At the WESTSIDE Family YMCA we practice the Danzan Ryu system of Jujitsu. The Danzan Ryu was founded and developed by Professor Henry S. Okazaki (1890-1951) in the 1920s and was taught at his dojo, the Kodenkan (meaning "school of ancient tradition") in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Professor Okazaki was born in Honshu, Japan and moved to Hawaii with his family when he was sixteen. Suffering from a lung disorder, Okazaki first studied Judo in an effort to regain his failing health. In addition to mastering Yoshin, Iwaga and Kosogabe Jujitsu (Yoshin Jiu Jitsu, Iwaga Jujitsu and Kosogabe Jujitsu; this is probably when the change in spelling occurred), he studied Okinawan Karate, Chinese Gung Fu, Philippine knife play and Hawaiian Lua, as well as American boxing and wrestling. In 1924, Okazaki toured Japan and visited more than 50 dojos, acquiring 675 different kinds of techniques or forms. He also made a special study of Kappo (first aid), and Seifukujitsu (restorative massage), because he recognized the virtue and morality of healing or reversing the effects of disabling arts by restorative treatment.
Following his return from Japan, Okazaki gradually developed and refined (from all of the systems he had studied) a single system which he named Danzan Ryu. Danzan is translated as "Sandalwood Island" and is the Chinese name for Hawaii. Master Okazaki's system embodies the spirit of the Hawaiian word Kokua (to cooperate or help one another), which means that the system's arts are passed down from the advanced students to the beginning students. This is different from most other martial arts, where the sensei (head instructor) does all of the teaching. The second significant difference is that the Danzan Ryu Jujitsu system was open to ANYONE. This was unheard of in Professor Okazaki's time, as martial arts were taught only to and in the Asian cultures. Okazaki believed in the American philosophy of equal opportunity.
Professor Okazaki's system came to the mainland in the 1930s. Professor Raymond L. Law (1899-1969) opened Law's Judo and Jujitsu School in Oakland, California, in 1938. He was followed shortly by Professor Bud Estes (1909-1981) with the Chico Judo Academy, Professor Richard Rickerts (1906-1990) of the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation, and Professor John Cahill (1907-1962) and the Cahill Judo School. All of these Jujitsu pioneers are now deceased, but they have left a legacy that now reaches into most of the United States, continuing to fulfill Professor Okazaki's dream of having his system taught in every state of the Union.
William G. Randle, Judan (10th degree Black Belt), a student of Professor Raymond L. Law and currently sensei at the Westside Family YMCA Dojo, was instrumental in bringing Danzan Ryu to Southern California. After two years of teaching a neighborhood program out of a garage, he started the Jujitsu program at the Santa Monica YMCA in 1959. Professor Randle promoted his first black belts, Michael A. Chubb and James A. Marcinkus (deceased), in the early 1960s. In 1972, he brought Jujitsu to the newly opened Westside Family YMCA, where it continues to be a cornerstone of YMCA programming.
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