Martial Arts Researcher
Posted On:12/21/2004 4:12pm
Style: Research & Work
For y'all who have been trying to sort facts from fiction when considering the early days of Hawai'i line American kenpo/kempo, there are finally a number of resources available to you--free, or moderately priced.
The following link leads to the documents and articles page of the San Jose Kenpo website, including many scans of items related to James Masayoshi Mitose and William Chow:
The discussion forum follows the progress made concerning many of he document postings and articles, mostly Tracy's kenpo folks:
For an affordable and easy to access copy of the Mitose v People transcript, John Bishop offers a cd-rom on the following site for 20.00 (scroll down to bottom):
...look around John's site for more neat Kajukenbo and kenpo stuff, including an interview w/ Adriano Emperado and footage of William Chow in action.
Posted On:12/21/2004 6:02pm
Style: Chinese Boxing
"I was unaware of how far American Kenpo has actually diverted from Kenpo until James Ibrao and I gave a seminar with Al Tracy in August 1997. As we watched a high ranked American Kenpo black belt go through his moves, Ibrao and I both saw the same thing." I know James Ibrao personally and that's basically what he said too.
I also know John too, and he's quite knowledgeable when it comes to the old history although him and I don't neccessarily agree with the complete lineage.
Posted On:12/27/2004 5:04pm
Style: Kyokushinkai / Kajukenbo
is several experienced mas (Professor Joe Shuras John Evans John Bishop etc) talking @ Mitose/Tracy/Chow/Parker/Juchnik American Kenpo, Kajukenbo, Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo and so forth.
"Preparing mentally, the most important thing is, if you aren't doing it for the love of it, then don't do it." - Benny Urquidez
Posted On:12/28/2004 9:34pm
I don't understand your comment...
Seeker of Truth
Posted On:12/29/2004 1:24am
Style: Five Animal Fighting
Everyone knows I'm as hard on American Kenpo as anyone and I agree with a lot the stuff I read in those articles, but after a while it just seemed someone was trying to hard to bash a dead man.
Parker had not so nice things to say about Mitose too, and did so in Volume I of his Inifinite Insights into Kenpo.
Contrary to some of the claims that have been made in publications, I was NEVER a student of James M. Mitose. However, he did visit me at my home and Kenpo school in Pasedena, California during the early 1970's. His visits extended over a five month period. Each time I saw him, he was dressed as an ordained minister. Many of our conversations lasted hours on end, touching upon an array of topics as well as his proposed money raising topics. He was knowledgable about the evolution of Kenpo, revealing many interesting historical facts. On occasion, he would take off his shoes, walk on the mat area (of my Pasadena School), demonstrate self-defense techniques and discuss Kenpo princples with some of my Black Belt students.
I noticed, after Mitose demonstrated techniques, that my students would look at me hoping to detect from my facial expressions some reaction confirming or condemning Mitose's performance. As I gazed into their faces, I could detect telltale expressions of bewilderment and disappointment. Many Mitose's moves leaned heavily toward impractical methods of application. They seemed to lack continuity and forethought and left him dangerously exposed.
Pissing matches are nothing new in martial arts, and that's all I see this as.
Posted On:6/12/2005 12:18am
I'm including a email that was to me from lou Klaff. It shows some of the links between martial arts people and I like the comment, "Most people don't realize that all these guys crossed trained in the 40's through the 60's with each other."
Nice to hear from you, and gracious of you to write me. Based on your background, and living in Hawaii, I am sure you know about as much as I do. Hanshi Juchnik is a common link for both of us, and most of my information on Mitose is through Hanshi Juchnik. But there is a bit more. When Mitose was in prison, Hanshi Juchnik befriended him, and learned much about Mitose and his style of Kosho Ryu. However, there were 3 others who also went to Mitose with Hanshi. One is Grandmaster Rick Allemany who does Shaolin Kempo, and studied in Hawaii in the 60's with Professor Ralph Castro and Brother Abe Kamohamoha. He became a great tournament fighter here in the states when he moved to San Francisco. Grandmaster Allemany awas give a Kosho Teaching License from Mitose.He currently lives in Wainei or Makaha not sure which. One of Grandmaster Allemany students at the time, was Professor Eugene Sedeno. Professor was born in Hawaii, trained with Professor Walter Godin(who trained with Chow and Joe Emperado)and Sijo Adriano Emperado. He also strained with Martin Buehle [sic] (Buell) and many of the legends of Kajukenbo and Kempo. Much of my history and information comes from him. He also got a Teaching License from Mitose. Between Hanshi and Professor Sedeno I have gotten much information, but I am betting you probably already have. Professor Sedeno introduced me to alot of Kajukenbo people, and one was Thomas Mitose Jr., and I got his interpretation of things as well.. His interpretation is a bit biased toward Kajukembo I believe. Along the way, I also met Professor Kimo Ferriara, who trained with Walter Godin and others in Hawaii, I believe he trained with Professor Buehle as well. He is somewhat of a controversial figure in Hawaii but has some great archives, and notes from the early days in Hawaii. I have gotten much information from him as well, though sometimes its the flip side of the coin, still though good to see another perspective. So I am more 'Hanai' an adopted Haole, so thats how I get my information. I study with Hanshi, but am mainly a Jujutsu school, however am a Shihan in Okinawan Karate as well. So my background is really varied which puts me in touch with many different styles and Sensei. Most of the information is based from knowing these people. I had the opportunity in Hawaii to train and talk with one of Okazakis last original students, Professor Libert O'Sullivan. I spent about 4 hours just talking with him. He gave me a copy of his notes, which included a Kempo section and Lua(Hawaiian native art)section, and you should see how they approach their Kempo. Most people don't realize that all these guys crossed trained in the 40's through the 60's with each other. One of Okazakis top students, was John Chow Hoon, William Chows brother. Not only did he have Jujutsu but Kempo from his brother and Kung Fu from his Dad. His interpretation is really neat to see. Professor James Muro has shared much information with me on this subject.
I have not written any formal articles yet. Hanshi Juchnik has asked me along with one of his students Sensei Rem Scherzinger, to write articles about History for his Kai. I am currently doing a series of articles on Martial Arts in Hawaii, but am currently focusing on Lua and its roots. There are others I am sure who have more information on Chow and Mitose, Professor Sedeno being one, John Bishop(Kajukenbo)being another. I don't know how much of a help I can be, but would be glad to send you what information I have or lead you to someone who has it. I think if you could get to see Hanshi, he always asked for questions, and you could get an insight there.
Here is my web site
I have some links on their that will give you some information. right now ,on Professor Kimo's web site he has an article about Mitsoe and his relationship with O'Sensei Ueshieba of Aikido. Some Kosho sites have history as well.
Let me know if there is anything in particular you would like, and I see what I can do.
Shihan Lou Klaff
Shizen Ryu Jujutsu
Posted On:6/27/2006 8:29pm
I found this thirteen page thread on the The Original Curiculum of Kajukenbo/Karazenpo. A lot of good stuff form John Bishop and other Kajukenbo and Karazenpo guys:
I've spent more than a year in Bruce J's Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo style and it really makes me wonder...
Last edited by patfromlogan; 6/27/2006 8:31pm at .
Posted On:6/27/2006 9:20pm
Thank you Pat, you're always informative.
Posted On:11/08/2006 12:35pm
this is from the thread: Tracy's Kenpo Master (http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=47767)
and it has various links and comments from young and old. One that I found interesting is this interview with Chow.
WILLIAM CHOW: The Lost Interview
by Jim Perkins
William Chow, cica 1984
In 1986 I spent five months in Honolulu. One reason I moved there was I hoped it would give me an opportunity to meet professor William “Thunderbolt” Chow. I’d trained in the Alo system of Hawaiian kenpo (the late Ron Alo was a second-degree black belt under Chow), and having heard many stories about the man behind “Chinese kempo of kara-ho karate,” I was excited about the prospect of meeting him.
Before I knew it, there I was at the church fellowship hall where he taught, handing him a letter of introduction from Alo. The professor was short yet thick and strong despite having had a serious gallbladder operation a few years earlier. His fingers were as big around as my wrist. When he finished, he tossed the letter onto a table and growled, “Yes, I know Alo—and I no like him!”
With that, he pounded the table a few times, and it nearly collapsed from the beating. I tried to calm him down, but he walked away and began teaching. Only two students were in the class: Walter, a yellow belt, and Jacob, a black belt who wore a kung fu uniform. A few visitors in street clothes tried to persuade me to leave with some rough language and chair kicking, but I refused and stayed to watch the class for the next three hours.
At the end of the night, everyone left without even glancing my way. I went home disappointed and called my teacher. He thought it was amusing that they had threatened me. I asked: “Why are you laughing? He hates you, too.”
Alo laughed even harder and told me to go to the next class. Against my better judgment, I returned two days later and was greeted in a different manner. They were all shocked to see me, especially Chow. It hadn’t been an act; he truly didn’t want outsiders from the mainland exploiting the art he taught. However, because I did come back, they believed I wasn’t as much of a “howlie” (Hawaiian slang for white person, meaning “toilet paper”) as they had thought.
At first, it was difficult to speak with Chow because he seemed so mean and ornery. However, my thirst for martial arts knowledge and history drove me to pester him with hundreds of questions, many of which he would ignore, smile or just shrug off.
Chow finally saw the sincerity with which I had asked about his life and his art. One evening, he showed up at class with two grocery bags full of photographs—his photo albums, I guess. He started pulling out old pictures and telling me about them. He had snapshots of everyone from James Mitose and Adriano Emperado to Ed Parker and Nick Cerio.
That night, the conversation was more like an interview. I wrote down all I could remember as soon as I got home. The following is the transcript of that lost interview from 1986. Keep in mind that Chow was a very emotional person who held grudges—some deserved and others probably not. He was a true character with a one-of-a-kind personality. The things he said reflected how he felt at that moment, but they may not always have been an accurate representation of his true feelings.
Black Belt: Professor ... how did you get the title of “professor”? What exactly does it mean?
William Chow: (a little disgusted) It means I am the professor. What do you think it means? I am professor Chow!
BB: Well, I mean I don’t understand how to get that title. How would I get to be a professor?
Chow: (very disgusted) Oh, you wanna be a professor, eh?
BB: No, I was just wondering.
Chow: You want to be a professor? Good. All you have to do is start calling yourself professor Perkins, OK? You a professor now. Tomorrow, professor Emperado is going to visit you, though. You know ... visit. Then tomorrow, if you still around, I will visit you, and that will be a bad thing!
BB: No, I don’t want that. On your flier it reads, “Professor William Chow, 15th-degree black belt, Chinese Kara-Ho Kempo Kung Fu.” So you’re a 15th degree?
BB: Well, I know you’re the head of the system and all, but I didn’t know there were 15 degrees.
Chow: What’s the most you heard of?
BB: I’ve heard that 10th degree is the highest.
Chow: Right. So if everyone else is 10th degree, the professor is 15th.
BB: Oh, I see. OK. Do you have any pictures of Mitose in there?
Chow: (digs for a minute and pulls out a bundle of black-and-white photos, then hands me one showing a big Japanese man in a white gi and a black belt) See this man? Big guy, huh?
BB: Yeah. Is that Mitose?
Chow: No, no. Mitose little. That his bodyguard. Big man. Judo champion of all Japan.
BB: Hmm. He looks mean.
Chow: (proudly) Yes. I knock him out in 20 seconds!
BB: Oh. Uh ... cool.
Chow: See this one? (hands me another picture of a large Japanese man) Another bodyguard. I knock him out in 30 seconds. He think he tough, but he not tough.
Chow: Here is Mitose. (hands me a picture of Mitose and the previous bodyguard, then half a dozen more of Mitose with Chow, Emperado and others)
BB: Wow. These are incredible! So you got your black belt from Mitose?
Chow: (upset) No! My father my teacher, not Mitose! Mitose a con man. He use me to make himself famous. He show me, I show him, that’s it!
Chow: Yes. Mitose talk good, that’s all. He set up demonstrations all over Hawaii. He talk, and I show!
BB: Really? What kind of demonstrations?
Chow: Oh, he break baseball bat over my shin.
BB: Oh, man! How did you do that?
Chow: That’s nothing! It’s a trick.
BB: It was fake?
Chow: No, it’s real, but it’s not kara-ho. It’s just a trick.
BB: Did you ever break a bat over Mitose’s shin?
Chow: Ha! No. It would kill him. Mitose think he’s very good, but that’s why he have bodyguards. He afraid to get beat up. He have a lot of people who wanted to beat him up. That’s why he went to prison. A con man.
Chow: (pulls out another old photograph of himself and Ed Parker) You know who this guy is?
BB: Yeah, Ed Parker.
Chow: (upset that I recognized him) Yes, that right. Parker big shot on the mainland, right?
BB: Oh, yeah. Everyone knows him. They call him the Father of American Karate.
Chow: Well, I tell you something, and you remember this: Elvis Presley is the King of Rock ’n’ Roll; and Bruce Lee, he the King of Kung Fu, yeah?
BB: I guess.
Chow: (loud and clear) Ed Parker think he the King of Kenpo, but he wrong! There is no King of Kenpo. There is only the professor!
BB: Yes, of course. But I don’t think he thinks he’s the king.
Chow: Yes, he does.
BB: But he’s one of your black belts.
Chow: No, he’s not! He tell people that to make himself look big. Everyone says they black belt under the professor just to make money.
BB: So he didn’t train under you?
Chow: He trained under me, but he only make it to purple belt. He work more with professor Emperado than me. Go talk to him.
BB: When you retire, is there someone you want to take over your system?
Chow: Yes. There is only one man who know all of kara-ho system: Jacob. (points to his 29-year-old black belt)
BB: What rank is he now?
Chow: He’s the only one who know everything and is best teacher ever, but he doesn’t want any rank from me. He refuses. He been my student since 5 years old. I told him he has to take over, but he says no. He only learn because he loves me, doesn’t want any rank.
BB: Then how about me, Professor?
Chow: (trying not to smile) No.
BB: When I go back to the mainland in a few months, who can I go to to learn true kara-ho?
Chow: You go see Nick Cerio. He my black belt and teach you kara-ho. I’ll call him for you.
BB: OK. I guess Alo doesn’t teach true kara-ho. He’s kind of changed to his own style. Is that why you don’t like him?
Chow: What? I like Alo! He needs to come see me more. You tell him.
Photo 1: William Chow, circa 1984
Photo 2: Chow with Ron Alo in 1982
About the author: Jim Perkins is a Nixa, Missouri-based free-lance writer and a sixth-degree black belt in keokin kenpo.
Posted On:7/17/2007 9:13pm
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