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Kokondo Karate and its sister style, Jukido Jujitsu are Japanese-based martial arts developed by Paul Arel. Jukido Jujitsu was founded in 1959 followed by Kokondo Karate in 1970. The two styles are taught internationally, primarily in the United States. Within the United States, the largest concentration of dojos is near South Windsor, Connecticut, where Arel’s dojo is located. The International Kokondo Association (IKA) is the global governing body of Jukido Jujitsu & Kokondo Karate. All instructors of the Kokondo arts have a direct link to the IKA and it’s honbu (World HQ) dojo.
“Kokondo” translates as “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 Sanzyu-ryu Jujutsu. The term “Kokondo” is used to refer to the two arts jointly.
The history of Kokondo karate and Jukido jujitsu is bound closely to the history of their founder, Paul Arel. His formal martial arts training began in 1950, when he began studying Sanzyu-ryu Jujutsu in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. By 1952, he had earned his black belt and began teaching jujutsu. In 1956, he entered the United States Marine Corps; 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 Don Nagle, Sankata under Ishikawa and other Jujutsu 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.
Paul Arel passed away on January 2, 2009. He was 73 years old.
The central principles of Kokondo Karate and Jukido Jujitsu are:
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 & jujitsu as well as in their behaviour while training, and also their behavior generally.
Kokondo dojo are usually run by volunteer sensei, though there are exceptions. The IKA rejects the practice of student contracts, and attempts to retain students through excellence of instruction. Kokondo welcomes women, and has equal expectations of both 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.