United Studios of Self Defense University City

"America's Self Defense Leader"

About Us

The History of United Studios of Self Defense  

The History of Kempo 

USSD is the largest martial arts school in North America. Since 1968, our students have studied USSD’s unique system of Kempo-style martial arts from the finest instructors in the United States. From the earliest beginnings nearly 2000 years ago, the martial arts have been steeped in tradition. Nowhere else will you feel that sense of rich history than at a USSD studio.

A Professional Program to Fit Every Need

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced martial artist, United Studios of Self Defense has a program to fit your needs. Men, women and children of all ages and professions participate in our Private & Group Training Programs.

The United Studios of Self Defense System is an ever-changing wealth of knowledge that is always interesting and fun to learn. At United Studios, you’re not just another student. You will realize your full potential, because you are special to us.

To insure top quality instruction, all Instructors must graduate with honors from the United Studios Instructors Academy. The Academy is taught by Senior Instructors that have been training in Kempo and other martial arts and managing studios for over ten years. Our Instructors must constantly refine their teaching and organizational skills to make your Martial Arts training experience exciting and enjoyable. Upon completion of this unique training course, we certify them to teach the United Studios of Self Defense System. Fully qualified, they are prepared to help you with all aspects of your Martial Arts’ Training.

Instructors participate in weekly training sessions taught by Master Instructors as well as 10th Degree Black Belt and United Studios founder Professor Charles Mattera.

Benefits for Teens and Adults

A discipline, sport, art and way of life, the Martial Arts offers the adult student many unique benefits. You may be a professional looking for that added mental edge in business, or someone who just wants to feel stronger and be more energetic.

Studies have shown for years that adults who exercise have lower blood pressure, increased muscular strength, better flexibility and less body fat than those adults who do not exercise. They can also cope with high levels of stress and have a more confident self-image.

Benefits for Children

Believing in yourself starts early! At United Studios of Self Defense, we work hard to make your child’s first experience with the Martial Arts a safe and productive one. Young people must have personal goals and a caring support system to make their dreams a reality.

We will help your child become a strong and productive member of society armed with character, strong self-discipline and a healthy self-image.

Two schools of thought exist regarding the origins of Japanese martial arts. One school insists the art of Jujitsu is originally native to Japan, while the other claims Jujitsu was actually developed from an earlier form of Chinese grappling known as Chin-na. Both Jujitsu and Chin-na stress the grappling and joint manipulation aspects of fighting as opposed to the punching and kicking aspects. Regardless of its origins by the 16th century Jujitsu was widely practiced throughout Japan.

Jujitsu was utilized by the Samurai warriors in addition to their armed fighting methods. In addition many Buddhist and Shinto temples throughout Japan advanced the practice of Jujitsu and Shorinji Kempo. Shorinji is the Japanese word for Shaolin, and Kempo the word for Chuan Fa, which means “law of the fist,” or “way of the fist.” Essentially Shorinji Kempo was the form of Shaolin empty hand combat that had spread to Japan.

In the 16th century the modern system of Kempo was first developed. This style was originally known as Kosho-Ryu Kempo. This style is different from the Shorinji Kempo mentioned earlier. Shorinji Kempo was directly evolved from Shaolin systems. Kosho-Ryu Kempo was a hybrid of Japanese Jujitsu and Shaolin. Kosho-Ryu Kempo traces its roots to the Mitose family’s Shinto monastery. One story claims the Mitose family had long practiced Jujitsu. Kosho was a member of the Mitose family who trained with a Shaolin monk and added the Shaolin fighting techniques to the family’s Jujitsu. This story has two variations; according to one, Kosho traveled to China to train with the Shaolin monk, while in the other the Shaolin monk came to Japan.

The other story claims that the Mitose family did not have any history of practicing martial arts and that Kosho was not originally a member of the Mitose family at all. According to this story Kosho was a Shaolin master who learned Japanese Jujitsu and eventually came to the Mitose monastery to became a member of the family. In any event this time period marked a major milestone in the evolution of the martial arts and the birth of modern Kempo. This was the first time the Shaolin fighting arts, consisting primarily of striking and kicking techniques was fused with Jujitsu, which consisted mainly of joint manipulation and grappling technique.

Kempo continued to be the Mitose family art through the early 20th century. In the 1940′s James Mitose relocated to Hawaii. In 1942 he opened his Self Defense Club in Hawaii to teach his family’s Kempo. One of his students was the legendary William Kwai Sun Chow. Chow was one of only six students ever to attain the rank of Black Belt from Mitose. He was the only student to master the style. Chow had also learned Shaolin kung fu from his father, the Buddhist monk Hoon Chow. Chow’s development of Kempo marks another major milestone in the evolution of the art. Today any style of Kempo in the United States can trace its origins back to Professor Chow.

Since Chows death in 1987 his Kara-Ho Kempo system has continued under the direction of Master Sam Kuoha. Master Kuoha was Professor Chow’s direct successor and continues to this day to teach Professor Chow’s system. Chow’s most famous student was the late Ed Parker. Parker had a background in Phillipino martial arts in addition to his Kempo training from Chow. Today Parker’s system forms the backbone of the second of three major branches of Kempo, with Chow’s own system being the first.

Another of Chow’s students was Adriano Emperado. Emperado along with several other martial arts masters created the art of Kajukenbo. This style was centered in Kempo but added techniques from many other styles, including Karate, Judo and Tae Kwon Do. Sonny Gascon was involved with Emperado during and immediately following the creation of Kajukenbo.

This little known master is primarily responsible for the proliferation of the third major branch of Kempo. The lineage of many famous masters such as Professor Nick Cerio can be traced through Sonny Gascon. In fact, Professor Cerio trained with George Pesare who was a student of Sonny Gascon’s in California.

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