Beginings Of Kajukenbo

SGM Al Dacascos


Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung Fu

The Beginings of Kajukenbo

We need not go into a detailed history of the original
beginning of Kajukenbo. Bear in mind that there have been
many interpretations of the history of KJKB. Depending on
the source, the history is fairly the same. What we are
interested in is the other major sections that Sijo (Founder)
Adriano. D. Emperado sanctioned. Let me begin with my
observation first hand into the creation of the other three.
Yes, three. There is no doubt of the mentality of the credited
co-founders of Kajukenbo back in the late forty’s (1947-49)
when they compounded their experiences to devise the very
first true American Mix Martial Arts system, hence,
The Black Belt Society prior to the name of KJKB- Kenpo-
karate. From this, the other branches of this fine premier art
of Hawaii sprouted forth. I had a few teachers in the striking
arts, ,…but the credit would definitely go to Chief Instructor
Sid Asuncion (decease in 1995), who developed many of the
shakers and movers and their off springs in Kajukenbo. Sid
Asuncion eventually branched out to call his form, Kenkabo.
At that time, late 50’s and early 1960’s we where just called
the Waipahu Kenpo-karate Club on the Island of Oahu,
Hawaii. We wore white karate top and bottom with a red tee
shirt on the inside. All the beginners at that time used only
white bottoms and Red T-shirts. For some of us who couldn’t afford those nice white bottoms, we acquired some of those
formed fitted white bottoms from Navy sailors who returned
back to their ships at Pearl Harbor wearing only their
underwear. It was not until a visit to our club by A.D Emperado in 1962
that we started the change of color of uniform from red and
white, to red inside and black outside. Back in 1963-64, Al
Dela Cruz commenced his classes at Palama Settlement,
Honolulu, Hawaii. I assisted in his classes. The three of us
hung around a lot and Chief Instructor Adriano D. Emperado
as he was called then, was ready for a different direction of
his art of Kajukenbo. The state of mind of A.D. Emperado at
that time while working as a Police Officer for the Harbor
Patrol was that he foresaw Kung-fu coming into its own in
world recognition very soon, as well as his vision on the
Filipino martial arts, the Korean arts and the grappling arts,
although not coming out in that order. Judo was already well
established in Hawaii.

In 1963, while Emperado visited Al Dela Cruz’s Palama
Settlement Kenpo-karate club, he claimed that a new name
called Tum Pai was developed out of KJKB using Southern style of Kung Fu and Tai-Chi Ch’uan. Al Dela Cruz helped
in converted the first two original Kajukenbo Kenpo-karate
Pinion’s (Katas or Kuens) to soft hand movements but the
foot pattern remained the same. Many of the hard solid
horse stances, were replaced with deep and very low cat
stances only typical of the Southern Chinese Sil-lum
systems. According to Emperado, Professor Wong a.k.a.
“Old Man Wong” of the Honolulu Chinatown Kung fu
Association recognized Emperado as a lethal force in the
Martial Arts movement in Hawaii and gave Emperado his
blessing to develop this “New Direction” as well as having
the Chinese Physical Cultural and Kung-fu Community
honoring him his “Professorship”. While Emperado
spearheaded the Tum-Pai section, Al Dela Cruz and myself,
Al Dacascos, became involved and were credited as being
the Co-founders of the Tum-Pai section. I was also studying
Sil-lum Pai Kung fu with Si-hing Eugene Ho as my primary
Instructor under Sifu Buck Sam Kong before he moved to
Los Angeles. I was just a novice in Sil-lum Pai but learned
fast, as I was intrigued with this new form of fighting skills
and as the third man on the totem pole, gave my input to
Tum-Pai. Adriano D. Emperado’s mindset at that time was
his frustration with Kajukenbo Kenpo-karate as it was going through growing pains with other Students and Instructors
who were going off in other directions.

In the winter of 1964, I moved to Northern California, Bay
Area, first to Daly City than over to Hayward, California from
Honolulu, Hawaii. I started a club in a garage but that soon
became too small as word got out that this strange oriental
fighting art was being taught. In my first club in a dance
Studio in Hayward, a place called Cherryland Hall, the
“School of Chinese Kempo-Kung-fu” got its official start.
In this location, it was acknowledged by Adriano D.
Emperado as a section of Kajukenbo soft style called Tum-
Pai. Within two years, I had developed technically in my
martial arts training methods as I became involved with a
group of Chinese in San Jose in their club called the San
Jose Chinese Physical Cultural Center. The instructor at
that place was a guy they called Sifu Paul Ng who was
instructing us in the Southern style called “Fu-chow” an
element out of the Hong-Ga Kin system. Also in that class
was Kam Yuen, later known for his choreography in the
“Kung Fu” series of the early 1970’s with David Chow
director and main character, David Carradine. Ron Lew who
now has the Tai-Mathis style of Kung fu in San Jose became a very close associate. In this tight group, I was the only
part-Chinese in a group of the original ten members. Our
focus was to learn the Northern style of Kung- Fu called
Northern Sil-lum or Northern Pak-Pai from Professor Wong
Jack Man, the person mentioned as the Kung-fu Instructor
that fought Bruce Lee in that controversial fight between the
two back in Oakland in the early 1060’s. I was competing
heavily in Northern California winning in form competition
using my Northern Pak-Pai forms, But fighting as a
Kajukenbo fighter with my own expression of kung-fu thrown
into it. My expression of fighting had not fully developed yet
but my fighters were beginning to make a name for
themselves in Northern California. Emperado and Dela Cruz
came up to visit my school during the summer of 1965 and I
sat with both of them explaining that we should not use the
term of Tum-Pai anymore and we should use the name
Ch’uan Fa instead. My reason for this was that the Tum-Pai
system was limited to the southern style and Tai Chi thus
using the “New” name, Ch’uan Fa would give us more lee-
way because now we had the Northern style forms as well
as the Southern style representation of various and selected
Kung fu movements. After my demonstration of long-range
movements, high jumping butterfly kicks, full circle sweeps as used in the Northern style, Emperado and Dela Cruz
realized that it would be appropriate to have the name of
Tum Pai completely eliminated and finally changed to
Ch’uan Fa. Thus, Ch’uan Fa in 1966 became sanctioned as
the second branch of Kajukenbo. Ch’uan Fa as many of you
are now familiar with, is a direct translation of Kempo, with
an “m” instead of the “n”. The name change also gave us a
more intense Chinese appeal. In the winter of 1966, the
Kajukenbo Association of America (KAA) was being formed
in Northern California and the School of Chinese Kempo-
Kung-Fu Emblem and Logo was selected to be the emblem
of Kajukenbo compared to the other five submitted. It was
also at this time frame that I told A. D. Emperado that it was
time for a major change in the system of proper titles to use.
From this point on, in the year of 1966, the respectful uses of
the Chinese titles were being integrated. Emperado was
now properly called “Si-Jo” (Founder), and the use of Sifu,
and the titles were beginning to get a strong foothold in the
Kajukenbo system. With Tum-Pai being dropped in 1966,
the name would not officially be brought back under the
Kajukenbo wing until April 14, 1984, in Portland, Oregon.
Sifu Jon Loren, unbeknownst to us, had picked up the name
and started to develop it by using the first two forms as the original and then began to add more with a heavier influence
of Tai-Chi, Hsing-hi, Chi-kung and the Chinese healing arts.

Al Dela Cruz and A.D. Emperado and I, were now leading
the “Research and Development Department” of this “New”
branch of Ch’uan Fa even though at that time, it wasn’t
called the R and D Department. Here in this phase, all three
of us realized the creativity and wealth of knowledge that the
Chinese Kung Fu systems could readily bring into
Kajukenbo. The Kajukenbo of that era, mainly, the KSDI of
Hawaii, under Robert “Twinkle” Kawakami, President and
Chairperson; The Kajukenbo Association of America, the
brain-child of Charles Gaylord along with its other founding
fathers; Al Reyes Sr., Joe Halbuna, Tony Ramos, and
myself, all fully recognized the influence of the “Soft” style in
Kajukenbo and Ch’uan Fa which was accepted along with
the “Hard” style Kenpo-karate. Kajukenbo Kenpo-karate and
Kajukenbo Ch’uan Fa were now officially the main stay.
Only two schools were teaching the Ch’uan Fa style. Al
Dela Cruz in Hawaii, and my school in the East Bay Area of
Northern California. The KAA at that time held everyone
together and we as Kajukenboists, were strong for a few
years. However, the direction and goals within the founding five members of the KAA and their second generation Black
Belts became apparent when some of the members became
hard core “Hard” stylist and would not give the “Soft” stylist
any due respect. Needless to say, old time feuds began to
creep back into the memories of the old timers. Not wanting
to be involved with this kind of politics, Al Reyes and myself
decided to form the International Kajukenbo Association
three years later in1969. Our goals deferred from the others
as we realized that the KAA was limiting itself to North
America only and that we need to expand internationally.
With my departure from the KAA and being one of the main
co-founders of the Ch’uan Fa section, many of the younger
generation Black Belts within the KAA “Hard” style Kenpo-
karate began to seek learning other forms of Kung fu to
enhance their own personal expressions and still call
themselves “Ch’uan Fa”. The problem with that is that we
had already established the criteria with set requirements to
become the Ch’uan-Fa practitioners as developed by the
three of us, Emperado, Dela Cruz and myself. Interesting
enough is the fact that GM Tony Ramos would drive down
from Fairfield and take private lessons from me so he could
fully understand the Ch’uan Fa concept. So were SOME of
the students of the “Hard Style Kenpo Section” without their instructor’s full knowledge of their doings. I handed over the
baton to Leonard Endrizzi and Bill Owens to continue the
development and research of the Ch’uan Fa section in
Kajukenbo here on the mainland when I found favor in Wun
Hop Kuen Do in 1968-69. Endrizzi passed away in 2005 and
Bill Owens had tendered his affiliation with Kajukenbo back
in 1999. This left only the only original Ch’uan-Fa co-
founder, Al Dela Cruz in Hawaii who had taken on the full
responsibility of that sector. Compounding this vacuum is
the fact that Emperado is not active in the development of
this branch and has pretty much left it up in the air or to
Grand Master Al Dela Cruz to do as he pleases. Another
factor is the fact that over the years, there has been no real
leadership in this sector and as it is now, nobody and
everyone uses the name, claiming they have some sort of
“soft” style techniques or Kung fu forms incorporated into
there Kenpo-karate. The reality is, Al Dela Cruz is the only
co-founder of that sector that has the original concept as
when we designed it back in the 1965-66. As for WHKD, it
was maturing into its own identity. Mainly my personal
expression of the Kenpo-karate, Tum-Pai, Ch’uan Fa and
other martial arts learned along the way, and the
expressions of the 25 Technical Fighting principles applied to combat. The political growing pains that was happening
within Kajukenbo and my move away from the West Coast to
the Mid-West, Denver, Colorado, made it easier for me to
focus on my own growth and development. In 1968 before
the name Wun Hop Kuen Do became sanctioned as the third
branch of Kajukenbo, much consideration was taken into
account. I was becoming more known to the martial arts
community because of bringing out and representing Kung
fu and Kajukenbo to the public forum. My own students, the
likes of Ted Sotelo, Eric Lee, Malia Bernal, Bill Owens,
Karyn Turner, Karen Shepard, Ken Lambert, Fred King, Mike
Sandos, my son Mark Dacascos, Art Camacho under Eric
Lee and the many top Germany WHKD individuals such as
Christian Wulf, Emanuel Bettencourt, were continuing to
make names for themselves, and these names only are just
a small portion of the vast pool of talents coming out of this
sector alone. “Wun Hop Kuen Do” means “Combine Fist
Arts”. I was in conflict with myself, as the Ch’uan Fa section
became more disarray. I wanted to separate my group from
all the political infighting and growing pains so I copped out
with a name change rightfully so with a friend by the name of
Billy Liu in Denver. What made WHKD different at that time
was the fact that many of the martial artists were traditionalist. Kajukenbo, even if it was classified as an
eclectic style or system, was by the nature of keeping order,
became traditional within its system. WHKD philosophy was
“anchored to the rock, but geared to time”. We were making
changes in the 60’s and 70’s while others panicked and
criticized. I was called the “Rebel” in the East Coast Martial
Arts magazines and Black Belt magazines, naming me the
Vince Lombardi of the martial arts because of my coaching
and teaching methods and the personalities that immerged
from Kajukenbo-WHKD. I was the very first Kajukenbo
Black Belt to be listed as a top ten fighter in the USA in the
prestigious Black Belt Magazine back in the early 1970’s and
realizing that or not at that time, did give Kajukenbo a push
forward. But Sam Allred of Albuquerque, New Mexico was
the very first Kajukenbo practitioner to be in the prestigious
Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame, and as “Man of the Year.

April 14, 1984 in Portland, Oregon, during a seminar that
was host by the Portland, Oregon Kajukenbo Group, Sifu
Jon Loren presented Sijo Emperado with Tum-Pai and the
requirements and criteria that would cause Emperado to sanction that section. It was the re-birth of Tum-Pai under a
new leadership and direction of Sifu Jon Loren.

The years of 1947-49 was said to be the birth of Kajukenbo,
via the Black Belt Society and its version of Kenpo-karate
with the co-founders of known five co-founders. Current
Status: Active

From 1963- 1966, the development of Tum-Pai was under
Adriano D. Emperado, Al Dela Cruz and Al Dacascos.

In 1666, the name of Tum-Pai was dropped and replaced
with Ch’uan-Fa with the direction of A.D. Emperado, Al Dela
Cruz and Al Dacascos. Current Status, Al Dela Cruz Head
of Original Ch’uan Fa Section

1969 Wun Hop Kuen Do comes into its own status under the
direction of Al Dacascos. Current Status: Active

1984 Re-birth of Tum-Pai under the direction of Jon Loren.
Current Status: Active

Picture of Senior Grand Master Al Dacascos

Senior Grand Master Al Dacascos

Kajukenbo-Wun Hop Kuenb Do Kung Fu

One thought on “Beginings Of Kajukenbo

  1. Met Sifu Decascos in the 70s while studing under Sifu Sam Allred. With Duke City Dojo. In Marines went to study on Okinawa. 74/5.

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