Kenpo Karate is a martial art that originated in Hawaii in the early 20th century and was brought to the mainland United States in the 1950s. It is characterized by fast, fluid movements and an emphasis on self-defense techniques. The word “Kenpo” is Japanese and means “fist law,” while “Karate” means “empty hand.” In Kenpo Karate, practitioners are taught to defend themselves against a variety of attacks using strikes, kicks, joint locks, and throws. The goal is to disable an attacker as quickly and efficiently as possible. Kenpo Karate also places a strong emphasis on physical and mental development, and many practitioners see it as a way to improve their overall health and well-being.
History of Kenpo Karate
We must look further back in time to the beginnings of Kenpo itself in order to comprehend how Kenpo Karate came to be. Under the influence of Chinese fighting techniques, Japan is where the earliest varieties of Kenpo were created. The Chinese method of unarmed combat was employed by the founders, who modified it to make it more practical and effective for use in defence against many other well-known methods. The Yoshida and Komatsu Clans used it first.
Fist Law or Fist Method is how Kenpo is generally translated. Later, in order to remain effective against new arts and styles that emerged over time, it had to be updated and adjusted. It is also known as Kenpo Karate since Karate’s influence started transforming it into a form more like to the Karate we can see today.
William Kwai Sun Chow, his second instructor, is regarded as the creator of Kenpo Karate. Ed Parker, who is always the first person who comes to mind when thinking of American Kenpo, was invited into his club, where he taught the form that bears his name.
Before returning to Brigham Young University in Utah, Parker spent the full six years studying under Chow in Hawaii. Over time, he modified and added to what he had learned from Chow to the lessons he was passing on. He blended several strategies and moves from numerous other martial systems, including Kung Fun, Karate, and others.
Concerns have been raised about Parker’s black belt in kenpo. Parker asserted that he received his black belt in 1953, despite his master Chow’s assertion that he only ever attained the purple under him. Additionally, he incorporated several components into his method that would be ineffective in actual battle.
Many claim that he simply exploited the massive martial arts mania that existed in the United States at the time by producing something that looked dazzling and alluring. However, not everyone holds this opinion, and his fashion sense continues to be quite popular.
Is Kenpo actually just Karate?
Kenpo was not first regarded as a variation of karate because it emerged much earlier. Through history, it underwent stylisation to fit the emerging new martial arts. But Kenpo and karate have very similar beginnings. Both methods were created as a result of interactions between Okinawan people in Japan and Chinese martial artists.
The origins of Kenpo are frequently debated because of this. Some say it’s Chinese, while others say it’s Japanese. Later, we’ll return to the beginnings.
The fashion that Parker popularised in the 1960s was very dissimilar from the one that Mitose brought to Hawaii from Japan. With harsh, quick, and straight moves and strikes, it was more heavily influenced by Japanese crafts. Parker, on the other hand, took that as a starting point but added a lot more of the circular movements and roundhouse kicking of the Chinese styles and forms.
So, depending on your perspective, Kenpo may or may not be a type of karate. The style that most closely resembles Karate moves and techniques is Mitose’s Kenpo, if you must know. However, it was neither regarded as nor known as Karate. Although it incorporates many methods and skills from Chinese arts like Shaolin Kung Fu and others, Parker and his master (Chow) called their form of karate Kenpo.
The well-known American Kenpo practised today is referred to as “Kenpo Karate,” yet it isn’t the original, authentic form of Karate.
Styles of Kenpo
Kenpo today comes in a huge variety of styles and forms. There are five basic forms of Kenpo, each with their own techniques and number of styles that may be counted including the five primary styles which are:
Okinawa-Kenpo has its roots in Okinawa, Japan, which is considered to be the birthplace of karate. It is a self-defense system that incorporates elements of traditional Okinawan martial arts, as well as influences from Chinese martial arts, to form a unique and effective system of self-defense. Okinawa-Kenpo is characterized by its use of hand strikes, kicks, joint locks, throws, and pressure point techniques. It places a strong emphasis on fluid, natural movements and effective techniques for self-defense, and is often taught alongside traditional Okinawan weapons such as the bo staff and nunchaku.
It should be noted that the term “Okinawa-Kenpo” can also be used to refer to specific schools or styles of karate that are based on Okinawan techniques and principles, but have their own unique interpretations and techniques. In general, Okinawa-Kenpo refers to a broad category of martial arts that have their roots in the Okinawan martial arts tradition.
Kosho Ryu Kenpo
Kosho Ryu Kenpo originated in the United States and has its roots in traditional Okinawan Karate, Chinese martial arts, and western boxing. It was founded by James M. Mitose, who brought the art to Hawaii in the early 20th century. The name “Kosho Ryu” translates to “old pine tree school,” and the word “Kenpo” means “fist law.”
Kosho Ryu Kenpo is characterized by its emphasis on strikes, kicks, joint locks, throws, and pressure point techniques. It also incorporates elements of traditional Okinawan weapons, such as the bo staff and nunchaku. The art places a strong emphasis on fluid, natural movements and efficient self-defense techniques, and is designed to be practical and effective for real-world self-defense situations.
It should be noted that Kosho Ryu Kenpo is a relatively small and esoteric style of martial arts, and may not be widely available for study. However, for those interested in learning traditional Okinawan Karate, Chinese martial arts, and western boxing techniques, it can provide a unique and challenging training experience.
Shorinji Kempo was founded in 1947 by Doshin So. It is a system of self-defense that combines elements of karate, judo, and Chinese martial arts, and is characterized by its use of strikes, kicks, throws, joint locks, and pressure point techniques. The name “Shorinji Kempo” translates to “small forest temple fist law.”
Shorinji Kempo places a strong emphasis on physical, mental, and spiritual development, and is often taught alongside philosophy and meditation practices. The goal of Shorinji Kempo is not only to develop the ability to defend oneself, but also to cultivate a peaceful and harmonious spirit.
In addition to its self-defense applications, Shorinji Kempo is also recognized for its use in promoting physical fitness and overall health, as well as for its stress-relieving and mind-calming benefits. It is widely practiced around the world, and is recognized as a popular and effective form of martial arts for people of all ages and skill levels.
Kajukenbo was founded in Hawaii in the late 1940s. It is a mixture of several different martial arts styles, including karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo, and boxing, and is often referred to as the “first American martial art.” The name “Kajukenbo” is derived from the combination of the first syllables of the five styles that make up the art: “KA” from karate, “JU” from judo, “KEN” from kenpo, “BO” from boxing.
Kajukenbo is characterized by its practical and effective self-defense techniques, which include strikes, kicks, grappling, joint locks, and throws. The art places a strong emphasis on versatility and adaptability, and practitioners are taught to use a combination of techniques to defend themselves against a variety of attacks. Kajukenbo is also recognized for its use in promoting physical fitness, as well as its stress-relieving and mind-calming benefits.
Overall, Kajukenbo is a well-rounded and comprehensive martial art that is designed to be practical and effective for real-world self-defense situations. It is widely practiced around the world and is popular for its blend of traditional martial arts techniques and practical self-defense applications.
American Kenpo Karate
American Kenpo Karate was developed in the United States in the mid-20th century. It is based on the teachings of the late Ed Parker, who was one of the first Americans to study and promote the traditional Okinawan martial art of Kenpo Karate. American Kenpo Karate incorporates elements of traditional Okinawan Kenpo Karate, Chinese martial arts, and western boxing, and is characterized by its use of strikes, kicks, joint locks, throws, and pressure point techniques.
The main focus of American Kenpo Karate is self-defense, and practitioners are taught to defend themselves against a variety of attacks using a combination of techniques. The art places a strong emphasis on fluid, natural movements, and is designed to be practical and effective for real-world self-defense situations. American Kenpo Karate is also recognized for its use in promoting physical fitness, as well as its stress-relieving and mind-calming benefits.
American Kenpo Karate is widely practiced around the world and is considered to be one of the most dynamic and effective forms of martial arts for self-defense. It is popular for its blend of traditional martial arts techniques and practical self-defense applications, and is well-suited for people of all ages and skill levels who are interested in improving their physical and mental well-being.