Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

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Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby PainDog » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:43 am

This is a bit lengthy, but I really think there are fewer more interesting subjects in martial arts than the development of American Kempo



American Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

There is perhaps nothing with as diverse a lineage as the martial arts.
Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, the martial arts were never static they have always been in a constant state of flow and evolution.

According to one legend the various forms of Chinese Kung Fu originated with the arrival of a Buddhist monk from India (some say Persia) named Bodhidharma to Shaolin temple in China.

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Legendary Monk Bodhidharma


He found the Chinese monks to be in poor physical condition for the demands of meditation and incapable of defending themselves. He then taught them the South Asian martial art Kalaripayattu. The monks would then adapt Kalaripayattu into the various forms of Kung Fu.


Okinawa and the Ryukyu islands have a diverse cultural heritage beyond just martial arts. Okinawans are a Japanese people; however, their heritage is a bit more diverse than Japanese from the northern islands, having strong ties with China and South East Asia. Okinawa is geographically closer to the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, than it is to Tokyo.


Before it was annexed by Japan, Okinawa had strong relations with the neighboring Chinese and South East Asian populations. The influence of Chinese martial arts helped to influence the native Okinawan martial arts such as karate.


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Okinawan karate practitioners


Kempo was a name alternately used for Karate in Okinawa. Some forms of kempo would have more Chinese Kung Fu influences than the later forms of karate such as Shotokan or Kyokushin.

In the 19th century the Pacific Islands of Hawaii would become a territory of the United States, it would also become a destination of many Asian immigrants who were coming to work on the sugar plantations.
Immigrants would arrive from Japan, the Philippines, and China. Slowly the Asian cultures started to mix together along with native Polynesian populations (who themselves descend from Malayo-Polynesian populations in South East Asia) started to meld together, forming a unique Hawaiian culture.

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Memorial in Hawaii dedicated to the Japanese immigrants which worked on the sugar cane plantations

American Kempo would owe its origins to the multi-ethnic Asian populations of Hawaii. It’s founder Japanese American James Mitose was born 1916 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

At around the age of 4, Mitose was sent to live with his grandfather in Japan. In Japan, where he would learn martial arts as well as philosophy.

As tensions in Japan started to escalate in the 1930s, with Japan’s preparation of war with America, Mitose returned back to Hawaii in 1937.

In Hawaii, he would start to teach Kempo, which he called Kosho Shorei-Ryū Kenpo. Among his prominent students was Chinese-Hawaiian William Chow who would go on to play a large role in the development and spread of American Kempo.

Mitose moved to Los Angeles in 1955. While in LA, Mitose would go on to be an ordained minister, and earned a doctorate in philosophy. Mitose had a lifelong interest in philosophy and religion and even when in Japan learned about Japanese Buddhism, Christianity, among other philosophies.

In 1974 Mitose was arrested for the murder of man known as Mr. Namimatsu.
Namimatsu was murdered by one of Mitose’s students Terry Lee. Lee had strangled Namimatsu, beat him, and stabbed him repeatedly with a screwdriver.


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James Mitose

Lee claimed that Mitose had provided him the weapons, and instructed him to kill Namimatsu.

While there is considerable controversy surrounding Mitose’s involvement in the death of Namimatsu, Mitose was convicted of murder and would ultimately die serving out his life sentence in San Quentin State Prison.
Lee the man who had actually murdered Namimastu was only given a three-year sentence for testifying against Mitose.

Mistose’s student William Chow, would continue teaching kempo in Hawaii, and would have several notable students including Ed Parker and Adriano Emperado.

Ed Parker moved from Hawaii to the mainland United States in 1950’s, and taught a more Americanized version of kempo, which he called American Kempo.
Parker would have tremendous success, and became a well-known martial artist and stuntman in Hollywood. His students included several from the Hollywood elite, such as Elvis Presley.


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Ed Parker with Elvis


In the 1960’s Ed Parker would also be responsible for bringing a young Martial Artist from Hong Kong, named Bruce Lee, into the American spotlight. Bruce Lee’s performances were showcased as part of Parker’s International Karate Championships.



One of Parker’s students, Dan Inosanto would become a close friend and student of Lee, and ultimately take the lead in spreading Bruce Lee’s philosophy of Jeet Kun Do after Lee’s death. Inosanto would go on to be an accomplished martial arts instructor and several of his students have had a major role in the development of modern Mixed Martial Arts, such as Erik Paulson and Ray Longo.

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Dan Inosanto training with Erik Paulson


While Ed Parker went on to have tremendous success in the mainland United States, kempo would continue to evolve in Hawaii.
One of William Chow’s other notable students Filipino American Adriano Emperado began to mix native Filipino martial arts with his kempo, and was keen to create a hybrid martial art fit for street fighting.
In 1947, Emperado along with other Hawaiian martial artists Peter Choo, Frank Ordonez, Joe Holck, Clarence Chang would develop a system they called Kajukenbo, a word formed from Karate, Judo, KENpo, and Boxing.


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Adriano Emperado


Perhaps no one would go on to popularize kajukenbo as much as John Hackleman.
Born in Hawaii in 1959, Hackleman would start his path into martial arts at the age of 9 training judo and Shotokan; however it wasn’t until 1969 when John was 10 that he found his true path in kajukenbo.

Hacklemen would be trained in the hybrid forms of martial arts by Walter Godin, and would receive black belts in kajukenbo from not only Godin, but also from Adriano Emperado.

In the 1980s while living and teaching martial arts in California, Hackleman made further modifications to the style he had been taught and began to call it Hawaiian Kenpo.

In the 1990’s Hackleman was challenged to a style vs. style contest by a khoi khan karate instructor. When Hackleman took him up on the offer, the instructor suggested he fight one of his students instead.


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Glover Teixeira with John Hackleman and Chuck Liddell


That student was a young man with a mowhawk named Chuck Liddell. After a humbling experience at the hands of Hackleman, Liddell would take the experience as a learning lesson and would later become a student under Hackleman.
While under Hackleman’s guidance, Chuck Liddell would go on to become UFC light heavy weight champion, and one of the more popular mixed martial artists of all time.



http://www.blackbeltmag.com/daily/tradi ... o-founder/

http://www.thepitonlinedojo.com/the-uni ... ter-godin/

https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/featur ... of-the-pit

http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/yoga-medi ... dhidharma/

http://www.americankenpo.com/dedication.html
Last edited by PainDog on Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby DeceptaCon » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:52 am

Bruce Lee was a stuntman, prime Matt Hughes would have mauled him 8)
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby PainDog » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:20 am

DeceptaCon wrote:Bruce Lee was a stuntman, prime Matt Hughes would have mauled him 8)


Bruce Lee weighed less than Demetrious Johnson, so yeah prime Hughes would have mauled prime Lee.

That fact has nothing really to do with the incredible history of kempo in the United States.

With all of kempos success, it's interesting that it's founder died in prison without really knowing the impact his martial art would have.
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby jblaze » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:12 pm

PainDog wrote:
DeceptaCon wrote:Bruce Lee was a stuntman, prime Matt Hughes would have mauled him 8)


Bruce Lee weighed less than Demetrious Johnson, so yeah prime Hughes would have mauled prime Lee.

That fact has nothing really to do with the incredible history of kempo in the United States.

With all of kempos success, it's interesting that it's founder died in prison without really knowing the impact his martial art would have.

Hughes was a cage fighter not a streetfighter. Things like Wing Chun and Kenpo can be used effectively in fights with no rules. If you brought back UFC 1 rules where Lee could hit or kick the groin its pretty much a wrap. Lee also had a nice finger jab to the eye if there were no rules. In a fight with allot of rules Hughes has about a 90 percent chance of winning. Nick Diaz is another example of a good cage fighter but a mediocre streetfighter. You don't always have 15 minutes to beat someone you may get interupted within 20-30 seconds.
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby The Smurf » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:29 pm

jblaze wrote:Hughes was a cage fighter not a streetfighter. Things like Wing Chun and Kenpo can be used effectively in fights with no rules. If you brought back UFC 1 rules where Lee could hit or kick the groin its pretty much a wrap. Lee also had a nice finger jab to the eye if there were no rules. In a fight with allot of rules Hughes has about a 90 percent chance of winning. Nick Diaz is another example of a good cage fighter but a mediocre streetfighter. You don't always have 15 minutes to beat someone you may get interupted within 20-30 seconds.



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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby The Smurf » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:32 pm

i liked this thread. didnt know this about chuck's coach. Sweet. Ive spoken to that dude on twitter a couple of times. He sounds like a humble dude.
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby DeceptaCon » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:08 pm

jblaze wrote:
PainDog wrote:
DeceptaCon wrote:Bruce Lee was a stuntman, prime Matt Hughes would have mauled him 8)


Bruce Lee weighed less than Demetrious Johnson, so yeah prime Hughes would have mauled prime Lee.

That fact has nothing really to do with the incredible history of kempo in the United States.

With all of kempos success, it's interesting that it's founder died in prison without really knowing the impact his martial art would have.

Hughes was a cage fighter not a streetfighter. Things like Wing Chun and Kenpo can be used effectively in fights with no rules. If you brought back UFC 1 rules where Lee could hit or kick the groin its pretty much a wrap. Lee also had a nice finger jab to the eye if there were no rules. In a fight with allot of rules Hughes has about a 90 percent chance of winning. Nick Diaz is another example of a good cage fighter but a mediocre streetfighter. You don't always have 15 minutes to beat someone you may get interupted within 20-30 seconds.

What makes you think Matt or Nick would use cage rules in a street fight? Bruce Lee great stunt man/street fighter.
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Re: Kempo: From San Quentin to Bruce Lee and Chuck Liddell

Postby PainDog » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:02 pm

The Smurf wrote:i liked this thread. didnt know this about chuck's coach. Sweet. Ive spoken to that dude on twitter a couple of times. He sounds like a humble dude.


Thanks man.

I've never had the chance to speak with Hackleman but in interviews he always seems like such a great guy.

Hackleman, Inosanto, Duke Rufus and some others are sort of living links between modern MMA and "traditional" martial arts (whatever that may mean)
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