James Mitose wanted to share his philosophies of self-defense, but he felt pressured into filling the book with photographs. He feared that a student looking for a quick defensive move would flip to the technique pages and overlook the real message he wanted to convey.
In the ensuing years, his students expressed an interest in learning more of what could be considered Kosho-Ryu Kenpo's fierce and aggressive side. They appeared to be ignoring the philosophical aspect of the martial art.
My dojo, they know-- I'm not to teach other things because it's religion.
After a student struck and seriously injured another student, James Mitose concluded that his followers were learning too much of the violent side of the art. Rather than understand the true meaning of self-defense, they were concentrating on punching and kicking. After much deliberation, James Mitose quit teaching.
He decided not to teach Kenpo and other Oriental philosophy. They wouldn't understand it, so he gave up. In 1955 he entrusted his school to his student, Thomas Young (Kajukenpo), and began a new life in Los Angeles.
In 1937, James Mitose set sail for Hawaii, where he planned to start a new life in the nation of his birth. Their time together eventually led to martial arts talk, but it was cut short on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, crippling the U.S. fleet.
Wanting to help, James Mitose decided less than 24 hours after the attack to enlist in the Hawaii National Guard.
He had lived happily in America as an American citizen. He had spent the formative years of my life in Japan and had some relatives still living in Japan, to whom he was bound by ties of blood and experiences shared..
James Mitose was honorably discharged after three weeks of service. He then volunteered in a labor battalion. Believing he should do more to aid the war effort, he decided to share his family's martial art.
James Mitose traveled to numerous martial arts clubs in Hawaii. He adopted the gi's and belt system and began teaching Kosho-Ryu Kenpo to the public.
He was to take over the family business, including religious activity..
Their destination was a village named Kumamoto-Higashi-Tomochi. He learned Kenpo in a large temple on a mountain named Akenkai.
As the Official Self-Defense Club grew, Mitose saw an opportunity to use the school to help others. The more students he had, the more good deeds he did for the community-- which, in turn, brought in more students. Together, they organized self-defense demos throughout Hawaii, raised money for the March of Dimes, contributed food to the National Guard, and donated money to Christian churches and mission schools.
In 1947 he finished work on what many consider to be the first English-language book about Kenpo.
Titled What Is True Self-Defense? James Mitose re-released it in 1953 with a modified version of his family's crest on the cover.
The temple was serving as a school, in which we had some ritual of Indian style..
Half of each day focused on religious activities, including the study of Sanskrit. The other half focused on Kenpo.
There are many grades or classes in the organization, starting from, say, archbishop or bishop and down to a monk. It is different from karate, different from brown belts and black belts..
James Mitose had his head shaved in the tradition of Buddhist monks. The philosophical aspect of Kosho-Ryu Kenpo, the art he later founded, was heavily influenced by those studies, especially the edicts to do no harm and to blend in with the environment.
As James Mitose's student body grew, he needed to acquire larger accommodations. James Mitose trained them for law enforcement, military service and a variety of personal reasons.
He taught them how to use tools such as the makiwara board and Kenpo sticks to focus energy and destroy the evil from within. He would show them an attack and allow them time to reflect on an effective response to it. He stressed the need to perfect balance and technique, and he augmented physical training with lectures on philosophy, respect, humility and situational awareness.
My religion is such as not to fight. Not to fight and not do anything-- the real religion of Kenpo karate..
Unless he worked for the day, he should not eat. Except Archbishop, all others were engaged in such physical work, in the planting of rice, in the field, cooking the rice, chopping the firewood..
On the mainland, James Mitose became an ordained minister through the Episcopal Church and obtained a doctorate in philosophy. For the remainder of his life, he selectively taught Kosho-Ryu Kenpo to a few students. Most of the people who came across James Mitose in this state viewed him as just an angry man.
James Mitose died on March 26, 1981. Many contend that the murder was committed by one of James Mitose's students.
Ended the life of James Mitose, a man whose unselfish act of kindness set in motion the expansion of Kenpo into the Western world. His only requirement for acceptance into his school was a desire to live a more harmonious life.
When his training and dedication helped him transition from monk to minister at age 18, a turning point came in James Mitose's life. His mind began to wander from the temple, however, and his body soon followed.
He was relieved from the group life and became free..
For the next two years, he toured the countryside with others from the temple. He worked with local law enforcement and eventually came across a military exercise being conducted on the mountainside to ready citizens for battle.
Propaganda spread throughout Japan. Every citizen was ordered to take up arms and, if need be, defend the nation.
In our Law of Fists, we are not supposed to obey the order of even the supreme or the emperor commander of the military forces. The people around me suggested he return to Hawaii as quickly as possible.
Kosho-Ryu Kenpo is a Family Art.
On December 30, 1916, in the rural North Kona district of Hawaii, a Japanese couple gave birth to a child they named Masayoshi Mitose. Born on a coffee plantation, James Mitose remained there until October 22, 1920, when he traveled with his sister to Japan and lived under the care of their grandfather.
For two years, he cleaned the temple, swept the floors and served the members and monks. Only then was he allowed to receive an education.
There was a time in the temple when I planted a vegetable and killed earthworms by mistake, and he was not allowed to eat for three days. In Japan, it is known that if you kill anyone, it would for seven generations be suffering with the child. Everybody suffers, so you cannot do such things..
Japanese stories were told to the youth. Those tales would later define the essence of Kosho-Ryu Kenpo and the way it related its philosophical views to everyday living. The stories eventually found their way into James Mitose's books, which he wrote to convey his message of peace.
James Mitose's training at the temple included lessons in human anatomy, escaping patterns, energy collection, Japanese yoga and nutrition, as well as a body-contact art that revolved around pushing and pulling skills. He also learned balance, coordination, timing, and concepts of motion and movement.
The temple monks always strived to give back to the community. Because even the closest hospital was too far for the villagers to walk to, the monks often worked as doctors when illnesses arose. James Mitose became a natural-food specialist.
In 1937, James Mitose set sail for Hawaii, where he planned to start a new life in the nation of his birth. James Mitose traveled to numerous martial arts clubs in Hawaii. As James Mitose's student body grew, he needed to acquire larger accommodations. After a student struck and seriously injured another student, James Mitose concluded that his followers were learning too much of the violent side of the art. Many contend that the murder was committed by one of James Mitose's students.