The Three Warriors

The lower left circle contains the praying of Buddhist hands position (Kigan) means, “Praying to God for help when someone attacks me.” It symbolizes that the Kempo student wants only peace, wants to avoid conflict, and asking for God’s help.


The lower right circle contains the open hand position (Keisha). Its meaning is, “I am carrying no weapons in my hands or in my heart.” The center hole between the thumbs and the forefingers symbolizes a panoramic view of a majestic mountain. It is beautiful when viewed from a distance, but has imperfections when viewed from up close. It means, “To see only the good in man,” not the small imperfections.


The top circle contains the covered fist (Hoken). It means that the right fist, symbolic of the physical part of man, should always be covered by the left hand, itself symbolic of the spiritual part of man. Hoken means, “Cover or hide the fist.” A more precise meaning is “The fist is a treasure, so do not show it in public. Rather hide it in the pocket.

The Three Companions of the Deep

The pine needles (Matsuba) to the left of the covered fist, symbolize a thousand years of life. Matsuba means, “The evergreen lives a long, young, and healthy life.” Pine branches are used as Christmas and New Year’s ornaments in Japan, and the needles are used for medicinal purposes.


The bamboo (Take) to the right of the covered fist symbolizes resiliency and is associated with a long life. According to Chinese legend, the Phoenix, a bird of immortality, dined on bamboo while nesting in the branches of the paulownia. The bamboo also symbolizes honesty, and nothing is hidden beneath the surface. When bamboo is cut open, the inside is empty (nothing hidden).


Finally, is the plum flower (Baika) located below the two lower circles. This is a symbol for fortitude in Japan. The plum flower blossoms before other flowers in the chill of winter when the snow still remains on the ground. Baika means, “The Japanese plum flower stands for beauty, courage, and nobility.” Together with the pine and bamboo, the three plant symbols are known as the three companions of the deep (saikan sanyu).


Arnold M. Golub

           Japanese family crests are called mon or monsho, which literally means thread markings (embroidery). Originally, they were used on banners (hata), armor, and cloth curtains (tobari) which surrounded the commander’s encampment. Their original purpose was to identify warriors on the battlefield who wore armor and could not be easily recognized. Many of the designs used reflect the influence of China where various patterns were embroidered on formal clothing worn at the royal court.

Some of the symbols used represented flowers (chrysanthemum, peony, lotus, etc …) or heavenly bodies (circles and various diamond shapes). In the Heian period of Japan (794-1160), some of these designs were adopted by Buddhism in the form of occult ornamentation and calligraphy. In fact, in close observation of a famous scroll of the thirteenth century, Scroll of the Mongol Invasion, reveals a Japanese crest similar to the Kosho crest, and which consisted of a circle containing a pine, bamboo, and a plum blossom, in addition to their other symbols.

Kosho Ryu Kempo is a martial arts system original practiced by the Koshoji monks of the Shaka-in Temple, a temple of the Rinzai sect located on Mount Kinkai in Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan. The Kosho-Kempo system consisted of techniques modified from Chinese Chuan-fa and combined with Jiu Jitsu and with other martial and philosophical arts of the Koshoji Temple. These arts were used to protect the temple and to train Buddhist monks and Kempo instructors. At one time, over four hundred monks trained at the temple.


           The Kosho Kempo system is symbolized in the Kosho Crest presented on the cover of all Kosho Ryu Kempo books. Its meaning is as follows:


The outer circle (WA) represents completeness, perfection, harmony, integrity, peace, and symbolizes that what is contained within the circle is all that is necessary to sustain and to nurture.


The octagon (Sumikiri) represents the eight aspects of the Kosho Kempo system (energy collection, meditation, philosophy, Japanese Yoga, proper nutrition, consisting of proper diet, healing arts and herbalism and etc., Kempo arts of punching, kicking, and self-defense techniques, push pull arts, and jumping patterns which….


The three inner circles (tsuki-to-hoshi) represents astronomical bodies (earth, moon, and sun), and are called the Three Warriors. Each of the three hand positions contained within the circles represents different physical systems of self-defense, and also has specific meanings.


Kosho Ryu Kempo Karate Club Crest

The Kosho Ryu Kempo Karate Crest