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The Arts of Kempo: Welcome

Following are the nine principles currently taught as the foundation of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei,

as well as the the arts and skills that are archetypes of those principles.

The system is comprised of seven empty-hand arts, a weapon art that flows between them, and the ultimate the martial art that binds unifies them all, Shogei Toitsu Kempo.




The first art you learn in Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei is also the ultimate art when you master all of the other eight principles.  This art is called Shogei Toitsu Kempo.  Shogei means all arts, while Toitsu means either unified or beginning in one.


Historically we think of Kempo as ‘all of the other art began in the one art’ of Kempo.  Having studied the history of the many martial arts represented in Kiyojute Ryu, all of them have an influence from the original Kempo.  The second meaning of ‘all arts unified’ in Kempo shows what we are trying to accomplish in our training.


A person who joins Kiyojute Ryu first begins learning Shogei Toitsu Kempo, which contains throws, chokes, joint locks, blocks, punches, strikes, and kicks, along with certain weapons.  They are not taught in the mixed up way of modern fighting sports, but in a unified way so that a person learns the principles behind the techniques and the unified nature of ancient and real Sogo Bujutsu, the comprehensive martial arts of survival, better known by the ancient term Bugei.


Once a person has a foundation in the unified art, they can begin to specialize in the other principles so that they can have a greater depth of understanding in the primary art of Kempo.  Every thing one learns in the auxiliary martial arts helps you become a greater master of Kempo.  As you learn the other eight principles and learn to unify them in the ninth principle of Toitsu, you develop a defense which has no gaps.  You know all of the principles by knowing all of the arts that began in the one art of Kempo.



Aikiho is the principle of harmony.  When a person attacks you, they generate force with which to strike or grapple you.  If you allow the energy to affect you, you are either injury or controlled.  Thus the goal of Aikiho is the ability to move in harmony with that energy in order to take control of it and thus turn it against the assailant.  Aiki has been defined as Ju refined to a higher level.


Yet when an attacker attacks with less force, thus less momentum, Aiki is not always effective and thus Ju is always a necessary principle of combat.  However whenever there is sufficient momentum, then Aiki is the perfect principle with which to deal with an assailant.


Aikiho was developed by the upper level warriors known as Bushi.  These warriors fought in heavy suits of armor which made strikes and throws that required lifting a person’s mass ineffective.  The Bushi began to study the weaknesses of their armor and realized that the main techniques for fighting in armor were to attack the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.  Bushi armor in order to allow full use of the arm in using a bow and sword needed to maintain flexibility of those joints, rendering those areas capable of being attacked.


There were also certain armor clashing techniques used as well.  In these techniques the warrior would throw their armor against the armor of their opponent breaking their balance, hurling them to the ground.


In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei this art is called Aikiho Kempo Jujutsu and the term Aikijujutsu is used in short.  These techniques give superior ability in joint manipulation and certain forms of throwing an attacker.  Mastering the principle of harmony allows a person to move with superior rhythm and timing, allowing a Kempoka to evade strikes and deliver more effective techniques.



All of the previously mentioned principles can be applied to weapons when the weapon principle itself is properly learned.  Literally Buki means martial tool and while translated as weapon I like to keep focused on the idea of using any tool in a martial way.  The ultimate idea of weaponry is to be able to use anything in your environment for survival.


Bukiho then is the weapon or martial tool principle.  The first rule is that physically you continue to move in the way of Kempo, naturally moving and applying the empty hand principles to the weapon in your hand, or hands.  The weapon is just a natural extension of your body and is applied in the same way as your bodily weapons just adjusting to range and whether it is a bludgeon, bladed, or flexible weapon.


The next aspect of Bukiho is the three levels of thrust, which are usually considered to be high, middle, and low from a Kata perspective and in application to head, to torso, and below the belt.  These thrusts can also be applied to a prone person, still keeping in mind that you are thrusting to actual target areas of self defense.


Finally Bukiho has eight angles which from a normal perspective can be seen as down, up, left, right, down left, down right, up left, and up right.  However it is important to always aim your weapons at vital points when you need to do serious or lethal damage and specifically not aim at vital points if you’re trying to stop an attacker without deadly consequences.


In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei we call the study of weaponry Bukiho Kempo Kobujutsu.  We study the ancient weapons of Japan and Okinawa, along with some Chinese weapons, in order to internalize the weapon principle so that we can use anything, literally anything, in our environment as a weapon.  Thus wherever you are you have items with which you can defend yourself.  Whether in a restaurant, an office, or anywhere else, you are armed with weapons of survival.




Any person who enters a Dojo comes in with a certain level of strength.  The first goal of self defense training is to evaluate that strength, help the student to have a good understanding of their capability, and put them on a program which will naturally and safely increase their strength and fitness level.  Goho means strength principle, which is the evaluation and development of strength in the proper manner.

The most effective way to develop ones strength is through a study of Kime, focus, through the practice of blocks, punches, and kicks.  Thus the martial art that trains this principle most fundamentally is Karate, the common art of Okinawa.


What we normally think of as Karate was a modified art that was created to teach to school children.  Primarily the art was taught through forms that taught a person how to focus their physical energy through blocks, punches, and kicks.  To help perfect the focus, time was spent on a Makiwara, wooden striking post.


It has been said that Yasutsune Itosu was most responsible for this development and taught a group of instructors how to teach this method of Karate.  The idea was that young students were taught the fundamental striking art of Karate and then after graduating from school could enter the Dojo of a full Karate master to learn the Hiden Bujutsu, secret martial arts, that were still being kept secret among the Okinawan martial artists.


In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei this art is taught under the name of Goho Kempo Karate.  The emphasis is on developing the strength principle through focus and concentration while performing the Waza, techniques, of Karate.


A final important aspect of the strength principle is to always apply your strikes to Kyusho, vital points.  No matter how hard you hit if you hit the attacker on the strongest part of their body, they will be able to keep fighting, but if you take your personal weapons (i.e., hands, feet, etc.) and strike the weakest parts of their bodies (i.e., eyes, throat, groin, major veins, arteries, etc.) you will be able to stop them.  Thus as the striking techniques are taught so are the best places to use them.



During the formative years of Japanese philosophy, especially during the sixth to tenth centuries, Buddhism and Taoism came into the country and not only influenced religious development but also contributed to the improvement of the martial arts.  Inyo is the Japanese pronunciation of Yin and Yang.  Inyoho can be translated as the negative/positive principle; however a more understandable translation from a martial arts point of view may be empty/solid principle.  Some have called Inyoho the principle of balance.


Many Ryu developed the idea of using the concepts of Taoism to express fighting principles.  This included the concept of learning to empty before force and enter the emptiness of an opponent with fullness.  This concept can be seen in certain ancient forms of Jujutsu, especially in systems that had a Ninjutsu aspect, and in certain Karate styles.


In certain Ninjutsu systems the concept of Inyo was actually applied to the art of stealth itself, but in Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei we preserve the concept of Inyoho primarily in what traditional Ryu of Japan or Okinawa refer to as Chugoku Kempo and sometimes as Shina Kempo.  For teaching senior citizens the art is referred to as Tsung Shih Tai Chi Chuan and the emphasis is on the exercise it provides for older individuals.  However some seniors do want to know the self defense interpretations of the Tai Chi moves.


To those who want to learn the full Kempo Bugei of Kiyojute Ryu this principle is taught through the martial art called Inyoho Chugoku Kempo.  This art combines the Wu Hsing Chuan of Shaolin, Tai Chi Jou Fa, Tai Chi Shih San Shih, Hsing I Chuan, and Pa Kua Chang.  These are the Chinese influences that entered Japan and Okinawa providing impetus and inspiration to their developing martial arts.


Mastering Inyoho opens many doors to a deeper understanding of neutralizing an opponent’s strength while moving to a positional advantage from which to deliver one’s own techniques.



Juho is the gentle principle, which refers to physical gentleness meaning the ability to yield to overcome, mentally be flexible enough to adapt and change to handle situations, and spiritual gentleness which is a form of unconditional love.


Juho as a fighting principle can best be perfected through the practice of throwing techniques, along with other grappling skills that were practiced by the Ashigaru, foot soldiers of Japan.  These lesser warriors fought in light armor and usually wielded some form of staff weapon, such as Yari (spears) and Naginata (halberds).


Wearing light armor kept punches and kicks from being effective, but allowed for throws, joint locks, and chokes.  The idea was to yield before the force of an attack, thus neutralizing the force, and then using momentum gained to defeat the assailant with their own force.


Hip throws, leg reaps, sweeps, and other such techniques make perfect use of the Ju principle, thus allowing a student to truly master the art of Jujutsu, which is fundamentally the art of yielding.


In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei this art is known as Juho Kempo Jujutsu.  This aspect of the seven empty hands principles is the most important one in regard to self defense.  The principle of Ju is the idea of neutralizing a person of superior size and strength.  Since most attackers specifically choose someone they consider weaker or smaller than them, or someone they already believe they can defeat, it is necessary for anyone really trained in self defense to be able to neutralize size and strength.




A well known principle today, but one kept secret for many years in the martial arts is Nimpo, which is the patience principle.  This principle was one that monks developed in the practice of their religion, especially in regard to their meditation.  The monks practiced their martial arts, Ji Kempo that is temple Kempo, as a form of moving meditation and so the patience they practiced as part of their religion also helped them develop a higher level of skill in their martial arts.


As the Sohei, warrior monks, shared their training with Samurai, the principle changed in emphasis.  Where the monks emphasized patience, the Samurai began to emphasize stealth.  Thus from Nimpo developed the spy art known as Ninjutsu.


Today many people do not understand what Ninjutsu really is because so many teach a form of Jujutsu and call it Ninjutsu.  Real Ninjutsu is a study of fighting strategy, commonly called Heiho, which also includes training in Shinobijutsu, stealth art.  The real art of stealth is how to operate in the shadows, perform espionage, execute commando raids, and otherwise develop patience in the arts of war and in secret during the times of peace.


In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei we practice the patience and stealth principle in the art called Nimpo Kempo Kobujutsu.  The art is referred to as one of the Kobujutsu, for it is taught in the most ancient manner, like it was in the past.  However for those who engage in the art see that it is very valid today.  It can easily be used by police officers (especially those who work undercover), military personnel, and has application to certain self defense situations.



Since I became involved deeply in Karate during my youth, I have investigated the many aspects of Karate development on Okinawa.  Common Karate of the oldest sort has a strong influence from Shaolin, especially of the northern country.  But during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century as some Okinawan masters went to China seeking some of their roots, southern forms of Chinese martial arts began to exert strong influence on some styles of Karate, especially those related to Higashionna’s lineage.


It was believed that Kanryo Higashionna studied the southern style of Hung Gar from Ryu Ryu Ko, while his student, Chojun Miyagi, went to China to find his teacher’s instructor, and upon not being able to do so studied I Chuan, a combined art of Hsing I Chuan, Pa Kua Chang, and Tai Chi Chuan.


Miyagi, along with some other Okinawans, studied under Gokenki, a Chinese teacher who was famous for his Hakutsuru Kempo, white crane martial arts.  Certain founders of the martial arts, Chojun Miyagi of Goju Ryu, Kenwa Mabuni of Shito Ryu, and Chotoku Kyan of Shorin Ryu, all studied with Gokenki, adding aspects of white crane to their systems.  Some of the Shito Ryu branches have taught white crane as secret techniques and even have secret white crane Kata.


Some of the styles secreted the white crane techniques in their Kata, using code names to keep hidden the white crane knowledge and root of their ‘secret’ skills.


Sokon Matsumura was reputed to have studied at a Shaolin temple during one of his trips to China and learned a special form of white crane that he only shared with immediate family members.  His form of white crane was suppose to have been extremely effective and followed the main principles of fighting that were taught in the Chinese groups.


Through my association with various martial artists and most especially Rod Sacharnoski, I have learned the main principle of Hakutsuru Kempo from the various Ryu mentioned above.  I subsume all of the information in Shimpo Kempo Karatejutsu.  The main emphasis is on Shimpo, the mental principle, which expresses itself most noticeably in self control.


The beginning of Shimpo is Mushin, but it progresses through a full series of other mental aspects of development that can be associated with the white crane form of movement.  This is a very special physical method which helps a person develop a tremendous amount of power through physical movement harmonized with mental intent.


The most important aspect of this training is the generation of power which a person learns to produce regardless of their size.  It is a form of power that is a combination of mental intent and coordinated body harmony.



The final empty hand principle is Shuho, the principle of taking.  This principle was the emphasis of the Okinawan royal families, who practiced under the name of Toide, which is pronounced Torite in Japanese.  While this art is seen primarily as a grappling skill, in reality it is much more.


The Okinawan royal families were the rulers, military, and police of their country.  Their skills had to be capable of gently arresting the fisherman or farmer who had too much Saki, while being capable of meeting the lethal attack of marauding pirates.  Their skills were exceptionally effective and helped keep them in power all during their independence.


Once Japan took over Okinawa the Okinawans kept their martial arts a secret, not allowing their invaders to know about their skill.  When the Japanese discovered the existence of Karate in the twentieth century the Okinawans allowed them to learn children Karate and kept the real art a secret until the later part of the twentieth century.


There are nine interpretations of Shuho and these are best taught to advanced students in a Dojo setting.  In Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei the art of taking is known as Shuho Kempo Toidejutsu.  Shuho is considered in Kiyojute Ryu the ultimate principle that teaches the highest level of martial arts development, save for one, which will be mentioned shortly.


Essentially you can think of Shuho as the ability to take whatever life, or an attacker, gives you and turn it to your advantage.  Thus Shu helps you achieve peace in life, knowing that in all situations there is a way to focus on the positive.

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