Kenpo FAQ


(Frequently Asked Questions)

All Questions answered by Mr. Barker

Q#1: How much do classes cost? A: Your first class is FREE! Call to schedule or just come in. B: Ongoing training varies depending on the program. We offer different disciplines which are taught in a group and/or private setting. Group lessons are the least expensive method. Private lessons can add to the cost, but will speed up advancement. Some people pay for time in advance to take advantage of discounts offered. Additional family members get a discount as well, etc. As you can see there are many options but we charge $109 per month for our Boxing Gym that covers training 6 days/week with an extra $40 per month to add Kenpo and/or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We also have a ‘Trial Program’ so you can try it all out first. Ask about our family discount if there is more than one person attending from the same family. Our Kenpo Karate/Jiu Jitsu Program includes our entire facility and costs $149 per month with family discounts for more than one person in the same family. All of our Kenpo programs cover 3 classes a week, although our Boxing Gym is included with that membership so more classes are available. We also have a large school with Beginner to Advanced level classes (i.e. no young teens in the adult classes, no kids in the teen classes, no 8 year olds with 4 year olds, beginner’s are with beginner’s, etc.) and we have a largest training floor in the area for the Karate component of our Kenpo style. There are family rates and more limited programs at a cheaper rate so best to come in so we can customize the cost to fit your situation. We also have an awesome ‘Family Rate’ if you have up to 5 people who want to do something here and we have a great ‘Introductory Program’ so you can try it all out first. Watching is free so come by anytime and hang out. We would enjoy meeting you and showing you around our place.


Q#2: How many times per week do most people attend class? A: You would want to attend at least twice a week to group classes but classes are available from 3 to 6 days per week, depending on the program. Remember the old adage, ‘you get out of it what you put into it’. You will get an incredible workout in any of our classes and even enjoy the experience. From Boxing to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Kenpo Karate/Jiu Jitsu you will get in great shape while learning a skill. The Kenpo classes include lots of exercise, basics, sparring, and the self-defense art of Kenpo while the classes at our gym focus on those particular styles while also giving you plenty of exercise. We also have Kenpo Private Lessons and Boxing Personal Training sessions for a separate fee. These are also very popular at our facility.


Q#3: How long have you been in business? A: I originally opened ‘Poway Kenpo Karate’ on October 1, 1984 and have added the other programs over the years so we have become ‘Poway Martial Arts’ and are also home to ‘The Boxing Club of Poway’ and ‘Gracie-Barra Jiu Jitsu of Poway’. We have continuously grown and are now in our 33rd year in business so I have seen my little 600 sf Karate School grow into this very large (as these places go) facility of 7,000 sf (I have 3 spaces in the Lively Center). This is the largest martial arts facility in the area.


Q#4: Do you have long term ‘Contracts’? A: No! We offer Month-to-Month rates and Advance Pay options with a discounted rate.

Q#5: What would make your School better than other schools in the area? A: I prefer not to think in terms of who is better than whom. There are many very qualified and capable martial art practitioners around. Some have schools and some do not. There are also, like in any other field, some poorly qualified and under trained people around. That aside it comes down to where someone is comfortable with the staff, the facility, the people you will be training with, and if you are learning the martial art you want to accomplish your goals.

Q#6: What is the difference between Kenpo and other Martial Arts Styles or Systems? A#1: One of the major differences between Kenpo and other martial arts styles you may have seen is the difference between a sport (competition) martial arts and a street self-defense martial art. Sport arts such as Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Sport Jiu Jitsu, etc. teach you how to fight at one primary range (i.e. distance between you and your opponent) with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) styles using all ranges, but still with a mind towards sport. These sport styles fight against one unarmed opponent and starts with each person in front of the other agreeing to fight with the interaction structured by the rules of that particular sport. Opponents are matched by age, level, gender, weight, etc. and a referee manages the action to assure adherence to the rules and to protect the competitors and to get them medical assistance should one become injured. Without knockout or submission then judges decide who wins based upon factors determined by their sport. I am a fan of sport fighting and encourage my students to participate. Sport fighting can give the martial arts practitioner lots of “fighting” experience, which is invaluable.

Even though each sport system has great strengths they also have inherent weaknesses when it comes to applying those “sport arts” in a “street” environment. Street arts, such as Kenpo, come from the street self-defense perspective. Kenpo teaches how to defend against all ranges and angles of attack, while using all of your natural weapons, against any and all available targets, simultaneously, in all directions, against one or more than one opponents who may be bigger than you and with or without external weapons. No referee, no divisions, really no rules.

A#2: The major technical and philosophical differences between Kenpo and other street fighting systems would have to be addressed system by system to be completely accurate, but I can explain Kenpo and what it contains. Kenpo movement contains a continuous flow of quadrilaterally integrated natural weapons moving through linear directions and spherical orbits, gaseously applied in a strategic manner giving maximum protection while applying maximum damage in the most efficient manner possible. Kenpo is a hard/soft, soft/hard, circular/linear, linear/circular system of tested fighting techniques used to control, disrupt or manipulate an attacker with the chosen possibility of maximum destruction, devastation and/or annihilation. Sorry about the “Kenpo-speak” but the technical lingo describes it best. If you enjoy figuring out what that all means, you’ll enjoy Kenpo.


Q#7: How old do you have to be to study Kenpo Karate? A: This depends on the school, the instructors, and the format presented. At Poway Kenpo Karate/Jiu Jitsu we have a large enough enrollment that we are able to offer separate classes covering different age ranges and levels of training within these age groups (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced): Little Ninja’s (4-7 yr olds), Kool Kids (7-12 yr olds), and Kenpo Teens/Adults. (See the Schedule for days, times and descriptions)


Q#8: What is the difference between Kenpo and Kempo? A: ‘Ken Po Kara Te’ literally means ‘Fist Law Empty Hand’. However in the Japanese Kanji (written characters) there are no latin symbols so the words are spelled based on their phonetic sound into the letter that we understand to represent that sound. The word ‘Ken’ refers to the fist or striking instrument, the word ‘Po’ refers to the law. Actually it’s ‘Ho’ but when the words are put together it becomes ‘Po’ and to spell it with an ‘H’ would really confuse people. In addition, when the two words are put together the ‘n’ sound becomes an ‘m’, like in Spanish the ‘L’ sounds like ‘L’ unless you put two together, then it sounds like ‘y’ (as in villa). That means that the correct pronunciation is Kempo (phonetic sound) but the correct spelling is Kenpo (linguistic spelling). As in the word ‘villa’ the two ll’s do not become a ‘y’ although the sound is a ‘y’. Other similar words in Japanese keep the hard ‘n’ sound and maintain the ‘n’ spelling (Kendo & Kento). We choose to use the linguistic spelling while others prefer the phonetic spelling. When Mr. Parker explained this to me in 1989, before his death in 1990, he added this to the end of his explanation, “remember Barry, when pure knuckles meet pure flesh, that’s pure kenpo and it doesn’t matter how you spell it”. I said “yes sir” and that was that.


Q#9: Is there an age or time limit for advancement? A: No, for an assortment of reasons, including student motivation, outside practice time, and natural talent. Also we do not have a “Junior Program” at Poway Kenpo so younger kids will generally take longer to advance than teens and adults. Kids and Adults are learning the same curriculum at Poway Kenpo. Note: A “Junior Program” is a reduced course curriculum offered by some martial art schools for kids that is done for student retention purposes and I believe is a disservice to those students in the long term. That is why some other schools have little kid black belts running around because they learned a partial curriculum and were advanced, or their system is very basic, or the standards were not high, or a combination of those. You will not see small kids as Black Belts at Poway Kenpo Karate. Everyone from the littlest kid up through the teens and adults learns the same system, although we do break the kids requirements up into more pieces. I believe that a Black Belt here should be considered a Black Belt anywhere. In order to pass the very strenuous and physically demanding Black Belt Test at Poway Kenpo Karate the student must know all required curriculum and be able to move and fight at that level along with writing a martial art thesis. I believe it is a disservice to build anyone’s self-esteem past their ability to back it up. We do have teenagers who get to Black Belt here, but no young children. Please feel free to stop by and see my school and gym. Thanks for reading all of this. BB