The Origins of Kenpo
Kenpo is considered by many to be the first eclectic martial art. Its origin evolved in China. And according to legend, those martial arts began over a thousand years ago.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century two Buddhist Samurai families brought knowledge of Kenpo from China to Kyushu in Japan. It was modified throughout many years to include the families own Jiu- Jitsu arts into its current form. It is from here that most modern forms of Kenpo are derived.
According to modern legend, in 1916 at the age of five, James Mitose, a man of Japanese descent, was sent from his home in Hawaii to Kyushu, Japan for schooling in his ancestors' art of self-defense that he called Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu. The name referred to a Chinese martial art as seen from a Japanese perspective. After completing his training in Japan, Mitose returned to Hawaii. Near the beginning of World War II in 1936, Mitose opened the "Official Self-Defense" club in Honolulu. It was from here that the five major Kenpo students; Thomas Young, William K. S. Chow, Edmund Howe, Arthur Keawe and Paul Yamaguchi would study and bring Kenpo to the rest of the world. (Photo: Al Tracy).
William K.S. Chow adapted Mitose's approach and "Americanized" the art. He is perhaps responsible for the largest leap of Kenpo to the general public. In 1949, Chow opened a school of his own at a local YMCA and referred to his art as Kenpo Karate in order for the name of the art to be more recognizable to the general public who already had an idea of what "karate" was but were unfamiliar with what kenpo was.
Edmund K. Parker, who is probably the most famous of Chow's practitioners, began studying Kenpo with Chow. Parker further adapted the methods to revisit the Chinese origins of Kenpo to enhance our current understanding of the art.
Al Tracy began training with Ed Parker in 1957 and by the early 1960's he and his brothers had begun to teach the system. Soon Al Tracy and his brothers were opening Kenpo schools and clubs across the country. The Tracy's organization preservrs the Original Kenpo/ Traditional Kenpo curriculum.
More history to come....