In order to conquer an opponent (or two) punches, strikes, and kicks should be fighters' go-to moves. At least according to the strategy behind kenpo, an ancient form of martial arts from the Far East. At Self Defense Studio of Independence, black belts teach the proper order of defensive moves to practitioners of all fitness levels. In order to conserve energy, they emphasize punches, strikes, and kicks as the first steps in a counter-attack, with throws and blocks only used as a last resort since they deplete energy quickly. While kenpo's physical benefits include learning how to focus energy in a single fist or foot, its mental perks include better judgment and concentration so you can remember which fist or foot to ice later.
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Academy of Fighting Arts instructor and 5th-degree black-belt Clinton Murphy can shatter several objects with his bare hands, from coconuts to concrete blocks. It's a skill known as "breaking," and Murphy claims that it's just as mental as it is physical. This and other martial-arts skills have led to appearances on ESPN2, The Late Show with David Letterman, and the Discovery Channel. At Academy of Fighting Arts, he teaches his students how to hone their own mental focus and martial-arts techniques, emphasizing good form and discipline over brute strength—just as he does when he's preparing to break 14 slabs of concrete in a stack.
When teaching a class, Murphy's martial arts style of choice is American-Filipino Kun Tao. This mix of pressure-point strikes, grappling, and joint-lock throws is ideal for close-quarters fighting. Murphy covers these maneuvers as well as escrima, or stick-fighting, in his adult sessions, whereas kids' classes focus more on teamwork and basic drills. He also hosts four-week self-defense seminars for women, which demonstrate how to effectively escape and subdue an assailant.