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Why are Punch Defense 8 and 9 So Similar?

Redundancy in the curriculum creates duplicate efforts. That effort is only helpful if the information teaches us something. However, in the case of 8 and 9, nothing of value is gained from the repetition.

They both start with a block, a front kick, and then a roundhouse kick. Nine has an additional side thrust to the upper ribs. Questions I ask myself as an instructor:

  • Why spend so much time on basically the same movie?
  • Wouldn’t another technique provide additional skills?
  • If I practice #8 five times and #9 five times, wouldn’t practicing #9 ten times get the same results?

Right jab and left cross punch.

The technique is no more important or influential than others. Would it be better to modify the curriculum and provide another simple yet effective technique in place of Punch Defense 8? The Shaolin Kempo Karate purists are probably coughing up a lung right now in righteous indignation. I’m sure there is a reason for the similarities, but I don’t think it justifies such a repetition. Speaking of this is a Karate sin.

What technique should take its place?

One of the best techniques I practice is the Triangle Block which utilizes the boxer footwork characteristic of Shaolin Kempo Karate and the double-pat block the has a built-in check. The waist-assisted elbow break and head throw make for a fast, smooth technique. The final move is an excellent wrist lock on a seated position.

This technique provides a lot of good fundamental movements and is much like a Master Key Technique.

More Redundancy in the Curriculum

What’s more frustrating is other techniques are likewise superfluous. Punch Defense 89 and 90 are so similar that they don’t deserve to be distinct techniques. I understand the value of using variations of techniques and codifying them for the curriculum. That has value, and we use it in all the families of Defense Techniques.

I see the Punch Defenses as the core of Shaolin Kempo Karate. These are the roots of critical elements that make Shaolin Kempo Karate distinct and teach the proper way to defend oneself. By loading the core with filler techniques is not a valuable way to develop practical students. It would be prudent to cover all the bases and create a solid foundation for all attack angles. This value is supported by giving the variations different identifiers such as 18A and 18B.

Perhaps a better way of codifying the core combinations is to base them on Master Key moves, the fundamental elements of a Shaolin Kempo Karate defensive technique regardless of the initiating attack.

I replaced Punch 9, and I think you should too. In fact, change Punch 14 while you are at it. What are your thoughts? Am I a sinful Karate heretic? Put your thoughts in the comments below.


  • A head instructor of Golden Leopard Kempo Martial Arts School, teaching Philippine Combatives, Kickboxing, and Self-Defense to San Diego students for over three decades.

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