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Aloha and Mabuhay,

In Topeka martial arts skills from are taught through our two primary styles: Chinese Kempo Karate and the Filipino martial art of Modern Arnis. Chinese Kempo rank is awarded during monthly testings, while Modern Arnis rank is awarded during the annual Topeka MARPPIO seminar as well as during other MARPPIO seminars held worldwide. Students can specialize in either art or learn both as they perfectly compliment each other.

Modern Arnis puts more flow into Chinese Kempo. Flow is where the body and whatever weapon it is using becomes one. Modern Arnis is often referred to as "the art within your art." This is more so for Chinese Kempo as many of its pioneers had experiences with various Filipino Martial Arts. Modern Arnis brings these influences back to full circle.

Chinese Kempo adds rock 'em and sock 'em self-defense techniques to Modern Arnis. Its practicality and street fighting mentality make Modern Arnis even more powerful. In addition the forms and katas add more depth and also help take Modern Arnis to a new level. A practitioner of both moves like a quiet storm. The silent power is all there but it moves so fast and with such stealth that nobody knows where the powerful hands of Kempo will make its next strike. So flow baby flow and keep training hard!

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History of Chinese Kempo Karate

Note: No disrespect is intended by the omission of titles as many of the people mentioned below are given different titles by different organizations. Also, names are either placed in a chronological order or alphabetically. My goal is to keep things simple and readable, remain subjective, and avoid politics.

We teach an eclectic martial art called Chinese Kempo. To us, an eclectic martial art is one designed to fit the student. Thus the art fits YOU. Kempo is like a bank: the more that you put into it, the more that you get out of it (with interest of course). The purpose of this version of history is not to present irrefutable facts to the world, but rather to provide our students with a verifiable lineage - to give them some roots. No matter what happened version of history one subscribes to, we all owe a lot to the early pioneers.

China’s Shaolin Temple has had the greatest influence on Kempo and all existing martial arts. Sometime between 520 and 535 A.D. the famous monk Bodhidharma aka Tamo or Da Mo, a prince and warrior of southern India, traveled from India to the Shaolin Temple to spread Ch’an Buddhism. He was upset with the physical shape and laziness of the monks and developed exercises to promote physical and spiritual health for them so that they will stay awake during meditation. The resulting exercises were not originally meant as fighting skills, but they hardened the monks and improved their physical capabilities. Fighting arts eventually developed, however it must be understood that some sort of martial art had previously existed in China.

Over the next few centuries, monks from the Shaolin Temple spread out to various Eastern countries such as Okinawa, the Ryukyu Kingdoms, and Japan. It was between the Sui and Ming Dynasty that the martial art known as Chuan Fa aka Kempo or "way of the fist" started spreading. During the invasion of Genghis Khan around 1300, the head monk of the Shaolin Temple fled China and found refuge at the Shinto temple of the Yoshida family, a prominent warrior family in Japan. (The monk eventually became known as Kosho Bosatsu or old pine tree enlightened one because he regularly meditated under an old pine tree.)

In appreciation for the kindness, he helped the Yoshida family add Kempo to the Jujitsu they had been practicing for generations. (Jujitsu is a system of unarmed combat using joint locks, throws and submission holds that had developed in Japan independent of other Asian fighting systems. It was widely practiced in Japan by the Middle Ages.) Kosho Bosatsu married into the family and family art, Kosho Ryu Kempo, was passed down through the generations. In 1916, one of Kosho Bosatsu’s descendants, a five-year-old Hawaiian-born James Mitose left Hawaii for Japan to study Kempo from his maternal grandfather, Sukuhei Yoshida, and became the 21st descendant of Kempo Karate. It is also said that he learned some Okinawan Karate techniques and katas from his maternal uncle, Choki Motobu.

James Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1936 and opened the "Official Self Defense Club" in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mitose retired from teaching because his students were too involved in the violence of the art and not enough in the religious aspects. He left his Kempo school in the hands of Thomas Young. (Later in 1953, Mitose would move to California and became ordained as a Christian minister. He earned doctorates in theology and philosophy.)

Mitose also promoted William Chow to blackbelt and had Young sign Chow’s blackbelt certificate (cultural politics at work). Chow had grown up studying Five Animal Shaolin Kung Fu from his father the Buddhist monk Hoon Chow. After years of studying with Mitose and Young, Chow went on to combine both his knowledge of Kung Fu and Kosho Ryu Kempo to form his own Kenpo Karate. Chow formed his own club at the Nuuana YMCA where he trained prominent martial artists like Ed Parker (the founder of American Kenpo Karate) and Adriano Emperado (the driving force behind the founding of Kajukenbo). Throughout the rest of his life, Chow continued to add even more Chinese influences in his own system called Kara-Ho Kempo.)

In 1947, the Palamas Settlement of Hawaii was a violent area where fistfights and stabbings were common. From this environment, the five founders of Kajukenbo wanted to develop an art that would make them invincible in the toughest streets of Hawaii. Emperado’s Kenpo learned from Chow (but prior to all of Chow’s modifications) was used as the backbone of the system. To test the effectiveness of their original techniques they got into fights. If the technique succeeded consistently in streetfighting it was kept as part of the system. This organization became known as the notorious Black Belt Society.

The word Kajukenbo is derived from the letter of the styles that contributed to the creation of the art. Together they make up the Kajukenbo motto: Through this fist art one gains long life and happiness.

KA (long life) - comes from the word Korean Karate, an art form that places the emphasis on hard and powerful techniques. The karate influence was from Tang Soo Do brought by Peter Yinn Yul (PYY) Choo.
JU (happiness) - comes from Judo and Jujitsu, art forms that emphasize throwing, locks and sweeps. The judo and jujitsu influence was from Kodenkan Danzan Ryu brought by Joe Holck and Se Keino Ryu brought by Frank Ordonez.
KEN (fist) - comes from Kenpo, a form of karate that not only stresses the hard and powerful movements, but also emphasizes multiple and fluid hand techniques. The Kenpo influence was from Emperado.
BO (style) - comes from Chinese boxing. Chinese boxing aka Kung Fu puts emphasis on flexibility and agility, parrying and evasive movements that flow together. The Chinese boxing influence was from Northern and Southern Kung Fu styles brought by Clarence Chang.

Although uncredited by name, other influences included American Boxing (Choo was Hawaiian Welterweight Champion) and Escrima (Emperado was taught by his Filipino relatives).

Only a few top martial artists including Walter Godin (also trained by Chow) were taught this new art form in the beginning. Then in 1950, Adriano Emperado and his younger brother Joe began teaching the new art in an open class in 1950 and called their school the Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute (KSDI). Godin said, "There are no words to describe the training sessions at Palama Settlement during the early days, unless you've experienced it, only then will you understand." Joe Emperado and Godin became best friends. Joe would often take him to secluded parks and practice self-defense that nobody else saw. Then he would "tell me to remember the techniques."

Joe was responsible for most of the training in the KSDI school until the Memorial Day weekend of 1958. One night after class several Kajukenbo students were hanging out at the Pink Elephant, a bar where Joe worked part-time as a bouncer. Joe stayed late waiting for his girlfriend who was working there. When the rest of the Kajukenbo students left, Joe asked his favorite student Godin to stay. Joe must have sensed something was wrong because at closing time, three men who stayed behind wanted to start some trouble and started messing around with Godin. Godin suggested that they take it outside. Right before it started coming down to blows, Joe went outside and shoved Godin inside hoping to close the door on the three troublemakers.

While Joe’s back was turned, George Shimabukuro stabbed him from behind. At that time, Joe did not even know he was stabbed and thought he was hit by a very hard punch. The next attack thrown was a strong hammerblow from Joe that knocked his attacker into parked cars. The fight continued with Joe Emperado squaring off with an armed George Shimabukuro while Godin took on the other two guys.

Imagine as a martial artist what it would be like to be in a fight back-to-back with your instructor on your side. Unfortunately, Godin and Joe Emperado lost that fight. When the police came, everyone ran. Joe lost so much blood from multiple stab wounds that he died the next day. He was able to tell his brother Adriano what happened and from that day forward the tradition of escorts was in effect. It is a matter of looking out for one another. The escorts would accompany a higher rank whenever s/he went out in public. Their job was to go everywhere with the higher ranking, including the restroom, to take care of anything behind him because he can take care what is in front of him. This tradition is still practiced today. After all, Joe would not have died that weekend if he had more escorts.

Unfortunately, Shimabukuro avoided jail time in Joe Emperado’s death. The claim of self-defense was allowed since Joe was well known as a dangerous martial artist (plus it was probably hard to determine from the multiple stab wounds examined during the autopsy when the first stab occurred). Some people even considered Godin to be a coward. Could this be true? Godin went on to become one of Kajukenbo’s top students and chief instructors. He was also Emperado’s bodyguard. If Emperado thought Godin was a coward, neither of these things would have happened!

In the late 1950’s, Godin and his brother-in-law, Victor "Sonny" Gascon, redesigned a lot of moves and techniques and founded Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu in Pasadena, CA. Karazenpo grew and now has schools worldwide. While in California, Godin frequently sparred Elvis Presley at Ed Parker’s school, which was within a couple of blocks from the Karazenpo school. Godin was so fast that he had to slow down and go easy with the King of Rock and Roll. (Although Parker had a lot of respect for Godin, it is said that he asked Godin not to attend his tournaments for fear that Godin’s tough sparring techniques would create too rough of an environment and things would get out of hand.)

Godin left California and started Godin’s School of Self Defense in Kaimuki, Hawaii. He began teaching when he called Chinese Kempo Karate in 1961. Around this time, Godin also went back to training with Chow, who was now teaching Kara-Ho Kempo, and studied Hawaiian Lua with Brother Abe Kamahoahoa. On December 16, 1973, Chow promoted Godin to the rank of Professor. Godin trained lots of martial artists including Martin Buell, John Hackleman, Eugene Sedeño, Delilah Godin, Bill Takeuchi and David Tavares. Godin continued to teach and operate the only standing school in the Palamas Settlement until his recent passing on August 7, 2001.

Buell along with many of his students left Godin’s School of Self Defense and created the Universal Kempo Karate Schools Association (UKKSA) in 1981. UKKSA teaches Chinese Kempo Karate, is headquartered in Aiea, HI and has several branches throughout the United State. Buell’s top students in Colorado include Garland Johnson and Jesse Manegdeg. Blackbelts who trained under them include Andrew Evans and Sheryl Baber Evans (Hokkien Martial Arts, Topeka, KS), Kurt Frankenberg (Freedom Martial Arts, Colorado Springs, CO), David Fullen (Fullen’s School of Self Defense, Dallas, TX), and Joe Gardino (UKKSA, Colorado Springs, CO).

Hackleman is one of the greatest Kickboxers to ever step into the ring and still holds titles in many Kickboxing associations. Hackleman, Delilah Godin and Bill Takeuchi were officially promoted to the rank of Professor and 10th Degree by Walter Godin on July 15, 2000. Hackleman is now head of Godin’s Ohana, an organization that recognizes the impact and contributions by Godin to the art of Kempo, and operates the Pit out of Arroyo Grande, CA. One of Hackleman’s well-known students is Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell, ranked as one of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world.

Eugene Sedeño currently teaches at Sedeño's School of Self Defense in Victorville, CA. He has won the Chinese Martial Arts Association’s and the International Kung Fu Association’s Competitor of the Year Awards and has been recognized in Who's Who in American Martial Arts and Who's Who in Karate. He was also the last person promoted by Mitose to the rank of master.

Due to politics, many schools recognize only a few founders of their art or minimize the contributions made by certain persons. Hokkien Martial Arts is proud to acknowledge the greatness and contributions made by the various martial artists mentioned above.

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History of Modern Arnis

Most of the below information came from MARPPIO and the book "Modern Arnis: The Filipino Art of Stick Fighting" by Grandmaster Remy Amador Presas.

The origins of arnis are difficult to trace, primarily because there are nearly as many styles of Filipino stick fighting as their are islands in the Philippine archipelago- more than 7,000. The races that settled in these islands came from India, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia. These diverse races and cultures blended their heritages over the centuries, producing a common method for employing sharp swords, daggers and sticks in combat.

One of the earliest known forms was called tjakalele (Indonesian fencing). Kali is another term familiar to stick fighters around the world today. When the Philippines were invaded by the well-armored Spanish, the invaders required guns to subdue their fierce opponents. The deadly fighting skills of Filipino warriors nearly overwhelmed them, and they dubbed the native stick style escrima (skirmish). One of the Spanish invaders killed by stick fighters was the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Escrima was subsequently outlawed, but the techniques did not disappear. They were preserved in secret, sometimes under the very noses of the conquerors, in the form of dances or mock battles staged in religious plays known as moromoro. These plays featured Filipinos, sometimes costumed as Spanish soldiers wearing arnes, the harnesses worn during medieval times for armor. The blade fighting forms and footwork were identical to those used in escrima.

The word arnes soon became corrupted to arnis, and the name stuck. Historically, arnis incorporated three related methods: espada y daga (sword and dagger), which employs a long blade and a short dagger; solo baston (single stick), and sinawali (to weave), which uses two sticks of equal length, twirled in a weaving fashion for blocking and striking.

Arnis started dying with the passage of time as the incontrovertible onslaught of modern living and foreign influences blotted out this gem of the Filipino culture to merely one of the things of the forgotten past. Truly Arnis died with the times. If there were any devout practitioners of the art, they were a very negligible few not even worthy of the slightest attention. People then were so overwhelmed by the appeal of other foreign martial arts like judo, jujitsu, and karate, as to give a passing look to their own arnis. Such then was the sad status of the martial art of Arnis.

But fate has it that "Arnis" will not die because on December 19, 1936, in the fishing town of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, a boy was born destined to one day reopen the eyes and hearts of the Filipino martial art lovers to their own true martial art, arnis, an art which has its roots sacredly marked since the beginning of Philippine history itself. Scion of a middle class family, Remy Amador Presas was born to Jose B. Presas, a businessman and the former Lucia Amador. His father and mother wanted Remy to pursue a career other than sports like business where the family was then comfortably ensconced. But business was not for Remy. Exposed at an early age to sports through his grandfather who was also a lover of sports, Remy developed a special love for the physical art that will one day find him one of its stalwarts.

At the tender age of six, while learning his alphabet and prayers from his mother, Remy was already learning the fundamentals of "kali", as Arnis was then called, using finely carved wooden canes shaped like swords or daggers. This developed in Remy an immense love for sports which will become and indelible mark of his nature.

In his youth, the fascination of sports in Remy grew so much as to develop in him the adventurer’s itch. Not content with the bucolic atmosphere in Hinigaran, at the age of 14 Remy went to the different cities like Cebu, Panay, Bohol, and Leyte, where he pursued his athletic career. In Cebu, he furthered his study of Arnis under Rodolfo Moncal, and then under Timoteo Marranga and Venancio Bacon. All were Cebuano experts in Arnis, and under them Remy mastered Arnis and the deadly "Balintawak" style of stick fencing. Remy’s association with Arnis experts and other renowned athletes in the different parts of the country sharpened his ability in sports.

By the time he came back to his hometown, Remy was already and expert in Arnis and in other sports like judo, jiu-jitsu, wrestling and karate. After his marriage to Rosemary Pascual, Remy, idealistic and enterprising that he is, then set up a gymnasium in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, and there started the wheels of his obsession to revive the dying martial art of Arnis. With the fervor and determination of a true dedicated sportsman, Remy labored and sacrificed to bring the youth in Bacolod closer to the wealth of their cultural history that they failed to appreciate because of indifference. Encouragingly, he succeeded. In that unpretentious gym he founded, Remy succeeded in drawing the interest of the youth of Bacolod. His followers in Arnis increased by the hundreds.

Remy was not only successful in that respect. His business in the city also went well and he was also teaching physical education (with emphasis on Arnis) at De La Salle College, then at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, being a holder of a bachelor’s degree in education major in physical education. Remy was then a very successful man, a success capped by the encouraging outcome of his crusade to revive the lost glory of Arnis.

Then in 1968 Remy was confronted with a decision that was to become a turning point in his life. In one of his summer sessions at the Rizal Memorial Sports Arena in Manila, the sports Mecca of the Philippines, Col. Arsenio de Borja, secretary treasurer of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation and director of the National College of Physical Education, Mr. Philip Moncerrat, former President of the PAAF, and Professor Jose Gregorio, took notice of Remy. Upon learning of Remy’s crusade, they asked him to further his crusade in Manila, the seat of National influence in any field of activity. In Manila, the interest of the whole country would be drawn, Remy was told. The idea interested Remy, for indeed, Arnis is not only for a region, it is for the whole country and could even be before the whole world.

The whole thought was crucial and difficult for him. Coming to Manila would mean leaving behind all he has founded in Bacolod. It would mean virtual abandonment of his well-entrenched businesses which could guarantee the future of his family. Besides, it would mean re-establishment of his family which was now well settled in Bacolod. But Remy can not get himself out of the thought of the great opportunity for him to bring his crusade to a wider scope and area of audience. He was tickled with the thought that in Manila, he will not only be able to revive Arnis to national consciousness but he will also have the opportunity to present this lore of Philippine culture to the whole world. Remy believed that if the world accepted judo, wrestling, karate, and kung fu, there would be no reason why Arnis wouldn’t be accepted for Arnis is as effective, if not more effective than all of these other martial arts. It was a gem of an opportunity and Remy took the challenge.

In 1969, Remy brought his family to Manila. He then established a gymnasium in the heart of Manila’s commercial district and founded the National Amateur Karate Organization (NAKO) and Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (MAFP). He also taught in various universities and colleges in Manila emphasizing the basic beauty of Arnis as a martial art. He was also teaching Arnis in his NAKO and MAFP club in Quiapo, Manila.

Remy also founded the Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines. He gave countless exhibitions (for free) with his boys before different audiences and even before tourists. He has even performed before President Ferdinand E. Marcos in Antipolo, Rizal, who, after seeing the exhibition, expressed profound interest in the art.

His untiring crusade brought Arnis to the knowledge of every martial art lover. Not only that, Remy’s magnificent achievement brought him honors and respect among the titans in Philippine sports. So enthusiastically was Arnis received that Remy was asked to train the different armed services and police agencies in the Philippines in the martial art of Arnis. Arnis has also become a popular sport engaged in friendly competition between clubs. The popularity of Arnis even transcends Philippine shores that in 1970 Remy was asked to go to Japan and before Itago Police Academy he introduce Arnis. So intrigued and fascinated were the Japanese Police authorities of the art that they exclaimed in admiration of its effectively.

Remy’s name became a name to reckon with in sports circle. Besides being the founder and president of the MAFP and NAKO, he was elected Vice-President of the Philippine Arnis Association whose president was former Senator Rene Espina, also an Arnis aficionado, He is also a coach in judo, karate, and wrestling. Remy is a sixth Dan Karate Blackbelter and a judo blackbelter.

His athletic prowess is known far and wide that several American martial art clubs invited him for a cultural demonstration and many American martial artists asked him to propagate the art of Arnis in America and Canada. These invitations are testimonials of Remy’s fame as an athlete.

Remy’s dream went beyond that as he wanted to make an international sport out of Arnis. So that the whole world may know of Arnis, Remy wrote his book entitled "Modern Arnis." Digging deep into his wealth of knowledge after 27 years of research and practice of the art and collating the early style and techniques of the art with the modern, he prepared a text devoid of primitive linguistics. Since every style and technique is presented in modern form and the terminologies are adopted to contemporary language, the book is easy for learners to understand.

This book is only the beginning of Remy’s magnificent dream. This book will merely serve as a springboard for the ultimate acceptance of the Filipino martial art of Arnis. The crowning glory of this dream and crusade will be when Arnis becomes a commanding sport in every arena of sports competition the world over. The Filipinos have now accepted this gem of their culture. Through the inspired efforts of Remy, the Bureau of Public and Private Schools has now included Arnis in the Physical education curriculum.

Remy believed that a good art should be shared by the whole world. This is his ardent dream and when this dream shall have flowered, the world will have to thank not only Remy but also his wonderful wife Rosemary, whose inspiration, perseverance, and priceless assistance made this book possible. Also, their children Mary Jane, Mary Ann, Remy, Jr., Ma. Theresa and Demetrio Jose, whose innocent laughter have lightened the mental load in the awesome preparation of the book.

Modern Arnis has gone and will continue to go a long way. Its journey is incomplete without bringing into the picture the athlete and crusader, Remy Amador Presas, "The Father of Modern Arnis."

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Last updated 3/2/2005. Copyright© 2003-2005 Hokkien Martial Arts in Topeka, Kansas. All rights reserved. Back to Topeka Park & Recreation