and proceeds in turn upon satisfactory completion of all requirements as laid down in the syllabus, to yellow, Orange, Green, Blue, Brown and eventually the coveted Blackbelt. At this time the student becomes a Sempai [leading student] or Sensei a teacher. Typically a grading is scheduled 2-3 months in advance and about two weeks before the grading a pre-test or ‘mock grading’ is given, if the student does not perform to expectations on the pre-test they are not allowed to participate in the grading. This approach helps them to maintain self confidence, and prevents a perceived failure in front of their peers. It also insures the highest quality and standards are maintained at each respective belt grade. Always beware of schools that grade every two months or so, these schools are more likely concerned with earning money than the student’s wellbeing and progress.

high kickThe goal of our Kenpo instructors is to pass on the knowledge to the students in such a way that they will be as good as or better than the teacher when they were at that grade. This insures great instruction, fosters goodwill and friendship between the student and teacher and insures the highest quality martial artists and martial arts system. Failure to strive for this goal lessens one’s credibility as not just a ‘good’ but a great instructor. Many instructors who have their heads in the clouds forget that without the master there is no student but more importantly without the student, there is no master!

What style or system of martial arts is best for me?

The best system is one that you can adapt to your body, not one that requires you to adapt to it; an example would be Taekwondo where high kicks are the thing to aim for, so tall people are better at this sport. Obviously you will through your practice, be able to expand your repertoire of things you are capable of, the limits that you have are the limits that you put on yourself!

Will I be hurt?

While relatively serious injuries are not uncommon in Karate and wrestling schools, there has never been any serious injury, in the Kenpo Kwai International School for the last 42 Years. This is due to the uncommon emphasis on developing control of all strikes, throws etc careful and expert supervision and a comfortable gradient approach to the use of force, limiting each student to their ability.  Also the respect that we have been taught for each other, makes violence against a fellow student abhorrent, and we have the old testament biblical mentality of ’do unto others as they would do unto you’ which does not mean the students ‘cannot have a go’ it just means that the students will spar  to what level their opponent is. All students are insured as part of their licensing which is compulsory.

Can I do it?

stick fightingNot everyone can succeed at many styles of MMA, Karate and wrestling schools, and some are very much regarded as a ‘young persons sport’. In Kenpo if you can walk, you can comfortably participate in the training as the techniques are developed to your particular needs regardless of age, size, sex or physical condition and a new student can be brought up to a sufficient standard and have a good understanding of self defence in a short period of time. There are many facets to Kenpo, there is the self defence practical part, there is traditional weapon and unarmed Kata’s, set forms from Tomiki Aikido, Karate, Ju-Jutsu, Arnis and Judo,  there is the sport aspect where our students enter national and international events, in Kick boxing, Judo, Karate, Aikido, wrestling, full contact Ju-Jutsu, and Kata competitions, we have many strings to our bows, our aim is to be master of all trades and ‘Jack’ of none. Part of the training is the use of walking sticks as a self defence weapon, which is popular with the older generation, you can also use items of clothing to defend yourself, a famous Kenpo Maxim is that ‘You train the mind and temper the body’. In Kenpo we use our brains as well as our brawn.

What is Kata?

A Kata is also called a ‘Form’ in some styles, it is literally depicting a short story in movement, these movements are both defensive and aggressive, and are incorporated into a dance like process for learning purposes and exercise.

What is Randori?

A part of the training session where people are paired up in two’s or three’s and are subjected to being thrown by and throwing a willing and complying opponent, applying a variety of techniques, in a safe and sometimes fast and furious and still safe situation, with or without a matted area to fall on.


What is free style combat?

A martial arts term for sparring, using a variety of different martial arts styles. Sometimes with one or more competitors, in a classical style competition. Using specific and strict rules, to ensure safe sport. There is also free style fighting and sparring in the confines of the martial arts club, which is good practice for self defence combat on the streets where there are no rules.


What is Chi/KI?

Chi in Chinese and KI in Japanese is an esoteric and mystical life force that pervades the entire universe it is incorporate in all matter. From a martial art perspective KI techniques, means that in Kenpo we can achieve ‘more with less’.

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