All About Ryukyu Kenpo
Ryukyu Kenpo* (琉球 拳法) (many times incorrectly spelled Ryukyu Kempo) is one of the oldest, and most effective, life protection arts that man has ever developed. Through centuries of development in the orient, bodily movement, physical blows, punches, and kicks have been refined to a level never before seen in human history.
Masters can split boards, bricks, and stone with their bare hands; perform amazing feats of physical skill; disarm or disable opponents in fractions of a second. This mastery is not confined to physical feats alone. Mental conditioning is a vital part of Ryukyu Kenpo. Techniques of concentration, mental alertness, and internal energy development allow the Kenpo man to expand his visual and auditory skills to an extraordinary degree; so he can sense and avoid the approach of danger. Secrets of the mind and body were discovered and handed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain from the earliest time. Many times, attackers ‘sense’ this danger to themselves and search elsewhere for ‘easier’ prey. The self confidence created by Ryukyu Kenpo training gives one the courage to set and work towards worthy personal goals; and, live free from fear. The Kenpo movements and exercises, also, decrease built up stress and tensions in the body; leading to greater health and self improvement, while enhancing the length and quality of life enjoyed by Ryukyu Kenpo practitioners.
Ryukyu Kenpo is taught by Certified Licensed instructors. These credentials are prominently displayed, or available on request, by all legitimate instructors. Ryukyu Kenpo is a vast and complicated subject involving striking with both arms and legs, parries, entrapments, immobilizations, balance interrupts, joint locks and dislocations, anatomical physiological point structures, analytical research, Kata, weapons (of every kind), two man drills, contact sparring, character development, mental development techniques, and a deep and abiding respect for man and our world. It takes only one year to develop offence (kicking and punching); yet, over 10 years are required to properly develop a total defense. An offensive fighter may win out in the short run; but after two years, or so, the tables start to turn. At this point, the defensive fighter only improves; while the offensive fighter has reached the limits of his ability. Even something as simple as punching someone entails such minutiae as: distancing, timing, angle of attack, twist, load bearing surfaces, point physiology, and energy release (Ki) and transference. Tuite (grab-hand) is the gentlemanly way to self-defense; as, even monkeys can kick and punch. And, it takes years of analytical research (Kenkyu) to be able to understand, and perform Tuite techniques correctly. A student must learn the techniques of other styles and how to defeat them, counter techniques to Aikido, jujutsu, and all other grappling arts. Since all these techniques are contained in the Kata, (not, just the superficial appearance of blocking and striking, such as children can understand) the research of Kata elevates Ryukyu Kenpo to a scientific art. An art that is useful and can be practiced throughout your whole life, even, deep into old age.
*Kempo is the way Kenpo (拳法) is pronounced. This strange phenomenon occurs because Japanese speakers place their tongues on the back of their teeth and close their lips when pronouncing this sound. The attempts to transliterate the different Japanese writing methods into English have caused many difficulties.
Due to its practical, uncompromising nature, Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu can never be a sport.
While this may prevent it from becoming ‘popular’, it does preserve the discipline’s primary objective: the creation of a life insurance policy that can’t ‘lapse’.
“Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu is for Health”
Because Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu is not, and never was, a sport; injuries are almost unheard of in its learning. Football and basketball, each, cause far more injuries in one year than decades of Kenpo training. And, unlike sports figures, Kenpo masters live well into their 80’s and 90’s healthy and free from physical discomforts.
In these times, with people naturally living longer, one of the main concerns is with “quality of life”. Of what use is an extra twenty or thirty years of life; if, it is to be spent as a prisoner in a broken down disease ridden body, or, lonely and bored? Western science has pushed the boundaries of health and longevity; but is still reaching for the answers that are available, now, through the study of Ryukyu Kenpo. “Ryukyu Kenpo is for life”, has been said by generations of Masters. Many Ryukyu Kenpo practitioners have reached the age of 90 and above; and, all are still practicing; as are hundreds in their 80’s and 70’s, several of whom are today’s Master Teachers. In Okinawa, Ryukyu Kenpo is recognized as suitable for all ages. One does not have to change “styles” as one ages; because, Ryukyu Kenpo adapts with the practitioner.
The fixed defensive and therapeutic exercises of Ryukyu Kenpo strengthen the muscles, giving body core strength for proper posture and internal organ placement and protection. The exercises stretch the muscles and nerves, giving suppleness and flexibility to ward off injury. They massage the internal organs, helping in digestion, elimination, and proper functioning of all the bodily systems. They stretch the blood vessels allowing better circulation for oxygenation, removal of waste products, feeding and repair of the body’s cells. They strengthen the endocrine system promoting better flow. They cause strengthening of the bones through recalcification and increased bone density. And all of these cause the brain to function with greater strength and clarity; which, in turn, produces greater disease fighting ability and a higher capacity for intellectual achievement.
Ryukyu Kenpo kata, traditions once cloaked in an ironclad ritual of secrecy, improve concentration, coordination, and the functions of various organs of the body. The controlled breathing techniques, vigorous twisting of the body, oscillation of the limbs, and the contraction and expansion of the muscles, help blood and lymphatic vessels, and improve the functions of the skeletal and muscular structures as well as the digestive system. Kata, the vehicles through which the secrets of the ancient masters were classically transmitted over untold generations, are an excellent adjunct for physical training as they provide curative effects for such chronic diseases as high blood pressure, heart trouble, arthritis, and others.
“Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu advocates the
Avoidance of Violence”
Ryukyu Kenpo has a highly effective way to teach people how to avoid and short circuit violence. Ryukyu Kenpo allows people to actually experience violence in a safe and supportive environment, to see it, study it, and understand it. Only by understanding violence can we prevent it from occurring. Ryukyu Kenpo not only allows us a close look at violence; but, it also teaches us to look closely at ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Self-awareness is the key to prevention. Most times, conflict begins because of communication barriers; and, the misunderstanding and prejudging of others. Prevention of violence can only begin when we understand the thought processes that create violence and the role we play in it. Ryukyu Kenpo gives one the ability to prevent injustices; and, be truly merciful as only a person acting from strength can.
To a victim, it just seems like the violence “came out of nowhere.” In fact, there was plenty of warning - plenty of opportunity to recognize the danger signals - the dangerous circumstances. But, the victim either ignored them, didn't see them or didn't recognize their significance. Crime is a process. It has both a goal and easily identifiable stages. Once Ryukyu Kenpo has taught you these stages, developing crimes and violence are as obvious as a flare on a moonless night. If a person intends to commit a crime against you, his actions will become more predictable and more recognizable to someone who is aware of the process. There are things he has to do. If they are present, you are in danger. If these elements are not present, then there is no possibility of committing a crime. You are not in danger.
Also, a person who is prepared to engage in physical violence will give off certain physiological signals. His body will betray that fact. No matter how his words or behavior attempt to cover it. This collective set of signals is commonly referred to as “vibes”. And yes, someone who is prepared to commit violence gives off “bad” vibes. There is nothing esoteric or “weird” about this. It is a collection of small signals that we unconsciously recognize. They range from physiological (Skin flush/pale, muscle tension, breathing, etc.) to motion (how someone moves while under the influence of adrenaline) and to speech (cadence, tone, pitch). It is not uncommon for the criminal to attempt to attempt to hide his intent in other, seemingly safe actions. He deceives you about his true intentions by hiding them in other, seemingly innocent actions and behaviors.
This is why so many people who are assaulted know something is wrong before, but just can't “put their finger on it” in time. They are confused by the conflicting messages. One part of them senses trouble, but because of the deception in the criminal's obvious behavior, they cannot clearly identify what is wrong. Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu teaches you to how and what to look for.
“Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu is for Society’s Benefit”
Ryukyu Kenpo Kobujutsu’s main goal is to help improve the lives of its practitioners enabling them to become better citizens and contribute more fully to society.
Although modern Ryukyu Kenpo has many Chinese influences, its origin lies in the mists of Okinawan history and folklore. One of the main problems in researching the origins, lies in the paucity of written records and conflicting oral traditions. Fragmentary records indicate it may have been practiced in some form more than 2,000 years ago.
One thing we can be certain of: Bodhidharma (Ta Mo, Da Mo, Daruma) did not bring Chinese Boxing to the Shaolin monks, from India, in 649CE. This is a modern 20th century myth, brought about by a widely popular Chinese novel The Travels of Lao Ts’an, first published in Illustrated Fiction Magazine between 1904 - 1907. In the book the fictional character Liu Jen-fu learns boxing from a monk he met on Omei Mountain. When he asks his teacher for the source of his art he is told “The T’aitsu style that you have learned from me was handed down from the Dharma.” There is no written reference concerning his involvement with anything other than introducing Chan (Zen) Buddhismto China. All else is pure fabrication. On a secondary note: It has often been claimed that a second Shaolin monastery was built in Chiu-Lien-Shan, P’u-T’ien-Hsien, Fu-Chou-Fu, Fukien province. There is no evidence that this temple ever existed, and in fact the Chiu-Lien-Shan is located in Kwantung province. A Chinese scholar named Hsu K’o wrote the Ch’ing Pai Lei Chao in 1917. This work is a 48 volume collection of folk tales and fables which includes stories of the Heaven and Earth Society [Triads] which refer to the legendary Fukien Shaolin Temple. Unfortunately some martial art’s historians have regarded Hsu K’o’s work as history and have used it as a source.
Ryukyu Kenpo's development appears to have been influenced by the early immigration to Okinawa by members of defeated Japanese clans (in 1185 and again in 1333) and the many cultural exchanges between China and Okinawa from the 13th to 19th centuries. In Okinawa, Ryukyu Kenpo’s techniques were developed in great secrecy. Taught only to the landed nobility, it was the domain of the professional warrior class and their families, until modern times.
Another myth that needs to be put to rest – the theory that Okinawan peasants fought the Japanese Samurai using their native fighting skills. The facts are: 1.) The Japanese never had more than a few dozen Samurai stationed on Okinawa at any one time due to the island's acquiescence to Japanese rule. 2.) All of the original teachers of Ryukyu Kenpo (Karate) were, in fact, the nobility of Okinawa - or - as the Japanese would have called them - Samurai. 3.) Many of what the Japanese thought were "peasant" farmers, merchants, fishermen were the sons of noble families. These imaginary battles never happened.
Whatever it may have been in the past, or, wherever it may have come from or been influenced by; the Okinawans gave to humanity one of the very best life protection systems the world has ever known. We proudly continue this tradition.