Matsuno Ryu History

Henry Seishiro Okazaki

Founder of the Kodenkan and Danzan Ryu Jujitsu

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Joseph Holck (Joichi Matsuno)

Founder of the Kodenkan Yudanshakai and Co Founder of Kajukenbo

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Vinson Holck

Son of Joseph Holck and founder of the Matsuno methods of Kajukenbo

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Paul LaPointe

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Students


HISTORY OF PROFESSOR HENRY SEISHIRO OKAZAKI AND DANZAN RYU JUJITSU

The Early Years – Henry Seishiro Okazaki was born in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan on January 28, 1890 to parents Hanuemon Okazaki (father) and Fuka Suenaga (mother).

In 1906, at the age of 16, Okazaki immigrated to Hilo on the island of Hawaii. Soon after, in 1909, he was afflicted with a respiratory condition which may have been tuberculosis. In defiance of his condition, Okazaki began studying Jujitsu under Yoshin Ryu jujitsu Master Yoshimatsu (Kichimatsu) Tanaka in Hilo.  In conversation with Sig Kufferath, Okazaki related the event, “With courage born out of desperation, I went to Master Yoshimatsu Tanaka and started to practice Jujitsu in earnest and in defiance of death.”  Okazaki vigorously pursued his studies under Tanaka and found after sometime that his respiratory condition had gone into remission.  Okazaki felt that the study of martial arts had played a large role in his physical recovery and as a result he decided to dedicate his life to the study and teaching of jujitsu and related disciplines.

During this time in Hilo, Okazaki trained under various masters and mastered the Yoshin Iwaga and Kosogabe styles of Jujitsu, in addition to exploring techniques from Okinawan Karate, Filipino knife fighting, Hawaiian Lua, Kung Fu, wrestling, western boxing, and Spanish dirk throwing.   Okazaki blended the most effective aspects of these various styles into an eclectic system of Jujitsu he would eventually name ‘Danzan Ryu’ or ‘Sandlewood Mountain Style’.   Okazaki used this name to honor his Chinese martial arts teacher, Wo Chong. The Chinese name for Hawai’i is T’an Shan (or in Japanese, Dan Zan) which translates as ‘sandalwood mountain’. Hence the term Danzan-Ryu means Hawaiian Style.

In September of 1922, Okazaki accepted a challenge from a heavyweight professional boxing champion by the name of K.O. Morris.  Morris claimed that his western boxing was superior to any Japanese fighting art and that he had toured Japan defeating Jujitsu and Judo men with his boxing.  Although receiving a broken nose in the first round, Okazaki would rally to victory after throwing Morris and breaking his arm with an armlock. Okazaki is noted as saying of the event, “I enhanced the reputation of Japanese Jujitsu by defeating him with much splendor”.

Return to Japan and First classes – In 1924 Okazaki returned to Japan, where he traveled the countryside studying techniques from more than 50 dojos. Out of the 50, four schools of Jujitsu are specifically recorded, the Shibukawa Ryu, Yoshin Ryu, Namba Shoshin Ryu and the Kodokan.  While visiting the Kodokan, he was awarded the rank of Sandan, 3rd degree blackbelt from Professor Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo.  In addition to the over 675 techniques he learned, Okazaki made a special study of kappo and seifukujitsu (restorative massage).

Following his return from Japan in 1925, Okazaki began to teach his newly developed Danzan Ryu Jujitsu on Maui, prior to moving to Honolulu on the island of Oahu in 1930.  Here he opened the Okazaki Adjustment and Restoration Health Clinic which came to be known as the Nikko Restoration Sanatorium.  In addition to the health clinic, Okazaki opened the Kodenkan dojo to perpetuate Danzan Ryu.  The name Kodenkan may be translated as ‘The School of the Ancient Tradition’ or as ‘The School in Which Senior Students Transmit the Tradition.’ Both translations are accurate. Okazaki’s method of instruction prescribed that senior students taught the junior students in the spirit of Hawaiian kokua, which is defined as to mutually help one another.

Aside from kokua teaching philosophy, Okazaki distinguished himself by being one of the first Japanese martial arts instructors to teach non Japanese and even women his art.  This decision resulted in Okazaki being ostracized by other Japanese for his actions.

According to accounts, the original classes were grueling; Okazaki taught different courses to different individuals.  Around the time of the Kodenkan’s founding it took four years to earn the rank of Shodan, training 6-7 days per week.

World War II – Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Habor on December 7th, 1941, martial law was instituted in which Okazaki, along with many of Japanese decent were arrested and detained.   Okazaki was detained for a time, however eventually he was released due to the intervention of his students and American friends.

During this time, Okazaki’s students protected the Kodenkan from looters who ransacked Japanese homes and businesses. Because of the preservation of his assets, he was able to lend aid to the Asian community who had formerly shunned him. In this way he again became accepted by the Asian community again.

Throughout the war, Okazaki continued teaching and even assisted the US Military in creating a hand-to-hand combat curriculum.

The Final Years – Okazaki suffered a stroke in mid to late1948, which left him partially paralyzed.  Due to this, much of Okazaki’s teaching was done by senior students he had promoted to instructor.   In 1950, Okazaki was hospitalized due to a second stroke.  Then at 4:00pm on July 12, 1951 he passed away due to a third stroke.  He was 62 years old at the time of his death.

Professor Okazaki is known as the father of American Jujitsu and left behind a rich martial arts legacy which has grown and branched into one of the most widely taught systems of Jujitsu in the world.

 


HISTORY OF DAI SHIHAN JOSEPH HOLCK’S MARTIAL ARTS CAREER

Joseph Holck[1] began his martial arts training in Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu in 1938 at the KODENKAN under Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki. Aside from Professor Okazaki, he later received instruction under Bing Fai Lau and Sig Kufferath at both the Kodenkan and Kaheka Lane dojos on the U.S. territory of Hawaii[2].

In 1944, Joseph Holck volunteered for the U. S. Army and underwent Basic Training in Texas, where due to his martial arts background, he was designated the hand-to-hand combat instructor of his basic training unit. Following World War II, he was stationed in Germany during the European Occupation. There he was assigned as hand-to-hand combat instructor for the 9th Infantry Division Non-Commissioned Officers’ Academy.

In 1947, he returned to Hawaii and continued training in Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu under Kufferath, Sensei.  During this period Joseph Holck was brought together along with other martial artists, with a goal of designing a new eclectic martial art.  Holck would name this art Kajukenbo, which in turn would grow to be known as “The Original American Mixed Martial Art”.

Even though he was involved in the creation of this new martial art, Joseph Holck continued his individual martial arts training in Judo and Jujitsu.

In 1948, he began Kodokan judo training under Professor T. Inouye a former All-Japan Collegiate Champion.

In 1949, Joseph Holck was presented his “Kaidensho Mokuroku” (teacher’s scroll) of Danzan-ryu Jujutsu by his first teacher of the martial arts, Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki. He was directed to perpetuate the teachings of Professor Okazaki.

In 1951 Joseph Holck received his Shodan in Judo from the Kodokan under Professor T. Inouye.

Joseph Holck continued to be actively involved in teaching martial arts in Hawaii until 1964, when he moved to Tucson at the request of his brother, Roy A. Holck, to continue the Jujitsu school founded by Roy Holck in 1962. The arts of Judo and Karate were already well established as sports in the Tucson Valley. Roy Holck however, felt that Jujitsu, as taught to him by his brother, had something more to offer than the medals and trophies earned in competition and combative sports.

That same year, Joseph Holck received his Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) from the American Jujitsu Institute and he received training in the Hakkoryu style of Jujitsu under John Graves, Sensei who awarded him his Shodan rank a year later.

Three years later, in 1967 the original school grew into an organization, also founded by Joseph Holck and his family, and is known as the Kodenkan Yudanshakai, “School of the Ancient Tradition Black Belt Society”.

It is largely due to the efforts and vision of Prof. Holck, his wife Amy, their 4 sons and 1 daughter, that martial arts in general and Danzan-Ryu Jujitsu in particular have flourished in the American Southwest. It has been instilled in the minds of the members of the Yudanshakai that their beginnings lay in the teachings of Prof. Okazaki, from whose dojo their organization received its name.

 


[1]                  Due to World War II, Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese feelings against any American citizen of Japanese heritage Joichi Matsuno changed his name to Joseph Holck.

[2]                  Hawaii had not yet become a state at that time.

 


The Kajukenbo Way –

Kajukenbo was founded in 1947 in the Palamas Settlement on Oahu, Hawaii.

In the late 1940’s, the Palamas Settlement was a violent area where first-fights and stabbings were commonplace.  Due to this environment a martial artist by the name of Tommy Tanaka introduced five martial artists from varying backgrounds with the goal of developing an art that would be practical and effective on the street, yet transcend individual style limitations.  These founders sought to develop one style that would complement each of their individual styles and yet had to allow for effective fighting at all ranges and speeds. They called themselves the “Black Belt Society”.

Three Primary Founders:

  • Joseph Holck – Kodokan Judo, Kodenkan Danzan-ryu Jujitsu and American Boxing
  • Adriano Emperado –  Kosho Shorei Japanese Kenpo and Escrima
  • Peter Choo – American Boxing and Tang Soo Do Korean Karate (Choo was a Hawaiian Welterweight Boxing Champion)

Two Secondary Founders (Students of Joseph Holck):

  • Frank Ordonez – Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and American Boxing
  • George Chang – Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and American Boxing

In its conception, the founders followed a simple philosophy, if a technique worked consistently on the street, then it stayed in the system, if it did not, it was discarded.  This allowed the style to maintain its strong self defense focus, while covering limitations found within each of their traditional arts.

The emerging style was named Kajukenbo.  It was named thus by Joseph Holck because of the styles that formed it. KA for Karate, JU for Judo & Jujitsu, Ken for Kenpo and Bo for Boxing.

 The Kajukenbo of Joseph Holck and Peter Choo –

Holck_ChooShortly after its creation, Holck, Choo, Ordonez and Chang left Hawaii as active duty military.  This left Emperado as the sole remaining founder to perpetuate Kajukenbo at the time.

Upon returning from the military Holck and Choo, chose to distance themselves from what Kajukenbo had become, as it had become an art in conflict with the Esoteric Principles of Professor Okazaki, Holck’s Jujitsu instructor.  Holck would continue to train and focus on Jujitsu and Judo, eventually moving to Tucson, Arizona where he and his family brought Jujitsu to Tucson.

It was not until 1975 that Vinson Holck, Joseph Holck’s son, seeing the value in the principles behind Kajukenbo, decided to approach his father about Kajukenbo training.  Working as a Police officer in Tucson’s crime heavy downtown beat, Vinson Holck was constantly forced to utilize his self-defense skills and Kajukenbo was well suited for this.  After years of training, Vinson Holck established the first Holck / Choo (Peter Choo was his Uncle) method of Kajukenbo, the Matsuno Ryu Goshinjitsu(Self-Defense) in 1982.  It was named Matsuno (meaning “Pine Field”) in honor of his father’s family name that traced its lineage back to the Samurai clans of feudal Japan. The method focused on the original ideals of Kajukenbo, placing focus on Judo, Jujitsu and Kickboxing as taught to him by his father and his Uncle.

In the early 1990’s at the request of Emperado, Joseph Holck and his son Vinson traveled to San Diego each weekend for a year to re-teach the Jujitsu and Judo techniques that Emperado’s Kajukenbo blackbelts had lost.  During this training Emperado promoted Vinson Holck to a blackbelt in his organization and requested that he pass on the Kata and Kenpo techniques he learned in trade from Emperado’s blackbelts.  The second Holck / Choo method of Kajukenbo was born in the form of the Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai, with a focus on the Karate, Kenpo and Kickboxing of Kajukenbo.

In addition to retaining the original teachings and spirit of melding styles, Matsuno Ryu Kajukenbo or Goshinjitsu (self-defense) adheres to the moral principles of Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki, Joseph Holck’s Instructor.

Because of its focus on what works for the individual vs. a rigid set of techniques, Kajukenbo has grown over the years into many distinct branches, all with the main focus of being open and able to adapt to any situation and any practitioner.  It is my firm belief that the spirit of Kajukenbo is built around the concept of keeping an open mind and finding one’s true character in the martial arts as well as in life.

The techniques & lessons taught are my particular take on the combined systems of Matsuno Ryu Kajukenbo, as taught to me by my instructor, Vinson Holck, that I present to you, the student.

 – Paul LaPointe, Sensei
5th Degree KodenKan Yudanshakai Blackbelt
Matsuno Ryu Goshinjitsu 
Matsuno Kajukenbo Kai