In Kenpo, one of the points of family groupings is to show alternatives to techniques. In fact, the system is set up so that you have alternative moves when performing a technique, therefore students are taught about the formulation phase of techniques. Basically, a technique has an ideal phase in which the technique is done by the book. In that phase, you are learning practical principles of motion and self-defense. The art being set up to be practical, you are also taught that real life doesn’t happen by the book: positions change, things happen and you anticipate the what-if; the what-if is what could happen. The opponent grabs you, moves out of position, etc. At that point you can move to the formulation phase in which you can change a technique, short-cut it, add or delete moves, rearrange moves, graft other techniques onto the technique. Techniques that are related offer alternatives when the technique doesn’t go as planned.
Techniques are thus grouped into the same attack with different actions and consequences. Here we examine sets of techniques made for grabs from behind but your actions differ in each technique even against the same attack. More will be explained as we go.
Locked Wing and Flight to Freedom
Both Locked Wing and Flight to Freedom are against hammer-locks from behind. In Locked Wing you are able to get the elbow to the face and proceed with the technique by clawing through the face and locking up the opponent’s arm, getting him bent over to cancel the height zone (The Inside Rule) and finishing with strikes. In Flight to Freedom, the attacker blocks your elbow; so you must come up with an alternative; you step to the front 45, toward the right, with your left foot and bury a right back kick into his ribs to loosen him up; then you whip his arm around and down and kick him and finish with a break on the arm.
First Locked Wing:
Joe counter-grabs James’ right wrist, to “get on top”–rule for grabs in Kenpo.
And now Flight to Freedom:
James gets Joe in a hammer-lock from behind.
Joe reaches out to get travel for an elbow, and steps back into James to bump him and get space and also get a base. Also, he will have counter-grabbed James’ right wrist in the first move–get on top.
Joe delivers an elbow, as would normally be done in Locked Wing, but in this scenario the elbow is blocked.
Joe opts for an alternative as he steps with his left foot to his front 45 (corner).
Joe delivers a back kick to the ribs, because he hasn’t hurt him yet, needs to get a nerve response and loosen him up.
Joe spins, whips James’ arm around and down and delivers a front kick up into the face or body.
Joe lands with Marriage with Gravity and a break on the arm.
Notice too, in Flight to Freedom, when you step to the 45, you are taking an angle in which you can get a good line of entry to kick him; this is related to angle of execution in Kenpo–the angle you use for a strike that gives it the best results. The strike will then land at angle of incidence, which is the angle that hits the target square and doesn’t glance off–a strike that glances off a target, generally ineffective, is said to hit the target at an angle of deflection.
Cross of Destruction and Fallen Cross
These two techniques are against chokes from behind; the two-handed throttle kind of choke. Following the rule of “get on top” when you are grabbed, you grab the attacker’s hands at the thumb pads and put pressure down to tweak the thumb joints; be sure not to pull his hands forward, because then he can grab your face. In Cross of Destruction, you step straight to the left with your left foot (this, by the way, gives you borrowed reach so you can better grab his thumb pads) and then back with the right foot to the left back 45–as you pull on the attacker right arm which puts his right foot/leg in position to be kicked; you front kick his knee and then apply a break/lock on his arm with his own arm. Then you elbow him in the body. Notice too that by the time your do the elbow to the body, you have created an angle of disturbance and he no longer has a bracing angle, so that the downward diagonal outward elbow will likely drop him to the ground.
In Fallen Cross, we’ll say that you can’t step back for some reason. Maybe there is a wall in back of the attacker or one of his buddies. This could be said of Cross of Destruction too, by the way–maybe you can’t step back for that technique, so you use Fallen Cross where you step forward.
So, on Fallen Cross, you apply the same pressure to the thumb joints but now you step straight to the right with your right foot and then to the right 45 with your left foot and then slide your right foot back as you cross up the opponent’s arms. This now puts you in good position to attack him and checks him off because his arms are crossed up.
First, Cross of Destruction:
Now, Fallen Cross:
Joe steps to the right into a horse stance which allows him to grab James’ thumb pads to check him and put pressure on his thumb joints. Plus he’s in better position to step out and away to gain a better position to attack. He’s also established his base.
He steps to the right 45 (angle) with his left foot, then slide his right foot back to get ready to kick. He has also used an escape from the choke during this move. And he’s crossed up James’ arms to check him.
He pulls James’ arms down and drives a knee into the elbow joints on the way to kick.
He kicks James in the groin. This kick is sophisticated in the Kenpo sense in that you do more than one thing with a single move. Sophistication is also described as simplicity compounded.
So, there you have a couple more sets of family grouping techniques along with why they are useful in terms of alternatives that might be necessary in a real self defense situation. Kenpo is set up to be practical, to consider what might actually happen in a spontaneous situation and to give you options.
Always good to have options.