The Japanese Influence

KOSHO RYU KEMPO - This style of Kempo was brought by visiting monks to the Mitose family clan in the 15th century. Over the centuries this form of Shaolin Chuan Fa was blended and refined with forms of Jujitsu that where common to the area; as well as Rinzai Zen philosophy, Kyudo, and other arts. Kosho, the name of the Mitose clan, means "Old Pine Tree" and the Kempo art is referred to as "The Old Pine Tree Style." Kosho-Ryu Kempo was brought to the United States by James Masayoshi Mitose, who learned the art in Japan from his uncle. He was born in Kona Hawaii December 30th 1915 and passed away in California on 26th March 1981.

In 1920 at the age of five, James Mitose was sent to Kyushu from his birthplace in Hawaii for schooling in his ancestor's art of self-defense called Kosho Ryu Kempo. A Kempo master named Choki Motobu. For fifteen years he studied this art which was a direct descendent of the original Chuan Fa (Kempo). After completing his training in Japan Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1935 and opened the "Official Self-Defense" club in a Beretania mission in Honolulu. It was here that he promoted six of his students to black belt (instructor status).

Thomas Young, , Edmund Howe, Arthur Keawe, Jiro Naramura, and Paul Yamaguchi. (Note that while Mr. Mitose has awarded other certificates of rank, only these six were issued while he was the head of the Honolulu Official Self-Defense Club)

It has been noted that William Chow's black belt certificate was actually signed by Thomas Young, and not James Mitose.

As accounts dictate, Daruma Daishi was the founder of his system; this system was called Shorinji-ryu Kempo by the Japanese this is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese "Ch'uan Fa" or "Ch'uan Shu". This as you recall, coincides with what has been passed down by ancient masters through the centuries.

Because of Daruma's (Japanese name for the Indian monk Bodhidarma ) contribution to Kenpo it is logical that Mitose's ancestors of the Martial Arts refer to the term of Shorin-ji as the system of Kempo taught by Daruma. However, the Kempo system which had been learned from ancient Chinese Masters and then taught by Mitose's ancestors was altered and extensively modified to a form and method more suitable to Japanese understanding and culture.

NOTE:

(Ed Parker, 1982). When Mitose began teaching in Hawaii, he named his art Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu. Today many people call his art Kempo and sometimes use the term Kempo synonymously with Kenpo. According to American Kenpo Grandmaster Ed Parker's book Infinite Insights into Kenpo Volume I William K.S. Chow was the first person to use the term Kenpo to show his break from the Mitose family Kosho Ryu Kempo.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on December 7 1941 Mitose was residing in Honolulu and had to come to terms with the fact that he was Japanese by birth but American by citizenship. Mitose went on to open the Official Self-Defense Club where he trained fellow servicemen and civilians and began to expound upon the merits of his Japanese Kenpo.

He hoped that one day Kenpo would become Americanised. William K.S. Chow cultivated the seeds of American Kenpo. He was primarily a student of his father W.K.S. Chow but also had some training from James Mitose. Chow's father was Chinese and thus Chow learned mostly the Chinese ancestral art of Kenpo Karate (5 animal Kung Fu) which has been passed down from Bodhidharma.

Chow was also a street-fighter and while he learned many circular and flowing movements from his father, he incorporated some of the linear movements and take-downs he learned from Mitose. Seeing the value of incorporating both systems, Chow began to modify Kenpo Karate. Chow could see that one day Kenpo could reach its full potential and once its potential was reached Kenpo would greatly exceed other systems. 

Through the efforts of William K.S. Chow and Ed Parker, American Kenpo has reached this potential and will continue to grow through the efforts from dedicated instructors of the art today. As you can see Kenpo has taken many centuries to evolve into the art it is today.

Throughout its history Kenpo has been changed and modified by the masters to be effective at a specific moment in time. The needs of the people was the driving force that compelled significant changes to the system. It prompted new innovations to the techniques and training methods to produce the Kenpo system as we know it today.

Kenpo will continue to change and grow, replacing out of date material with new and relevant training methods and techniques that work in today's environment.

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