Kokondo Karate and its sister style, Jukido Jujitsu are Japanese-based martial arts developed by Shihan Paul Arel. Jukido Jujitsu was founded first, in 1959, and Kokondo Karate was founded in 1970. The two styles are taught and practiced primarily in the United States, Finland and Israel; within the United States, the largest concentration of dojos is near South Windsor, Connecticut, where Arel's dojo is located.
"Kokondo" literally means "the way of the past and the present;" this is embraced by the art in that it emphasizes modern application of ancient principles. "Jukido" means "the way of gentle flowing power"; its meaning is similar to that of Aikido, although technically it is considerablly different. The techniques of Kokondo karate are drawn from several styles of asian martial arts, but principally Kyokushin karate and Sankata karate-jitsu. Jukido jujitsu is also based on many styles, but principally Sanzyuryu jujitsu. The term "Kokondo" is used to refer to the two arts jointly.
The history of Kokondo and Jukido is bound closely to the history of its founder, Paul Arel. His formal martial arts training began in 1950, when he began studying Sanzyu-ryu jujitsu in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. By 1952, he had earned his black belt and began teaching jujitsu. In 1956, he entered the Marines; he was stationed in North Carolina first, and later Japan. His travels as a marine were an excellent opportunity to study a variety of martial arts, including Isshin-ryu karate under Sensei Don Nagle, Sankata under Sensei Ishikawa and other jujitsu and karate styles. After his honorable discharge in 1959, he returned to Hartford, Connecticut, where he opened "Karate, Inc.," the state's first karate school, where he taught Sankata karate. In 1959, Arel founded jukido jujitsu and began teaching it.
In 1962, Arel was invited to train with Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushin karate, along with his top students. During this time, Arel was involved frequently with tournaments; he authored the rules for the first North American Karate Championships, and hosted several other championships over the rest of the decade. By 1970, Arel resigned from the Kyokushinkai-kan to found Kokondo karate, along with the IKA, the official governing body of both Kokondo Karate and Jukido Jujitsu.
The central principles of Kokondo Karate and Jukido Jujitsu are:
- Jushin: the center line. The horizontal and vertical center lines of an opponent's body is critical to the effectiveness of techniques. Attacks should be on the center line; containment techniques should be applied along the center line, and throws should break the center line.
- Kuzushi: unbalancing. Motion (your own or an opponents) creates an imbalance. Creating and controlling this imbalance leads to effective techniques.
- Shorin-ji: points and circles. Neither straight line techniques (as in many Japanese systems) nor rounded techniques (as in many Chinese systems) are ideal separately: each has their strengths and when combined, the result is more effective.
Philosophy and rules
Kokondo is a closed system: students are expected to not train in any other martial arts. The focus of the two arts is on effective, realistic self-defense. Kokondo-ka (Kokondo practitioners) are discouraged from engaging in martial arts tournaments; it is Arel's stance that training for tournaments is disruptive to self-defense training. The seven codes of Bushido (benevolence, courage, honor, justice, loyalty, politeness, and veracity) are considered particularly important ideals for Kokondo-ka, in their karate as well as in their behaviour while training, as well as their behavior generally.
Kokondo dojos are usually run by volunteer sensei, though there are exceptions. The IKJA rejects the practice of student contracts, and attempts to retain students through excellence of instruction. Kokondo welcomes women, and has equal expectations of female and male kokondo-ka.
There are 11 ranks before black belt in Kokondo karate: White, White 1, White 2, Yellow, Yellow 1, Yellow 2, Green, Red, Brown 3, Brown 2, and Brown 1. In Jukido Jujitsu there are thirteen ranks before black belt: White, White 1, White 2, Yellow, Yellow 1, Yellow 2, Orange, Blue, Purple, Green, Brown 3, Brown 2, and Brown 1. The brown ranks are numbered in decreasing order, corresponding to the rank of the kyu; 1st kyu corresponds to Brown 1, 2nd kyu to Brown 2, and so on.
There is no fixed timetable for advancement through the ranks, but it takes an average of about 4 or 5 years for a student to earn their black belt.