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Honorable Great GrandMaster James M. Mitose


21st Great Grandmaster of Kosho - Ryu
James Mitose

     James Mitose, working out on the makiwara. Believed for the development of big knuckles and developing a hard punch or kick. The Grandmaster believed it was to take the evil in oneself and to punch it out.

     The 21st Honorable Great Grandmaster James M. Mitose, the head of all Kosho - Shorei Temples was loved and respected by all who knew him personally. He believed that for some reason, instructors were not teaching the Kenpo philosophy with Kenpo techniques, inept which has a very beautiful underlying philosophy is incomplete if not taught as a whole along with the physical aspects of the self-defense part of the system.

     Born in Hawaii, at the age of four years old, James Mitose was sent to Japan to study the family art. The family art which had been the art of Chuan Fa (Chinese), Kenpo, or Kempo (Japanese) which Mitose Masters had modified successively, until it became Kosho - Ryu (old pine tree style) Kenpo. A complete system of self-defense (Kosho - Shorei) which includes religion and training in the arts and humanities in addition to the actual self defense techniques (Kosho - Ryu).
     Following fifteen years of training, James Mitose returned to Hawaii, deciding to share the family art with people of all races. Opening a school, he found that with the rigors of the system. Involving the training in religious philosophies in addition to actual fighting techniques, very few students mastered the system.
     After fifteen years of teaching, only six students would be awarded the rank of Shodan (Black Belt). These were Jiro Nakamura, Thomas Young, William Chow {later known as Professor William chow of Kara Ho Kempo}, Paul Yamaguchi, Arthur Keawe, and Edward Lowe. It was in 1953 that James Mitose retired from active participation in the martial arts. Reasons are not clear even today. However, it is believed that James Mitose saw that his students were unable or unwilling to live their lives within the Kosho - Ryu philosophies. Other rumors have surfaced, but never confirmed. It is not really known exactly why Mitose decided to stop teaching.

1950 Group Photo
Top row from left to right: William chow, Paul Yamaguchi, Harry Pang, Woodrow McCandle
Thomas Young , Honorable Great Grand Master James M. Mitose, Paul Pung.


     To understand James Mitose's beliefs, one must understand the Philosophies of the Mitose style. What is the difference between "True Self-Defense" and "Self-Defense"?

True Self-Defense, is no body contact or violence, not to touch the opponents body in anyway. One should be happy when knowing he, or she has a chance for escape from any harm. Having a clear conscience of knowing they have not harmed others and, building their own mind and spirit. The true object is to surround, ones self with peace, confidence, and harmony.

Self-Defense, is widely believed and often preached, that a person when defending themselves must injure or kill the person who is harming them or their loved ones.

The physical aspects of True Self-Defense are essential to the mental aspects. Humanity is spiritual and physical, so do not deny one in favor of the other.


     March 27, 1981, a sad day in the history of Kosho - Ryu. The Honorable Great Grand Master James M. Mitose passed away while serving a sentence at Folsom State Penitentiary. Yes, it is true that this humble and religious human being, that dedicated his life to the martial arts, died in prison. Why was he incarcerated? It is shrouded in confusion and mystery.
     Depending on whom you get the story from, is how one is to believe what happened to cause James Mitose confinement. If listening to the District Attorney's theory, one would believe James Mitose deserved to be incarcerated. To hear James Mitose's side of the story or to know him, would be of another feeling all together and call out for true justice to be served.
     To this day, no one can factually state or determine the entire truth, and it can be expected that the truth will never be fully revealed. From the day the 21st Great Grand Master retired to the day of his passing away it is noted that he never opened a school. However he did teach selectively still trying to pass on the philosophies of the style of Kosho - Ryu.

1948 Group Photo
International Self-defense Club [NUUANU, Y.M.C.A.]
Taken to commemorate a presentation to Dr. Arthur Keawe (second from right middle row) in being promoted to Shodan. Honorable Great Grandmaster James Mitose (center, top row), and William Chow on James Mitose's right.

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