Our Japanese Kenpo/Kempo heritage and lineage is that of the powerful Yoshida Clan
last updated 07/17/09 10:53:37 AM
Since its introduction to Japan from China in the early 1200's, "Kenpo/Kosho" has always been a Family Art. Passed down through 20 generations of Yoshida "Great Grand Masters"!
James M. Mitose (1916-1983) was the son of Kiyoka (Yoshida) Mitose and Otokichi Mitose. James M. Mitose was the first Great Grand Master of Kenpo/Kempo/Kosho, not to bear the name of Yoshida! Click here for a short biography of James M. Mitose for a better understanding
The Yoshida's are an ancient royal Japanese Warrior family that goes back as far as recorded Japanese history. The Original "Yoshida" family name was Urabe - They took the name Yoshida from the famous castle by that name they once owned. Not only were the Yoshida's a powerfully Samurai warrior family but they exercised great control over the "Shinto Religion" - the official and ancient religion of Japan. Shinto literally means "way of the Gods!
The Yoshida's were warrior lords (bushi) and along with their immense number of military retainers (samurai) were part of an important base of Japanese culture and civilization for over 800 years.
The Yoshida's were also daimyo or great lords. To be considered a "daimyo" you had to have land holding of at least 10,000 *kyku.They also had major control of the "Shinto" religion and with it large armies to protect the holding of the church. This combined with their own land holding gave them large armies to be used to fight upon the side of the "Shogun" when he needed their support. It was because of this support that they became the first retainers of the famous "Yoshida"** castle built in the 1500's. The Yoshida's also had a great deal of influence with the "Emperor" who the Japanese believe is directly descended from the Gods.
In the middle part of the 13th century, Zengo Yoshida, a prominent member of the Yoshida clan would embrace the "Rinzai" sect of Zen Buddhism and eventually this branch of the Yoshida family would build their own "family" Zen temple on Mt. Kinkai. The warrior monks of the Rinzai sect in China would also bring with them the unarmed Martial Arts of the Shaolin temple: Kenpo/Kempo/Kosho!
For the next 800 years the Yoshidas would take the "war arts" of the Shaolin Temple, along with Zen and assimilate and blend them into the Japanese culture. They would be become part of the "Code of Bushido" by which every Samurai lived.
For over 800 years Zen and Shintoism would co-exist as compatible religions with priests from both religions meeting in the same building and performing similar religious function. That would come to an end with the overthrow of the Shogun (1185-1863) and the "Meiji revolution: would once again restore power and control to the royal family where the "Emperor" was accepted as a God.
With the Emperor and the Shinto religion now in full control of Japan - the Yoshida's who never gave up their control of Shintoism once again held a great deal of power and influence with the new Emperor and new government!
Good question "grasshopper"!
last updated -- Friday, July 17, 2009
; To be continued