GM Jose Ortega
- Grand Master
Grandmaster Jose L. "Cherry" Ortega Professor José L. “Cherry” Ortega was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in May 9, 1940. At the age of twelve years, he began his boxing career. In 1958 he went to the U.S. armed forces and began Judo training. While in Germany he achieved a brown belt in this style and started training in the Special Forces to go Vietnam. In 1964 he came out of the army and began to work with the Puerto Rico government. During his free time, he began to train wrestling and martial arts. He became a professional in wrestling and achieved high ranks in Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, and Kiokushinkai. In 1969 he began to train with Sifu Jorge L. Jackson, a 2nd degree black belt (now 8th degree), who brought the Kajukenbo Kenpo Karate to Puerto Rico. He also had the opportunity to train with Sifu Donald K. Naholewa, then a 4th degree black belt. In 1984, after achieving the 2nd degree black belt, he was referred to Sifu Jerry Wright Jr., then a 4th degree black belt (now 8th degree), and Professor Richard Peralta, an 8th degree black belt. In 1991 while Professor Ortega was participating in a seminar in Texas he met the well known and master of the Kajukenbo Kosho Ryu: Grand Master Jaime Basquez, then a 9th degree black belt, and started training under his supervision. After more than three decades of hard training Grand Master “Tony” Ramos granted him a 9th degree black belt Diploma in Kajukenbo Kenpo Karate and Grand Master Jaime Basquez granted him a 9th degree black belt in Kajukenbo Kosho Ryu. Because he was the one who developed the Kajukenbo in the island after Sifu Jackson’s departure, Professor Ortega is recognized as the "father of the Kajukenbo in Puerto Rico. In Isabela, he’s also known as the father of the Karate-do since he was the one who brought the art to his town. He’s also the founder of the Puerto Rico Kajukenbo Association, Inc.: the first Kajukenbo organization in Puerto Rico, and The Salt Covenant Pact, an organization for a lifetime friendship. A recognized true martial artist can be asked to become a member. If this person accepts the invitation, all the members will exchange each pouch’s salt with the new member to make this person join in. Some Grand Masters and great people are among this group. Professor Ortega used to say: “A good teacher is the one that will always learn from others, especially from the students, and will never stop learning from everyone in his life.” His most significant contribution to the martial arts has been the foundation and development of what has been called by many respectable martial artists as the “higher and explosive” defense system: the Advance Defense System.