Three months after his passing, Adriano Directo Emperado Sijo, Founder of the Kajukenbo system of Martial Arts and the Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute (KSDI), is still missed by his loyal following in the martial arts. The master passed away quietly in his sleep last April 4, 2009, 11:15 P.M., in the island of Maui, Hawaii. He was 82.
Adriano was born to Filipino-Hawaiian parents as one of seven siblings on June 16, 1926 in the small community of Kalihi, Kalihi-Palama District of the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Kajukenbo, America’s first Martial Arts system, is an eclectic system of Martial Arts founded by the Black Belt Society. Its name is the contraction of the names of the arts of its founders - KA for Korean Karate from Peter Young Yil Choo (Tang Soo Do black belt and welterweight Boxing champion), JU for Jujitsu from Frank Ordonez (Se Keino Ryu black belt) and Judo from Joe Holke (8th degree Kodokan Judo), KEN for Kenpo (and Escrima) from Adriano Emperado (5th degree Kara-ho Kenpo), and BO for Chinese Boxing from Clarence Chang (Sil Lum Pai master). When the Korean War broke out, the four co-founders of Kajukenbo were drafted and Adriano was left to carry the system on. He was credited with further developing the system and propagating it.
Adriano started martial arts training under his father and uncle, who were professional boxers. At 11, he learned the 12 basic strikes of the indigenous Filipino Martial Art (FMA) Eskrima in Kauai. At 14, he studied Judo under Taneo Sensei at the Palama Settlement Gym. At 20, he learned under Prof. William K.S. Chow, a student of Kenpo Jiu-jitsu Master James Mitose, at the Catholic Youth Organization. He eventually became the Master Chow’s Chief Instructor and a 5th Degree Black Belt. Emperado started his first Kajukenbo school in 1950 at the Palama Settlement Gym. In his 30s, he continued training in Escrima under his stepfather, Alfredo Peralta, who taught a solo baston method.
Emperado studied Choy Li Fut under Prof. Lau Bun and Northern Shaolin under Prof. Wong. After years of practice, Emperado was awarded the title professor and a rank of 10th Degree by these teachers and the Hawaii Chinese Physical Culture Association, the first Chinese Kung Fu school outside of China.
Master Emperado sat on the Hawaii Karate Rules board, which established standards for tournaments used throughout Hawaii. He also promoted and officiated at many major Karate tournaments in the locality.
Master Emperado served as a harbor policeman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation for 14 years and for the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office for a year, when he also served as bodyguiard to the governor. From there, he was employed as security director for a large company. He worked in the corporate security field until a heart attack struck him in 1982.
Kajukenbo gave rise to hundreds of Kenpo offshoots although there are 4 recognized major branches: the Original Method/Kenpo Karate branch (1947-1949), Tum Pai (1959-1966), Chuan Fa (1966), and Won Hop Kuen Do “Combined Fist art”. Among the other offshoots include American Shaolin Kempo, Body Defense, CHA-3 Kenpo, Godins Chinese Kenpo, Hawaiian Kenpo, Kenka Kung Fu, Kenkabo, Karazenpo Go Shin Jitsu, Lima Lama, Nick Cerio's Kenpo, Quatekenpo, Ukidokan Karate, Universal Kenpo Schools, Won Hop Kune Do, etc.