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Speeding Up the Kenpo Belt System

An interesting perspective of the kenpo belt system and how it came to be, and some of the shortcomings it possesses.

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The Kenpo Belt System

The Kenpo Belt System is an interesting, little work. It is divided into a colored ranking system that goes like this: white, orange, purple, blue, green, brown (3 ranks), and Black Belt (multiple ranks).

There is a problem with this, which I will describe in a second, but first, let me tell how the belt system came about.

ed parker kenpo karate training manual
Here’s the real story, but the start of per 150 kenpo techniques scientifically analyzed…

Originally there were fewer colors. Some hold only a white belt and black belt, but most belt systems, at least inKarate, had four colors. white, Green, Brown, and Black Belt.

Students of Ed Parker, the Tracy Brothers came a cross a dance instructor from Fred Murray Dance Studios, and he showed the brothers how to put students on contracts. This was a boon to the hard working karate instructor, for it enabled him to hold people to contracts, and therefore paying dues longer.

The problem was that there were so many techniques to be dispersed through the belts. Thus, the kenpo karate techniques were divided into 8 groups, which turned out to be about 40 techniques per belt.

Students were taught a technique every lesson, thus keeping them on a belt level for 20 weeks. 8 times 20 and you have 160 weeks, divided by 50 weeks in a year, and you have three polls years to get to black belt. And, it actually took about four years.

kenpo training book
Continuing 150 Kenpo Techniques thoroughly analyzed, plus how to master Kenpo forms.

The problem was that before that people earned their black belts in a fraction of the time. Mike stone, arguably the best karate tournament fighter in the world, got his black belt in 7 months.

Now, if somebody like Mike Stone came along, he couldn’t earn his black belt fast, but was stuck in the time scheme of four years.

In other words, he could only go as fast as the contract allowed. The odd thing was that people loved it. Although, to be honest, this writer thinks they loved it because of the intimacy and efficiency of the private lesson.

Anyway, one can argue about this, dispute it if they wish, and so what. People either buy into it or not, and that is up to the person.

As for myself, I was to test for brown belt, and I got drafted, and then, when free again, I joined a different school.

The belt ranking system in this school was 8 belts, but there were only four colors: white, green, brown, and black belt. Each color had a level or two in it.

And, the odd thing, we weren’t on contract, and people could go as fast as they learned the material. This made us work harder, for we could see the end of the race, and didn’t feel we had to go around the track three or four extra times.

So we had people who earned a black belt in a couple of years, and sometimes less.

Oddly, time was increasing to black belt, but that was because karate, and then Kung Fu (courtesy of Bruce Lee) was popular, new systems were being discovered, and more forms and techniques were being added to the system.

kenpo karate 3
Completing the scientific analysis of 150 kenpo techniques, plus the actual logic used to make Kenpo a unique and personal system for every individual.

So I made it through, just in time, I might add.

And that is the story, plus a couple of extras thrown in, about how the Kenpo Belt system came to be.

If you want to break out of the forced time to black belt, it is recommended that you start studying on your own, outside of school, and accumulate sufficient information so that you know what works, especially in Kenpo, and have a large database of martial arts knowledge.

Check out the ‘Creating Kenpo Karate’ series by Al Case. It has 150 techniques completely and scientifically analyzed, plus a wealth of data concerning how to make any martial art system efficient and workable.

This has been an article about the Kenpo Belt System.

He Killed a Kenpo Founder and Stole his System

The story of the man who effectively killed the founder of modern day kenpo karate.

How Kenpo Founder James Mitose Died!

James Mitose was the fellow who brought Kenpo Karate from Japan to Hawaii, and thence to the rest of the world. He is considered one of the founders of Kenpo Karate.

And, who, you might ask, could ‘kill’ a fellow who had studied martial arts for decades? Who introduced Kenpo Karate to the world?

The story is right below, and it is a corker, with one of the most bizarre endings you will EVER read.

James Mitose ~ The Founder of Kenpo Karate

James Mitose was born in Hawaii in 1916. At the age of four years old his family returned to Japan that he might receive a good eduction.

One of the important elements of his education was the study of the martial arts.

The martial arts he studied included Okinawan Karate and Japanese Jujitsu. The training was done at the Mt. Akenkai Shaka-In temple.

In 1935, at the age of 21, James returned to Hawaii, and it wasn’t long before he began teaching Martial Arts. He called his art by the traditional names of Shorinji Kempo, and Kempo Jujitsu. Eventually, he settled on the name Kosho Shorei-ryu Kenpo.

Sensei Mitose taught martial arts for over ten years, but eventually stopped teaching and moved to Southern California, and here is where he met the man who would later ‘kill’ him.

Terry Lee (Nimr Hassan) ~ The Man Who Killed James Mitose

In Southern California James Mitose would teach only a few students, and one of these was a young man named Terry Lee. Mr. Lee changed his name to Nimr Hassan.

In the 70s Nimr Hassan was arrested for the murder of a Mr. Namimatsu. Mr. Namimatsu was stabbed multiple times, had a completely collapsed eye, and was strangled.

The evidence was clear cut. Not only was a footprint of Nimr Hassan on the victim’s chest, but he admitted his guilt in court by saying that he had done the stabbing and strangling, but he wasn’t guilty because when he left Mr. Namimatsu was still breathing.

At this point, the story takes a vicious turn: Terry Lee claimed that James Mitose gave him the weapons, which included a rope and an ice pick, and told him how to commit the crime.

James Mitose was arrested and taken to trial, and the result of that trial was a terrible miscarriage of justice.

Japanese translators were used, and even the court would admit, at a later date, that the translations were inadequate.

James denied inciting Terry Lee to murder, but stated that as his martial arts instructor he was responsible for the crime. On that flimsy ‘evidence,’ nothing more than a pointing finger and ‘he said,’ James Mitose was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

And Terry Lee? Nimr Hassan? For turning state evidence, for accusing the man who had taught him martial arts, he spent three years in prison.

After he was released from prison Terry would claim to be the legitimate inheritor of James Mitose’s martial arts system; he claimed to be the Hanshi of the Mitose family martial arts.

James Mitose would die in prison, while the man who effectively killed him would continue teaching martial arts for many years.

The Man Who Killed Kenpo

For another bizarre story, check out ‘The Man Who Killed Kenpo.’