Frequently Asked Questions

(answers by me)


Is it safe to learn? 


If you are training properly, you will get bruises regularly. It would be disingenuous to imply that you can learn to fight without some pain and bruises on the way. However, the injury rates for martial arts are much lower than other sports such as basketball, soccer or even golf. Proper safety equipment is a good idea before participating in sparring practice. 


How long will it be before I can defend myself? 


You will find that the techniques that you learn are nearly immediately applicable for self defense. Techniques alone won’t defend you however. Your training should cultivate a mindset, spirit and set of reflexes to apply these techniques. Within a few months, you will have a good foundation for self defense against common attacks. The pioneers in kenpo / kempo didn’t have the reputations as fighters to be reckoned with due to elegant techniques – it was through intense training. 


How long will it take to get a black belt? 


The time it takes to achieve the rank of black belt varies from student to student, teacher to teacher, and school to school. In some arts with a limited curriculum, a black belt can be obtained in as little as two years. Our curriculum is broad and covers striking, kicking, takedowns, grabs and weapons. Four to five years is an average amount of time given regular attendance and regular practice at home. 


Should I take private lessons? 


Private lessons are an effective tool for learning rank material and honing the finer points of your technique. At the beginner ranks, however, the group classes are usually sufficient to absorb the material, and provide the cameraderie of people like yourself as most of the classes are organized by rank. Upon reaching the intermediate ranks, supplementing your group classes with private lessons will help your progress dramatically. 


I’m not big/strong/fast/flexible/coordinated – Can I still do this? 


If you were an extremely big, strong, coordinated, flexible person, you probably wouldn’t need martial arts lessons. Through your practice you will become stronger, faster, more coordinated and flexible. The qualities you have to bring are only commitment and effort. 


I’m a _____ belt in _______. Do I have to start over? 


Probably. If you are coming in from another art, the curriculum, theories, concepts and even goals are probably different. If your basic skills are strong however, it will aid in your progress, and you will move through the ranks more quickly than the average student. If you come from another kempo/kenpo school you will be evaluated individually and placed at a rank accordingly. 


Am I too old to start? 


It’s never too late. The training is done at your pace, you have no one to keep up with except yourself. You will improve and progress. Mature students often have attention spans and life experience that help them absorb the technical concepts more readily. Patience and practice will compensate for the fact that you are not 18 anymore.

15 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Bruce says:

    I really appreciate the openness of this site, but here’s my suggestion, why not put video clips of the combinations being performed? That would be amazing, Also, I appreciate the point you are putting across, I like for the system to be open, rather than out of reach. Well I hope that helps, just giving my two cents as a 10 year martial artist.

  2. matt says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Bruce. Posting clips of the combinations is an eventual goal, but I just haven’t had time to dedicate to it yet. Of course, if some get sent in, I’d certainly host clips of the combinations! But seriously, it is on the ‘to do’ list.

  3. jason says:

    Sir thank you for this site, the information provided is truly helpful I attended a SK school for a few months and used this site to help supplement the material covered in the classes, unfortunately I had to stop attending due to finical strain, and am currently deployed to a combat zone, I hope to use the material on this site to re learn techniques and forms to start study under the school when I return to conus. thank you again for your work.

  4. Ryan says:

    I feel rather stupid for asking this, but…where is the technique archive? I found the main archive page and from there, the page on “What we have, what we need”. However, I still can’t see anywhere that the techniques themselves are listed.

  5. matt says:

    Hi Ryan-
    The link to the technique archive is listed on the right under “pages”. There’s an entry called “shaolin kempo technique archive”. Click there, or on the ‘don’t forget to check out the technique archive’ picture.

    Or click here:

    Hope that helps.

  6. Ryan says:

    Thanks Matt. I’d gotten to that page; I just didn’t see the further links on the right that went to The Combinations, The Animal Techniques, etc. I found it a little while after I asked, though.

  7. Lou says:

    Matt: Great web site; can’t wait to see it grow over time! I’m a 8-year student of SKK, but have been away for 10 years. I’m excited that your descriptions of the techniques are almost exactly as I remember them, and that I can use this as a source to refresh my memory on combinations and forms. Thanks! When I get me legs back under me, perhaps I’ll re-engage my old instructor!

  8. Dan says:

    I’ll be turning 50 in a few months…I’ve progressed to the rank of 3rd degree brown. But the testing is intense- 3 hours or more. I find that I’m getting fearful of pushing myself to the limit like that–you hear so much about people keeling over in their late 40’s, early 50’s. I’m in much better-than-average shape and people don’t believe I’ll be 50. My joints are starting to more sore as I get older. How can I deal with this new-found concern ?

  9. Have you started taking Gloucousime chrondrotin (sp)? I find it really helps and so do my students. This coming weekend we have to people testing for 2nd degree black belt and they are both in their 50’s. If you trust your instructor and you can actually see him/her paying attention to you during the test (observing your breathing/ eyes/ speech) then they know what they are doing. I have another student who could possibly go for 4th in dec. he just finished p90x and p90x2. He is in his 6o’s. If really nervous go to dr. and have a reg. check up and ask him about your concerns.

  10. Tom F says:

    Great site!!! I have been training in SKK for the last year and a half, and am currently up for rank of 3rd brown. Comming from other martial arts/kung fu back ground I was a little skeptical at first of the system, but I stuck with it and have learned to love this style of martial arts..especially as I progress into the higher ranks where the moves start to flow with more with the techniques.

  11. Mike Bardunias says:

    From time to time I have been reviewing Master Matt’s archives for what a particular pinan or kata looks like to give me a head up as to what I am learning. At my age, 73, I like to see the entire project and then learn the pieces it gives me a better idea of what is going on. Needless to say, I earned my Black Belt on December 19 after years of study and attending class at time – 4 days a week. I lasted a few heart “minor operations”, prostate cancer, heart ablassion (i cant even spell it) and now I have a heart monitor (linq loop) to watch for atril fibulation. With all this in mind, I made it through my 5 hour belt test. The following day I got a call from the people that monitor my heart and wanted to know what I was doing on Saturday at 3:00 – I said I was sparing for my Black Belt. They didnt believe me so I explained it again.

    Thank you for allowing me to review your archive and learn more from the videos.


  12. peter orourke says:

    can someone describe an iron fortress block for me

  13. matt says:

    Sorry to take so long. An iron fortress is a block where you parry with one hand and do an ‘outward’ block with another. For example, if I was doing an iron fortress to my right side, my left hand would do a palm block across and my right hand would do a #1 block. I hope this makes sense.

  14. Gregory Davis says:

    Please tell me what plugin you use to see
    The pinan and kata on Thank you.

  15. matt says:

    It’s flash – the videos are hosted on Photobucket. It’s a throwback to the early days when I didn’t have a hosting account or a dedicated domain name.

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