is probably the only place you will find this information.
This is a "Rough" draft—but we wanted to get this
information on the WEB as soon as possible.
surfing the internet in recent months, Mr. Tracy could not believe all of the
miss-information about Kenpo Katas.
The most misleading he has seen are especially about the origins
and history of the Panther Set (Book Set).
Background: Al Tracy is
the only person alive who was there when all Katas were introduced into
Kenpo (with the exception of Nihanchi 1-2).
we have listed the Katas:
In the order they were introduced into Kenpo.
2. Then in the order they were originally taught.
3. The Katas taught by American Kenpo are in Red.
4. Tracy’s Kenpo teaches all
of the Katas listed.
background: Kata is a
Japanese term. The Chinese
terms are Sets and Forms. Original
Kenpo did not have Katas but there were over 30 different “Sets”.
Most of the sets were very short and were used as
"Drills" … to be used for a specific purpose.
A classical example is the "Three Star Blocking Set"
which was used to toughen the arms.
The most important of all the sets is the "Speed Set".
When you are looking down the barrel of a gun it is a matter of
life and death … this set may save your life.
The 3 & 5 Count Blocking Sets are used to practice the 5
major blocks of Kenpo. Every
class at Ed Parker’s original studio would use many of these Sets.
Chinese Sets (Katas) were Introduced Into Kenpo
in Red are those taught in American Kenpo.
Original, Traditional Kenpo (Tracy's) teaches all Katas and Sets (Forms)
Note: All original
Katas were developed using traditional Kenpo Self-Defense Techniques. “American Kenpo” did not begin to exist until almost 10
years later. This is why there are so many differences between the
way the techniques in American Kenpo are done and the way they are done
in the Katas in American Kenpo, because in American Kenpo the Katas came
first, often preserving the more original version of the technique, but
only in the Kata.
Nihanchi 1-2 - James Mitose - 1937
Finger Set - First Kata/Set created by Ed Parker - 1959
The Finger Set ties together many of the hand or
finger movements of Kenpo and was designed by Ed Parker to be used as a
demonstration set when you wanted 20-30 people to move in unison.
The only problem is if one person does something wrong it makes the
whole group look bad.
Moving Finger Set—more about this set later
There are more versions of Moving Finger Set than
any other Kenpo Kata. We teach the most common version.
Never a major set, it is primarily still taught so that it will not be
Two Person Set - James Lee - 1959-60
This is the Kata that replaced The Panther Set (Book Set) in Ed
Parker's book Secrets of Chinese Karate. Black Belt Set or
2 Person Set got the name Black Belt Set because it
was the highest Kata required when Katas began to be required for
promotion to Black belt (1960-61). The set is also known as "The
Two Man Set" or "The Two Man Black Belt Set". In the early days of
Kenpo (1956-62) this was the most advanced set taught as a requirement
for "Black Belt".
There are two halves of this Kata, both of which are taught and
demonstrated separately and together. Since this is a two person
Kata it is very exacting and must be practiced over and over with the
same partner (so be sure to choose a partner who will be around for a
while). It is also an excellent tool for learning to make
adjustments to new and different partners. The set is a great
one to perform at demonstrations because the audience can see the actual
application of each move, as opposed to most Katas
where the audience only sees ambiguous or dance-like movements.
Panther Set (Book Set) - Bunji - James Woo
The nickname "Book Set" comes from the
fact it was meant to be the Kata featured in Ed Parker's Book, Secrets
of Chinese Karate. Because of problems developed between Ed
and James Wing Woo* (the man who had been helping with the book) this
set was removed from the book and replaced with "The Two Person
*Historical Note: James Wing Woo was given the cover and a
feature article in the November 1990 issue of Inside Kung-Fu
magazine. As you can see from the list on this page, he had the
single largest influence in the development of our Kenpo Katas.
Others of note who had an influence in the development of our Kenpo
system include: James Lee, Professor T. Y. Wong of the Sil Lum system,
Bruce Lee, Ralph Castro, Rick Jason and Joe Lewis, just to name a few.
Five Section Punching Set - James Woo
Eighteen Section Punching Set - James Woo
Tam Tui - James Woo
This is a classic "Chinese Set" also
spelled Tan Tui.
There are at least 10 different major versions of this training
set. Some systems teach as few as 6 sections and others have as
many as 18. The correct number of sections is 12. The
Chinese Muslims** have their own version which has 10 sections.
This set is known for its development of strong legs and stances.
Done properly it provides an excellent workout in conjunction with many
beneficial martial arts hand and leg movements. The set is
comprised of a series of repeated movements done in a straight
line. You do as many of the repeated movements of each section as
you have room for in your training area, with 6-8 being the standard.
**Historical Note: When China was ruled by Genghis Khan and
his followers they ruled with such a bloody hand that many of the
Chinese officials were hesitant to enforce laws against their fellow
religious believers. Genghis Khan solved this by bringing in
Muslims who considered all the Chinese as infidels and had no qualms
about shedding blood.
2 Man Tam Tui - James Woo
Tai Chi - Yang Style - James Woo
Tiger and Crane - James Woo
This Kata was developed in the 1800's by Wong Fei-Hung of the Hung Gar Kung-Fu system. The Chinese Master Lam Sai-Wing,
who studied directly under Wong Fei-Hung, subsequently published three
books on the Hung Gar System. If you compare drawings from his
book, you can see how close most of his movements are to our
version even after almost 200 years.
There has been some misunderstanding about the use of the Tiger and
Crane as a "Classic" Kenpo set. The "Tiger
and Crane" (Fu Hok Seung Ying) is the definitive form of
the Hung Gar system containing all the complete self-defense hand
movements of the style. The "Tiger and Crane" is
the bridge between the system we have now and the original system that
Professor Chow learned and passed on to Ed Parker. Ed, in turn,
introduced Kenpo taught to him by Professor Chow to the United States
mainland. As modern as the "Kenpo"
system is, this Kata keeps us aware of one origin of our art, namely the
Katas of Kenpo. For this reason we continue to teach the "Tiger
and Crane". It should be noted the "American Kenpo"
system does not have or teach this Kata.
Done properly, the "Tiger" section alone of the "Tiger
and Crane" is one of the most beautiful and powerful of all
Katas. For this reason it is possible to get high scores in
competition even from Japanese or Korean judges, even though the form is
Tiger and Crane (only the Tiger section is usually performed) is
the #1 winning Kenpo Kata in the United States for tournament
competitions and demonstrations. If you want to develop one
winning Kata for competition, this is it.
Note: There is some controversy over Professor
William K. S. Chow, the co-founder (along with James Mitose)
of the style we call Kenpo, originally being trained by his father (Hoon
"Hun" Chow) in the "Classical" Chinese martial arts—namely,
Professor William Kwai Sun Chow, (1914-1987) died in Honolulu, Hawaii on
September 20, 1987 at the age of 74.
James Masayoshi Mitose, (1915-1981) was born December 30, 1915 in Kona,
Hawaii and died in Folsom, California on March 26, 1981 at the age of
65. You will often see his date of birth incorrectly stated as
Kenpo Katas were Created and Originally Taught
the above Chinese Sets (Katas) were introduced into Kenpo the following Katas
were created for Kenpo, using many theories and movements from these classic
Chinese Forms or Sets.
Tracy has been giving Seminars around the US explaining and
demonstrating the origins of all the Kenpo Katas.
In the future this information will most likely be released on DVD.
Short #1 (4 Shields) - 10 Pattern Kata - Woo & Parker
A basic blocking routine, this Kata teaches two of the
simplest concepts of defense against a strike—distance (stepping back)
and blocking. It ties together the 4 most basic blocks (the four
shields) with their most basic foot patterns. The pattern it
follows—the 4 points on the compass—are often referred to as a
"10 Pattern" because of the number 10 in Chinese.
Because it is the first Kata taught, and introduces what Katas are,
students often comment that it felt like the hardest Kata they ever
learned, even though it's the shortest Kata we teach—at
only 8 steps long.
Short #2 (Cat Set) - Star Pattern
Short #3 (Single Escape set)
Black Belt Set
The above 4 Katas were the original and first Kata requirements for
Long #1 (Shield and Mace)
Long #2 (Continuous Set)
Long #3 (Double Escape Set)
All the techniques in this Kata are defenses against grab
attacks (chokes, wrist grabs, waist grabs, etc.) This Kata marks
the transition into the format of the advanced Kenpo Katas that will
follow, as from this point on most of the Katas will require the
techniques to be done on both sides. It is by far the most
difficult Kata up to this point (as it precedes Tiger &
Long #4 (Definitive Set)
This is "The Classic Kenpo Kata".
Comprised of 20 sections of self-defense techniques and basics, it takes
between 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 3 minutes to perform. It is Ed
Parker's masterpiece—developed in the early 1960's. If you
perfect* only one Kenpo Kata, let it be this one. The Kata is
always taught the same, but each student will have a slightly different
interpretation. This is the way it should be in Chinese Sets or
*When one can do the Kata well enough to perform it in competition
Note: Ed Parker
and James Woo jointly created all of the above Katas, with the exception
of the Black Belt Set.
Staff Set (#3 Staff Set or Chinese Staff) - Created by Chuck Sullivan
Formerly #1 Staff—this set is almost impossible for a
person to do unless he or she has been trained in the use of Chinese
weapons. This is a unique set in that each section shows a
completely different use of the staff. A very fine set to learn
the practical application of the staff rather than just "show';
however, done properly this set can be quite spectacular. Many
years ago Sandy Sandoval—a Kenpo practitioner—won the Weapons Grand
Championship at the Seattle Open with the #3 Staff Set. He
also won the Kata Grand Championship (against all styles) with the
Single Escape Set (Short #3 Kata).
Long #5 (Takedown or Transition Set)
All of the techniques in this Kata have a different
take-down or have the opponent on the ground. This Kata contains
10 of the most difficult Kenpo techniques—but what makes it so much
more challenging are the transitions between techniques. From an
artistic point of view it is not one of the better looking Kenpo sets;
however, it was not designed to look pretty. It is a Kata that
requires complete knowledge and mastery of some very complicated
techniques with intricate transitions and adjustments from one technique
to the next. Technically more difficult than the Definitive Set
(Long #4) and not as much fun—but very satisfying when you can do it
Long #6 (Weapons Set) - There are several
versions of Long #6
All the techniques in this Kata are defenses against
weapons: gun, knife or club. This is a long, difficult and
extremely technical Kata. The opening to this Kata is almost a
Kata in itself (it's more steps than 4 Shields, the first Kata taught).
Note: Ed Parker created
Long #5 and Long #6 in the mid 1960's—after Ed Parker and James Woo
went their own separate ways. Ed
Parker would not create any more Katas for almost 20 years until he
created #7 and #8.
Long #7 (Advancing Set)
This is one of the best Katas in the Kenpo system—strictly
for the advanced Kenpo practitioner who knows all the individual
techniques. This is a complex and demanding Kata in the best
tradition of Kenpo. Although this Kata contains many difficult
techniques, the smooth transitions and placement of the techniques in
relation to one another make it a fine Kata to be required for the upper
ranked Black Belts.
Long #8 (The Twin Set)
The name "Twin" comes from the fact the
techniques are done in pairs; one technique in each set is a Twin (but
not an identical twin) of the other. Examples:
"Darkness" followed by the opposite side of "Brushing
Wind"; "Opening the Fan" followed by the opposite side of
"The Sickle". The Twin Set also contains rolls and falls
as well as intricate ground work and a variety of kicks.
The Twin Set (Long #8) is one of the requirements for 5th
Black Belt—and is one of the longest and most challenging Katas
in any system (and this is only the "A" side—there is
also a "B" side—a "twin" of the Kata!).
Don't be fooled by the "#8" designation; it is the most
difficult and exhausting of all Kenpo sets. The entire Kata
contains 56 self-defense techniques—almost two belt's worth.
TIME: When the Tracy
brothers started studying with Ed Parker they asked him what
"title" he wanted them to use.
His reply was not Sensei, Sifu, or Master.
It was simply "Ed".**
Note: **Ed—Ed Parker.
When Al Tracy started studying with Ed Parker he was 22 years old and Ed
Parker was 27—at his peak as an athlete and martial artist.
of the top Kenpo people refer to Ed Parker as the "Old Man".
Al Tracy's response is that he never studied with the "OLD
MAN". The Ed Parker he studied with was a 195 pound, 6 foot tall,
young, slim, trim fighting machine.
of the Weapon Sets And Other Chinese Sets in Kenpo
Kenpo lacked any weapons forms Al Tracy spent over 30 years studying
with many different Chinese Masters to enable him to add practical
Weapon Sets, as well as a few other major Chinese hand sets, to the Tracy System of Kenpo.
Note: When the Tracy
brothers first started Kenpo (1957) there was a complete lack of any
real history of the origins of the art of Kenpo.
As it turned out our heritage came from the Japanese Yoshida Clan
and the Kenpo art was based upon the "RENZI" sect of "ZEN
BUDDHISM"—which was a self-defense system that DID NOT ALLOW THE
USE OF ANY WEAPONS.
Japanese Sword Set - 1964-65
This set is an introduction to blade weapons—this was
the first blade weapon set Al Tracy ever learned—and as such it has
remained a favorite. It was taught to him by the father of one of
his students who was Japanese. It is the only non-Chinese weapon
set we teach.
Chinese Sword Set - 1964-65
Wong Family Hand Set (Shaolin Hand Set) - Wai Wong
This was a family hand set given to Al Tracy by Wai
Wong. He was also out of the Hung Gar style, but each family had
its own set that was passed down and kept in the family from one
generation to the next. There is almost no other Chinese set this complete:
almost all of the hand weapons are used, along with their breakdown and
applications. Many hand weapons cannot be used today because of
the length of time—along with the medicines used and required—for
developing the hands.
Dark Room Staff (#1 Staff Set) - Doi Wai
This set is a good, solid introduction to the staff
("Bo" in Japanese) as a weapon—it contains many of
the stances, spins, and hand exchanges that will be needed in later
weapon katas—and is a set that can be used by beginners for early
weapon competition. Even at the Black Belt level if done properly,
with power and focus, this set can be used in competition against any
classical weapon Katas. Trophies and medals have been won at all
levels with this set.
Skylight Staff (#2 Staff Set) - Doi Wai
This set teaches you to develop power with the staff—and
teaches full length uses of the staff to develop reach and power.
Done properly it is as powerful as any set out there. While it has
classical Chinese applications it can stand on its own against any hard
style weapons. Skylight Staff is a power set that can be
used in any competition when you must compete against traditional
Japanese and Okinawan staff sets.
Skylight Spear - Doi Wai
This set is interchangeable with Skylight Staff—with
modifications. These two sets demonstrate the relationship and the
differences between two similar weapons—and that the spear is not just
a staff with a blade at the end.
Chinese Set - Master Houng
Little Tiger - Doi Wai
There are two versions of Little Tiger. The version
we teach is the one Mr. Tracy has been teaching since 1970—and NO,
this Kata is neither a short version of, nor has anything to do with,
the "Tiger" section of Tiger & Crane. It is a
completely separate Chinese set.
Butterfly Knives (3 Sets)- Doi Wai
There are three Butterfly Knife sets. Butterfly
Wings is an introduction to the "Butterfly Knives".
From a practical standpoint the butterfly knives are a very sensible,
effective weapon and the personal favorite of many a Chinese master
since they could easily be concealed. In their crudest form they
are a short range hacking weapon. They are a natural for the Kenpo
practitioner because of the similarity in their use to our empty hand
movements. And there is the advantage they are used in pairs just
as we use two hands. There are three sets that make up this
butterfly series: Butterfly Wings, Basic Butterfly
and Iron Butterfly.
The first, Butterfly Wings, is the introductory set. Basic
Butterfly is the most practical and Iron Butterfly is the
Check back for more history and information to be
added later ...
©1991-1999 by Al
Tracy. All rights reserved. No portion may be reproduced