Kenpō is a Japanese fighting art brought to Japan from China around 700 years ago. The word Kenpō literally means 'Fist Law', but it also references to its Chinese roots. The Japanese adaption of the Chinese martial art was well suited to defend against unarmed fighting arts of the 12th century. Kenpō was so useful that it managed to survive and live on even after new systems were invented in the next 7 centuries, systems known under the name of Karate (lit. Japanese: Empty Hand). Kenpō was brought to Hawaii in the beginning of the 20th century by Great Grand Master Kiyoka Komatsu. Her son, James Mitose, would then later study Kenpō in Japan, and come back to Hawaii to teach others. Eventually, Grand Masters went to teach others and open new schools in America, from where Kenpō spread internationally. To date, there are 26 official Kenpō clubs in Ireland. I am in one of them, called CRX Kenpo. I attend to two-hour classes twice a week. I have already graduated into a yellow belt, and I really enjoy this self-defense martial art.
Kenpō is comprised of a multitude of techniques, which are heterogeneous defenses against various armed and unarmed attacks. There are also several sets and forms. Like any thing else, there are 'rules' and formalities to follow. For example, female students wear the knot of their belt on the right side, male's on the left, and instructors wear the knot in the middle. The artwork shown above (with the dragon and tiger), represents many things. The tiger symbolises earthly strength in the early stages of learning, when you surprise yourself with strength you never knew you had. The dragon symbolises spiritual strength in the later learning stages, when you can perform self-restraint and can walk away from unnecessary fights and conflicts. The circle represents an unending cycle of life and learning, and the universal pattern, which is inside the circle, is to help describe the linear and circular motions comprised in Kenpō. The Chinese (Chinese in honour of original Chinese roots) writing on the left translates as 'Spirit of the dragon and the tiger', and the writing on the left translates as 'Kenpo Karate' which literally means 'Law of the Fist (Kenpo) and the Empty Hand (Karate)'.