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Complete history and chronology of Shaolin Kempo

Shaolin Kempo



As a martial art, Kempo is referred to as a Do or a Way. A way of being and a path towards enlightenment. "Mastering others requires force, mastering the self requires enlightenment." This phrase sums the full circle of what Kempo strives towards. Although on its surface Kempo can be seen as a unique form of self-defense, hidden beneath its physical exterior are levels where characteristic centralization of mind and body form. At this level, Kempo's practitioners elevate from a simple form of fighting to a higher level of ability and enlightenment. Ying Kuchan, a Shaolin monk and master of Kempo, after a lengthy period of meditation in a Zen rock garden, spoke of Kempo saying "Kempo is the power of adaptability and yielding, the harmonyof all things working together."



1900- 26 Okinawan immigrants arrive in Hawaii on the S.S. City of China. One of them, Chinzen Kinjo, described using Karate to defend himself shortly after arrival.
1901- Seishin Uehara is born in Motobu, Okinawa(1901-1956)
1913- Seishin Uehara emigrates to Hawaii. He later trains and teaches with Thomas Miyashiro, assists Mizhuo Mutsu with his demonstrations, and teaches in Honolulu after Mutsu returns to Japan.
1914- William K.S. Chow is born in Honolulu Hawaii (b. 7/13/1914)
1915- Thomas Miyashiro is born in Hawaii (b. 4/25/1915)
1916- James Mitose is born in Kaelakekua, North Kona Hawaii (b. either 12/28 or 12/30/1916)
1920-21- James Mitose, age 3 or 4 Leaves Hawaii for Kyushu, Kumamoto Japan
1922- According to his history James Mitose begins training in Kempo at age 5
1926- Adriano Emperado is born in Honolulu
1927- Kentsu Yabu visits Hawaii, teaching Karate Kenpo.He gave perhaps the first karate demonstration in the United States at the Nuuanu YMCA in March of 1927 and another on July 8, 1927. One of his students is Thomas Miyashiro.
John Leoning is born (5/23/27)
1932Choki Motobu visits Hawaii, but is detained by INS. His only visitor, who trained with him during his month long detention is Thomas Miyashiro. Motobu brings with him copies of his two books, Okinawan Kenpo Tode Jutsu, Kumite Hen published in 1926 and Watashi no Tode Jutsu published in 1932, the second of which was devoted to the kata Naihanchi.
1933- Mizhuo Mutsu releases his book, Karate Kenpo. He brings copies of the book with him during his visit to Hawaii. 13 He was brought over as a replacement for Choki Motobu after his unsuccessful visit the previous year. During his visit, from August 18 to mid September, Mutsu and his dechi Kamesuke Higashiona14 put on demonstrations(assisted by Miyashiro and Uehara), and set up the Hawaii Seinenkai, teaching karate kenpo in various locales throughout the islands15. Seishin Uehara was installed as a Shihan of the Seinenkai, and Miyashiro as a leader. Before he returns to Japan, Mutsu promotes Thomas Miyashiro to shodan, making him perhaps the first American born black belt.
Classes were also set up at this time by the Seinenkai at the First Methodist Church in Honolulu. These classes are especially notable as they were the first offered to students outside the Okinawan / Japanese community, and were open to Caucasians. Miyashiro and Uehara would continue the Seinenkai until 1948.
Victor Gascon is born (3/6/33)
1934Chojun Miyagi visits Hawaii to perform a year long tour of martial arts demonstrations, billed in some newspapers as Kempo.
1936 - Nick Cerio is born. (7/9/1936)
1936-1937 James Mitose, age 19-20, returns from Japan. Soon after, he starts teaching martial arts,19 and by 1946 when he ceased teaching, he has signed the certificates of 4 black belts. Two more were produced at his club, Chow and Lowe, but he did not sign their certificates. According to Thomas Young, the only empty hand kata he taught initially was Naihanchi20, and others were added as they were appropriated from karate practitioners who joined the club. This was confirmed by Bobby Lowe, but according to Lowe, Mitose also taught a Bo Kata.
1937 Walter Godin is born, (3/21/37)
1939 - S. George Pesare is born. (2/21/2009)
Early 1940s- William Chow begins training with Mitose.
1944- Fred Villari is born (6/25/44)
1946- Gascon (age 13) trains in Judo with Rubberman Higami
1946- Mitose leaves Thomas Young in charge of his school and ceases actively teaching class. 25 Youngs Instructors certificate is dated July 1st, 1946, in the art of Jiu Jitsu (Kempo) and is signed by James Mitose.
1947- Chow leaves Mitoses school, apparently with Mitoses blessing, to start his own. He brings with him some of the existing students, most notably Adriano Emperado. Chow, like Mitose, only taught the Naihanchi kata. It is commonly held that other kata may have been produced by students, and approved by Professor Chow.26 According to some sources, John or Bill Chun Sr. created Hon Suki, but according to Bill Chun Jr., his father learned it from Chow. It is presumed that Chows black belt came after Mitose left Young in charge in 1946, as it is Youngs signature on the certificate and not Mitoses.
1947-49- While teaching for Chow, Emperado (age 21-23), along with Walter Choo, Clarence Chang, Joe Holke, and Frank Ordonez forms the Black Belt Society and develops what will be known as Kajukenbo.
1948- John Leoning (age 21) begins training with Emperado
1950- Victor Sonny Gascon (age 17) begins backyard training sessions with John Leoning (age 23).30 This same year, Frank and Adriano Emperado establish the Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute.
1953- Gascon rejoins Leoning for training when he is stationed at Hickam Air Force Base
1954- Mitose retires from teaching (at about age 37) and moves to California
1956- Victor Sonny Gascon moves to California
1957- Emperado sends Leoning to Los Angeles to further Kajukenbos spread. Gascon is among the group of Leonings early students. Leoning is accompanied by Julio Joe Black Blacquera.
1958- Gascon (age 25) begins teaching at John Leonings Burbank School. Leoning (age 31) had already begun to modify the Kajukenbo curriculum into something new. This is the year that George Pesare (age 19) began learning kenpo (or Karazenpo Goshin-jutsu) from Victor Gascon.
1958-61- During these years, Gascon,and his brother in law Walter Godin develop what are now 3 of the 5 katas, and some combinations including possibly 1-12, 13, and 26. They were not necessarily numbered at this point. They were developed out of the Kajukenbo tricks and the forms that were the palamas sets. Dave Kamalani has been included in this process by some sources, but this has apparently been discounted by Sonny Gascon.
During these years, Nick Cerio studies Judo with George McCabe at the Providence YMCA37, but this is discounted by George Pesare.
1960-By this time, Gascon was teaching on his own
1961- At this time, due to political differences, Gascon and Godin separated from the Kajukenbo organization, calling the new art, Karazenpo Go-shinjutsu 38 This was the time when George Pesare (age 22) moved back to the East Coast to Rhode Island to start his own school.39 GM Pesares curriculum Initially consisted of Ten combinations, and 5 katas, but would come to include Rohai (statue of the crane, modified from the Okinawan Tomari-te kata Rohai) 22 combinations, and 6 kata, a form GM Pesare created.
According to some accounts, this was also the year that Nick Cerio studied TKD with Ted Olsen.40 According to George Pesare and Nancy Lee Cerio, this was not the case.
1964- Nick Cerio (age 28) begins training with George Pesare (age 25). According to George Pesare, he had no prior experience.
1966-Victor Gascon closes his Pasadena school. Nick Cerio receives his black belt from George Pesare(5/16/66). According to some sources, GM Pesare stated that he taught Professor Cerio only 1-3 kata.42 This year Nick Cerio also meets Ed Parker.
1967- Cerio meets with William Chow in Hawaii while training with Bill Chun, Sr. From Chun, Cerio learns Hon Suki and incorporates it into his curriculum. Cerio (age 31) is promoted to 1st degree black belt in Chinese Kenpo by chow, and learns additional material from Chow that is used to complete combinations through 26.44 This is also the year that Fred Villari (age 23) began studying with Nick Cerio.
1968- Nick Cerio receives his nikyu in Hakko Ryu jujutsu
1969- Gascon (age 36) and Godin (age 32) return to Hawaii. Walter Godin establishes Godins Chinese Kempo in the Palamas settlement.47Fred Villari (age 25) receives his black belt from Nick Cerio. Nick Cerio is awarded his Sandan in American Kenpo from the AKA/IKKA.
1971- Fred Villari (age 27) goes on his own to start a school in Dedham, MA.
Nick Cerio ( age 35) visits Chow in Hawaii again, is promoted to 5th Dan.
1971-88- Fred Villari adds material from various sources, and his own invention to cover all material past black belt.
1972-1973 According to Fred Villari, he spent these years in the West Indies studying with a master (Sun Li) Chow (Chou) and a Master Su (Soo)
1973- Nick Cerio (age 37) is awarded a hachidan in Sil Lum Kung Fu by Gan Fong Chin.
Walter Godin (age 36) is promoted to 10th dan by Professor Chow.*
1974- Fred Villari (age 30) promotes himself to 10th Dan due to his creation of Shou Ton Kwok
1977- Thomas Miyashiro passes away (d. 3/22/77)
John Leoning passes away. (3/23/77)
1981- James Mitose dies in San Quentin prison medical center, having been transferred after having a stroke at Folsom prison while serving a sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. (3/26/81)
1983- Nick Cerio is awarded his 9th dan in Kenpo Karate (not American Kenpo) by Ed Parker.
1987-Professor Chow passes away. (9/20/87)
1991- Masters Self Defense Centers is created.
1998- Professor Nick Cerio passes away.
2001 Walter Godin passes away. (8/7/01)
2009 - S. George Pesare celebrates his 70th birthday. (2/21/09)

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