Kenji is a Japanese manga series written by Ryuchi Matsuda, and illustrated by Yoshihide Fujiwara. Kenji follows the main character, Kenji Goh, as he completes his training of the Chinese martial art Bajiquan.
Kenji features a wide array of different types of martial arts. Some examples include: Piguaquan, Daitō-ryū, Baguazhang, Praying Mantis Kung Fu, Xìng Yì Quán, Hung Gar, Shaolin Kung Fu, Chen-style t'ai chi ch'uan, Shōtōkan and numerous other styles. When writing Kenji, Matsuda utilized his own knowledge of martial arts to draw inspiration.
Kenji ran from January 1988 to December 1992, appearing in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Sunday.
Kenji follows the life of Goh Kenji, from his childhood to his teenage years. Kenji is a practitioner of the Chinese martial art Bajiquan, starting from a young age and being taught by his grandfather, Goh Kyotaro. Early in the series, his grandfather leaves to go back to China in order to find his kung fu brother. Kenji remains and refines his skills, though his training remains incomplete. Kenji begins to train in different styles in an attempt to fill the gaps in his fighting skills. After finally finding a Bajiquan teacher, Kenji begins his journey to find his grandfather, Kyotaro. Along the way, he encounters many others that are trained in different fighting styles. The series covers the many friends and foes that Kenji makes during the journey to find his grandfather.
Featured Martial Arts
Kenji includes a huge variety of martial arts styles from around the globe and was praised for the accuracy of the representation of the techniques in its pages.
Chinese Martial Arts
Bajiquan is the main martial art practiced by both Kenji and his grandfather. It first
Piguazhang ("chop-hanging fist"), also known as Piguaquan ("chop-hanging palm"), is another style that's often practiced alongside Bajiquan, and is a style of wushu that focuses on long-range explosive power. As opposed to Bajiquan which focuses on swift hip movements to produce quick and powerful hammers, punches, elbows and swings, Piguazhang;s hip movements are subtle and gentle and rely on the acceleration force of your arms, which are often in rotation.
Xing Yi Quan is an internal style of Chinese martial arts, and is one of the styles practiced by Kenji. The name roughly translates to "Form-Intention Fist", or "Shape-Will Fist". Xing Yi Quan focuses on using coordinated movements to generate short bursts of power intended to overwhelm your opponent, both attacking and defending at the same time. While methods may vary depending on the school, all training methods include bare-handed fighting training, usually in single movements or combinations. The prominent movements and body mechanics in the art were influenced heavily by the practice of spears and staves.
Baguazhang (or Pakwachang; Chinese: 八卦掌) is one of three main Chinese martial arts of the Wudang school. Considered widely to be an internal practice, many compare the internal aspects of Baguazhang to Xingyiquan and Taijiquan, however, they are different in nature. Baguazhang translates to "eight trigram palm", which refers to the trigrams of I Ching (Yijing) a canon of Taoism. The characteristic method of stance and movement for Baguazhang is circle walking, or "turning the circle" as some refer to it as.
Known commonly as Tai chi, Taijiquan is another internal Chinese martial art that is practiced for defense, its health benefits, and meditation. Although it was initially established as a martial art, over the years, people have begun practicing it for various reasons due to its affinity for longevity. Because of this, there are multiple training forms that exist, both modern and traditional. The movements of Taijiquan are especially known for being relatively slow.
Chen-style Taijiquan is the oldest form of the five traditional styles of Taiji. Chen Taijiquan is characterized by a set of internal movement principles called silk reeling. Silk reeling involves alternating both fast and slow movements, both with bursts of power. Similar to Taijiquan, Chen Taijiquan can be practiced for many reasons, some including health, external-internal martial arts, athletic competition, aesthetics, and meditation.
Liuhebafaquan (or Six Harmonies Eight Methods Boxing: 六合八法拳), also known as "water boxing" (shuǐquán 水拳) is an internal Chinese martial art. Chen Tuan (Chén Tuán 陳摶) is often credited with forming the style. Wu Yihui trained many students in the late 1930s in Shanghai and Nanjing. Many of Wu Yihui's students already had backgrounds in martial arts, to which they applied their own knowledge and skills into the form, effectively merging certain aspects of the styles. Because of this, there are some similarities with other martial arts such as Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, T'ai chi and Yiquan.
Shaolinquan, famously known as Shaolin Kung Fu (Chinese: 少林功夫) or Shaolin Wushu (少林武術), is one of the most traditional and famous forms of wushu or kung fu. Developed in the Shaolin temple in the Henan province of China during the 1500s, Shaolinquan has been referenced in Chinese folklore to be the originating style of all martial arts, indicating its significant influence among martial art practitioners throughout the ages.
Hung Gar, also known as (洪家), Hung Kuen (洪拳), or Hung Ga Kuen (洪家拳) is a martial art originating in southern China. Belonging to the shaolin styles, it is often associated with the Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei Hung, a Hung Ga master. Hung Gar is characterized by its deep low stances and strong hand techniques. Traditionally, it would sometimes take students years of stance training before learning any forms, with weapons being the final part of Hung Gar training. With the modernization of martial arts and daily duties of the regular person, the practice of taking months or years to master the stances and forms has since become a rarity, although this is still practiced by some Hung Gar teachers. Though oftentimes mischaracterized as a purely external style, Hung Gar does incorporate some internal techniques.
Japanese Martial Arts
Karate (空手) is a Japanese martial art that was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. Initially an art form derived from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts, karate was developed under the influence of kung fu. Karate is primarily a striking art, making use of knee strikes, punching, elbow strikes, kicking, and open-hand techniques like knife-hands. In some styles, both traditional and modern, you can find joint locks, restraints, vital-point strikes, throws and grappling techniques taught alongside those previously mentioned. A practitioner of karate is called a karateka (空手家; plural: "karateka" or "karatekas").
Shōtōkan (松濤館) is a style of the Japanese martial art form, karate. Developed by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945), Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate. Training is broken down into 3 parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring). Funakoshi had many students that continued to teach the martial art after his death. However, after internal disagreements, different organizations were formed; the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokai (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami).
Judo (柔道 or "gentle way") is a traditional martial art and Olympic sport, though it is generally categorized as a modern martial art. Created by Jigoro Kano (嘉納治五郎) in 1882 as a physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan, Judo's origins began with jujutsu. Judo's prominent feature is the competitive aspect, where the objective of a typical match is to either take down or throw an opponent to the ground, immobilize them, or otherwise subdue them with a pin, choke, or joint lock. Although weapon defenses are a part of judo, the primary techniques are strikes and thrusts by hands and feet. A practitioner of Judo is referred to as a "judoka", and their uniform being labelled "judogi".
Korean Martial Arts
Taekwondo, Tae Kwon Do or Taekwon-Do (태권도/跆拳道) is a Korean martial art that's characterized by its focus on jumping spinning kicks, head-height kicks, and fast kicking techniques. Similar to Tang Soo Do, practitioners of Taekwondo must always wear an dobok, the uniform worn by practitioners of Korean martial arts. Developed as a combative sport in the 1940s and 1950s by Korean martial artists who had experience in Chinese martial arts, karate, and the indigenous Korean martial arts traditions of Taekkyon, Subak, and Gwonbeop, Taekwondo became an official Olympic event in 2000.
Subak (手搏) is an antient form of martial art originating in Korea, and uses bare hand techniques in its style. The term Subak was previously used in Korea to refer to any martial art or fighting style that used bare hands. Within Korea, there was a different style of Subak depending on the region you were in. Today, there are only two styles that remain. Subak flourished during the Yi dynasty, even having a book published to teach the (once known as) game as a martial art. Since its forming, Subak has contributed to the evolution of many different Korean martial arts, including yusui.
Taekkyon, Taekgyeon, Taekkyeon, or Taekyun (태껸/ 택견) is a traditional Korean martial art that's known for its use of applying both hands and feet at the same time to unbalance, throw, or trip the opponent. Hands and feet, while unlike most martial art forms, have to be used together. This technique of foot movement is referred to as "pum balgi", or Stepping-on-Triangles. A practitioner of Taekkyeon is referred to as a "Taekkyon-kkun" (태껸꾼) and wears a uniform called a "dobok". As of 1983, Taekkyeon was made a National treasure of South Korea, and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.
Hapkido, also spelled hap ki do or hapki-do, is a hybrid Korean martial art created by Choi Yong-Sool, and Seo Bok-seob. Hapkido employs both short-range and long-range fighting techniques, making use of jumping kicks and hand strikes at longer ranges, and strikes, joint locks and throws at closer distances. Hapkido puts emphases on circular motion, the redirection of force, and control over ones opponent. In order to gain an advantage, practitioners utilize footwork and body positioning to use the opponents force against them to avoid the use of brute strength vs brute strength. Hapkido also incorporates training on traditional weapons, including sword, rope, knife, cane, nunchaku, middle-length staff, short stick, bo, and gun. The degree of training for each weapon is dependent on the style of tradition examined.
European Martial Arts
The titular character.
Kenji's main rival. His main martial art is Hung Gar though he later learns Xinyiliuhequan in China.
Real Life Martial Artists
The manga features a number of real-life martial artists including, in order of appearance.
Kenji is largely popular for introducing the martial art of Bajiquan to many of the current generations of practitioners due to the popularity of the manga and its influence on the gaming and anime community.
Martial Journal included an article on their website titled "Kenji: The Manga Any Kung Fu Lover Needs To Read".
In Other Media
- Kenji: The Manga Any Kung Fu Lover Needs To Read - MartialJournal.com