What Is KaJuKenbo?

Kajukenbo martial arts is a blend of several traditional fighting styles with a basis on self defense in street fighting. As with other martial arts it is designed to promote both mental and physical strength. 

Kajukenbo History

The martial art of Kajukenbo was formed in the Palama settlements of Hawaii between 1947 and 1949 by The Black Belt Society. The five society members, Walter Choo, Joe Holck, Frank Ordonez, Clarence Chang and Adriano Emperado, developed Kajukenbo to complement each others styles of Karate, Judo, Kenpo, and Boxing . 

Kenpo was the core around which Kajukenbo was built. The other martial arts drawn upon to found Kajukenbo are Karate, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Kempo, and Chu’an Fa Gung Fu (Chinese boxing); hence the name Ka-ju-ken-bo.

To find out which parts of each style would be the most effective the five founders would get into street fights around the Palama Settlement in Hawaii. At the time the Palama Settlement was a slum area where violence, fist-fights and stabbings were common. If a technique succeeded consistently in street fighting it was kept as part of the system.

From it’s beginnings, Kajukenbo was an eclectic and adaptive art and students of the discipline are encouraged to develop their own expression of the art form and can make their own innovations. As such Kajukenbo techniques are constantly evolving in the fighting style. 

Kajukenbo Techniques 

Kajukenbo concentrates on being an effective art at all ranges of fighting, kicking, Punching, Trapping and Grappling. While many schools of karate and Korean martial arts concentrate on kata, Kajukenbo emphasizes self-defence movements over the relatively fewer forms in the art. The reason for this is so a practitioner is able of effectively defend against combatants in street fighting situations

Kajukenbo takes a brutal approach to self defence and counter attacks. Moves include the shadowless kick and the hammer fist. Straddle stances are taught to strengthen the legs and create a stable offence or defence position. In addition there are joint and limb destruction techniques. It also uses weapon disarmament along with trapping, grappling, joint locks and takedowns. 

Kajukenbo focuses on using techniques based on an opponents reactions and not stopping with just one hit. The reasoning is that while one should strive to end a fight with the fewest techniques necessary, it is important to know how an opponent will respond to attacks, and how best to take advantage of their reactions.

Traditional weapons practice is associated with Kajukenbo. The use of sticks as weapons is common due to the influence of Ahgung Tony Ramos kajukenbo who introduced Doce Pares Filipino stick fighting into his Kajukenbo teachings.

Kajukenbo Training

Training is physically demanding with an emphasis on calisthenics and cardio exercises to improve stamina. The Warm up and exercises typically last 1/3 of the class. Sandbags and boxing gloves can often be seen in Kajukenbo schools as emphasis is placed on bag work, kick, punching, elbows, and knees.

After warming up, students begin to throw real punches at each other and their partner is expected to react appropriately or face the consequences. Learning to absorb and soften an impact is also a major facet of Kajukenbo training. Quins (kata) are performed to fine-tune a person’s movements while working with partners for self defense teaches a student how to manipulate an opponent and follow up on their reactions.

Kajukenbo Belts

The Kajukenbo belt system varies from school to school. The traditional Japanese martial art ranking is often followed with a common Kajukenbo belt order being: white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, brown, and black, followed by the other various degrees of the black belt. Schools usually have second and third stripe belts that feature a white for second or black for third stripe running down the center of the belt.

How Long Does it take to get a Kajukenbo black belt?

It takes around 5 years to achieve a black belt in Kajukenbo however this can vary a lot depending on a number of factors such as prior experience in other martial arts and the number of training hours completed for example. 

Ranking hierarchies vary widely from one training school to another however traditional Japanese martial art ranking is usually followed. See the table below for an example Belt Order. 

Kajukenbo Prayer

The Founders of Kajukenbo developed a prayer for followers of their discipline. Its important to remember here that the founders were all Christians and therefore the prayer reflects this. The prayer is as follows:

Almighty and eternal God
Protector of all who put their trust in thee
Please accept our humble homage of our faith and love in thee, the one true God
Bless our efforts to preserve the integrity of our United States a nation founded on Christian principles 
Enlighten our rules
Guide our lawmakers 
And protect our loved ones in the sanctuary of our homes 
Bless our efforts in these exercises 
Whose purpose is to develop our spirit and body
To keep others mindful of thy commandments 
Give us perseverance in our actions so that we may use this art as a means to keep closer to you the one true God
This we say in the name of thy beloved son Jesus Christ our lord
Author Picture William

Author Bio

Hi, I am William. I started out in martial arts with Goshin Ju Jitsu when I was 7 years old. I am passionate about martial arts and love sharing everything I learn. I created Master Fighting to become a resource for learning about martial arts and alternative fighting styles. Learn more about me.