What is Ryukyu Kempo?
This is a short summary of what Ryukyu Kempo is.
Origin of Ryukyu Kempo by Hanshi Albert O. Geraldi
Ryukyu Kempo is the original Chinese hand of Okinawa. The term"Ryukyu Kempo" is used to identify our system of Okinawan karate.
Over the past few decades, the art of Ryukyu Kempo has increased in popularity. This popularity, however, has resulted in the improper use of the term "Ryukyu Kempo" as a generic term, the same way the word"karate" is used.
The mistaken use of the term "Ryukyu Kempo" has developed from certain aspects of our art being marketed as a pressure point fighting system; this exploitation reveals a lack of understanding. Presently, some schools who claim to know our system of Ryukyu Kempo are simply misrepresenting themselves.
The Oriental characters of "Ryukyu Kempo" are of Chinese origin translated as "Lui Chiu-Chuen-Fa" meaning"Ryukyu islands fist law". These characters were used to describe a particular hard-style of karate taught on Okinawa.
When Gichin Funakoshi arrived in Tokyo in 1922, he published a book entitled"Ryukyu Kempo: Karate." That same year after publication, all plates and printings were destroyed in the Great Earthquake. In this book, Master Funakoshi makes a distinction between kempo and karate, stating he always felt there was a difference between the two arts. In his 1975 publication of "Karate-Do, My Way of Life," he refers to his earlier work and emphasizes the same view.
In Okinawan Master Choki Motobu's 1926 book entitled"Okinawa Kempo: Karate Jutsu on Kumite," he makes the same analogy and draws the same conclusion as Gichin Funakoshi.
In the early 1950's, Master Shigeru Nakamura chose the name "Okinawa Kenpo" to represent his system of karate. The 12-Empty Hand katas directly attributed to Master Nakamura, handed down from his teachers, are the foundation of our present day Ryukyu Kempo.
For several years we communicated with Taika, during which time Bill Wiswell, Jim Logue and myself had formed the first Okinawan Kempo organization. Prior to Taika's return in 1974, we held a meeting to discuss the problems using Nakamura's system name "Okinawan Kenpo," as I had received several letters from a New York attorney addressing the corporate legal status. Bill Wiswell, at that time, owned Ryukyu Imports Inc. in Olathe, Kansas and suggested combining the characters for “Ryukyu” and“Kempo.”
As we walked through La Guardia Airport with Taika, he asked us in broken English “What you call your system?” We replied, “Ryukyu Kempo, Sensei.” To this day, I still remember his response,“Oh, this OK!” This was Taika Seiyu Oyata's very first sanction of the name "Ryukyu Kempo" in the United States.
In the airport parking lot, Taika asked us another question, “Where you wear my patch?” Jim and I looked at each other; almost at the same time, slapping our chest we said, “Over the heart, Sensei!” Again, he responded,“Oh, this OK!” A few steps later, he asked, “Where you wear your patch?” This time we slapped our upper arms (Thinking back, I think we slapped different arms!)
Ryukyu Kempo's 300-year heritage provides a specific traditional system of karate. The 12-Empty Hand katas we practice today are directly attributed to Master Nakamura, derived from his teachers, and are the foundation of our present day Ryukyu Kempo.