I got this question in an email the other day. After writing back with an answer, I had the feeling I’d get that question again, so I thought I might post it here.
In the olden days (1959-72 ish) There was a small core of material, essentially reworked kajukenbo, with injections of other opinions. After you learned thecore, you learned ‘variations’. The reason George Pesare still teaches only the 22 combinations, is that he believes with that, the forms and a working imagination, you could have thousands of techniques.
Well, to a degree that happened. Teachers taught the basic combinations consistently from school to school, and then introduced other techniques, as techniques were the vehicle to provide the concepts. New idea? Introduce a new technique. That’s essentially the pedagogy of Shaolin Kempo. Behaviorally it’s taught as generality through a large enough sample of responses. The idea is you teach the student the technique, the student learns to apply it, and then extracts the purpose or principle from the technique. If you learn enough techniques, you learn a large enough repertoire of responses to counter ‘attacks in general’. Unfortunately, although it is often the quicker and easier method of teaching, it’s not the most effective.
Now, over the years, the technique library built and built into a giant and unwieldy mass. Since they were not official combinations, they were known as ‘kempo techniques’, ‘kempo punch techniques’ or even just simply ‘kempos’. Some became ‘semi-official’, and in the mid 70′s, others were organized into groups by movement pattern and became the ‘animal’ techniques taught today in FVSSD and USSD schools.
As each group splintered off, many made up their own techniques to purposely distance themselves from the previous group. Whereas the combinations were essentially sacrosanct – the defined curriculum – the kempos were flexible enough for big changes. As a result, we’ve got a vast library to draw from. Some are great, some are poor, and some in between, but getting them online will give people the opportunity to evaluate, pick and choose.