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Ten-Chi Kenpo Karate

Norman N. Armstrong founded this particular form of Kenpo in 1972. It combines aspects of Shotokan Karate, Kenpo Karate, Aikido, Judo, Jujitsu, Taiji Quan, Qigong, and various weapon sets. Rank is based on a teri-kyu system beginning with white belt. Students progress through three levels of yellow, green, and brown belt, respectively, on their way to shodan (black belt rank).

History of Kenpo/Kempo/Kenbo/Kosho

                      James A. Mitose
                     /               \
                    /                 \
             William Chow        Adriano Emperado
            /                                   \
           /                                     \
      Ed Parker                           Al Gene Caraulia
               \                          /
                \                        /
             Nick Cerio                 /
                  \                    /
                   \                  /
                    \                /
                     Norman Armstrong
                  (Ten-Chi Kenpo Karate)

Martial arts in China are referred to as Ch'uan Fa (Ken Fat in Cantonese), meaning, "first law." In Japanese, the Kanji for Ch'uan Fa is pronounced Kem Po (spelled Kenpo). Kenpo is a general Japanese term describing martial arts with Chinese influence. The word for boxing is also incorporated into its meaning. The style of Kenpo that directly affected the West was brought to America by James Masayoshi Mitose (see pictures below). This style would eventually influence the development of other styles such as American Kenpo, Tracy Kenpo, Kara-Ho Kenpo, Kajukenbo, Shao Lin Kenpo and Ten-Chi Kenpo.

James Masayoshi Mitose, born in 1916 in Hawaii, was sent as a child to train at Mt. Kinkai, Japan (12 miles north of Nagasaki) in the Yoshida Family Temple (Shaka In temple) under the guidance of his grandfather. His grandfather, a Zen Buddhist Monk of Shaka In, continued a 700-year family legacy known as Kosho Shorei Ryu Kenpo (The Study of the Old Pine Tree School of Encouragement).

Kosho Shorei Ryu Kenpo developed around the year 1235 ADE by a direct descendant of Mitose. The style evolved primarily from Chinese forms that were later modified and added to by the Japanese and then further modified by the Mitose lineage, which formed the framework for Kosho Shorei Ryu Kenpo Jiu Jitsu (Mitose's style). The influence from China stemmed directly from the spiritual teachings of Ch'uan Fa (or Shao Lin Gung Fu, the future derivative of Shaolin Kung Fu), which were brought to the Shao Lin temple (in the Honan province of Southern China) by the Southern Indian monk and prince Boddhidharma (estimated to have traveled to China around 520 BCE). The spiritual teachings were derived from the ancient Indian and Greek forms of combat and meditation known as Vajramushti and Pankration respectively but were used by Boddhidharma as a means to instruct other temple monks on how to maintain physical fitness after hours of Zen meditation or zazen. Shao Lin Gong Fu also became useful to the monks in times of war when Zen temples were more susceptible to burning and looting and attacks.

Over the next several centuries (after 520 BCE) the history of Chu'an Fa and its advent to Kempo becomes sparse. What is known is that the art of Chu'an Fa's teachings found their way to the Okinawian Islands, the Ryukyu kingdoms and many parts of Japan. Between the Sui and Ming periods of China (an 800 year difference) it is believed by many that numerous wandering monks traveled across Japan, Okinawa and China bringing with them a working knowledge of the art of Kempo which helps to explain wide-spread distribution of the art form.

Another reason for the founding in Kempo can be seen in the numerous trips the Japanese and Okinawian made to China to learn the fabled art of Chu'an Fa. Some people would disappear for many years, presumed dead by there families, only to resurface as a master of Kempo and other martial arts. One such man was named Sakugawa. Sakugawa lived in the village of Shuri on the island of Okinawa and traveled to China during the 18th century to learn the martial secrets of the Chu'an Fa masters. For many years Sakugawa had not been seen and many believe he had died in his journeys, but after much time he did return, much to the surprise of his kin. Sakugawa has learned the secrets of Chu'an Fa and had become a master of some repute himself. Over many years of refinement, the art Sakugawa had learned slowly was renamed to Shuri-te and is considered the predecessor to many forms of modern Karate.

An Okinawan Martial Arts Master named Choki Motobu is said to have also influenced Mitose. Choki Motobu trained under such notable professors as Anko Itosu, Kosaku Matsumora and his own brother Choyu Motobu.

Mitose moved back to Hawaii in the late 1930's where his first real student in the art of Kenpo was Thomas S.H. Young (also the first Westerner to be promoted to shodan in Kenpo). Other students followed, including William Kwai Sun Chow and Adriano D. "Sonny" Emperado. Emperado, who was a student of both Mitose and Chow, went on to be a founder of Kajukenbo and the International Kajukenbo Association. Al Gene Caraulia trained under Emperado and instructed Norman Armstrong in Kajukenbo.

William K.S. Chow, founder of Go-Shinjitsu (later called Chinese Kempo of Kara-Ho Karate), instructed Edmund Kealoha Parker, founder of the International Kenpo Karate Association (I.K.K.A.). Nick Cerio (see pictures at left and below) studied under Parker and was training partner and instructor to Armstrong. Cerio founded his own style of Kenpo called Nick Cerio's Kenpo Karate, of which Norman Armstrong remains Professor Cerio's ranking student. Mitose's lineage therefore comes down to us from two lineages: Chow, Emperado, Caraulia, Armstrong; and Chow, Parker, Cerio, Armstrong. Norman Armstrong also studied with Master Liang, teacher of Yang Style Long Form of Taiji set, from 1970 to 1976.

Ten-Chi Kenpo's historical connection to the Shao Lin temple is the reason the phrase "Shao Lin Pai" appears on the system logo ("Pai" translates as "school" or "clan"). Wu Tang Pai, the other phrase on the logo, refers to the Wu Tang province in China, where a style of Taiji Quan originated.

Norman N. Armstrong founded Ten-Chi Kenpo as a combination of techniques, styles and systems, which he studied, defined, re-systematized and expounded upon over more than forty years of study in the Martial Arts.

Additional Information on Norman N. Armstrong
Kyoshi Armstrong was born in New York City in 1938. He began his Martial Arts training in 1957 while stationed in Yokohama, Japan during his tour with the United States Air Force. Over more than forty years in the arts, Kyoshi Armstrong has trained in the Shotokan style of Karate, Kajukenbo, Hakko-ryu Ju-Jitsu and Mu-gai Ryu Iai-do (sword art). Equally important to his practice were the years he spent with Master Tung-tse Liang, in the 1970's learning the Yang style of Taiji Quan and the art of Praying Mantis of Master Tung-tse Liang. In addition to the aforementioned, he has studied northern and southern Shao-Lin, and northern Praying Mantis styles, together with the weapons of Chinese Wu-Shu. Soke-Kyoshi Armstrong has trained under internationally honored instructors including Al Gene Caraulia, Kazumi Tabate, Nargo Motsuyama, Nick Cerio, Kwan Tit-Fu, and Master Tung-tse Liang.

Positions Held by Soke-Kyoshi Armstrong:
State Representative (MA) American Karate Association 1971-1973
Chairman of the Board United Federation of Martial Artists 1973-1975
President New England Association of the AAU 1973-1975
Co-Chairman New England Association of the AAU 1975-1976
National Delegate AAU National Karate Committee 1974
New England Delegate AAU National Convention 1975
Liaison for the National AAU International Master Games 1981

All Around Champion 1981 AAU National Championships
Second place Kumite 1981 AAU National Championships
Third place Weapons 1981 AAU National Championships
Second place Kata 1983 AAU National Championships

Founders of Kajukenbo (est. 1947):
Adriano Emperado -- Kosho Ryu Kenpo, Eskrima (Phillipino stick fighting)
Frank Ordonez -- Se Keino Ryu Judo
Joe Holck -- Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu
Peter Young Yil Choo -- Tang Soo Do Karate
Clarence Cheng -- Chu'an Fa Kung Fu Chinese Boxing
They were known as the "Black Belt Society."

Additional History on Shotokan Karate
Gichin Funakoshi was born on the island of Okinawa on November 10, 1868. At the age of eleven, he began to study Karate and was the devout student of two great martial arts masters named Itosu and Azato. Gichin Funakoshi, known as the founder of modern karate, was a professor at the Okinawan Teacher's College and president of the Okinawan Association of Martial Arts. In 1922, he was invited to lecture and demonstrate the new art of karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo. Funakoshi signed his work Shoto, his pen name; hence the school where he instructed came to be known as Shoto's school or Shotokan. He combined the techniques and kata's of two major Okinawan styles to form his own style of karate. As a result, modern day Shotokan includes the powerful techniques of the Shorei school and the lighter, more flexible movements of the Shorin school. When the Japan Karate Association was established in 1949, Gichin Funakoshi was appointed as the chief instructor. After training and teaching karate for more than 75 years, Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of 88.

Itosu and Azato
Born in Shuri, Okinawa, Master Yasatsune (Ankoh) Itosu (1830-1915) trained under karate greats Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura and Kosaku Matsumora. His good friend Yasatsune Azato recommended him to the position of secretary to the king of the Ryukyu Islands. Itosu was said to have walked in the horse stance like Azato (from which they received their nicknames, Ankoh). Itosu supposedly had very strong hands and could crush a thick stalk of bamboo with a vice-like grip. It is said that he walked past the imperial tombs everyday and would practice his punches against the stone walls that lined the road. Itosu believed that the body should be trained to withstand the hardest of blows but he also believed that one should "never strike if possible. Even if taken unaware." Ankoh Itosu, along with Ankoh Azato trained Gichin Funakoshi who would later found Shotokan Karate, which would become the foundation of many contemporary martial arts today.

Master Yasutsune (Ankoh) Azato, 1828-1906, was born in the town of Azato in Okinawa and was a military advisor to the King. Tonochi, as we was also known, was a master swordsman and archer in addition to being a master in ancient karate-do. It is believed he had only one student, Gichin Funakoshi, who he rigorously instructed, often making Gichin practice only one kata for months, until it was learned properly. It is also believed that during Azato's lifetime Azato was defied by Yorin Kanna, a famous Okinawan swordsman (Katana). Azato confronted Kanna unarmed and Kanna attacked repeatedly with his sword only to have Azato take the sword away and immobilize Kanna with almost no effort.

Sokon "Bushi" Masumura, (late 1790's to early 1890's), was instructor to both Itosu & Azato and lived a long life. From time to time he would teach Gichin Funakoshi directly but his greatest influence was through Itosu and Azato. Born in Shuri, Japan, Bushi trained under master & legend Sakugawa among others. Bushi worked as a bodyguard for three different kings during his lifetime and traveled to China in the 1830's to further develop his art and share his knowledge with the Chinese.

Ten-Chi Kenpo Roots wall chart
For a copy of the "Roots of Ten-Chi Kenpo" wall chart (originally 36" X 24") made by Hanshi Armstrong and Rick Hartley, Click here.
(You will need the freely available Adobe Acrobat Document Viewer to view the chart, which is PDF format.)

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