Posted On:6/17/2009 1:04pm
Adriano D. Emperado, American Martial Arts Pioneer
Dies at 82
Maui, Hi.—Adriano Directo Emperado, founder and creator of the Kajukenbo martial art system, passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 4, 2009 of pneumonia, according to his family. He was 82.
Emperado, born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 15, 1926, was a true pioneer and innovator in the martial arts world. He started his self defense training at the age of 8, with boxing lessons from his father and uncle. Both men were professional boxers at the time.
At the age of 11 he was exposed to escrima while living with his older brother in Kauai. There he learned the basic 12 strikes of escrima. At age 14 he found himself back in his old Palama neighborhood. There he trained briefly in judo under Sensei Taneo at the Palama Settlement Gym.
A World War II veteran, Emperado was drafted into the Army at the young age of 19, and assigned to the 1st Filipino Regiment. Upon completing basic training, he was sent to the Philippines as a corpsman with the 3rd Battalion Medic’s Corps.
After the war in 1946, he returned to Hawaii and continued his martial arts training at the Catholic Youth Organization in Honolulu. There he learned kenpo from the legendary Professor William K.S. Chow. Emperado trained daily with Chow and soon became his first black belt, and later chief instructor, 5th degree.
Emperado’s greatest contribution to the martial arts was his co-founding and propagation of the Ka-ju-ken-bo system. In 1947, decades before the word “mixed martial arts” became the a common phrase, Emperado and 4 other young martial artists started formulating an American mixed martial art. In 1949 their efforts to merge techniques from karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo, and Chinese boxing (kung fu) into one martial art was successful. In addition to techniques from these five Asian arts, techniques and concepts from western boxing and Filipino escrima were also blended into the system.
Later in 1949, the Korean War and other circumstances led to a unavoidable breakup of the five founders. This left Emperado to carry on with the new art.
Emperado took a handful of students he had been training at the Halawa Housing Unit, and started the first official Kajukenbo school at the Palama Settlement Gym in 1950. The workouts that took place there are legendary for their brutality. Emperado was often quoted as saying that, “a workout isn’t over until I see blood on the floor.” He felt that “you have to experience pain before you can give it. You have to know what your technique can do." He lost a lot of students in those days, but he also gained a lot from other schools, including black belts.
With the success of the Palama Settlement school, Emperado started expanding. He left the teaching at the Palama school to his younger brother Joe, while he started classes at the Kaimuki Y.M.C.A. and the Wahiwa Y.M.C.A.. Soon the Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute of Hawaii, Inc. was the largest chain of karate schools in Hawaii. Unlike the modern chain schools where money is king, Emperado's students paid $2.00 a month to train.
Emperado also became instrumental in the development of tournament karate in Hawaii. He sat on the Hawaii Karate Rules Board, which established standards for competition used throughout the islands.
A lot of Emperado's acute knowledge of street fighting came from his many years in law enforcement. He had spent 14 years working the docks as a harbor policeman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation. And a year with the Hawaii Attorney General's Office. While with the Attorney General's Office he served as a body guard to the governor. He then entered the private sector as the security director for the Kukui Plaza. He worked in the corporate security field until he suffered a heart attack in 1982.
All of his life Emperado had studied various martial arts. In his 30s he expanded his knowledge of escrima by training with his step father Alfredo Peralta. About the same time he started a serious study of various kung fu systems. He studied under Professor Lau Bun of the Choy Li Fut system and Professor Wong of the Northern Shaolin system.
Several years later he was awarded a 10th degree professor certificate by Grandmaster Ho Gau of Hong Kong, appointing him as a advisor and representative of the Choy Li Fut system. This certificate was signed by Grandmaster Ho Gau, Professor Cheuk Tse, and the directors of the Hawaii Chinese Physical Culture Association. This was truly an accolade when one considers that the Hawaii Chinese Physical Culture Association was the first kung fu school outside of China.
Because he had been exposed to many fighting systems Emperado had always been one to welcome innovation. Unlike most of the traditional systems, his Kajukenbo evolves constantly. To date there are 4 main styles and many methods within the kajukenbo system. Then there are also numerous “Hawaiian Kenpo” styles that trace their early roots to Emperado.
In his lifetime Emperado had seen his kajukenbo style grow into a major martial art system that is practiced all across the United States and in 36 countries.
Adriano Emperado is survived by a large family, including his sister, Dechi, sons, Alvin, and Arthur. Two daughters, Darby and Sonnie. Two step sons, Clarence and Eric. Four step daughters, Veronica, Christine, Penny, and Cheryl. And 33 grandchildren.
pro nonsense self defense
Posted On:6/22/2009 12:41am
Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs
I think he should be considered for Badass of the Month.
Posted On:6/23/2009 10:27am
Style: Kyokushinkai / Kajukenbo
RIP OSU! and RESPECT
"Preparing mentally, the most important thing is, if you aren't doing it for the love of it, then don't do it." - Benny Urquidez
Posted On:6/28/2009 10:15pm
Posted On:6/29/2009 6:29am
Rest In Peace, Sir.
Posted On:7/02/2009 11:57pm
Style: Tracy Kenpo
Much respect, I have had the pleasure of working with George Lim who is an 8th black under Sijo Emperado and his legacy will live on.
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