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FAQ

Am I too old to start martial arts?

Absolutely not. You should be clear what you want to get out of a martial arts class and talk to the instructor about your goals to make sure what is being taught lines up with your goals.

How long will it take me to get my black belt?

We usually say it's not the destination you should be focused on but the journey instead. Depending on what age you start, it takes around 4-5 years but can take shorter or longer. Many factors go into this process. Remember the belt merely holds your uniform together. The knowledge and skill acquired are the most important things you should take from any martial arts instruction.

"The Combinations of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu"

by Professor Mike Rash and Sensei Ken Swan

I've had the honor of studying a few different martial arts systems. A couple of them provided a group of numbered techniques utilizing hand and foot techniques. Something that they had in common was the fact that they were taught to the students in numerical order. When I began to study the art of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu, I was relieved to find that it also had a group of numbered techniques called Combinations much like the other systems I had studied. I was in for a surprise when I found out that I was being taught these Combination techniques out of order or sequence. This confused me for some time and through my years training in the system. Initially, I just accepted it as the way the system was taught until recently when I looked at the techniques from beginning to end. I had spent time searching different Kempo/Kenpo systems to see if somewhere I could find the answer to the question, "Why am I learning the Kempo combinations out of order? 6, 7, 3...8...1...20?" Of all the places I searched, not one could provide me with an answer.

After spending over a year as a black belt in Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu and teaching the system to a group of students, did I feel I really needed to get to the bottom of this question. I decided to ask Professor Duncan if he knew why the Combinations were taught out of order. He too believed they were taught in order at one time, but it hadn't been that way for as long as he could remember. Raising his curiosity about the question of why they were taught out of order, he asked me to continue my search and get to the bottom of it.

Since my previous attempts of searching through different media on Kempo Combinations had come up short. I turned my attention to the source of the system for an answer. Who better would know than the man who developed the system? Certainly no one I could think of, that's for sure. Out of respect, I asked Professor Rash of the KGS Black Belt Society if he could help me with the answer and possibly ask Sijo Gascon for his response. The section below is result of that conversation.


There has been a lot of speculation as to why the combinations are taught out of order. In fact some rather lengthy articles have been written on this subject. Lots of research done to write these articles, but no one except Sensei Swan had asked the founder of the system to get the answer the easy way.

The fact of the matter is that in the original system Sijo Gascon taught them in order.

The combinations or "tricks" are the monkey dances (katas) broken up into the different self-defense techniques within each of them. As the system was passed along from generation to generation they were changed and new ones were added. The combinations have been changed and re-arranged to the liking of the person teaching them. As we go to the different schools around the United States, we see the changes from each generation to the next. The Monkey dances AKA known as Pinans- Pinions- katas, have been altered from one generation to the next, making it more and more difficult to adhere to the "original" order. In fact so many changes have been made in the last 30 or so years that it would be impossible to keep the combinations in order.

Most "Shaolin Kempo" studios teach the combinations as self-defense techniques and they have nothing to do with the "Monkey Dances" they were originally associated with. Whatever way they are taught it is important to remember to practice using your basics as correctly as possible. And they are always finished with a cross and cover.

Practice your combinations using good basics, with power and speed.

-Professor Mike Rash


I would like to thank Professor Mike Rash and Sijo Gascon for their patience with me and time spent providing an answer to this question for me. It was certainly an honor to receive their help in my search for a greater understanding of the Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu system. I'd also like to extend a special thanks to Professor Duncan, Sensei Sheldon, and Sensei Williams for inspiring my quest for knowledge in the system.

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