7, 2002 at the Christmas Banquet I was awarded the rank of 7th degree
Black Belt by Professor Julian
Generalao. He was accompanied
by the Master Chief of Derobio Escrima and they did a traditional Hawaiian
promotion and gave me a thick silk red belt with a black border. Professor
Generalao made a point to explain that I am a true master and am to
be referred to as Sigong (see-gung).
my title of Soke remains the same. Soke means head
of system, which means that the title will not change as my rank
changes. My old Guardian Kempo title by rank was Renshi (teacher
of sensei or teacher of teachers) and is now Kyoshi
(teacher of renshi or teacher of teachers of teachers).
Students should not refer to me as Sigong at our studio
- that title is my title at schools under Professor Generalao, and
while he is my promoting master, our school is not directly under his
OLD SCHOOL - NEW SCHOOL
awarded the belt, as part of the traditional award, they put me in
a horse stance with arms extended and left
me in that position
for a while as a show of my strength, then they hit me on each shoulder,
each thigh, and reverse elbowed me. They each did it from the front
and the back for a total of 20 strikes, which is intended to show how
tough I am. The strikes with the belt may not seem like much with a
normal belt, but the thick silk belt is heavy enough to easily break
the black rebreakable board stacked on top of the brown rebreakable
board, and they were hitting that hard. If I wasnt wearing a
heavy uniform, the strikes would probably have left marks.
Thats part of old school training, and thats an old school
promotion. I am a buffer instructor between the old school and new
school of training. The problem with old school training is that it
tends to be very brutal, somewhat militaristic, and people are often
demeaned and injured in the course of training. Old school is fairly
harsh and intended almost exclusively for teen and adult men who want
to be tough fighters. Anyone who has seen our rank promotions or training
sessions knows that we never intentionally inflict pain on students
to show toughness.
training focuses more on character and less on aggression, more on
self defense and less on fighting,
more on systematic development
of a martial artist and less on producing hard core fighters. The new
school instructors, however, tend to suffer from a lack of knowledge
and skill. Many new school instructors stopped learning and training
under the old school instructors while still relatively low ranking,
and many have not sought out higher levels of knowledge and skill.
That often leaves people with a choice - train old school to gain real
mastery, or train new school and stop gaining knowledge between 1st
and 3rd degree Black Belt. Its rare to find a new school teacher
with old school mastery.
Thats why I serve as a buffer between old school and new school.
I train old school with old school masters, and I teach new school
while maintaining old school effectiveness for those students who do
everything they ought to do. That way my students dont have to
train with ten different grandmasters and sift through decades of martial
arts material to distill universal principles. This way students can
learn nearly everything without going through everything I had to go
through to learn what I know.
GUARDIAN KEMPO HISTORY
Chief said that the history of our art was important, and with the
exception of the senior Guardian
Kempo students, most dont
know our history. We have a lineage that goes through many masters
and styles that contributed to the creation of Guardian Kempo.
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Kempo/Kenpo (Kara Ho Kempo, Kajukenbo)
In the late 1940s, Professor William Chow and Master James Mitosi
met in Hawaii. William Chow was a master of Chinese Kempo Kung Fu under
his father, a Buddhist monk. James Mitosi was a master of Japanese
Kenpo Karate. They met and worked together to develop the art that
would spawn a dozen different martial arts styles under the general
headings of Kenpo and Kempo. Most modern Kenpo and Kempo styles came
through those two men.
Chows top students, and
ultimately his highest ranked student and system inheritor was Sam
Kuoha. Sam Kuoha also mastered
Aikido under a variety of instructors, notably Shihan John Damian,
and incorporated many advanced Aikido principles into the Kempo system
he now headed, giving rise to an art known to much of the Kenpo/Kempo
community as Kara Ho Kempo Aikido. Sam Kuoha is one of my instructors
from whom I earned a Black Belt and for whom I first taught lessons.
With Grandmaster Kuoha, I traveled to Mexico City and Cody, Wyoming
to train Black Belts in his art, with my highest ranked seminar student
the 4th dan master of the school in each case.
in Professor Chows teaching career was a man named
Adriano Emperado. Master Emperado later joined forced with other masters,
notably Junior Ulangca, and they combined their knowledge of Karate,
Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Boxing to make an art that became known as Kajukenbo.
The techniques that would be incorporated in that system were decided
simply by the masters of each fighting style going into a locked room
and fighting - then sorting out the techniques that worked from those
that did not and building the martial art from the knowledge gained
from that fighting. One of Adriano Emperados and Junior Ulangcas
top early students was a young man named Julian Generalao who had already
trained in martial arts extensively for decades and learned Kajukenbo
from Masters Emperado and Ulangca.
of the Hawaiian arts and those arts that came from the orient through
the islands were often harsh arts
to learn. It was common
to be beaten up in your training, and injuries were common. Hawaii
wasnt a state, yet, and it was a bit like the Wild West but with
martial arts fights rather than gunfights. Almost every young man would
end up in fights, and so the training was brutal to prepare the young
men for the near certainty of real fighting.
I have a
first degree Black Belt from Grandmaster Sam Kuoha, the system inheritor
directly from Professor Chow. I have
a sixth degree Black
Belt in Chinese Kempo Chuan Shu from Professor Generalao, and now a
seventh degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo from Professor Generalao (with
the promotion recognized and authorized by half a dozen local and regional
masters since the rank is within one of Professors rank).
Japanese Arts (Kenpo, Karate, Jujitsu)
that flow into Guardian Kempo include Shiho Karano Kenpo Jujitsu
from Soke Clement Riedner, the master
and developer of that
system. I have a first degree Black Belt directly from Soke Riedner.
In another art, Mukashi Kindai Ryu Karate Jujitsu, developed and lead
by Soke Rick Boyer, I have a second degree Black Belt directly from
the headmaster of that art as well. The jujitsu aspects of each of
these arts flows from Japanese Jujitsu, which is mostly a stand-up
grappling art using joint locks, throws, holds, takedowns and off-balancing
techniques. That, in turn, came from the original Yuwara arts practiced
by the samurai during the Togukawa Shogunate, one of the Bugei
Juhappan or Eighteen Martial Arts.
The Kenpo aspects of Shiho Karano and the Karate aspects of Mukashi
Kindai Ryu also flowed from the Japanese arts of the same name. Japanese
Kenpo emphasizes linear motion, including a guard, and rapid fire hand
techniques. Chinese Kempo, on the other hand, largely uses circular
motion, but also uses rapid fire hand techniques. Karate focuses more
on perfection of technique, traditional stances and physical development.
Cajun Art (Keichu Do)
I also have
a third degree Black Belt from Soke Karl Marx (yes, thats
his real name). He started as a street fighter in the bayou of Louisiana
and learned boxing and judo by formal training and a little knife fighting
on the streets. Over the years, he became an expert fighter. He used
a karate method of codifying his fighting style so he could teach it.
Over time, he started to compete in tournaments, but the martial arts
tournaments in the 50s and 60s would only admit practitioners of oriental
martial arts, so he named his style Keichu Do Karate Jujitsu and competed
with his students. Over several decades, the art developed to a complete
martial art and Karl Marx became a recognized master after just over
30 years of refining his style of fighting. From Soke Marx, I have
a 3rd degree Black Belt, and Grandmaster Marx was the master that promoted
me to Soke - above rank which, technically, means that
he recognizes me as higher ranked that anyone who is not the head of
his own system. However, I still pursue traditional rank advancement
to solidify the respect for Guardian Kempo in the martial arts community
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Other Arts (Small Circle Jujitsu, Aikido, Aikijutsu)
Other masters from whom I learned, but did not earn a Black Belt,
include Grandmaster Wally Jay of Small Circle Jujitsu. We use some
of his finger locks, small joint locks, and even throwing techniques.
Grandmaster Jimmy Yamaue of North Shaolin Kung Fu and Yamaue Aikijitsu
gives us some of our more advanced blending techniques and pressure
In the earliest
years of the 20th century, there was no Aikido, but an art called
Daito Ryu Aikijitsu. The man who
would later be known
as O-Sensei (great teacher) Morihei Ueshiba originally learned that
art, but then built a softer, gentler version that became Aikido. From
him, four senior masters headed in different directions with their
training, with several offshoots of Aikido from their students and
other students of O-Sensei. One of the top masters was Koichi Tohei,
who emphasized the use of ki principles. Through that line of Aikido,
Shihan (master) John Damian trained, as well as Sensei Marty Katz.
Thats where we get the basics concepts of our Ki Principles and
some of our applications of Aikido principles, both of which I met
and trained with through Sam Kuoha. Supplementing that is the Aikijitsu
information from Jimmy Yamaue and more Aikido exposure from Master
Dong Thong Phong, both of whom I met through Karl Marx.
Ground Fighting (Brazilian Jiujitsu)
Japanese Jujitsu made its way to Brazil in the earlier parts of the
20th century, and among the early students was a young man named Helio
Gracie. However, Japanese Jujitsu essentially focuses on the techniques
that start from a standing position and result in the opponent going
down. Helio Gracie recognized a need for something that worked on the
ground to complete the needs for Brazilian culture. He started from
the traditional Japanese techniques and built an art that applied those
principles and expanded on them for purposes of fighting on the ground.
The ground fighting technique he started was known as Gracie Jiujitsu,
and his teaching gave rise to a whole branch of Jujitsu known as Brazilian
Jiujitsu. Helio Gracie and later his sons wished to show that their
art was truly effective, so they left an open challenge to anyone who
wanted to come fight to test their skill. For more than 30 years, Gracie
Jiujitsu was virtually undefeated. Helio Gracie only lost once to a
Japanese Jujitsu master that outweighed Helio by 65 pounds. The combination
of skill mastery and greater weight and strength was just enough for
the Japanese master to beat him. From more then 50 other matches, Helio
His sons left that challenge open as they came to America. It would
be years before they would be beaten, and even then it would be by
someone who was trained in Brazilian Jiujitsu from another lineage
of the original Gracie art. When I was developing Guardian Kempo, I
wanted the grappling skills to be more complete, and since the Gracies
had almost never been beaten and my own groundfighting training was
limited (some judo and aikido was essentially it), I accepted their
challenge back in 1991. I lost, of course, but in so doing I learned
a lot about how a skilled grappler can neutralize a striker. I learned
more of Gracie Jiujitsu in the following years, trained with a wrestler
and earned Black Belts in the combined Karate Jujitsu and Kenpo Jujitsu
systems to develop the Guardian Kempo counter grappling and strike
One of the
first Brazilian Jiujitsu instructors in the San Diego area was Roy
Harris, originally a student of the
Gracie Brothers in Torrance,
and later under Joe Moriera. Among Roys top students is Preston
Rawlings, who teaches Brazilian Jiujitsu at the Conway Academy. Working
with Preston has helped me refine some of the pure grappling skills
in Guardian Kempo, modified for the fact that we are training for universal
principles, we are assuming our opponent will want to hit us, and we
are assuming that the groin is an open target.
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More Arts and Integration
all the masters and instructors already mentioned, Ive
had the privilege to learn some principles from Stephen Hayes, the
highest ranked ninjitsu master in America. Ive also gained some
insights from seminars by other masters, including Fumio Demura of
Karate, Mike Swain of Judo, Jhoon Rhee of Taekwondo, Joe Lewis of Karate
Kickboxing and others. Limited exposure to several other masters and
their writings have also been of some assistance in building this system.
In addition, crafting Guardian Kempo has also taken a lot of thought,
sorting through a lot of sometimes-conflicting principles, and years
of refinements and adjustments.
The Best from Each System...?
of this, there is an important point that I should make clear. The
common misconception about Black Belts
from multiple arts making
their own arts is the idea that someone could take the best from
each system and discard the rest. First, one does not learn the
best from each system without really mastering the details at
advanced levels, a process that one might expect to spend decades doing.
Since I dont have advanced Black Belts in all those systems,
I dont know the best from those martial arts.
What I know
are principles that can be used in Guardian Kempo. The
best parts of those arts would take me many more years to learn.
Armed with only 1st degree to 3rd degree Black Belt knowledge in four
arts, less than that in a dozen or so others, and master level rank
only in two, I cannot say that I know the "best parts" of
most of them. My training base is sufficient, however, to do what I
have done, to take fundamental principles from each and integrate them
into the comprehensive Guardian Kempo.
More Than Physical
masters saw the combat skills from their physical training as only
a small, small part of their mastery.
For them, health, fitness,
balance, strength and agility were just as important. Beyond the physical,
they saw the philosophical and psychological insights they gained as
more important. Even more critical to them was their sense of spiritual
growth and development. True martial arts mastery, in the traditional
sense, must extend into areas far beyond just the details of the physical
skills of the art. Otherwise, its just about fighting.
Thats why I am also educated. I earned a bachelors in
Criminal Justice Administration with supplemental graduate study in
Sociology and Social Psychology. I earned a juris doctor in Law and
was a practicing attorney for a decade (and recently renewed my license
to start doing legal work again). I earned a Ph.D. in Christian Martial
Arts (part-Physical Education, part-Martial Arts, part-Bible). Ive
taught martial arts instructors, taught a college course, and Ive
taught a number of seminars on a variety of subjects. Ive taught
Adult Sunday School, Elementary School Sunday School, and ages in between.
Ive written articles on a variety of topics for several different
magazines and co-authored the ACMA Instructor Certification Journal
(a martial arts instructor training manual to teach instructors how
to teach safely and effectively - used by more than 7,000 instructors).
All of this
history, experience, training, education and supplemental learning
pours into what I teach. As impressive
as everything Ive
written may seem, I am much more impressed with my wife, Wendy, than
with anything Ive done. She has the benefit of not having made
so many of the mistakes Ive made in my life. To me, shes
the impressive one of this couple, which is why I so often use our
marriage and her life as an example of how to do things right. She
had the wisdom to realize things as a teen that took me until nearly
30 to realize, and she has proven wiser and more insightful than almost
anyone I know. While I think I may be a good role model now, I certainly
did not follow nearly as worthy a path as did my beautiful and wise
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