Kumite Ryu, literally meaning "Sparring Style," is more often called "The School of Survival." It is a style of jujutsu characterized by fierce fighting and grappling. The School of Survival was founded, and is currently headed, by Soke "Lil' John" Davis.
Kumite-ryu is descended from an eclectic jujutsu lineage beginning in 1955.
Vee Jitsu Ryu
Florendo M. Visitaction—better known as "Professor Vee"—was born in the philippines in 1910. He began training in arnis (Filipino stick fighting) at age ten and continued to practice Filipino martial arts throughout his life. He joined the U.S. Army during World War II and became intrigued by the officers' hand to hand combat course, which represented a combination of styles from different countries. The idea of integrating techniques from a variety of martial arts appealed greatly to him.
In 1955, after devoting many years to the study of different fighting styles, he founded Vee Jitsu, also called "Vee Arnis Jitsu," "Vee Jitsu Te," and "Vee Jitsu Ryu"—he was fond of changing the name. In 1966, the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation awarded Vee the title of "Professor" and made him a 10th dan in his own art. Vee Jitsu integrates techniques from many different arts and contains the "Te" system—a variety of brief two-person forms enabling effective response to various attack scenarios. Florendo Visitacion died on January 4, 1999.
Moses Powell was born in 1941. He is a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame and the World Karate Hall of Fame, and was the first martial artist invited to demonstrate his skills before the United Nations. He attributed much of his success to his primary teacher, Florendo Visitacion. He was an expert in Vee Jitsu, to the point that Florendo Visitacion once said to him, "You have surpassed me."
In 1959, Powell founded Sanuces-ryu Jujutsu, a style stressing survival by simplicity and the practicality of street applications—it is known as the "eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart" style. The mentality of Sanuces-ryu is epitomized by the Sanuces-ryu Creed: "A man or woman of the martial arts thinks at all times. They move like the roar of thunder and strike like the speed of lightning." Moses Powell died on January 22, 2005.
John Davis is the founder and current soke of Kumite-ryu. He is also a 9th dan in Sanuces-ryu, which he studied directly under Powell. He has experience in judo, aikido, karate, and arnis. He has been employed as a bodyguard and has a wealth of self-defense experience. He has 40 years of martial arts training and is a member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He is also a technical advisor and member of the Board of Directors of the World Martial Arts Center in New York City.
He founded Kumite-ryu (which he dubbed "The School of Survival") as the successor art to Sanuces-ryu and Vee Jitsu. It contains the "Te" forms and broad range of integrated techniques found in Vee Jitsu, as well as the simplicity and survival mentality of Sanuces-ryu. Kumite-ryu's simple mission is elegantly stated in the Kumite-ryu Creed: "As we walk, we walk in peace, and fear shall not prevail. We are not the aggressors, but if we are attacked, we will fight with those who fight with us. And if we must fight, we will fight to survive."
Kumite-ryu has been influenced by other styles, the most prominent among them obviously being its mother art, Sanuces-ryu, and its predecessor, Vee Jitsu. It has also been influenced by muay Thai and, more heavily, by shotokan, from which it derives the use of kata and the kyū/dan ranking system. The ranking system comprises white, yellow, green, purple, and brown belts followed by ten degrees of black belt.
Kumite-ryu makes use of both "hard" and "soft" techniques. Its movements flow smoothly, combining power, simplicity, and grace. The system is characterized by its practical applicability to the street through a systematic approach to blocks, strikes, holds, grapples, locks, throws, falls, and kicks, and by its "follow-through" style.
John Davis has gone a long way toward making Kumite-ryu as "real" as possible.
Courtesy is always shown when entering and exiting the dōjō, addressing superiors, practicing with other students, and sparring with the uke. Students must wear a plain white gi, and can accompany it with a dark hakama if they have one. Students who have attained belts in other martial arts schools may not wear them in the dōjō. Students are strictly forbidden from showing off techniques outside the dōjō and from practicing with non-students.
Kumite-ryu is intended to be a practical art, for self-defense on the street. For example, students will never enter a belt contract or pay for belt tests or rankings. Falls and rolls will occasionally be done on a bare floor or on concrete to simulate the kinds of falls one can expect in a real fight. Students will never be expected to break boards or bricks, but they will be expected to perform grappling, kumite (free sparring) and randori (practicing defense techniques from multiple attackers). In Kumite-ryu, randori is performed with the tori (defender) standing in a circle of uke, who may attack at will, either alone or in groups of two.
Kumite-ryu students are expected to constantly hone body and mind by perfecting their form and using their knowledge of technique in new ways to face unexpected situations. While it is generally a hand-to-hand art (as one is not usually expected to be carrying martial arts weapons on the street), the system also includes techniques in the use of (among other weapons) the jo, bo, tanto, and nunchaku.