1926-November 6, 2011

Modified from the fine works of SiGung John Bishop

Joe Holck, mostly responsable for the "JU" in "Kajukenbo." High ranking expert in JUdo and JUjitsu, and the founder who suggested the word "Kajukenbo."

Co-Founders of Kajukenbo in 1996,
Peter Chang, Joe Holck, Frank Ordonez, Adriano Emperado


Kajukenbo is America's first martial art system, having been founded in 1949 in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii. Kajukenbo's inception came about in 1947 when five Hawaiian martial arts masters calling themselves the "Black Belt Society" started a project to develop a comprehensive self defense system. These five men of vision were Joe Holck, a Kodokan Judo black belt; Peter Choo, the Hawaii welterweight boxing champion and a Tang Soo Do black belt; Frank Ordonez, a Sekeino Jujitsu black belt; Clarence Chang, a master of Sil-lum Pai kung fu; and Adriano D. Emperado, a Kenpo black belt and Escrima master.

Together these men trained for several hours a day taking advantage of each others strengths and weaknesses to develop their new art. When Joe Holck and Peter Choo would spar Holck could see his weaknesses in striking techniques, and Choo would realize his vulnerability once he was on the ground. Emperado was able to show Choo how a kenpo man could work inside a kicker with rapid fire hand techniques. Chang in turn, showed the others how the circular flowing techniques of Sil-lum Pai were used to evade and strike. And Frank Ordonez showed everyone how to go with an attackers force and then re-direct it against him with painful locks and throws.

After it was decided that kenpo would be the base to build on, it was a daily three year process incorporating the tang soo do kicks, jujitsu joint locks, judo throws, and sil-lum pai circular techniques into a complete system. Now all the system needed was a name.

Joe Holck suggested that the name should be "Kajukenbo", ka for karate, ju for judo and jujitsu, ken for kenpo, and bo for Chinese boxing (kung fu).

JOE HOLCK--Brief Martial Arts Biography

Joichi Matsuno, JUDAN (10th Degree Black Belt) changed his name to Joseph Holck due to World War II, Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese feelings against any American citizen of Japanese heritage.

Holck, Shihan, began training in Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu in 1938 at the KODENKAN under Professor H. Seishiro Okazaki. He later received instruction under instructors Bing Fai Lau and Sig Kufferath at both the Kodenkan and Kaheka Lane dojos on the territory of Hawaii. Hawaii had not yet become a state at that time.

In 1944, he volunteered for the U. S. Army and underwent Basic Training in Texas. Due to his martial arts background, he was designated the hand-to-hand combat instructor of his basic training unit. Following World War II, Joe Holck, Shihan, was stationed in Germany during the European Occupation. He was assigned as hand-to-hand combat instructor for the 9th Infantry Division Non-Commissioned Officers' Academy.

In 1947, Holck, Shihan, returned to Hawaii and continued training in Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu under Kufferath, Sensei. He received his Kaidensho Moku Roku (instructor's scrolls) from Professor Okazaki in 1949.

Between 1947 and 1949, Holck, Shihan was also one of five co-founders of an eclectic Hawaiian bred martial arts system known as KAJUKENBO, along with Adriano Emperado, Peter Choo, Frank Ordonez and Clarence Chang.

About this same time ( 1948 ), Holck, Shihan, began Kodokan judo training under the great Professor T. Inouye, Rokudan (6th Degree Black Belt), and former All-Japan Collegiate Champion. In 1951, Joe Holck, Shihan, received his Shodan in judo from the KODOKAN.

Holck, Shihan, continued teaching martial arts in Hawaii until 1964, and then moved to Tucson, Arizona. That same year, he received his Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) from the American Jujitsu Institute.

Shortly after his settling in Arizona, Holck, Shihan, took over as chief instructor of the KODENKAN of Tucson dojo, started by his younger brother, Roy A. V. Holck, Sensei in 1962. Later that year, he received training in the Hakkoryu style of Jujitsu under John Graves, Sensei, Yodan (4th Degree Black Belt). Holck, Shihan, received his Shodan rank a year later.

The original KODENKAN of Tucson dojo grew into an organization founded by Holck, Shihan and his family in 1967, known as the KODENKAN YUDANSHAKAI, "School of the Ancient Traditions Black Belt Society".

Since that time, Joe Holck, has been intensely involved in his organization, KODENKAN Yudanshakai, which teaches not only Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu, but also Shorin-Ryu Karate, Wado Kai Karate Do, Matsuno-Ryu Goshin-Jitsu, and of course, Kajukenbo.

Danzan Ryu as translated and interpreted by Holck, means in a deeper sense, "steps to greater heights", and alludes to the climbing of a mountain. The Danzan Ryu system teaches the student to think beyond the achievement of higher ranks in the martial arts. Instead the student learns to develop and grow throughout the steps in life itself.

In 1989, after a very long and extremely distinguished career in the martial arts, Holck was elevated to the rank of JUDAN (10th Degree Black Belt).

During the past 60 plus years, Holck was recognized for his contributions to the martial arts from all sectors of our society. These recognitions and honors are too numerous to mention in this short biography.

Joe Holck will be deeply missed.


Last modified Nov 8, 2011

Site Meter