Author Topic: Understanding Kajukenbo and the art we teach  (Read 3630 times)

Offline Mitch Powell

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Understanding Kajukenbo and the art we teach
« on: January 18, 2015, 03:08:29 PM »

When I was in graduate school finishing up my master’s degree in criminal justice studies I was required to do a lot of research.  During the process it caused me to question what I really knew about Kajukenbo. Sure, I knew all the techniques and forms like the back of my hand, but I should after 40 years of practice—just as anyone of us should, especially those with a higher rank. The question I posed to myself was not whether I knew my knowledge but, instead, what was Sijo Emperado trying to teach us with the development of Kajukenbo?
Sijo Emperado could have remained a kenpo practitioner and gone on to be a legend in kenpo. He really didn’t need to create his own system. He was going to be special no matter what art he practiced. I think anyone can see that. He was a truly gifted martial artist. As I considered my research of Kajukenbo, I began to think about what I wanted to learn and I came up with the following questions:

•   How many techniques did Sijo teach in the original method?
•   How are the Palama Sets/Pinans related to the techniques?
•   How many techniques contain left handed strikes?
•   How many techniques contain left leg kicks?
•   What makes Kajukenbo different from the kenpo?

I’d like to start by saying, the version of Kajukenbo I broke down is the original method hard-line Kajukenbo that I teach, which contains 21 Punch Counters (plus some “A” techniques), 15 Grab Counters, 15 Knife Defense Techniques, 13 Club Defense Techniques, 8 Two-Man Attack Defense Techniques, 6 Three-Man Attack Defense Techniques, 26 Alphabet Techniques, and 14 Palama Set Forms.

I realize the number of techniques and forms can vary from school to school and teacher to teacher. The point of this research is not question what anyone teaches, but to help other teachers analyze what they teach to their students, and to help students analyze what they are learning. 

The first thing I looked at was the number of techniques in the original method as it was taught to me. The original method system that I teach contains the following:

•   27 Punch Counters (21 Primary Techniques + 6 “A” Techniques)
•   15 Grab Counters
•   15 Knife Defense
•   13 Club Defense
•   8 Two-Man Defense
•   6 Three-Man Defense
•   26 Alphabets (Advanced Punch Counters)
•   110 Total Techniques

Note: Although there are 21 Punch Counters, some teachers have added “A” techniques, “B” techniques, and so forth, which are usually techniques that are very similar to another technique but have a different ending. As an example, with my punch counters, I teach a 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, 6a, and 7a technique. So, although there are 21 primary punch counters with the six “A” techniques, I teach a total of 27 punch counters. Some may teach more, others less. 

So what can we learn from the number of techniques taught in the original method?
I think you have to compare that to what you teach today. I say that because some teachers have added a lot of techniques to their system. Based on this research, the first wave of teachers where only required to learn somewhere in the area of 110 techniques. I will say from past experience, if a system is too large then the student spends most of their time trying to remember it, instead of perfecting it.

How are the Palama Sets/Pinans related to the Kajukenbo techniques?
Most of us have spent considerable time breaking down the forms to come up with self defense and fighting applications. I sure know I have. I can say the same for my teachers, especially SGM Bautista. He is constantly tearing forms apart and putting them back together trying to gain more and more insight into their applications. In this research, I decided to break the forms down in a different way and look for actual Kajukenbo techniques that match the techniques taught in the punch, grab, knife, club, 2-man, 3-man and alphabets. Here is what I found:

•   Form 1: The end of form 1 contains a partial application of grab counter 11 
•   Forms 2&3: Both forms contain the long inward/front ball kick combination from Alphabets A, D, G, & J, but the movement is done on the right side instead of the left
•   Forms 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9: No Kajukenbo techniques
•   Form 10: The form contains the two-hand block/strike from Club 7 & 13   
•   Form 11: The form contains the U-Punch from Alphabet H
•   Form 12: The form contains the takedown from punch counter 10
•   Form 13/14: No Kajukenbo techniques

So what can we learn from this research?
While there are some movements in the forms that match those done in the Kajukenbo techniques, none of the forms contain a complete Kajukenbo technique. Form 1 is the best example in its use of grab counter 11, but it does not contain the blocks at the start of the technique. While the forms do not possess actual Kajukenbo techniques, that does not mean they are not Kajukenbo. The movements in the forms, the striking, balance, tempo, timing, footwork, flow, etc. clearly match that taught within the Kajukenbo techniques.

How many techniques use a dedicated left handed strike?
The answer to this can vary a bit depending on your concept of the techniques, but the point is to provide a generalization as to how many times left handed strikes are used in the system.
•   Grab: 14 & 15
•   Punch: 4 &18
•   Club: 5, 6,9,12
•   Knife: 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11
•   2-Man: 3, 4, 6, 7, 8
•   3-Man: None
•   Alphabets: 21 of the 26 techniques use left handed strikes

How many techniques use left leg kicks?
Again, the answer can vary a bit depending on your concept of the techniques, but the point is to provide a generalization as to how many times left leg kicks are used in the system.
•   Grab: None
•   Punch: 3a, 11, 18
•   Club: 12
•   Knife: 3, 4
•   2-Man: 4, 6, 7, 8
•   3-Man: 1,2,3,6
•   Alphabets: 18 of the 26 techniques use left leg kicks

So, what can we learn from this research?
1.   40 of the 110 techniques use a dedicated left hand strike (Chop, back knuckle, hammer fist, etc.), however, 21 of those strikes are in the Alphabets.
2.   32 of the 110 techniques use left leg kicks. 18 of the 32 are found in the Alphabets
3.   Only 2 punch and 2 grab counters have left handed strikes. None of the grabs have a left leg kick and only three punch counters have a left leg kick. On the other hand, 18 of the 26 Alphabets have a left leg kick.
4.   The Alphabets are called the Advanced Punch Counters because they were designed to develop your left side. Without the Alphabets, Kajukenbo is primarily a right-handed system. With the Alphabets the system is fairly balanced between both sides. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

What makes Kajukenbo different than Kenpo?
Since Kajukenbo is a collection of karate, jujitsu/judo, kenpo, and boxing, I decided to look for the jujitsu and judo movements in each technique because they are really what separate Kajukenbo from kenpo. As I moved forward, I decide not to focus on how much of the technique contained what amount of kenpo or what amount of jujitsu and, instead, focused on whether the technique had a defined jujitsu/judo takedown or if the person was left standing. Here is what I found:

•   Grab:  4 of 15 techniques have a jujitsu/judo takedown (9, 12, 13, and 15)
•   Punch: 12 of 27 techniques have a jujitsu/judo takedown (3a, 4, 4a, 5a, 7, 7a, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17)
•   Club: Only one of the 13 club techniques doesn’t have a jujitsu/judo takedown (Number 1)
•   Knife:  Only 3 of the 15 knife techniques doesn’t have a jujitsu/judo takedown (1, 9, and 11)
•   2-Man and 3-Man: None of these techniques use jujitsu/judo or have a takedown
•   Alphabets: 6 of the 26 Alphabet techniques have a jujitsu/judo takedown (C, F, H, I, J, and O)

What can we learn from this research?
•   46 of the 110 techniques finish with a jujitsu/judo based takedown
•   Almost all weapon techniques use jujitsu/judo techniques  (24 of 28 techniques)
•   None of the multi-man attacks use any jujitsu/judo techniques or have takedowns. They are all completely kenpo based.

The original method of Kajukenbo is a small system consisting of approximately 110 self defense techniques and 14 forms. While the forms follow the concepts of Kajukenbo they do not directly use the techniques found within the rest of the system. The complete original method offers a good balance of both right and left side striking as well as a fairly even mix of striking and controlled takedowns. Without the Alphabets, the system is primarily a right handed system. Almost half the techniques have some sort of takedown. Nearly all weapon techniques use some form of jujitsu locking and takedowns. None of the multi-man attacks use any jujitsu or judo.

Based on this research, it appears Sijo Emperado offered some great insights. Teach a small system that can be perfected rather than a large system that requires constant memorization. When faced with a weapon control it. When faced with multiple attackers, use striking skills and avoid locking and engaging the attackers. Training your left side is required, but only after you trained your right side.
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Grandmaster Mitch Powell (Emperado Method)
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Offline Eugene Sedeno

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Re: Understanding Kajukenbo and the art we teach
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2015, 05:00:41 PM »
This information is very insightful and food for thought.

Teachers of the our art should continue to have an open mind, "beginners mind", to continue to grow and learn from our past in order to move into the future.

Sijo always stated that we should be creative and grow.  Something other arts don't want their practitioners to do.  This is something that was always impressed me about Sijo!

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Offline Bautista's

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Re: Understanding Kajukenbo and the art we teach
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2021, 06:18:53 PM »
another thought, how many opponents are you doing the technique against in the palama settlement/pinions forms or Ramos concentration movements.
Emil Bautista
Kajukenbo black belt (1966)