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Naming Convention

Mr. Pilch has studied several different branches of Kenpo. Each one used a naming convention to help the practitioner with the recall of the structured information. The American Institute of Kenpo, as with all branches of Kenpo, has adopted a naming convention as well.


The naming convention that The American Institute of Kenpo uses primarily has two parts to each name. The first word describes what you are doing. This is what we call the Defense Category Keywords. The second word describes what the attacker is doing. This is what we call the Attack Category Keywords. In situations where there are multiple attacks or opponents additional words are added to reflect the increased complexity of the situation.

Mr. Pilch has compiled a Kenpo Naming Convention comparison spreadsheet. This spreadsheet contains the following Naming Conventions:


The American Institute of Kenpo (AIK) - The current Naming Convention used by AIK.


Ed Parker American Kenpo Systems (EPAKS) - The current Naming Convention used by EPAKS. This system is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by the Parker Family.


Tracy Kenpo Systems - The current Naming Convention used by the Tracy Kenpo Systems.


American Kenpo Karate Association (AKKA Karate USA) - The Naming Convention used by AKKA Karate USA while it was run by Bill Packer. This is a derivative of the Tracy Kenpo Systems. This was the organization Mr. Pilch started his Kenpo journey with.


Note - Though there are similarities between techniques compared in the Kenpo Naming Convention Spreadsheet, techniques in the list also have notable differences. If there has been any names that you are aware of that need to be corrected please email us and we will evaluate and update the spreadsheet when appropriate.


~ Last Updated 10/24/2022

Mrs. Trujillo has created a Quizlet to help students learn the naming convention

Defense Category Keywords

The Defensive Category Keywords are grouped by themes. You will find a brief description of the theme followed by the keywords and their description here:


Engagement Methods: The primary method used to gain and advantage in an engagement.

  • Clashing: Meet force with force

  • Clutching: Pin the hand

  • Countering: Retaliate, a series of rapid strikes

  • Dominating: To gain control of the opponent

  • Echoed: Retaliate with a similar attack

  • Entwined: Two-handed wrapping hold

  • Escaping: To break free (or to lose your grip)

  • Raking: To chamber or strike past our centerline

  • Redirected: To guide off center

  • Resisting: To stop before fully locked

Strategic Repositioning: The use of an advantageous position change to gain a tactical advantage.

  • Ascending: Upward maneuver

  • Circling: To maneuver over or on top of

  • Crossed: A maneuver that crosses

  • Descending: Downward maneuver

  • Rotating: A turning maneuver


Tactical Movements: The words in this category are used to describe the initial movement direction of the technique.

  • Avoiding: Moving back to left rear quadrant

  • Eastern: Moving to right front quadrant

  • Evading: Moving back to right rear quadrant

  • Northern: Moving forward

  • Southern: Moving back

  • Western: Moving to left front quadrant


Takedowns: The use of a partial or full takedown.

  • Grounded: Full take-down from the front

  • Rooted: Buckling maneuver, potential takedown

  • Tripping: Full takedown from the back


Tools: The primary strike, block, or manipulation method used to gain the tactical advantage.

  • Bracing: To use an X-block

  • Broken: To break or hyperextend a limb

  • Chopping: To use knife hand strikes

  • Crushing: To grab or impact with tremendous force and intention

  • Hammering: To strike with a hammer fist

  • Leveraged: To use a fulcrum

  • Shielding: To use an outward block

  • Strangling: To apply a chokehold


Two Person: Describes a situation with more than one attacker.

  • Courting: Stationary two person attack

  • Escorting: Moving two person attack

Attack Category Keywords

The Attack Category Keywords are grouped by attack type. You will find a brief description of the attack type followed by the keywords and their description here:


Grab & Tackle - The initial action or attempt to gain control.

  • Claw: One-handed grab to the wrist

  • Eagles: Two-handed body grab from the front

  • Falcon: One-handed grab from the flank

  • Hawk: One-handed body grab from the front

  • Rage: Tackle

  • Talons: Two-handed grab to the wrist or wrists


Hold & Hug - Controlling and motion restricting attack that does not depend on pain compliance.

  • Bear: Bearhug

  • Honor: Handshake

  • Restraints: Hold from the back

  • Surrender: Full nelson


Kick - A striking action using the leg or foot.

  • Lightning: Linear kick

  • Thunder: Rotational kick


Lock & Choke - A controlling and motion restricting attack that does depend on pain compliance.

  • Death: Two-handed choke

  • Guard: Lock from the back

  • Vice: Head lock or forearm choke

  • Vine: Lock to the wrist


Punch - A striking action using the knuckles.

  • Doom: Punch imminent form behind

  • Horn: Left hand punch

  • Ram: Right hand punch


Push - A forceful, shoving action.

  • Danger: Push that forces a break fall

  • Palm: One-handed push

  • Palms: Two-handed push


Weapon - An attack employing a weapon.

  • Fire: Gun

  • Oak: Club

  • Steel: Knife

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