1947 – Kajukenbo was founded in 1947 in the Palama Settlement on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. In the late 1940’s, the Palamas Settlement was a very violent area where stabbings, fistfights, and killings were common. The five black belts who were responsible for creating Kajukenbo are: Peter Y. Y. Choo, Joseph Holck, Frank Ordonez, Adriano Emperado and Clarence Chang. These five martial artists got together and trained, and learned from each other to develop this effective ideal fighting art.
1950s – Kajukenbo Self-Defense Institute, Inc. (K.S.D.I.) started in the 1950’s when Adriano Emperado along with his brother, Joe Emperado, opened a school after the Black Belt Society split up. The training continued to be physically intense, hard and very demanding. Nevertheless, the reputation of this tough new art drew more students and Emperado opened a second school. Soon, Emperado had 12 Kajukenbo schools in Hawaii, making it the second largest string of schools at that time.
1958 – Kajukenbo came to California in the winter of 1958. The late John Leoning, who trained under Adriano Emperado and his brother Joe Emperado, left Hawaii to venture out and bring Kajukenbo to the mainland after Joe passed away. With the blessings of Emperado and the Black Belt Society, he had a letter/certificate that wished him well on his venture to California to expand Kajukenbo outside of Hawaii. Hawaii was still a territory of the United States, and John was the first Kajukenbo instructor to teach and practice Kajukenbo outside of Hawaii. His modest beginning was on a small Sunset Blvd. location in Los Angeles. His teaching style was no different from when he was teaching in Hawaii. His classes were 3 hours long, 6 nights per week, plus Saturday afternoons. All of this he would fit in while working full time during the day.
1960s – In the 1960’s, wearing protective gear was unheard of at that time. Competitors only wore white gi’s (uniforms) and were very traditional. Whenever Carlos’ students walked into a tournament, they were considered “outlaws,” because they wore black gi’s and executed very hard contact and were considered non-traditional, because the ideal of “mixed martial arts” was unheard of and not recognized at that time.
1968 – Rick Kingi began teaching in a garage in late 1968. He taught in his father-in-law’s garage in Bell Gardens, California. By the way, Kajukenbo started in a garage in Hawaii. One of his first students was his wife Elaine. He then taught in his brother’s garage in Los Angeles. In the summer of 1981, he opened up his very first Kajukenbo school at 209 N. La Brea Ave. in Inglewood, California. His wife was one of his first black belts. His four children: Rick Jr., Ronnie, Kimberly and Robert also were his students and all are now black belts. His youngest son Robert grew up at the school and has been training ever since he was born in 1982.
Today – Robert Kingi still teaches his students like he was taught from his instructor. He still emphasizes and stresses the importance of good foot work, horse stance, basics, forms, technique, and fighting. He deals with “reality,” and teaches his student how to protect themselves on the streets. Students are judged by their ability to show good basics, good foot work, good technique and good form. He also hopes to take Kingi’s Kajukenbo to the next level, adding new programs, getting back out onto the tournament circuit and dominating like the days of his youth, and reaching, teaching, and helping as many people and families as possible.
The system of Kajukenbo has grown so much over the years since coming to California in 1958. Kajukenbo has since expanded throughout the United States, not to mention in many countries throughout the world.