I was born and raised in Saratoga, California. I moved to Utah in the fall of 1980 and I had always been interested in the martial arts. In 1981 I was living in Provo, Utah, there I met Bobby and Charlene Lawrence and started my journey in, Bobby Lawrence Karate which is the art of Kwon Shu.
I have studied martial arts for Thirty years. It was a great privilege as a purple belt to have Master Lawrence honor me by asking me to become a teaching assistant which eventually lead, as a brown belt, to co-operating a Bobby Lawrence Karate Club with Master Lawrence and another long standing member of Kwon Shu, my friend, Mr. Alberto Vasquez. In 1991 with Master Lawrence’s guidance and blessing I opened a Bobby Lawrence Karate studio in Sandy, Utah.
When I sat down to write the text for this section of the web site. I thought to myself, what I have to say has already been stated in Master Lawrence’s book, “Modern Kenpo Volume One”. It’s how I felt back in 1993 and how I feel today about myself and my personal journey in the martial Arts. The following text is from the forward I wrote in 1993 in Master Lawrence’s book, Modern Kenpo Volume One.
I consider it a great privilege and honor to have been asked to write the forward to this book. I started my Kenpo training 13 years ago in Provo, Utah. At that time I had just moved next door to where Mr. and Mrs. lawrence lived. One day while standing in my driveway, I saw Mr. Lawrence and his family get out of their van. I shouted, “Hey, are you Bobby Lawrence? I’m going to take Karate from you.”
Bobby responded, “Oh, and what is your name?”
I answered, “My name is Kenney.”
Mr. Lawrence was very polite. He told me my taking karate was great, it was very nice to meet me and he would see me in class. I have studied with Mr. Lawrence to this day. Further, I will continue my training under his watchful eye as log as I am able.
I have learned many things while studying the martial arts: self defense ideas, meditation techniques, sports aspects of karate, the importance of fitness in a modern world, “politics”, loyalty, goal setting, etc. One peculiar aspect associated with the martial arts is the debate over which style is superior. The debate seems petty for several reasons, not the least of which is, the existence and extensive possession of firearms. Still more people are studying the martial arts now than ever before. And more styles of martial arts are now being studied. The debate over which style is superior has expanded to include a debate over which style is “pure.” The expansion in the debate is also meaningless. Ed Parker, the Grandmaster of American Kenpo, once told me, “when pure knuckles meet pure flesh, that’s pure karate.” In other words, with the martial arts, purity is a matter of function not association. That made sense to me then and it makes sense to me now. Karate is not religion. God has not given authority to any one style of martial art nor to any one group within a style.
Who your instructor is may be more important than the type or style of martial art you study. Is your instructor talented, knowledgeable, honest, sincere, compassionate, open minded, and above all, can he teach theses attributes to his students? Can he communicate? Can he translate motion into words and words into motion? Is he positive? Is his curriculum useful? Does the curriculum employ principles and concepts you will need in order to fulfill your goals in everyday life as well as in the martial arts?
A very important concept I have learned from Master Lawrence is that the martial arts can be more than a hobby, they can become a way of life. Mr. Lawrence lives as a martial artist and possesses all of the traits I listed above and more. He has the ability to analyze a principle, theory or concept and then tailor it to fit each individual student’s needs and level of proficiency. Not only is he a great martial artist, but also he is a great teacher. Each generation of students he teaches is better than the generation before. And he cares about his students. This characteristic alone marks his greatness.
I stumbled upon the martial arts and Mr. Lawrence. I was lucky. You too are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from him through his writings. I hope you appreciate this man’s passion for excellence in the martial arts. I also hope you learn from and enjoy his first book.
Lastly, it is my passion and desire for you to recognize and appreciate the talents this man possesses and willingly shares with us. If you do, your life will be enriched.
He is my instructor. He is my friend.
Master Ken Ruano
Seventh Degree Black Belt
Those thoughts are still true today. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pass on and practice a martial art such as Kwon Shu. I have the utmost respect for Master Lawrence, Charlene Lawrence and their family. To study under such a man as Master Lawrence is truly an honor.
I hope your journey exceeds your expectations. My journey has far exceeded anything I ever dreamed of. It’s a pleasure teaching and watching you grow. It’s comforting to know Kwon Shu will continue to evolve and my feeling and appreciation will remain constant.
Master Ken Ruano
Seventh Degree Black Belt