What do you teach?
One of the common questions we get asked, as instructors for CNUDojo, is "what art do you teach?" A good, shorthand answer I typically offer is, "Karate, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu;" it's also only partially true.
KBK originally broke off from Kajukenbo, a style that had been constructed by four masters with four different backgrounds, and whose name reflects this, as it is a portmanteau of "Karate, Judo, Kenpo, Boxing." Much like its parent art, that version of KBK insisted that the art would absorb what was useful and shed what was not.
When Sensei Will instructed us, we were taught a version of KBK that was quite focused on the striking arts, and we became keenly aware, as we progressed how anemic the grappling elements of the art had become. It was for that reason that Sensei Sarah and I chose to modify the curriculum again, this time greatly emphasizing grappling skills in addition to the effective, striking program that we had received from the dojo's founder.
We decided, too, to drop the idea that KBK was a distinct art. After all, there is nothing in the name to indicate such. You see, what we practice is not a do, like Karate-do, Kendo, Aikido or Judo. These are a way (a literal translation of the word), a method of self-improvement couched in the rigors of the martial arts. It is also not nominally a collection of techniques and strategies, as are the arts of Jiu-Jutsu, Aiki-Jutsu, Iajutsu and Kenjutsu, for jutsu means "technique" or "science." No, KBK is a kai, a society, a collection of people.
So to what does our society devote itself? The rest of the name explains.
"Kaju" means two things. First, it is a portmanteau of Karate and Judo, owing this to its parent art. It also, however, is the Japanese word for a fruiting tree. The "Bujutsu" are the collected techniques and methods that make up the science of combat. So, in other words, we are the Society of the Fruiting Tree of the Science of Combat.
This, in our view, is a beautiful and apt description. We do not study any particular art exclusively, but try to examine the whole in a unified fashion with a keen focus on martial efficacy. If a kick, for example, is thrown three different ways across three different arts, we will examine the mechanics and the reasoning in order to offer our students the broadest, most comprehensive toolbox from which to construct their own, individual approach to unarmed combat. We are open; we will listen to those who have evidence to give in this matter, trying our best to suppress our inherent prejudices against contrasting practices, and through testing, decide for ourselves.
It is not merely that KBK is not an art; it is that we who are the KBK believe that all arts are one.