top of page

What Makes American Kenpo So Effective?

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

American kenpo karate is a martial art that originated in Hawaii in the early 20th century. It was developed by James Mitose, who learned several martial arts in Japan, including jujitsu, judo, and kenpo. Mitose's system of kenpo karate was a combination of these different styles, with an emphasis on practical self-defense techniques.

Kenpo karate is known for its rapid, fluid movements, and its emphasis on strikes, kicks, and throws. It is designed to be effective in real-world self-defense situations, and practitioners learn a variety of techniques for dealing with attackers in different situations. One of the key features of kenpo karate is its focus on adapting to different situations. Practitioners are trained to react quickly to changing circumstances, and to use their knowledge of body mechanics to find the most effective way to neutralize an attacker.

Another important aspect of kenpo karate is its emphasis on personal development. Practitioners are encouraged to cultivate discipline, focus, and self-control, as well as physical fitness. This holistic approach to training helps students to become well-rounded individuals who are capable of handling both physical and mental challenges.

In terms of technique, kenpo karate incorporates a wide variety of strikes and kicks. These include punches, open-hand strikes, elbows, knees, and kicks delivered from a variety of angles and positions. Practitioners also learn throws and joint locks, as well as ground fighting techniques. One of the distinguishing features of kenpo karate is its use of "forms" or "katas.” These are prearranged sequences of movements that practitioners perform to practice and refine their technique. Each form has a specific focus, and students must learn to perform them with precision and fluidity.

Kenpo karate also places a strong emphasis on sparring. This is a simulated combat situation in which two practitioners face off against each other, using controlled strikes and techniques. Sparring is an important component of training because it allows students to test their skills in a safe, controlled environment.

There are several different organizations that teach kenpo karate, each with its own approach and emphasis. However, all of them share the basic principles and techniques of the art. You can start learning kenpo karate from masters like Larry Tatum here!

Black Belt+ biggest martial arts digital platform in history. The platform includes thousands of remastered instructional videos, martial arts movies, documentaries, and, of course, digital issues and articles from the iconic Black Belt Magazine.

The new app is available on iOS and Android mobile devices and tablets. Or download and subscribe directly from Black Belt at

bottom of page