Today most people don’t really know what the martial arts are and this is especially true of the art of Kempo. James Masayoshi Mitose was the first person to introduce Kempo to the American public, but only a limited aspect of the art was shared and accepted by the master.
WORLD WAR II (THE PACIFIC WAR)
After Pearl Harbor was bombed, many people expected the Japanese to invade the island at any time. When Mitose decided he needed to teach Kempo to the people there it was with the idea of preparing them to fight Japanese soldiers during an invasion.
Mitose therefore taught the most deadly aspects of Kempo, as he knew it. Mitose was trained in a form of Sogo Bujutsu, meaning comprehensive martial art. He knew deadly strikes, withering throws, inexorable joint locks, weapon skills, and auxiliary forms of training that came from Ninjutsu.
What he taught during the war was the most devastating aspect of Kempo for two reasons. First of all, Mitose needed to teach the most effective techniques, which would need little training to be useful. Thus he emphasized the striking techniques aimed at vital points to take an opponent down fast.
Mitose also realized that the students would not have the power to deliver a ‘one strike certain death’ technique known as Ikken Hissatsu that he’d been taught by his Okinawan teacher of Kempo, so he emphasized the use of combinations, known as Renzoku Ken, continuous striking.
Second, Mitose was sure that the Japanese would invade in short order and so was trying to prepare his students to fight to the death. He was preparing them for combat, not sport. Mitose didn’t approve of sport training because it watered down the reality of the techniques and he knew that his students would be facing armed Japanese soldiers who would be coming in force.
He prepared them for actual combat conditions of fighting more than one opponent and with deadly effectiveness. This is why he taught them to rely on strikes first and with deadly efficiency, aimed at vital points and thrown with so much speed that they would overcome any opponent.
After the war Mitose realized that he’d open Pandora’s Box, as far as the martial arts are concerned. He’d let the deadliest aspects of Kempo out and he needed to balance it with the ‘peace art’, which were the techniques of no bodily contact, which were used to evade, dodge, and avoid.
In the history of Kempo in Japan and Okinawa, the complete unified art was brought to the islands where it adapted culturally to certain forms of fighting by the emphasis of certain primary principles.
On Japan the Japanese Bushi who fought in complete suits of heavy armor focused on the Aiki principle and developed Aikijujutsu and other forms of combat from Kempo. The Ashigaru, foot soldiers, emphasized the principle of Ju which they adapted to their light armor and longer weapons, so that hip throws, leg reaps, and foot techniques, became the foundation of their form of Jujutsu developed from Kempo.
Rural warriors and farmer warriors, known as Goshi and Jisamurai, developed arts based on Nin, the patience to fight an opponent guerilla style and with great strategy. They developed advanced forms of scouting and spy networking from the Karumijutsu (body lightening art) of Kempo.
On Okinawa the Okinawan royalty developed Karate, Toide, and Kobujutsu from the principles of Go (strength), Shu (taking), and Buki (martial tool). The study of these three aspects made the Okinawan warrior a complete martial artist who had Sogo Bujutsu, comprehensive martial arts, skills.
Mitose taught the actual fighting skills in preparation for the battles of warfare, but afterward he wanted to teach the rest of the art as more appropriate to peaceful existence and civilian self defense.
Unfortunately not everyone wanted to learn the peace art and so Mitose in frustration retired from teaching.
I have been fortunate to study directly from the line of Mitose, as well as, learn from sources connected to his overall lineage. Mitose learned the idea of Sogo Bujutsu from his Japanese teacher who studied traditional systems of survival and also from his Okinawan instructor who was a master of the complete art.
The difference between the mixed up messes taught today as mixed martial arts and Sogo Bujutsu are like the difference between night and day. The mixed up martial arts have people learning different techniques from difference arts and you can see the confusion in the movements and applications of their skills.
Sogo Bujutsu, of which Kempo is an example, teaches principles through techniques. But unlike many people who study only different arts without an understanding of the Toitsu, principle of unity, the true master of Kempo, and all Sogo Bujutsu, come to understand that the eight principles actually work in harmony and are present in all techniques.
By understanding this the Kempoka in the execution of any given techniques understands that a punch is a throw, which is a joint lock, which is a strike, which is a choke, which is a weapon manipulation.
All techniques are one and in understanding the one you know all arts. This is why in Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei, the main art is known as Shogei Toitsu Kempo, all arts unified fist law.
Bugei, the old term for Sogo Bujutsu, refers to complete combat and survival skills. Today most styles of Kempo use the term Kempo Karate or Kempo Jujutsu for the limited knowledge they teach. Many of these styles in America come from the Mitose lineage, while others go further back to Choki Motobu, who was one of Mitose’s teachers.
Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei strives to preserve the Sogo Bujutsu of Japan and Okinawa, as passed through the associated lineages derived from Mitose’s teachers and their teachers. Having trained with Richard Stone, Rod Sacharnoski, and Bill Wallace, I have been exposed to the main lineages, which Choki Motobu influenced, as well as, other important lineages of Japan and Okinawa.
I’ve also had many martial friends who have shared their knowledge of various martial arts and systems with me, helping me to have a complete understanding of the true nature of the martial arts.
I teach Kempo Bugei, the complete martial arts of the fist law, teaching the full range of Japanese and Okinawan weapons along with the striking and grappling skills of Kempo. Most important I teach the principles of Kempo so that a person can truly develop into a master of the Sogo Bujutsu.
In the traditional concept of the ancient martial arts, there are the Juhakkei, eighteen martial arts forms. Due to the emphasis on sport, which limits practice and perception, the eighteen forms are almost unknown in America, but among the practitioners of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei they are the normal forms of training.