Kenpō jūjutsu

According to Okinawan samurai Aka Pēchin (1721–1784), jūjutsu was practiced in Ryūkyū already in the 18th century. Regarding unarmed martial arts in Okinawa, it was no less than the father of modern karate, Itosu Ankō, who noted that historical karate was probably influenced by the teachings of Chin Genpin (1587–1674) in Japan, albeit indirectly. The terminology used to describe the teachings of Chin is kenpō jūjutsu, meaning a historical Japanese martial arts systems with an initial Chinese influence which places emphasis – but is not limited to – striking and kicking, i.e., on impact techniques.

This text is quoted from: Okinawan Samurai: The Instructions of a Royal Official to his Only Son (Ryukyu Bugei) (Volume 4)

Fujita Seiko (1958) confirms this view. In his book on kenpō jūjutsu, he noted that “This book is about the art of war called kenpō, i.e., the punching and kicking techniques as handed down in various factions of distinguished Japanese martial arts schools.” Kanō Jigorō, the founder of jūdō, said, “assuming that Chin Genpin introduced jūjutsu than it could only have been the styles of kenpō and hakuda, which occurred in China between 1658 and 1672.” Kanō describes kenpō as a method which “according to contemporary Chinese sources mainly consisted of kicks and punches.”

According to experts, Ryūkyūan martial arts were influenced by classical Japanese martial arts already earlier:

During the Keichō era (1596–1615), torite […] became popular in Japan. Torite is nothing but the techniques of yawara, that is, an original form of jūjutsu. […] Besides, martial arts such as kenpō (karate), bōjutsu, and sumō have been performed since ancient times and are characteristic skills of Okinawa (Majikina 1923).

© 2021, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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