Kempo Karate, or Shaolin Kempo as it is sometimes called, is one of the oldest forms of martial arts. It is generally understood that all martial arts began in India, although there are references of combat arts in ancient Egypt .

A man named Bodhidharma (Bow-dee-HAR-ma) was a Buddhist monk who traveled into China. He arrived in Shaolin-si (small forest temple) in about 527 A.D, from India and taught Zen Buddhism. He also introduced a systematized set of exercises designed to strengthen the mind and body. These exercises marked the beginning of the Shaolin style of temple boxing. Bodhidharma's teachings later became the basis for the majority of Chinese martial arts. The monks were in a poor condition due to the amount of time they spent sitting in meditation without any physical exercise. In return for the monks teachings and lodging, Bodhidharma taught them his fighting art, Chuan Fa, which is Chinese for Kempo, as well as the Buddhism principles. Thus Kempo's origins are in China from the monks of the Shaolin. The English definition of Kempo is fist law, or hard fist.

In 1921, five year old James Mitose (my-TOE-she) went to Kyushu from his home in Hawaii to study with his uncleChoki Motobu, who was a Kempo master. For fifteen years he studied this art, which was a direct descendent of the original Chinese Chuan Fa. Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1936 to train others. One of his black belts was William K.S. Chow. By 1949, Chow had attracted a following of students to his own teaching style and opened a Dojo at a YMCA. To make his art more distinctive from Mitose's Kempo, he named his style Kenpo. Since then there have been numerous modifications of the original teachings.

When Professor Hargrave founded American Combat Kempo and Combat Martial Arts, it was his goal to return to the original teachings of Kempo that were more effective for self defense, and more harmonious in nature. The low and wide stances that have been the norm for karate arts for many years were changed in favor of upright combat stances for greater mobility and speed. The kicks were brought back to their original form of low level devastation strikes for maximum impact and effectiveness. While the majority of arts require the student to be a black belt before being allowed to practice weapons, American Combat Kempo requires that the student be extremely proficient with various weapons before being allowed to test for the coveted Black Belt.

Another interesting aspect of American Combat Kempo is the ability to test for any rank at any time. There are no time in belt grade requirements. If you have the ability and knowledge you may test for the rank belt. If you can demonstrate all the material in the training manual for black belt the day you start, you will be promoted. Of course the likelihood of that happening is roughly the same as Ed McMahon coming to your door with a check.

Kempo as a defense art has as its main asset its great versatility. Unlike many arts, such as sport tae kwon do or sport karate you don't have to have supernatural flexibility, and practicing wont destroy your joints. The high flashy kicks are never used in defense, unless you want to lose the fight or your life.

All maneuvers, while not easy, can be mastered by anyone.

Kempo's main components are of course the striking and kicking, but also joint locks (when you don't want to injure your attacker) and various takedowns and throws.
We wear black uniforms (GI) and we issue beautiful internationally recognized certificates of rank, with testing available to ninth degree black belt. For his work in bringing this art back to its original form Professor Hargrave has been honored with the founders award, the founder / SOKE of American Combat Kempo / Combat Martial Arts.


We offer the Kempo Training manual and a VHS video ranking DVD for each belt level of Karate. This is the best series to get you qualified as a Kempo practitioner or an Instructor. If you are wanting to add the more effective maneuvers of Kempo to your current style, there is no problem as this system does not focus on rituals or Kata. We have only three Kata's to black belt level, and they are all weapons Kata.

The Kempo Karate Training Manual

All the techniques, strikes, kicks, takedowns, throws, and jointlocks through 1st degree black belt. $45 free shipping in US, $10 International.

The Kempo Karate Ranking Videos 

One VHS DVD for each belt level, 9th Kyu Yellow Belt, 8th Kyu Yellow one stripe, 7th Kyu Orange belt, 6th Kyu Orange one stripe, 5th Kyu Green belt, 4th Kyu Green one strip, 3rd Kyu Brown belt, 2nd Kyu Brown one stripe, 1st Kyu Brown two stripe.

Your black belt test consists of all material from all of the DVDs. After getting and practicing with your DVDs, all you do is send us a vhs DVD of yourself and your training partner (for the joinlocks and throws etc.) performing the moves just like on the DVD. We review your test DVD and inform you via e mail or regular mail on your score, and if you pass our stringent requirements you are issued an internationally recognized certificate signed by our Kempo Grandmaster.


The World Kempo Association has been involved in the certification of Students, Instructors and Schools since 1992. We were born from the idea to offer legitimate and serious international rank recognition and certification to those who were being abused by unfair or political practices by Instructors or associations who for various reasons took it upon themselves to limit the learning and ranking process. We believe the martial arts is a place to grow and learn, not to harbor ill will or harm others by not allowing students or instructors to test for ranking, and unjustly revoking school charters putting many gifted Sensei out of business. All of our certifications are International and therefore recognized worldwide. 

To be considered for rank recognition, please send us copies of all current rank certificates by mail or E mail. Upon receipt we will notify you of any costs involved for certification. We also offer rank promotion for those who are willing and able to perform an actual rank test in person or in a detailed video DVD. For a promotion you must be willing to communicate freely with us, as this is serious business, for a serious certification.

Your certificates will be issued from the American Combat Kempo Association, or Combat Martial Arts, your choice. You may be ranked in Kempo Karate, Karate, Karate-Do, Ju-Jitsu, Aiki Jitsu.

For more information contact us at the E Mail below, or Email your certificates as an attachment to get things moving immediately.

Please inform us if you are requesting individual certification, Instructor certification, school charter certification, or combination.


DESHI: Disciple or trainee - A student regardless of rank.
KOHAI: Junior - A beginning student.
SEMPAI: Senior - A title given to brown belts if no black belts are present.
SENSEI: Teacher or instructor - A black belt qualified to teach.
SHIHAN: Master teacher - Instructor of very high rank, sixth degree or above.
SHIDOSHI: Leader or Teacher.
SOKE: Headmaster of a Ryu or System

TITLE (Not all receive titles)

TASHI: Expert - A third or fourth degree black belt.
RENSHI: Polished expert - A fifth or sixth degree black belt.
KYOSHI: Expert instructor - A sixth or seventh degree black belt.
HANSHI: Master - A respected master of eighth to tenth degree black belt.
PROFESSOR: Master- High master in system of martial arts (any origin), usually a Grandmaster.

HONORS O'SENSEI: Great instructor - Highest master within a system. A title generally reserved for Ueshiba or Funakoshi.
KAICHO: Master of the house - Senior master of a system.
MEIJIN: Expert - One who has mastered an art beyond the boundaries of physical prowess. A magician.
MENKYO-KAIDEN: A certificate of full proficiency in a Japanese martial art.


Color belts
White, 10 Kyu
Yellow, 9 Kyu
Yellow 1 stripe, 8 Kyu
Ornage, 7 Kyu
Orange 1 stripe, 6 Kyu
Green, 5 Kyu
Green 1 stripe, 4 Kyu
Brown, 3 Kyu
Brown 1 stripe, 2 Kyu
Brown 2 stripe, 1 Kyu

Black belts
Shodan, 1st degree
Nidan, 2nd degree
Sandan, 3rd degree
Yodan, 4th degree
Godan, 5th degree
Rokudan, 6th degree
Shichidan, 7th degree
Hachidan, 8th degree
Kudan, 9th degree
Judan, 10th degree