I come to you with only karate, empty hands.
I have no weapons,
but should I be forced to defend myself,
my principles, or my honor;
should it be a matter of life or death,
of right or wrong,
then here are my weapons,
my empty hands.
– Senior Grandmaster Edmund K. Parker
What is Kenpo?
Kenpo is a unique and versatile martial art – a self-defense system that utilizes traditional and modern training methods. The Kenpo practitioner uses the rounded fluid motions of Chinese martial arts and the hard linear strikes of Japanese Karate to create self-defense techniques, form exercises and free-fighting combinations.
Based on four basic principles of physics: torque, back-up mass, borrowed force, and marriage of gravity, Kenpo allows even the smallest person to achieve maximum effectiveness by employing proper body mechanics.
David A. Garcia, Jr.
My first exposure to the martial arts was watching movies growing up. I ran around the house with a fake ninja sword tucked into my shirt and ninja mask on … or I was the Karate Kid. But in those days martial arts were magic to me, something only people in movies or who were fortunate enough to live next to Mr. Miyagi could ever actually do.
When I was 12 years old my sister began dating my future brother-in-law (Gary Berna), and he was a martial artist who had studied Hwa Rang Do and was studying Kenpo Karate. Gary would show me a simple lock or a cool kick and I can’t express how awesome it was to me at the time; I was hooked. When I was 14 years old my mother signed me up for lessons at Sifu J.R. Diaz’s Kenpo Karate School in Lemoore, Ca. I could not get enough mat time. I would get to the school as early as I could and I would practice on the back of the mat for hours. There was an awesome group of young martial artists ahead of me and I wanted to move like them, do Kenpo as well as them, and fight as tough as they did; put simply I wanted to be one of them and that was my goal.
I received my green belt under Sifu Diaz, but due to an unstable home life I stopped studying karate in my late teen years. I remember one of the instructors telling me that the secret to karate is to always come back, stuff will get in the way, but always come back. When I was 20 I found my way back to The Karate School, which was now run by Sifu David Calhoun. Once again I was hooked and spent the next 2 ½ years working toward my Black Belt, which I received from Mr. Calhoun on May 22, 2004. A year later I graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a BA in Geography and went off to graduate school at California State University, Chico, where I received my MA in Geography. While at Fresno State I studied Shotokan Karate and Judo and later briefly studied boxing and kickboxing. In March 2015, I was promoted to 3rd Degree Black Belt under Sifu Calhoun. In April 2016, I tested for and earned ‘Huk’ Planas’ signature arm patch; find out more here: https://grassvalleykenpofamilykarate.com/planas-patch/. And in July 2016, Mr. Planas accepted me as a first generation student.
In 2017 I was hand-picked by Mr. Planas to be an instructor at the first ever Huk Planas World Gathering Kenpo Camp in Las Vegas Nevada. This camp had over 200 participants from more than 9 countries.
The martial arts have different meanings to all who study them and as my instructor often says, you don’t need a black belt to defend yourself. For me Karate was and is necessary; I needed the discipline and self-confidence you gain when you constantly push yourself beyond what you think is achievable or comfortable. I needed the mentors and family I’ve always found in the dojo. I use karate in my everyday life and when I’m not studying, I truly feel like something is missing. So, the next chapter is “Grass Valley Kenpo Family Karate”. My goal is to share what we’ve been lucky enough to experience and in doing so I hope to continue to learn and grow in the art.
Jakki (Schuster) Garcia
I currently hold a 3rd degree black belt in Kenpo under Associate Professor David Calhoun of “The Karate School” in Lemoore, California. I began my study of the martial arts when I was 15 years of age, just going on 16. I was never really proficient in any sports or activities up until that time, was extremely shy, and had very low self esteem. While attending high school I met a couple of gals that had been studying the martial arts. They encouraged me to check out The Karate School, in our hometown. The very first time I walked into the school, it was to watch one of my friends test for her blue belt. I was amazed. The basics seemed so difficult and the forms were so beautiful; I thought they looked like dancing. The sparring, which happened at the end of the test, was grueling. After the test, the black belt running it, Sifu J.R. Diaz, walked up to me, grinning. His first words to me were, “How did you like it,” and “when do you start?”. I was hooked ever since.
I was a complete dojo rat those first few years. I was there everyday after high school to study Kenpo. I stayed from the moment the dojo opened until the hour it closed. I even took my homework with me so I could rush to get it done and get on the mat. I was obsessed. It was the greatest time in my life. I eventually tested for my black belt on October 13th, 2001. But my study didn’t stop there. I still participated in all of the aspects of Kenpo. I taught and was taught. When you become a black belt, you can then really and truly become a student of the art.
I soon went to college, still studying Kenpo, and dabbled in the other martial arts out there. I studied kickboxing, judo, and tae kwon do. But I had and still have a soft spot in my heart for Kenpo. I eventually graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a Bachelor’s in Business. After getting married and moving to Grass Valley, California, my husband and I were itching to find a Kenpo school to work out at. Not finding a school dedicated specifically to the study of Kenpo, we decided to start our own school. I now have a place to continue my studies and teach the art that I love – Kenpo Karate!
I started Kenpo Karate in December of 2011 at the age of 34. That may not seem old to some, but after dancing 5+ days a week, for 10 years of my childhood, my body sure felt old. After I stopped dancing at age 18, I also stopped exercising, gained a bunch of weight, and lost my confidence. It wasn’t until I moved to Grass Valley in 2010 that I decided something needed to change. I saw a flyer for kickboxing in the café at my work and remembered how I’d always wanted to try it, so I went to the dojo and signed up.
For the first six months I attended Mrs. Garcia’s kickboxing class three days a week. Before and after class I saw lots of kids doing karate, and it looked like fun. I really wanted to get my boys into karate, and I figured the best way to do that, would be to lead by example. So there I was, at age 34 deciding that I’d give it a try. Soon, my oldest son started to attend the tiny eagles class. It was a start, and I was happy to continue to lead by example.
The majority of my color belt tests were between 2 and 7 months apart. Once I got to green belt, I realized that I was about to cross a line that I hadn’t realized was there. Brown belt was next, and I really had to decide if I wanted to move on for myself, no matter what my kids’ involvement. I knew I didn’t want to stop doing karate, but I hadn’t fully decided on a goal yet, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. As a green belt, I attended the 50th Anniversary International Karate Championships in Long Beach, California and took home first place out of 12 international competitors. Shortly after that I received my 3rd degree brown belt.
I moved forward at a snails pace through the degrees of brown because I couldn’t see what came after black belt. In March of 2017 after a Richard “Huk” Planas seminar in Chico, my path revealed itself to me. I decided that I wanted to create a Kenpo Teacher’s Manual based on all of the rules and principles that Huk teaches in his seminars. I combined my 5 ½ years of notes into a book and began the process of working with Huk to make sure that all of the information was correct. This book is still a work in progress, but Mr. Garcia agreed to let it serve as my black belt thesis.
Once I could see what came after black belt a whole new world opened up for me. I focused on what I needed to do to become a black belt. As part of my training I started teaching a kickboxing class at the dojo on Saturday mornings. On May 6th of 2017 I received my first degree black belt, just weeks before my 40th birthday. It was a difficult four and a half hour long test, where I had to keep reminding myself to go on no matter how tired I was.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned on this journey is that if you don’t give up, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will eventually reach your destination. Someone wiser than me once said, “A black belt is just a white belt that never gave up”. Each day I chose to go to class or train on my own to improve my skills was a choice not to give up that eventually made all the difference in the world.
SMA Richard ‘Huk’ Planas. Mr. Planas began his Kenpo training in Fresno, California in the late sixties under Steve Labounty and Tom Kelly. He moved to Texas to help Tom Kelly open a school in El Paso in 1969 and then moved to Pasadena, California, to go to work for Ed Parker as a Brown Belt.
He received his Black Belt and all subsequent rank through Ed Parker up to Seventh Degree; the highest non-honorary, non-political rank given by Parker in 1985. He became the Manager of the Pasadena school for several years, as well as the Executive Vice President of the International Kenpo Karate Association for the last ten years Ed Parker lived. Throughout this time, Mr. Planas was also instrumental in the development of the original manuals.
After Parker’s passing other associations were formed, one of which promoted Mr. Planas to Eighth Degree in 1991. Then in 1995 several associations joined together to promote him to Ninth Degree Black.
Though his expertise is mainly in Kenpo he has studied many other arts, including; Judo, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Shotokan, and Silat.
Today, Mr. Planas draws a crowd, teaching seminars all throughout the United States, including; Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and others. There is also a great demand for his expertise internationally, which has taken Mr. Planas to Argentina, Canada, Cayman Isles, Chile, England, Denmark, Greece, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Jersey Channel Islands, Patagonia, Spain, and Sweden. Known as the “Instructor’s Instructor,” Mr. Planas teaches the “whys” of Kenpo, not just the “hows” based on the rules and principals of motion.*
Mr. Planas is David Garcia’s instructor.
Professor Dave Calhoun and The Karate School. Sifu Calhoun is a Fifth Degree Black Belt in the system of Kenpo Karate. He has been studying the martial arts for over 30 years and has owned and operated The Karate School in Lemoore, California since 1996. He is a deputy for the Kings County Sherriff’s Office where he teaches weaponless self-defense, Impact weapons, and is a TASER instructor.*
He was David and Jakki’s instructor for 20 years.