Power and peace ; Kajukenbo blends several martial art disciplines into one.


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Drizzt
January 23, 2003, 02:51 PM
San Antonio Express-News


January 22, 2003, Wednesday , METRO

SECTION: SUN - NORTH CENTRAL; This article also appeared in the South/East Neighbors edition. Headlines, photo captions and text may vary. For exact version see microfilm. ; Pg. 5H

LENGTH: 813 words

HEADLINE: Power and peace ; Kajukenbo blends several martial art disciplines into one.

BYLINE: Vincent T. Davis



BODY: It's a martial art perfected on the streets of Honolulu in the late 1940s, and now the discipline known as kajukenbo is becoming known in San Antonio.

Trainers are billing it as the ideal self-defense style, a combination of power and peace advocating the philosophy that "through this fist one gains long life and happiness."

Between 1947 and 1949, five martial arts masters known as the Black Belt Society - Adriano Emperado, Frank Ordonez, P.Y.Y. Choo, Joe Holck and Clarence Chang - created kajukenbo. The name symbolizes several blended fighting styles: karate, judo/jujitsu, kenpo, boxing, and knife and stick fighting. During the early 1950s, the society mainly taught the discipline to family and friends, but over time a handful of schools around the world began teaching kajukenbo, practitioners said. Led by Emperado, the founders did not believe in heavily promoting the discipline, but instead they trained only a few.

At Stone Ridge Martial Arts, located at 12331 Wetmore Road, Steve and Diane Watson are teaching kajukenbo to what they term a select group.

"It never got pushed out; you almost have to stumble across these schools," Steve Watson said. "There was a philosophy and thinking to it, not just a street-fighting art. It's a variety of skills to adapt to any situation."

Students of kajukenbo are trained in counterattacks against grabbing, punching, and knife and club assaults. It's a method based on real-life scenarios.

Emperado and his four friends came back to Honolulu after serving in World War II to develop a more efficient way of fighting. The rough-and-tumble streets of the Palama Settlement became their proving ground.

Small in stature, the men frequented hotels where rowdy, drunken soldiers and sailors were their unwitting sparring partners. They wanted to prove that large or athletic people didn't necessarily have an edge when it came to self-defense.

Many instructors trained by Emperado were Air Force personnel stationed in Hawaii. They spread the discipline to Europe and opened schools.

A fellow Marine introduced Watson to the martial art while he was stationed in San Diego, Calif. In 1993, Emparado's pupil Allen Abad taught Watson the style.

Eight years later, Watson was promoted as one of Abad's assistants.

After retiring from the Marines in 1998, Watson moved his family to San Antonio, which has fewer martial arts schools and is more affordable than California.

"It's too expensive out there," Watson said. "I wanted to try my own school and see how I'd fare. They always say find something you enjoy doing, and this is what I enjoy."

Watson's students range from children to adults in their 50s. Lessons are matched to age groups.

Adults are moved into street-fighting lessons sooner than the young students, who focus on physical fitness, motor-skill development and basic self-defense.

Watson teaches his students defensive moves for almost any type of confrontation, including what to do if they are attacked by more than one assailant.

The main idea is not defeating attackers, but getting out of a bad situation with life and limb intact, he explained.

"(We) teach them how to use 'catch-them-off-guard' techniques," he said.

Watson, a fifth-degree black belt, taught his wife the self-defense system a year before opening their school.

Diane Watson said kajukenbo is very beneficial, especially for women.

"There have been times when I've been out and approached by someone," she said. "And this individual, there's no doubt he was up to no good."

The Watsons stay in close contact with Abad and travel once a year to Mesa, Ariz., to train with him.

Abad, 53, learned his craft from Larry Kawaauhau, a student of one of Emperado's disciples in Hawaii. Today, Emperado is retired and lives in San Diego with his sister.

"We never pose, we just stand upright and don't face off," Abad said of kajukenbo's techniques. "We wait until someone is two feet in our reach; that's when we explode, going to the groin and blocking punches. That wakes up people real quick and they think, 'This guy really knows something.'"

Ten of Abad's black-belt students have opened schools across the country, and three of them - including Steve Watson's school - are in Texas.

Though kajukenbo is a discipline that teaches the use of force for defensive measures, students are encouraged to be happy, not arrogant.

"Today we're in turmoil with war already," Abad said. "Anybody can fight. It's about good communication with each human being to have world peace."

"It makes you aware of your surroundings and the many things we can do to get away from any attackers," Diane Watson added. "We try to help people build up their confidence."

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Don Gwinn
January 25, 2003, 04:08 PM
I've trained and sparred a bit with a K'bo practicioner. I noticed the power, but not the peace. ;) Also not sure how "peace" figures into an art with no meditation, no emphasis on avoiding a fight, and which was developed by going around picking fights in bars.

I'm not picking on Kajukenbo here, by the way. I'm picking on newspapers.

D_Burchfield
January 25, 2003, 04:54 PM
Don't know much about kajukenbo, but I have trained for many years in David German's system of Transition Action Incorporated.
This system also "blends" several different styles, all of which Sensei German is a Master (Si Lum Kung-Fu, Kenpo with Ed Parker, Jiu-Jitsu and Shotokan Karate). The idea that different styles can be combined is not new, although it kind of sticks in the craw of many traditionalists and "purists":D. IMHO, if a technique works for an individual it should be incorporated into their arsenal regardless of the style from which it is gleaned. Of course, proper instruction and training with the technique is a must until it becomes second nature. If you are interested in blended styles check out Mr. German's website at www.davidgerman.com.

Best,

Doug

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