Part self-defense, part sport... part exercise, part ritual - this is the intriguing complexity of Kenpo Karate. It is one of the oldest and most devastating forms of weaponless self-protection that man has ever developed; yet, it is relatively new and obscure to the western world. In more modern times, Karate has taken on the aspects of a major sport. It is this unique combination of defensive and sporting techniques that has created a wave of enthusiasm throughout the United States and the rest of the world. The United States in 1956 saw only two instructors. Now, there are literally thousands.
Through centuries of oriental development and refinement, physical blows, punches and kicks have been perfected to an art form. Kenpo Karate teaches how to down an opponent through highly skilled coordination and manipulation of hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Maneuvers by expert Kenpoists are swift, precise, and powerful.
It is a paradox in our age of mass nuclear annihilation that the average occidental person knows so little about his own self-protection when threatened by everyday occurrences. Yet the need for it is made apparent by every daily newspaper and the steadily-rising crime rate all over the world. A study of Kenpo Karate will give one this indispensable knowledge.
Size and gender are no barriers. A woman can master the art of self-protection as effectively as a man and live free from fear. A man of slight build can down a stronger opponent or combat several at a time. A "Black Belt" in Kenpo Karate commands the envy and admiration of his or her community, not to mention the respect paid to their unique physical and mental abilities for a master of "Kenpo Karate" can disarm or overwhelm an opponent in seconds.
But this mastery is not confined to physical feats. Mental conditioning is a vital part of Kenpo training. Techniques for concentration and alertness help the Kenpo practitioner to develop his visual and auditory range to an extraordinary power of sensitivity, so they can perceive the approach of danger before it strikes.
Training in how to fall and how to avoid injury during practice or actual combat are essential parts of the study. The additional rewards in body conditioning and healthful exercise are equally valuable.
In training and as a sport, the practice of Karate is accompanied by a ritual of centuries-old formalities that precede lessons, demonstrations, and practice sessions. These symbolize the mutual respect with which Karateists regard each other and their art.
Although modern Karate is Japanese in character, and the words “Kenpo Karate” in the Japanese language translate to mean “the law of the fist and the empty hand," prior to this, it was known in China as “Chuan fa Gung fu”, which has the same meaning in Chinese. Before its history in China, fragmentary records indicate that it may have been practiced in some form by the ancient Egyptians, or even 5,000 years ago in India. More recent history dates it from around the fifth to sixth centuries.
This progression of development appears to have been from India into China, with several great men of different centuries given the credit, then adopted by the Okinawans from the Chinese more than 500 years ago. In Okinawa its techniques were developed and guarded in great secrecy until this century, when two experts introduced Karate into Japan in 1916 as a sport, not as a Martial Art. Unfortunately, this modern sport version lost some of its effectiveness as the best system of self-defense, as a lot of deadlier techniques were taken out to make it safe for school kids to practice. Also, as some of the “traditional” moves were handed down from generation to generation, they lost the meaning and practicality of what the original creator intended them to be, therefore, many of them appear to be useless dances in which the practitioners are unable to apply or make the moves work effectively on the street.
So what is Kenpo Karate? The updated version of American Kenpo that is taught in the Mitchell System of Kenpo Karate is a culmination of many, many years of study and teaching experience. Grandmaster Jim Mitchell, along with his son, Professor Jerald Mitchell, have spent over 60 years studying and teaching the Martial Arts. Master Mitchell was a former first generation Black Belt and personal protégé of the late Grandmaster Edmund K. Parker. Master Parker was the undisputed father of American Karate, having opened the first Karate studio in the United States in 1954. Master Mitchell had a father-son type of relationship with Master Parker and managed his headquarters studio in Pasadena, California in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. He then moved to San Diego where he was the District Manager of six Ed Parker studios. He continued his training with Mr. Parker on a regular basis, and was the only student Mr. Parker trained privately, in his home every week, for a ten year period. Since Mr. Parker passed away in December of 1990, Master Mitchell has continued to refine and update the “System” based on the concepts and principles of creativity gained from Mr. Parker, as he never intended it to be “trapped in tradition” and always advocated change and improvement. We therefore believe that the Mitchell System is the most updated version of American Kenpo in the world today!