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Who was the founder of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu?

The founder of Danzan Ryu Jujtisu was a man named Professor Seishiro “Henry” Okazaki. Okazaki was one of the most famous and influential martial artists in the world. His system, Danzan Ryu Jiu jitsu is one of the most widely taught systems in the country today.

Early Danzan Ryu Jujitsu In Hawaii

Okazaki named his school Danzan Ryu in gratitude to Master Wo Chung, a Chinese Kung Fu stylist who also broke tradition by teaching him the Chinese arts. 

His Chinese teacher called the Hawaian Islands T'an Shan; or in Japanese, Dan Zan, . This translate to "sandalwood mountain". Hence the term Danzan-Ryu means Sandalwood Mountain School.

Professor Okazaki's influence flourished throughout the Hawaiian Islands, producing many Black belt instructors who eventually moved to the mainland to open their own schools. 

Seishiro "Henry" Okazaki

Okazaki was a Japanese man born in Kakeda, Japan in the prefecture of Fukushima, on January 28th, 1890. He emigrated from Japan to Hawaii in 1906 at the age of 16. 

For those of you who don't know, Japan at this time was going through a reform and a transition. Many farmers and peasants moved away from traditional lifestyles to work in modern industries. 

At the turn of the century from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, there was a diaspora of the Japanese population. Many Japanese were emigrating to the West in search of a better life.

At the age of 19, Okazaki was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which is a very tough disease and it can be deadly, especially at this time in history.

Professor Okazaki decided to take his fate into his own hands and tried to cure his ailment through training in martial arts.

Under the directions and tutelage of Master Yoshimatsu (Kichimatsu) Tanaka he started his training in Judo. He took to martial arts training and found himself obsessed with getting more proficient. He practiced every day and soon found that his devotion started paying off. 

Building up his cardio through hard training, he was able to make a full recovery from the illness. Thereafter, he vowed to spread the art and dedicated his life to teaching both jujitsu and judo.

He once said,”I am now the owner of a body as if made of iron." 

I personally believe that these martial arts are very important because they increase your endurance.  When I was growing up I had severe asthma attacks. Whenever I would have these attacks, I would just stay home from school because whenever I would breathe my lungs would emit a whistling sound which was very embarrassing for me. Of course, tuberculosis is far more serious and more difficult in breathing than asthma is.  

In 1924 Professor Okazaki decided to return to Japan to further his studies of Jujitsu and Judo. He traveled extensively during this trip and visited and trained in over 50 different Dojos. One of the most famous was the Dojo of Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo itself. It was during this visit that he was awarded 3rd-degree black belt by Kano himself.

Danzan Ryu Belt Test

Danzan Ryu Jujitsu

It was said that he collected six hundred and seventy-five techniques from the various masters. Okazaki eventually returned to Hawaii, where he took all of his experience and knowledge and used them to create a new style of martial arts known as Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.

However, Danzan Ryu was not just made up of self-defense techniques from Japanese martial arts. You see, Professor Okazaki was a lifelong martial artist with an open mind toward other systems of martial arts. You could say that he was a pioneer of what is now known as MMA.

He studied Filipino Escrima, Chinese Kung Fu, and the native martial art of Hawaii known as Lua.

This eclectic style of fighting is what Okazaki is most famous for and is what separates Danzan Ryu from more ancient styles of Jujitsu.

In 1929, Professor Okazaki established the first  Jujitsu school in Hawaii, which he named Kodenkan, which translates to “The School of the Ancient Tradition,” This school later became known as the American Jujitsu Institute of Hawaii, which is still in existence today.

There Are 13 Parts To This System Of Martial Arts:

  • Ukemi (falls)Yawara (hand arts)Nage No Kata (throwing forms);
  • Shime No Kata (mat arts; Oku No Kata (combination arts/deep arts);
  • Kiai No Maki (scroll of the kiai),
  • Fujin Goshin No Maki (women's self-defense scrolls);
  • Keisatsu (police arts);
  • Shinnin No Maki (spirit man scroll);
  • Shinyo No Maki (yang spirit scroll);
  • Shingen No Maki (original spirit scroll);
  • Kappo (resuscitation techniques) and
  • Seifukujutsu (adjustment and restoration techniques)

A higher goal

The ultimate goal of Danzan Ryu training is to perfect your physical, and mental attributes. This builds your character and allows you to integrate your mind body and spirit into alignment.

Danzan Ryu Jujitsu is a system of martial arts that captures the essence of traditional Japanese Budo (warrior skills) and delivers it with the warmth and power of Hawaiian culture.  It incorporates physical and mental training in self-defense as well as healing arts for everyone.