Shaolin Kempo is an ancient Martial Art that was developed in Asia well over a thousand years ago (some argue that it can be traced back as far as 5,000 years). It is primarily a mixture of Kung-Fu and Karate. Shaolin Kempo was probably introduced publicly to the United States in the early mid-20th century, and has become a contemporary American phenomenon. It is a melting pot of philosophies and techniques, and its diversities and adaptability render it difficult to strictly define.
Kempo is, however, universally defined by three main elements:
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Elements of Kempo Karate
Kempo is not a sport.
Virtually every fighting sport fosters a controlled and moderated environment that posits one competitor against another (almost always separated into weight classes), and implements timed rounds with breaks for water, rest and instruction. In contrast, Kempo prepares one for an attack outside of the ring (or increasing more popular octagon), where in most cases victims are outweighed and/or outnumbered, and in some cases facing an adversary with a weapon. This simple difference changes the approach to training immensely. Training consists of exercise, stretching, balance, blocking/deflecting, kicks, strikes, forms and various techniques to defend against physical holds as well as incoming attacks. Children's classes also stress the proper application of "Self Defense"; especially when and how "not" to use karate inappropriately (Peace over Power).
Kempo encourages the practitioner to remain on his / her feet, while discouraging tackling one's adversary to the ground. This philosophy grows out of the assumption that adversaries tend to be larger in either size or number, or could use an object such as a knife or a club to gain an advantage. In almost all cases, it is perceived as unwise to defend oneself from the ground.
Kempo Recognizes that most instances of attack occur at short-range distances. As a result, in contrast to Tae Kwon Do for example, which relies heavily on kicks to high targets such as the head, Kempo places a greater emphasis on using hands and elbows as well as knees and low kicks. It encourages the use of strikes that are quickly executed and highly effective.