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The Evolution Of Kajukenbo

Kajukenbo was developed around 1947-1949 when five martial artists from Hawaii called themselves the “Black Belt Society” and developed the Kajukenbo self-defense system.  The five founders are Peter Young Yil Choo, a Master in Tang Soo Do Karate, and also the welterweight boxing champion. Frank Ordonez, a Black belt in Sekeino Jujitsu.  Joe Holck, a black belt in Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Ju Jitsu (Judo).  Adriano D. Emperado, a black belt in Kosho Ryu Kenpo and Escrima master.  Clarence Chang, a master in Sil-lum Pai kung fu. These five men trained together to evaluate the advantages, strengths, and weaknesses of each other’s art to build the foundation for Kajukenbo.  With its Kenpo base it took a few years to incorporate the Tang Soo Do Kicks, Jujitsu joint locks, Judo throws, and Sil-Lum Pai circular techniques.  Joe Holck came up with the name “Kajukenbo” Ka for karate Ju for Judo and Jujitsu, ken for Kenpo, and bo for Boxing.  The first workout together was in the backyard of Peter Choo’s Mothers' house.


 Kajukenbo as a martial art is now worldwide and currently consists of four official branches: Kenpo Karate (aka Original Method or Emperado Method), Tum Pai, Ch'uan Fa, and Wun Hop Kuen Do.  Kajukenbo continues to evolve as a self-defense system that provides teaching practitioners with the proper tools to effectively defend themselves in multiple self-defense situation. 

Kenpo Karate / The Original Method 

The original method of Kajukenbo was a hard style mixed martial art, hard as more ridged movements within the pinions and punching defenses and the overall flowing movement of the art.  Some of those who still practice the original method of Kajukenbo claim the art had no forms and teach it without any pinions. Others have the first set of pinions that include the clock dance pinion 13.  Kajukenbo is a mixed martial art and the original method has a Kenpo base brought to us all from Adriano D. Emperado who is also know as Sijo.  Adriano D Emperado took over the art after a separation with the 5 founders due to the war and other lifely events with the 5 founds.  The other four founders Joesph Holck, Frank Ordonez, Peter Young Yil Choo, and Clarence Chang put Adriano D. Emperado ahead of Kajukenbo to keep the art going.  Sijo Adriano Emperado came from the Kenpo line of William Chow who was a student of James Mitose that brought Kosho Ryu Kenpo Jujitsu to Hawaii.  This is when the beginning of Kenpo Karate began as Adriano was a 5th degree black belt of William Chow who later on was kicked out of Chows school and then took Kajukenbo on in it's original method.

Tum Pai

Tum Pai Gung Fu: In the early 1960’s, Kajukenbo took on many changes world. Several top instructors have migrated from Hawaii and started teaching this unique martial art in the mainland of USA. Black GI's were chosen as the formality of the art over white GI's. Then many martial arts organization's had disagreements leading to break-offs of new organizations within Kajukenbo. Adriano Emperado became frustrated with the path Kajukenbo – Original Method was taking and changed the spelling of Kajukenbo to Kajukembo, and began searching for ways to improve the Original Method.

From 1962 to 1963, Al Dela Cruz and Al Dacascos, helped develop the method Tum Pai Gung Fu to incorporate more Chinese martial arts to form to advanced style for the Kajukenbo.  The Chinese martial arts influence came from the top instructors within the Chinese community  (e.g., Southern Si-Lum, Choy La Fut, and Hung Ga) and the internal Chinese styles (e.g., Yang Style Tai Chi, Hsing Yi, and Chi Kung). These influences gave the Kajukenbo system a softer flow that was not present in the Original Method., Kaujekbo took on the Chinese Boxing within the system. The first version of Tum Pai evolved into another branch of Kajukenbo called Ch'uan Fa and the Tum Pai name was retired in 1966 until Jon Loren brought Northern Tum Pai to Kajukenbo with Emperado’s blessings.

Northern Tum Pai: In 1974, John Loren presented a new version of Kajukenbo to Adriano Emperado, who agreed to revive the Tum Pai name as Kajukenbo – Northern Tum Pai to represent Jon Loren’s vision. The new version of Tum Pai combines Chinese classical external styles (e.g., Southern Si-Lum, Eagle Claw, Northern Praying Mantis), Tai Chi Ch'uan, and incorporates the Original Method of Kajukenbo. It remained a non-competitive self-defense-oriented martial arts system and has six structural characteristics: 1. streetwise applications of Tai Chi Ch'uan; 2. tendon structure (tendons are relaxed and align throughout the movements); 3. Prevalence of open hand training over closed hand techniques); 4. Night Wind forms (Yam Foon Jeet Sow Fut) that emphasize circular movements (redirection, yielding, and reversal) over linear brute force; 5. outdoor survival training and sensitivity awareness; and 6. healing arts (Chi Kung, restorative massage, medicinal herbal health, and knowledge of the nervous system) to naturally restore a person’s health and body from martial arts training.

Tum Pai focuses on diffusing techniques commonly found in street fighting, wrestling, and American-style boxing. Northern Tum Pai balances the classical teaching concepts with its mixed approach of self-discovery – the practitioner takes the classical knowledge and uses it to guide his/her path in creating a self-defense system that fits the practitioner.  Techniques that are found in the Northern Tum Pai curriculum include the Night Wind Forms, weapon sets, tricks, kicking, open-hand techniques, elbow strikes, sweeps, throws, ground grappling, Chin’na (nerve locking techniques) and Chi Sao (sticky hands). Northern Tum Pai is currently being practiced still today.

Ch' uan Fa

The original Tum Pai concept eventually evolved into the branch in Kajukenbo called Ch'uan Fa, translated as Fist Law/Way in English and “Chinese” Kempo in Japanese. Once again, in collaboration among Adriano Emperado, Al Dela

Cruz and Al Dacascos attempted to influence more Chinese martial arts to help balance the hard, ridged movements of the Original Method of Kajukenbo. While incorporating forms of the original Tum Pai branch, techniques and philosophies from the Fu-Hak Kung Fu system and the Northern style of Shaolin Kung Fu were added to create Kajukenbo – Ch'uan Fa.  They then decided that the name Tum Pai did not fully encapsulate the comprehensiveness of this new system with both northern and southern kung fu techniques and changed the name to Ch'uan Fa. In 1966, Ch'uan Fa became an official branch of Kajukenbo.

The Original Method of Kajukenbo, Ch'uan Fa had unique characteristics with the original curriculum. Al Dacascos developed the Ch'uan Fa system to included 82 training exercises, drills, etc. that were originally taught in the Palama Settlement, some of the hard stances were replaced by soft stances (such as low cat stances) and linear hand movements were replaced by softer, circular movements. In addition, Chinese forms were added to this new branch, such as Limpo, Pak Si-Lum, Sui Wan, 18 Hands of Lohan, Hau Kuen, and Fua Yip. The self-defense techniques were adapted to include more techniques of the Chinese martial arts styles. Ch'uan Fa was the first branch of Kajukenbo to include many of the forms that are in WHKD, such as: Hau Kuen, Fau Yip, 18 Hands of Lo-Han, Lim Po, Sui Wan, Si-Lum Pak Pai's 6, 7 and 8, and Lo Han Kuen. It also included the first evolutions of the WHKD hand combinations, kick combinations, throws and counters, kick counters, and drop & recovers, as well as the Chi Sao and Pak Sao drills.  Ch'uan Fa is the evolution of Wun Hop Kuen Do. Ch'uan Fa has many of the WHKD requirements and is similar by blending hard and soft movements to smooth out the Kajukenbo techniques. Many people, including Sifu Al Dacascos himself, have said that WHKD is his personal development of Ch'uan Fa.

Wun Hop Kuen Do

The recent recognized evolution of Kajukenbo was created by Al Dacascos, who is one of the three co-founders of the Tum Pai and Ch'uan Fa branches.  Al Dacascos himself said, Wun Hop Kuen Do originated as his own personal expression of the Ch'uan Fa branch by modifying several of its training elements, such as forms, hand combinations, kick combinations, throws and counters, kick counters, drop and recovers, as well as specific training drills. These modifications and new additions to the curriculum then led to the

creation of the new branch of Kajukenbo called Wun Hop Kuen Do, which literally means “combination fist art style.” Due to the heavy involvement of Al Dacascos in the other three branches of Kajukenbo (Kenpo Karate, Tum Pai, and Ch'uan Fa), Wun Hop Kuen Do is in essence a scientific and systematic culmination of the previous branches of Kajukenbo.

There are several characteristics of Wun Hop Kuen Do that make it uniquely different from the other Kajukenbo branches. First and foremost, Wun Hop Kuen Do is not a “fixed” system of martial arts that produces practitioners to have identical skillsets and preset responses to specific situations. Al Dacascos realized that human beings are unique individuals and all react differently to different stimuli/situations. The Wun Hop Kuen Do system is designed to allow each individual to react creatively to situations by guiding them with effective tools and strategies to deal with situations. Therefore in the event of an attack, the individual will create his/her own solution to deal with the attack rather than try to implement a preset technique (that is taught in traditional martial arts settings). This mindset allows practitioners to constantly learn new ideas to develop their own fighting method in their martial arts journey instead of running out of material to learn. Wun Hop Kuen Do is a flexible system of martial arts, there are formal training techniques, methods, and philosophies within it. There exist 25 technical fighting principles taught in Wun Hop Kuen Do 1. setups; 2. positioning; 3. independent movement; 4. initial speed; 5. critical distance line; 6. line of attack; 7. bridging the gap; 8. five primary techniques; 9. lead vs. rear side; 10. economy of motion; 11. relaxation vs. tension; 12. mobility vs. immobility; 13. extension, hyper-extension, and double hyper-extension; 14. leading centers; 15. unpredictability vs. classical form; 16. straight line vs. curved line; 17. defensive choices; 18. initial speed vs. combinations; 19. faking; 20. constant forward pressure; 21. time commitment theory; 22. defensive movement patterns; 23. angle of attack vs. technique variation; 24. half, full, and extension commitment; and 25. theory of broke rhythm.

Another distinction of Wun Hop Kuen Do is that it focuses on Chi (internal energy), the concept of continual motion, and inside fluidity which makes Wun Hop Kuen Do stand out from the other three branches. By combining mind, body, and spirit with proper training, practitioners can move without the need for pulling techniques back to re-chambering your strikes so they can effectively strike their opponent without letting up. The Wun Hop Kuen Do practitioner is able to move fluidity with strikes that generating power by proper alignment in shifting the body with internal energy, to allow them to strike an opponent multiple times. This principle also makes it extremely

difficult for the opponent to counterattack.

Wun Hop Kuen Do is constantly evolving without the restraints of being a “fixed system” of martial arts. As more Wun Hop Kuen Do instructors add to the existing base of it, this dynamic art will continue to grow and evolve for many generations to come.

Matsuno Ryu

Matsuno Ryu Kajukenbo Jujitsu has a strong structure on Jujitsu & Kickboxing and was founded by Kajukenbo co-founder Joseph Holck and his son Vinson Holck in 1982 to give Vinson a viable response to the situations he dealt with daily in his job as an Entry Team Member of the Tucson Police S.W.A.T. team.   As Joseph and Vinson Holck developed the system to be based on Jujitsu & Kickboxing the other arts of karate and Kenpo was practiced but were only sub in it as the philosophy of Kajukenbo is if it didn't work in the street it was thrown out!  This system had various techniques from the Yawara, Shime, Nage, and Oku, lists brought in from Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu that were developed by Henrey Seishiro Okazaki.  Matsuno Ryu didn't focus on Karate or Kung-fu forms like Pinans, or Soft set Silum Pi it was based on what works in the street.  After the reunion of Joseph Holck and Adirano Emperado sharing techniques of Jujitsu and Kenpo with each other's students is when Joseph Holck and Vinson Holck learned the 13 Pinans and taught Ch'uan' Fa in their school as an additional martial art.  Matsuno Ryu was not a widely taught system but was taught at the Kodenkan Yudanshakai and was also known as Matsuno Ryu Goshin Jitsu.

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