Martial arts can be documented as far back as 2,500 years ago. Egyptian hieroglyphics have been found depicting martial arts techniques. The history of JuJitsu has been traced from India to China and then to Japan, where it was integral to Samurai training. Modern decendents of ancient JuJitsu include sport Judo and Aikido.

Ju means gentle or yielding and Jitsu means art. JuJitsu is the yielding art where force is not met head on. Rather one takes the force and yields to it and uses the aggressor’s force against them.

In the early 1900s a young man named Henry Seishiro Okazaki moved from Japan to the territory of Hawaii with his family. Okazaki was diagnosed with incurable tuberculosis. He began to study JuJitsu and found that his disease had disappeared. He felt that JuJitsu had saved his life and gave him a body made of iron and thus decided to dedicate his life to JuJitsu.

Prof Okazaki doing an armlock on uke on ground in front of jujitsu students

Okazaki studied many styles of JuJtitsu and with a letter of introduction from his teacher he traveled to Japan to study JuJitsu and Seifukujitsu (Restoration arts) in many different schools and styles. During his visit he studied at the Kodokan where Jigaro Kano’s Judo was created. Okazaki studied and collaborated with Kano. Upon his return to Hawaii Okazaki continued to study different martial arts including Chinese Gung Fu, Filipino Knife play, Spanish throwing of a dirk, Okinawan karate, American boxing and wrestling, and the Hawaiian martial art, Lua.

Okazaki opened his school, which he named the Kodenkan, the Ancient Tradition School. This is significant as it emphasizes a system where the senior students transmit the system to the junior students. Okazaki was probably the first to teach Japanese martial arts to non-Japanese. He taught many servicemen and developed some training materials for the U.S. armed forces. Okazaki names his JuJitsu system Danzan Ryu in honor of his Gung Fu teacher. Danzan means Sandalwood Mountain, which was the Chinese name for the Hawaii Islands. The Chinese used the sandalwood to make their temples. Ryu means style, so Danzan Ryu in a way means Hawaiian Island System.

Okazaki also opened his clinic, the Nikko Sanatorium of Restoration Massage, where he practiced massage and healing arts on many famous people including President Roosevelt, actor Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan), George Burns, and many others. Massage and restoration (Seifukujitsu) are integral to Okazaki’s system. It is important to balance your fighting spirit with your healing spirit.

In the late 1940’s four of Okazaki’s students came to the mainland. It was one of Okazaki’s dreams to have a Danzan Ryu school in each state of the union. These four students were Prof. Ray Law, Prof. Bud Estes, Prof. Richard Rickerts, and Prof. John Cahill. They founded the American Judo and JuJitsu Federation (AJJF), which was incorporated as a non-profit State of California corporation on May 21, 1958. One of Prof. Law’s students was Bill Randle, who still teaches today at the Westside YMCA. One of Prof. Randle’s students was Jim Marcinkus and one of his students was Leif Bennett. Leif Bennett began JuJitsu in the Youth class and is now a Godan, fifth degree black belt. Prof Bennett started Pacific JuJitsu Kai. The dojo was run for a number of years by Sensei Ed Cook a student of Prof Jim Marcinkus. In January of 2000, Professor Hillary Kaplowitz took over Pacific JuJitsu Kai as head instructor.