I've mentioned this before but for those of you who don't know on top of being a Father, Surfer and Social Scientist, I am also a certified Martial Arts Instructor (2nd Degree Black Belt, Kajukenbo). If you want to learn more about the style I use I recommend you watch (or listen) to my podcast on the subject here:
or Youtube here:
Either way. For the longest when I moved to Japan I thought I was the only one in Japan, who practiced the Hawaiian Martial Art of Kajukenbo. Until one day I came across an email address on a blog to a Sifu named John Hojlo. It was an old email that asked about training in Japan. I took a long shot and contacted him and found that Japan had one other person that practiced the same style as me.
What's the difference between Kajukenbo and MMA?
I don't want to sound like I am selling my style as the best, but Kajukenbo is one of the original methods that incorporates traditional marital arts, with conventional self defense. It is also one of the first mixed martial arts (MMA). But since it has a traditional background there are several different styles used when compared to the MMA gyms you see today.
For example if you go to a MMA gym, you will find a few dominant styles such as Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Your training will be mostly likely based on cage fighting, with an emphasis on endurance and strength training. You will be doing a lot of drills with the pads(punching mitts and kicking pads) and rolling (grappling). Depending on your camp, there will also be a lot of sparring.
Kajukenbo has all of the above mentioned drills and also includes self defense for the street. Your sparring will include 1 on 1 and also multiple opponents on 1. This is to teach you when to fight and how to fight off several attackers. Now the goal is not always to win, but to survive and learn when to execute a tactical retreat.
Kajukenbo also uses Katas (forms) to pass on the knowledge that was handed down to us by the founders. The forms go back to Japan, Korea and China (depending on the school). Some people hate forms and say that they are useless. But if you really love martial arts, forms are the art part of martial ARTS , otherwise all you're left with is combat.
Training in Okayama
This brings me to the title of this article. Yesterday I went to train with Sifu John and his students in Okayama. I've been doing my Kajukenbo training on my own, but lately, I've been mostly doing MMA, Kickboxing and Grappling for my sparring. I was reminded really quick what Kajukenbo sparring is like.
After we were done with some Kung Fu drills we went into the sparring.
The first round with Sifu John was pretty good. He landed a few strikes and I got a few punches in. Towards the end of the match I tried to do a take down and got grabbed by the neck. I'm not sure what the technique was but it was followed with a knee. Of course it was all controlled, nothing crazy, but today my neck is still sore. In fact the second round I got in a guillotine submission. But unlike MMA this is not the end of the fight. We stood back up and continued are round. This was when Sifu John landed a low kick to my thigh. Needless to say I couldn't get my 5k run in today because I could barely walk (great job Sifu John).
"After getting hit hard Kiyai, after the fight, you can always cry by yourself in the fitting room"
- Sigung Ronnie Issaguire
I watched the other fights and saw light head butts, thumb pokes to the throat and even a few over head slams. It sounds brutal, but it was all controlled and the bleeding was kept to a minimum. We did not use shin guards, only MMA gloves and kept it light for the head shots to avoid brain injuries. When we were finished we all bowed and shook hands.
It was great time and I can't wait to do it again!
I had a blast as always.We finished the training and Sifu John was kind enough to have my family over for lunch. His lovely wife made some great food and we all had a good time talking about Martial Arts, Japan and video games. All in all it was a great day off!
I didn't get any video footage this time. But next time I definitely will!
If you ever get a chance to do some Kajukenbo make sure to bring a cup because we also allow groin strikes and most of all get ready to have some fun!
I want to thank my Ohana in Okayama for having me over to train and I am looking forward to seeing them all again soon!
Social Gelo with Angelo
Sifu Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology/ Kajukenbo Instructor)