Jiu-Jitsu is in Kajukenbo
Kajukenbo and Kosho-Ryu have been studied under Sr. Grand Master Tony Bowles for the past 25 years. Prof. Bishop explains how jiu-jitsu (Kajukenbo) has always been in the fabric of Kajukenbo.
jiu-jitsu is all the rage due in significant part to the Gracie family’s efforts. Their exploits have changed the way many of today’s karate, and kung fu stylists think. No longer can others claim that they don’t need to grapple because they will finish a fight before it goes to the ground. In answer to this assertion, the Gracie’s have taken on all comers and proved that you better know how to grapple if you want to be prepared to defend yourself on the street. Although this concept of adding grappling techniques to martial artists’ knowledge may seem new, it’s not. Decades before the Gracie family brought their jujitsu to America, the founders of Kajukenbo were incorporating jiu-jitsu techniques into their new system.
Somewhere, sometime, someone came up with the statistic that 97% of all fights will end up on the ground. No one knows where this statistic came from, and it’s very doubtful that any studies have ever been conducted that can authenticate this claim. Nonetheless, the truth is that some, perhaps even the majority, of fights will eventually end up on the ground.
Should you prepare yourself for this eventually? If you are into sports karate, you will never need grappling skills, but if you’re interested in self-defense, you better know what to do if somebody tackles you before you can punch or kick them.
Numerous grappling systems exist, such as judo, jiu-jitsu, aikido, chinna, and wrestling. Jujitsu is possibly the most versatile of these systems because it includes techniques similar to those in other popular grappling systems. Jiu-jitsu contains the joint locks in aikido and Chinese martial arts and the throws and ground fighting techniques in judo and wrestling. It also includes a myriad of strikes, kicks, and chokes.
Jujitsu techniques play an essential part in Kajukenbo’s self-defense combinations. Through much trial and error, the system’s founders discovered that certain self-defense situations were much better handled with jujitsu techniques. Knife and club defenses were just two circumstances where jiu-jitsu techniques excelled. When faced with an attacker armed with a knife or club, a typical karate stylist would block or evade the attack and then counter-attack with a kick or hand strike.
If the attacker were not disarmed or disabled by this counter-attack, the process would have to be continued as often as it would take to end the threat. Kajukenbo stylists feel that in that attack, the primary concern is to seize and control the arm holding the weapon; any strike or kick should follow the jujitsu technique.
In the past, many people have made attempts to combine jujitsu with karate or kung fu. These people’s main dilemma is making jiu-jitsu techniques flow smoothly in combination with their karate or kung fu techniques. One obstacle is that jiu-jitsu stances and movements are very different from karate or kung-fu stances and actions.
When someone adds jujitsu techniques to their karate or kung fu techniques, what is immediately evident is the total lack of smooth-flowing transitional movements. Because the three systems are very different, there is a need for alteration to prevent wasted and awkward movements between transitional movements.
Although classical jiu-jitsu joint locks are used in Kajukenbo, many are altered so that they can be executed from karate stances, such as the cat or horse stance. Using these stances, the stepping patterns become more compact, and transitions into karate techniques can be made quickly and smoothly. An example of this alteration would be a defense against a straight-throwing knife attack.
A jiu-jitsu stylist will often step back and turn in a circular movement that goes away from the thrust. After seizing the attacker’s wrist, step back again with the opposite foot and turn in the reverse direction to complete an inward wrist lock. A Kajukenbo stylist would take a quick step to the side and turn into a cat stance in the same scenario. The attacker’s wrist would then be caught in this position. Instead of stepping back to execute the wrist lock, the Kajukenbo stylist would rotate back toward the attacker to achieve the wrist lock. From that position, the defender can control the attacker and execute a low kick to further expedite the takedown.
jiu-jitsu techniques are unsurpassed when the defender’s sole purpose is to gain physical control of the attacker. For this reason, Kajukenbo stylists are trained to use jujitsu techniques alone and in combination with other techniques. When fighting an armed or highly aggressive attacker, the Kajukenbo stylist will often use jujitsu locks to control and position the attacker for a follow-up strike or kick.
If the attacker is not quickly taken down, a knee break kick will significantly help take him down to the ground. jiu-jitsu techniques can also be used to disjoint and render the arm holding the weapon useless.
In cases where the attacker is not armed, jiu-jitsu techniques can be used anytime during a self-defense combination. They may be the first technique executed and then followed up with a takedown or strike, or they may be executed after the attacker is softened up with strikes or kicks.
In conclusion, Kajukenbo stylists discovered long ago that, with little modification, jiu-jitsu techniques blend well in combination with their karate and kung fu techniques and greatly enhance their effectiveness in self-defense combinations.
The direct result of American resourcefulness is Kajukenbo. It is also America’s first martial art system, founded in 1949 in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii. The concept of Kajukenbo came about in 1947 when five Hawaiian martial arts masters, calling themselves the “Black Belt Society,” started a project to develop an unbeatable self-defense system. Among these five creative men was Peter Choo, the Hawaii welterweight boxing champion and a Tang Soo Do black belt. Frank Ordonez, a Sekeino jiu-jitsu black belt. Joe Holck, a Kodokan Judo black belt. Clarence Chang, a master of Sil-lum Pai kung-fu and Adriano D. Emperado, a Chinese Kenpo black belt and Escrima master.
For three long years, these men trained for several hours daily, taking advantage of each other’s strengths and weaknesses to develop their new art. When Joe Holck and Peter Choo worked out on the same day, Holck could see that he needed to improve his striking techniques, and Choo would realize how vulnerable he was once he was on the ground.
With quick multiple-hand strikes, Emperado was able to show Choo how a Kenpo man could work inside a kicker. In turn, Chang showed the others how the circular, flowing techniques of Sil-lum Pai could enhance their hard linear strikes. Frank Ordonez showed everyone how they could go with an attacker’s force and then re-direct it against him to dislocate and disable the attacking limb.
Kenpo would be the heart of this system, including tang soo do kicks, jujitsu joint locks, judo throws, and sil-lum pai circular techniques. Joe Holck suggested that the name of this new system should be “Kajukenbo.” Ka for karate, Ju for judo and jiu-jitsu, Ken for Kenpo, and Bo for Chinese boxing (kung fu). Since those early days, Kajukenbo has grown into a major martial art that is practiced worldwide.