Irish Kenpo Instructors visit Australia and New Zealand

Danny Molloy reports

Celbridge based Kenpo Instructor Professor Edward Downey expanded his sphere of influence with a teaching tour of Australia and New Zealand leaving the Irish winter for sunshine of the southern hemisphere. The Australian & New Zealand Kenpo associations invited Professor Downey to conduct a teaching tour of their schools. The tour began in Sydney with a grading and test at Tom Cullen’s Kenpo School, Mr. Cullen’s students had been preparing to test under Professor Downey nearly a year. The testing students showed considerable skill and enterprise and gave a clear indication that Kenpo’s development in the Sydney area is in good hands under the direction of Tom Cullen. Next day Professor Downey gave two seminars in the Sydney’s State Sport’s Centre in Olympic Park that was the venue for the 2000 Olympic games. The first seminar Professor Downey gave was a junior seminar attended by seventy enthusiastic Kenpo kids who were given an entertaining and skill based class that focused good motor skills. Professor Downey was assisted with his classes by four of his Irish Instructors who had travelled out to Australia with him; these included Wexford Instructor Mr. Kevin Hendrick. Meath Instructor Danny Molloy and Celbridge Instructors John Burgess and David Byrne, plus John Casserely a promising intermediate student from Celbridge.

The adult class in the Olympic centre attracted fifty senior students from the Sidney area and other parts of Australia. Professor Downey focused his class on the structure of the Kenpo system and how it was designed by grandmaster Ed Parker. Professor Downey’s next port of call was the city of Adelaide in South Australia, which was a two-hour flight from Sydney. In Adelaide Professor Downey conducted a junior and senior grading for the students of the South Australia American Kenpo director Mr.Anthony Hockley. Mr. Hockley has achieved a number of black belts in Japanese martial arts and is now focusing on developing the American Kenpo system in South Australia. Professor Downey and his assistant instructors spent six hours testing and teaching the Adelaide students and Instructors who proved to be a very enthusiastic group. The local temperature during the classes was nearly forty degrees Celsius, so water was is high demand. From Adelaide the group took another two-hour flight went to the state of Victoria and then a two-hour drive to a town called Bendigo. Bendigo is a hotbed of Kenpo activity and the seminars that were hosted by local Kenpo black belts James Pilcher and Greg Angwin were attended. In Bendigo Professor Downey conducted a senior brown belt test followed by a senior adult class, which included many of Australia’s highest-ranking black belts. The following day Professor Downey flew another 2½-hour flight to the city of Brisbane on Australia’s gold coast, where after a little sightseeing he gave an all styles open seminar in the state sports centre. The seminar focused on Kenpo’s efficiency in handling long, middle and close range attacks. The class was very well received and Kenpo looks certain to have a very bright future in Brisbane.

The following day Professor Downey flew to Melbourne to conduct his final two seminars for Australian Kenpo students. The Melbourne seminars again proved to be well attended by cross sections of styles that gave an enthusiastic reception to Professor Downey. The Melbourne seminars attracted such a large attendance that Professor Downey divided the class into three groups; intermediate, advanced and Black belts; Professor Downey was assisted in teaching these groups by John Burgess, David Byrne, Kevin Hendrick and Danny Molloy.

From Melbourne Professor Downey flew to New Zealand landing in the capital city Auckland where he was met by the New Zealand American Kenpo director James Rodriguez. From Auckland the Irish group drove to the city of Hamilton where Professor Downey was received with a traditional Maori welcome. The welcome was given by Fabian Niwa a Maori Warrior who performed the traditional welcome with spears and chants at the end of which he presented a set of Maori weapons to Professor Downey as a gift. Fabian Niwa is also a Kenpo brown belt and teaches Kenpo in Waitara and New Plymouth areas of New Zealand. On the following evening a rigorous brown belt test was conducted by Professor Downey, after the test Professor Downey complemented James Rodriguez on achieving such a level of skill from his students. The next day saw a daylong intensive series of seminars for the New Zealand Kenpo community that involved all aspects of the advanced Kenpo techniques and detailed examinations of the Kenpo forms. New Zealand Kenpo has reached a very high standard under the guidance of James Rodriguez who gained his Kenpo skills on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands; he received his training in Kenpo under the careful supervision of 5thDegree Nigel Romeril. Mr.Rodriguez moved to New Zealand eight years ago and now has three Kenpo schools under his direction.

The New Zealand seminars were very well received and the local Kenpoists are already looking forward to future visits by Mr. Downey. The Irish completed their visit to New Zealand with a black water rafting; this activity required everyone to wear a wet suit and miners helmet. Black water rafting takes place underground in caves travelling along an underground river. On the return leg from New Zealand the Irish group stopped off in China and Thailand prior to returning to Ireland.