History > Who's Who in Kajukenbo

Grandmaster John Ramos


John Bishop:

Professor John Ramos was born in 1935 in the city of Pahala, on the big island of Hawaii. He spent his childhood moving from island to island with his parents and learning to work and help earn money for the family at a very young age. 

When John Ramos was 17 years old, he began taking Judo lessons at the school of Master Henry Okazaki. At age 18 he showed a huge interest in boxing, so much so, that he trained daily in a local boxing gym and lived the life of a boxer for several years.

One day while walking home from the grocery store, he encountered a man in a car that would change his life forever. The man in the car stopped at the crosswalk and motioned to John to cross the street. As John proceeded, the driver stepped on the gas. John stepped back and stared down the driver. The driver again waived for John to go, but this time, John waived to the man to go ahead and drive on. As the car moved forward, John and the driver of the car, stared at each other with the look of death. As John came into his house, he saw a man in his home sitting on the couch looking back at him, low and behold, it was the driver of the car, a man named Joe Emperado. Joe Emperado was a good friend and old classmate of Paulie Seronio. 

As all three men conversed, the word Karate was mentioned by Joe Emperado to John Ramos and Paul Seronio. John and Paul never heard of Karate, and were curious as to what Karate consisted of. Joe Emperado wanted to demonstrate how effective Karate could be, but he needed someone to demonstrate a technique on, so he asked John to stand up and to throw a punch. John was confused, but very willing to throw a punch at Joe Emperado, due to the earlier incident with the car. As John stood up to throw his punch, he had every intention of cracking Joe Emperado square in the jaw. As he threw his punch, Joe Emperado demonstrated a technique, that was so fast and so powerful, that John thought that the house caved in on him, and all of it landed on his head and back. As John picked himself off of the floor, he was sold that Kajukenbo was the style for him. 

Professor John Ramos began training at the dojo with Joe Emperado and several other students at the Palama Settlement in 1955. After a year of training with Joe Emperado, John moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1956. He first began training with Richard Tokomoto, and when his older brother Ahgung Tony Ramos moved to Los Angeles in 1959 and opened a dojo of his own, John began to train under him with his classmates, Richard (toko) Tokomoto, Kenneth (toothpick) Kim, Stephen (portagee) Silva, Samuel (cal) Kahluna, Arnold (dunk) Dungca, Marcelo (junior) Molina, Jaime and George Hernandez, and Simlick. In 1960, after several years of grueling training, and bone breaking techniques that only Kajukenbo students would apply on each other, John finally received his Black- Belt from Ahgung Tony Ramos. 

In 1963 Professor Ramos moved to San Francisco to find work and again was reunited with his older brother Ahgung Tony Ramos. While starting his new life in San Francisco, he started teaching at a Kajukenbo school, owned and operated by Grand Master Joe Halbuna. Professor Ramos opened his own martial arts school in San Francisco, in 1968 in his own garage teaching only a few neighbor kids. As time went on, the class began to grow and grow. Professor’s school grew so big that he could no longer train all of his students in his garage, so he decided to find a bigger location, and open up his own Dojo, starting San Francisco Kajukenbo in 1969. He ran his school for several years and decided to retire. 

Although Professor Ramos no longer has a school, he is still very much involved with Kajukenbo always sharing his knowledge and philosophy that he learned from his original instructor, Joseph Emperado. He still has the old way of doing techniques, which is destroy any and all moving parts. He often oversees training that a few of his grand Nephews partake in. Professor Ramos is living in San Francisco with his wife and he is doing very well.

Uncle John...rather Professor John Ramos is still hard as nails. I'm the instructor of Seronio Kajukenbo here in Vallejo. GrandMaster Emil Bautista and Professor John Ramos are among the active board members of my school. Just don't ask Professor John Ramos to demonstrate a technique cause till this day he still can break bones.

Uncle John Ramos is one of the old pioneers to bring the Kajukenbo to the mainland who is still alive, big credit goes to him for help to make this fine art of ours with his knowledge and teaching

Happy birthday uncle John


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