ryukyu kempoThe martial art of the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) developed privately and in secret and was not available to the public. Then, in the early part of the 20th century, karate (as it later came to be called) was presented in a sanitized and watered-down version by teachers who were accustomed to keeping things secret and not at all inclined to share much of what they knew.

As a result, what was once a fearsome fighting art, is today primarily a children’s pursuit. Eight-year-old “black belts” proudly pose beside trophies taller than they while parents watch and applaud. But, the karate these children learn differs from the jazz/tap/ballet taught in the dance school down the street. Meanwhile, the old masters continued to guard their secrets while time threatened the ancient knowledge with extinction.

However, to protect their secrets from being lost, very few masters choose to share more openly what had been for so long guarded jealously. They shared the old fighting art, the original martial art of Okinawa. Known as Ryukyu Kempo (an almost generic name), this art might be called “Karate from when karate was still karate.”

Though it outwardly resembles the martial endeavor practiced by so many in the world today, Ryukyu Kempo is a powerful and effective self-defense system that uses familiar karate movements in surprising and devastating ways.

At the heart of Ryukyu Kempo practice is the thorough understanding of kata. Kata are patterns of solo movement which contain fighting secrets passed down from the past. Analyzing the kata, once-hidden pressure point fighting techniques are brought to light. These secrets are then practiced in partner training to ensure that ancient knowledge becomes a modern reflex.

Ryukyu Kempo has no sporting or competitive aspect. Practitioners do not care about trophies and do not train for tournaments. Instead, they teach ancient warrior disciplines to become warriors for the modern world. This includes not only having skills that can be used to defend oneself and others but also acquiring the inner steel to face all of life’s challenges through hard training.