The 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

Kajukenbo is a hybrid martial art that combines karate, judo, jujutsu, kenpo, and kung fu. It was invented in 1947 in Oahu, Hawaii, at the Palama Settlements, to deal with local crime, as well as to help the people defend themselves from U.S. Navy sailors who would drink and fight with the locals.

The inventors were Sijo (“founder”) Adriano Emperado, Peter Young Yil Choo, Joe Holck, Frank Ordonez, and Clarence Chang, who called themselves the Black Belt Society. This martial art uses hard, fast strikes to vital points all over the body, takedowns involving high impact throwdowns and many joint and limb breaking techniques-usually as follow-ups to takedowns.

There are also many blocks from attacks such as punches and defences and disarmament of offensive weapons. With this art it is possible to inflict as many as twenty one hits in the space of three seconds.

During exhibitions etc. the demonstrator will often have an assistant who will have the strikes and grappling techiques performed on them usually involving injuries.

Brutal, deadly, overkill, street effective. These and many other such terms have been used to describe the martial art system known as kajukenbo.

The name works in two ways: “ka” (“long life”), “ju” (“happiness”), “ken” (“fist”), “bo” (“style”) or “ka” (“karate”), “ju” (“judo” , “jujutsu”), “ken” (“kenpo”), “bo” (Chinese and American kick boxing), leading to the art’s philosophical meaning: “Through this fist style, one gains long life and happiness”.

Long Life
Style Universe

Kajukenbo gained it’s reputation for being brutally effective decades ago in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii. In the Hawaii of the 1940s the enemy was not the ancient battlefield soldier, it was the common street criminal.

Instead of swords and spears he armed himself with knives, clubs, and guns. Even when unarmed he did not fight by any rules. He punched, kicked, gouged, bit, and stomped. If you encountered one of these brutal street fighters you were in for a life or death battle. Kajukenbo was designed to win such a battle.

Since then it’s eclectic use of five martial arts and it’s no-nonsense approach to self defense has contributed to it’s rapid growth and strong reputation as an highly effective self defense system. There are several tactics that kajukenbo teaches in order for the martial artist to win on the streets.

  • ANYTHING GOES: The first thing to remember is to to do anything it takes to win. Even if you have to bite, scratch, and kick, there are no rules. You have to fight like an animal if necessary. The old phrase in the martial arts is “be humble,” but be humble only to a point. Be a person because you choose to be, not because you’re intimidated.
  • FIGHT FAST, FIGHT HARD: If you find yourself in a position where you have no other choise but to fight, do it fast and get it over with.
  • DON’T BE STUPID: Remember that a good streetfighter is as good as, or better, than a black belt in a street situation. Some of the streetfighters go out and fight every Friday night. They know how to take a punch. They know how to use a beer bottle. They know how to use a lot of things and they move like a cat when they fight.
  • STRIKE WHILE HE ARGUES WITH YOU: If you can hit your opponent while he’s in the middle of a sentence or a word, you have the element of surprise. He can’t think of two things at the same time.
  • SPIT IN HIS FACE AT THE EXACT MOMENT YOU STRIKE: Normally, a grown man will flinch because he doesn’t like the idea of someone spitting in his face.
  • USE UNEXPECTED DIVERSIONS AND DISTRACTIONS: An older person can fake a heart attack long enough for the opponent to hesitate and be caught off guard by a couterattack. Surprise is always an advantage.
  • ATTACK THE MOST VULNERABLE TARGETS: Kajukenbo emphasizes attacking the most vulnerable targets including the eyes, the throat, the groin and the knees.
  • DON’T STOP UNTIL THE PERSON IS FINISHED: One or two moves may or may not be enough to take a person out. The kajukenbo strategy is to stike or kick a person, get him down to the ground, and then continue until he stops.

“War and killing are wrong, it is also wrong not to be prepared to defend one’s self. We have no weapons, but we have our bodies. We have not knives, so make every fist into a mace. Without spears, every arm must be made into a spear, and every open hand a sword.”

Kajukenbo Crest

The Kajukenbo Method stresses physical conditioning, combining speed, power and accuracy. If an individual trains strong, he will remain strong because “A man who masters his own art will be a hard man to beat.” It will primarily depend on the individual himself because as he trains hard, he will make himself.

The physical techniques for preparedness develop confidence in a beginner but as one studies the art in its deeper aspects, he will discover that self-confidence is just a stepping stone to humility and self-restraint. Through his increased knowledge, he gains confidence and respect, thus banishing fear and avoiding trouble. The standard by which he lives is that of humility and self-restraint and although he does not seek trouble, he expects it and is prepared. Speed and alertness with the coordination of mind and body is just another contributing factor to a longer existence.