Kenpo is an art that is constantly in motion, while retaining its fundamental roots. Below is the history of how our specific system of kenpo was developed.
Our belt-level progression is outlined under Belt Ranks & Themes and our promotion process is thoroughly explained in our Belt Testing section.
Derived from teachings that go back centuries to the legendary Shaolin Monks, Kenpo has self-defense techniques that address virtually every type of attack or confrontation possible. And as American Kenpo founder Ed Parker always stressed, it is an individual art, which every person can make their own.
But as Parker developed his comprehensive system—continually adding techniques based on the virtually limitless combinations of its powerful basic moves—the sheer volume of material became overwhelming. That’s what drove Chuck Sullivan and Vic LeRoux to develop the Karate Connection system of Kenpo in the late 1980s.
Sullivan had begun studying Kenpo in 1959 and was just the fifth student promoted to Black Belt by Mr. Parker. LeRoux began studying with Sullivan at age 14 and trained with Mr. Parker as well. He also holds the rank of Certified Instructor in Jeet Kune Do.
Over a two-year period—with Mr. Parker’s consent and support—Sullivan and LeRoux intensely analyzed the American Kenpo system. After evaluating over three hundred techniques and forms, they eliminated repetitions and reformulated techniques to maximize their effectiveness.
Though the amount of material has been reduced, the Karate Connection curriculum incorporates all of Kenpo’s principles and concepts. It resembles the original teachings of Mr. Parker from the early 1960s, with the added value of all the improvements applied to the art over the years.
How their final creation relates to Ed Parker’s American Kenpo is best summed up by LeRoux in an excerpt from the bestselling book The Journey:
If one’s definition of the whole system includes the entirety of all the moves and sets and forms and techniques and all their extensions dating back to Year One, then today I neither teach nor practice the whole system of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo. Alternatively, what I do teach through the Karate Connection is the whole system of Ed Parker’s American Kenpo as defined by its simplistic complete structure that includes all the basic stances, strikes, and footwork, as well as the principles and concepts.
The invaluable Karate Connection system of Kenpo is the foundation of Old School’s teachings. Each movement of each technique serves a purpose, which is why we emphasize precision. Our instructors are always happy to explain the logic behind specific actions and we encourage students to ask questions if they’re unsure of any reasoning or detail.
Old School also maintains strong ties with other branches of Kenpo, exemplified by trophy-winning appearances in its annual tournaments against competitors of every Kenpo stripe.