Shaolin Kempo Karate & Its Roots

Shaolin Kempo Karate, a unique system of practical martial arts with a strong focus in self-defense, was created by Great Grandmaster Frederick J. Villari. Shaolin Kempo Karate, or SKK, has become widely recognized and respected in the years since its founding, and the Villari’s organization has grown to be one of the largest martial arts organizations in the world, with studios and affiliates in the US, Canada, and Europe.
Grandmaster Villari’s art traces its origins across a thousand years to the Shaolin temples of China and India, and many of the basic methods and foundations are still used. Grandmaster Villari observed that while these foundations are applicable, much has changed about the modern world; global changes in attitudes, cultures, knowledge, technology, and physiology all needed to be accounted for. Therefore, movements had to be changed, adapted, and updated to suit the 21st century. Its current form is comprised of the ‘Four Ways of Fighting’, a system which includes fighting within several different ranges and which is well-renowned and highly effective.
Great Grandmaster Villari has achieved what no other master has ever done: he developed a thorough and systematic approach to the martial arts and self defense which combines the ‘Four Ways Of Fighting’ into a single, all encompassing and undeniably effective method of combat that people of all sizes and abilities are capable of using. Grandmaster Villari and his system have carved a permanent mark in the annals of martial arts history that will perpetuate for the benefit of future generations. 

The Shaolin temple was first built around 495 A.D. by Chinese Emperor Hsiao Wen for an Indian monk Batou, or, as known by the Chinese, Fo Tuo. It was in the great Shaolin temple in the Songshan mountains of central China that Buddharama, a sixth century Indian monk, first introduced Buddhism and a form of meditation methods and fighting techniques. He introduced to the temple monks a form of breathing exercises based on animal movements, mostly exercises for strengthening and conditioning the body. The reason he taught the monks these exercises was to purify their bodies and develop inner strength. Then came the movement of the animals which were taught for self defense purposes. Over a time, the monks changed and perfected these movements, gearing them toward fighting. This style became known and feared as the art of Shaolin Temple Boxing. Buddhism and Shaolin Temple Boxing or Shaolin Ch’uan Fa were the Shaolin Temples’ main legacy to the world. So it was in China that the philosophical and religious systems upon which many martial arts depend were first created and nurtured. The teachings of Lao Tzu, Confucius and Buddha were blended with the development of the various Chinese martial arts systems which spread to many other Asian countries. 

In the 1600’s, after Japan conquered Okinawa, the people of Okinawa were restricted from using any weapons to prevent retaliation. The natives had no alternative but to practice the art of empty-handed fighting known as Te. This name was derived from the Chinese T’ang Dynasty, when many empty-handed styles of fighting were popular. The Okinawans changed the name of their martial art from Te to Karate, and many styles were developed. 

Long before either the Chinese or the Okinawans practiced or developed their arts, the Tibetans and Mongolians had their own form of combat from which the venerable art of Chin Na or the art of the White Tiger was further developed — a devastating form of locking, seizing, holding and grappling. The Tibetans and the Mongols were the masters of the grappling arts.
The art of Shaolin Kempo Karate was founded and developed by Great Grandmaster Villari after many years of studying and mastering numerous different styles of the martial arts including Shaolin Temple Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Kung Fu, Kempo, different styles of Karate, as well as the secret art of the White Tiger (Chin Na). 

As a result of Great Grandmaster Villari’s varied wealth of experience and his dedication to seeking the ultimate fighting system, he realized each fighting system offered something both unique and special, and each also had its glaring weaknesses that would make a fighter vulnerable. After studying and mastering many different styles and ways of fighting, Great Grandmaster Villari realized that there were only four ways of fighting.
1. With your hands (punching, striking — both open and closed-handed) or use of any part of the arms, elbows, forearms, etc.
2. Kicking (with the foot, knee or leg).
3. Felling — that is to knock an opponent off his feet by throwing, tripping, pulling, pushing, shoving or scooping him.
4. Grappling — the secret of grappling is to always have control of your opponent by either wrestling, holding, breaking or locking bones or joints against nerve centers, thereby directing your opponent by delivering excruciating and incapacitating pain.Great Grandmaster Villari finally discovered that the ultimate in self defense lay not in one way or style of fighting, but by combining the Four Ways Of Fighting. He then devised and developed ways to integrate these methods of fighting into one, thereby eliminating any and all weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This is the CORE, THEORY, and METHOD behind Villari’s devastating and impregnable art of Shaolin Kempo Karate.

The Shaolin fighting system is the backbone of the Villari system as Great Grandmaster Villari felt it was the best for promoting overall good health and longevity. The system is very well balanced, incorporating the mind, body and spirit into one. It is a system that promotes health and wisdom. On the fighting side, Shaolin is renowned for its awesome and devastating kicking and punching techniques. It is the only style that incorporates the movements of the five animals: Tiger, Crane, Dragon, Snake, and Leopard. Shaolin theory of fighting is based upon circular movements, speed, conditioning, and the development of strong internal energy, tendons and ligaments. This is the essence for producing a superior fighter. Karate is also highly favored by Great Grandmaster Villari, and he regards it as simple and quick to both learn and execute. It’s known for its linear and angular movements with quick shuffles and in-line fighting movements. Karate type blows are more mechanical in execution than Shaolin. They are also more explosive. Karate concentrates more on the external and fewer moves are required to get the job done. 

Great Grandmaster Villari utilized the art of Kempo because it is a mixture of both hard and soft movements that blend nicely, but is not sophisticated enough by itself. Kempo lacks the grace of Shaolin with its integrated leg maneuvers, the quick shuffles and footwork of Karate, and the explosion of Hard Karate. 

Shaolin movements are more fluent than either Kempo of Karate and consists of more patterns of multiple strikes. The weakness here is that there are too many wasted movements which create openings for counter-attack. Karate, on the other hand, has too few movements and is too rigid to stand alone. Shaolin takes longer to master than Karate, but, once mastered, your blows are delivered more efficiently because Shaolin is a balance of the body’s external strength and the internal power found within. Each system offers something to compliment the other by combining the circular and linear movements together, the end result is far superior to either alone. 

Fred Villari’s Shaolin Kempo Karate system also incorporated the venerable art of Chin Na because Chin Na is the ultimate form of controlling your opponent by holding, seizing, locking, throwing, felling and delivering pain that can be controlled. No other art can have such control over an attacker. Grandmaster Villari also favors and teaches moves of the Immortal Monkey, known for its art of illusion. It cannot be hit. Its movements are lightning quick and it has the ability to change direction rapidly. It never exhausts its energy and has superior longevity. The monkey is always happy! 

Grandmaster Villari’s stances are different from the original stances of Kempo and Karate in that he innovated changes in order to have more fluency and freedom of movement. These are more natural and logical to use. The old stances were suited for people of a different stature and who fought in a low crouched position. Villari Fighting Stances were developed using the way of the upright position, which has been proven to be far superior. This is one of the most important changes that Great Grandmaster Villari has made in the Karate and Kempo systems. No wonder so many other martial art styles have copied and imitated his changes.
Here is a breakdown of some of the important criteria which makes Fred Villari’s Shaolin Kempo system so unique:
Forms simulating fighting scenarios, one (1) through five (5) pinon, the unshakable balance of the Crane, mandatory basics, foot maneuvers and fighting techniques. 

Kempo fighting techniques and combinations, one (1) through six (6) kata, Swift Tigers, two (2) man fist set, Honsuki, basics, and fighting techniques.

More advanced forms simulating fighting scenarios, knowledge of all the movements of the Tiger, Leopard, Dragon, Snake and Crane necessary for both health and self defense.
1. Sho Tung Kwok
2. Invincible Wall
3. Nengli North
4. Nengli South
5. Tai Sing Mon
6. 1,000 Buddhas
7. Dragon
8. Leopard
9. Snake
10. Branches Of The Falling Pines (White Crane)
11. Wounded Tigers
12. Immortal Monkey
13. Mandatory basics, fighting techniques, leg and foot maneuvers
14. All breathing exercises to strengthen the internal and external
15. Plum Blocking System
16. The Eleven Hands Of Buddha. A way of defending by blocking, trapping and deflecting any attack, countering by delivering many hidden hand techniques. Offense and defense with the use of cutting, deflecting, monkey, pressing, dragon, scissor, upholding, trapping, pushing and pulling hands (once the Eleven Hands Of Buddha is mastered, it is impossible to defend against).
17. The Blood Palm
18. The Poison Finger Techniques of Shaolin (Dotting)
19. The Iron Palm
20. All 108 combinations and moves passed down from the moves of Shaolin Temple and revised for present day applications (used in fighting situations). (Many of these techniques had to be mastered before a monk could graduate the Shaolin Temple).
21. The art of Chin Na emphasizing throwing, twisting, seizing and locking of the joints, escapes and holding techniques. Methods of applying pressure as certain nerve points with different techniques giving you complete control over your opponent. Chin Na can be used to neutralize any attack, once perfected.
22. All Twelve Branches Of Shaolin are taught and are part of the system.

Great Grandmaster Villari is the pioneer of the martial arts in the Western World. He came to revolutionize and upgrade the martial arts, gearing it toward practical fighting for the 21st century. So, no other master or system can lay claim to or take credit for the unique fighting system of the Grandmaster Villari — the VILLARI SHAOLIN KEMPO KARATE SYSTEM! His contribution to Asian martial arts in the western world cannot be disputed. He taught and has exposed, on a massive scale, the way of the Asian fighting arts to the ordinary layman. Before him, teaching the martial arts on a large scale was taboo — he demystified the myth that only a few selected people could have the ability and intelligence to learn. He showed westerners of all ages and cultures ‘the way of the Asian fighting arts.’ His contribution is undoubtedly a valuable part of martial arts history. Grandmaster Villari’s input and involvement created the turning point in the teaching of the martial arts on a large scale. Therefore, his contribution to the history of the martial arts is of the utmost importance.