The Original Curiculum of Kajukenbo/Karazenpo


Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Jan 16, 2006
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Hey I'd love to finally meet you Jesse. You bet. :)


Yellow Belt
Apr 3, 2015
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I spent last saturday visiting with Sijo Emperado, and we talked a little bit about John Leoning and Sonny Gascon. I was under the impression that Gascon was a first generation Kajukenbo black belt, because his name is listed under Sijo Emperado on our family tree. Sijo told me that Gascon was in fact John Leoning's student, but that he came under Sijo Emperado after Leoning died in 77. This tells us that there was possibly a relationship between Karazempo and Kajukenbo at that time.
Sijo told me that Leoning was one of his early students from the Palama Settlement school.
When Marino Tiwanak started his school at the CHA-3 building, Sijo told Tiwanak he could pick 5 senior students to be his assistants. John Leoning was one of those students. Leoning only stayed at the CHA-3 school for two months before coming back to Palama.
As to early (50-60s) Kajukenbo techniques, there were originally 8 Palama Sets (Pinions), and most of the other techniques, "punch counters", "grab arts", "knife counters", "club counters", etc. were in place.
Important thing to remember, many of the early Kajukenbo teachers were not black belts when they started their schools. They primarily came to the mainland to find employment. (But like when Gracie Jiujutsu came here in the 90's, people were hungry for the knowledge, so color belts started teaching.)
John Leoning was not yet a black belt when he first started teaching in California. Unlike now days where everyone has a video camera, people on the mainland in the 50-60's could not keep up with the developments occuring in Hawaii. So they supplemented their training with what was availiable in their areas.
As to the techniques that John Leoning and Sonny Gascon taught, they are somewhat differant. (My first Kajukenbo instructor was from the Leoning lineage, and I know some of Leoning's first black belts, so I've seen their techniques.) I've never seen Karazempo techniques, so I can't say whether there are slightly or vastly differant then Leoning's.
The best example of the "Original Method" is in the 2 video series produced by GM Gary Forbach. The "Panther Productions" series,and the "World Kajukenbo Organization" series. All the taping of the WKO series were personally supervised by Sijo Emperado to make sure they were "original teachings".

I'm not sure about all the techniques from the 50s-60's. But by the end of the 60s there were: 14 Palama Sets, 21 Punch Counters, 15 Grab Arts, 13 Club Counters, 15 Knife Counters, 26 Alphabets, 8 Two Man Counters, 6 Three Man Counters, 1 Four Man Counter.
Mr. Bishop,
I know this thread and your comment on it are several years old. But in your comments concerning Kajukembo material. You mentioned 26 Alphabets. What exactly is that? Thank you for your consideration.


Senior Master
Mar 20, 2004
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I don't think that Prof. Bishop posts on here anymore, but I am a little familiar with their art if you don't mind me answering.

Sijo Emperado created the "Alphabet Techniques" as advanced punch counters based more heavily on the "kenpo" aspect of the art. Each technique is representing by a letter for their naming. They were passed on in Sijo Emperado's "hard line" Kajukenbo approach, also called the "original" or "Emperado Method". There are variations among some schools as they each put their own stamp on things as time has passed.

here is an example by Prof. Bishop's students of "Alphabet B"