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Ryūkyū Kempo (琉球拳法) is a generic term often used to describe all forms of karate from the Ryūkyū Islands, and more specifically to refer to the particular styles associated with Taika Seiyu Oyata and, without any form of endorsement by Oyata or his organization, with George Dillman.
Oyata is credited with being the originator of the American use of the terms Ryukyu Kempo, tuite-jutsu and kyusho-jutsu. The name Ryūkyū Kempo was adopted by a prominent martial arts personality, George Dillman, who taught his "own" version of Oyata’s style and promoted it heavily through seminars and publications. This further prompted Oyata to change the name and curriculum of what he was teaching to reflect his own system of "Life Protection" to Ryu Te. The Ryu Te organization is international and includes a selection of long-time students known as "Oyata Shin Shu Ho," whom he considers the heirs of his art.
As taught by Taika Seiyu Oyata
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Oyata’s Ryūkyū Kempo teaches a style of close-in striking and blocking as well as his own creations of a set of grappling, locking, and escape techniques (tuite-jutsu) and of advanced striking techniques (kyusho-jutsu). There are twelve open-hand kata and a number of traditional Okinawan kobudō weapons including the bō, chizikunbo, eku, jō, kama, sai, tanbo, tonfa, manji-sai, and nunti-bo. Practitioners also train in Bogu Kumite, a style of combat training in protective armor initiated by Oyata and his instructor Shigeru Nakamura.
Several branches of Ryūkyū Kempo have developed. These organizations are headed by members of the former Zenkoku Ryūkyū Kempo Karate Kobudo Rengo Kai. Their separate associations are loosely affiliated. They all have curricula based on that of the late Taika Seiyu Oyata. Seikichi Odo, heir to one of Oyata's instructors, Shigeru Nakamura, had his own organization that taught Ryūkyū Kenpo. Odo, at the request of Shigeru Nakamura's son, Taketo Nakamura changed the organizational name by adding the term 'Hon' to the name so as to differentiate the system he was teaching from that of Taketo Nakamura's organization. Taketo Nakamura's son, Yasushi Nakamura is the current Dojo-cho and heir to Nakamura's karate and kobudo lineage that traces Ryukyu Ti roots to the late 1400s in Okinawa. Yasushi Nakamura still maintains practice at the original Nakamura dojo, in Nago, Okinawa. Odo died without naming a successor, his son Susamo has taken the reins; and his organization, the Ryukyu Hon Kenpo Kobujutsu continues to exist.
|The twelve original Ryūkyū Kempo kata are:|
These twelve kata were to be taught to those in Nakamura's association; so everyone could compete equally in the kata divisions at tournaments. It did not preclude learning system specific kata in the individual dojo. Bogu Kumite, likewise, afforded equal opportunity for all at the tournaments.
As taught by George Dillman
Dillman's version of the art, which he calls Ryūkyū kempo tomari-te, has a large international following,[unreliable source?] due in part to aggressive marketing of his books and seminars. The art is known for its emphasis on light-touch pressure-point knock-out.
His art has generated a considerable amount of controversy, due in large part to Dillman's reluctance to scientifically prove the validity of his claims. The most contentious claims have been his promotion of alleged no-touch knock-outs, kiai knock-outs, and increasing technique effectiveness based on sound and color.
George Dillman continues to hold training camps in Deer Lake PA at the former Muhammed Ali training Camp, study under 10th degree black belts from Okinawa, give training seminars all over the world, and oversee Dillman Karate International consisting of over 85 schools worldwide.
- Seiyu Oyata: Master of the Old way. Official Karate; July 1984, pg 22
- Timeline of Karate History: Pre-History to 2000, Tetsuhiro Hokama
- "George Dillman Interview Part 8". WOMA. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- "Fact or Fiction?". Black Belt Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- "Immobilization Is the Key to Making Pressure-Point Techniques Work". Black Belt Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-10.