Adriano Emperado, the founder of the Kajukenbo Self-Defense Institute of Hawaii, was born in Honolulu on June 16th, 1926 in the small community of Kalihi, which was and still is a part of the Kalihi-Palama District of the City and County of Honolulu. Adriano was one of seven children. There were three boys (Larry, Adriano, and Joseph), and four girls (Ella, Dechi, Nancy, and Connie Marcella).
Like a lot of poor neighborhoods around the world, Kalihi and the surrounding area was a violent place to live. Because of this, Adriano started learning how to defend himself at a very young age. His father had been a professional boxer in the Philippines and in Hawaii, fighting under the ring name of Bulldog Panis. Adriano’s uncle had also been a professional boxer. So by the time he was 8 years old he was getting some much needed exposure to western boxing.
Professor Emperado is a master of Escrima, Jujitsu, and various Kenpo forms. In addition, he has studied Okinawan Karate, Chinese Kung Fu, Hawaiian Lua, American Boxing and Wrestling, as well as various arts which utilize such weapons as the staff, club and knife.
During World War II, Professor Emperado was attached to the First Filipino Infantry Regiment as a Medical Corp Man, during which time he received various awards and citations for military accomplishments.
Professor Emperado received much of his martial arts training from Professor K.S. Chow and Professor James Mitosi. In 1947 he was part of the Black Belt Society that developed the art form currently known as Kajukenbo. The title of Professor was given to Professor Emperado by Professor Lum and Professor Wong of the Chinese Physical Cultural Society of Hawaii and Master Ho Gau of Hong Kong to represent Choi Li Fat Ga. He was elected to the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 1991. Presently the Professor holds the highest title in Kajukenbo, 10th degree.