Hawaii’soriginal mixed martial art taught at JBPHH FitnessCenter

Brandon Bosworth

Contributing Writer

The Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Fitness Center is offering classes in the martial art Kajukenbo. Taught by Lee Manibog, an eighth degree black belt with more than 25 years of martial arts experience, this class stresses effective self-defense.

“We get right to the meat of it,” Manibog said. “Hit fast, hit hard, and get out of Dodge!”

Kajukenbo was founded in Palama Settlement near downtown Honolulu. In 1947, several different martial arts masters came together to pool their knowledge and develop an effective form of fighting.

The name of the art they founded reflects the different styles it incorporates: Ka=karate, Ju=Judo and jujitsu, Ken=kenpo, Bo: (Chinese) boxing, aka fung-fu. They tested themselves in street fights, brawls and competitions.

Like Bruce Lee would do years later when he developed Jeet Kun Do, the Kajukenbo fighters absorbed what was useful and discarded what they thought was useless. The result was a streamlined, street-ready fighting system.

Even though Kajukenbo predates modern mixed martial arts by half a century, the popularity of events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship means that many people overlook it when they decide to learn how to fight, according to Manibog.

“Lots of people opt to train in MMA,” Manibog said. “Kajukenbo is older and more self-defense oriented.” It also involves quite a bit of direct contact. “The level of contact can be surprising for people,” Manibog said.

The principles behind Manibog’s Kajukenbo class are the same ones stressed all those years ago in Palama Settlement. “You want to deal with an attack quickly and then go home,” he said.

He also stresses simplicity: “Do you want to have to use five moves to defend yourself, or just two?”

Currently, the JBPHH Kajukenbo classes are small with less than 10 students. There are both men and women enrolled in the class. “The women are usually my better students,” Manibog said. “They have focus because they know women are often the victims of violence.”

Manibog said he believes everyone should know some form of self-defense. Yet he also believes in avoiding violence whenever possible. “Be prepared,” he said. “But run away if you can.”

Kajukenbo classes at the JBPHH Fitness Center are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Men and women ages 13 and older are welcome. For more information or to register call 471-2019.

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Category: News