(Note: This interview was too long for a single post so it is broken down into 4 parts)
AN INTERVIEW WITH ADRIANO D. EMPERADO
Interview for "Centuron Negro Magazine" (Spain) 1993
by John Bishop
Unlike many of todays so called masters, Adriano D. Emperado is a very humble man. He has no publicist, has never been one to seek out publicity, and rarely grants interviews. This magazine was very fortunate to locate Professor Emperado at the Forbach Martial Arts Academy in San Clemente, Ca., where he was conducting the saturday morning black belt workout. He was also spending a few days with his student Gary Forbach before going to Hawaii for the holidays. We thank Mr. Forbach for assisting us in obtaining this vary rare and exclusive interview with Professor Emperado, the Sijo (founder) of the Kajukenbo system and our 1991 Instructor of the year.
CN: Can we talk about you and the Kajukenbo System?
EMPERADO: Of course.
CN: When and where were you born?
EMPERADO: I was born on June 15, 1926 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
CN: What was your first exposure to the martial arts?
EMPERADO: When I was 8 or 9 years old I was taught some boxing by my father and uncle who were both professional boxers. They fought at the old civic auditorium in Honolulu. At about 11 when I was living with my brother in Kauai I learned the basic 12 techniques or strikes of Escrima. And then at the age of 14 I trained in Judo under Sensei Taneo at the Palama Settlement Gym in Honolulu.
CN: And of course you trained under the legendary Professor William K.S. Chow of Hawaii. Can you tell us about this man and his classes?
EMPERADO: I started training with Professor Chow at the Catholic Youth Organization when I was 20 years old. Professor Chow had been a Kenpo Jujitsu student of James Mitose and also had a 5th degree black belt in judo. Like Mitose he emphasized makiwara training and ground work. The makiwara training was to develop that one punch kill that was the trademark of the Japanese styles. He also tried to be more innovative than Mitose and taught a lot of ground work because of his judo background.
CN: Who did Chow receive his judo training from?
EMPERADO: I'm not sure, but it may have been Professor Okizaki.
CN: Professor Chow was also said to have been taught kung fu by his father, can you tell us about this?
EMPERADO: I'm not sure how much kung fu training Professor Chow had in his early years. When I knew him he would tell me of visions he had of his father and grandfather. In these visions they would reveal kung fu techniques to him.
EMPERADO: Yes, one particular time in about 1952 or 53 he told me that his grandfather had appeared to him in a dream. He said his grandfather showed him some techniques and told him that they were "Kara-Ho".
CN: What does "Kara-Ho" mean?
EMPERADO: Actually nothing. Karaho is a derogatory term in Spanish, but Chow never had a meaning for the word. He said Kara-Ho was what his grandfather told him to call the art. Before that, at different times he had called his school "Go Shin Jitsu Kai" or "Lighting Karate" or "Thunderbolt Karate".
CN: How close were you to Chow?
EMPERADO: I was his first black belt, his Chief Instructor and a 5th Degree Black Belt under him. We were very close for many years.
CN: Some people say that Professor Chow's black belts abandoned him, others used him, and that he lived in poverty?
EMPERADO: It's true that Professor Chow lived in poverty most of his life. Hawaii is a expensive place to live, and he had no education. He could not read or write, so when he worked he was usually a stevedore or security guard. He also was not a good businessman so he didn't make a lot of money teaching the martial arts. Some people would visit him or invite him to do seminars for them. There was always large sums of money promised to him in exchange for a seminar and promotion. Most of the times the money was never paid or it was not the amount that was promised. Later in life he was forced to collect cans on the beach daily just to make ends meet. It bothered me to see the way he lived, but I tried to help him. When we were starting to get our schools established I went to the Professor and told him that we wanted to start an association with him as the head, and that we would all contribute dues to help him out financially. But you see Chow was a very proud and stubborn man. He refused our gesture of respect.