The following data was copied from another site. The originator of the chronology should be credited to Sensei Ken Warner of The Kempokan Karate Martial Arts Schools. Most of the information after 1920 comes from the Kempokan. The information before 1920 has come from Duncan's Martial Arts. So as I get more information I will update what I have. Thank you to those who have helped me to update the information. I have obtained additional information from Grandmasters, and Shihans who have added to this original chronology. I want this info to be as acurate as I can so let me know if I am missing anything.
Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk from India, travels to the Shaolin ( "young forest" ) Temple in the Hunan province of China. Bodhidharma, also known as Daruma or Tamo, is instructed to resurrect the fading spirituality of the monks at the temple. The monks had become spiritually and physically decrepit, so much so that many had to be assisted in feeding and relieving themselves. Bodhidharma teaches the monks a series of physical movements called "Shih Pa Lo Han So", or "The Eighteen Hands of Lo Han".
Legend states that a Shaolin priest known as "The Begging Monk" uses various hand and foot techniques to fend off attackers at the monastery (killing a few of the intruders!). Other monks were so impressed, they wanted to learn the techniques. The art of "flowery hands" or "fist way" is born. In the native language, the techniques are known as "Chuan Fa".
600 - 1500
These centuries saw vast migrations of monks, who were either driven out of China by emperors, invaders like Ghengis Khan, or left in an attempt to spread Buddhism. The migrations of these monks brings Chuan Fa, in it's many names because of families adding their clan names to the variation they practiced, to Okinawa and Japan.
1500 - 1900
The Kumamoto and Nagasaki clans in Kyushu, Japan develop Kenpo from Chinese Chuan Fa. Over several generations, Kenpo becomes Kosho Ryu ( "Ko" - old, "Sho" - pine tree, "Ryu" - school) Kempo. During this time period, traceable members of the Yoshida (originally "Urabe") clan, also from Kyushu, continue developing Kosho Ryu Kempo and passing it on.
Kiyoka Yoshida (born August 1st, 1890 - died 1944) marries Otokichi Mitose (born 1863 - died 1937) in Hawaii. In actuality, they marry via correspondence for immigration purposes earlier that year. Their son, Masayoshi "James" Mitose, would become the first Great Grand Master of the Yoshida clan not born with the Yoshida name. The Yoshida code is, "I come to you with only open hands, other weapons, I have not. But should right or honor require it, my hands will bear me out."
On October 22nd of this year, at the age of 3, James Mitose was sent to Japan by his family in Hawaii to learn his family's art of Kosho Ryu Kempo from his grandfather.
On February 7th, James Mitose returned to Hawaii. At this time he was the 21st Great Grandmaster of the Kosho Ryu Kempo system. He taught only until 1953 and most say he only ever promoted six people to Black Belt. (There is evidence that he promoted others as well. See Al Tracy's pages for more information.) One of these was William Chow. Chow's certificate was in fact signed by Thomas Young, not Mitose himself, but there is little doubt Mitose sanctioned the promotion. So Thomas Young actually promoted Chow to black belt, and not Mitose.
James Mitose began teaching his family's art to Americans in Hawaii. William Chow began training with James Mitose in his Kempo Jujutsu style in Hawaii. Despite many stories to the contrary, Chow only ever trained in Kempo and various systems of Jujutsu, never in any Chinese Kung Fu style. Neither his father, grandfather, nor his uncle ever trained in or taught Kung Fu. This story was apparently fabricated by Ed Parker.
Adriano Emperado began training with James Mitose and William Chow.
With the end of the war Mitose wanted to start teaching other aspects of his family's art beyond just the "war arts." Most of his American students, however, were only interested in the fighting technique and had no interest in the other cultural aspects of the art. This is when many of the students, including Emperado, began to leave Mitose to train instead with Chow. It seems this process took place gradually over the years between the end of the war and Mitose's move to California in 1953. As one of Mitose's top students, Chow did much of the actual teaching of the techniques, as was common during this time period. At some point between 1946 and 1950 Chow left Mitose altogether and many of the students went with him.
Adriano Emperado, along with several other martial artists (the notorious "Black Belt Society,") first formulated the system of Kajukenbo. This system used Mitose's Kempo as the backbone of the system, but also included Shotokan Karate, Kodokan Judo, Sekeino Jujutsu, Sil-lum Pai Kung Fu and Escrima. The system was designed to be the ultimate in self defense. While they were creating the system members of the Black Belt Society would intentionally get into fights in the Paloma settlement of Hawaii where they lived in order to decide which techniques were good enough to include in the system. The system consisted of self defense techniques that were created from the Kempo, Judo, Jujutsu and Kung Fu systems, forms that were derived from Karate and others that were created by the Society and originally known as the "Paloma sets," and knife and stick fighting from Escrima.
By this time Chow had begun teaching on his own. Emperado was the main instructor for Chow. It is unclear exactly when Chow left Mitose, when Emperado was promoted to Black Belt and by whom. Most sources claim Chow left Mitose in 1949. It may have been as early as 1946 or as late as 1950. In any event, it is clear that by 1949 Kajukenbo existed in its earliest form and the Kempo of James Mitose's system was used as the backbone of the new system, not that of William Chow. Chow would eventually formulate his own system but this did not take place until well after the birth of Kajukenbo and Mitose's departure from Hawaii.
Victor "Sonny" Gascon began training in Kajukenbo. He did not train directly with Emperado but with some of his Black Belts. He had already trained in Judo and Jujutsu from 1945-48. He joined the Air Force in 1952, which temporarily took him out of training. In 1953, however, he was stationed back in Hawaii and resumed his training.
Sonny Gascon moved to Pasadena, California.
Sonny Gascon began teaching in California at John Leoning's school. John was another Kajukenbo Black Belt. Leoning had already begun modifying the system, and these modifications continued after Gascon joined him. The forms now known as 1 Kata, 3 Kata and 5 Kata were among the earliest creations in the system. The modification process took place over a period of years and it is uncertain what was created exactly when, and in what order. However it is commonly acknowledged that 1, 3 and 5 Kata came first, and then the combinations, and then 2 and 4 Kata.
Sonny Gascon began teaching on his own. George Pesare began training with Sonny Gascon in California.
Due to "politics," Sonny Gascon left behind the name of Kajukenbo and called his system Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu. Gascon enlisted the aid of his brother-in-law, Walter Godin, in further modifying the system. By 1963 at the latest the system included 1-5 Kata, Statue of the Crane, combinations 1-12 and combinations 13, 22 and 26, although these were not numbered. These forms and fighting techniques were all based on Kajukenbo material. The Katas were combinations of the shorter Kajukenbo forms and the combinations were based on the Kajukenbo punch defenses.
George Pesare opened his school in Rhode Island. This event is extremely significant because all Kempo schools in New England that are not affiliated with the Parker or Tracy systems of Kempo can trace their roots to this one, single event. Pesare was the man single-handedly responsible for bringing Kempo from California to New England. Grandmaster George Pesare planting the seed of Kempo on the East Coast and is solely responsible for doing so and keeping Kempo alive. If he did not then we would be studying something else or nothing at all.
Nick Cerio began training with George Pesare. Nick Cerio was Grandmaster Pesare's third black belt to be promoted by him.
Nick Cerio earned his first Black Belt from Grandmaster George Pesare, and opened up his own school. The system he was teaching included 1-5 Kata, 6 Kata which GM George Pesare created, Statue of the Crane, and combinations 1-13, 22 and 26.
Nick Cerio first met Professor Chow in Hawaii. Chow promoted Cerio to Shodan in Chinese Kempo. Cerio also met Mas Oyama and trained in his Okinawan system of Kyokushin Kai Karate. Over time Cerio added 1, 3, 4 and 5 Pinan, which came from Oyama's system, 2 Pinan which Cerio created, and Hon Suki which he learned from Bill Chun, Sr., who was a senior student of Professor Chow. Cerio also added the rest of the 26 combinations from techniques he learned from Professor Chow.
Fred Villari began training with Nick Cerio.
Fred Villari earned his Black Belt from Nick Cerio.
Fred Villari officially left Nick Cerio and started his own school in Dedham, MA. Fred actually had a senior & junior instructor leave with him, a Rudy Horn & Larry Mangone. Rudy Horn was senior in rank to Fred Villari at the time. Rudy Horn actually helped Fred get United Studios of Self Defense going. "United Studios of Self Defense" was Fred V's first organization. Rudy Horn was Fred Villari's instructor. Evidence suggests Nick Cerio had dropped Escrima from the system. Sonny Gascon certainly included it, and it seems George Pesare did as well. However Fred Villari never did. It is unclear whether Nick Cerio or Fred Villari was the first to drop this aspect of the system. By this time the system included 1-6 Kata, 1-5 Pinan, Statue of the Crane, Hon Suki and the combinations up to 26.
Nick Cerio went to Hawaii to train with William Chow. At this time Chow awarded Cerio his 5th Degree Black Belt. Cerio would go on to formulate his own system. Up until this time he taught Karazenpo as he had learned it from George Pesare, with some modifications and additions.
It was around 1978 that "Fred Villari's Studios of Self Defense" came into existence.
Fred Villari formulated his system of Shaolin Kempo and proliferated the system through Fred Villari's Studios of Self Defense. He added all the combinations from 27 to 108, and the forms, Two Man Fist Set, Sho Tun Kwok, Nengli South, Nengli North, Swift Tigers, Invincible Wall, Branches of the Falling Pine, Lost Leopard, Tai Sing Mon, 1000 Buddhas, Five Dragons Face the Four Winds, Snake, Wounded Tigers and Immortal Monkey and the Plum Tree Blocking System. No one knows for sure where this material all came from. Until 1971 the material up to Black Belt comprised the whole of the Karazenpo system. The Black Belt Society originally formulated Kajukenbo to be the most effective self defense system in the world. They were not interested in creating a system that anyone would study for a lifetime. When Sonny Gascon began teaching in 1958 he did so with the knowledge of a First Degree Black Belt because that was all that existed. Pesare, Cerio and Villari each also began teaching with the same amount of knowledge. Fred Villari added all the forms and techniques beyond First Degree Black Belt in his system. Cerio, Pesare, Gascon and Emperado would do the same with their systems.