Ryukyu Kempo History

Before we go any further, we will address the correct pronunciation of the name of our art and some brief history.

The word “Ryukyu” is pronounced as “Roo-Queue” (think of kangaroos standing in a row!) and is the historical name of the chain of islands which were annexed by the Satsuma clan of Japan, and of which Okinawa is the largest island.

The word “Kempo” is pronounced as it reads “Kem-Poe” and is a Japanese translation of the Chinese words “Chuan Fa”, the common translation of which is “Fist Law” or “Fist Method”. The more accurate translation of “Kempo” is “Roll Hand Method” which at a simple level refers to the way the fingers and thumb roll into the palm to create a fist and at a deeper level refers to the rolling and snaking motion of the hands and arms when applying Tuite (pron. “Tui-tay”) techniques.

Therefore, in studying the art of Ryukyu Kempo, we are learning the “Ryukyu Fist Law” or “Ryukyu Rolling Hands Method”. Ryukyu Kempo pre-dates most forms of Karate whether they are of Okinawan or Japanese origin. Another word which we must understand are the various translations of the word “Karate”. Karate is correctly pronounced as “Car-a-tay” not “Car-are-tee”. The, most common translation of the word Karate is “Empty Hand”, which is in reference to the empty hand techniques which form the basis of all Karate. There is however, a deeper level of meaning in the translation “Empty Hands” which takes the understanding of “Empty” further. We understand “Empty” to mean limitless, void or undefined, meaning that our hand techniques are not bound by any rules or limits – our techniques are limitless.

Ryukyu Kempo Karate was introduced to the world through the efforts of Taika Seiyu Oyata and his early students. One such student was Allan Amor, who after studying for many years with Mr. Oyata, founded the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance. The United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance currently has schools in the United States, New Zealand and Canda.

The United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance and its members do not discriminate against any other Martial Art. All Systems have their benefits and are appealing to certain individuals. When a martial art is studied fully and completely, the same underlying truths become apparent. There are only so many ways to move the human body and virtually every martial art contains the same motions, taught in a different order and at different times. Ryukyu Kempo Karate is based around the study of Kata (forms), Bunkai (applications) and Ryukyu Kobudo (traditional weapons). When combined with training drills, our forms, applications and weapon skills combine into an effective, congruent and complete form of life protection.

Ryukyu Kempo is one of the only martial arts available today which is taught in a true A-Z fashion where every single step builds on from the last and leads on to the next.