Those who wonder just what Kenpo karate is—what the forms look like, how the competitors spar—will have the opportunity to see the sport in action this Sunday, Nov. 18.
Dan Pribble, the head instructor at Jeff Speakman’s Kenpo 5.0 training center in Twin Peaks, is putting on a tournament at Rim of the World High School and would like to encourage folks to come out and watch.
He had been thinking about having a tournament on the mountain but had not put the particulars together. Then one of his mentors—Fabian Niwa of New Zealand—passed away in August.
“That lit a fire under me,” Pribble said. He has put the tournament together in short order and expects about 150 competitors to participate. Many of them will come from the Twin Peaks school as well as from the Jeff Speakman school in Hesperia.
Pribble and Niwa met 10 years ago when the New Zealander visited the camp Pribble was running in Las Vegas. “He was on a training trip,” Pribble said. The two men forged a friendship, which led to Pribble’s trips to New Zealand so the two could train together. Niwa became the owner of a Jeff Speakman school in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
Niwa, Pribble noted, was a leader in his community. Only in his mid-50s, he needed a heart transplant but died before that was made possible. He had married his kindergarten sweetheart, Pribble said.
“He was a generous guy.”
Speakman himself wrote on his website about Niwa: “A beautiful spirit walked this earth who took the body and name of Fabian Niwa. Although his transition to the other side is now complete, his time on this earth was an expression of what the best of being human can be. The many lives he touched with his wisdom, strength and kindness will live on and in turn will bestow these virtues to the many generations to follow.
“I hold,” Speakman wrote, “that the meaningfulness of one’s life can be measured by the contributions one makes to the common good. Fabian, my friend and student, your life’s energies will live on in us all and we will remember you in the beauty of the hummingbird’s flight, the crash of the waves upon the shores and the majestic presence of an old growth forest.”
It is fitting, then, that this first annual Fabian Niwa memorial tournament be held in the middle of the San Bernardino National Forest.
There will be three divisions, Pribble said: self-defense techniques, from 10 a.m. to noon; sparring, from noon to 3 p.m.; and forms, from 3 to 6 p.m.
There is no charge for spectators but there is an entry fee for competitors. They should call (707) 496-3504 for rules and more information.
“This is not really a competitive tournament,” Pribble said. “We wanted to do something that’s fun.” However, black belt competitors can earn points that will help them on their journey to the world championships.
American Kenpo karate, Pribble said, teaches students self-defense techniques, exemplified by the punching and kicking most people associate with the discipline. But karate is much more than that, Pribble stresses. The students also learn discipline, respect, life skills and character-building skills.
As of last week, Pribble already had 120 competitors—ranging in age from 4 to 60—registered and expected at least another 30 to sign up. Many of his former students are coming, he said, some from as far away as Utah. Others are coming from Las Vegas, Eureka, Calif., Oregon, Pasadena and Riverside.
“I’m pleased at the wide diversity of students who will be competing,” Pribble said. Competitors can register up until the day of the tournament, with registration opening at 9 a.m.
Pribble noted he hopes to hold this tournament every year.
“I want to honor Fabian,” he said.