Too many times, I find it necessary to have the James Mitose conversation. It always comes up at some point as all students will search the internet for the terms "kenpo" and "James Mitose" during their course of study. They will see a great number of ideas and come to conclusions that will either support their study, cause doubt in their study or deter them from the studies described by the term "kenpo". It is unfortunate for whom study and teach the arts of kenpo that such is the case. Whether James is endorsed as a educated man, denied as a villain or for that matter ignored all together, there is injury to all practitioners of his ideology. This must come to be understood by all. It is hurtful to us all and limits the survival of the skill sets that are taught.
There are ten potential ideas that stem from James if we are to search any and all available sources. Of course, there are ideas in between and off shoots of these ideas, but more or less it comes down to these nine ideas.
The First Idea: Kenpo is a specific means of self-defense with James Mitose as origin.
The first idea is described by James' first attempt at a public introduction to introduce his "family arts". This attempt summarizes kenpo as a method of striking to defend one's self. It is associated with methodical ideas of strikes and releases to obtain the optimal position in conflict-most typically total domination of the opponent. The lineage of this idea consists of modifications to improve the methods and means of these special self-defense maneuvers. The origin of the family arts is assumed to be from the a powerful Japanese clan.
The Second Idea: Kenpo is a specific means of self-defense but not originating from James Mitose.
The second idea is described as a series of events based upon the interactions of the initial students of James Mitose. These students, seeking to hone down the primitive martial art skillset introduced by James, assemble Kenpo as a methodical art of strikes and releases to defend one's self. These ideas would continuously improve through the generations of instruction. The root definition of kenpo as "fist law" reinforces the fast and hard hitting, blitz based domination of the opponent.
The Third Idea: Kenpo is a specific means of self-defense, James Mitose is origin but he is not an essential innovator.
The third idea is the first idea associated with a dismissal of James Mitose. It is often tied to stories of James demonstrating inadequate competence in front of his descendents. These descendents recognizing his incompetence and sure lack of martial art skill validate their honed and improved systems of kenpo. James is the origin of an idea and a term, but not significant in its modern design.
The Fourth Idea: Kenpo is an eclectic collection of the best martial arts movements.
The fourth idea describes the study of James Mitose and his descendents as breaking the tradition of martial arts and supplying only the "best" movements. This idea describes Kenpo as the first mixed martial art and thusly is the reason for its effectiveness.
The Fifth Idea: Kenpo is a Mitose regurgitation of Okinawan Karate.
The fifth idea stems from a historical perspective of viewing the materials presented by James as plagiarism. The plagiarism illustrates that James learns martial arts from Okinawan stylists and that he later innovates certain aspects of thought to produce the modern systems of self-defense that we have today.
The Sixth Idea: Kenpo is a ninjitsu art with escaping arts learned from his ancestors.
The sixth idea stems from James' use of the makiwara and other specific training exercises. The escaping arts are James' unique quality, providing a series of exercises to avoid the attack.
The Seventh Idea: Kenpo is a pseudo-religion.
The seventh idea stems from the re-invigoration of a new perspective of James Mitose as a man who had been trained as both a religious figure and a martial artist. Kenpo becomes a series of escaping movements based upon the principle of "no body contact." This idea stems from later writings during James' incarceration.
The Eighth Idea: Kenpo is a group of martial art concepts withheld from his first public teachings, transmitted out of the bloodline.
The eighth idea stems from teachings in the later years of James' incarceration. These teaching are described as reflections from James' youth when he was trained in his "family arts". James in this idea denounces the term kenpo and prefers other descriptive terms for his teachings. He would point out the simplicity of movement, and describe concepts that would support that simplicity. This version of kenpo is often marketed as an enhancement of any existing style as the concepts are universal.
The Ninth Idea: Kenpo is a group of martial art concepts withheld from his first public teachings, transmitted solely through the bloodline.
The ninth idea stems from the origin of the eighth idea with exception that the transmission took place upon the introduction to his bloodline. The idea steeps the importance of the family bloodline to the conference of the knowledge set.
The Tenth Idea:
There is a tenth idea but it is the goal of these lectures to allude. It would not increase the understanding of this discourse at this time. Its complication of the matter is reason for its current exclusion. Its meaning will eventually be open to some readers.