What Is Okinawa Kenpo and What Makes it Special?
The term "Okinawa Kenpo" as a formal style began with Nakamura Shigeru (1894-1969). Nakamura Sensei, pictured to the right, trained under some of the most influential karate teachers of his era. He was able to combine fighting arts native to Okinawa with influences from China and Japan to form an effective fighting method. Nakamura's reputation as a skilled karateka grew and he eventually became close friends and training partners with other senior karate practitioners on the island.
When Nakamura Sensei passed away he named Odo Seikichi (one of his senior students) as the successor of the style. Odo Sensei (1926-2002) was highly skilled in Nakamura's karate but was also a savant of Okinawan kobudo (weapons fighting). As such, Odo Sensei was able to combine a diverse kobudo system with the classical methods of Nakamura's karate to form a complete and historically rare fighting system.
Odo Sensei was a generous teacher and world traveler. He spent significant time training Americans in Okinawa and traveling to the US in order to continue the growth of his senior students. One senior student was Bruce Heilman based out of Reading, PA. It was in PA that instructor Matthew Apsokardu studied the style for many years directly with Heilman Sensei.
About the Karate Program
The Okinawa Kenpo Karate program focuses on giving students a wide range of skills to defend themselves as well as develop increased focus and mental acuity. The program consists of kata training as well as fundamental basics and sparring.
Okinawa Kenpo Karate has been developed to integrate a wide variety of techniques, including striking, joint locking, tripping, throwing, and more. Students will be introduced to a full continuum of life protection tools over time.
The goal of the karate program is to use the mature philosophy and mindset of the old masters to create better people, not just better fighters.
About the Kobudo Program
Okinawa Kenpo has a rare and diverse set of weapons. The kobudo system is developed to blend with the karate program, allowing study in one to enhance the other. Students who participate in kobudo will study a wide variety of traditional Okinawan implements, including the rokushaku bo, tonfa, sai, nunchaku, kama, and more.
Students participating in kobudo can expect their early training to consist of fundamental practice and kata training, leading to more dynamic exercises and eventually sparring (if they so choose).
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