Is it KENPO KARATE or KENPO JUJITSU?
The Okazaki Influence of Modern-
Anthony P. Janovich
Everywhere you go today, you see martial arts schools using the words "Kenpo Karate". The late Ed Parker opened one of the first commercial Kenpo Karate schools in the continental United States in 1964, and he was probably the foremost exponent on the kenpo system when he died last December.
Parker was originally taught Kenpo by Frank Chow in Hawaii, and later learned from Chow’s brother, William K.S. Chow, who was Parker’s most influential instructor.
For a closer look at William K.S. Chow, take a step back in time to 1943 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. About 30 students are training under instructor Sig Kufferath at the Kaheka Lane dojo, training hall, in Honolulu. Observing the class is William Chow. Kufferrath, currently the Kodenkan Danzan-
Chow was a frequent visitor to the Kaheka Lane school, and also observed classes occasionally at Okazaki’s dojo. According to Kufferath, Chow would watch a class and afterwards discuss techniques with him. Chow had studied Chinese martial arts under his father and at the time was studying under Kosho-
Chow was not your average martial artist. He had calluses on every knuckle and made regular visits to Honolulu Chinatown to challenge the Chinese instructors and test his art.
Chow’s youngest brother, John A. Chow-
From this lineage evolved arts such as Kajukenbo, founded by Adriano Emperado, a student of William Chow. Emperado was aided by Jujitsu stylist Joseph Holck, boxer Peter Choo and martial artists George Chang and Frank Ordonez in putting Kajukenbo together. All five were influenced by Okazaki, who blended a number of styles to form a complete system.
Most of the Kenpo schools and practitioners on the Hawaiian islands were members of Okazaki’s American Jujitsu Institute, which Okazaki founded in 1939. This included Mitose’s Official Self-
One thing that separates Kenpo Jujitsu from Kenpo Karate is that, in Kenpo Jujitsu, as in Danzan-
According to the Danzan-
Karate is an Okinawan import, brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in 1922. Okazaki’s dojo was the site of the first karate instruction in the United States, as Thomas Miyashiro taught the art to the Japanese and Hawaiian community, keeping with Okazaki’s tradition of teaching anyone regardless of race, sex, etc. In 1934, Chojun Miyagi, the patriarch of Goju-
Many notable celebrities came to Okazaki for either Jujitsu training or physical therapy for their ailments. Included among these were President Franklin D. Roosevelt and actors Johnny Weissmuller, George Burns and Charlie Chaplin. Okazaki’s liniments and formulas for special injuries were especially popular with the islands’ martial arts teachers, regardless of their styles. Mitose, Miyagi, Kano and William Chow were all familiar with Okazaki’s restoration therapy.
If instructors want to say they teach Kenpo Karate rather than Kenpo Jujitsu, that is fine. Karate is a more readily recognized word than Jujitsu, and accounts in large part for its use with Kenpo instead of Jujitsu.
But one fact cannot be ignored: the roots of nearly all Kenpo in the United States lead back to Mitose and Kenpo Jujitsu in Hawaii. Mitose pioneered what has today become known as Kenpo Karate, and his students, such as William Chow, further advanced the art-
About the author: Anthony P. (Tony) Janovich is an 8th Dan and the Head Instructor at the Kodenkan Jujitsu Institute in Santa Clara, California. Professor Janovich succeeded Master Sig Kufferath as Headmaster of the Kodenkan upon Professor Kufferath’s passing in 1999. You can email questions or comments to Professor Janovich at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.kodenkan.com