Time – the fourth dimension and how it relates to American Kenpo
American Kenpo is a thinking persons art based on science. We use many different analogies to understand our concepts and principles in order to put a reality context to not only thought, but also proper action. Kenpo is a multi-dimensional art/science which requires a multi-dimensional mindset and practice.
Ultimately, Kenpo can be broken down into three parts: (1) Academic (2) Combative (3) Sport. It was created as a modern street effective system based on logic and reason. The creator, Ed Parker, was a street fighter on rough streets in Hawaii. He was a golden gloves boxer and Judo black belt, and eventually became a black belt in a Kenpo system taught by William K. S. Chow.
Being the street fighter that Parker was, he quickly realized that traditional martial artists were easy to defeat on the streets. The movements were not practical. Because of his knowledge and experience he created a street practical system of the martial arts to prepare people for modern attacks. He began teaching the art in 1954 and it has been revised several times since then.
What makes the realities of the American Kenpo system so effective is that it stems from the laws of the universe, consisting primarily of physics and geometry. Science plays a crucial role in American Kenpo. It has been said that we live in a three dimensional world. The three dimensions being: height, width, and length (depth). Because of this Mr. Parker in his analytical study of motion brought out that our three dimensions of motion are height, width, and depth, and that is how it is taught in our system.
It was Einstein with his theory of relativity, however, that opened the doors to the reality of time. It showed that the three dimensions of space possessed a definite relationship with the dimension of time. Shortly after Einstein’s theory in 1905, Hermann Minkowski (a German mathematician) became one of the first scientists to recognize the significance of this theory from a mathematical perspective. With his mathematics, the four dimensions of what is known as “space-time” became impossible to separate from each other for they were all part of the same universe.
The term “space-time” can be described as such: “space is the medium in which time happens and time dictates what happens in that medium.” Whether it’s the electrons that orbit the nucleus in a part of your body, the vehicle that takes you places, or the hair that grows on your head, they all need two things to happen: space and time. Space is the first three dimensions and time is the dimension that sets it into action. Therefore, as our motion changes, so does our relationship with space and time.
Let’s look at this from its root. Time can be defined only by measurement. The measurement of time is based on reoccurring natural phenomena. For example, a year is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution around the Sun. A day is defined as the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make one complete revolution on its axis. The year and the day are then broken down into more arbitrary units—months, hours, seconds, and so on.
I could get much further in depth and talk about work, which we know is used to express the forces applied to an object set in motion (which requires time); power which is the rate of doing work and is expressed by the amount of work done divided by the time it takes to do the work; speed, which is the rate at which something moves (s=d/t); velocity, which is the speed in a particular direction known as a vector quantity (velocity may change with time as an object changes either its speed or its direction); and more, but I think you get the picture by now.
In Kenpo, we have the three physical dimensions that take up space (height, width, and depth), but we also have the dimension known as time, which is the byproduct of all action, or vice-versa. With that being said it can be looked at in several ways. If you cancel the physical dimensions (let us keep in mind that time could also be considered physical because our physical mass cannot act without time—the only issue is that time cannot be seen, whereas the space dimensions can) that it creates more time for your follow up action.
Time is an ultimate sphere around our physical being at all times as it is in everything we do; but to look at it in the context of the fourth dimension, we must view it as how it relates to the three space dimensions. In this context we must also look at it from all views (our own, our opponent/attacker, and the bystanders). We must also look at it from the power principles of torque, marriage of gravity, and back up mass. We need to try to minimize the time it takes to act throughout our space dimensions, but maximize the time allowed to act by canceling the attacker’s space dimensions. We know that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which requires time (possible pause sets) to act accordingly. If my Kenpo is effective I will cause enough damage to manipulate the attacker’s physical body allowing me to take advantage of the fourth dimension through economy of motion as I act off the attacker’s reaction.
If you are a Kenpo practitioner I challenge you to let this all sink in and see what you can come up with. American Kenpo produces so many opportunities and you as a Kenpo practitioner may already be holding the answers you are looking for – you just don’t know it yet.
About the author:
Michael Miller is a free-lance writer and an expert in self-defense, personal protection, personal development, and fitness. He has been involved with martial arts for over twenty years and currently holds a 4th degree black belt in American Kenpo (one of the leading systems of self-defense), and also studies and teaches boxing, kickboxing, Joe Lewis Fighting Systems and Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu (no Gi). He has been featured several times in Inside Kung-fu and Black Belt magazines as an authority in his field. He runs the only full-time martial arts studio in the history of Bradford, Pa (Miller’s Kenpo Karate Dojo), which is also the only full-time studio in McKean County. He can be reached through his web site at www.millersdojo.com, through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 814-368-3725.