Coleman Combat

Pictured: Kenpo champions John Mullen and Christopher Scully. Image courtesy of Paul Coleman.

Pictured: Kenpo champions John Mullen and Christopher Scully. Image courtesy of Paul Coleman.

Kenpo, a world-renowned form of Japanese martial arts, may soon find a home in Ringsend. Paul Coleman, who is involved with our local Our Town project, is hoping to set up a kenpo club in the area in the near future.

Paul is based in the Kenpo Karate Academy on High Street in Dublin 8, established in 1971 by his brother Barney Coleman, Maurice Mahon (then the youngest black belt in the world), and Shay Paget, all three of whom are now grand masters.

What Paul and his family have done over the last 40 years is develop their martial arts system into what they describe as the first truly Irish version of Kenpo, which harkens back to Kenpo in its historical fledgling stage, with ground fighting, self defence and competition fighting being extremely prevalent once more. This is a system they call Coleman Combat, and is the programme that they are hoping to bring to Ringsend.

Paul has been eager to establish a Kenpo club in Ringsend for quite some time, space permitting. He has been spurred on by the fact that his children were brought up in the area. Paul and his son Tadhg spoke to NewsFour about the rationale behind their family philosophy and how beneficial the structure that Kenpo provides can be.

“The discipline that is derived from it can be very useful to kids,” Paul said. “I’m originally from a part of Dublin that had a lot of drug and alcohol and social problems. We have trained people from that community over the years in our philosophy and many of them now run their own businesses and schools and some have moved abroad. This is not about us improving you, it is about you improving you.”

The Coleman Combat system has yielded positive results so far, with squads consistently travelling all over the world to compete against fighters from nations as far-flung as Chile and New Zealand. One example of this was a team from Oliver Bond flats which competed in Las Vegas, winning every division they entered, resulting in an impressive 14 world titles.

Nine year old Christopher Scully also won his own world title, in a field with competitors from 22 other countries.

What the Coleman Combat system also seeks to cement is more involvement between parents and kids, and they run a programme where they must sign on every month, where bad behaviour can result in a black mark that can prevent them from training or travelling. This also exemplifies their use of the Celtic claw as their club crest, as it represents an Irish system upholding traditional Irish values of family and honour.

Tadhg, who grew up in the area and is now an instructor in the Colosseum Gym in the Netherlands, told us why he felt the formation of a Kenpo club in Ringsend would reap dividends.

“It gives kids something to look forward to. Two major problems in Irish society are obesity and bullying, and this club would be dealing with both of those problems. It’s not just a club, it’s also somewhere you can talk about your problems; it’s a family unit.”

By Craig Kinsella

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