In my experience the knowledge available in the Kenpo system is endless. The more you learn about Senior Grand Master (SMG) Edmund Parkerâ€™s American Kenpo, the more you realize there is so much you donâ€™t know.Â
As a child, I loved to watch Kung Fu Theater on Saturday mornings. After viewing my first episode, I was determined to learn a martial art. In 1989 I stumbled upon an American Kenpo Karate Academies (AKKA) affiliated school owned and run by 5th degree Black Belt Eric McEnaneny and signed up. The AKKA was founded by Senior Grand Master (SGM) Bill Packer which is primarily a form of Chinese Kenpo. All though the system is not the American Kenpo system taught by SGM Parker, I feel it gave me a solid foundation of the Kenpo system having the same forms and basics. While attending Mr. McEnaneyâ€™s school I was promoted to Assistant Instructor and taught classes three days a week for a few years. During this time I competed in many tournaments placing in Kumite and Kata divisions, and had the privilege to attend seminars with SGM Bill Packer.Â
3rd Degree Brown Belt
In 2006 I joined an American Kenpo Karate school owned and operated by Mark Bundy, who is currently a 5th degree Black Belt. Through my time with Mr. Bundy I have had the opportunity to train with great people such as, Si Bok Tom Kelly, Associate Professor Dennis Conatser, Senior Grand Master Frank Trejo, Senior Grand Master Huk Planas, Senior Professor Rich Hale, Senior Grand Master Dave Hebler, Grand Master John Sepulveda, Senior Professor Brian Duffy, Senior Professor Brad Marshall, Professor Jeff Speakman, Mr. Royce Gracie and many others. It is wonderful people like this that make me strive to be more than I am.Â
In 2011 Senior Professor Rich Hale accepted me as his personal student. The passion this man shows for the art of Kenpo has shown me that there is so much more I need to give back through teaching and helping others.
As instructors we must always remember we are role models to our students. They look up to us for understanding of right and wrong, respecting others, moral values, etcâ€¦ Sometimes we donâ€™t realize the level of influence we have on them, especially the younger students. I am reminded of this regularly by those I share the training mat with through their actions and words. Recently I had a parent come to me concerning a young student of mine. His parents enrolled him in classes just after his 5th birthday, as this is the minimum age I will start a student, and he had only been with me for about 6 months. They wanted to tell me about something that had happened in with him in school. We focus a lot of time on topics such as anti-bullying and self-confidence in class with the kids and today was one of those days, so naturally I though this may have something to do with what they wanted to talk about. The parent had picked up the young boy from school that day and they were discussing what he had done in class with his teachers. His mother asked him, â€œso whoâ€™s your favorite teacherâ€?. He answered, â€œMr. Braden. Someday Iâ€™m going to be a karate teacher too.â€? This melted my heart. Itâ€™s times like these that we realize how much influence we can have on a young mind. This is just one of many times I have been reminded of how we affect the lives of our students. I see students grow from shy timid kids to confident and respectful young adults, teens that are influenced by drugs and peer pressure that are able to stand up to friends and make good decisions, adults that have improved their lives through better health and self-confidence . The martial arts can be a wonderful influence for people, but this depends on the instructors that guide them.
I have opened an American Kenpo Karate school in St. Joseph, MO named Scholar and Warrior Kenpo Academy with my soon to be wife, Carol-Le Elliot, whom I met along my journey. Through my time as a student and instructor I am privileged and humbled learning not only from the eldest and great masters of the art but also from the smallest and youngest of the students. It is true when I say, â€œThe more you learn, the more you realize you donâ€™t know. The study of various forms of martial arts such as Kenpo, Yiliquan Kung Fu, Jujitsu, Jeet Kune Do and Karate has made me who I am. However, my heart will always be with American Kenpo.