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16.22) Kempo (Ryukyu)


This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel faq@idempot.net with numerous contributions by others.

16.22) Kempo (Ryukyu)

(Contributor: Al Wilson - awilson@drunivac.drew.edu)


Ryukyu Kempo (which roughly translates into Okinawan kung-fu, or
Chinese boxing science) is the original style of martial arts learned
and taught by Gichin Funakoshi on the island of Okinawa (1). It
stresses the existence of body points within your opponent that can be
struck or grappled for more effective fighting.

Origin: Okinawa Islands (Ryukyu island chain).


Practioners of Ryukyu Kempo believe that karate-do is a popular
subform of Kempo, established within this century by Gichin Funakoshi.
People with original copies of Funakoshi's first edition book _Ryukyu
Kempo_ state that he is clearly is grappling and touching an opponent.
Later editions and current karate books only show a practioner with a
retracted punch, where the original shows actively grappling an enemy.
It is felt that Funakoshi was the last of the purists, wanting all to
learn the art.

In subseqent years, the Okinawans, who have a culture and history of
their own, became disenchanted with the Japanese, and were less
inclined to teach them the "secret techniques" of self defence. When
American military men occupied Japan after WWII, they became enamored
of the martial-arts. It is theorized that the Japanese and Okinawans
were reluctant to teach the secrets of their national art to the
occupiers, and so taught a "watered down" version of karate-do usually
reserved for children. Contemporary Kempo practioners practice
"pressure point fighting" or Kyushu-jitsu and grappling, called Tuite.
It is an exact art of striking small targets on the body, such as
nerve centers, and grappling body points in manners similar to Jujitsu
or Aikido(2).

Modern teachers of this are George Dillman of Reading, PA, Taiku Oyata
of Independence, Missouri, Rick Clark of Terre Haute, Indiana, and


The practioners of kempo believe that kata do not represent origin or
direction of attacks but positional techniques for the defender.
Concentration is made on physical perfection of kata and the Bunkai,
or explanation of the movements. Tournaments of kata and kumite
(sparriing) are encouraged as learning experiences, but not overly
stressed. Also taught is Kobudo, which is defined as weapons fighting
using ordinary hand tools.

Five principles to be observed in Oyata's school:

        1.      Proper distance.
        2.      Eye contact.
        3.      Minimum pain inflication on your opponent.
        4.      Legally safe.
        5.      Morally defensible.(3)

There are a couple of physical differences in Kempo and many other
styles. One is a three-quarter punch, rather than a full twist.
Second is a fist whereby the thumb stops at the first finger, rather
than the first two fingers. Third is the sword hand, which has the
little finger placed as parallel as possible to the third finger and
the thumb straight and on the inside rather than bent.(2)

(1) _Karate-Do: My Way of Life_ by Gichin Funakoshi
(2) _Kyusho Jitsu: The Dillman Method of Pressure Point Fighting_
by George A. Dillman with Chris Thomas.
(3) _Ryukyu Kempo: History and Basics_ by J. D. Logue (Oyata



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