Kajukenbo Today

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

Kajukenbo, as it stands today, has more grappling moves than regular kenpo, and incorporates joint breaking, low blows, and combination attacks. While it does include some competitive elements, its primary focus is on realism and practicality. It is generally thought that “unfair” moves such as strikes to the eyes or groin are perfectly acceptable, as is whatever else the practitioner feels is necessary to get home that day.

Training workouts emphasize cardio conditioning and functional strength. While individual schools may show variation, it would not be unusual to train with sandbags or boxing gloves.

Advanced students generally spend some time without benefit of protective gear to condition themselves for honest combat.

There is a core of self-defense techniques at the heart of Kajukenbo, and most schools eschew impractical, flashy moves and acrobatics. Most kajukenbo curricula feature counter-attacks to punches, kicks, knives, sticks, guns, and grabs.

While this base of common knowledge will keep schools’ styles similar, there is plenty of room for variation. Given how different the four foundational styles of Kajukenbo are, it is impossible to fully incorporate everything and some specialization is inevitable. This openness tends to encourage schools to incorporate other arts, such as escrima or aikido, into their practice.

Some schools of Kajukenbo feature 26 katas that are broken down into 13 “pinyans” (also called “Palama sets” in some schools) and 13 “concentrations”. Each of the concentrations have their own name such as concentration number one is titled crane strike/tiger claw.

The name of each concentration is given to that kata because it features that particular strike or movement in it. For example, concentration one features the crane strike and tiger claw. Katas are incorporated into Kajukenbo to help the student refine his/her skill. Every movement in the katas has meaning behind it. For example the first movement in pinyan 1 is a right outward strike while moving to a left back stance. This movement would be used to block a punch. The katas also focus on multi-enemy combat.

An important part of some kajukenbo classes is the Kajukenbo Prayer, written by Frank Ordonez, although a fair number of schools are completely secular. In some classes it is customary to end class with reference to the Kajukenbo trinity: spirit, mind, and body (each with their own hand sign). After the trinity, students and instructors alike open their hands to represent peace, then bow their heads in respect. A stylized Kajukenbo salute is also part of many school customs: students salute the American flag and their instructors to show respect. Students and instructors alike salute black belts when they enter the training floor.

Currently, there are four distinct, “recognized” branches of Kajukenbo: Kenpo (“Emperado Method” or “Traditional Hard Style”); Tum Pai The original style of Tum Pai was put together by Sijo Adriano D. Emperado, Sifu Al Dacascos and Sifu Al Dela Cruz in the early 60’s to create an advanced style for the Kajukenbo system. In the mid-60’s the developments that made up Tum Pai became incorporated into what was called Ch’uan Fa. In 1971, Sifu Jon A. Loren started incorporating the concepts of Tai-Chi and Southern Sil-lum into his Kajukenbo classes.

This was called Northern Kajukenbo until 1976. In 1976, while staying with Sijo Emperado in Hawaii, he demonstrated his concepts and techniques and asked if he could call it Tum Pai and bring the name back to life. Emperado granted permission with the acknowledgement that the original Tum Pai followed a different path than the revised Tum Pai soft style. The name Tum Pai which means “central way” fits the Tai-Chi concept blended into the Kajukenbo format.); Chu’an Fa (The word Chu’an-Fa itself means “fist way” or “fist style”.) In the early 60’s in Hawaii, Sijo Adriano Emperado along with students Al Dacascos and Al Dela Cruz, incorporated innovations of the style Tum Pai and other martial arts into their Kajukenbo training.

Later it became obvious that they were no longer doing Tum Pai and in the future it would have to be named something else. In the mid 60’s Sifu Al Dacascos moved to Northern California and continued training in the Northern and Southern styles of Sil-lum Kung Fu, to enhance his Kajukenbo training. It was during this time, in 1965, that the name Ch’uan-Fa was introduced); Wun Hop Kuen Do(The literal meaning of Wun Hop Kuen Do is “Combination fist art style. This is a translation of the Cantonese Chinese dialect.

In the Mandarin dialect the style would be “Quan Hur Chuen Dao”.) Wun Hop Kuen Do was founded by Sifu Al Dacascos and is one of the four branch styles of the Kajukenbo Martial Art System. Thus, Wun Hop Kuen Do techniques identify with and are based on the Kajukenbo system. This martial arts style incorporates techniques from many different styles including Northern and Southern Kung Fu systems, Aikido, Judo, jujutsu, Eskrima and many different styles of Karate.

Since this style is always being developed, it is not a fixed system. This means that they are always striving to improve the style by incorporation and improvement of useful methods or techniques. In addition, the philosophy of remaining “unfixed” also applies to the defense techniques in that there is no defined response to a given situation, they attempt to fit the situation as it arises. This idea leads to self defense that is creative and allows one to think about what is the best response.

There are have many drills to allow practice of this type of fluidity and creativity that lead to the ability to respond reflexively to any situation. This is one of the primary things that sets this style apart from most others, it is a martial art that asks you to think for yourself and use your own common sense to actually see what you should do next. This is in contrast to many other training methods where one is supposed to mimic techniques which many times are not practical except under very defined circumstances.)

Kajukenbo Belt Hierarchy: Ranking hierarchies vary widely from school to school. One common belt order is as follows: white, yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green, brown (3 levels), student black, followed by the various degrees of black belt. Some schools have “in-between” belts that feature a white or black stripe running down the center of the belt.

Black belt rankings and titles can also vary, but student black belt through second degree students are usually given the title of Sibak or Sisuk. Third through fifth degree are given the title of Sifu (in some schools there is an in between rank called Sihing). Sixth and seventh are Sigung.

Eighth degree black belts are Professors, and ninth degree is a Grandmaster. The founder, Adriano Emperado, holds the title of Sijo and is 10th degree black belt. The titles given to the black belt ranks are Chinese names. Sijo, being the highest rank, means founder. Sigung means the teacher’s teacher. Sifu means teacher. Sibak means teacher’s assistant.