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In 1947, in the Palama Settlement on Oahu, of Hawaii, five men got together to produce the first truly American martial art. These five martial artists were known as the Black Belt Society. 

They formed an alliance for two years, each contributing only the most effective techniques.

Eventually they formed a fighting style, not yet opened to the public, which they called Kajukenbo. 

The word Kajukenbo is a testimonial to the martial arts of the five original black belt practitioners. These were the men responsible and their respective styles. 

  • KA         P.Y.Y. Choo / Korean Karate - Tang Soo Do

  • JU         Frank Ordonez / Kodokan - Judo and Joseph Holck / Kodenkan - Jujitsu

  • KEN      Adriano Emperado / Chinese Kenpo Karate - Kosho-Ryu Kenpo

  • BO        Clarence Chang / Chinese Boxing or Shaolin Kung-Fu & North American Boxing


In 1949, the Korean War began, and the Black Belt Society was forced to split up. Sijo Adriano Emperado decided to take what had developed and opened the first school in Honolulu's tough Palama settlement. Adriano Emperado was assisted by his younger brother, Joe Emperado, who also studied Chinese Kenpo with William K.S. Chow. Joe Emperado became a major figure in the early days instilling within Kajukenbo its characteristic hard, physical workouts. At that time, the training was so rigorous that Emperado refused to take children into his school. 

From the beginning the Kajukenbo system was a close-knit, strong martial art in Hawaii. The two Emperado brothers controlled it with a strength based on respect and discipline. As they graduated more instructors, Kajukenbo grew to staggering proportions. 

In the 1960's, Kajukenbo was brought to the United States mainland. The prominent black belts who brought this devastating martial art form to California were Tony Ramos, Allege Reyes, Joe Halbuna, Al Dacascos and our very own Grandmaster Charles H. Gaylord. 


Grandmaster Charles H. Gaylord was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on September 24, 1936. Grandmaster Gaylord began training in Kajukenbo in 1953 at the age of 17 under Black Belt George (Paul) Seronio. Grandmaster Gaylord is a 10th Degree Black Belt. Grandmaster Gaylord falls under Kajukenbo founder, Sijo Adriano D. Emperado by rank. Grandmaster Gaylord is the head of the Kajukenbo Association of America which represents Kajukenbo "Gaylord Method". Grandmaster Gaylord is a member of the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame and was recently inducted into the Master's Martial Arts Hall of Fame, for life time achievements. 


Grandmaster Jimmy Willis was born in Berkeley, California. Grandmaster Jimmy Willis began training in Kajukenbo in 1976 under Black Belt Gabe Vargas. Grandmaster Jimmy Willis has been rated in the top 10 within the tournament circuit since the early 80's. In 1982 he was rated number #1 in Weapons, number #2 in fighting and number #8 in Kata, in Texas and Louisiana, by Karate Illustrated magazine in 1982-1988. In 1994 - 2012, Grandmaster Jimmy Willis was rated number #1 in Weapons number # 1 in Traditional Forms and number#1 in Open Kata. Grandmaster Jimmy Willis has been featured in Who's Who in American Martial Arts and on television teaching the Kajukenbo system. Grandmaster Jimmy Willis currently holds a 9th degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo and noted: Grandmaster Jimmy Willis holds a 6th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has his Grandmaster Degree in Escrima (Kabaroan). Grandmaster Jimmy Willis is also inducted into several different Martial Arts Halls of Fame. Such as: The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, The Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame, The Masters Martial Arts Hall of Fame, The North American Martial Arts Hall of Fame, The Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame, The March Madness Hall of Fame, The United States Council Of Martial Arts Hall Of Fame, USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame and USA Black Belt Hall of Fame and Elite Black Belt Hall of Fame, World Hall of Fame Sokeship Council and is in the Martial Arts History Museum in Burbank, California. 

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