Shihan Paul Arel • Founder • Kokondo Martial Arts
Shihan Paul Arel is the founder of the arts and association of Kokondo. Shihan Arel served as the 1st International Director & Chairman for the International Kokondo Association (IKA). During his nearly 60 year full-time involvement in authentic martial arts he was the chief instructor of many dojo. Until his passing in January of 2009, Shihan Arel was recognized as the world’s leading master and authority for the martial arts of Kokondo. During the course of his life, he was recognized in many ways within his own organization and in the great global martial arts community, including recognition from the Congress and President of the United States of America.
Shihan Arel began his training under the tutelage of Sudo Sensei, a master of a small classical system of jujutsu. This training began in 1950 while Sudo Sensei was away from his home in Yokohama, Japan and was furthering his education in Massachusetts. When Sudo Sensei returned to his home in Japan, he left his best and most senior student, Paul Arel (shodan), as the chief instructor of the small dojo, teaching this older system of jujutsu.
This system of jujutsu was the exclusive focus of Shihan Arel until his entry into the United States Marine Corps (USMC). While in the Marine Corps, Shihan Arel absorbed advanced instruction from various oriental masters. It is important to note that while Shihan Arel was a proud member of the “family” of United States Marines that were taught authentic martial arts while stationed overseas and brought these methods back to the United States – Shihan Arel was also unique in that he entered the Marine Corps as a jujutsu black belt. This previous experience, coupled with his other training, led to Shihan Arel helping teach some of his fellow United States Marines while he was contracted for both overt and covert operations with the famed Fleet Marines/Force Troops.
During this service, Shihan Arel was bouncer at Camp Geiger, better known as the “Second Front” to those were in the service at that time. His experiences as a bouncer, as a military service member, and in other security work afforded Shihan Arel the opportunity to determine which techniques worked and those that didn’t. These experiences built the foundation for the “appropriate response” training that is a hallmark in Kokondo training. Shihan Arel’s direct experiences were a testimony to the effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) of various techniques. Shihan Arel included only those techniques that had proven successful. Shihan Arel always paid homage to his original sensei by consistently noting that none of the tactics and techniques learned from Sudo Sensei ever failed him when it really mattered.
Shihan Arel also competed, successfully, in both karate and judo competitions during these days. Although he enjoyed the experiences and benefited in many ways – Shihan Arel stressed more than anything else that it crystallized to him the vast difference between the application of martial arts techniques for competition and self-defense. It infused in him the importance of teaching martial arts for their original purpose – realistic and practical self-defense.
After his honorable discharged from the United States Marine Corps, Shihan Arel returned to Connecticut. While still pursuing the perfection and development of the early jujitsu he learned, Shihan Arel continued his in depth study of the “The Way of the Empty Hand” – Karate. During the early part of the 1960’s Shihan Arel became a private student of the legendary founder of Kyokushin Karate, Mas Oyama. He was appointed by Oyama as one of the first branch chief’s of the Kyokushinkai. Oyama and the Kyokushin Honbu Dojo (World HQ) promoted Shihan Arel to Yondan (fourth degree black belt). Shihan Arel opened the first karate school in the state of Connecticut, “House of Karate, Inc.” Shihan Arel’s karate skills and leadership brought, in part, the First North American (Oyama) Karate Championships in Madison Square Garden. He authored the rules from that competition. He also appeared, along with one of his students and Mas Oyama on the “Tonight Show.”
During this time, Shihan Arel was involved with many of the leaders in the development of Karate (and other arts) in the United States. Although not a complete list, some of these notable leaders include: Don Nagle, Gary Alexander, Peter Urban, Henry Cho, Maung Gyi, Ernie Cates, H. Nishiyama, Koichi Tohei, and others.
During these early days, he also continued to develop his system of jujitsu. He took his direct experiences, along with his training in authentic jujitsu, judo, aikido, and karate into a dynamic and powerful jujitsu system of self-defense. He called it Jukido Jujitsu. The development of this system of self-defense was encouraged by many of these early notable figures and he was awarded the title of Shihan. His later concern for the direction of karate (towards sport) also lead to his resignation from the Kyokushinkai organization and the development of the Kokondo karate system and association – dedicated to the preservation of karate as a system that draws from the old and effective techniques of karate and applies them to the needs of modern day self-defense. These arts, Jukido Jujitsu & Kokondo Karate, although separate are uniquely tied together by the unifying principles and are sanctioned by the organization he founded – the International Kokondo Association (IKA).
In 1998, after 48 years of full-time devotion the authentic martial arts for realistic self-defense, the board of masters & directors of the IKA awarded Shihan Arel with rank of Judan (10th degree black belt) in the Kokondo arts. Over the course of his life he taught thousands of people from all corners of the Earth. He was the Chief Instructor of the IKA and the IKA Yudanshakai (black belt association). Today, his arts and organization continue to thrive with the commitment to uphold not only the techniques of his arts, but also the preservation of his principles and legacy.