Karazenpo: the Confusing History

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by DAnjo, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Well, the true history of Karazenpo Go Shinjitsu, gets more confusing with time as more is written about it. I'll put down what I have found here, and perhaps others can be of assistance in the getting to the bottom of it.

    First off we have the information from Prof. Joe Shuras' Website. Shuras is the Mass. President of the KGSBBS, and his version goes like this:

    This is from the official website:
    ( http://www.milfordstudioofselfdefense.com/ )

    "Sonny Gascon would later send for his brother-in-law, Professor Walter L. N. Godin, a student of both Sijo Emperado and Professor William Kwai Sun Chow, to assist him in the 'founding' of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu.
    The highly talented David Kamalani also contributed to the system. Mr. Kamalani had opened the Northern California Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu School but tragically died at a young age in a motor vehicle accident, I believe in 1966."

    Then there is the version from Master Bill Mailman's website: ( http://www.umaassociation.com/history.html )

    "Leoning's early students began organizing schools of their own. Some opened under the John Leoning banner, some opened under KAJUKENBO, and still other opened under new names. Each of these instructors and schools took with them the versions of the dynamic curriculum they were taught. Among these schools were the KEMBOJUTSO School opened by Richard Ramos, the Los Angeles KARAZENPO school opened by Walter Godin (direct student of Adriano and Joseph Emperado) and Victor Gascon, the Northern California KARAZENPO school opened by David Kamalani, the School Of Shaolin Kempo opened by Charles Frank.

    During this time period, the original twelve punching combinations were developed, and three formalized forms, today known as Kata #1, Kata #2, and Kata #3. The forms were made up of movements from the KAJUNKENBO system, rearranged, and were largely the creation of Walter Godin who combined various pieces of KAJUKENBO forms. It is unclear exactly where the first twelve punch combinations selected came from, however it is largely held that they were designed by Walter Godin and based again on KAJUKENBO. One of Godin's most notable creations is Shaolin Kempo combination #4, which he continues to use in demonstrations and seminars even today. During this period, it is believed that Walter Godin liked using the term "Shaolin Kempo" to describe the new system. This was a term, which reflected upon the use by Professor Chow. Later, the term "Karazenpo" was combined with "Go Shinjutsu" meaning "way of self defense" as a replacement for "Shaolin Kempo." Walter Godin eventually designed a patch bearing the likeness of Damo, and containing the Katakana characters for the names "Godin," and Gascon - the co-founders of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu."

    On Sonny Gascon's website, he says that he opened his first school and started teaching Karazenpo in 1958 ( http://www.karazenpogoshinjutsu.com/history.html )

    "Victor opened up a school at 905 Victory Boulevard, Burbank, California in 1958 and called it Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu. His assistants were Joe Black, Richard "Limo" Tanaka and Jack "Justice" Chang. In 1966, Victor closed his school in Burbank because of his new job at the Pasadena Post Office. Working nights, it became impossible to run his school. Victor had his first daughter, Angela, and a new house to support. Victor continued to teach private lessons at his house either in the garage or the pool area."

    Lastly, there is Prof. Mike Rash's version which contradicts all three of the above versions. Rash is the President of the KGSBBS, but for some reason his version disagrees with Shuras' and Gascon's. His version is as follows: ( http://kgsbbs.com/_wsn/page9.html )

    "Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu Hawaiian and Shaolin Kempo History from 1958 on.

    By Michael Rash

    The author of the United Martial Arts Association history page is a J. Madriaga.

    There have been some edits from the original found on Wikipedia.

    J. Madriaga uses the Gathering of the Eagles as a good reference point.

    At the Gathering of the Eagles Sonny Gascon was recognized as the founder of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu. Every Senior Grandmaster in attendance recognized him as the founder of Karazenpo. To include the following to name a few.

    The host of the Gathering of Eagles

    Al Tracy 10th degree- of Tracy’s Kenpo System

    Adriano Emperado 10th Degree- Founder of Kajukenbo.

    Tino Tuiolosega 10th degree- Founder of Lima Lama

    Ralph Castro 10th degree- Founder Castro’s Shaolin Kenpo

    James Ibrao 10th degree- Founder five forms to black belt & Parkers first black belt

    Bill Ryusaki 10th degree- Founder Ryu Dojo

    Larry Tatum 10th degree- Founder Tatum’s Kenpo

    My apologies to those left out. There simply too many names to remember.

    If you read carefully Madriaga correctly states there were represenitives from Karazenpo and Godin’s school. This is a clear admission that they are in fact two separate schools. Madriaga states Bruce Corrigan was representing Karazenpo, again correct. Here is what Bruce Corrigan had to say to Sonny Gascon in this letter dated May 31, 1994

    With your permission we would like to address you as SIJO which is the Chinese term for founder. We feel this is appropriate because you are the founder of our system, and the reason we have it to learn in the first place.

    This came to Sonny Gascon in a letter from Prof. Cerio just weeks before he passed away.

    I am building a dojo at my house. I want you to come and bless it. There will be a place for you next to Professor Chow and Ed Parker.

    J. Madriaga writes more “facts” that can be proven incorrectly very easily.

    Madriaga claims Walter Godin is the originator of our system, the patch and the Kata’s.

    I was a guest at Sijo Emperado’s 75th birthday party in Hawaii when Sonny Gascon talked with Walter Godin about using the Karazenpo name and logo on the Kajukenbo family tree instead of his own.

    Walter Godin in front of Phil Gelinas, the maker of the Kajukenbo family tree, myself, Andy Lee and a whole crowd of others stated Karazenpo was Sonny Gascon’s.

    Madriaga says Godin opened the Los Angeles studio. Wrong Godin was in Hawaii when Sonny Gascon opened the studio on 905 Victory Blvd. in Burbank California.

    Madriaga also states that it was Godin that made the patch with the likeness of Daruma.

    Bruce Corrigan wrote the following.

    In 1960 Gascon removed the Kajukenbo patch and replaced it with the Karazenpo patch. It was not by coincidence that the patch bore Daruma the founder of all martial arts.

    This was because Sonny subscribed to Daruma’s favorite saying. To fall 7 times, to rise 8 life starts now.

    In 1961 Sonny made a demonstration on Dick Clarks American Bandstand. Later Sijo Gascon summoned his brother in law Godin from the islands.

    Remember Sonny Gascon opened his school in 1960, Corrigan correctly wrote Godin came in 1961.

    Walter Godin was in California with Sonny Gascon only six weeks in 1961.

    Walter Godin returned to Hawaii in 1961 and opened in Kaimuki, later moved to Kakaako.

    After that he went to Johnson Island for about a year with Brother Abe Kamahoahoa. He later opened at the Palama Settlement where he taught until his passing.

    Walter Godin trained Eugene Sedeno a prominent Martial Artist here in California from 1962 until 1964 in Hawaii. Another Prominent Martial Artist Martin Buell trained with Walter Godin in the early 60’s in Hawaii. Buell received his black belt in 1966.

    Buell has the largest group of Kempo schools in Hawaii, Universal Kempo.

    Sonny Gascon broke off from Kajukenbo in 1958 opened his school in 1960 in Burbank California. Walter Godin was not there. According to J. Madriaga, Godin came out in 61 and left California in 69. Sonny Gascon and Godin’s students say Madriaga is wrong.

    George Pesare from Rhode Island credits Sonny Gascon as his only Kempo instructor. Mr. Pesare has never mentioned Godin as his teacher or to have ever learned a single form or self defense manuver from him.

    Richard “Limo” Tanaka confirms this as well. Richard Tanaka was there the entire time.

    The late Julian Generlao “Blue” was also there. He told me exactly the same thing.

    Walter Godin returned back to Hawaii and taught many famous people.

    Martin Buell (The largest Kempo schools in Hawaii- Universal Kempo)

    Eugene Sedeno (A Mitose student as well)

    John Hackleman (Chuck the “Iceman” Liddell’s teacher)

    As well as countless others.

    The history of Shaolin Kempo as written by this Madriaga person has been posted on the internet by the UMAA.

    The UMAA has listed it on search engines under Shaolin Kempo history.

    It can be found here.


    Other mistakes in the “Matrix” on this page, there are too many to get to them all right now.

    Circle of the tiger was inspired by Sonny Gascon’s original #1 Kata

    Kata 6 is George Pesare’s creation from original techniques taught to him by Sonny Gascon. Kata 6 is not Cerio’s Circle of the Panther. Panther was Cerio’s version of another Pesare creation Kata #7. Fred Villari modified it and teaches it as Swift Tigers.

    The kicking sets? Notice the credit? As taught on the West coast by who?

    David Kamalani. Sonny Gascon has no recollection of him. Perhaps the Kamalani group could contact me or GM Gascon with some information. We welcome their input on this matter."

    So, did Gascon create Karazenpo by himself? Were Godin and Kamalani involved? When did he start teaching? 1958 or 1960? The Karazenpo lists as having begun in 1958, but now Prof. Rash says 1960? Very confusing stuff. The public would like to know the answer to these contradictions.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2007
  2. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Well the name's confusing enough! :D
  3. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

  4. BGile

    BGile Banned Banned


    I think there is some confusion about specific dates and times. I was under the impression he started in 1960 and was associated with Johnny Leoning from 58 to 60? The more I read the more I am not sure of specifics for they seem to change, or they are the same depending on how you look at it.

    Yes, Sijo Gascon could have been doing his own thing, and figured that is really when he started. (sort of like the confusion about Kajukenbo and the time frame I have read. Depends who you read or who is writing the final chapter). Or it could be confused, with when he broke away from Johnny Leoning and opened up his own school.

    I believe if Kajukenbo is using the time they were officially Kajukenbo (1960), then I think that might have some bearing on when Karazenpo became officially that. It is confusing when you try not to ruffle feathers years later and be politically correct.

    Hopefully this thread might help to clear it up? Or it just might confuse more, LOL...

    What does John Bishops new book mention?

    Regards, Gary
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2007
  5. BGile

    BGile Banned Banned

    I am curious as to why this was written? :confused:

    Regards, Gary
  6. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Discussing Ke?po lineage is regarded as trolling IMO 99 out of 100 times :rolleyes:
  7. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    If you go to Gascon's website, it says Karazenpo was established in 1958. Only person to mention 1960 so far is Rash.

    Kajukenbo was revealed to the public in 1950, not 1960. It was developed in the years 1947, 1948 & 1949 in it's initial phase.
  8. BGile

    BGile Banned Banned

    This mentions the time frame in Hawaii and on the mainland.

    But the problem is in real application.

    I have read (will look somemore) about the confusing circumstances of the time when all but Sijo went into the service and when it was actually considered to be Kajukenbo. As I have said about the time frame of Karazenpo being different, so is Kajukenbo (as to who wrote it last).

    The official time frame is pretty interesting considering the age of Sijo E. and when he became a 5th degree BB. The whole thing is very suspect anymore to me.

    If you figure the Book that Mitose wrote and printed, and the term, "Kenpo". Then Chow and ED Parker, and the time frame of that era coming to the Mainland, then Leoning coming to the Mainland in 1958 and to say Kajukenbo did not show up until 1960...See, this is similar if you get my drift, 2 year confusion?

    Then you have the situation where the story of John Leoning, not a Black Belt (when he arrived in 58 and being 30 years old) on one side said he was,(Karazenpo) and then the other (Kajukenbo), say no.

    To much variation and change to suit me regarding valid arguements.

    I think maybe KempoFist has a point. LOL...Discussing Ke?po lineage is regarded as trolling IMO 99 out of 100 times.
    I'll mention this...
    Who is the first person being a Dan rating, higher than Mitose"s??? When and who gave others the rank if the Mitose's did not?

    What G/Kung Fu practioner gave anyone rank, other than Share K. Lew when he gave it to Johnny Leoning?

    Then there was Doo Wai (brought to the USA by Will Tracy). There was also Jimmy Wing Woo who was with EP.

    Who gave the Rank (so it could be any higher or grow from the original Mitose's?)

    We have a very big discrepancy that will never be correct in the original applications from Hawaii as far as I am concerned.

    This is where it gets tight, and ugly...
    Kosho Kempo Ryu came from J. Mitose to Hanshi Juchnik and his son Thomas Mitose...Now it is back to the originator and therefore over rides the others, or not?

    I am looking forward to the Chow Memorial to see what they have to say.

    Regards, Gary
  9. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    I'm not sure I'm getting your point.

    Well, I'm not sure if this will be helping, but general consensus is, AFAIK,:
    Sonny comes to California in 1956
    John Leoning comes in 1958, invites Sonny to teach at his school.
    By '60 or '61 Sonny is teaching on his own.

    Most of the 'stories' you quoted point to that general idea.

    Just for fun, what did Bruce Corrigan have to say?
    From a post to rec.martial.arts on 1995/06/09 by Bruce Corrigan:
    Well, that seems straightforward...

    When did he start teaching? Or when did he start teaching 'Karazenpo Goshinjutsu' TM? Sounds like '58 and '60 respectively. But what do I know.

    I'm sure Walter Godin had something to do with it, why else would he and Sonny travel to the East Coast for a Karazenpo event in 1994.

    Just out of curiosity, since we're talking about Walter Godin, what is Sijo Emperado's opinion of him?

  10. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Here's a question. Why should someone only hold rank given to them by someone else when they clearly no longer train in that persons ways or have started their own system? Considering the only Kaju/Kara/Ke?po people that can fight their way out of a wet paper bag anyway are those that train as such, yet they all use similar ranking structures, what difference does it make when and where they got their belt if it has no general accepted meaning?

    This thread is going to devolve into a "what is the value of a belt" debate within 3 posts or less of this one and baby Jesus will indeed cry again. Why do you all make him cry?
  11. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    It has no meaning.

    But then again, many of the people started their own systems can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag either. Essentially this is a 'my dad is more popular than your dad' argument. I'm just trying to find out some detail to better fill in the gaps in my history article.

    Oooohh! That one's easy! In two parts:
    a.) $4.95 wholesale, $10 retail, $45 if you want the shiny embroidering.

    b.) Because he won't be my invisible, imaginary friend. We had a falling out.

    What do I get for getting the questions right?

  12. BGile

    BGile Banned Banned

    Kempofist Mentions:
    This thread is going to devolve into a "what is the value of a belt" debate within 3 posts or less of this one and baby Jesus will indeed cry again. Why do you all make him cry?

    LOL, Yes!

    As far as Walter Godin:
    Chuck Liddell...He is the man to talk to as far as Walter Godin"s ability to teach. Walter Godin was a main player in most of the years of the young organization's.

    Bruce Corrigan, (quite a bit of what I have read and where most of the early history is) this man, is what I have considered good information, besides the ones already mentioned.

    I don't think we can get much closer than what has been said. I believe I read somewhere that Sonny actually trained some while he was in the Air Force and on the East Coast prior to his getting out of the service and going to the West Coast in 1956.

    Sonny Gascon and John Leoning had students (from each of their schools) in the Long Beach International that was put on by Ed Parker (early 60's).

    Regards, Gary
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2007
  13. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    Maybe this feller can help.

    I'm glad I save everything. I used to spend a lot of time on usenet, on rec.martial.arts.

    Yes, I was using aol, but that was the only ISP in my area. Even that was a toll call back then.

    I met this helpful fellow who told me what to expect about Sonny Gascon when I was looking for info. Maybe you know him:

    I guess Sonny can't be that far off the old 'family tree'.

    Gosh, that name seems familiar....

  14. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    Well there is some contradiction in the Karazenpo history, depending on who the story is coming from. But that can be expected as sometimes exact dates get lost in time. But people should not be lost in time.
    David Kamalani is somebody who has been written into Karazenpo history, apparently by Shaolin Kempo people like Joe Shurus and others. Why they would do this, who knows. Sonny Gascon says he never heard of the guy. I tend to believe him, since he should know who he promoted to black belt.
    The Kajukenbo Family Tree is a very good record of all the Kajukenbo black belts, and many of the early black belts from break away systems like Karazenpo. The tree has been updated yearly since around 1990. David Kamalani is not listed as a Sonny Gascon or Walter Godin black belt. In fact he is not listed anywhere on the tree. The 2006 version of the tree is availiable for viewing here:

  15. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    It's funny, Joe Rebelo had questions about him too.

    Joe Rebelo did a seminar at one of the schools from the David Kamalani lineage, and they didn't do (and didn't recognize) the material that would be considered Karazenpo Goshinjutsu (if I remember correctly).

    The David Kamalani references seem to be based on the paper by J. Madriaga, which although better than some early histories, appears to have some clear faults.

  16. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    A few adjustments

    Thanks for the insight on David Kamalani's involvement (or non-involvement as the case apparently is). I've made some small adjustments to my Kempo Timeline , and when I have more time will revisit it more thoroughly, as there is more to be done.

  17. SifuJason

    SifuJason Valued Member

    Actually, Professor Bishop, that is not the 2006 version of the tree (a lot of the newer WHKD black belts added in 2005 aren't on there).
  18. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    Jason, thank's for the correction. I see now it's the 2005 edition.
  19. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    So who is J. Madriaga, and what are his sources?
  20. Matthew Barnes

    Matthew Barnes Valued Member

    I hate to say it...

    I'm not completely sure. I think he's West Coast, because his name doesn't ring a bell, but I can't be sure. My guess is that Pete Teymouraz or Bill Mailman would know him.

    When this paper came out, it was much better than the existing histories. It is now deprecated.


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