karazenpo go shinjutsu

The Real Octagon

One book that should be on every martial artist’s bookshelf is “In Search of Kenpo” by James Mitose. Even if you have never trained Kenpo and don’t plan on it, this is a collection of Japanese stories that teach many great martial arts lessons. Many of our readers however are Kenpo students and will value these stories even more!

I just finished reading this book to my Junior Leadership team and they loved the whole thing. I personally enjoyed re-reading “Appendix II” at the back of the book. If you’re like most readers, the stuff at the back of the book often gets skipped, but in this instance, it is worth the time - kind of like the end of a Marvel movie.

“Appendix II” is a detailed explanation of the Kosho Family Crest. This crest is the symbol of the Kosho Kenpo system, the system that James Mitose (and therefore most Kenpo students in the United States) will trace back to. The crest is fairly involved and the appendix breaks down every symbol within it, but I’m going to focus on one piece - the octagon found inside the circle.

The author writes that “the octagon represents the eight aspects of the Kosho Kenpo system:

  1. Energy Collection
  2. Meditation
  3. Philosophy
  4. Japanese Yoga
  5. Proper Nutrition, consisting of proper diet, healing arts and herbs
  6. Kenpo arts of punching, kicking and self defense techniques
  7. Push-Pull arts (Judo and Jiu Jitsu)
  8. Jumping patterns which permit escape from danger with no physical contact (evasions)”

I think this view of martial arts should be taken on by all teachers, no matter the style. This is a holistic approach that will develop a true martial artist. This is the “Martial Arts Way of Life.” How sad to think that at many dojos only number 6 (striking arts) is taught. Then due to the popularity of Jiu Jitsu, in some schools only number 7 is taught. And in the rare instance that the two are taught together, the other 6 may be missing. As you can see, Kenpo was intended to be taught alongside Jiu Jitsu and the other 6 items outlined above!

Another one of Grandmaster Mitose’s books is titled “What is Self Defense? (Kenpo Jiu Jitsu).” Again notice that Kenpo and Jiu Jitsu are together and presented as one method - Kenpo Jiu Jitsu, not Kenpo and Jiu Jitsu. This was taught along with developing a healthy lifestyle and striving to be the best possible version of yourself. We love this concept and have reorganized the categories above with some slight modifications:

  1. Health/Fitness
  2. Meditation
  3. Philosophy/Mindset
  4. Yoga/Stretching
  5. Nutrition and Health
  6. The Stand Up Arts
  7. The Grappling Arts
  8. Self Defense

If you want to pick up “In Search of Kenpo,” the back of the book lists a price of $6.95, but my last Amazon search listed a used copy for $75! And “What is Self Defense? (Kenpo Jiu Jitsu)” will be well over $100. But worth it!

We’ve had a logo drawn up for this blog that integrates the octagon with the red and black color scheme on the cover of "In Search of Kenpo." While most people will make the UFC connection, our readers will now know the real meaning. Do you like it?