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Shaolin Kempo Karate

Shaolin Kempo Karate (or "SKK") is a martial art style that combines the Five Animals of Shaolin Kung Fu (Shaolinquan), the core competency of Kempo, the hard-hitting linear explosiveness of traditional Karate, as well as the power of Western boxing and the felling and grappling arts of Jujutsu, Chin Na, and Mongolian wrestling. This system was founded and developed by Fredrick J. Villari (a former black belt student of Nick Cerio and William Kwai Sun Chow), who devised a hybrid system which integrated the four ways of fighting: striking, kicking, felling, and grappling to eliminate the inherent weakness of martial arts systems that focus on just one or two of fighting techniques.

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The techniques of Shaolin Kempo are broken up into forms, blocking systems, kempos and combinations. The category of forms is broken up even further into pinans, katas, and black belt forms. At the core of the Shaolin Kempo system are the 108 combinations. The 108 combinations are individual sequences of moves each designed to be executed against a particular type of attack in a variety of situations, including kicks, punches, knives, multiple attackers, larger attackers, and being on the ground. These pre-determined sequences allow a well-trained practitioner to devote less focus to what he/she is doing in response to the opponent and focus more on a way to end the fight by fleeing or neutralizing the threat. It should be noted that very few practitioners actually know all 108 combinations and it is not uncommon for black belts to only know 30-40. Kempos are very similar to combinations in most respects. The only major difference is that each belt level has 2-3 kempos assigned to it that must be learned before advancement in rank. Therefore (aside from the animal kempos) every practitioner of equal rank has equal knowledge of these techniques, which is not the case with the combinations. The blocking systems include 8-point blocking, 10-point blocking, and Plum Tree Blocking. 8-point blocking is an alternating, hard blocking system (with optional counter-strikes) taught to white belts at the very start of their training. 10-point blocking is a simultaneous, open-handed blocking system generally taught to students at or before green-belt level. Plum Tree blocking is a much more comprehensive multi-sequential, open-handed blocking system that is taught to black belts. As far as forms go, pinans and katas are very similar in most respects. Pinans are numbered 1-6 and are focused on breathing, footwork, and technique. Katas are also numbered 1-6, but focus more on power and applicable techniques. Black belt forms are highly varied and include the traditional forms of Honsuki, Two Man Fist Set, Sho Tun Kwok, Nengli North, Nengli South, 11 Hands of Buddha, 12 Hands of the Tiger, Invincible Iron Wall, Branches of the Falling Pine, Lost Leopard, Iron Fortress, Tai Sing Mon, 1000 Buddhas, Five Dragons Face the Four Winds, Snake, Wounded Tigers, and Immortal Monkey.

Contributed by Eric Lopresti

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