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Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?

Author Topic: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?  (Read 6358 times)

Offline thetao

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Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« on: November 30, 2013, 06:29:14 PM »
This is simply a question I'm curious about and Not mean't to start any negative discussions.

I know Sonny Gascon started in Kajukenbo and then for whatever reason(many theories of why) changed what he taught to the Karazenpo name.

I've read many posts on this site some claiming karazenpo as an unrecognized off shoot, some stating its rehashed kaju and others saying its a totally different system with no connection.

I am curious with all the divergent opinions about Gascon and whatever name his descendants styles used such as Pesare's Kempo Karate. Why was Gascon inducted into the KSDI Hall of Fame by Sijo Emperado if Gascon did not teach a version, recognized or not, of Kaju by Sijo himself?

Appreciate any responses.

I'm trying to post a picture of the certificate but can't seem to get it to attach.




Joseph Catanese
Kajukenbo -ETS method
Under Professor Kaiona Li
Chinese Kenpo kaju kai

Offline Danjo

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Re: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2013, 02:01:16 AM »
Karazenpo was originally just Kajukenbo under a new name. It was due to Gascon teaching without authorization and, instead of paying dues to teach Kajukenbo, he just changed the name.

Then, the history gets interesting.

Gascon had a student in the early 60's named George Pesare who, according to Pesare and Gascon, trained with Gascon for a few months (some stories had it as little as two months, others 6 months). Pesare left California as a purple belt with just a handful of techniques and moved to Rhode Island. Once there, Pesare claimed black belt rank and started teaching "Kempo" to the natives. Lacking curriculum, Pesare started training in other martial arts (TKD, Judo etc) and adding it to what he got from Gascon, eventually making up many of his own forms and preset combinations. He had many different names for his Kempo over the years and a lot of students. One of the students was Nick Cerio who broke off from Pesare and started his own schools teaching pretty much exactly what he got from Pesare for several years (he later changed it a lot after learning other styles etc). While he was teaching Pesare's Kempo, Cerio had a student named Fred Villari, who brok off after he got to second degree black belt and started his own school and changed the name of his Kempo to "Shaolin Kempo-Karate" even though it was exactly the same as Pesare and Cerio's Kempo up to second degree black belt level.

Villari took a green belt with him from Cerio's school named Charlie Mattera whom he eventually promoted to 7th degree and ran all of his West Coast schools. Mattera broke off from Villari in the late 1980's and started his version of the USSD teaching the same Kempo he got from Villari and keeping the name Shaolin Kempo-Karate.

After a hiatus of nearly 30 years, Gascon came out of seclusion at the behest of one of Viallri's black belts and started going around to the Shaolin Kempo community and the Pesare group and handing out rank and claiming to be the founder of the style.

Well, the name Karazenpo came back out of mothballs and was slapped onto those that broke away from Pesare, Villari, Mattera etc., and they began an organization for it.

The problem is that Shaolin Kempo-Karate has only a couple of techniques in it that Pesare got from Gascon. According to Pesare, he made up the rest of it himself, so there is very little to connect what is now taught as Shaolin Kempo-Karate to what Pesare was training in back in the 60's.

So: Karzenpo taught by Gascon and his brother-in-law Walter Godin was essentially Kajukenbo with it's name changed for legal reasons, and Karzenpo now is just a renamed Pesare/Cerio/Villari/Mattera Shaolin Kempo-Karate.

Hope that clears things up. THere's a lot more twists and turns to this story (like the orphaned Karazenpo school that didn't even know who it's founder was until GM Sedeno found them and told them, etc.) but this should give you enough for now.
"Rank Without Honor is Nothing."
Dan Weston
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Don't tell me how much you honor Sijo, if you don't respect his wishes.

Offline thetao

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Re: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2013, 12:15:02 PM »
Thank you for your response and opinion on this subject Dan.

I just learned that GM Gascon passed away yesterday and out of respect to him and his family I won't continue this discussion.

Be well.
Joseph Catanese
Kajukenbo -ETS method
Under Professor Kaiona Li
Chinese Kenpo kaju kai

Offline Bautista's

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Re: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2013, 10:32:17 AM »
information on the passing of Victor (Sunny) Gascon
Born in 1933
died in 12/06/2013
Emil Bautista
Kajukenbo black belt (1966)

Offline Sleddog

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Re: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 11:40:36 AM »
the tao,

Sonny Gascon was at the Pacific Beach Hotel (Pacific Princess was the "Love Boat") in Honolulu, Hawaii for the Kajukenbo 50th Anniversary.

Receiving recognition was a natural way of showing that there were no hard feelings.

These were hot blooded young men that have to be seen/judged in the light of those days. Honolulu was a small place in the 50's and was basically a small town when it came to this kind of stuff.

We sit in awe of their achievements now, but they were just kids then, with little to indicate the trail that they were blazing.

The things that got them so angry at the beginning (and caused the splits) mattered less and less as they got older.

Some axes can never be buried, but most were.

I think that the Villari student you mentioned is Bruce Corrigan.

He stepped away from the politics of Karazenpo a few years ago and concentrates more on FMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu now.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2013, 11:33:53 PM by Sleddog »
Philip Gelinas
Training MA (since 1967)
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Pekiti Tirsia Kali (Under GT Gaje since 1981)
Jun Fan Gung Fu, Kali & Maphilindo Silat (Under Sifu Dan Inosanto Since 1990)
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Offline thetao

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Re: Sonny Gascon and Kajukenbo?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 05:04:28 PM »
Thank you for the response. Yes as we get older our perspectives change.
Joseph Catanese
Kajukenbo -ETS method
Under Professor Kaiona Li
Chinese Kenpo kaju kai