Requirements for Rank of Yellow Belt
Look below for an overview of rank requirements. If you have any questions, bring them to class so we can work through them.
Yellow Belt Katas and Sets:
Short Form 1, Right Side
Blocking Set 1
Short Form 1, Right Side
Blocking Set 1
Yellow Belt Techniques:
For an overview of all belt requirements, download the Yellow card here.
Use the typefaces to help you scan quickly:
All stances are in bold
Each foot change is in italics
Each strike is underlined
1. DELAYED SWORD
(step-through straight right push or punch)
Step back with his attack as you knock his arm away, kicking him with your front foot and landing forward to chop to his neck.
1) natural stance, L foot step to 7 o’clock to R neutral bow as you
-R inward block to R forearm with
-L hand middle check
2) pivot hips to face 12 o’clock in R 45º cat stance
-R front snap kick to groin
3) R foot land forward into attacker in R neutral bow with
-R outward handsword to neck
Step back with the push. Don’t fight his attack, but immediately turn it to your own use. As he attacks you open him up with your block, and the more he commits to the attack, the harder he gets kicked in the groin. With almost all your Yellow Belt techniques you will retreat as you are attacked. • Instead of a three-part defense, you can make it simply back and forward:
1) natural stance, L foot step to 6 o’clock to R cat stance
-R inward block to R forearm
-L hand middle check
- R front snap kick to groin
2) R foot land forward to 11 o’clock R neutral bow
-R inward handsword to neck
This technique could be the response to a shove, a punch, or an attempted grab. In fact there is much fervent debate on exactly what the attacker may be trying to do to you and what the proper attack is. Our philosophy is don’t find out. Don’t let him touch you in the first place. All of your kenpo techniques explore ways to use and combine basics. The only significant impact they can have on your life is to make them useful. Don’t worry so much about the right answer, just make it work. As Mr. Parker said- "In the end it doesn't matter who's right, it matters who's left." • Step back with his step forward. Don’t fight his attack, but immediately turn it to your own use. As he attacks you open him up with your block, and the more he commits to the attack, the harder he charges into the groin kick. With almost all your Yellow Belt techniques you will retreat as you are attacked.
2. SHIELDING HAMMER
(left step-through hook punch)
Step back as you block, bouncing your block off his arm to hammer through his face, then shuffle straight in with an elbow strike, checking all the while with your other hand.
1) natural stance, L foot step back to 7 o’clock to R forward bow
-R extended outward block to wrist
-L high check
2) R inward raking backnuckle through bridge of nose as you
-pivot to R neutral bow
3) shuffle forward with
-R elbow strike to solar plexus, still in R neutral bow
You now have one response to any punch- step back with your left foot and block with your right. Don’t think, just do. • Your outward block moves to the attacking arm in a straight line from point of origin, which is the term we use to describe moving from wherever you are. There’s no build up, no wind-up, simply shoot from wherever your right hand is, in a straight line to hit the right arm close to the wrist. That will prevent your getting hit by a bending arm. Keep in mind that this is the extended outward block of Star Block, not the vertical outward block of Short Form One. • Your arm moves in a circle off that first hit, and can use the attacker’s force to bounce off into the attacker’s nose, to break it at the bridge. That circle continues with the fist as the elbow stops, taking over the forward momentum in another straight line to the chest with your elbow strike. • The elbow strike can also be described as a collapsing right horizontal outward elbow, which takes much longer to say than to do, but may give you the idea of collapsing your elbow in for the final hit.
1) natural stance, R foot step back to 4:30 L neutral bow facing 10:30
-R inward parry to inside kicking R leg
-L downward block as R hand cocks back to hip, palm up
2) L hand check medium
-step-through R front kick to groin
-R foot land to 10:30 between legs R neutral bow
-R heelpalm to chin
This parry/block is called a double factor and can appear in all your blocks- it is an advanced move and the technique works fine without it. • All kicks will be either as Thrusting salute, stepping back and rebounding to kick, or as Delayed Sword, stepping back to kick with the leg left in front. • Step away from the kick to the spot from which you want to kick him. You are lining him up with your downward block, so step to a line perpendicular to where he’s going to land, giving you a clear shot to the groin. • The inward parry is insurance; the block lines him up and protects you, and can do some damage to his shin or ankle. • Changing the inward parry and downward block to hammerfist strikes will shorten your range but increase your power. Joe Stronsick uses this response with great power, and his blocks pretty much end the argument. • The opening of this and Buckling Branch are identical and each will work on the other’s attack. Once you’ve begun, keep on going, even if you realize you’re on the wrong track. That way, you have a chance. It is generally far more important to respond immediately than correctly.• Cocking your right hand back to your hip after the parry, with the block, sets it up so that your heel palm will torque inward as it strikes the chin. • Keep your fingers together when you block (using a hammerfist is more effective) or you may find your finger literally kicked off. It takes very little force to pop the finger off backward out of the socket and through the skin. Don’t ever risk blocking a kicking leg with a single finger.
4. BUCKLING BRANCH
(left straight front kick)
Turn him around with your block so that you’re facing his back as you step back and immediately rebound with a kick to the groin. Land back feet together so that your other foot can kick out his far leg.
1) natural stance, R foot step back to 4:30 to L neutral bow
-R inward parry to inside kicking R leg
-L outward downward block as R hand cocks back to hip, palm up
2) R front kick to groin
-L foot pivoting through counterclockwise with kick
-L hand check high, R middle
-R leg land next to L leg, toes of R foot facing to 3 o’clock
3) L snapping knife-edged kickto R knee
-land L front crossover, R step out
This technique adapts the same response at Thrusting Salute. You block a kick with your left hand as you right step back to 4:30 and bounce back in with a right front kick. You could easily and devastatingly do Thrusting Salute to the left kick. • With a right kick, you open up the attacker. With the left kick you turn him around, offering you different possibilities. • This technique, paired with Thrusting Salute, demonstrates fact that either one works, not that either one is better. Kenpo offers interesting possibilities, not definitive Answers.
5. OBSCURE WING
(rear left hand to right shoulder grab)
Grab his grabbing hand as you look to see who it is. Step out to a horse stance as you hit him in the belly so hard with your elbow that your arm straightens out to hammerfist his groin, doubling him over so that his chin goes down to meet your elbow coming up (grab/look; step/hit; down/up).
1) natural stance, L hand pins L hand to R shoulder as you look to see who it is
-R foot step to 3 o’clock to horse stance
-R rear elbow (palm up) to solar plexus
2) R hammerfist to groin
-R vertical upward rear elbow to chin
All of the techniques you practice have the same three parts- (1) make yourself safe; (2) pay the guy back; (3) leave safely. • In Obscure Wing you make yourself safe by grabbing the grab. This is a fundamental response to a grab in kenpo. Take control of the situation. • Then use marriage of gravity (in the step to horse) to add power to your rear elbow strike. Longtime student Nathalie Schrans renamed this principle “Merge of Gravity ” (possibly I was mumbling when I first said it, but it’s apt). • You are stepping to 3 o’clock, not backward, but if you are being pulled you may end up somewhere you didn’t predict. The technique takes his yank into consideration- the harder he yanks, the harder your elbow hits him. You are just stepping to a horse. • There’s no need to let go of his left hand until you’re leaving. • Begin with your right palm facing back or in as your hand rests at your side. As the palm turns up, the elbow snaps back, creating torque. You should be able to find this principle (torque) in nearly all your strikes. Turning the hand provides the power- try to avoid the hand coming forward to add power to the hit. It takes too long. • If you wish, you can make the hammerfist to the groin into a heelpalm claw, and grab hold of the testicles, ripping up as you elbow to the chin. That grab could serve, even more than the already effective hammerfist, to bring his chin down in to the upward strike. You now have the same response to any kick- block left as you step back right- don’t think about it, just do it. Make this a habit. • This technique is identical to Thrusting Salute through the front kick. With the first step back you are making use of where you placed the attacker with your downward block. Each technique works just fine with the other attack, however, and if you do Buckling Branch to someone’s front it would be devastating to the attacker’s left knee. • If the inward parry/outward block timing of (1) proves difficult at first simply raise your right hand as a middle check with your retreating step. Incorporate the covering block when you can. • Make sure you block with fingers tight against each other, which is easiest as a fist. It is remarkably easy to dislocate a finger. This advice bears repeating.
1) natural stance, L foot step back to 7 o’clock to R neutral bow
-R downward inward block to R attacking forearm
-L hand check high
2) L overhead downward heelpalm claw to face as you pivot to a R forward bow
3) R backnuckle to face as you unwind back to R neutral bow
All claws are actually heelpalm claws, your heelpalm in this case breaking the nose that your claw then possibly rips off. • Your hands move in a circle, pulling him in and striking as the block hits the forearm, the claw rains down, and the backnuckle shoots out. The backnuckle must chamber across your body you’re your left side. It can return circling down (if you are tall this can be effective) or shooting back sideways as more of a straight line (possibly a better choice if you are shorter than your attacker). Either way, use the power of the unwinding from forward to neutral bow. • You may need a shuffle in with the backnuckle, as he pulls away from the claw. • Often in class you will be tempted to step forward with the block, instead of back, as most folks won’t commit to the punch for safety reasons. It’s a better way to dummy if you can go in with the punch, keeping you left hand high to protect your face from claws and punches.
Step into his punch with a double block that rebounds to circle clockwise (to right) into him with a right chop and left heelpalm to the head, then reverse direction with a right uppercut straight to the belly or jaw.
1) natural stance, R foot step forward to 11 o’clock to R neutral bow, buckling R knee as you
-R inward handsword to R bicep, L outward handsword to R wrist
2) R outward handsword to neck
3) L heelpalm to chin as you pivot to a R forward bow
-R hand cocks to hip, palm up fist
4) R uppercut to solar plexus as you unwind to a R neutral bow
This is the only technique on your Yellow card to step into the attack, to attack the attack before it touches you. It also breaks the rule of toe-heel line to the attacker, as you change that alignment with your knee attack to 11:00. But buckling the knee makes it worth it. It’s always better to be effect than right, when fighting. As Mr. Parker once put it “It’s not who’s right that counts, but who’s left.” • Every stance change adds to the power of a hit. • All of the strikes can be handswords. Your first two swords are to the attacking arm, then a right outward handsword chop to the neck, left stabbing handsword to the eyes, right stabbing handsword to the solar plexus or viscera. That makes five swords. A stabbing handsword moves require special training, and great finger strength. You can start by leaning into a wall on your fingertips. • The general pattern of the Five Swords is a curve followed by a straight line, the same pattern as Shielding Hammer, with different weapons.
8. LONE KIMONO
(left straight lapel grab)
Grab his grabbing hand with your left and you step straight back to straighten out his arm, so that your right arm can shoot up to break his arm at the elbow. Then circle it around to knock his arm across his body, rebounding with a chop to the throat.
1) natural stance, L hand pin attacker’s L hand
-L foot step back to 5 o’clock to R neutral bow
-R arm uppercut to elbow, continuing upward to bend his elbow backwards (your uppercut hits the back of his elbow with the inside of yours, then turns from palm up to palm down as you continue up)
2) R hand drops under and around to R inward block to L arm (again at elbow if possible), clearing arm inward across body, pulling him in
-L hand checking forward
3) R outward handsword to neck
This technique can be very difficult if the student is much shorter than the attacker. It makes if hard to get an effective angle up with your right arm to effect the initial elbow break. An excellent adaptation that has had great success both with smaller women students and folks with a damaged right shoulder (rotator cuff issues):
1) natural stance, L hand pin attacker’s L hand flat to chest (your palm against the back of his grabbing hand)
-R foot step forward to 1 o’clock to R neutral bow
-R shoulder and upper arm striking in to elbow
This can also work with a left step back, the main difference is that you use your width to cancel his height. A really brilliant solution. • The attacker is grabbing him with his left in order to punch you with his right. Be sure to pin the attacker’s hand to you before you step back, so that your left step will pull him forward off balance, canceling his depth and extending his arm. This is the same opening move as in Clutching Feathers. • If you grab the meat of his thumb, between the joint and the wrist, and twist slightly counterclockwise as you step, you will force his elbow to facing down. This is the ideal target for your upward strike, which is made with the bicep or inside of your elbow, just depending on the relative lengths of your and your attacker’s arms. It is most effective as an uppercut to the elbow, that immediately turns (your fist pivots inward to face palm out) counterclockwise as it shoots to up an angle about 45° off vertical. The turn will add a few inches, and torque, to the arm break. It is essential, if you are dummying for this technique to turn your elbow to the ceiling as the other student steps back. This will allow him to do the technique and you to maintain use of your arm. • Every strike of your right arm has the opportunity to use torque, including the inward block and the inward chop. In both cases, cock your right arm with the last part of the previous move, so that just before the inward block you turn the right palm out, facing the attacker, and then just before the inward handsword you cock the hand in, palm towards your left ear. It’s part of the swing, not a separate move. • The pattern goes up-around-in-out. Some folks prefer up-around-down-up, translating your inward block into an inward downward block. This pulls the attacker down into the chop, and works just fine. • An extra strike can be found on the “around” move, adding a backnuckle on your way to the inward block. Why not?9. OBSCURE SWORD
(rear left push to right shoulder)
Grab on to him as he pushes you from behind as you left step forward, pulling him forward off balance, then turn into him with a right chop, left front kick.
1) natural stance, L hand across chest to R shoulder- pinning attacker’s L hand
-L foot step forward to 1:30 to L neutral bow, pulling attacker
2) pivot clockwise to R forward bow to identify attacker, then as needed-
-R outward handsword to throat
-L front kick to groin, L foot land back to R neutral bow
First off, very important with all techniques, is to be sure that it’s not a friendly hand on your shoulder, even before the pull. In this technique, as opposed to Obscure Wing, your attacker is directly behind you (not off to the side). If you feel a grab from the back, and cannot turn to see who it is, as you can with Obscure Wing, this gives you the chance to step forward and turn around to take a look before the chop lands. • Pull the attacker forward with you. You can go to a left forward bow instead of a left neutral to increase the pull. This cancels his depth, and pulls him into your right chop. • You are stepping to where you want to kick from. You step forward, turn and kick. So make sure you’re stepping sufficiently off to the right. If you step directly to 12 you’ll have to circle around your own body to get to him. • When you land back, you should be in fighting stance (guard up). •Before turning right to identify the attacker, that reverse bow facing 6:00 may also be thought of as an inverted forward bow (with a heel/toe line).
10. GRIP OF DEATH
(left flank right arm headlock)
Step forward as his headlock throws you forward by the neck, hooking your trailing foot inside his near foot, landing in a close kneel that traps his ankle as you hammerfist into his groin and kidney, then reversing direction as you turn into him with a heelpalm to chin.
1) attacker has you in a head lock, your chin tucked L into your chest, L hand grabbing palm in at his choking R arm as he throws you forward counterclockwise from your left side, his right leg in front of your left, R foot step to 10 o’clock R close kneel, back straight
-L foot snug against inside (L side) of his R foot
-L hand pulling down on choke (or using a L check on his R hip to prevent the choke at all
2) R hammerfist to groin as you
-L hammerfist to L kidney
3) L hand grab attacker’s hair
-pull L elbow to hip
-pivot counterclockwise to 6 o’clock L forward bow
-R heelpalm to face
If you can get a left check in against his hip as he grabs you, you can prevent his neck grab and pretty much keep him off of you altogether. You would then skip the hair grab and pull and just shove him away with the right heelpalm. • As with any grab, don’t allow him to get started. Duck your chin and grab the choke immediately as you respond. • You have several ways working together to counter his attack and break his grip. He’s throwing you forward, so you go with it, stepping in front of him with your right foot as you snug up your left foot parallel to his right, which brings your left knee just outside of his right knee. If you kneel, with back straight, he will either let go or your kneel will rip his Achilles’ tendon. If that doesn’t work, you have another inducement with your right hammerfist and another with your left. • The are several alternatives to the hair grab - you can grab his shoulder or his collar or with your left hand to the right side of his face cross your fingers and lay them horizontally left under his nose and pull back. He’ll go pretty much wherever you want. • If the previous work is very successful, he’ll already be falling over your left knee, and not allow you the opportunity for the heelpalm to the chin. You can make it into a hammerfist to the solar plexus or groin, depending on what’s available. Keep your right arm bent at the elbow and held horizontally as a check in case he kicks up as he falls backwards.