History of Kajukenbo

The Kajukenbo | What is Kajukenbo | History of Kajukenbo | Founder Adriano Emperado | Kajukenbo Development | Kajukenbo Techniques | Kajukenbo Today | Kajukenbo Training | The Perfected Art of Dirty Streetfighting

In 1947, Adriano D. Emperado and 4 other skilled martial artists: Joe Holck, Peter Young Yil Choo, George “Clarence” Chang, and Frank Ordonez, made a secret pact to combine their arts into a street fighting combination of their arts, which were:

  • Adriano Directo Emperado – Kenpo (Kosho Ryu) and Escrima
  • Joseph Holck – Jujutsu (Danzan Ryu)
  • Peter Young Yil Choo – Karate (Tang Soo Do) and Boxing
  • George “Clarence” Chuen Yoke Chang – Chinese Boxing (Chu’an Fa Kung-Fu)
  • Frank F. Ordonez – Judo (Se Keino Ryu)

When the Korean War hit, Joe Holck, Peter Choo, Frank Ordonez, and Clarence Chang were drafted, leaving only Adriano Emperado to carry the system on. Sijo Emperado, along with his brother Joe, introduced Kajukenbo to the public by opening the Palama Settlement School in 1950.

The training there was notoriously brutal. Their goal was to be invincible on the street, so the training had to be realistic, and the students sparred with full contact.

The number of students soon dwindled to only a few. Those who remained developed into tough fighters with a reputation for employing their art in street fights with only a little provocation.

Several students who came out of the school would become very prominent marital artists themselves, such as Sid Asuncion, Aleju Reyes, Joe Halbuna, Charles Gaylord, and Tony Ramos.

The art slowly began to grow in popularity, and soon Emperado had 12 Kajukenbo schools in Hawaii, making it the second largest string of schools at the time. Joe Halbuna, Charles Gaylord, Tony Ramos and Aleju Reyes, who all earned a black belt from Emperado, brought Kajukenbo to the mainland in 1960.

They each opened Kajukenbo schools in California. In 1969, Tony Ramos trained with and exchanged ideas and methods with Bruce Lee. Tony’s version of Kajukenbo became known as the “Ramos Method” and is kept alive by numerous instructors, most notably Emil Bautista of Vallejo, Aleju Reyes died in 1977 and Tony Ramos died in Hawaii in 1999. Charles Gaylord has since continued on with the art and has developed the “Gaylord Method”. He is the President of the Kajukenbo Association of America and has acquired a legacy to continue the art of his Sijo.

In a 1991 interview with Black Belt, Emperado was asked who some of the Kajukenbo tournament stars were and this is what he said, Emperado: Al and Malia Dacascos won many tournament championships. Al Gene Caraulia won the 1st Karate World Championship in Chicago in 1963 when he was still a brown belt.

Purple belt Victor Raposa knocked out world rated Everett “monster man” Eddy at the 1975 “World Series of Martial Arts”. Carlos Bunda was the first lightweight champion at the Long Beach International Karate Championship (IKC) in 1964. Bunda once defeated TV star Chuck Norris in competition where he broke Chuck’s cup involved a kenpo groin kick.

In 1959, Sijo Emperado continued to add more Kung Fu into Kajukenbo, shifting the art to a more fluid combination of hard and soft techniques. Since then, Kajukenbo has shown to be a very improvement base, continuously evolving-open style, willing to accept whatever works.