In 1947, five martial artists in Oahuís Palamas Settlement, joined forces to create the ideal fighting style with which to combat the violence in the areas streets. Their organization gained recognition, and became known as “The Black Belt Society.” Their new art became known as “Kajukenbo” - an acronym of its contributing styles. Combined, this acronym means “Through this fist art one gains long life and happiness.” The Society's members were Peter Young Yil Choo, Frank Ordonez, Joe Holck, Adrian Emperado, and Clarence Chang. All five of these men made invaluable contributions to the new style, however it is Adrian Emperado who is credited with developing the style into what it is today.
Each of the men brought to the table their expertise in a different form of martial arts. The styles merged and formed not only a new art but also its name and its essence. The styles, their contributors and their influences are as follows:
Style: Karate (Tang Soo Do)
Meaning: Long Life
Contributor: Peter Young Yil Choo
Influence: Hard & Powerful techniques
Style: Judo (Se Keino Ryu)& Jujitsu (Kodenkan Danzan Ryu)
Contributors: Joe Holck & Frank Ordonez
Influence: Throwing, Joint-Locking, & Sweeping
Style: Kenpo (Kosho Ryu)
Collaborator: Adrian Emperado
Influence: Powerful techniques & Fluid hand movements. Kenpo is the heart of the style
Style: Chinese Boxing
Collaborator: Clarence Chang
Influence: Flexibility, Agility, Evasive Maneuvers & Flow
There are four recognized branches of Kajukenbo:
- Kenpo is known as the “traditional hard style"
- Tum Pai incorporates Tai Chi and Southern Sil-lum
- Chuían fa means "fist way” or "fist style"
- Wun Hop Kuen Do translates as "combination fist art style."
Emphasis in training is placed on self-defense, follow-through, and physical training. This philosophy ensures that its students will have both the skills required to protect themselves in a conflict and the physical stamina to do so. In keeping with this philosophy, calisthenics make up a good portion of the lessons and past a certain point in training, students are required to throw and block real punches.
Kajukenbo also encourages its students to be self-thinkers; not defining specific responses to pre-arranged situations, but rather imparting a strategy and a philosophy by which the student can arrive at appropriate solutions to new scenarios. In this way, Kajukenbo is an art constantly growing, changing, and evolving into something better than itself.
For further information on this style, visit the Willis Kajukenbo History page