It has been said that the origin of Japanese wrestling dates back 1,960 years when two men stood up face to face and kicked each other, one kicked the other in the ribs and stamped on and crushed his waist and killed him, this has been regarded as the origin of jujitsu.

About 400 years ago the Takenouchi school of jujitsu was systemized. Sixty years later a Chinese came to Japan aand taught the art of boxing. And forty years later another Chinese visited Japan and introduced an art of seizing one's opponent. Through the process of elimination, and harmonization, a new art known as Yawara was created and popularized. This is the origin of the present day jujitsu.

Jujitsu is the term which has been applied, at different times, to the whole of the ancient Japanese national art of unarmed self-defense practiced by the Samurai or "warrior class" of Japan. The basic principle of this art is to avoid or give way before an opponent's superior weight and strength in order to overcome him by using his weight and strength to his disadvantage.

The older term JUJITSU, or gentle art,gave way in later years to the word JUDO, or gentle way,which stressed the ethical and philisophical concept of DO or a way in harmony with natural law. When the Japanese Ministry of Education adopted a limited form of the national art (Kodokan Judo) for sports instruction in the secondary schools, JUDO came in time to denote only the sport based on JUJITSU, and JUJITSU remained the only word to denote the entire art.

Henry S. Okazaki, Ju-Jitsu Master, Father of American Jujitsu

The founder of Kodenkan Jujitsu, was born in Fukushima Prefecture, on the island of Honshu, Japan, January 28, 1890. Okazaki went to Hawaii when he was 17 years old. He studied under various masters in Hilo, Hawaii where he mastered the YOSHIN, IWAGA, and KOSOGABE schools of jujitsu by practicing diligently six nights a week. In addition, he studied OKINAWAN KARATE, CHINESE KUNG-FU, HAWAIIAN LUA, and FILLIPINO KNIFE PLAY as well as American boxing and wrestling. In 1924, he toured Japan, making an exhaustive study of the SHIBUKAWA-RYU, YOSHIN-RYU and NAMBA-SHOSHIN RYU, as well as KODOKAN JUDO, in which he was ranked sandan (3rd degree). During his tour of Japan, he visited more than 50 dojos and acquired 675 different kinds of techniques or forms. He made a special study of KAPPO and SEFHUKUJITSU (restorative massage), because he recognized the virtue of jujitsu lay in the possibility of reversing the effects of deadly or disabling arts by restoration and treatment.

Gradually, Professor Okazaki evolved a system of jujitsu comprising courses for men, women, and children, and including methods of defense against the knife, sword, club, gun and bayonet. In this system, called DAN ZAN RYU (Cedar Mountain Style, cedar mountains was the Chinese term for Hawaii. Prof. Okazaki chose this name out of respect for his Chinese martial arts instructor), Professor Okazaki stressed the ancient systems of philosophical and moral training while retaining the best of the arts of self-defense and of restoration together with the system of physical culture and mental cultivation now known as sport judo. Thus, he achieved a true synthesis of ancient and modern elements, a complete system of judo and jujitsu.

In 1930, Professor Okazaki opened the Nikko Sanatorium of Restoration Massage in Honolulu, where he subsequently earned an international reputation for his skill as a physical therapist. That same year, he opened his school, now known as the American Jujitsu Institute of Hawaii. His life from that time forward was devoted to instructing worthy Americans without regard to national origin, the arts and sciences of judo and jujitsu and to developing disciples who would introduce his system throughout the United States.

It is safe to say that when Professor Okazaki died in July 1951, thousands of students had studied in his school. His system - DAN ZAN RYU, REMAINS TODAY THE MOST WIDELY TAUGHT SYSTEM IN THE UNITED STATES.

On the mainland over the years, a number of disciples who Professor Okazaki had initiated into the highest arts of the DAN ZAN RYU system began to teach and attempted to make a reality of Professor Okazaki's dream to have a school teaching his system in every state of the Union. One of the first, Professor Ray L. Law had established the Oakland Judo School in 1939, and had been followed shortly by Professor Bud Estes (Chico), Professor Richard Rickerts and Professor John Cahill. Others followed and taught over the years, and today, there are a variety of organizations, founded by different Okazaki students dedicated to perpetuating their interpretation of his system.

KODENKAN, the name of Professor Okazaki's physical school, may be translated as The School of the Ancient Tradition, and in fact the Kodenkan system is a synthesis of the best arts of the ancient Jujitsu schools. However, KODENKAN may be rendered as THE SCHOOL IN WHICH SENIORS TRANSMIT THE TRADITION. This translation describes the Kodenkan method of instruction, senior students teach junior students in the spirit which Professor Okazaki declared was inherent in the Hawaiian word Koku, to help another.

Dan Zan Ryu Jujitsu

The basic katas and the course titles of the advanced and secret courses encompass a complete system of combat jujitsu, directed toward PERFECTION OF CHARACTER THROUGH PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND MORAL TRAINING. PHYSICAL TRAINING - The sequence ofinstruction begins with strenuous exercises to condition mind and body and to prepare students to learn safely. Each art must be mastered to the point that its correct execution becomes a mind-body reflex. MENTAL TRAINING - All training, basic and advanced, lays emphasis on training the mind by applying the principles of jujitsu derived from ancient philosophy. Volumes have been written to explain these principles, their meaning can only be suggested here - BY CULTIVATING A RELAXED, MIRROR-LIKE STATE OF MIND WITHOUT PRECONCEIVED IDEAS OR THOUGHTS, THE STUDENT LEARNS TO REACT SPONTANEOUSLY AND NATURALLY WITHOUT EFFORT OR PURPOSELESS RESISTANCE GOING AHEAD WITHOUT HESITATION TO MEET WHATEVER LIFE HOLDS IN STORE FOR HIM.

MORAL TRAINING - By example and precept as well as in the routine of class instruction, a foundation is laid for the development of those character traits which Professor Okazaki set forth in his Esoteric Principles.

Perfection of Character may be regarded as the ultimate claim of the Dan Zan Ryu system, and promotion through the grades is as dependent upon character as upon technical mastery of the basic arts.


Intermediate instruction aims at training each student to teach. Senior students must not only master and teach each course in turn before being taught the next, but MUST KEEP A NOTEBOOK IN WHICH THEY WRITE UP THEIR OWN DESCRIPTION OF EACH ART. The intermediate arts properly include OKU NO KATA (Oku means deep or advanced) and KIAI NO MAKI (the scroll of Kiai). KIAI NO MAKI includes several subsidiary courses in weapons defense TESSEN fan arts, DAITO sword arts, TANTO knife arts, BO stick arts and TANJU, gun arts.

SEFHUKUJITSU, the famous Okazaki system of restoration massage is taught concurrently with the basic arts, but instruction beyond fundamental stages is restricted to those who have both the HANDS and the PROPER ATTITUDE for the work.


SHININ NO MAKI, SHINYO NO MAKII and SHINGIN NO MAKI are the advanced arts. The initial syllable SHIN represents a character denoting HEART in the sense TO TAKE HEART or act with confidence, signifying that confidence gained by mastery of the basic arts is prerequisite to success in these arts.

Confidence, therefore, represents the ultimate attainment of self-knowledge, and the ultimate objective of the Kodenkan Dan Zan Ryu system for WHEN ONE TRULY HAS CONFIDENCE, HE WILL ALWAYS BEAR HIMSELF WITH HONOR AND HUMILITY.

Return To Main Page