Monday, September 12, 2011

Which Art is Best?

Probably the most asked question I have gotten over the years is "What Art Should I Study, or What is the Best One" The answer to this question is one i usually say, There is no best, it is the man/woman in the Art that counts and not the Style you pick. Of course people may still be left wondering as to what Art to pick seeing there are so many Arts to pick from.

This best way to figure what is for you is to first ask yourself what do you like best? Some like throwing Arts such as Judo or Shuai Chiao, some like fancy Kicking Arts like Taekwando , some prefer Locking Arts like Jiujitsu.. Some Like hard hitting Arts like some of the Japanese Karate styles, some love weapons like Ninjutsu. If you like beautiful and unusual postures, Mei Jung Ch'uan is a good choose as well. So what style should I pick? First ask yourself what are you looking for, and start from there. Then try a few of these styles and make your pick. Remember you can always change your mind if your find it not for you and try another style, the door is never closed.

So why did I pick the arts I study and what is my favorite? Well I decided to go for the root arts, the ones that most of the styles you see today came from. I did try the hard Japanese styles but leaned towards the softer Chinese Arts. Now all I needed was to pick what style I wanted. My choice was the go for the traditional Shaolin Styles like Low Han which has very clean moves. This style was famous as one of the founding styles. I also like throwing and took up Judo but later turned towards the father of throwing styles, Shuai Chiao.

It was later yet when I looked towards the internal styles, Tai Chi for it flow and its internal power, then Hsing Yi for it directness and simplicity of Five Moves and finally Ba Gwa for it circular and twisting moves. But if you ask me what my favorite I would have to say Kenpo.

This style had in it early beginnings no forms, It was composed of Techniques only and known as the street fighters Art. Most of the ancient body guards of the ancient time learned this style for it effectiveness and numerous techniques, which I love. The Forms of Kenpo were created much later by the founder of American Kenpo, Edward Parker when he decided to add Forms to round off his system. One person that added Parker in creating some of the forms, namely the star blocking set, was James Wing Woo.

Kenpo resembles a few of the Southern Chinese styles such as Hung Gar and Choy Li Fut, but the focus was always on Techniques more then forms. Parker was never taught forms, the founder Professor Chow really focused on hundreds of Techniques. As I said, it was later when Parker came to the USA that he created his classical forms based in these techniques to make the system complete. It has been called the Fast Hand Art as well as much of the focus was on hand rather then fancy kicks. What kicks there are were focused to low area's of the body to prevent leg capture.

The thing I liked about Kenpo was that it is very practical for street fighting. It is marked by the fact the moves are fast and there was numerous hitting to vital area's holding back nothing that worked. As far as kenpo is concerned, anything goes. It was not a pretty art because form was secondary to effectiveness, and this made a lot of sense to me. Most styles look at the beauty of your stances and fancy postures, whereas Kenpo focused on fast devastating techniques that put your opponent out quickly and for good. Fighting is never pretty, what do you care about when it comes to defense, how pretty you look or how well it works for defense?

Since Kenpo's advent in this country it has been imitated more the any style I know with many different schools opening that were not part of Parker's IKKA (international Kenpo Karate Association). I think this is true because Kenpo was the first Martial Art in this country and was made very popular to the American people and even drew such people as Elvis Presley.

Some have asked my why it is called Karate rather the Kung Fu, I think it was simply because that term was better known, but Parker him self called it Chinese Kenpo, not Japanese Kenpo which is a a totally different style. Since Ed Parker's death many offshoot organisations have surfaced and the original Art has been added to a great deal in weapons and new forms and such which the original style did not have. The original style was nothing but Techniques and few weapons.

Again, I repeat when I say you have to find what you like, what makes sense to you, what you do best and is suited for you to decide which style to get into. I was naturally fast, which makes a Hand Style well suited for me. As another example, a weak person small in size might find an art like Judo not the best to choose to study, as compared to a bigger and stronger man in the same art. None of this is to say what is best, I am only giving you my view what was good for me and what was suited to my physical makeup. I will close saying all the Arts are just great, all you have to do is find what your match is. It is like a marriage, if you find the right one, you will be happy the rest of your life, if you don't it just don't work...!

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