|This is an ancient art that is the basis of all the higher levels of the martial arts that are in existence today. Basically, it is a hand to hand style of fighting that has evolved over the centuries to encompass all of the teachings of arts, and has evolved into many differentiating styles. It is also the first known combat art.
The origin of the art is said to have begun long ago at the Shaolin Temple in China. While this is true in a way, it is necessary to trace the art back even further. According to recorded history, the legend of the martial arts started when Prince Bodhidharma, awarrior, and later a monk, was sent by his teacher, Prajnatara to China to reteach the principles of Buddhism and introduce the knowledge of Dhyana, or Zen Koans, to the practices of those there. Bodhidharma agreed to do this and headed north, to the various southern kingdoms.
|In the year 520 BC, Bodhidharma travelled to the kingdom of Wei where he had an intense meeting with the Emperor Wu. This conversation led nowhere since the Emperor was concerned with worldly matters and did not have much time for spiritual concerns. This had discouraged Bodhidharma and he left for the Honan province and the Shaolin Temple in a kind of depression.|
When he arrived, his worst fears were realized. The monks of the famed Shaolin Temple, which was known even then as aplace of great learning, had grown physically, and mentally, deficient having no other concerns than meditating all day long.Bodhidharma was not happy with this and had to find some way to return the temple to the place of learning it once was. He left for a time and returned to teach all the monks of the monastery the art of Shih Pa Lo Han Sho. This art was NOT meant to be used as a way of war, butinstead used to inspire vigour, confidence, health, and concentration so that the monks could continueto pursue enlightenment.
Forty years later, the first of many attacks occurred. Bandits had decided the temple held vast sums of treasures. In the attack,the monks did not fight well, and it looked as though the temple would fall, and indeed, the elders of the temple were ready to give up. Instead, a young monk, known only as the begging monk to history, fought back with his hands and his feet killing someof the attackers and driving away many more. Thus began the training in the Shaolin temple of the first fighting style known as Chuan Fa.
Over the next few decades, the techniques were expanded so that the learning of Shih Pa Lo Han Sho, supplemented with Chun Fa raised the various techniques from the original eighteen to seventy two. This allowed the monks an advantage, and they were soon known as the silent protectors of the people of China. Later still, a meeting between Ch’ueh Taun Shang-Jen and a master of many martial ways known as Li, developed the fighting style of Wu Xing Quan, which had one hundred and seventy distinct techniques and were divided into five different animal forms. This was the true start of the higher arts, and it was thegreatest gift that the monks could give to the peoples whom they were to teach.
According to some legends, it is said that Kenpo originated in the Okinawian Islands and the Ryukyu kingdoms as well as in Japan, however, this is not entirely true. Kenpo, or Law of the Fist, was a derivative of Chuan Fa. Many wandering monks had brought the arts across Asia, but nowhere was the art more welcomed than in these far off islands and kingdoms where fighting for survival was paramount. Thus, since monks thought the practice of bodily skills to any who wanted to learn, Kenpo was available to Noble and Commoner alike.
Kenpo also developed due to the many disappearances and returns of people from Okinawa and the Japanese Islands. Manytimes had they left for China, and many in the villages thought they had died, their families leaving a marker in the gravesite above the village. They had instead travelled and applied themselves to many differing ideals, and thus learned of the fighting skills of the Shaolin. In their time away, they learned many ways, many types of masteries of different arts, but at the base of which was Kenpo, or Chuan Fa. In most cases, there is a mystery behind the spread of these arts in Japan, especially since it was as a rather abrupt explosion of learning in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, the reasons for this development havebeen lost to history, or rather, been kept from history as many schools of learning are only handed down within the family line.
Today’s modern art of Kenpo, as known across the world and most especially in North America can be traced back to theKosho ryu Kenpo which was developed in Kyushu, Japan by the families of Kumamoto and Nagasaki. These schools of arts,however, are not the only forms of the arts available. As of last count, there were over five hundred different schools with mostof the training going back to as a basis centuries older than that of Kosho Ryu Kenpo.
To be honest, Kenpo is the first of the “Anything Goes” or “unrestricted” Schools of Martial Arts, the real question was, what was the secret that allowed the Kenpo practitioner such power? A saying from the Han Dynasty, “Nothing is impossible to thewilling mind.” was the first attempt to put into words the power of the form, the power of the mind. Thus in reality, Kenpo is a way of training the mind more than that of training the body. This has left the world with few true masters of the Kenpo style for to master this style one must be able to master oneself and then integrate both mind and body into one cohesive unit. It is an emphasis on the combination and utilization of body and mind in concert, and thus being able to achieve the higher levels of enlightenment, that makes the art so difficult.
And before anyone asks, Kenpoist can use weapons, although true masters of the techniques disdain them.