Okinawa Kenpo Karate and Kobudo
The most identifiable characteristic of Okinawa Kenpo (and the one that distinishes our martial art from the other styles of Okinawan karate) is the full contact sparring in modified kendo (Japanese fencing) armor; we call our protective equipment "Bogu Armor." Consequently, Okinawa Kenpo has no sport application. Nakamura Okinawa Kenpo is only a combat martial art. As a result, we spar full contact with all the techniques that are effective in a life or death struggle: full power strikes and kicks, eye pokes, ear slaps, head butts, sweeps, trips, and throws.
Shigeru Nakamura was born during the era of Okinawan bushido (warrior's way). During this era, all karate matches ended with a knockout, a maiming, or a death. Grand-master Nakamura participated in many such matches. However, in the early 1920's, the Japanese government placed a prohibition on Okinawan bare knuckled, full contact, fighting. In response, many masters eliminated sparring altogether in their dojos. This ban greatly disturbed Grandmaster Nakamura. He truly believed the result of this prohibition would be the demise of their effective combat proven martial art. To prevent the extinction of his beloved Okinawan karate, he created protective sparring armor by reducing the shoulder flaps and adding metal ear cups to the (metal caged) kendo helmets, created quilted canvas vests and shin guards with wooden inserts, and used kendo mitts. This newly developed body armor allowed fighters to spar full contact, with the same techniques, as they had for centuries prior to the Japanese prohibition without serious injury. Althrough there was resistance to the use of bogu armor by some karate masters, by the early 1930's, most of the styles of karate had integrated bogu kumite into their training curriculums.
Sparring using the bogu armor is the closest training activity to real world combat that can be safely experienced. During bogu kumite there is no need for a referee to award points, each fighter can determine, independly, if he or she landed a fight stopping (in real combat) strike or kick to the opponent. Sparring in the bogu armor also deveops confidence in one's ability to defend him/herself, loved ones, and friends from a violent attack. A Nakamura Okinawa Kenpo fighter learns by experience to effectively evade and/or block explosive, full Contact, combinations of strikes and kicks and then counter-attack in kind.
Okinawa Kenpo practictioners of all ages can safely participate in bogu kumite.. In our training curriculum, students are not allowed to participate in bogu kumite until they have aquired a full skill set of offensive and defensive abilities. Even then, the intensity of the kumite is regulated for each student's age, skill level, and physical condition.
Bogu kumite is inseperable from Nakamure Okinawa Kenpo Karate. If someone claims to practice and teach our system of karate, but he of she does not fight in the bogu armor, it's not Nakamura Okinawa Kenpo. It is shadow boxing in karate uniform. To channel the wisdom of Grandmaster Nakamura, "No full contact fighting, no karate."
Bogu Kumite - Full Contact Sparring