During the l8th century a senior member of the Mitosi clan of Japan travelled to China to study the martial arts at the Shaolin Temple where he remained for many years. Upon his return to Japan he introduced the art of Chu'an Fa which he called Kempo (Japanese for "Way of the Fist"). This was later developed into a system for healing, health, and fighting called Kosho-Ryu Kempo.
The Okinawans had always termed the Martial Arts as "Te" which literally means hand. During this period (1609-1903) "Karate" meaning "Hands of China" replaced the word "Te" (during the latter part of the 19th century) until the Chinese character which denoted "Hands of China" or "China Hand" (the latter being more correct) was changed by the Japanese to their character which meant "empty hand". This change (officially dated to 1923) angered many of the Okinawan masters who were proud of the term designating their fighting style. They did not wish to separate their loyalty and association with China. The masters were reluctant to accept the change, which was spearheaded by a student of Chogun Miyagi named Nagashi Hanage of the Goju-ryu style of karate. While the change may have brought a deeper meaning according to Chogun Myagi, in which spiritual overcomes the physical, it is yet another example of how the Japanese managed to make many think that the Art was theirs and not the Chinese from whom it descended.
Why are black Gi’s worn?
When Master James Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1937
from his Kenpo training with his grandfather in Japan, he knew that
people would assume his art was just another Japanese/Okinawan martial
art. He immediately wanted to send a message to all other martial
artists in Hawaii that this was not the case. He did this by wearing a
"Black Gi", which was contrary to the nature of the traditional martial
arts. James Mitose wanted all to know that while there were some
similarities to other martial arts, Kenpo had taken a different path of
development and was a style of its own - not to be considered Japanese
in nature or origin. Even the Japanese government recognized this when
they did away with the Samurai as a class and outlawed the traditional
wearing of swords. At the same time a proclamation by the Japanese
went out, when the sanctity of human life was affirmed, Kenpo was made
an illegal art although Ju Jitsu was allowed to be practiced because it was more
scientific, meaning Kenpo was a killing art that had its true origin in
A wise man once said
The knowledge of a book lies within,
The cover of a book is decoration,
So whatever the Gi or Obi colour the skill is inside the body wearing it.