Self-defence is necessary against unpredicted attacks from known or unknown assailants. Plenty of forms of self-defense have been popping up, and they are all similar in one way which is defending oneself against attackers. Learning martial arts is the first step forward in learning self-defense techniques. Martial arts like judo, karate, taekwondo, boxing, wrestling, kempo and other jujutsu have some similarities, but with some differences. Karate and kempo in particular are the most confusing in terms of similarities or differences, to the extent that Kempo is often called Kempo Karate which is of course, wrong.
Kempo and Karate originate from Japan with their many islands with their different timelines. To understand the difference between these two techniques, you have to understand what they really mean. Kempo is a badly translated form of the art whose original pronunciation is kenpo. The term refers to the first method but is often called law of the hand by people who prefer a catchy name. Its original creator is unknown, but it is known to have originated in Japan. Kenpo concentrates on hard strikes, linear strikes, kicks, combined attacks, pressure point manipulation, basic circular movement, joint locking or releasing.
It was first popularly taught by James Mitose, a devout learner of the art. Mitose taught another famous teacher, Chow, who taught many students, one of whom is Ed Parker, the man who is famous for making American Kempo. Nipon Kempo is another variation of Kempo that deals with striking, throwing your opponent and ground fights. This variation was created by Muneomi Sawamaya in Japan. Nipon Kempo is not as popular as American Kempo but is slowly picking up members.
Karate is the most popular form of defense because of its simplicity and grace. It simply means empty hand and focuses on open-handed attacks, parries, punching, knee strikes, elbow strikes, with spontaneous movements. This style of fighting is highly influenced by Kung Fu’s fluid movements and strike patterns. Karate was founded in the Ryukyu Islands which was an independent kingdom at the time. It didn’t enter into the Japanese culture until Ryukyu was annexed by the Japanese, becoming one of their islands. Famous karate moves are the knife hand, palm strikes and the spear hand popularly shown in movies.
The main differences between these two modes of defense would be their attack/defense patterns. Kempo has a more direct approach when attacking while karate uses spontaneous movements to keep up an attack. Karate requires less energy than Kempo because Kempo aims to overwhelm the opponent with a series of direct attacks. Japanese Karate uses parries to defend against attacks while Kempo blocks the attack in entirety, Kempo also parries, only that it is rarely seen.
Both Karate and Kempo are both iconic martial arts in their own right, meaning that any method you choose to use when defending yourself will work fine as long as you are not overwhelmed by adrenaline or result in frantic efforts to try to ward away your attacker. Learning to fight gives you an edge in surviving a fight against freestyling foes, so Karate, Kempo, or any martial arts you might be interested in is a must learn.