Kajukenbo was founded in 1947
at Palamas Settlement on Oahu, Hawaii. It developed out a group
calling themselves the "Black Belt Society", which consisted
of black belts from various martial arts backgrounds who met to
train and learn with each other. This was the beginning of an evolutionary,
adaptive style designed to combine the most useful aspects of the
There are five men credited as founders
of Kajukenbo, and it is from their respective arts that Kajukenbo
draws it's name.
Kenpo emerged as the core around
which this new art was built. Although uncreditted by name, other
influences included American Boxing (Choo was Hawaiian Welterweight
Champion) and Escrima (Emperado also studied Kali and Arnis Escrima).
In the late 1940's, Palamas Settlement
was a violent area and fist-fights or stabbings were commonplace.
From this environment, the founders of Kajukenbo wanted to develop
an art that would be readily usefull on the street. As they trained
and fought in and around Palamas Settlement, the founders of Kajukenbo
quickly gained reputations as formidable street-fighters. In 1950,
Adriano Emperado, along with brother Joe Emperado, began teaching
the new art in an open class. They called the school Kajukenbo Self
Defense Institute (K.S.D.I.).
emphasis during training was on realism - so much so that students
routinely broke bones, fainted from exhaustion, or were knocked
unconcious. Nevertheless, the reputation of this tough new art drew
more students and Emperado opened a second school at the nearby
Kaimuki YMCA. Soon Emperado had 12 Kajukenbo schools in Hawaii,
making it the second largest string of schools at the time. John
Leoning, who earned a black belt from Emperado, brought Kajukenbo
to the mainland in 1958. Since that time, Kajukenbo has continued
to flourish and grow.