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Arresting Techniques in Ryu Kyu Kempo

Kempo is a term found in many styles of Karate. (The Oriental characters for this term may also be pronounced Kenpo in Japanese, Chuan Fa in Chinese and Kwon Bop in Korean.  In all cases they may be loosely translated as fist way.)  There are Chinese styles, Japanese styles, and American styles to be found.  When the history of the numerous styles are traced, they are almost all the result of an eclectic blending and mixing of different fighting arts, coupled with the founder's individual "stamp". Additionally, there are breakaway and offshoot Kempo styles from the older systems, as well as "creators" of new styles often giving their systems a name of their choice, followed by the word, "Kempo".  Arguably, Kempo is the most widely used term for Karate styles and systems.  One exception to this general pattern is the classical Okinawan style of Ryu Kyu Kempo.

Practitioners of Ryu Kyu Kempo believe that Karate as we know it today is a sub-form of Ryu Kyu Kempo.  Until recently, one would be hard pressed to find a Karate dojo teaching any type of joint locks and restraints, or JuJutsu type atemi-waza.  Yet, owners of Gichin Funakoshi's first edition of his Ryu Kyu Kempo text state that he is on the cover of the book “grappling" and “touching" an opponent.  (Grappling here refers to kansetsu-waza, the joint techniques.)  Later editions show only a practitioner with a retracted punch.  Not enamored with the Japanese rulers, or the Americans who came to Okinawa much later, the native masters taught them a watered-down, incomplete version of the art.  What was held back were the techniques of Kyusho and Tuite.

Tuite refers to the joint-locking forms of restraint and control.  It is not taught as an art or system unto itself, but as a series of techniques whose purpose is to create total vulnerability in a joint.  It is further felt that the joints, nerves, and tendons will respond in a predetermined manner when specific pressure is applied to them.  Tuite works in conjunction with Kyusho, a form of pressure point fighting and an exact method of striking small targets of the body (e.g., nerve centers, muscles, tendons, points on the circulatory system).  Strikes to these areas must be in the proper order, angle, and direction.  When done correctly, they may disorient or disable an attacker, preventing the attacker's ability to renew the attack.  They can also cause death.  Pressure points are the keys to "releasing" the joints, i.e., making them more vulnerable, attacked by Tuite


There are two types of points in Kyusho: pain points, and reflex points.  Pain points have the purpose of immobilizing the tendons, muscles, and ligaments as mentioned above.  Reflex points, when attacked, produce involuntary movements, e.g., opening hands to release a grip, causing knees to buckle, or causing a person to gag. A map of all these points is found within select kata.  Ryu Kyu Kempo exploits these anatomical weaknesses.  Although considered a "hard" Karate style, precision, not strength is the key to success with these techniques.  The techniques of Tuite and Kyusho are not usually taught to beginners for obvious reasons.  However, some students may be practicing them without their knowledge while learning some of the kata of the style.  It is up to a knowledgeable sensei to explain the meaning of these movements at the appropriate time in a student's training. 

In comparing these techniques of restraint and control to those of Taiho-Jutsu and JuJutsu, we find that while the techniques themselves are for all practical purposes, identical, there is a difference in the application and the accompanying body movement.  In Ryu Kyu Kempo, there is less of a flow in the execution by the Kempoka as compared to the Taiho-Jutsu and JuJutsu practitioner.  Taiho-Jutsu does not practice the more exotic Kyusho-type techniques.  In the JuJutsu styles which do, there is great similarity.  The difference is in how the techniques is entered into.  While Taiho-Jutsu has the arrest of the assailant as the final result, Ryu Kyu Kempo, like JuJutsu, has a less noble goal as the finale of the total defense.

As a caution, one should be aware that there are some Karate sensei who learn some JuJutsu kansetsu-waza and some acupuncture points, and claim to teach Tuite and Kyusho.  This is not Ryu Kyu Kempo.  Ryu Kyu Kempo is a complete system of martial arts whose techniques are not a conglomeration of different arts and systems, but a style whose techniques are consistent with one another.  The arrest and control techniques of Tuite and Kyusho are part and parcel of its total curriculum.  When this article was shown to Allan Amor, Kaicho of United Ryu Kyu Kempo, he stated that the above is indeed the "...essence of Ryu Kyu Kempo Karatedo".  Ryu Kyu Kempo further provides another opportunity for Taiho-Jutsu practitioners to study an art which contains techniques most complementary to their own.

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