Here we present a hybrid method of generating a hierarchical recognition system based on example learning. The method is 'hybrid' in that it uses both conventional Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Neural Network techniques. The integrated hierarchical recognition system, called IHKB (integrated hierarchical knowledge base), has a tree structure consisting of nodes and leaves. Each node is indexed by an attribute set and contains a small Kohonen network (KN). Each leaf represents a recognition class. The system uses a conceptual function to instruct the process of attribute choosing. Whenever a suitable attribute set is obtained for a certain group of training examples, a small Kohonen net is built and trained with those examples. This allows the machine to focus on special features of these training examples and thus to better describe the special characteristics of these patterns. Typically, there are many KNs in a IHKB, the number depending on the number of attribute sets. The position of each KN in the tree is fixed automatically. When the construction is complete, the training examples are classified by Kohonen nets, and recognition is achieved by a path from the root of the tree to a leaf. The method has been tested on individual handwritten character recognition, showing that high recognition rates can be achieved given enough training examples.