Glossary of Terms


– S –

Salute – Refers to a heel palm strike as used in a technique.

Salutation – A series of moves and/or gestures in Kenpo to indicate respect to one you are greeting or competing against at a tournament, in opening and closing a class, etc.

Scooping – The execution of a weapon that resembles the dipping motion of a shovel. It is literally a reverse hook that is delivered vertically.

Self-Correcting – Having a thorough knowledge of the principles, concepts and theories of the Martial Arts so as to have the ability to consistently make correct judgments to maximize every move.

Sempai – This is the first title for a black belt martial artist. It means now they are a qualified instructor.

Sensei – Given at third degree/dan, the practitioner is now a teacher. They qualify as the senior and chief instructors of the school.

Sentences of Motion – Same as paragraphs of motion, only the techniques are not as prolonged.

Set – A term used by Western Chinese to describe a form. See definition of form.

Settle – The gradual sinking of your body weight and height each time you alter the width or depth of your stance. Gravitational marriage occurs with each height adjustment.

Set-Up – Refers to conditioning your opponent to react in a specific manner so that his response corresponds to your desired strategic plan.

Shaolin  – Shaolin means ‘Young Forrest’. It is an internal art, with no focal point, practiced by monks spanning out from the Shaolin Temple in the Henan Province of China. Shaolin influences the teachings of the five animals. Dharma introduced the 18 Hands of Lo Han to the monks, trained as dance steps. This enables the practitioner to curl up and unwind at full extension delivering explosive power, and vice versa. Once awakened, the true meaning of Shaolin will reveal itself.

Shaolin Monastery – The most famous historical temple in China where many of the monks who trained in the Martial Arts became noted masters in the hope of recapturing China from the Manchurians and restoring China to its rightful heirs. [also Shorinji Temple]

Shihan – The Japanese title of professor.

Shooto – This is a wrestling manouvre to get your opponent to the ground. You can attack a single leg or both legs. It is also renowned as similar to a tackle, but not driving through, but instead pulling the hips toward you. Shooto came from ‘Straight Shooting’, a term used in firearm shooting.

Short Staffs – Medium range wooden or steel weapons used for striking, blocking, and manipulating joints for locks. They are approximately 750mm in length. Striking has similarities to sword movement. Known as ‘stick fighting’, a cane, an umbrella, or even a sword in its scabbard, can become short staffs. [also Kali Sticks]

Shotokan – A Japanese system of Karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi.

Shovel Kick – A specific method of kicking where the path of the action resembles the dipping motion of a shovel when it is in use. This special kick allows your foot to strike two targets with the same move.

Shuffle – Shifting the body forward and back to close or increase the distance between you and your opponent.

Sifu – The Chinese title of professor.

Side Control – In groundwork grappling, side control is when you are perpendicular to your downed opponent. You are controlling their posture and increasing body mass exertion through the torso with your body.

Signify – A physical gesture using the fingers to indicate the number of the Form that is about to be demonstrated.

Sil Lum Monastery – A Cantonese term for the Shaolin Monastery.

Skeletal Bones – Human bones that form the framework that support tissues and protect the internal organs of our bodies and which certain Kenpo strikes, etc. destruct.

Slicing – An offensive manoeuvre whereby the weapon being used skims the surface of the target being struck. This action is normally restricted to using a specific area of your natural weapon where no real depth occurs during contact, i.e., an eye slice. However, although the depth is not as penetrating as a rake, it is, nevertheless, effective. It is basically a minor move that is used to set your opponent up for a major move.

Sliding Check – A specialized pinning block that travels on an opponent’s body by sliding from one leverage point to another. During the course of each slide, constant body contact is maintained so as not to allow for retaliation. This is a form of body contouring.

Snapping – A method of execution requiring the natural weapon to strike out and back with greater magnitude than the action of a whip and is much like that of a striking serpent.

Solar plexus – Always hit solar plexus at a 45 degree angle (up or down) because it’s thin and a straight on strike is likely to miss it.

Sophisticated Moves – Single moves that have multiple results.

Sophisticated Basics – Basic movements that although singular in appearance, they are multiple in actions.

Southern Systems – Generally refers to those Martial Art systems practiced in southern China. These systems concentrated more on hand instead of foot movements.

Spear – 1. Refers to a finger poke as used in a technique. 2. A Spear is a  long range weapon with a flat wedgelike knife at the end. This weapon can thrust and be thrown and is the most common weapon used to hunt. The Spear has been involved in many a war, and even chimpanzees have been documented stripping bark off branches and sharpening an end with their teeth.

Specialized Moves and Methods – Moves and methods that have distinct characteristics of their own. They are neither blocks or strikes and are, therefore, in a category or division apart from the others.

Speed – Equal to the distance divided by the time (s=d/t) it takes to act or move. There are three categories of speed-perceptual, mental, and physical (body performance). However, although categorized separately in order to analyse what speed entails, these three elements, nevertheless, function as one.

Spiritual Sensitivity – Level of mental development that is brought about by the harmonious unification of the conscious and subconscious minds which unrestrictive allows one unlimited perceptual latitude.

Spiritual Unification – Synchronization of the powers of the mind.

Spontaneous Stage – The stage where the student’s reactions are performed naturally, impulsively and without restraint, effort, or premeditation.

Stacking – In groundwork application, Stacking is referred to when you are standing over your opponent and they are on the back of their neck with their feet in the air back towards their head. To get complete control, you sit on the back of their legs (hamstrings) while each of your legs are either side of your opponents holding them in. Is an extremely effective way to get out of an armbar.

Staple – This is pinning an opponents limb to the ground with one of your limbs, commonly the bottom half of the leg, touching the floor either side of the pinned limb. Downward pressure with full body weight increases effectiveness and pain. This is best when passing guard and controlling posture (groundwork), and snapping an achilles tendon (stand up).

Step Drag – Stepping forward or back with one foot as the other drags to meet it. This is one of the three methods of executing a shuffle.

Step Through – The execution of one full step forward or back, or in the case of a step through kick, it means kicking with the rear foot and planting that foot forward or kicking with the forward foot and planting that foot back.

Stiff Leg Raise – Executed in a reverse bow stance, swing kick the back of your heel to the groin area, chest, or face.

Stomping – A thrusting method using the foot to strike down toward targets located on or near the ground.

Street Fighter – Usually an individual without any formal training who fights without ethics. Anything goes even if weapons are needed to be assured of victory.

Street Freestyle – Kenpo stylists who are street fighters with formal training. Moves are used scientifically to obtain the best results in the shortest period of time against one or more aggressors. Rules do not exist in such encounters.

Strike – The delivery of natural body weapons in hitting human targets, the method of which excludes punches and kicks.

Striking Block – Any block that bucks or goes against the force of an opponent’s strike.

Storm – Refers to a club attack as used in a technique.

Style – Is the word used to describe the manner in which an individual applies and executes the system he has learned.

Super conscious State – This state is created when the conscious and subconscious minds harmonize and work as one to bring about that genie which is in each of us. When brought to the surface, this genie performs beyond the limits placed upon our natural or normal self.

Surface Concentration – Is concerned with the impact force between weapon and target and the resulting stresses that occur. It follows the principle of a pin or a nail where the surface of the natural weapon being used is as small an area as possible in order to have a more penetrating effect on the target.

Sword – Refers to the knife edge of the hand as used in a technique.

System – Is the unification of related concepts, ideas, principles, facts, truths, and basic elements of a particular school of Martial Arts.


– T –

Tackle – To ‘tackle’ your opponent to the ground, drive your shoulder, with your body weight and leg drive as momentum, into your opponents mid section. This action folds the person forward and on their back.

Tae Kwon do – A Korean system of Karate that concentrates predominantly on kicks and linear motion.

Tai Chi Chuan – This is an effective martial art for health, suppleness, mobility and well being. Using controlled movements and posture, the Tai Chi Chuan practitioner enjoys the combination of relaxation and martial arts application whilst cultivating inner energy(Chi).  It also improves any disorders including stress, anxiety, and arthritis.

Tailoring – Fitting moves to your body size, makeup and strength, in order to maximize your physical efforts.

Take Down Manoeuvres – Moves of defence or attack that cause an opponent to fall to the ground to immobilize, restrain, control, or to further attack.

Talon – Refers to a grab attack as used in a technique.

T’ang Hand – The term used to describe some of the Korean Martial Art systems during a certain period of history in respect to China. T’ang Hand literally means the hand of China.

Tang Soo do – Another Korean system of karate that gives China the respect it deserves.

Target Areas – Vital areas on your or your opponent’s body which can cause injury or damage when struck.

Te – An Okinawan term which means “hand”. Their Art was originally called Okinawa-te or “hand Art” of Okinawa. This was later changed by the Japanese to karate meaning “empty hand”. This change greatly angered the Okinawans who were Chinese by descent.

Technique – Pre-planned moves that can be used defensively or offensively with successful results.

Telegraphing – Body language that often works against you. These movements warn your opponent of your intended action and help to prepare him for his defence. This can also work against your opponent.

Theory of Proportional

Dimension – This theory teaches you how to utilize movements which are in proportion to your body. Applying this theory helps you to literally fit the moves to your body.

Three Phase Concept – Teaches you to view self-defence techniques in three phases-ideal, what if, and formulation.

Three Points of View – The suggestion that you not only observe situations from your point of view, but from your opponent’s point of view as well as a bystander’s.

3 Sectional Staff – An additive of an extra piece of wood  and string/chain to the Nunchaku, just to make it more complicated, but ideally effective. You can use the ‘outer’ pieces similar to short staffs, while the middle section to protect you. This is a flail weapon that is known as a ‘coiling dragon staff’ and can strike over or around a defense. [also Triple Staff & Pan Long Gun]

Thrusting – A particular method used to propel a strike. It resembles an explosive push type action.

Toe-Heel – Method of determining the proper width of a neutral bow stance where the toe of the forward foot is in line with the heel of the rear foot.

Tonfa – A wooden short and medium ranged weapon that came from a mill handle. It is a stick with a handle that the longer main shaft protects the forearm and the knob protects the thumb. It is used to ward off, strike, punch and hook using the handle. Commonly used as a police baton(PR-24). [also Tuifa]

Torque – The twisting action used with your offensive or defensive movements which positions your body and muscles to work at maximum efficiency and power.

Touch – Refers to your ability to physically feel an object; in Kenpo it means also to be able to just kiss the skin with a punch, strike, etc.

Tracking – This is a specific means of contouring. It is using one body limb to act as a track for another so that the accuracy of your follow-up is guaranteed.

Trading Places – Trading your blocking/parrying hand with your second hand to deliver a strike.

Traditional – Generally refers to those practitioners of the Martial Arts who adhere to custom or the original concepts and moves of a particular system.

Transition – The stage between moves; moves within moves.

Transitional Response – Instantaneously evolving from one position to another for purposes of offence or defence.

Trapping – Any stratagem designed to catch a natural weapon to prevent it from escaping.

Tongs – Chinese syndicates or associations that are organized to accomplish specific tasks that benefit them.

Twin Sai – A steel weapon with a pointed prong baton and two curved tines either side projecting from the handle. The distinctive shape gives the Twin Sais versatility and an immense barrage of technique, including the knob at the end of the handle.

Twig – Refers to the arm as used in a technique

Tournament Freestyle – Sparring that is conducted at a tournament where specific rules must be adhered to.


– U –

Unconcerned Positions – Unprepared positions that are oblivious to trouble.

Unintentional Moves – Accidental and unplanned moves by an opponent which, when unchecked or not anticipated, can defeat your purpose. It is a normal reaction by an opponent.

Universal Block – Using both forearms crossed together as back up mass to one another, to block a more powerful move, e.g. a kick. The front arm’s finger are pointing down and the rear fingers are pointing up.

Universal Pattern – A diagram consisting of pattern movements. This can be footwork, hand movements, or combinations. This pattern was designed by Grandmaster Edmund Parker.

Unuseful – Movements that may not be useful in one predicament, but can be used in another predicament with positive results.

Uppercut – An upward vertical motion used to execute a punch.

Upward Blocks – All types of blocks that redirect an attacking weapon up, above, over, out or away from your head.

Useless – Is not the same as unuseful since such moves would not be effective under any condition.