Meaning of Kokua

Kokua is a Hawaiian word that translates as “extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain…”

Our Discipline

KAJUKENBO – Through this fist style, one gains long life and happiness

Kajukenbo is a hybrid martial art that combines Western Boxing, Judo, Ju Jitsu, Kenpo Karate, Eskrima, Tang Soo Do, and Kung Fu.

Kajukenbo uses hard, fast strikes to vital points throughout the body, take-downs involving high impact throws, and many joint and limb destruction techniques, usually as follow-ups to take-downs.  There are also blocks from attacks, such as punches, and defenses and disarmament of offensive weapons.  The name works in two ways:

KA – Karate – Long Life

JU – Judo/Ju Jitsu – Happiness

KEN – Kenpo – Fist

BO – Boxing/Chinese Boxing Kung Fu – Style

This lead to the Art’s philosophical meaning, “Through this fist style, one gains long life and happiness”.

Kenpo emerged as the core around which this new Art was built.  From its beginnings, Kajukenbo was an eclectic and adaptive Art.  As the time passed Kajukenbo has continued to change and evolve.  Currently there are four distinct, “recognized” branches of Kajukenbo.

1.                   Kenpo – Emperado Method or Traditional Hard Style

2.                   Tum Pai

3.                   Chu’an Fa

4.                   Wun Hop Kuen Do

Today Kajukenbo is practiced all over the world in many different branches.  In contrast to many traditional martial arts, students are not required to mimic the teacher, but are encouraged to develop their own “expression” of the art.

Our Lineage

Kokua Martial Arts Fitness Academy educates its students in the Emperado Method of Kajukenbo.  It is also known as the “Original” or “Traditional” method.  It is the root of all Kajukenbo.

Our Philosophy

Our Philosophy is to treat people as we would like to be treated, with honor and respect.  Welcome them into our Academy which we consider our home and make them feel like Ohana (Family).  Always come with an empty cup and train hard.  Understand that Martial Arts encompasses your Spirit, Mind, and Body (this is the meaning of the clover in the Kajukenbo seal which represents Sijo Emperado).

Our Mission

Our Mission is to provide a safe and family-oriented Academy where we can develop mature, humble, and respectful young adults and community leaders.  We also want to offer Adults a place where they can achieve personal goals with a team to stand by them with support.  By teaching the Martial Arts way of life, we aspire to instill confidence and challenge each of our students to always strive to become the best person that they can be at all times.  In doing so, we hope to prepare them for some of the life challenges that may cross their paths.



Esther Molina
Esther MolinaMaster Instructor | 5th Degree
Master Instructor Molina has many years of exceptional training and extreme competition with great accomplishments. She started her training while in college in TaeKwonDo then found the art of Kajukenbo. She is rooted in the Kajukenbo discipline and continues her training with her instructor, Grand Master, and other instructors, Professors, and Grand Masters in the Kajukenbo community.
She specializes in curriculum, staff, and student development. Her passion for the Martial Arts and her constant development and evolvement of the curriculum has produced exceptional students, Grand Champions, World Champions, and responsible young adults in the community. Having been brought up with the Aloha Spirit, family is very important to her and can be felt throughout all aspects of the Academy. Her son is an accomplished Second Degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo and her husband is always there supporting her. She is a co-founder of the Kokua Martial Arts Fitness Academy.
Nels Toriano
Nels TorianoChief Instructor | 3rd Degree
Chief Instructor Toriano started his formal martial arts training in Shotokan Karate in Fresno, CA.  Upon moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Chief Instructor discovered Kajukenbo. He continued his martial arts education through intense training and competition.  He is an achieved two time World Champion and has won multiple Grand Championships.  

Both of Chief’s children (Sifu Maddie Toriano and Junior Toriano) are Kajukenbo Black Belts and are accomplished in both martial arts and in academics.  He is a co-founder of the Kokua Martial Arts Fitness Academy.

Gary Yumang
Gary Yumang
Gary has been within the martial arts community since 1998.  Gary is a point sparring competitor, coach and trainer.  He started studying Kajukenbo when his family moved to Castro Valley.  He studied Kajukenbo and is now a Student Black Belt.  By pursuing his passion in the martial arts, Gary continues to increase his knowledge of and about Kajukenbo.

Desiring to have the path and ability to pass down his knowledge to other students, Gary joined up with Master Esther Molina and Chief Instructor Nels Toriano to create Kokua Martial Arts Fitness Academy.

Robert Blante
Robert BlanteInstructor | 2nd degree
At the age of 11, I started my 5 years of training in Kempo Kung Fu in Massachusetts. As an adult I began training in Kajukenbo in October of 2009 and in June of 2016 I started training in Brazilian JuJitsu. I got back into Martial arts after we signed our son up for classes.

As a Sifu in Kajukenbo, I enjoy helping the kids and adults learn what it means to be a martial artist.  I enjoy seeing how the little ones come in unsure of themselves and uncoordinated and in a short time watch as they transform into a more confident martial artist and person.

Cliff Smith
Cliff Smith Instructor | 2nd Degree
I started my journey in ‘07, originally to help my son. But found that all of our paths are different.
Became student black belt in ‘09, then 1st degree in ‘11, followed that with my 2nd degree in ‘13 then 3rd in ‘16. When Master Molina promoted me to Sifu. Here i am following a new path, hoping you will enjoy yours.
David Smith
David SmithJunior Instructor | 2nd Degree
David Smith started his martial arts training in 2007. David began his training in the art of Kajukenbo in Castro Valley and is still continuing his practice today. He is a first degree black belt and wishes to continue onto his 2nd. David has joined Kokua Martial Arts Fitness Academy so he can share his craft with others and perfect his skill.

Achieve Your Fitness Goals

Flexible membership packages to suit all levels of training to help achieve your fitness goals