Fierce, Brutal, effective-these are just a few of the words used to describe Kajukenbo, widely considered the first martial art created in the United States.

Kajukenbo, a combination of five combat systems, gained its tough reputation decades ago in what was then the U.S. territory of Hawaii, where the style was synthesized. Kajukenbo’s no-nonsense approach to self-defense has earned the style recognition worldwide as an efficient fighting art. Five martial arts teachers formulated Kajukenbo in 1947. Calling themselves the “Black Belt Society,” they collaborated on a project to develop a comprehensive self-defense system. These five men were Peter Choo, the Hawaiian welterweight boxing champion and a black belt in Tang-Soo-do; Frank Ordonez, a Sekeino Jujitsu black belt; Joe Holck, a Kodokan Judo black belt; Clarence Chang, a master of Sil lum pai kung fu; and Adriano D. Emperado, an Escrima expert and black belt in Chinese Kenpo.

They created a new and highly comprehensive art by sharing the strengths and weaknesses of each others’ systems, and after deciding that Kenpo would serve as the foundation from which to build, the five martial artists began an arduous three- yearprocessofincorporatingTang-Soo-Dokicks,Jujitsujointlocks,Judothrows, and Sil lum pai circular techniques into one fighting system. Lacking a name for this new style, Holck suggested the system be called Kajukenbo (Ka from Karate, ju from Judo and Jujitsu, ken from Kenpo, and bo for Chinese boxing or Kung Fu). Kajukenbo was then founded in 1949, and their first school began in 1950.