My primary Martial Art system I study is American Kenpo.
Because of American Kenpo’s large following, many people ask who my instructor is or what lineage I am? A lineage in American Kenpo is no different than a style is in Kung Fu, a Heya to a Sumo wrestler, a team to a MMA fighter or in layman’s terms for a non-Martial Artist--your family.
My senior instructor is Senior Master of the Arts Huk Planas, a 10th Degree Black Belt.
Sifu Huk Planas (left) and Grand Master Ed Parker (right)
Sifu Planas began training in Kenpo in the late sixties with Steve Labounty and Tom Kelly. In 1969 Sifu Planas moved to Pasadena, CA and began to work for Grand Master Ed Parker. He was promoted through Grand Master Parker up to his 7th Degree Black belt in 1985. My instructor Senior Professor JR Diaz currently holds a 7th Degree Black belt under Sifu Planas. Through this association our group as well as myself, continue to study with Sifu Planas and his Parker/Planas Lineage.
My instructor (left) back when he was a brown belt with Sifu David Perez (center) and Sifu Planas (back right)
My friend and instructor Sifu Marty Zaninovich was a 1st Degree black belt in the early 80’s
When he attended a seminar by Mr. Parker,
“I was totally captured with his teachings……..After I attended, I asked (about joining the Parker Lineage), then was referred to contact Mr. Planas.”
Sifu Zaninovich or Sifu Z discussed the change with his good friend and fellow black belt, David Perez. They had their first lesson with Sifu Planas in a park in Sacramento, CA.
Sifu Z remembers,
“This was a very eye opening experience we’ll never forget. That lesson opened a whole new thought process that we were about to engage in. What an awesome journey that continues with something new to learn all the time!!!”
Sifu Z (right) and Sifu Planas (left)
Sifu Planas has 17 countries around the world that study under him.
Sifu Z is a 9th Degree Black belt under Sifu Planas and travels the world now. Sifu Z has had the privilege of traveling to and teaching in many of those same schools under Sifu Planas.
A common discussion with many students he says is,
“There has always been a lot of questions from many practitioners and Instructors in the US and Europe of what the people and talent is like from each perspective group?"
"My response is; they’re awesome and train very hard. No difference in either group.”
Regardless of Town, City, State or Country, the Planas requirements are the same without compromise. It was on a teaching trip to Sweden that Sifu Z and Ingmar Johansson a Swedish Kenpoist also under Sifu Planas and a 6th Degree Black began discussing this very topic.
Sifu Z (Far left) Sifu Planas (Center) Sifu Johansson (Far right)
They came up with the idea of having a International event in honor of Sifu Planas and his lineage.
Sifu Z explains,
“I called JR. Diaz that exact moment and asked if he would be willing to facilitate in gathering a team to help coordinate the event. He did on the spot; Jesa Harper (Kenpo Girl), Gino Martino and several others.”
After the Event Committee was formed, plans for the event were underway.
This event is anticipated to be one of the most exciting developments in the Parker/Planas Lineage for 2017.
Sifu Z explains,
“To this day we are fully entrenched with the preparation for the event; J.R. Diaz was and is so correct with his recommendations.”
The event is scheduled to take place at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Westgate has hosted international events and has earned a well deserved reputation for accommodating Martial Arts seminars.
Students attending can look forward to an atmosphere of sharing, learning, networking and participating in a historical event.
Sifu Z can’t stress the importance of these events enough,
“It brings unity and a tighter bond within our Parker/Planas group and collectively creates fluid boundaries for us all.”
Participants can not only look forward to staying at the Westgate Resort, but can attend a variety of classes by Parker/Planas Lineage instructors from around the world. There is also a banquet scheduled for all participants to dine and get to know each other.
Events like these remind me of family reunions.
Bonds are created and ones already established are strengthened, only to deepen our commitment and studies. Nonetheless, it will be a privilege to honor our patriarch who has held us all accountable to train and teach a higher level of Kenpo.
For those who have never attended such an event, I strongly encourage students to attend events like this. Remember, the past is the past and the future is always uncertain, but the present is called so because it is a gift. The time we have with our senior instructors is a gift that some have not have.
All information such as schedule, list of instructors, classes, prices and merchandise can be found on the Huk Planas World Gathering Kenpo Camp website.
Some Kenpoist gi’s are viewed as being pretty generic.
They’re usually black or white and occasionally there is a rebel that wears what we call salt & pepper (black top and white bottom or vice versa). To be honest what sets Kenpoists apart from other systems isn’t the gi, it’s what’s on the gi. Kenpoist gi’s are usually covered in patches, ranging from variations of Kenpo crests, dojo’s they’re affiliated with or distinguished patches earned in study or competition.
Me in my Kenpo gi and patches.
At our Dojo, we are only permitted to wear black or white.
There’s never really been an issue with this policy.
I own black and white gi’s, some covered in Kenpo regalia and some blank. A part of me has always been secretly jealous of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis. You see them everywhere; in every color imaginable and some with beautiful embroidering.
Come on, who doesn't want a pink gi?
I was slightly perplexed and alarmed when Elite Sport asked me to try out their Elite Sports Ultra Lite BJJ Gi. I have never studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and didn’t know what to think of a BJJ gi. The fact that it was Blue was even more bewildering.
I knew next to nothing about BJJ gis.
Before I agreed to testing the gi, I consulted my good friend Jason Bennett a 4th Degree Black belt in American Kenpo and Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
After looking over the gi link, Sifu Bennett told me,
“I have separate gi’s for Kenpo and BJJ because of the weight. Nice gi though, it will last a long time. Try it.”
If I had any hurtle to overcome it was wearing a gi too heavy that would restrict my movement.
I hoped that with it being an Ultra Lite, it wouldn’t make that big of a difference. My Sifu concurred and gave me permission to wear the gi regularly on the mat for one week to test it in sparring, group technique classes and forms.
This is what I concluded.
My gi was durable and reinforced and moved fine my stand up and striking in sparring class. However, due to the inseam of the pants, there was a loss of height in my kicks. Which forced me to focus on my upper body and handwork.
My son & I after sparring in my Elite Sports BJJ gi.
The truth is, wearing the gi during sparring was an eye opener. I’m not going to be wearing a karate gi every minute. I might be in jeans, cut off shorts or even a mini skirt… and THEY could limit my kicking ability as well. An attacker on the street isn’t going to care. Sparring outside of my comfort zone reminded me of that.
If you are a karate practitioner and plan on trying out a BJJ gi there’s one other thing you should be prepared for…
Your fellow peers grabbing you.
There’s something about the weave of the fabric and the thickness of the seems that makes you just want to grab, hold on and possible either throw or shake a person wearing a BJJ gi.
I know this because that is exactly what all my friends wanted to do to me.
During technique class, we practice our techniques on each other by mock attacking one another. Usually this is based off punches and kicks. Suddenly, everyone had this uncontrollable urge to no longer punch or kick me but rather grab and drag me.
Jesalyn Mae Harper
Hello my name is Jesalyn. I'm a divorced single mom and a karate addict...
I am currently a 1st Brown belt in American Kenpo and a Junior Instructor at Double Dragon Kenpo Karate under JR Diaz, I am part of the Parker/Planas Lineage and study Karbaroan Eskrima with JR Diaz, under Guro Ed Planas
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