HISTORY OF NIPPON KEMPO
ORIGINS IN JAPAN
Nippon Kempo is a competitive combat sport founded in 1932 in Japan by Muneumi Sawayama. He was an undergraduate of Kansai University, Osaka at the time. Sawayama was born into a family that was descended from a Samurai family of the Nakaoka clan. Sawayama's martial arts training started with Judo at Junior High School. At Kansai University he practised both Karate and Judo. It was the simultaneous practice of various styles of martial arts that inspired him to realise the effectiveness of a combination of forms. Until he passed away on 27th September 1977, at the age of 72, he dedicated his life to developing the combination of techniques, which we know today as Nippon Kempo, and the compilation of the Nippon Kempo handbook.
Nippon Kempo is not a traditional Japanese martial art but a combat sport based on traditional Japanese martial arts. Traditional Japanese martial arts such as Karate were not devised as sports but killing arts. Their origins and nature mean they are not wholly suitable to be practiced as sports without corrupting their authenticity. Sawayama realising this, set about creating a safe realistic sport incorporating all the most practical and effective aspects and techniques of the traditional martial arts. Similar kicking techniques to Karate, Judo type throws, evasion and arm locks from Ju Jitsu and Aikido, can all be found at the core of Nippon Kempo training.
Nippon Kempo's uniqueness lies in its use of protective armour. This is fashioned after Samurai style armour and consists of a helmet, breastplate, padded vest, groin protector and gloves. Although protective armour is worn, in training the object is not excessive or uncontrolled contact. There is a distinct difference between putting on armour and brawl/flawing manically and Nippon Kempo sparring. The object of Nippon Kempo armoured contact sparring is to score points using a recognised Nippon Kempo technique. The emphasis is on winning by skill and technique not knockout or knockdown. The object of the armour is to allow realistic sparring without the risk of serious injury or disfigurement.
ORIGINS IN THE UK
The origins of Nippon Kempo in England can be traced to 1977 when Luther De Gale introduced the sport into the UK. In 1975 he spent a year at Kansai Foreign Language University studying Japanese. While at university he trained for a year and obtained a 1st Dan black belt. Before returning to England he had the privilege of meeting the founder of Nippon Kempo, Muneumi Sawayama in 1976 shortly before he sadly passed away. He was also introduced to the Chairman of the Japanese Nippon Kempo association Fumio Yano 10th Dan.
As there was no Nippon Kempo in England, Chairman Yano asked Luther if he could introduce it into England on his return. For this he gave him a certificate officially recognising Luther De Gale as the UK representative.