History James M. Mitose by Al Tracy



                                                                                                            A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF
James M. Mitose
                                                                                                          James Masayoshi Mitose
                                                                                                  (b. Dec 30, 1916 –  d. March 26, 1981)

                                                                                                                                         AL TRACY

LAST UPDATED — 07/17/09 10:54


For the first time you will be getting fully researched and document history of Kenpo/Kempo/Kosho! The following is just a quick overview. It would really take a full book just to cover James Mitose himself let alone all the ways he influenced the system we call Kenpo. As I fully develop this Web site I will try not to just give you bare facts but also give you historical background to fully appreciate our Kenpo heritage and traditions!

EXAMPLE: The Yoshidas (Urabe) controlled the Japanese “Shinto” religion. Zenko Yoshida would be the first important Yoshida to embrace the Rinzai sect of Zen. Eventually the Yoshida would build a family (Zen) temple on Mt. Kinkai!

Lot of facts but not much meat. See how much more meaningful it would be if:

  • You knew who Yoshida and Urabe were, and why the Urabe’s changed their name to Yoshida after the famous castle in Japan they would be given!
  • Historical fact: For those of you who saw the excellent series “Shogun”: the big castle on the hill is the Yoshida Castle.

o       In one TV scene the hero ask about Lord Yoshida: the answer was “He’s a murdering Bastard!

  • What is the Shinto religion: how long did the Yoshida’s control the religion?

o       This is a famous (Click) “Tore gate” : entrance gate to a famous “Shinto Shrine:

  • What is Zen (C’han Chinese)! Is it true that (Zen/C’han) originated in the famous Shaolin temple in China? Why does the temple have three names? Shaolin; Sil-lum and Shorin-ji. What does Shaolin mean? Answer (Young Forest) Why did C’han disappear form China?
  • Who was Rinzai – why was the Rinzai sect important – why did this sect survive while others died out?
  • What about the Yoshida family temple on Mt. Kinkai?

The whole “Kosho” clan claims that Mt. Kinkai does not exist. If that were true, it would mean James Mitose was a liar and make up the whole thing!

o       In court testimony James Mitose talks about the temple on Mt. Kinkai as he told the court – they owned the “Entire Mountain”!

If you had all of this knowledge it would make history a lot more interesting!

“SIFU”: What is it you ask, Grasshopper?”

“Grasshopper”: Is it true sifu, that gung-fu started at the Shaolin temple?

SIFU: Grasshopper “spell it any way you want: Gung-Fu; Kung-Fu or Gong-fu – the C’han monks taught unarmed martial arts but it did not originate in the Shaolin Temple!

Grasshopper: But Sifu, all the TV Shows, Movies, Books and Magazines show the Shaolin monks using all kinds of weapons!”

SIFU: “Zen monks were forbidden to use any weapon – even a staff. They were not even allowed to hold or sharpen a sword. Nor did they ever eat meat or do anything to harm any living creature – even a fly!”

SIFU: “While you are still sitting, Grasshopper – the Zen monks never imitated any of the animals nor did they have animal sets.”

GRASSHOPPER: “But where did all the weapons and animal sets come from, Sifu?”

SIFU: “They came for the Taoist!”

Grasshopper: “Who are/were the Taoist?”

SIFU:  “So many questions, Grasshopper — but first a new koan.”
(what the hell is a koan)?


WARNING: James Mitose was a very complex person. The best insight we will ever have into James Mitose is the transcript of his trial in 1973. Unfortunately the transcript is over 3,500 pages. Unless you read this transcript for yourself – you cannot really judge this man. Unfortunately transcripts are not cheap. The courthouse wants $1 a page if they have to photocopy the records for you.

The other recourse is to buy a portable photocopier – go to the Court House in Los Angeles, and copy the records yourself. If you choose to do it yourself it will take several days. The physical cost – when you have your own portable — is about .15-.20 cents a page not including the cost of the photocopier, your time and fee’s for parking. Doing it your self (slave labor) will cost about ($800 – $1,000). The paper for the transcript alone weighs about 35lbs.

By special order we can sell you the entire transcript for $400 and that will include shipping. We have a limited number of these transcripts. But every historian of Kenpo and especially the “Kosho” group should have a copy. 

A Short Biography of James ( Masayoshi) Mitose  YOSHIDA

I come to you with only open hands,
other weapons, I have not.
But should Right or Honor require it
My hands will bear me out

           YOSHIDA CODE       

Short family tree for reference:

This family tree will be expanded out in the future

The Japanese lineage of Kenpo starts with Zenko Yoshida. He would become the first important Yoshida to embrace the Rinzai sect of Zen.

1st  Kosho/Kenpo/Kempo grand master: Zenko Yoshida (1232-1297) approx.
followed by 18 more generations of Yoshida (Rinzai) grand masters!

Female blood members of the Yoshida Clan were also taught the family art of Kosho/Kenpo. The Yoshida children stared studying at the age of five. This would be true of James Mitose and his sisters.

             Our modern history of Kenpo starts at this point:
19th Great Grand Master of Kenpo/Kosho -Jiroku Yoshida (1818-1890)

20th Great Grand Master of Kenpo/Kosho – Sukuhei Yoshida (1853-1936).

Sukuhei Yoshida was the father of Kiyoko Yoshida (1890-1943/44), and the Grand Father (and teacher) of Masayoshi Mitose: (James).

Kiyoko (Yoshida) Mitose was the only daughter of Sukuhei Yoshida. There was also one older son.

Kiyoko was the mother of James (Masayoshi) Mitose.

21st Great Grand Master of Kenpo/Kosho
– Masayoshi Mitose (James)


February 7, 1937 Masayoshi Mitose brings 800 years of Kosho/Kenpo heritage to  Hawaii.

The Kenpo/Kosho heritage of James M. Mitose is the heritage of the Family of all Kenpo based styles.


It is not the intent of this biography to cover what James Mitose taught; that will be covered in separate sections. Be aware that in this short Biography, for every answer we have, a dozen new roads will be opened. Many of the important questions will never be answered. They died with James Mitose.

By Japanese standards James Mitose had brought great shame and dishonor upon himself and his family. For this reason he refused at every level to reveal his Family name. And when he did give information it was usually misleading to protect his family. To protect his own family he stated he had only one son “Burro”. There were actually three children from his second marriage. During the War, he and his wife would give the children away for others to raise. There were two more children from his third marriage: Alvin and Alan.

When questioned by the authorities about his family all he would say was “all the children come to no good” … “crazy family … crazy family, my big boy try to kill me …” The only thing he would ever tell any authority was that his mother’s name was Kiyoko. It seems “his big boy” was his oldest son who was a Viet Nam veteran!

It took us over 35 years to get most of these answers. Come with us as we start to unravel the truth behind Kosho/Kenpo/Kempo and the family of James Mitose.

NOTE: James Mitose never took the name “James” legally. When he returned to Hawaii from Japan in 1937 family friends told him that almost all the Japanese (including his sister) had taken “American” names. Why the name of James was chosen we do not know but he officially died as James M. Mitose and his remains were cremated.


Very simple! No James Mitose, no Kenpo!

No matter what you have been told, James (Masayoshi) Mitose, in 1937 (not 1936), would return to Hawaii after studying his ancient ancestral art of Kosho/Kenpo (Kosho Ryu Kenpo: Old Pine Tree style), in Japan. And for the first time this art (especially KENPO: fist law, the war arts) would be taught to people who were not “blood” related!

James Mitose was not the founder of his art, nor did he ever make that claim. He was the 21st Great Grand Master who had been trained by, among others, his grandfather Sukuhei (20th Great Grand Master – born 1869) – and his uncle, to become the head of the system. This position was his by blood at his birth. As the 1st born son of Kiyoko (Yoshida) Mitose, he was sent to Japan in 1920 along with his older sister, Kimie (b.1915), to live with his grandparents.

At the age of three years, 10 months and eight days, Masakichi (Masayoshi) Mitose along with his older sister would set sail for Japan on October 22, 1920. A family friend named Muriki would take them to Japan!

The second daughter, Shizue (b.1918), as in infant,  had already been sent to live with her grandparents. There, starting at age five, James Mitose was trained and educated to assume the responsibility and obligations of becoming the 21st Great Grand Master. Along with his training came all the inherited rights and responsibilities that went to the first-born male.

(as written by James Mitose)

I come to you with only open hands,
Other weapons, I have not.
But should Right or Honor require it
My hands will bear me out

This was the Code of Honor used by the founders of Kenpo long before Ed Parker was born! Now you know where Ed Parker got his Karate (Kenpo) Creed!


I come to you with only Karate, empty hands. I have no weapons but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, Karate, my empty hands.”

From the very beginning James Mitose made it very clear KENPO was not Okinawan or Japanese Karate (KARATE: EMPTY HAND)!

James ( Masayoshi) Mitose


Otokichi Mitose — born 1863 (Born in Japan; Kumamoto, Shimonashiki District, Higashi-Tomochi Village). Came to Hawaii June 1, 1891 as a contract laborer – was uneducated and could not write – signed his name with an X. (We have the X’s.) Otokichi was 48 years old when he married Kiyoka.


Our first real awakening came when we got a copy of James Mitosis’s application for a social security number. On the section for “fathers name” the document stated: “Took wife’s name”!! Our first red flag went up! Why would any man take his wife’s name? Even more important, what was that name? The social security application did not state the name Otokichi took.

Otokichi would divorce Kiyoka in (1926). Neither would legally remarry. Otokichi Mitose returned to Japan in 1935, to the village where he had been born. He would die the following year, January 6, 1937, at the age of 73.. Neither Otokichi nor Kiyoka ever applied for US citizenship.


Kiyoka Mitose – Born in Japan 1890 – Arrived in Hawaii on December 21, 1912 at the age of 22, aboard the S.S. Shinyo Maru! She had married Otokichi Mitose by correspondence eleven months earlier in January 1912. Kiyoka was well educated, 4′ 6″ tall; she could both read and write English and came from two very powerful Japanese families: Yoshida and Komatsu! The Komatsu’s owned a hotel in Hawaii.  She came from the same village as Mitose’s family in Japan and knew Otokichi’s younger brother, Juhie, whom she listed as a contact in Japan.

(WWWTP?: what’s wrong with this picture?)

Why would a highly educated woman from two powerful Japanese families marry an illiterate farmer old enough to be her father?

Since there was a great deal of fraud (correspondence – marriage by mail) to simply get into the U. S., they would not let Kiyoka set foot on Hawaiian soil until a legal/civil marriage ceremony was performed! A Shinto priest performed the marriage ceremony.

This part of History is covered in great detail in the section on the father

As you will see in the future, the History of Kenpo will center on who this woman really was! I warned many of the top people in Kosho years ago that they were all on the wrong track!


There were six:

Masayoshi, Kimie, Isao, Matsuko, Fusae, Shizue, sic. (plus one born dead).

Kiyoka would have one son and three daughters by her legal husband Otokichi. After she divorced Otokichi in 1926, she would have another son and daughter by Kinichi Nakata (whom she never married).


In James Mitose’s first book What is Self Defense – (Kenpo JIU JITSU) On pages 90-109 are 69 pictures of a Black Belt female. All the historians have informed us that Mitose gave out only (5/6?) Black belts and no female is ever mentioned. Just who is this woman? Where did she get her Black Belt? Where did she learn Kenpo?

THE ANSWER: The female is James Mitose’s sister.

Click on the thumbnail to the far left to get the full picture of Clara’s birth certificate – quality is what you get from a photocopy
Click on the picture directly to the left to pull up page 102 of Mitose’s book What is self defense?
His sister appears in 69 photos – notice she is a “Black Belt” – None of the other historians ever counted her! Or knew she even existed – let alone knew she studied kenpo/kosho! Notice the technique she is doing is the classic attack: Bearhug from behind — arms pinned!

She would marry and have three children) The sister died on January 19, 1987 at the age of 67. This is the same year Professor Chow died! Her married American name was Clara Oshita.  She had three children: Edith, Helen and Donald. After her husband died she reverted back to using her Japanese maiden name of Fusae Mitose. Her legal married name was Mrs. Fusae Mitose Oshita.

Three sisters would also study KENPO/KOSHO! Two would study in Japan and the other from James Mitose in Hawaii.

A complete separate section of Kenpo/Kosho was taught only to females and the Grand Masters of the system.

One of the sisters in Hawaii died in 1987. We have a great deal of written information from this woman. It’s amazing how much information you can get from a brother and sister if you know who and where they are. The same was true of William Chow who had 14 brothers and sisters.

During her lifetime Kiyoka would make many trips to Japan. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, one did not just climb onto a plane like we do today and be there in less than 24 hours. The trips were by steamships and took several weeks.

In 1935 Kiyoka would leave Hawaii for Japan with the two youngest children, Isao and Matsuko, ages 10 and 11, and never return to the United States. Kiyoka would die in Japan during W.W.II.


If you are doing your own research, note that Japanese names may be spelled different ways. This is true of both English and Japanese kanji. Also many of the men will also have a given sir name and a Buddhist name. In the case of the daughters we are only giving you their single Japanese names, not their married American names! We have a great deal of written testimonies from James Mitose and his sisters which covers the period before 1944!

2nd WARNING: In doing any research a Japanese person may have more than one name: his given name; a Buddhist name or he may even have been adopted and have more than one set of names.

Masayoshi* (James)-(Masakichi) ** Mitose

Born December 30, 1916 – Kaelakekua, North Kona, Hawaii (on a coffee plantation)! We have the birth certificate that no one else was able to find. Everyone — including Bruce Juchnik — claimed it did not exist! As Mitose would let us know, everything was right there in front of us if we just knew what to look for and looked hard enough.

*Listed at the Japanese Consulate as MASAKICHI / (The official Japanese interpreter, Owen K. Konishi – in 1946 – explained that the Japanese characters for the name Masayoshi may also be translated as Masakichi).

To double check, we went to the Japanese dictionary on the web. Just as Konishi had stated, the Japanese Kanji can be translate as both Masayoshi and Masakichi.

If you want to do your own research go to the dictionary, print out the names and kanji and paste it next to this section.

**”James” – never officially or legally took the name of James. He started using it in 1937 after his return from Japan!

Why couldn’t James Mitose just come out and tell us everything in plain English?

  1. He was an American only by birth, not tradition. He was educated in Japan; his values were as Japanese as his ancestry!
  2. This plot started forty years before W.W.II! Which side was James Mitose really on? How did his family fit into all of this? What did James Mitose do during the Second World War? We have his complete military records! To put it very simply, James Mitose and his mother, along with another 5000 Japanese who had been educated in Japan, became secret agents/spies for the United States government. Even after 50 years many of the records and names of these agents and their exact assignments with the U. S. intelligence and government are not to be found. I will be expanding out this section in the future.

For all these years the names of these Japanese agents have been kept secret so there would be no retaliation in Japan against their families of these Japanese.

One of the biggest mistakes the Japanese Government would make during W.W.II: their military intelligence was convinced no Japanese would ever turn their loyalty to the U. S. against Japan. General Douglas MacArthur stated after the war that this group of Japanese shortened the war in the Pacific by at least one year.

In the upcoming Video series “The Heritage of James Mitose” we will show you how during the last years of our research both the Japanese and U.S. Governments would simply deny that any records existed.

An example of this is the “Will” of James Mitose. We obtained the information on the will including its probate number, and contacted the clerk’s office to verify it existed. Since we wanted to have it photocopied we had the clerk tell us exactly how many pages it contained. When we called back to verify we wanted the will copied and wanted to give a credit card number to pay for it. As soon as we gave the name of James Mitose and the number of the will the phone call was intercepted by a supervisor who informed us in no uncertain terms there was no will and there had never been a will. We told the official we had written verification from them along with the probate number of the will and a description of the number of pages. All we got was the same answer: there was no will – there had never been a will. End of case! Not quite –we decided to physically try to obtain the record in person. We went to the government office and gave the number a clerk took the number and went to find the file. After about 30 minutes the clerk’s supervisor came out and informed us there was no will.


For more than two thousand years Confucianism has been the standard by which China, Korea and Japan established their moral concepts and laws. James Mitose was educated in Japan. His thoughts were Japanese. He taught as he had been taught. When he wrote, he wrote form a Japanese point of view. James Mitose did not even trust his 3rd wife Dorothy. She had not been born in Japan; she did not know and understand the “Japanese Way”! Do not try to evaluate James Mitose entirely by American standards and values!

James Mitose would accept Christianity because he was able to see it as an extension of Buddhism! To this end, in his Dojo he would have pictures of both Jesus Christ and the Buddha.


If I give you the one corner of a problem and you cannot find the other three corners by yourself, the lesson will not be repeated!

This was one of James Mitose’s ways of teaching.

It was all there, right in front of us. James Mitose, in prison, would respond with disbelief to an obvious question (obvious to him) by saying: “IT’S IN THE BOOK!’ End of lesson! He would leave the room!

HINT: I am not going to give you all the secrets at once! I am going to give you the same clues that we started with! I will hit you on the head with the clue. I will ask: WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? (WWWTP)

James Mitose would be married three (3) times! Yes, three! Who was the mysterious first wife? The second wife was Mildred F?????. They would have three children: Masaaki, Masatoshi, and (???)!

Quote from James Mitose’s prison file: “Crazy family, crazy family … my big boy try to kill me.”

His third wife was Dorothy, who would also be part of the murder and extortion trial and would spend time in prison. They would have two sons, Alan and Alvin. Alvin would be convicted of Grand Theft, and spend time in prison. Both brothers now live in LA.


REPEATED INFORMATION: At the age of three years, 10 months and eight days, Masakichi (Masayoshi) Mitose along with his older sister would set sail for Japan on October 22, 1920. A family friend named Muriki would take them to Japan!

His older sister would never return to the United States and would marry into the Maruoka family in Japan before the Second World War! The second oldest sister would be taken to Japan when she was only 6 months old. She would be educated in Japan, and return to Hawaii!

Historical Note: American born Japanese who had been educated in Japan but returned to the United States called Kibie. Most of them were Nisei – the first generation of Japanese born in the United States! Click here to take you to this very important section! This section will start to give you an idea of why it was so hard to trace the origins of Kenpo!

Thus would begin the training of Masayoshi Mitose in the family art of Kosho-Shorei Kenpo, at the family temple on Mt. Kinkai*! Very little of his training would be at the temple. During his time in Japan James Mitose would live in several different parts of Japan, but always with his grandparents. Seventeen years later, Masayoshi would return to the United States, on February 23, 1937. At the age of 14 he became the 21st Great Grand Master in the family system of Kosho-Kenpo!

*Bruce Juchnik has stated: “there is no Mt. Kinkai.” He claims they searched all the military maps. How strange? Mt. Kinkai overlooks the Mitsubishi shipyards, the largest in the world, and of great importance during World War II. When the US dropped the Atomic bomb on Japan, this was the target they were after, not the city of Nagasaki.


(“gold topped mountain by the bay”). Mt. Kinkai is 561 meters high (approx. 1700 ft). Located — approx. 129′ 50 min E; 32′ 53 min N – on the island of KYUSHU – 19 km (about 12 miles) north of Nagasaki). On the western shore of Omuka Wan bay, off highway rt. 206 that also leads to Sasebo where there is a U.S. Navy base. The scenery also includes the rafts of pearl farms, which are the second largest pearl producing area in Japan.

James Mitose kept telling (#3 Master) Ray Arquilla: “IT’S IN THE BOOK” — but there is more than one book! Five to be exact! Five?

IMPORTANT: James Mitose was not the founder of Kenpo — he was the 21st generation blood descendant of the founder. The complete Kosho Shorei Kenpo system had been developed and refined over a period of 800 years, starting in the 1200’s. James Mitose added nothing to Kenpo. Nor did he take anything away from the system.

Kenpo (Kosho) was not to be changed or made a sport. During the war years James Mitose taught the “War Arts” Kenpo — because it was appropriate for a nation at war. For this reason many of the original students from this period of time had never heard it referred to as KOSHO!

By 1946 the war was over; the nation was tired of fighting, and Mitose wanted to bring in more of the spiritual and philosophical parts of the art. Kenpo (the war arts) had served its purpose. Mitose wanted to turn the students away from the inherent violence in war and fighting!

Many of the students, having “tasted blood,” weren’t about to become vegetarians! The poster in many a modern Kenpo studio:

“There are two kinds of animals: meat eaters and grass eaters. Which are you?”

James Mitose would try to reverse direction and turn away from teaching only the War Arts. A few students would stay with him and Thomas Young.* The others would follow William Chow.

*Thomas Young died last this year. As a Kenpo pioneer and member of the ***KENPO HALL OF FAME – Thomas Young will be getting his own home page in the future!

Mitose retires from Teaching

In the future I will give you the complete story of why James Mitose quit teaching. It would involve a fight in the Dojo (YMCA), one so serious that after a three-month police investigation, it would end up in court!

I have the story straight from a student who was an eyewitness to the fight! This female student (now 70 years of age) is also doing the opening salutation for the lead-in to the soon to be released video: History of Modern Kenpo!

James Mitose would slowly withdraw from active teaching and come to the mainland in 1953.

HISTORICAL FACT: During this period of time no one tried to make a full time living teaching any of the martial arts. The Sensei/Sifu all had full time jobs and most taught 2-3 times a week out of a YMCA, boys club or recreation halls usually associated with one of the churches; usually Mormon. The average amount charged was $2-$5 per month! And for the kids in Judo from “poor” families it might even be free!

For all practical purposes James Mitose would disappear from the Kenpo world until he was brought to trial and convicted of murder and extortion in 1974 and sentenced to Folsom prison. There the Great Grand Master of Kenpo would be discovered by Sylvester Ramacher, a Folsom prison guard and a black belt student of Steve Fox, my former partner in San Francisco and Sacramento!

In the few pages I have written I have tried to condense over 30 years of research into this short Biography of James Mitose. Having read this article you now know more about James Mitose, who he was and who his ancestors were, than even his (3) sons or the pretenders who claims to speak for KOSHO!


Don’t waste your time trying to do research on Mitose and the History of Kenpo. Our research team has spent over 30 years. People who were there when James Mitose first came to Hawaii aided much of our research. Most of these people are now dead. One great source was Sig Kufferath who died May 7, 1999 at the age of 89.

In many case not only did they give us written information  but told us where to get it.

In the future I will be putting on the web a lot of our documentation – so you know where we got our information.

I will also be putting up many pages form the trial transcript. Each page I put up will show you how complex this man was. It will also give us a deeper understand of the history and origin of kenpo!


Ó1999 Al Tracy –