Chuan Fa (fist method) came from the Shaolin Temple. In the period between the Sui and Ming dynasty, Chuan Fa became known as Kenpo (fist law). Shaolin monks traveled to many different countries and spread the knowledge of Kenpo.
The Kumamoto and Nagasaki areas of Kyushu, Japan are suggested as places where Kosho Shorei Ryu Kempo was developed. Shaka-In Temple was said to be a place of training in the art. There is also speculation of an Okinawan connection to the style from teachings of Gichin Funakoshi Sensei.
The Kosho Shorei Ryu style did not reach the United States until the 1930's. James Masayoshi Mitose (1916-1981) was born in Hawaii, but moved to his ancestral home of Kyushu, Japan around 1920. It was there that he began his study of martial arts at Shaka-In Temple. There are several temples in Japan that are associated with the name Shaka-In, and it is hard to pinpoint the exact one Mitose trained at. In 1936, he moved back to Hawaii and began sharing his knowledge in 1942. Mitose only taught for 4 years and promoted 6 blackbelts, one of them being William Chow.
William Chow combined his knowledge of Gung Fu with the teachings of Mitose to create Chinese Kara-Ho Kenpo Karate. Edward Parker, a student of Chow's, brought Kenpo Karate to the West Coast of the United States. Another student of Professor Chow's was Adriano Emperado, who, with others, formed the art known as Kajukenbo. Sonny Gascon, one of Professor Emperado's students, taught his art of Karazempo Go Shinjitsu to George Pesare. In this form Kenpo Karate eventually moved to the East Coast when Grandmaster Pesare brought the style to Rhode Island. Professor Nick Cerio was a prominent student of George Pesare and later trained with Professor Chow and Bill Chun Sr.
In 1991 Masters Self Defense Centers was formed by James M. Bryant and Robert J. Nohelty, who both studied with Professor Cerio until his death. They pass on the knowledge of Kenpo Karate and continue their training under Grandmaster Pesare. Kenpo Karate exists in many forms today, but many can trace their history to Mitose or Chow. Kosho Shorei Ryu is still taught today by Bruce Juchnik Hanshi, who studied with Grandmaster James Mitose in his darkest days and is considered the inheritor of Mitose's system.
Kenpo Karate, as a whole, is more concerned with multiple attackers and quick action situations. The style is not dependent on one method of attack or defense. Kenpo practitioners are trained to adapt themselves to any situation. They will fight their own fight, not their opponents. The way a person fights depends on the individual martial artist. No two Kenpo practitioners will be alike because each will have their own ideas on what to emphasize.
The Style blends angles with straight line and circular movements. It balances hard force with speed and fluent, flowing motions. Kenpo also teaches how to redirect an opponent's force by using little effort on the part of the defender. Traditionally, kicks are delivered below the waist and hard blocks are delivered as strikes. Meditation is an important element of Kenpo. It is the core that holds the practitioners mind, body, and spirit together.