History of the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association“Standards of Excellence”




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Universal Kempo-Karate Schools Association  
98-713 Kuahao Street  
Phone: 808-487-2686  
Fax: 808-488-8363  

History of the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association
“Standards of Excellence”

Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate
Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate

The Present

The history of the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association (UKKSA) emerges from powerful roots into a colorful past. The practical and effective knowledge prevalent in the UKKSA curriculum was developed from countless battlegrounds in the streets and rings throughout the world and evolved from the wisdom of many professors and instructors. The UKKSA's methods reflect the strong influence and innovations of its current leadership.

The UKKSA embraces the best of the traditions of the old ways and welcomes the visions of the new. The UKKSA's curriculum maintains the challenging and rigorous training of the ancient ways and successfully employs the proven methods of today.

Chinese Kempo Karate is an eclectic system, which merges the realistic aspects of karate, judo, jujitsu, grappling, weapons, and boxing arts. The dynamic curriculum is measured by high standards and represents a realistic challenge for all participants. The exceptional versatility of the UKKSA's self-defense system is tailored to meet the needs of all individual's sizes, strengths, and abilities. Chinese Kempo Karate readily adapts to the demands of a changing world and equips the student with the mental and physical skills to meet any threat.

The creative methods and innovations of this versatile system keep the UKKSA on the cutting edge of the martial arts world. The UKKSA owes its quality standards and preeminence in the martial arts world to its founder, Professor Martin T. Buell. Professor Buell resides on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, and is one of the most recognized and respected Kempo instructors in the world.

In 1981, the UKKSA was founded by Professor Buell, which marked the beginning of the prolific growth of the progressive association.

Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate
Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate

The Past

Kempo Karate is regarded as a beautiful and highly skilled martial art. The beginning of Kempo Karate is somewhat obscure; some say it began in China, some say it began in India, and others indicate elsewhere. It seems that Kempo Karate is as old as man.

The formal beginning of Kempo Karate is attributed to the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma (Tamo in Mandarin Chinese or Daruma in Japanese). Bodhidharma journeyed over sea from India to China where he remained at a monastery called Shaolin and taught Buddhism to the Chinese monks there. This was approximately in the year 525 A.D., when Bodidharma combined Kempo Karate and Zen Buddhism into a workable method of physical and spiritual fitness.

In the year 525 A.D., China was split into many kingdoms and bandit baronies, and the Canton War Lords had disarmed the civilian population. Bandits were raiding the villages for food, molesting people, burning houses, and robbing the Buddhist temples. The Canton War Lords failed to protect the people and they turned to the priest Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma fasted, prayed, and meditated to God for many days. Then, he conveyed the message that war and killing is wrong, but is also wrong not to be prepared to defend oneself against evil tyrants. Bodhidharma encouraged the people that although they didn't have weapons, to make every finger a dagger, every fist a mace, every arm a spear, and every open hand a sword.

As time went on, the monks at Shaolin won the reputation of being the most formidable fighters in China. Since that time, Kempo Karate has gradually developed into powerful and skillful techniques. Shaolin Chuan Fa is considered by most martial arts historians to be the forerunner of karate and kung fu. Chuan Fa means “law of the fist.” Kempo is commonly used in Okinawa to describe karate systems that have Chuan Fa roots. These are not associated with the Kenpo/Kempo systems from Hawaii.

Kenpo/Kempo systems have evolved in Hawaii since their beginnings. When Professor Buell began his training, the schools in Hawaii used the “Kenpo” spelling. Professor Buell's research revealed that his martial arts were roots profoundly influenced by Chinese Kempo. Subsequently, Professor Buell changed the “Kenpo” spelling to “Kempo” in 1974. Some of the other schools followed suit and some stayed with “Kenpo.”

Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate
Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate

The Evolution in Hawaii

The evolution of Kempo Karate continued until the first Kenpo style self-defense school under Professor James Mitose opened in Hawaii in 1942. Since that time, Kenpo and Kempo style schools have multiplied as instructors, students, and their generations of students have opened schools of their own.

Many prominent instructors were involved in the development of the Kenpo and Kempo systems; and many are actively promoting the art today. Only those professors and instructors, which had a direct influence on the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association family history, will be addressed.

Professor James Mitose brought the Kosho-Ryu Kenpo (Old Pine Tree Style) to Hawaii during the formation of the Official Self-Defense Club in Hawaii in 1942. The Kenpo influence was blended with jujitsu, and the system was divided into the physical and spiritual arts. Kenpo techniques were improved through the influence and exchange of ideas among Professor Mitose, Grandmaster William Kwai-Sun Chow, and Professor Thomas Young. Eventually, Professor Chow left the self-defense club to develop the Kara Ho System.

Professor William “Thunderbolt” Chow developed the Kara-ho Kenpo System and continued to develop Chinese Kenpo over the years. Professor Chow trained many prominent martial artists including Professor Adriano Emperado, and the world famous Edmund Parker.

Professor Adriano D. Emperado is given credit for founding the Kajukenbo Self-Defense System in Hawaii, between 1947 and 1949. Kajukenbo was developed through the influence of five martial arts experts during this period to create the ultimate street fighting art. The co-founders of the system were Walter P.Y.Y. Choo (Tang Soo Do), Frank Ordonez (Jujitsu), Joseph Holek (Judo), and Clarence Chang (Chinese boxing). The original Kajukenbo was a blend of Korean Karate (KA), Japanese Judo and Jujitsu (JU), Kenpo (KEN), and Chinese boxing (BO). The Universal Kempo Karate prayer that instructors and students say today was devised by Frank Ordonez, which reflects the traditions maintained by Professor Buell.

Professor Emperado trained many prominent martial artists.

Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate
Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate

The Beginning: Professor Martin T. Buell

Professor Buell was born on August 31, 1942, in Honolulu, Hawaii, of Irish and Chinese ancestry. Professor Buell began his martial arts career in 1953 when he began studying at the Kaimuki YMCA in Honolulu.

In 1956, Professor Buell trained in “Kenpo” at the Central YMCA, Honolulu, Hawaii, with Professor Thomas Young.

In 1957, Professor Buell began his training in the Kajukenbo System with Professor Adriano Emperado. He enrolled in the Kajukenbo Kaimuki YMCA Branch after observing a martial arts demonstration.

Learning and training at the Kajukenbo System, Emperado Method under Professor Emperado was the foundation planted and the beginning of Professor Buell's dedication to the martial arts. Some of the professor's other instructors were Paul Seronio, Al Reyes, and Walter Godin.

Professor Buell received his black belt in 1966, his second degree in February 1969, and third degree in June 1970. Professor Buell continued his teaching and training for many years and was promoted to fifth degree Chief Instructor.

Professor Buell preserved his love for Kempo Karate by having several schools under his leadership. The beginning of it all was started at the Pacific Palisades Community Center in 1966. His second branch opened in 1972 at the Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City, Hawaii, and his third in 1974 at the Newtown Estates Recreational Center in Aiea, Hawaii. Professor Buell trained many instructors, some of whom started schools on the mainland during this period. These locations included schools in Colorado, Virginia, Washington, West Indies, Guam, California, Texas, New Hampshire, and Ohio. The name Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association came into effect on October 23, 1981. Professor Buell created a Board of Directors, comprised of the Chief and Senior Head Instructors and all heads of schools under the UKKSA banner. As head of the UKKSA, Martin Buell was recommended by his Board of Directors to be advanced to the rank of Professor.

On May 22, 1982, Mr. Buell was promoted to the rank of Professorship, 10th Degree. The promotion was witnessed by many martial artists in Hawaii and from afar. This event was held at the Momilani Recreation Center in Pearl City, Hawaii. After the promotion, Professor Buell's 300-member Universal team provided a very special martial arts demonstration before hundreds of guests in honor of such a rare event. The promotion was at a formal setting where past and present students participated in the special ceremony. There was a formal meal and gifts were awarded to Professor Buell as well as special hula dancing dedicated to the professorship of Professor Buell.

The Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association's hard style and training has remained the same as its predecessor. Professor Buell continues to teach the hard body contact training, the animal, and street fighting as taught to him by the countless hours and days of devoted training.

Professor Buell developed and improved the Universal Kempo Karate system with modern methods and innovations. His love for Kempo Karate has always driven him to further its growth.

The UKKSA uses the methods of escape, control, and destroy in self-defense training considering the escalation of force. The objectives of the UKKSA are first to teach self-defense; second, to improve physical conditioning; third, to improve self-discipline, moral character, and humility; and fourth, to develop comradeship among students and to encourage one another to help each other, so all can prosper and develop.

Professor Buell, a strong and rugged fighter, won countless sparring matches in tournament competitions. He has trained many of the most successful martial arts competitors.

Some of Professor Buell's notable moments were:

    1969, Most Outstanding Competitor—All American Championships
    1968, Most Outstanding Competitor—Kajukenbo Championships
    1968, Member of Sparring Team—Hawaii vs. Mainland
    1968, All Hawaii Karate Championships—Runner Up
    1969, Member of Sparring Team—Hawaii vs. Mainland
    1974, Captain of Sparring Team—Hawaii vs. Mainland
    1978, Coach—Hawaii All Stars (Highly successful sparring team participating at the Professional Karate Association Championships in Baltimore, Maryland)

Professor Buell helped to form the Hawaiian Martial Arts Association, was past Commissioner for the Professional Karate Association, past Rating Chairman for Karate Illustrated Magazine, well-known professional referee for point and full-contact tournaments, and tournament organizer and director for many of Hawaii's martial arts tournaments.

Professor Buell's greatest fulfillment with the martial arts is enjoying teaching and helping the student who really needs help. He is devoted to the well-being and education in assisting students of the martial arts to become effective participants in society. Professor Buell has to his credit the opportunity to know, enjoy, and train thousands of students that have made themselves better by just knowing him.

Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate
Professor Martin T. Buell, founder of Universal Kempo Karate

The Future

The UKKSA is comprised of thousands of students and trainers, both male and female, whose ages range from 3 years to 60+ years old. As the UKKSA experiences prolific growth, quality and innovation is heightened. The quality of trainers and practitioners within the UKKSA is second to none whose progressive methods have produced national and international champions and top-flight demonstration teams. Through the leadership of Professor Buell, the Chief Instructors, and the disciplined efforts of all UKKSA trainers and students, the continued development of mind, body, and spirit of all practitioners is ensured.

Professor Buell continues to inspire greatness and loyalty in all of his instructors and students as he has from the beginning. He regularly conducts training seminars for Universal instructors to enhance their professional skills and to ensure the Universal standards of excellence. His vision of excellence is shared by all within the Universal family, which paves the way for a promising future. Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association is planning on opening many more martial arts training centers throughout the world. We live in a modern industrial civilization in which scientific and technological advances have given man a greater awareness of himself and the world.

The basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing become more difficult to fill because of continually increasing population and scarcity of natural resources. The gap between rich and poor nations continues to widen and this poses great threats to world stability and harmony; a solution must be found for the alternative is political and social unrest, human misery, and possible catastrophe.

The values that a man possesses to direct his way of life are based on the belief that they will bring him happiness and fulfillment. But as is readily apparent those values, which have hitherto guided men's lives, have only engendered grave threats to humanity and even to existence itself.

Universal Kempo teaches that fulfillment and happiness lie in the realization and expression of true nature, humanity, and the unique potentialities and capacities, which characterize individuality.

Values must also be readapted toward the realization of this goal. Universal Kempo teaches that moral criteria and values must be grounded in the nature of things.

Man is endowed with life and great potential, and as a participant in reality, he is at once the cause and effect of everything that he encounters since all things are interrelated and interacting. Man can create a better world, a better life for himself, and establish the middle way of heaven on earth. It is in his power to do so, and it is his responsibility. Every individual has a responsibility first to himself, to the society of which he is a part, and through society of mankind. The degree of responsibility depends on the extent to which the individual possesses special capacities, special knowledge, and special power that is his because of membership in a special group.

Universal Kempo envisions a future in which individuals can truly be themselves and give full expression to their potentialities and capacities in both work and leisure. Meaningful leisure must be creative living requiring great discipline and initiative. Universal Kempo also envisions a future in which men bound by good human relations and cooperative effort, work for the glory of mankind an not its destruction, in which the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing are accessible to all, and in which man's natural and social environment are conducive to the fulfillment of his nature and the expression of his potentialities.

Man's tomorrow depends on what he does today. There are shadows of impending doom and the growing complexity of the world increases the burden of shouldering one's individuality and responsibility to an almost impossible degree. But this is man's challenge; accepting its call is the only way to alleviate the suffering facing us today and of securing happiness and fulfillment. It's also the way to contribute to the process of evolution and ultimately to give meaning to individual existence.

More Than Martial Arts!
E-Mail: universalkempo@hawaii.rr.com | Phone: (808) 487-2686 | Fax: (808) 488-8363

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