What Is Kajukenbo

Kajukenbo is a unique self defense system that combines select skills from five different martial arts. Those martial arts are represented in the four syllables of the KA-JU-KEN-BO name. The first syllable, KA, stands for Korean Karate; the second, JU, stands for Judo and Jiu Jitsu; the third, KEN, stands for Kenpo; the fourth, BO, stands for Chinese Boxing or Gung-Fu.

There is also a secondary meaning to these symbols. Chinese characters for KA, JU, KEN, and BO are Long Life, Happiness, Fist, and Style. Thus a philosophical meaning of Kajukenbo is, "Through the fist style, one gains long life and happiness."


The "KA" segment of Kajukenbo represents the kicking and striking techniques employed in the Korean Karate System of Tang Soo Do (Way of the Chinese Hand). Tang Soo Do is a composite system which is 60 % Soo Bahk Do, 30% Northern Chinese, and 10% Southern Chinese. The kicking techniques are Soo Bahk Do developed by Hwang Kee. Tang Soo Do Duk Kwan is pure self-defense oriented and has no sport application.


The "JU" segment of Kajukenbo represents Kodokan Judo. Japanese Judo (Gentle Way), is subdivided into four major classifications of techniques: Nage Waza (Throwing Techniques), Katame Waza (Holds and Locks), Shime Waza (Choking Arts), Atemi Waza (Attacking Vital Points with Strikes). Dr. Jigoro Kano is credited with founding Kodokan Judo in 1882. Judo is based on the combat techniques of Jiu Jitsu. Judo is sport oriented, however, its throwing techniques have evolved much further than those of its predecessor art of Jiu Jitsu. The throws and choking techniques are emphasized in Kajukenbo.


The "JU" segment of Kajukenbo also emphasizes Jiu Jitsu. Se Keino Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Dan Zan Ryu Hawaiian Jiu Jitsu are combined with Kenpo Jiu Jitsu techniques. Jiu Jitsu (Gentle Art) employes the same techniques as Judo, however it is not sport oriented. The emphasis is on throws, joint locks, and choking techniques. Shihan Joe Holck's instructor, Henry Sieshiro Okazaki, the founder of Dan Zan Ryu Jiu Jitsu, subdivided the system into Yawara (Releases), Nage No Kata (Throws), Shime No Kata (Constriction Techniques), and Oku No Kata (Combinations).


The "KEN" segment of Kajukenbo represnts Kenpo (Fist Law). Kajukenbo emphasized Kenpo and Jiu Jitsu techniques. Kenpo prioritizes its arts in the following order: punching and striking techniques, kicking techniques, throwing techniques, locks and choking techniques.

Koshoryu Kenpo (Old Pine Tree Method Fist Law) is the Kenpo System employed in Kajukenbo. It is a fist style of self defense which does not employ weapons. The Mitose family is purported to have taught the system for 21 generations. It is an art based on Chinese Shaolin and probably Okinawan Kenpo. Professor James M. Mitose taught this system to Professor William K.S. Chow. Professor Chow, whose family is Chinese, also incorporated the Shaolin techniques taught to him by his father. In Kajukenbo, emphasis was placed on Chinese Kenpo and a combination of techniques taught by Professor Chow and Professor Mitose.


The "BO" segment of Kajukenbo represents Chinese Boxing. Chinese Boxing is Chung-Kuo Ch'uan and is also referred to as Chuan Fa (Fist Style). The term Gung Fu translates as skill.

Chinese Boxing is divided into two major system styles. The Internal Systems (Yin or Soft Styles) and External Systems (Yang or Hard Styles). Most systems employ techniques from both. The Shaolin and Hung Gar systems are hard styles and Tai Chi Chuan and Hsing-I are soft styles.

Kajukenbo is primarily based on Kenpo and Hung Gar Systems stressing hard form or power techniques. The five basic Chinese Martial Arts are: Hung (Power Punches), Li (Pokes and Slaps), Mo (Blocking and Breaking), Choy (Kicks and Side Punches, and Fut (Sliding Techniques). These are the basis for the Shaolin System from which Chuan Fa and Kenpo originated.

These techniques are based on five animals: tiger, dragon, crane, leopard and snake. The tiger has strength and speed and relies on clawing and breaking techniques. The dragon is evasive and emphasizes kicking and whipping techniques. The crane is agile and yields; it disturbs the balance of its opponent and emphasizes the arms and blocking techniques. The leopard is fast and relies on internal strikes and close-in fighting. The snake is powerful and flexible; it strikes at vital points and emphasizes constriction techniques.

Kajukenbo's emphasis on Hung Gar systems evolved to include the softer style techniques of the Southern Chinese systems in 1959. The Northern styles characterized by their hard form long range techniques were combined with the Southern styles which emphasized close-in fighting techniques.


Kajukenbo is Hawaiian in origin and incorporates techniques of Hawaiian Lua. This system of defense relies on bone breaking and joint dislocation techniques.