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. Black Belt 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: So what have you been doing the last year or so, besides being elected to the Black Belt Hall of Fame?
EMPERADO: I've been living in a cabin in Virginia, where I have been writing my autobiography. I have a deadline of April 1993 from the publisher so I've dedicated all my time to it.
CN: That sounds very interesting, you probably have some great stories about a lot of people in the martial arts.
EMPERADO: I sure do, but that will come out in the book.
CN: Can you tell us a little about the book?
EMPERADO: It's basically going to be my memoirs about my life and the people in the martial arts I've known over the decades. I'll talk about a lot of the martial arts events I've been witness to. And of course a lot of stories about the people of Kajukenbo.
CN: Can you tell us one of the Kajukenbo stories?
EMPERADO: Back in the 60s one of my high ranking black belts asked me to sign a piece of paper for him. Thinking nothing of his request, I signed it. He then said he wanted me to sign it again, but to write larger. When I asked him why, he then told me that he wanted a good example of my signature so he could use it to make sure no one was forging my name on certificates. A while later I was visiting a Kajukenbo school. While there I was looking at the instructor's certificates on the wall when he proudly showed me one with my signature on it. I looked at it real close because I did not remember ever signing it. I later found out that my student had taken the paper I signed and had a signature stamp made. You see he had charged his students extra testing fees if they wanted my signature on their certificates.
CN: That's a very interesting story, were looking forward to reading the book. Can we talk a little 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.