Skip to content

Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo

June 8, 2010

This is based on tekst taken from the book “Ultimate Kempo” by Driscoll Sensei, all credit goes to him for writing this fabulous book.
If you like this you can find a link to buy the book online on the bottom of the page.

Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo


Kosho literally means “old pine tree”, Shorei translates as “school of encouragement”.
A traditional ryu is a school of thought pertaining to an art form.
The origins of Kosho Shorei Ryu as known today stems from the meditations of a Japanese Buddhist priest named Kosho Bosatsu.
When translated his name means “Old Pine Tree Buddha”.
But this is only a general name that holds little meaning as for the true identity of the man.
What is really important is not the name but the result of his meditations.

Around the year 1235 AD, this priest meditated under an old pine tree.
As a priest, his Buddhist studies taught him pacifism, which was an obvious contradiction to the destructive arts in which he was trained.
This contradiction caused him to seek a place where he could meditate.
As many monks before him, he chose the old pine tree where, it was believed, the spirit of the Buddha resides.
During this period of meditation he was enlightened.
The revelation led to his discovery of universal laws and natural principles pertaining to our existence and the resolution of conflict.
The Sei Kosho Shorei Kai International
(also see the bottom of the page for a link to the website of this association) tries to make students move toward this same enlightenment through studying natural law.

The Kosho Shorei Ryu form of Martial Arts is based on Kempo (kempo means “Fist Law”)
But Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo is much more than just the law of the fist.
The predecessors of Kempo are Chuan Fa, in China, and before that Vajra Mukti in India.
To be a partitioner of Kempo is to study and understand man’s relationship with nature.

Kempo is the study of natural law and how they relate and manifest to all of mankind.
Kempo does not just deal with the physical; it deals with the spiritual side of oneself aswell, and teaches you to understand yourself.
By tradition, Kempo-ka studied much more than the physical martial arts.
They also study philosophical classics like the “I Ching: the Book of Changes”.
They understand the principle of balance, and how it teaches one to exist harmoniously with the people around you.
Within their own mind, in their own reality, they learn how to face and change their reality, behavior and physical presence as it is seen by other people.
In other words they study themselves: body, mind and spirit.
When you understanding this microcosm you can learn to understand all things.

Kempo is studying and practicing and discipline.
When you understand this philosophy and you are the embodiment of this practice then you are ready to face the reality of this study and prepare for possible conflict.
With this defending becomes very easy.

Kosho is a way of life and an understanding of the process of life.
Understanding how and why one fights is the key to your succes.
Techniques used in a fight are only a small part of that process.
What happens before that point is of primary importance.
You should always use your mental and spiritual knowledge and strenght to try to avoid a physical engagement because there are no real winners in a fight and being able to beat someone up isn’t something to be proud of.

Kosho Ryu warrior-monks and other practitioners have used the study, and the practical application of this study, successfully throughout history.
In the late 1500’s, 5000 samurai attacked Shaka-In, the temple grounds on which the now-famous old pine tree still stands.
Using Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo, the 400 monks living and training there engaged in combat against the onslaught, successfully protecting some of the most important artifacts and property of the temple grounds, including the famous old pine tree itself.
(they did lose this fight, but the point of this story is that they were outnumbered with more than 10 to 1 and still were able to stand their ground and defend what was important to them because of their study of Kempo and the natural laws, and in my own eyes maybe the most important thing of all, because of their courage they got from the love for what they protected)

The martial prowes of the Kosho Shorei monks was well known among the Japanese at the time, and was feared by many Daimyo as well as their swordsmen.
It as the practice of this philosophy of study that gave the monks their edge.
This philosophy was adopted by many of Japan’s greatest and most famous swordsmen, including Musashi Miyamoto.

The success of Kosho Ryu can be seen in the large numbers of students and teachers reeducating themeselves.
Many with decades of experience are adapting the style to their training based on the uniqueness and startling pertinence of what Kosho Ryu has to offer.

Many of these teachers and students have said that the combat-effectiveness of Kosho is simply at a higher level than anything thet had seen previously.
Yet Kosho Ryu concepts had often never even been considered in their previous training.

Kosho Ryu was brought to Hawaii and the United States in the 1940’s by James Mitose.

However that the philosophical teachings almost totally ignored by most of Mitose Sensei’s early students, (with the notable exception of the late Thomas Young) these same students play a major role in the manifestation of the physical combative arts of Kosho Ryu.
Without them, true understanding of Kempo is not possible.
Kempo is not a martial art. It is much more

Find Similarities

As said before a Kosho Ryu practitioner studies natural law.
By doing this it becomes possible to find similarities in movements.
Because of this he holds no prejudice toward or against other styles or martial systems. Kosho Ryu practitioners understand that the only real differneces between martial arts are from the cultures they come from.
Every culture has his own way of doing things and this can be found in the Martial Arts and the way they are taught.
Even when the way of teaching differs the arts themselves are very similar.
Bruce Juchnik Hanshi is well qualified to make a statement such as this.
He holds mastery-level knowledge and certification in over ten distinct martial art forms including Tang Soo-do, Arnis, Kung-fu, as well as being a high ranking Black Belt in the Tracy’s System of Kenpo

Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo comes from Japan.
To practitioners, Kosho Ryu’s Chinese roots are apparent in its basic philosophy.
Because Kosho teaches them to look for similarities, they see no substantial difference between Kosho and studies from Korea, Indonesia, China or America.

All humans have the same body structure and so move basically in the same way.
In adition to that all motion is related.
On top of the even the same emotions are shared by all of mankind.
Fundamentally, human beings are the same all over the world.

Natural Law

The study of physics is only the beginning to understanding the natural laws.
Kosho Ryu Kempo-ka also studies the natural laws of our basic individual philosophy.
One must understand the physics of both our internal and external structures.
Students seek to understand who they are as they relate to others based upon their past experiences and prejudices.

Movements change as our personalities change and as our emotions change. Everything depends on the persons individual momentary and long-term mind-set and their own prejudices.
They have to understand that both themself and their adversaries are governed by the same natural laws and their current emotions.
As a kempo-ka with understanding of these physical and psycological laws you become able to apply many strategies to handle conflicts and bring them to a succesfull end.

The psycological understanding is what makes it possible to defeat the opponent without throwing or recieving a blow giving birth to a true victory in which noone is harmed.
It’s possible to defeat the opponent by strategically messing with his mind.
To be able to do this you have to be able to understand his way of thinking, changing it in such a way he decides to not even attack you in the first place!
Psychology is physics applied to the mind.


As a Kosho Ryu Kempo-ka you have to be able to relate to everything, leave all prejudices behind , and this way rid conflict from your life.
Conflict is created out of differneces of opinion that grow into physical and/or psycological prejudices.
Once conflict is eliminated and you understand the laws and principles of nature, you learn to see yourself as the root of all the conflict in your life.

Once you found the source of conflict, you can find the way to eliminating it with happiness as the result.
Kempo-ka become able to harmonize and accept life as it comes, they become able to take in and control their environment.
Once you control both yourself and your surroundings, controlling or redirecting an attacker becomes possible as well.


Kempo translates from Japanese as “Fist Law” but its meaning can be traced back to what is called the “mudra”
The mudra are hand postures.
Each of kempo’s hand postures represent both the physical and the spiritual realm.
These reals are unseparably linked.
Kempo itself is an entity.
It is nor a style of martial arts nor is it a form of techniques it is a concept of study.
Yet it is difficult to understand an because of that looked upon as a martial art.

James Mitose Sensei, explained that Kempo is a philosophy.
Mitose brought Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo from Japan to the United States as a philosophy of growth, of study and compared it with the struggle of life we all have to go trough.
The martial arts become simple, even self-evident, through understanding the process of this.

Within Kosho Ryu Kempo, many sub-arts are studied.
This has many purposes but the main reason to study different art forms is to learn to see the similarities in all of them and learn to use this to your advantage.
Three general categories of study are the healing arts, the cultural arts and the martial arts.
All three are interwoven.

The study of healing arts helps the martial artist understand anatomical strengths and weaknesses as well as the natural flow of energy and how that energy might be directed. It also helps to understand the body structure and how it moves and prepares for the moves it is going to make.
In turn the martial arts help the healer better understand the practical application through the study of movement.

The cultural arts play a similar role.
Included in the cultural arts is the study of history or densho, an important element in both the martial and healing arts.
Language is also studied from all perspectives.
The study of the Japanese language creates the ability in the disciplined student of Kosho Ryu to understand the history and cultures of other people.
This in turn ties in with the philosophy of looking for similarities, eliminating prejudice and conflict, and creating happiness and peace in their lives.

Every single one of the sub-art eventually grow together to one and form the Kosho Shorei Ryu kempo-ka.
Aruki waza, for instance, which is a combative technique involving proper posturing toward an opponent in Bujutsu, is also utilized in the studies of swordsmanship, shodo (ancient Japanese brush calligraphy), and healing arts.
This type of lesson initially brings students to confusion.
Eventually, it allows them to understand Mu, nothingness.
That is the purpose of study of Kempo in Kosho Shorei Ryu.
Once that is accomplished, one sees everything, and at the same time realizes that it is really nothing.

(source: the book “Ultimate Kempo” by Driscoll Sensei)
the book quotes: “Hanshi Bruce Juchnik and the Sei Kosho Shorei Kai supplied this information”

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: