Kempo or Kenpo?

Usually, the first question I get asked is: "Which is it, Kempo or Kenpo?" (as it is commonly written both ways). The answer is: "It's both, and it's neither." All Zen aside, let's answer another question first...

What is it?

Ken·p - (literally "fist law"). Kenp, also known as Kemp, is a 'common' Japanese term used to refer to unarmed martial arts, and is sometimes used as a blanket term for martial arts in general. Typical translations can be "fist principles", "way of the fist", or "law of the fist form". Kenp is typically defined as a Japanese martial art using holds, throws and in particular, stunning blows, to subdue or disable an opponent.

Now, back to our first question…

If you have read the discussion on the correct spelling of Jjutsu, [link to this discussion], you know that there is always the potential for confusion over the spelling and/or pronunciation of Japanese words when they are used in English. That is especially true with the word Kenpo, or Kempo.

The Kanji (Japanese/Chinese characters used for writing), taken separately, the first character, "Ken" means fist, while the second one, "H" means law. When read together as a single word, it can be transliterated as either "Kenp" or "Kemp".

Confused? Shouldn’t it be "Kenh"?

I'm not going to explain all of the technicalities of the Japanese language. I can’t even keep up with all of the crazy rules of English, much less a foreign language. Suffice it to say, when characters are put together to form new words, often the sound of the character changes. This shouldn't be a hard concept to comprehend, as it is quite common in English as well. Otherwise, how do you explain that "tough" is pronounced "tuff". (Shouldn't it be "toe-ugg"?)

So, just as in English, Japanese words don't always sound exactly as they are spelled. As I said, I'm not going into how an "h" becomes a "p", and how an "n" becomes an "m". You will just have to trust me when I say that the term "Kenp" is the correct spelling of the word that is pronounced "Kemp". Therefore, Kemp and Kenp are both acceptable forms of transliterating the Japanese name, and the meaning is not changed by the slight change in pronunciation, whether you say Kenpo, or Kempo.

Got it? Good! But, we're not finished yet...

Remember my answer to the original question? I said, both and neither are correct! What did I mean by that? Well, we have covered the "both", now let's cover the "neither".

If you will notice, I originally wrote the words as "Kempo" and "Kenpo", as they are commonly written in English. However, in my definition and explanation, I wrote Kenp and Kemp. Notice the difference is the macron (bar) over the "o" ("").

In Japanese pronunciation, this macron is used to signify an elongated vowel, usually an "o", or a "u". However, this long "o" in Japanese is longer than the English long "o". In fact, it is almost like saying the "o" twice. Not "oo" as in "cool", but actually "o-o". Therefore, we now have the Japanese word that is written as "Kenp", is pronounced "Kempo-o". However, one problem still remains…

In writing the English language, "" is not a common character to be found on the typical keyboard. While it is true that the modern computer makes it relatively simple to add this character, as I have done here, it is still not the way we normally write in English. Therefore we have no choice but to modify the spelling to simply "Kenpo".

Fortunately, dropping this designation of the elongated "o" doesn't really impact our pronunciation of the word that much. You see, English speakers, especially American English speakers, tend to elongate the "o" at the end of a word anyway. So, the macron is not really necessary after all.

Japanese Kenpo

If you go to Japan and ask someone for information on Kenp, Kemp, Kenpo or Kempo, they will understand what you mean and tell you what you want to know, or point you in the right direction. It’s all good!

So, did I go through this whole explanation for nothing? Did I lose you after "H"?

Actually, I have two reasons for going through this whole business of spelling and pronunciation.

First of all, my point is to explain why I will be using Kenpo, and none of the other possible spellings, in order to be consistent when I write about this topic. I feel it would be confusing if I continued to shift back and forth (as you have seen in this preliminary explanation).

My second point is that there are some who would have you believe that Kenpo and Kempo are different arts. That is simply not true! Anyone who tells you that is misinformed, and has not read this explanation (please have them read it in order to become enlightened, like yourself). Granted, there are different schools, or ryu, of Kenpo; each with its own concepts of strategy and tactics. But should you observe those different ryu in action, you would say the differences are virtually imperceptible.

And, no matter what anyone says...

In the eyes of the Japanese, it's all Kenpo! In fact, by the time you have finished this article, you will see that even that is an irrelevant point, because actually...

It's All Jujutsu!

Why? Because Jujutsu is a martial art; Kenpo is a state of mind.

The Culture of Kenpo

Samurai on Horseback

We typically associate the development of Japanese martial arts (bujutsu) with the Samurai, the military class of feudal Japan. Volumes have been written, poems composed and songs sung of the many military campaigns of the valiant Samurai. However, as has been the case throughout history, "the one who rules writes the history." We must, therefore, be suspicious of the reliability of so much "official" and "authorized" historiography, which seems to have recorded for posterity an idealized version of an otherwise more painful reality.

In the immense doctrine of the Japanese martial arts we find long lists of combat specializations. They are usually divided systematically according to the particular views of the author discussing them. Certain authors, for example, make a clear distinction between those "superior" specializations formally practiced by the Japanese warrior (samurai, or bushi) and those which he despised because they were practiced by the members of other, "inferior" classes within the rigidly stratified hierarchy of Japanese culture.

As we shall see, this attitude is why some of the most common martial arts, Kenpo in particular, were nothing more than footnotes in Japanese history, simply because they were common practiced by the lower classes; or that which was considered to be outside the so-called "Code of Bushido". However, this limited view of bujutsu ignores a vital source in the development of Japanese unarmed combat; the civilian, or heimin (ordinary people).

This discussion will thoroughly cover this rich, but forgotten source of material. It is important to fully understand the background upon which the whole of Japanese bujutsu, especially Kenpo, has been generated. In building this discussion, I have based my argument on these points:

  1. A society so immersed in Military culture as that of feudal Japan, could not help but produce an underclass also fascinated with all things Martial (even if frowned upon, or even illegal).
  2. During several periods of Japanese history, the masses were not allowed to have weapons. Instead, they learned to use the body as a weapon.
  3. Through observation, experimentation, and sometimes even direct training, the commoners learned the same methods of combat familiar to the Samurai.
  4. The feudal society of "overbearing" samurai, bandits, etc., ensured the need for combative skills, and provided ample opportunity to use and perfect it.

The Heimin (The League of Ordinary Gentlemen)

From the earliest periods of recorded history, every member of a clan was expected to be able to fight, whether as a conscript by imperial decree or in defense of his own territorial unit. Although the farmers were the main source of foot soldiers, all the members of a clan, whatever their profession, from the artisans who made swords, spears, and other weapons to the merchants who traded whatever the clan produced in order to pay military expenses, were expected to do their part when the clan was attacked or went to war. Everyone had to be familiar with the "fist principles" of Kenpo.

Once the warrior class was formed, these "common" soldiers were seen as a threat to the Samurai's newly obtained status. Although the Samurai, through consolidation of power, had risen to the top of the 'food chain', they were still seen as commoners in the eyes of the Noble Class. That put them in a precarious position between the lower and upper classes which obviously led to an "identity crisis".

This need for an identity usually resulted in overcompensation when dealing with commoners, and often an outright resentment of their own common heritage. In an effort to secure their place as the only military power to which both the ruling class and the commoners could turn to for protection, the Samurai routinely made efforts to strip the commoners of any weapons or methods they might use for insurrection.

Nevertheless, although they were strictly controlled and their weapons confiscated whenever and wherever possible, these common classes still managed to maintain their own traditions in matters of combat, especially that of Kenpo. Traditions which, ironically, the "hated samurai, with their arrogant manner and foolishly vain appearance", as the commoners described them, were instrumental in insuring they would strive to preserve.

In other words, the more the samurai tried to keep the lower classes in their proper place, the more resistant they became!

Even the censored records of the Tokugawa period could not avoid making at least passing reference to certain groups of men whom authorities characterized as "rebellious", yet were seen by their peers as heroes, protectors, etc. These men did not belong to the military class, but were "bound together by an obligation to stand by one another for better or for worse, regardless of their own lives, and without enquiring into one another's past". Like their military counterparts and perhaps as an unavoidable reaction to the overbearing exclusiveness of the samurai, they developed their own code of conduct, known as kikotsu, to which they were fiercely loyal.

Repeating an observation which is often found in studies of the Japanese feudal period, Lewis Bush states in Japanalia (1959), "the majority of writers on Japan have completely ignored this interesting development in that country's culture. Yet, this 'commoners' code has been responsible for inspiring [the Japanese] with the habit of defiance and rebellion against anything unjust and unreasonable, and also with compassion for the sufferings of fellow-men".

As we shall see, when required by loyalties to "set things right", they would not hesitate to use force, if it was necessary. When combat was required, they lived by the "Law of the Fist", otherwise known as Kenpo.

The Farmers

Rice Farmer

Throughout Japanese history, the principle remained (at least for the lower category and ranks of warriors), that the "samurai originated from the peasant class and should return to it". It was this principle which kept the warrior class in the provinces very close to the land, the source of wealth and power, and to those who cultivated it.

The lower levels of the military pyramid merged with the upper levels of the peasant class. The 'trials and tribulations' of either, tended to affect the other, throughout the entire feudal period until the industrial revolution shifted the focus of history from the countryside to the cities.

By the late Heian period (11th and 12th centuries) these armed forces, generally able-bodied men of peasant stock (and experts at Kenpo), had become more or less permanent standing armies; the first step toward that military specialization which was to form the root of a new warrior class.

End even the characteristically Japanese need to trace one's lineage back to a divinity or its direct representative on earth (that is, the emperor and his aristocratic entourage) could not erase the fact even into the late 16th century, the leaders who would shape the military history of Japan for the next 300 years (Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, Kato Kiyomasa) were originally of peasant stock.

For centuries, the great mass of farmers remained a potentially formidable mass of fighters. But preparation for war that could come at any time, was the least of his worries. The farmer had to defend himself, as best he could, from armed bands of brigands roaming the countryside, as well as from the government's predatory tax collectors.

We find in the annals of Japan numerous and lengthy reports concerning uprisings of the "soil people" (domin), whose explosive revolts became a deeply-rooted tradition to which peasants resorted when their conditions became intolerable. Every one of those revolts was a bloody affair which necessitated sending armed forces from the various government centers to quell it.

In 1428 and 1485, for example, peasants, undoubtedly well trained in martial arts such as kenpo, revolted against the Ashikaga representatives appointed by the government. The farmers foiled every attempt to overcome their resistance made by the government and neighboring military clans, for more than seven years.

There is reported to have been as many as 1,240 revolts during the 268 years from 1599 to the end of the Edo era in 1867. These revolts were extremely violent and feared even by the bushi because of the desperate commitment of the peasants themselves to the use of force, once they had been goaded into action.

But these were not simply disorganized riots. In the provinces, the farmer remained a formidable opponent with whom most warriors preferred not to tangle, if at all possible. A traditionalist by nature, these peasant farmers adopted a stern code of ethics, and, steeped as he was in the territorial tradition of the clan, he was particularly influenced by the Confucian ideals of loyalty to father and lord. Fearless peasants of both sexes often set out with impressive determination to avenge the death of a family or clan member.

With the influence and inclinations of the farmer as a fighter well versed in the art of kenpo, it should be no surprise that he was also a developer of weapons and arts of combat typically rural in derivation. This is clearly evident in his vast arsenal of sickles, connected sticks and chains, rice grinders, slings, and so forth, in addition to any of the traditional weapons which he could obtain from the warriors in one way or another.

Many believe that it is the pragmatic mind of the farmer that is responsible for innovations in one of the most distinctive elements of Japanese Kenpo; that is, their proficiency in the techniques of projection (throwing), known as nage-waza. These techniques are comprised of a variety of ways in which particular movements of the human body can be used to off-balance an opponent before projecting him down to the ground. The purpose of nage-waza is to injure or stun the opponent upon impact with the ground, rendering him incapable of continuing the fight.

Burden Throw

The influence of the farmers, who are said to have developed many of these techniques, is evident in some of the names and methods of specific nage-waza. For instance, the Seoi-nage (burden throw) is performed in the same manner as one would shoulder a burden such as a rice bale to carry away; and also the Ashi-gari (leg reap), using the leg in the same manner as a scythe to reap an opponent's legs out from under him.

Leg Reap

That many farmers also kept abreast of the latest developments in the traditional arts of bujutsu (which were considered the exclusive domain of the bushi) is confirmed by the existence of several complaints lodged by military chroniclers concerning those comparatively well-to-do farmers who, "supported a masterless samurai (ronin) in their household for the purpose of learning military arts unsuited to their station in life".

Formal bujutsu training of commoners was shut down whenever discovered, but it was as much to their advantage to study martial arts as it was to the Samurai. So, it always continued in one form or another. Being deprived of weapons, however, Kenpo, the law of the fist was the chosen method of unarmed combat.

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The Militant Clergy

A position of importance in the practice of bujutsu was held by that interesting figure, the militant monk or priest. Special guard units (ozonakama), formed of both priests and laymen, had always been assigned to stand watch over important temples in order to protect sacred property from sacrilege. But the great monastic orders living high in the mountains, with their warlike cohorts of "mountain warriors" known as yamahoshi and, later, as yamabushi, were among the great protagonists of Japanese history from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries.

From these centers, two major militant sub-sects emerged: the Honzan-ha and the Tozan-ha, both of whom participated actively in the civil wars of the feudal period. The fugitive emperor Godaigo, who had once placed two of his sons in the temple on Mount Hiei, was assisted by the yamabushi, who fought the Kamakura warriors from mountain to mountain, and temple to temple, with a savage display of valor which equaled, or even surpassed that of the professional warriors.

It took the samurai more than four hundred years of continuous warfare, of repeatedly battling the militant clergy of the plains and of the mountains as well as the single-minded priests of the Ikko sect and others, before the yamabushi were finally eliminated as dangerous contenders in the struggle for absolute power.

Monk with Naginata

These militant priests and monks were extremely skilled in the use of kenpo and traditional weapons and methods of combat. Bows and arrows, swords, and-above all, spears were familiar weapons to them. The naginata (shown at right), for example, is said to have actually been invented by them and later adopted by the bushi who had experienced the deadly efficiency of this weapon when it was used against him.

Down through the ages, these monks and priests continued to participate actively in developing kenpo, being considered experts in its theory, particularly in regard to those inner factors based upon mental control and coordinated power. The bushi themselves acknowledged this theoretical dependency upon their religious masters by flocking in large numbers to the temples or abodes of abbots or humble monks who had become famous as teachers of the techniques and disciplines which strengthened the personality and developed the character of a man, thus enabling him to face, without flinching, the hostile and dangerous reality of combat. The names of these religious teachers are still cherished in the martial chronicles of Japan.

The concept of jujutsu was known and practiced by these monks and priests, but it was more often referred to as Kenpo, or fist principles.

Artisans and Merchants

Although relegated to a minor position by most chroniclers of bujutsu (when they are mentioned at all), the artisans and the merchants who populated many of the rural and most of the metropolitan centers of Japan during the feudal era were also quite active in developing their own specializations of kenpo.

Greatly renowned were those societies of fighters known as otokodate. The name means, literally, plucky or manly fellow, and these societies are said to have been formed as a necessary response to the common brutality of many Samurai warriors.

These paramilitary societies, according to custom, were organized vertically with a headman called "father." In many districts and wards this headman, or za, wielded more power over the people than the military authority in charge of the area.

Many of the members of these societies, as well as most of their leaders, had formerly belonged to the military class before becoming, for one reason or another, masterless men who roamed the country like waves (ronin) until they finally joined one or another of these local organizations.

These men of the street were more than just capable fighters skilled in kenpo. Indeed, they had to be extremely resourceful in combat since, by law, they were denied the right to wear the traditional weapons of Japan. As excellent street-fighters, they developed certain methods of combat (especially unarmed) to the highest degree, since their primary targets were sword-wielding warriors. There are also indications in the records that they used, with consummate skill, the dirk or short dagger, which could be easily concealed beneath street clothes.

Weapons were used when possible, but usually the street-fighter relied on his knowledge of Kenpo.

The dangerous techniques of strangulation, and techniques of joint dislocation, are often mentioned as tactics used by street-fighters. And, it goes without saying, that a code of conduct based on the "Law of the Fist", would of course contain techniques of percussion based on the delivery of powerful blows and kicks directed against vital centers of the opponent's body.

A curious note on the resourcefulness of these "weaponless" warriors…

A peculiar item which became a redoubtable weapon in the right hands was the long smoking pipe used in the fifteenth century. These pipes being very long, were stuck in sashes like a sword. Many leaders of rival factions in Kyoto were jailed and executed for their role in street riots in which these pipes were used to such an extent (and so effectively) that they were finally forbidden by direct decree.

Also quite clearly, some of these societies degenerated into criminal organizations, that still exist today. That leads us to our next group…

The Police Forces and the Underworld

Without question, one of the major motivations underlying the development, application, and transmission of methods and techniques of individual combat, is the need for upholding the laws of the land. Major innovations in kenpo are represented in feudal Japan by the various police forces and by their direct counterparts in the underworld.

From the earliest recorded periods, each military clan in the provinces had its own police corps whose main function was to maintain law and order within the boundaries of the clan's territories. This function applied not only to control over the common people, the farmers, the artisans, and the merchants affiliated to the clan, as well as to any travelers or strangers, but also to the clan's warriors.

One must remember that the law of feudal societies was "a martial law".

Openly supervising the police apparatus in times of peace, through a series of civil and military officials, was the town-commissioner. More covertly, all police were under the supervision of the censors, who controlled military and civilian subjects alike through their extensive, elaborate, and extremely efficient intelligence organization. Their preferred instruments in this organization were the professional "magic men" (ninja), [whom we sahll examine in a moment].

There is ample evidence that the feudal police officers and their assistants devoted much time and effort to the development of weapons and unarmed combat techniques directly related to law enforcement against violators who, for the most part, were armed and (given the nature of feudal punishment for any violations) usually desperate. In fact, the criminal, the gambler, and the fugitive from the law were often hired as bodyguards by the za wardsmen because of their skill and determination as street-fighters, and experts at kenpo.

In addition to the need to defend themselves against the often deadly reaction of an armed criminal seeking to evade capture, police officials frequently had the unpleasant task of trying to arrest citizens of superior rank without hurting them. Police forces were said to be masters of the techniques of immobilization, known as osae-waza or torae, which could be used effectively to subdue a suspect, whether standing or lying down, without causing him serious injury, often using pressure-points on the body, or nerve centers.

Police officers are sometimes mentioned in connection with the development and application of techniques of unarmed combat. However, the official chroniclers of the bushi often include them grudgingly. They are only indirectly given their rightful due as contributors to the art of unarmed combat, which in these cases, is referred to by the ‘common’ name of Kenpo.


Gratuitous Ninja

Many mistakenly believe that ninjutsu is another form of unarmed combat. The fact is, ninjutsu is just another combat specialty, another art (jutsu), that really has nothing to do with unarmed combat. At least, not directly.

The translation of ninjutsu would be "the art (jutsu) of stealth (nin)," or concealment, which is a term commonly employed in the doctrine of bujutsu. This definition, however, identifies only one of the many characteristics and functions of the ninja; concealment, thus creating and perpetuating of an aura of mystery.

When certain "disreputable" tasks had to be undertaken, the honor-bound warrior (who was expected to fight openly against his foe in accordance with the rules of his profession) was not usually the one asked to perform them. Ninja, then, were often raiders who hired themselves out as spies, assassins, arsonists, or terrorists, to the lords of the Japanese feudal age. Large organizations of ninja families (commoners), specializing in such tasks, were generally available to the highest bidder.

Books and documents (torimaki) related to the heritage, arts, and techniques of ninjutsu, therefore, were considered secret family treasures which it was the responsibility of each generation to preserve and transmit to the next. They contained instructions concerning those techniques of combat which the ninja had to master, including the traditional martial arts of the country: archery, spearmanship, and swordsmanship. The ninja were also masters of the techniques of iaijutsu, which enabled them to draw swords or daggers and cut with blinding speed.

The unarmed method of combat which he mastered was, of course, Kenpo. It was utilitarian and the most practical form suited for the ninja’s purpose. He obviously did not attend the samurai war college and did not learn jujutsu, with all of its theory and philosophy of application. The ninja was not interested in "ju", "wa", "yin" or "yang". He was only concerned with the most efficient way of accomplishing his mission. Kenpo fit that purpose perfectly.

The origins of ninjutsu, placed approximately between 500 and 300 B.C., are commonly linked (as are most Oriental arts of combat) to Chinese sources. Mention is often made of the interesting section on methods of espionage which is embodied in the ancient treatise The Art of War, written by the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu.

The functions of the ninja may be represented in general as having been those of infiltration into hostile environments, performance of acts of sabotage or assassination, and management of a successful escape once a mission had been completed. The various deeds to be performed once infiltration had been accomplished were as varied as the military or strategic circumstances themselves. We can divide these deeds or acts into three main categories: first, the gathering of intelligence by espionage; second, assassination, subversion, destruction of enemy defenses; and third, direct action, including combat operations in almost every form, ranging from an open encounter to an ambush.

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Ninja were also used in the espionage network constructed by the shogun to control the imperial court and the powerful provincial lords. Roaming bands of ninja are said to have engaged groups of warriors in local battles, either to suppress attempted sedition or to enlarge the ninja's own territorial control. Individual lords and powerful members of other classes such as the merchants, for example, also employed the ninja, who left behind them an unbroken record of more than five hundred years of intrigues, disruptions, assassinations, and other forms of disorder.

So, just one note of caution for those who may be looking to learn a new martial art…

If you want to learn about camouflage, study ninjutsu. If you want to learn the unarmed combat methods used by the ninja, study Kenpo!

Pirates, "Argh'

Finally, this survey of the importance of all classes and types of people in the development of weapons and techniques of individual combat cannot be satisfactorily concluded without a reference to the pirates (wako) who infested the waters and terrorized coastal towns of Korea and China from the earliest periods of Japanese history.

There is no doubt that they fought extremely well even against overwhelming odds, regardless of the numbers of men or quality of weapons arrayed against them. There is also no doubt that they shared with the majority of their countrymen that martial characteristic of the Japanese clansman: the resignation to, and expectation of death in the event of defeat.

These Japanese pirates had become famous all over Asia for their "fine fighting qualities and their utter disregard of death"; qualities which the European powers cleverly exploited by hiring and using them as mercenaries and soldiers of fortune. Because of frequent travel back and forth to continental Asia, it is probably to the medieval wako that kenpo owes the acquisition of foreign methods of individual combat and their dissemination throughout pre-Tokugawa Japan.

We know that Kenpo is also the Chinese term for unarmed combat, though usually thought of as more specialized in percussion techniques. But not only the name is the same, the similarities of techniques described as being used by these Japanese buccaneers are unmistakable. It is quite possible that it was the wako who originally "imported" to Japan these alien methods of unarmed combat aboard their ill-gotten picaroons.


So, then, are Kenpo and Jujutsu the same thing? Basically, yes!

Japan is extremely mountainous and as a result, it doesn’t have much usable land. As an agriculturally based society, its population was highly concentrated in a few small areas. This close proximity, and the ties, as we have seen, between the masses and the military elite (for good or bad), meant that transference of ideas and techniques was inevitable.

No matter how secretive the jujutsu schools may have been, simply through observation, experimentation, and sometimes even through direct training, those secrets were going to get out. Therefore, both systems were based on the same core of techniques. The difference was only in their application.

Until the 20th Century when various budo (martial way) systems were introduced, there were only two schools of thought (if not actual schools), regarding the strategy and tactics of unarmed combat.

Jujutsu was taught to the Samurai, and Samurai trained for war. War was conducted in full armor, and striking techniques (atemi-waza) have only limited application against a soldier in armor. This does not mean that Samurai didn’t learn atemi-waza, or ever have occasion to use it off the battlefield. It simply means that striking techniques took a secondary role to other unarmed combat techniques, and weapons.
Kenpo was the Commoners method of combat. It was used by law enforcement, as well as for settling local disputes and just plain old street-fighting. Dealing with an opponent in armor was usually not an issue, and the availability of weapons was limited. Therefore striking techniques took a primary or at least, a more prominent role. But kenpo still made proficient use of the same techniques of projection, dislocation and strangulation as used by the Samurai!

Striking with one's fists has often been qualified as one of the most ancient and spontaneous of all the arts of combat. Chinese methods, according to the doctrine of kenpo, strongly influenced many Japanese systems of combat based upon the predominant functionality of a man's arms and legs used as weapons of percussion.

In actual, all-out combat, when proficiency in atemi-waza is added to a knowledge of techniques of projection, strangulation and dislocation, an expert in these arts becomes a most redoubtable fighter with a comprehensive range of strategic possibilities at his command. We can, therefore, perceive the position of importance the atemi-waza occupied in the art of Kenpo practiced in feudal Japan.

It should not surprise us unduly, then, to learn that many of the specialized arts of the "empty hand" famous in Japan under the name of kenpo and, more recently, of karate, although based heavely upon use of the body as a weapon for delivering blows and kicks, often employ that same anatomy to hurl an opponent to the ground.

The reason we are more familiar with jujutsu than with kenpo is that Jujutsu had a system of instruction and philosophy of application. This made it more easily transmissible in a dojo or "school" setting. Also, jujutsu just sounded better, more elite! After all, it was the method used by the legendary Samurai warriors, therefore it must be better! At least, that’s what they told us.

But it really doesn'’t matter now does it? Now that we know those practicing what they knew as kenpo, were actually practicing jujutsu anyway!

Want to learn Kenpo?

I can teach you. I admit, I have opted to go for the elitist system and call it Jujutsu. However, I am also quite practical in realizing that you probably don’t need to worry about fighting in armor. Therefore, my system has a high priority on atemi, as in Kenpo, so that you will be fully prepared with all of the tools you would ever need in unarmed combat.

If you want to learn authentic Japanese Kenpo, otherwise known as Combat Jujitsu, I will show you techniques that can be learned quickly and (with practice) executed with lightning speed! Combat Jujitsu is truly the world's deadliest martial art.

The Los Angeles Jiu Jitsu Academy is the only place in the Los Angeles area that teaches authentic Combat Jujitsu. Click on this link to find out more about the Los Angeles Jiu Jitsu Academy.

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Jujutsu is a martial art; Kenpo is a state of mind.

Mark A. Jordan
Rokudan (6th Degree Black Belt)
Budoshin Ju-Jitsu


Bush, Lewis. Japanalia. New York: David McKay Co., 1959
Ratti/Westbrook. Secrets of the Samurai. Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1973
Mol, Serge. Classical Fighting Arts of Japan. Kodansha International, 1970

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