While we train and teach a variety of martial arts at our academy, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Filipino Martial Arts, Kickboxing, and Jeet Kune Do, the core of our school is Kenpo. Our method of teaching Kenpo is named FILKENJUTSU (read more about FILKENJUTSU). FILKENJUTSU is not a style of martial arts so much as a method of training/teaching Kenpo. The style of Kenpo that we come from was named KAJUKENBO.
In the late 1940s, if you were to travel to Hawaii, you would find a melting pot of people and cultures from all around the world. This situation led to the streets of Hawaii being somewhat violent.
Today’s story starts with a man living in Hawaii at the time, named Adriano Emperado.
SiJo Emperado (SiJo is a martial arts title) received his martial arts training from Professor William K.S. Chow, the founder of Chinese Kenpo. Professor Chow had been trained in Shaolin Kung Fu by his father but sought out training in Kosho Ryu Kenpo from Grandmaster James Mitose (also called Kenpo Jiu Jitsu) to add a “hardness” to his style that would better prepare him for self-defense. Departing from the original Kenpo Jiu Jitsu taught by Mitose, Chow united the arts of Kosho Ryu Kenpo and his family’s Kung Fu system. To make a distinct variation from Mitose's Kenpo, Chow called his art Kenpo Karate, specifically Dian Hsuhe Go Shinjutsu of the Kenpo Kai. (Corrigan)
Professor Chow taught Kenpo for ten years but only graduated five people to black belt, and SiJo Adriano Emperado was one of them (Conway). SiJo Emperado was also trained in the Filipino Martial Arts which included, stick, knife, and empty hand fighting techniques. SiJo Emperado continued to search for more because he felt as though Kenpo still did not have all of the answers necessary for one to safely defend themselves if attacked in the street.
This journey ultimately led him to one of the most important collaborations between martial artists of different styles. He met with four other martial artists from arts such as Korean tang soo do, se keino jujitsu, Kodokan judo, and Chinese boxing (kung fu). Together these arts were to make up KAJUKENBO:
KA - Korean KArate (tang soo do)
JU - JUjitsu and JUdo
KEN - KENpo
BO - Chinese BOxing
SiJo Emperado and his brother Joe Emperado together opened the first KAJUKENBO school in Honolulu’s Palama Settlement, one of the toughest areas in Hawaii. It is here that they established a philosophy and training method that while it has evolved and been improved upon over 60+ years, still stands in our academy today - "Train Strong to Remain Strong."
If we could take a peek into a typical KAJUKENBO class at SiJo Emperado’s school you would see students salute their instructors when entering the dojo, line up in order of rank, kneel to tie their belts, and begin class by saluting the American flag, SiJo Emperado (or his picture if he was not present), and the chief instructor.
The class would then start with a warm-up full of calisthenics, traditional forms training (kata), and self-defense techniques. At the end of class, there may be some drilling, conditioning, and strength training. Finally, students would salute again, and kneel and remove their belts in order of rank after dismissal from the instructor.
Training was tough, but the family of students was close-knit, loyal, respectful, and disciplined.
Come back for Part 2 next week!
FILKENJUTSU Student Manual. Bruce Corrigan. 1985
Kajukenbo The Ultimate Self-Defense System. Frank Conway. 1988.