Kajukenbo is a highly effective self defense system based on five martial arts:

- karate,
- judo,
- jujitsu,
- kenpo, and
- kung fu

and a no-nonsense approach to self defense. It is also America's first martial art system, having been founded in 1949 in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii.


The founders wanted to develop an art that would be readily useful on the street. The man credited with the founding of Kajukenbo is Siju Adriano D. Emperado who practiced Kenpo and Escrima. The four other original founding members were Peter Choo (Karate), Frank Ordonez (Sekeino Jujitsu), Joe Holke (Kodokan Judo), and Clarence Chang (Sil-lum Pai Kung-Fu).


Principles and Techniques

As it incorporates the long range kicks and strikes from karate, the grappling techniques from judo, the joint locks from jujitsu, the multiple hand strikes from kenpo and the movements and leg work from Chinese boxing, Kanjukenbo can accomodate any type of attack. The name is an acronym formed by the first syllables of the martial arts styles from which Kajukenbo is derived: ka for karate, ju for judo and jujitsu, ken for kenpo, and bo for Chinese boxing (kung fu). Kajukenbo is also written as Kajukembo, derived from the two spellings of kenpo/kempo, the northern Chinese spelling and southern Chinese spelling, respectively. Kenpo originated in the north of China, and Kempo originated in the south.

Like most karate systems kajukenbo has katas or forms. These 14 katas are known as "Palama Sets" 1 through 14. Although the Palama sets provide the kajukenbo stylist with many good techniques, kajukenbo's strength lies in it's self defense techniques. These self defense techniques are arranged and categorized into 15 grab arts, 21 punch counters, 15 knife counters, 13 club counters, 9 two and three man attack counters, and 26 advanced alphabet techniques.

By combining techniques from tang soo do, judo, jujitsu, kenpo and kung fu, the kajukenbo stylist can defend himself in many ways. He can use soft circular kung fu techniques to evade and strike, revert to a judo or jujitsu to throw an attacker to the ground or restrain and control him. Unlike most traditional systems, kajukenbo relies heavily on combination techniques. These combination techniques are arranged so that each technique will set up the next by following the reaction of the attacker's body. The principle behind kajukenbo is that it is better to counter with a multitude of techniques that can be ended when the threat no longer exists, than to rely on one technique and find that it is not enough.


Recognition and Evolution

Today kajukenbo is practiced all over the world. The parent oganization for kajukenbo is the "Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute of Hawaii, Inc. based in San Diego, California.

Kajukenbo is an ecclectic and evolutive martial art. As time has passed different branches have evolved both recognized, such as Kenpo ("Emperado Method" or "Traditional Hard Style"), Tum Pai, Chu'an Fa, Wun Hop Kuen Do, and Gaylord Method and unrecognized. While this may be confusing to the outsider, it is the very essence of the art: students are not expected to mimic the teacher, but are encouraged to develop their own "expression" of the art.
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Origin and History

Kajukenbo was synthesized in the Paloma settlements of Hawaii during the years 1949-1952. Five practitioners of their respective martial arts developed Kajukenbo to complement each others styles to allow effective fighting at all ranges and speeds.

FullContactMartialArts.org © 2009. All rights reserved.
Photos by Gregory Brophy (hand wraps), Gerville Hall (TaeKwonDo girl), Lucian (Karate fight).
Reproduction strictly prohibited.
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