Kajukenbo / Kajukembo Self Defense

Created between a two year period 1947-1949 in Hawaii by 5 martial artists and each masters of Different arts:
The system was created from A.D. Emperado, Peter YY Choo, Clarence Chang Joe Holke and Frank Ordonez.

The 5 martial artists called the group the Black Belt Society – They wanted to make a new martial art that incorporated the best self defense from all of the 5 systems.

Basically the first Mixed Martial Art that was created.


Peter YY Choo – added the KA segment

Ka - From Korean Karate - Tang Soo Do “Kicking and Leg strikes” and basic blocks and stances

Joe Holke and Frank Ordonez – added the JU segment.

JU- from Jujitsu and Judo “Throwing and locking “or off balancing your opponent.

A.D. Emperado – added the Kenpo or Kempo segment.

KEN or KEM - Kenpo and Kempo Karate system “rapid multiple contouring striking of the body”

Clarence Chang – added the Kung Fu or Chinese Boxing segment.

BO - from Chinese Boxing "Kung Fu" Choy lei fut. Hung gar - mixed Kung Fu: and American Boxing.
“Flowing and yielding heavy penetrating strikes, which are designed to destroy from within the body”

Whether the art is spelled with an N or an M is the same system. The letter N is a representation of the Chinese Interpretation of the Kenpo system or Fist way, and the Japanese Interpretation is spelled with the M or Kempo system. This is translated to mean Fist Law.

Sijo Emperado signed a document giving our Late Grand Master Richard Peralta and the right to use the spelling with an M - KAJUKEMBO.  Peralta wanted to pay respect to the Mitose family line of Kempo, because Mitose family brought Kempo to Hawaii – Without James Mitose we would not have the Kempo Today.  Therefore using the Letter M in the spelling.

Click on the links below to view the Approval Letter signed by Sijo A.D. Emperado and SGM Aleju Reyes






The system is designed for Self Defense utilizing 5 martial arts:  Karate Judo Jujitsu Kenpo and Kung fu. The self defense techniques created were tested out on the street for the effectiveness if the technique did not work, the founders would not put it into the system. Therefore, at one point all of the original self defense techniques were put to the test.


The system is designed to condition the student for street combat. The original method of Kajukenbo / Kajukembo was tough and hard on the student. The students received there “Training” more like Beatings to understand the true nature of self defense. Sijo Emperado the founder of the system is quoted as saying "Make pain your friend."  He intended the training to be street effective and if you were afraid of pain you wouldn’t last on the street. The training was as realistic as it could get. Broken bones and busted out teeth, were the norm. Sijo would sometimes lock the doors to the training hall and not open them until he witnessed blood on the floor.

The Hawaiian’s wanted to create a tough and skill full system of combat. At the time there goal wasn’t how many students they could get in the door it was to teach the students that walked in how to survive from an attack.
Once you were accepted you became a part of the “Ohana” or Family. Kajukenbo and Kajukembo are still practiced today with the same training and Defensive mind set.

Kajukenbo is and will always be a strong and effective Martial art.


The system uses Black Gi’s or (Uniform) for training. There are many reasons quoted for the use of the Black Gi. One Kajukembo master was quoted as saying, “If you attack a Kajukenbo stylist, we are ready dressed to attend your funeral”, and "it’s hard to see Blood on a Black GI." The truth is back in the 50’s there were only white uniforms and the white uniform was a symbol of the Japanese systems and Korean systems.   Sijo Emperado wanted his system to be recognized differently so he elected to use the black uniform to make a statement, if you wore Black uniform then your represented a Kajukenbo / Kenpo system.  Black uniforms were unavailable to purchase, so allot of the Kajukenbo schools would purchase white gi and Dye them Black. Traditional Kajukenbo/Kajukembo schools today wear the solid Black uniform. This is to pay respect to our traditional foundation of Kajukenbo / Kajukembo Kenpo Karate.

The Kajukenbo system is a system of Self Defense.  The system trains the student for attacks against grabs, punching and kicking attacks or with the intent of a bladed or blunt weapon attack.  The system requires contact conditioning both to learn how to give and to receive contact.  Sore muscles, bruises are something of common occurrences when attending a Kajukenbo school. The one thing you can be sure of with Kajukenbo / Kajukembo training you will have the confidence and knowledge to defend yourself.

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