The 'Legit' Rank B.S.

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by KGS BBS, Jul 26, 2006.

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  1. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Oh don't worry, I'll have my tin hat, my judo gi top, Hakama, and bo staff covered in peanut butter (aliens are quite vulnerable to peanuts of course) for the occasion! Lemmie at them!
  2. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Well, since we seem to have hit a dead end with the whole, "Who gave Sonny Gas a black belt, and when?" issue, I thought I'd throw another one out there for consideration: Why do people claim a certain rank, if rank is unimportant? I can totally understand someone who is a street fighter, boxer, wrestler etc. saying that "Rank doesn't matter." because there is no such thing in those arts. But why would a black belt say it? I'm not talking about anyone in particular because I've heard this sort of thing several times by different people. Usually from people who claim rank in a given art.

    To me, rank is about quality control pure and simple. It says that a person has achieved a certain minimum level of expertise in an art. At a certain level, that person is allowed to pass on that art to others. It's the same as a diploma from a school. Now, we all know people who have degrees that are stupid. To some, I may even be in that catagory. But, it does say that a person earned it by completing a course through an accredited institution. People know very well how to judge the difference between someone with a degree from Harvard or Stanford and someone with a degree from Cal State Fullerton etc. But either way, they all have legitimate degrees. There is however another type floating around out there.

    The phrase, "Diploma Mill" was invented to describe un-accredited colleges that gave people degrees for things like "Life Experience" etc. and allowed someone to call themselves Doctor so-and-so legally even though the jobs that required a degree wouldn't actually recognize them as authentic. Could someone with an unaccredited degree be smart? Absolutely. But the presence of a diploma from one of those institutions does not tell you that someone actually met a minimum standard in order to obtain it. The person with the accredited degree may not be very smart, but they did meet a minimum set of requirements in order to get it.

    Beyond the minimum, one has to rely on a particular institution's reputation to determine how valuable the rank is.

    To say that it doesn't matter is to say that your own rank doesn't matter is to throw into question the very concept of rank itself. No problem if you want to do that. But you should then not claim rank yourself if that's your opinion. If you do claim rank, then it says that you're proud of it and you think it means something and that others should also.

    When someone like Geary puts on a tenth degree, what does that say? What does it do to your rank if you turn around and defend it by saying that rank doesn't matter?

    So here's the question: Does rank matter? If not, do you claim rank, and why?
  3. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    I say rank doesn't matter because in nearly every style that uses belts except for BJJ has allowed substandard students attain black belt. Too many schools allow children to adults to get belts just for memorizing rote technique without any need for real application. Even if one school out there upholds a strict standard of quality control, unless that instructor makes a name for himself saying that you have black in Kempo, or Shotokan, or TKD or pretty much any other style out there doesn't mean anything to me.

    People in the position to uphold those standards that still say "rank doesn't matter" is a cop-out that allows them to delude more students and rake in more money by appealing to the lowest common denominator. No longer will they enforce that someone work up to a standard, they can just tell them to "do their best" and they get the reward whether they accomplished that vague non-descript goal or not.

    In the end for me, it's all about training hard to make myself better with real definitive goals no matter who's handing me belts, sashes or trophies that I quite honestly don't care about anymore.
  4. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I would say that rank does matter. Of course this is based on what I do and have experienced, this of course may be different to your experiences.

    In Shorinji Kempo we have a very structured syllabus, and for technical reasons students don’t learn techniques outside of their grades. This can change at individual branches where an instructor knows the level of a student’s skill and experience, and knows they can handle a more advanced technique; however at national and international study sessions students are broken into ranks and taught techniques suitable for those ranks. If gradings are held up and a student spends a long time at a grade they can stagnate. Further to this there is the study at Hombu. While there are times that kyu grades can attend Hombu for study sessions, they are not permitted to enrol and study at busen. Busen students spend two or three years at Hombu studying eight hours a day, at the end they leave with instructor qualification. This leads into another reason why grades are important. If you have a desire to instruct Shorinji Kempo, not only do you have to undergo interviews with senior WSKO instructors and complete a branch masters course, you also have to be san dan or above. These are all valid reasons for placing importance on grades.

    I also believe that way too much emphasis is placed on grades. People spend too much time thinking about gradings rather than just training and enjoying what they are doing. A grade means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of what ever group you belong to. They usually have very little in common with their assessment methods. For us gradings are a very structured process. There are usually more than one judge and they all have score cards. The score cards list all the techniques that will be judged as well as a box for each type of mistake. Students start with a number of marks and with each mistake a mark is lost. The test also includes a component of application. As grades become higher the randori (free fighting) aspect becomes a greater part of the assessment method. We also have a very subjective process too. In Shorinji Kempo it is not only skill that is valued, a persons commitment and personal improvement is also considered. This can mean that there can be differences in peoples technical abilities for the same grade, this could confuse people that don’t understand the grading process and what is being assessed. The important thing to remember is that they have all met a minimum technical requirement.
  5. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Kempofist and Colin,

    I hear where both of you are coming from on this. While I agree with Kempofist on the notion that far too many people earn black belts that shouldn't, I think the idea of rank is still a valid one. If an organization gives out black belts to children, so be it. They will be known for that and when a 12 year old says they have a black belt from the ATA or wherever, people will think, "Hmmm... that place gives out black belts to 12 year olds?" However, what if a thirty year old claimed to have a black belt from the ATA and didn't? Wouldn't that be worse? Wouldn't you say , "Hey, at least that 12 year old earned the black belt the way the ATA told him to, and you didn't?" I'm not saying that rank is the same across organizations or styles. I'm saying that it should mean something within that organization. If someone says that they have a 7th degree from the ATA, then that should mean something specific, at least at a minimum level in that organization. Does it mean the same thing as someone that has a 7th degree from Gracie JJ? No it doesn't, but it should mean something within the ATA no?
  6. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    Yes you are right, there is and should be a meaning to it. I know of some arts where BB are looked upon almost god-like, where white belts can’t talk or look directly at a BB. For us it is quite a different idea, one of Shorinji Kempo’s underlying philosophies is that we are all equal. It is why even though we are a Japanese MA we don’t bow but gassho rei instead. We have 3 ranking structures, one for the philosophy, one for the religion and one for the martial art. All any of them are, are markers that can help identify where you are on the learning journey and indicate the effort spent getting there. In this they certainly do have meaning. When I look at my BB I remember the fun and hard work I put into achieving it, all the different people I have met and trained with over the years, I remember my visits to Hombu and the great training with some of the best teachers of my art who just happen to very nice people all too willing to meet with you after training for a beer, okonamiyaki and some laughs. Basically It really signifies the human relationships that Shorinji Kempo has helped me develop.
  7. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    I would say that the meaning of rank changes with context. It is not meaningless within the appropriate context, but outside that context rank could be completely irrelevant.

    One context of rank is hierarchy. Within an organization, everyone gets a good idea of where they stand based on their rank. Another context of rank is inspiration. Beginners can use rank as a means for inspiration to keep training.
    Rank can also be used something like grades in school to show what level of technical knowledge and ability a student is at. Rank can be based on achievement and success. Rank can also be used as a form of polical leverage such as you will receive a higher rank if you join our organization and teach our stuff. If you do not, you will not receive a higher rank.

    This is just to name a few contexts for which rank can represent, there are many more contexts beyond these.

    What I think is that rank is NEVER given and NEVER earned, I don't care how much time and hard work is put in or how much ability one has, it can never be enough to earn rank. You don't earn rank, you take it... you steal it.

    Hopefully, if you have done so in a respectable and appropriate manner, others will confirm honestly that you are deserving of the rank. It is a sort of checks and balances based on trust and honesty.

    If someone thinks they deserve rank that they do not possess, that can lead to bitterness, regret, and even dishonesty among some.

    An instructor does not award or give rank away, the instructor allows for the rank to be taken from him or her, it is a test!!!

    If I were to declare myself 1000th dan, how can I TAKE this rank, how can I STEAL it? That is a question for each of us to answer for ourselves.

    The fact is that some have taken rank and others have said they deserve it, some have taken rank and others have said they don't deserve it. This comes down once again for each of us to find the answer for ourselves.
  8. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Lets put it this way. Everyone trains for different reasons, but one thing I think nearly every martial artist would like to claim to be capable of is defending him or herself in a given situation.

    For me, I train to defend myself, I train to fight, and I train because I enjoy it.

    Now if someone trains in an art like lets say a Kung Fu style that includes no sparring in the curriculum for hobby type or cultural reasons, then I'd say that's fine, and whatever rank they attain in that is what it is. Now that rank openly would have no bearing on a persons ability to enter combat with another human being and that's fine. The same goes for Olympic style TKD stylists whose goal is to compete point sparring style in the olympics. Black in that does not = real life or even mma sport type prowess, but rather ability in olympic style TKD sport. These differences have no bearing on "McDojo" type qualities of the establishment, just their desired goals and curriculum for rank. No one ever said that every martial arts school had to teach the REAL completely rounded self defense classes.

    So within this mindset, then every belt is as Wado said, worth what it's organization makes it worth. If you said you went to WTF TKD, then I'd assume you were an awesome point sparrer. If you went to the Renzo Gracie Academy then I'd think you'd be a phenomenal grappler. If you went to ATA TKD then I'd think that you'd just had your money stolen.

    To put it simply I really don't care about other's arbitrary standards for ranking both in my Kempo and my BJJ training anymore. If they feel like giving me belts and rewards for my accomplishments then that's fine, but to me just training and enjoying myself in training is what matters most.
  9. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    I think it might have been DAnjo that talked more about a belt being worth what an organization makes it worth.

    As for enjoying your training, that is a great attitude KempoFist. One thing I like about that is that your rank is not a priority, training is :love: but the other part I like is that you don't say that rank is useless.

    One thing I strongly believe in is that when you take rank (e.g. someone offers you rank and you take it from them) you MUST take it with enthusiasm. You must take it like it means something and it is something you respect.

    In this way you show respect for rank, both your rank and the rank of those that have come before you. This is what I mean by taking it, you don't humbly say thank you, you instead grab that rank and with great spirit and respect you take it.

    If you cannot take the rank with enthusiasm and spirit, then don't take it, it is as meaningless as your lack of effort and inspiration.

    Edit: "you" above is referring to a person in general, it is not directed as anyone in particular.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  10. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    That may be, but it has nothing to do with the question. I personally agree with you, but think that there is something else here also.

    Exactly. Both good and bad, but it is a way for a particular organization to keep track of who's who within their organization, and what each person knows at a minimum level. It's a way of saying, "This is what defines us." or, "This is what defines one of our members at this level."

    Again, I totally understand waht you are saying with this aspect of it, but would further argue that there is some merit to rank within an organization. It all goes to "Meaning", i.e., "This means this." etc. It's one way for an organization to retain its identity as separate from something else. It's why schools have their own colors and mascots. It's why companies have logos and trademarked images. Is Chevron gas better than Shell? Maybe not, but you know what station you're in by the sign on the building. A black belt in TKD doesn't mean the same thing as one in EPAK or BJJ, but it does mean something. If someone gets rank in an art they haven't trained in, or are given rank by someone that they haven't been trained by, then what does that really mean? If someone that has trained in that art gets upset because someone that never trained in it is claiming rank in that art, are they not correct for being so? Does it not dilute the meaning of their art if people that haven't trained in it claim rank in it? Would Nike be correct in being upset if people started putting their logo on K=Mart brand tennis shoes? If they allowed this to go unchallenged, would this not damage the reputation of Nike, or at least cause confusion?

    This is all aside from the issue of whether any given person can actually fight or not.
  11. Colin Linz

    Colin Linz Valued Member

    I made this statement in my first post, and others have affirmed this, so amongst us we have a common understanding in this at least.

    It is impossible to make comparisons; however for whatever reason organisations have awarded honorary titles to people for many years across a diversity of organizations, not just martial arts. It is a respected practice and there are many respected people with honorary degrees. Does this mean they have a right to teach whatever their honorary qualification is in, of course not, it was never the intent of the organisation that this would be the case. This is a concern with MA as there seems to be too many people claiming false qualifications or using honorary qualifications to dupe unsuspecting people into their schools. If someone claims that they can teach me how to fight, then they better be able to so. If they can I would be happy. If they claim they can teach me Shorinji Kempo, Aikido or whatever then they better have completed the required training to do so or I will be very unimpressed. Further to this if they claim their art is made from a cross between Karate and Jujutsu then they had better have qualifications to teach in both those arts. After all how can you incorporate principles and techniques of two arts if you never learnt either of them properly?
  12. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    I agree with this for the most part. I am dubious of honorary certifications, however, for the very reason that you mentioned. I never liked honorary degrees for that reason either. I always felt that while the person that was awarded the Honorary doctorate, etc. may have been highly accomplished in their own right, one thing that they did not do was earn that degree like the other people that had them on their walls, or listed them in their resume's. We can't really change the world here, but it is a pet peeve of mine. A letter or citation for great accomplishments in your chosen field from a particular person or organization would be more honest I think.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of respected people that would disagree with me on this, although I do think that most would agree with your statement that as long as those people are not trying to actually claim knowledge or expertise in the arts that they have an honorary rank in, it's fairly harmless. If they're honest about the fact that they don't know this or that art even though they have been given honorary rank in it, the point is moot.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2006
  13. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    Well 2 weeks is plenty of time to make a couple phone calls. I guess some real research was finally done, and the truth discovered. Something that some of us already knew.
    So it looks like the answer's going to be silence.
  14. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Would it be out of place for me to break out the liquor for the occasion? I really don't care either way about the whole ranking thing, but I need an excuse to drink!

    On a serious note, judging by the tone of this discussion, it appears to me that you Mr. Bishop have already hashed and rehashed this same issue time and again with the same people. Is this the first time it's been officially documented on an online discussion?
  15. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    Sijo Emperado is very aware of who he promoted to black belt and when. Many people have left Kajukenbo, (and I'm sure several other systems) and did their own thing without being in possession of a black belt. Most of us know who they are, but really don't comment about them unless they make some claims about their Kajukenbo connection that are untrue.
    This particular question has been ignored for 48 years, until recently when someone decided to step out of his glass house and throw stones.
  16. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    When will they learn? They just don't make glass houses like they used to.

    Well anyway, this has been an incredibly informative thread, so thank you again for helping fill in the gaps of my lineage (or lacktherof in this case ;))
  17. KGS BBS

    KGS BBS Valued Member

    Note: I apologize for the length but I had a lot to address here, I've been out of the loop for a while and I see some of you had many questions...........I feel it's worth the read and long in coming. I would have posted earlier but MAP was down due to a server change. Thank you.

    WOW, if you look back at the last time I posted on this thread I stated in the last line that I was taking a break. Go back and read it if you wish. I believe it was it was Post#31, 3rd page. This will be 'LONG', can't help that if I'm going to cover all this b.s. and address everything to the best of my ability that had been going on since I left. I did as I stated, took a break from MAP but continued this heated debate over private e-mails to both parties and phone conversations with one. One of the parties brought to my attention that there are those that feed off this controversary in a feeble attempt to make themselves look better and suggested private debate. Good advice, I thought. All the time, I had no idea it continued like this, asking me the same questions over and over when all the time we were discussing things privately, making it look like, publically, I was hiding or afraid to answer. Dream on..... and becareful what you ask for! Now, you can deal with this..... So, as one of you had stated that you got my answer through my silence, I say b.s...... Me? Silent? LOL, I think you know me by now, I'm outspoken when I have to be and it's not like me to dodge questions. If I don't know or it's not my place to ask and I can't find out, then I can't and I'll say it BUT I don't run and hide from you people or anyone else for that matter. You guys know that because it was discussed privately or so I thought. In retrospect, I should have checked this thread a lot sooner.

    I just came across this on 09/13/06. I read the 'glass house' comment by one. I did not draw first blood. I may have touched on a sensitive area on 'this thread' but that was after several years of 'digs' in regards to my lineage and style from someone I once called 'friend'. He challenged me to go back a find them and stated he never, ever said anything negative, no digs, nothing about Cerio, Villari, Gascon, Pesare.... I stated to him that he is on tons of forums and I have a life, I'm not going to search through all of them. However, it was just made very easy for me, one just showed up on Bullshido in reference to Gascon and Cerio, without, of course mentioning their names and that was my point-those subtle type digs, only this one wasn't so subtle as before. When I started this thread, I had about enough. To me, in my prespective, it was someone else throwing stones from a glass house and I will get into that later.

    Look, there are two sides to every story and some say the truth lies somewhere in the middle, I don't profess to have all the answers. I also am an old traditionalist in protocol and I have never went up to any of my instructors from day one, 1973, and asked them about their training, where or who they got their black belts from and so forth, it's disrespectful. If you don't trust in their instruction and abilities, then get the heck out and go study somewhere else. I am not the 'interviewer', the 'historian', the 'freelance writer' like John where it is his job to do such things. You just don't do that. No one I knew ever did that in any system. Like KempoFist said, things were not done that way back then. That's how I was brought up. Perhaps, I'm old fashion but to me it's like asking your instructor 'when am I going up for rank? In my day, you got a beat'n for that stupid question, lol.

    However, I respectfully inquired using the proper protocol where I thought it appropiate, without offending anyone or looking as if I was just trying to 'stir the pot' (which people do quite often in this business.) Sonny Gascon stated when asked by Mike Rash that John Leoning was one of about 'a half dozen full black belts when he came to the mainland' and that's a quote. This information was already given to these gentlemen in private e-mails! Now, they can jump up and down and throw out all the names they want of who said what but it would be much easier to go take it up with Sonny Gas, wouldn't it? Then do it! Remember, he was there too. I can provide two more seniors that you know of who will back up Mr. Gascon but for what? So they can be called liars too on a public forum? I won't do that. Would you agree William Chow would be an excellent source of information if he was alive today to be interviewed on the history of early Kenpo? Well, in "The Lost Interview" recently published by Black Belt Magazine he stated Ed Parker never went any higher than purple belt with him! Personally, I think not..... Who here wishes to call William Chow a liar? How about Ed Parker? I know I don't. So, like I said, name drop all you want of who said what for it doesn't always make it so, does it? I believe Mr. Gascon but I'm also a realist, so let's say, hypothetically speaking, Sonny Gascon's memory was a little faded from over 4 1/2 decades ago along with the others.... So what? Who cares? Do you think my world, my training, my art, my school, my lineage and the KGS BBS would all come crashing down??? LOL. And does this make any difference in the arts passed on to us today? OR could the other parties' memories be off after all the time?? C'ome on guys, yeah, we try to report history the best we can BUT it's history, martial arts history to be exact with many twists and turns.

    John, next time you see the legendary GM. Roger Carpenter, you know SGM. Pesare's first black belt, you have my permission, lol, to ask him all the questions you wish about 'his instructor' but do it politely if you get my drift. You may have to wait right now, he may be still in Iraq at the moment, not sure. I also had inquired but got no response to compare SGM. Pesare's DVD film of the 60's era with Pesare demonstrating and teaching Cerio, Carpenter and others going through the ranks with a similiar Kajukenbo film of Emperado and his early black belts going through the ranks to shodan so we can compare techniques and so forth. Never heard other words, pardon the expression, 'put up or shut up'. This Pesare DVD leaves the 60's for a moment and shows the 1973 bare knuckle 'no holds barred' fight with Roger Carpenter which tragically led to the death of his opponent. In all sincerity, I don't gloat over that eventual tragic outcome but only mention it to show the 'heart' of both these men who trained in that early blood & guts era. No paper tigers for sure! This incredible DVD can be ordered at If we can't compare this DVD to a 60's video of Kajukenbo then I have no problem comparing it to the much later 80's Panther series which is a great tape too. Now, it wouldn't be fair to the early Pesare tape in curriculum back then, not to mention these guys had a shorter amount of training times than the Panther video when this tape was made, so we'd be comparing apples to oranges BUT I feel the Pesare video will hold it's own against the best that's out there today and actually be much better than many. Don't go by me, just watch the video, I think you'll find these early pioneers of my lineage pretty impressive even by today's standards!

    You talk of documents and letters and so forth. Well, during the Mitose debate, Bruce Juchnik and the Sei Kosho Shorei Kai-Shihan Mike Brown (a well respected martial artist from my area) and later Dr. Ted Summer (Tracy's Kenpo) had some very interesting documents, letters, etc. that stirred my thought process but you passed these things off as forgeries or being alterred or just plain b.s., especially in reference to Mitose in Japan. Why then do you not hold the same standard or possiblities about your documents and so forth? It's a two-way street here or is it from the mentality of 'do as I say, not as I do'. Double standard, I think. Do you simply put yourself above everyone else because of your background as a successful former freelance writer in all the major karate mags? Although now, you, after getting 'kudos' all those years from everyone for your articles....I was one of them giving you the kudos but now you say you did not write everything in those articles. When inaccuracies were proved that caused you embarrassment, you now blame it on the editors for hacking up your articles and putting their own spin on it. This may be true but we don't know that for sure, do we?

    John, you gave me information in an e-mail and I stuck my neck out on it with Dr. Summer, Shihan Brown and others. You told me you were part of an investigation in Hawaii for A&E. You had information that you even posted of a 92 year old man, who was a classmate of Mitose in Hawaii under Nabura Tanamaha, a first or second generation Choki Motobu black belt. Mitose left this guy a lot of personal affects from that era in a card board box that was important to our, letters, etc. To paraphrase, it would 'blow the lid off'. You stated the old man said Mitose never went to Japan. You told me at first to keep it quiet, I did. Then you went ahead and posted it on several sites, so I too, took the ball and ran with it. Okay, all this is fine and dandy and it may be true BUT you said this would all come out and this controversy would be over. This was, I think, early in 2004? Not anything John, but I still have people asking me from the Mitose side: Where is this proof? We're still waiting. I read one site where someone stuck up for me and said don't shoot the messenger, Joe was just reporting on what he was told......Thank you

    As John stated, many broke off from Kajukenbo and started their own thing before they were black belts. Cerio stated Pesare was indeed a black belt in 'Kenpo' when he was at his school ('60's) and saw a valid certificate from the west coast when discussing the history many years ago. Back then, we didn't really care about the details, Mr. Pesare was already a living legend and at the time and had put out two World PKA Championship kickboxers and two Untied States Kickboxing champs and the funny part is, one of them, Dan Macaruso was a BROWN BELT and he was beating the hell out of all the 'Black Belt' legends in the PKA ring worldwide! I have read that some in the past had brought their art over to teach it with permission from their instructor and received black belts later on when they proved themselves worthy and needed paperwork for certifying students that they were training. Mr. Ed Parker comes to mind with William Chow when Parker first began teaching commerically at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Things were different then, different measuring sticks were used to prove one's worth, black belts were far and few between and the ranking system was in it's infancy. The black belt was just not a big thing back then, it was being a 'real' fighter and good teacher that mattered, not a 'paper tiger' as is so prevelent today. Things were judged differently and John should know that! Remember back in the 60's? Mike Stone-6 months black belt, Joe Lewis-7 months black belt and James Ibrao-9 months black belt....Who in their right minds would ever question the abilities and rankings of these living legends!!! I sure as hell wouldn't. Remember too, when all the guys of this early era, including Gascon and Pesare trained, it wasn't like 2 or 3 one hour group classes a week with a private here and there like in some of today's schools. Training was super hardcore with long grueling hours...often 7 days a week was more the norm then the exception. I heard stories of training from dawn 'till dusk and at times into the night. Saturday evenings were usually reserved for a lua-party time!

    Some instructors awarded black belts with no paperwork, some wrote a letter, still others went to a stationary store and purchased 'generic' certificates of achievment. Professor Chow originally had done this. Yet, you wish to see paperwork from everyone, fine, I'll get to this soon. The seniors, from what I understand, weren't formally tested either. One day the chief instructor would decide more or less to paraphrase, 'Okay, you're a black belt now'! Did Thomas Young, William Chow and Adriano Emperado ever have a formal floor test? If not, did it matter at that time? No, of course not!

    One party in question here (John) has told me for years that certain instructors in my lineage didn't have a black belt when they first started teaching but then I found the same has been said of several Kajukenbo instructors (and many other arts even outside of Kenpo/Kempo) and I confirmed it with two Kajukenbo seniors, one of which contacted me by e-mail over this, another over the telephone. No, I won't release their names, so if you do not wish to believe what I have to say, I understand. no problem, so don't go slamming me for it. However, if I received this info. from an annonymous source I would not print it. Furthermore, these people are well known and are legitimate Kajukenbo seniors in good standing. I won't break my word and release their names so if you wish to cry foul, go ahead. I won't take offense if someone chooses not to believe it but just do me one favor, if you are that interested, check the history out yourself, it may take a while but I bet you will draw the same conclusions. I did tell the other parties here I would not post on this topic again publically. John got really upset over this thread and I apologized for any misunderstanding for I was just trying to make my point and nothing else. I did want to stick by not posting again but I do have to go back on that one BECAUSE I had no idea I was being ridiculed behind my back like this while I was debating privately on the matter!!! There are some sensitive issues on both sides I discussed on the phone with one party that I will keep my word, I will not cross that line.

    Professor Scott once posted on Kajukenbo (so I feel it's okay to use this here) of a well known grandmaster, very highly respected grandmaster in Kajukenbo-Hawaii that he, himself, has the utmost respect for, only formerly trained to purple belt. In the post he says when he sees him he bows and calls him 'Grandmaster'. It was decided not to release his name because he had put out so many fine champions and they may question their own legitimacy or others may. I'll respect that. In my humble opinion, it shouldn't matter anyway, he is a 'Grandmaster', more so then some others. Again, our critics don't wish to discuss this when it was brought up either. However, I was asked by one doing damage control if it could have been Sonny Gascon? No, sorry, it definitely wasn't Sonny Gas!

    I have researched and have done the best I could on the history and lineage of my art. Here it is on my website for later reference: This is the best I can do right now with all training backgrounds so please don't pick it apart. I tried hard and will put it up against anyone else's effort and will revise it if, when and where neccessary. If it does not satisfy someone, I'm sorry, all I can say is contact Mr. Gascon and/or Mr. Pesare and speak with them yourselves. They do not hide from anyone and never will.

    Let it also be known, when I spoke with Prof. Rash of the KGS BBS he was willing (and I asked one of the parties to set up his end but he refused to answer me) to set up a meeting in Hawaii with Sonny Gascon and Sijo Emperado to iron out any differences in the history, black belts or anything else for that matter. I received no response and when I brought this up to Dan, he stated he thought it was more or less just talk. No talk-No bluff. I have the correspondence to back it up, Mike was ready to go with it. The idea was, everything was going to be laid out on the table, no holds barred from what I was told on our side. Don't get this wrong, Sonny Gas has said in the past he loves Sijo, he's his older brother as far as he's concerned BUT remember, Sonny Gas still refused to go back under the Kajukenbo umbrella when he was asked by Sijo at his birthday party one year referring to the patch incident in the late 50's and Sonny Gas will always speak his mind no matter who is standing or sitting in front of him. This is fact.

    I also asked the next question over and over without an answer. Professor Gerry Scott asked Sijo about Mitose's skills for me. This was posted on the Kajukenbo Cafe. Sijo stated Mitose had the skills of a master instructor. Yet, one of the parties in Kajukenbo stated Mitose and I'm paraphrasing, was only acquainted with the surface arts and had very little skill if any. When I ask, who is telling the truth here, I'm avoided like the plague. Dead silence. Hey John, you want me to ask my seniors questions, well, why don't you go to Sijo Emperado and tell him he's full of crap for saying Mitose had the skills of a master instructor BECAUSE you are all over the forums telling the Juchnik/Tracy camp that they are full of it when they say Mitose was a highly skilled practitioner, deny that one! Go ahead, tell Sijo how you really feel about what he said OR is someone not telling the truth here? See what I mean about throwing stones??? Glass houses? It is YOU who lives in a glass house, I accept the twists and turns in my lineage, you don't and that's the difference between you and I, like it or not.

    The following came from a current Kajukenbo senior west coast and was confirmed by another. No one from the Tiwanak lineage (I only mention this because John told me they have an ax to grind), but from active Kajukenbo people as I stated above. Emperado started under Chow in 1946 and made a 5th dan in 1950. I don't know what year he got his first or he just jumped to 5th in the four years but if John has the certificates to photo stat and post here, then do it. (Hmmmm, Fred Villari went from 1967-1971 to 2nd degree black belt under Nick Cerio, four years too and they both also went out and created their own systems, ironic, isn't it?, lol) Let's see, Emperado started Kajukenbo in 1947, one year after he began under Chow and Villari in 1971, four years after training with Cerio, hmmmm......Funny) The Hawaii Chinese Physical Culture Association (a Chinese Kung Fu school) could not have given him his 'professorship' (according to my source) because the Chinese back then never used the professor title. I didn't think they would use the 10th dan either since it's Japanese. They used Sifu but who really cares, he's still the founder of his system, does he really need someone to tell him he is on paper? I'm just trying to call everything like I see it and handle this sensitive situation without bias. I believe he told me this 10th was in 1960, 14 years from 1946 when he started but I would have to check that to be sure. Now, to be 'fair and balanced' Nick Cerio received an 8th dan with the title of 'Sifu', only three Sifu titles awarded by Sifu Gan fong Chin (Sil lum Pai), I have personally seen the certificate, it's up at Framingham, Ma. at hanshi Craig Seavey's school. Now, this was much later on, in 1973, but this also confirms what my original source told methat the Chinese would not award the title of 'Professor', just 'Sifu' back at that time (circa.1960) and Cerio's certificate definitely said the title of 'Sifu'. I'm at a loss for the Japanese dan ranking of 8th but here is what I was told recently. When Prof. Cerio was training under Sifu Chin, he took him to a big tournament. After Chin observed several well known and 'legit' 8th dan performing, Chin felt Cerio was as good as them and later bestowed the 'Sifu' title and the 8th dan ranking. Hey, again, don't shoot the messenger. I'm just reporting what I was told and trying to be fair to everyone even if it is controversial to my own lineage, something some here shy away from when it comes to their history and lineage.

    Kajukenbo was not used as a name either, it was simply Kenpo Karate. (Again, this is is not from me but from a member in good standing in that system). The name Kajukenbo was first heard sometime in the mid 50's. Of the founders, I was told, there were only two black belts, Emperado and Joe Holck (sp.?) of Kodokan Judo. Peter Choo did not study Tang Soo Do but was a boxer and a damn good one! Keep in mind, Tang Soo Do wasn't even founded until 1946. George Chang never was really a founder (this came from a friend of his), knew very little kung fu and when he died, no Kajukenbo entourage or single person came to represent Kajukenbo at his services. You think they would have known. I believe he was asked at one time if his name could be used as an advisor but I'm in the process of checking that one out.This next one is 'touchy' I was told, but Frank Ordonez was not a black belt back then either. John, you're always asking to see certs, 'paperwork as I stated a few paragraphs above, well let's see photo-stat copies of their 1st dan certificates of that era, letters, or something dated and you can end all this. I don't want to get down and dirty here, so I am not going to mention names but one of the Kajukenbo 9th dans was self promoted and then 'okayed'. John, what do you really think of this person's ability and knowledge for 9th dan and holding a 'very prominent' position in Kajukenbo? Rhetorical question, I already know. Let's see that person's first dan certificate.... Geez, I'm getting to sound like you now, John, only difference is the abilities and acomplishments of the ones that you question from me are undisputed!

    I was also told that prior to Joe Emperado's death, he taught the vast majority of the classes if not all and after his death, Sijo took over. This is not a put down at all to Sijo BECAUSE I do understand the concept of 'chambering' as introduced by James Mitose where he would let the most senior student as, for instance, Thomas Young and later William Chow teach the classes. My problem is that you, John, threw shots at Mitose for not teaching the classes implying
    'something', yet Sijo did the same thing in Kajukenbo for it seemed to be the tradition at the time. It's all there in your posts and e-mails. Hypocritical, ya think? Joe Emperado seemed to have been a helluva kempo man with the heart of a lion. It was a sad day when the martial arts world lost him. This confirms to me what I read that Tony Ramos wrote in an interview with Black Belt Magazine back in the 80's about Joe Emperado teaching all the classes back then. Ramos was quoted as saying: "I never saw Adriano Emperado teach a class"-Tony Ramos. Again, don't come down on me, this was in Black Belt magazine, I have the issue. Throwing houses???

    As another reminder, don't shoot the messenger, (I know some wish to, lol) this came from Kajukenbo people and they said everyone in Kajukenbo knows all this that I have been told. Also there is some unrest right now over politics from what has been said. Makes sense because I know of a group of Kajukenbo seniors who came to Sonny Gas to go under his umbrella. Sonny Gas refused as it would be disrespectful to Sijo as he is still living and he would never do that to him. You may inquire of this to Prof. Rash if you wish but one of the parties here has already been told of this through an e-mail from Prof. Rash.

    There is one I know for a fact from my lineage who made an 8th dan in Kajukenbo without NEARLY enough time to assimiliate the curriculum for a Kaju 8th dan and he still teaches Kempo Karate now. This was an actual elevation in rank, I think from 6th dan and not a recognition of a previous rank in the offshoot system. There was talk of much money passed, I asked one of the parties here privately but was ignored. This individual attempted to purchase a high dan rank earlier from SGM. Pesare in front of a witness, Gm. Marc Ayotte. I confirmed this with SGM. Pesare and the witness. Mr. Pesare took the check in hand, ripped it up and let is fall to his feet, turned his back and walked away.

    Again, I don't care, that's their business and everyone should be entitled to run their organizations any way they wish BUT don't pick apart others who did nothing to you because then it's going to come right back at you. Hey, maybe this guy deserved his 8th dan, it's not for me to say. I'm just reporting what happened in defense of my system and lineage. My other point always was this.... there's these inconsistencies and controversies and outright mistakes, abuses and myths in every system's lineage yet some put themselves up on a predestal. You know, like when a cop takes in a juvenile and the parents come in and say, " No, not my son!". In a traditional, respectful Okinawan system, three American servicemen got drunk on saki with the master. By the end of the night they were all promoted to 8th dan, they were shodans. When the master awoke in the morning, he realized what he had done. He called them and told them in Okinawa, they can only claim 3rd dan, in America they can claim the 8th. At the time of this article in Black Belt mag. sometime in the 80's, two were 9ths and one was a 10th. The name of the master was not revealed in the article but I recently found another story on it verifying the first and giving the master's name. Yes, he was the real deal, go figure, don't drink saki with your students, lol.

    It was also posted here that Cerio studied under Oyama, not so, more misinformation being passed on. I don't believe he ever met Oyama in his life. Nick told me he got those forms from one of Oyama's books, I think 'Mastering Karate'. Hey, at least Nick was honest about it. He could have made off he got the forms from some great master, lol. Geez, I've got Bruce Lee's book-'Tao of Jeet Kune Do' and I've adopted the 'straight blast' and the 'disengaging hand principle' , ya think someday someone will say I studied under Bruce Lee? lol.

    To my friend Jesse, sorry I missed your calls but please use my voice mai lat the police station for that's the one I check my messages on. Wives don't always give you your messages, lol. I seriously never got them or possibly the machine was full but you are correct, I would have enjoyed meeting Motobu's son!

    John, I wish you a long and fruitful life, having said that, I would be willing to bet all my life's possessions that your martial arts accomplishments and I'm sure there are many, will not even come close to having even paralleled SGM. S. George Pesare's (and this is not a put down to you, like myself, we are just small spokes on the big wheel in our arts unless you view yourself as an icon, then I take that back but I don't think you do). As far as GGM. H. Victor 'Sonny' Gascon goes, you, yourself, wrote me that two icons, Bill Ryusaki and Dan Guzman stated he was a much better martial artist than John Leoning, no put down to Leoning for I've heard nothing but positive things about Mr. Leoning's abilities, just giving kudos to Gascon.

    Mike Rash is in Hawaii right now visiting Sonny Gas and as Mike said, " I can make it happen", ( on his end, setting up a one-on-one with Sijo Emperado & GGM. Gascon). So if you wish to clear the air with this history, go for it! You keep asking me over and over, again, I say if you are that obsessed with it then go to the sources (Gascon & Pesare) and ask them yourself. You seem to do that with everyone else. Dan sent me the picture you guys took with Brad Namahoe (KGS) at a very recent tournament. Brad would have been the perfect person to ask these questions to since he is close to Sijo Gascon and travels with him often as you are aware of. You should have taken advantage of this opportunity.

    I've reported on the history page on my website to the best of my knowledge at this time. I had one e-mail on Fred Villari's bio questioning his reference to William Chow. I explained what I knew BUT also informed the party, because they asked the question as if I wrote the bio, that I copied and pasted it from the Villari website, I didn't write it. I did the same thing with Kajukenbo, despite what I have been told, I simply used the accepted version of the history and founding and I would not have even posted this right now, if you didn't 'badger' me on this thread with your ineundos and saracsim towards me and mine.

    Okay, to answer the part of 'we' connecting ourselves to Kajukenbo for legitimacy. Someone stated, it my have been KempoFist (if not, I apologize for the reference), that he felt it was, and I'm paraphrasing, just showing the proper linear transgression from Mitose, up the ladder to a particular instructor or system. This was MY intentions when making the connection. I make the same connection to Professor Chow and Dr. Mitose, you can't take anyone out of this line and have it make sense historically.

    I have never said Kajukenbo is the same as Villari's Shaolin Kempo, Nick Cerio's Kenpo, George Pesare's Kenpo or Gascon's Karazenpo. What I did say is scratch beneath the surface and the 'core' or all of the Hawaiian-derived Kenpo/Kempo offshoots (Mitose/Chow) is essentially the same (I still believe that and that's my opinion), the 'core' that is and any system that Kajukenbo spawned took it a step further with the commonality of the concept of the four ways of fighting or punches & strikes, kicks which included Korean type kicking techniques, locks & holds, takedown & throws. For instance, you won't see such an emphasis on the Jiu Jitsu and the grappling part in, let's say EPAK and it's offshoots as you would Karazenpo and it's offshoots. There is an obvious relationship there with Kajukenbo, like it or not. Now, some arts that have no relationship to Kajukenbo have evolved and now incorporate a more balanced system but what I'm pointing out is that derivative systems of Kajukenbo like Shaolin Kempo had it all along (at least when I studeid it-70's to early 80's). Yes, the systems are distinct and that's why they are systems that stand on their own with different headmasters or founders, they retain their originality of their own perspectives of the 'mother' art although there are some commonalities/similarities in certain movements and techniques which is only normal with a subsystem. I hope I've made myself clear on this and this IS what I have said all along.

    Next, references were made about KGS and 10 techniques and 4 forms. First of all, I believe there were originally a dozen, 12 techniques and 4 forms (and it was me that informed you guys on a request of SGM. Pesare that he created #5, #6 and #7), not much of a difference on the number of combinations, 10 or 12, but I just wanted to be accurate and also point out that Professor Chow also started his early system from what I have read with 12 techniques or line drills and one form. When I was researching the early Hawaiian Kempo I read in Black Belt that ALL the early Hawaiian masters of these systems and their offshoots heavily drilled the basics and had a LIMITED number of techniques that when borrowing from the basics created others. There was NO mention of forms at all, outside of Mitose and Naihanchi back then. That was it, one form and 12 core techniques or master key movements. Prof. Thomas Young in the 50's had to ask Mitose permission to learn and add Oyama's 5 pinan series from Edward 'Bobby' Lowe. (Lowe was a former Kenpo black belt who went over to study Oyama's system). Mr. Ed Parker I believe stated he built his system around 10 master key movements. So why do you single out Karazenpo Go Shinjtusu Shaolin Kempo when everyone else started out the same way???..... including Kajukenbo!

    I don't know the following for a fact but my opinion is and I'm willing to bet the early Kajukenbo inception date 1947-49 they did not have the original 8 pinans (I know, it's since expanded to 12 and then 14). Again, this... I could be off on, it's just my personal insight from history that the original 8 pinans of Kajukenbo were added probably in the 50's. If not, I will stand corrected. I also noticed the Kajukenbo pinans now called Palama sets are very short forms, not criticizing that by any means but by the same token don't criticize the early beginnings of KGS either. SGM. Pesare in his early years expanded the original techniques number to 21 and always said in class: "There are 21 combinations in the Kempo system". "If you are creative and imaginative you will have hundreds". "If you are uncreative and unimaginative, you will always have 21". This seems to to fall right in line with these early systems and concepts I wrote about earlier. Mr. Pesare also added a full curriculum of forms-up to #7 pinan/kata, Taikyoku shodan (#1 pinan in SKK and NCK), a February drill (form), Shotokan's Bassai, etc. He also taught master key movements that he just referred to as 'Keys' and weapons both traditional right up to Bladefighting, firearms and a whole lot of other struff, to much to get into here. The influence of the Filipino Martial arts of escrima was also passed down to Nick Cerio by SGM. Pesare and Cerio in turn passed it on to his black belts.

    As far as those on the east coast go, here's what I know first hand. I think you have it wrong there. I know of only one that went the Kajukenbo way from my lineage, it doesn't mean there weren't others but none that I know of and if so, it can't be many. Again, this is the east coast. Mr. Rich Fescina went to SGM. Pesare with no satisfaction, then went to Professor Godin whom we all know passed away in 2001 and then ended up in Kajukenbo. He has a chain of schools, so all his students will now be linked to Kajukenbo, if you wish to count them, for he is legitmately ranked in Kajukenbo. My link to Kajukenbo (outside the concept of lineage) is 'earnestly' discussed and thoroughly explained on my website if you wish to read the two open letters on the Homepage. Prof. Tom Ingargliola (N.Y.) was former Fred Villari who went with Prof. Kimo Ferriera and currently has a large chain of successful schools. He is the soke-dai to Prof. Ferriera's system. Some of the Masters of Self Defense schools who have broken off from the mother franchise have also gone under the tutledge of Prof. Ferriera. 'Masters' was formerly of Fred Villari also. Some also went with Nick Cerio's Kenpo. Hanshi Craig Seavey went with Prof. Larry Garron (one of Prof. Cerio's instructors) after the death of Nick Cerio and Shihan John James of NCK went with Master Bil Chun Jr. of the Chow lineage. The founders of 'Masters' (Bob Nohelty & Jimmy Bryant) are now under SGM. S. George Pesare. Mr. Pesare only has some 50 (give or take) black belts in over 45 years. GGM. H. Victor 'Sonny' Gascon has 43 since he began. Prof. Nick Cerio has many more since he opened a small chain of schools worldwide. You can get a head count on his website, they are all listed. Schools that left Villari went to Cerio and or Pesare and Gascon over the years, not Kajukenbo. Some of Mattera/Demasco's USSD, an offshoot of Villari's, went with Nick Cerio and I don't know who else. Some of Villari/Cerio also went with Ed Parker's organization out here but not that many. What's happening or has happened on the west coast I don't know but this is how it went down out here. After politcal differences and/or blowouts with their former organizations, many were just looking for a home to belong to and continue their studies. I'm sure everyone can understand that. There was no big run to Kajukenbo out here at all. Again, the connection made is simply an accurate historical link in the lineage ladder, so John, don't let it go to your head, lol, just kidd'n.

    Sijo Emperado also cross ranked Ed Parker to 8th dan. John has said in the past he doesn't believe in anyone cross ranked in a system that they do not know the curriculum and never studied. This wasn't a recognition or promotion of a rank Mr. Parker already had BUT an elevation from 6th. Do I feel Mr. Parker deserved it, ABSOLUTELY! My justification of Sijo Emperado's decision? (not that he needs my justification, lol) We are all branches of the same tree, the same root-Emperado-Chow-Mitose. John, as you tell me, go to Sijo and ask him why? Not the reason why he earned the rank, meaning Mr. Parker's great contributions to the martial arts world but the concept of cross ranking outside of Kajukenbo.

    I wish to argue with no one, as I said before I'm sick of it all BUT I'm nobody's whipping boy either! John, I wish this rift between us never happened. I believe from your perspective and in your heart you feel you had to do what you had to do and from my perspective I did what I had to do. I said my part, now some can trash me all they want, at this point, I have said my piece and could care less. The public can read this, they can do their own homework and they can decide what they wish to believe or not to believe. Again, I didn't make anything up here, this is what I've been told. If they are mistaken, so be it BUT they are active Kajukenbo sources so don't point the finger at me! I, however, choose to believe them at this point, for their version makes more sense and fits into the time line much, much better, not to mention, they have no dog in the fight either. I've checked them out and I'm comfortable with my sources or else I wouldn't go with it. On occasions here, if I said something that was solely my opinion, I stated it as such and did not report it as fact. I have also, on occassion, received unsigned e-mails or those with screen names that I cannot verify who these people are, so this information finds it's way into my 'circular file', lol. Some of you can cut and paste and post all you want now and ask me questions over and over because this time, I'm not looking back to get aggravated all over again and spend valuable time at this stupid keyboard when I can be doing something worthwhile. This is ridculous. So, spin it 'any which way but loose', lol, I just don't give a damn anymore.

    I also want to go out saying this is in no way a put down to Kajukenbo system, no way what-so-ever!!! It's a great system and Sijo Emperado did a helluva job putting it all together BUT so didn't the other seniors in their systems also. As you stated once before John, all the arts may not have got into Kajukenbo during it's inception as written but eventually they all did. Isn't this what I have been saying all along but you get all bent out of shape on? Do you remember writing that to me in an e-mail or are you going to say I made that up? Let's not put anyone down anymore! I'm just making my case that we are all in the same boat. Dig deep enough in any style, system and/or lineage and you'll find the same old sh_t! Remember, I'm done with this b.s. so don't go posting questions to me here that I won't see, so if you feel it's that important, call me for as I told you before, I will not open an e-mails from you guys. Let's do it mano-mano, next best thing to in person do to our geography. Those that are asking the questions have my home phone. I will be cordial when or if you call.

    John, understand one thing about me. When push comes to shove and I put things in prespective, I don't give a rat's ass if any of the forefathers of the KGS 'initially' had black belts or not. I've seen them do their thing and I know of their great contributions and accomplishments to their art. I have complete confidence in all our seniors, both living and dead and I'm not going to 'lay down' or 'roll over' for you either, like some do, because you're 'John Bishop'. It is you that clings to myths like it's matter of life and death, as if everything will come to an end in your world if there is a discrepency in the five founders story or some promotions were made in Kajukenbo to those that 'may' not have truly earned them. Who gives a damn? Welcome to the 'real' world of the rest of us. You and yours are not exempt, it's everywhere. It's simply the human condition.

    This popular story has found its way into many karate magazine articles and websites over the years. This excerpt was taken directly from a Kajukenbo website:

    "He then described how his first black belt Marino Tiwanak joined his class after being soundly defeated by him in response to Tiwanak's challenge. What makes this such a astonishing story is the fact that Marino Tiwanak was the flyweight boxing champion of Hawaii at the time of the challenge".

    I checked this out and was told it was a myth.....never happened. Perhaps it can be one of the questions asked at the meeting below:

    *As of 09/17/06 @ 0535 hours EST I got off the phone with Prof. Rash and GGM. Gascon in Hawaii. They also have read your latest posting on Bullshido amongst other things and interpreted it the same way I did with no influence from me what-so-ever. Prof. Rash told me to tell you (John Bishop) that Sijo Emperado has breakfast periodically in San Clemente with your instructor, Gary Forbach whether you know that or not. Mike says he lives close by and it's also close to you. This has been okayed by Sonny Gascon, he's in. You let Mike know when you will be there and you can ask Sonny Gascon any questions you wish, right to his face with Sijo Emperado there, 'digs' and all. Didn't you write me something like "all he (Gascon) did was get upset with the mother school so he decided to leave Kajukenbo and invent a new system." I believe that's close enough, especially the 'invent' dig but I can always check my archives. That's only a mild 'dig' though, lol, there are better ones than that! I stated to you recently that the reason for the rift reported in the 'accepted' history between Mr. Gascon and Kajukenbo was not historically accurate. It was not an attempt to get Mr. Gascon to send money to the mother school for use of the patch, name and system of Kajukenbo but instead was due to Sonny Gascon and John Leoning visiting San Francisco's Chinatown in an attempt to try to find Chinese who would trade Kajukenbo techniques for Kung Fu. If you recall, back in that time, teaching outside your ethnic group or race was frowned upon. Mitose drew some heat over it and later, Bruce Lee had his life threatened by the Chinese masters. Instead of attempting to confirm or deny this on your end, your response was something to the tune of 'I will stick with my version of the story'....that was kind of arrogant, don't you think? All we ask is you be as 'aggressive' as you have been on the forums. Perhaps aggressive is not the right adjective to describe your demeanor when someone attempts to debate you. In other words, don't tone it down or spin it. John, as I stated above, the answers to any of your questions will have no impact on my life or martial arts or anyone elses' in my lineage, it really doesn't matter one way or the other BUT what myself and some others want to see is if you're the same in person with Mr. Gascon as you are behind a keyboard and this is not just my opinion. You can e-mail Mike direct at If you don't wish the meeting, that's fine, we'll respect that but just leave us the hell alone, that's all we ask and we'll do the same.

    Now, to be completely fair and balanced. It has been said Gm. Charles Mattera paid Prof. Nick Cerio a large sum of money for an 8th degree black belt. I've heard as high as $50,000, lol. Not so but there is some credence to this that may be misinterpreted or construed to lead one to believe that something like this went down. I understand that. Here's what happened first hand to the best of my knowledge. First off, this is not in defense or support of Mr. Mattera and the USSD nor am I going to throw stones either. If you want to know more about the 'current' USSD (Villari used this name originally when he started in 1971, then Mattera took it later on when he broke off) there are plenty of threads floating around the forums. I have enough on my plate right here. Mr. Cerio went into a business venture with Mr. Mattera. Cerio was more or less 'hired' to be the Headmaster or Overseer of the organization. I believe, from memory, the figure was somewhere around $20,000. Cerio's responsibilites was to train the staff including Mattera, seminars, personal appearances and demonstrations at USSD tournaments. He was also to go over the system and curriculum and add his perspectives or concepts of Kenpo to the mix, in the words of Nick Cerio, 'cleaning it up'. Mattera was a 7th dan (Villari) at this time. He was a 4th or 5th when I was a 1st and I believe he was a 7th from Villari when I was a 6th from Cerio or close to that. My point being, he certaily had the time in grade for an 8th. Cerio was also training him privately at the time of the promotion. He was one of Villari's first wave of early black belts and had a very long gap between 7th when he left Villari and when Cerio promoted him to 8th dan. An old friend of Cerio's on the east coast (I'm purposely withholding the name) got in touch with him and they had a long talk. After that, Prof. Cerio cut all ties with Mr. Mattera and the USSD and never really seemed to want to talk about it again. That's all I know or want to know.

    Another black eye that keeps popping up on Mr. Cerio is Geary's very brief affiliation with him and NCIMAA that quickly soured. This has been beaten to death on the forums so all I'll say here is that Cerio was 'lied too' and he called the whole thing "an embarrassing mistake". If anyone has any further questions on this, please take it to the Cerio organization. Now, it seems GGM. Sonny Gascon, Doc Chapel (the Parker lineage) and as of late, Hansh Lou Angel (Peter Urban's Goju Ryu lineage) have all cut ties with this individual after bad experiences.

    So, in Nick Cerio's entire career, these are the only 'controversial' stories that keep popping up. It's really ashame some won't let it go but actually, it also speaks volumes for Cerio, considering his over 30 years in the arts at the time of his death. Prof. Cerio's training and background speaks for itself with black belt rankings from such icons as George Pesare, William Chow, Bill Chun Sr. and Ed Parker.

    Now, we have GGM. Victor 'Sonny' Gascon, (Kajukenbo under Leoning & Emperado), founder of Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu-the original Shaolin Kempo of Hawaii. (see bio on my website) Again.... topic of Geary.....beaten to death in the forums so I will make this brief. For the 100th time, GGM. Gascon stated he made a mistake, he explained the circumstances surrounding 'his' mistake and took full responsibility for it. He then took the neccessary steps along with his organization (KGS BBS) to correct that mistake and see to it that it never happens again. He then moved on. What would you have him do? Jump off a bridge? I think not. At least these men did what some here have a hard time doing and that's admitting mistakes when they make them. Some could have it stamped on their foreheads but still won't owe up to it. This is also the only controversial thing that keeps popping up on Sonny Gas' martial arts carreer, gimme a break!

    SGM. S. George Pesare brought the early teachings of John Leoning and Sonny Gascon to Rhode Island circa. 1960 and became legendary. During his early training, he studied under many notables including Jack Kwang, achieving multiple dan ranks (up to 5th) in various systems (see bio on my website) which led to the creation of his popular, street effective 'Americanized' version of Kempo. He was bestowed with the 'Grand Master's Belt in KGS by GGM. Gascon and as the 'UNDISPUTED" founder of Kenpo/Kempo Karate in New England is recognized as a 10th degree black belt. Sounds right to me.

    GM. Federick J. Villari is the founder of an 'Americanized version of Shaolin Kempo Karate. He is responsible for the largest propagation of the Kenpo/Kempo arts in the world. He began in Kenpo with Professor Nick Cerio and was eventually tested and promoted to 2nd degree black belt (probationary) but did not complete his probation period and so is listed as a shodan in the Cerio records. In looking throughout this Hawaiian derived Kenpo/Kempo, all lineages, Mr. Villari seemed to have either as much or more training in the art when he also decided to go independant and do his own thing than most. All in all, despite some controversy and their differences, Mr. Cerio stated to me and I quote: "He was a damn good black belt."

    These are the three big guns of New England Kenpo/Kempo, the man who started it all (S. George Pesare), his student (Nicholas R. Cerio) and his student's student (Frederick J. Villari). This New England lineage is as good as anyone elses' out there and better than some. Yet, Cerio 's two publicized mistakes in judgement keeps coming back to haunt an illustrious carreer because some won't let it go, not fair and Gascon's mistake with Geary is also beaten like a dead horse and some won't let that one go either. Give it a rest. I wonder how many mistakes some here have made or will make in their livetime and would they like to be held accountable for them forever? Would you? Look, this was an awful lot to cover so I hope no one gets on my case if I failed to touch on something. I mean, gimme a break, look at the length of this post and remember, before passing judgements on others look in your closets and your own back yards. Nuff said. Take care & be safe. Respectfully submitted Prof. Joe Shuras

    PS: Here's something to ponder. If Mitose wasn't a black belt or a 21st descendant and lacked true skills as some here believe then where does that leave Thomas Young & William Chow's black belt and Adriano Emperado's or for that matter, where does that leave us? My answer? Who gives a rat's ass!
    Also, 'some' in this debate like to take quotes out of the full context of my response and comment on them. Do me a favor because I'm not coming back here (it's a waste of time, s.o.s.), when that happens, go back to my original post they excerpted it from and I'm sure the answer will be found somewhere within, if not, try my website. I would have posted this a few days ago but MAP was shut down due to a server change. Thank you for your time and patience - Prof. Joe

    The following was taken from a book on Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate and the second quote from Sifu Bruce Corrigan:

    Some Thoughts About History

    The history of karate is cloaked in mystery as is all history, with different dates, facts, reasons, names, times and places. This holds true especially in karate as it was only passed on by word of mouth and was not recorded because originally the practitioners were sworn to secrecy.

    Consequently, there are no known records, books or drawings from these early times. We cannot refer to documents but we must satisfy ourselves with the folk tales and myths of our predecessors.

    Some Thoughts About Our Kempo History

    "The development of this Martial Art is bursting with tales of infighting, migration, development, and unique personalities. Almost all of the founders in one way or another have been involved in some sort of dispute or controversy which spurred them to go out on their own. The most remarkable result from all of this is that we now have multiple forms or methods of kempo, all of which seem to have benefited the system as a whole".- Sifu Bruce Corrigan

    C.H.A.3 OR KAJUKENBO? (This was taken directly from the Tiwanak website. This was not my source but thought it would be interesting reading. Any questions please go to:


    It is commonly stated in martial arts that Professor Marino Tiwanak was the first black belt from the Kajukenbo system, however, I think some points have to be cleared up. When Professor Tiwanak retired from Professional boxing in 1947, he began training in the art of Kenpo under Adriano Emperado and his brother Joe Emperado.

    Professor Tiwanak stated that others who later joined the class were Bob Gohea, Walter Lee, Vernon Chong, Ben Lau, Herbert Kanahele, and Dan Taba. Professor Tiwanak stated that there was also an eighth member but could not recall his first name, he did remember his last name to be Hanohano.

    During this era of training, which took place before Palama Gym, Professor Tiwanak stated that they went by the name "Kenpo Karate". Later when they moved to Kalihi and started training at Palama Gym, they were joined by Woodrow McCandless who was already a black belt instructor under James Mitose, and running his own class. Woodrow McCandless later merged his class with the Emperado group under the "Kenpo Karate" banner.

    Tiwanak then went on to earn his black belt. Tiwanak stated that when he received his black belt, it had taken him eight years of training to achieve this rank, however, he had earned his black belt under the "Kenpo Karate" banner, because the term Kajukenbo did not yet exist. It was not until Professor Tiwanak left Palama Gym to start the first C.H.A.3 school in 1956, did he hear the term Kajukenbo being used by Emperado.

    Professor Tiwanak maintained that when he had received his black belt from Emperado, there was no Kajukenbo in existence. He also stated that his C.H.A.3 Association has never been a member of, or linked to the Kajukenbo Association! He stated that he always will respect and credit Adriano Emperado as being his instructor, but was never a member of the Kajukenbo.

    Professor Tiwanak also wished to express the fact that besides Adriano Emperado, Joe Emperado and Woodrow McCandless were also his instructors. Professor Tiwanak stated that when he was a student, all beginners wore white gi's, and he did not know in what year, or why the Emperado group changed to all black gi's. Professor Tiwanak also stated that the design of the three leaf clover that is the Kajukenbo trademark, was designed by old time Kajukenbo member Joe Halbuna of San Francisco.

    Professor Tiwanak added some trivia by saying that the first "Kajukenbo" tournament was held in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1968 at the old H.I.C. (Hawaii International Center) Arena, which has since been renamed the Neal Blaisdell Arena. Professor Marino Tiwanak also stated that some senior Kajukenbo members actually started training under the C.H.A.3 System before leaving and joining Kajukenbo. Those he had mentioned were: Marce Totor, Jaime Basquez, John Leone, and Alan Abad.

    Professor Tiwanak stated that his main reason for leaving Palama Gym and starting the C.H.A.3 schools were the deaths of Woodrow McCandless, and later Joe Emperado.
  18. John Bishop

    John Bishop Valued Member

    Is this really the last final time your going to address this? I thought that was the case last time?
    I can't believe I just wasted 15 minutes of my life reading the same old rumors and innuendo rehashed again. What, not enough people were reading your daily rantings on your website? Pathetic
  19. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    That site is a good read. My instructor, who studied C.H.A. 3 Kenpo Karate under Frank Suan, I believe told me that Kajukenbo originally went under the name kenpo karate. That there was no Kajukenbo in the beginning, only Kenpo Karate.

    It comes as little surprise to me that the first students did not use the name Kajukenbo. Maybe it took eight years for the name to be used, I don't know but this would not be unusual. Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido started teaching in the early nineteen-twenties, but the name Aikido did not come into existance until nineteen forty-two. That leaves more than twenty years for some students to have studied the art that would later become Aikido.

    It also comes as no big surprise that the Kajukenbo system has changed some throughout the years from the original teachings conducted in the late nineteen-forties.

    IMHO, most all of this is accounted for in the Kajukenbo family trees. If we look at the founders on top, most notably Sijo Adriano Emperado, then to the right are other systems that are recognized as being developed by students of Adriano Emperado and leading down that path we see Karazenpo. C.H.A. 3 Kenpo Karate is also on a branch.

    It is clear that Karazenpo and C.H.A. 3 Kenpo Karate, for example, are not the same thing as Kajukenbo. However, we all share some common roots and we are all part of an extended family.

    Other branches fall more directly under the Kajukenbo tree and these would be considered methods of Kajukenbo and for all intensive purposes, these all can claim to be direct descendants -- The more immediate family.

    It is clear that we are all linked in some way as family but it is also very clear to me that Karazenpo is not the same as Kajukenbo or visa versa, and if there was ever a claim that they are the same, that claim is very suspect, IMO.

    Now where things come back together is that many move from one branch to another. For example, my instructor went from C.H.A. 3 Kenpo Karate and joined Kajukenbo, we have 2nd degree black belt from Karazenpo that sometimes trains with us (Kajukenbo) since he is thousands of miles from his home dojo.

    It's all good. :)
  20. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    You really read fast!

    MS Word reports Using the default 10 point font, this forum post comes out to FIFTEEN PAGES in MS word. Word reports 9970 words, 54612 characters! Incredible!

    And I'm not even really sure what the point was... :confused:
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2006
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