BIOGRAPHY of Professor Okazaki
Professor H. Seishiro Okazaki was born January 28, 1890 in the town of Kakeda, Fukushima prefecture of Japan. His father was Hanyeimon Okazaki, and his mother was Fuka Suenaga. In 1906, Professor Okazaki moved from Japan to the big island of Hawaii and settled in Hilo. In 1909 he was examined by a doctor who diagnosed him with incurable tuberculosis.
In 1910, Professor Okazaki started training with Master Yosimatsu (Kichimatsu) Tanaka at his Shinyu Kai Dojo in Hilo. In Professor Okazaki's own words " he started to practice Jujitsu in earnest and in defiance of death".
Whether or not it was due to to his frantic devotion to Jujitsu, Professor Okazaki's tuberculosis healed and he developed a strong iron like body. He believed that he owed his life to Jujitsu and devoted the rest of his life to teaching and promoting the art.
While in Hilo, Professor Okazaki mastered various Jujitsu techniques being taught at the Namba-Yoshin-Ryu, Kodokan Judo, Iwaga-Ryu, and Kosogahe-Ryu schools. He then combined these systems with karate techniques from the Ryukyu Island (Okinawa) and the knife fighting techniques of the Philippines to form Danzan-Ryu in the Hawaiian School of Jujitsu.
According to the late Professor Sig Kufferath, one of Professor Okazaki's most influential instructors, Wo Chung, called Hawaii "Danzan", as did most Chinese people at that time, so Professor Okazaki dedicated part of the system to Chung's memory. Chung taught Professor Okazaki Mushi-Jutsu, which is the art of boxing with intent to kill, as Professor Okazaki translated it.
In 1917, he also studied the Hawaiian secret killing art of Lua under the tutelage of David Kainhee, a native Hawaiian. The training took place in the district of Puna, on the island of Hawaii. He also studied western boxing and wrestling and learned dirk throwing from a Spaniard. Professor Okazaki incorporated all of these arts into his system.
In September 1922, a Heavyweight American boxer by the name of K. O. Morris visited the islands and began to challenge Judo and other martial arts. His claim was his boxing was far superior to any Japanese martial art. When the challenge was answered in the Hilo area by several Japanese martial artists, they were defeated by Morris, causing them to lose face. According to the late Professor Sig Kufferath, Professor Okazaki then challenged Morris to a match. Professor Okazaki reportedly suffered a broken nose in the first round. He then retaliated with a reverse arm lock which broke Morris's arm and causing him to faint from the excessive pain. Professor Okazaki later said, "I enhanced the reputation of Japanese Jujitsu by defeating him with much splendor". Professor Okazaki received a gold watch from the Japanese community for restoring their honor.
In September 1924, Professor Okazaki returned temporarily to Japan. He traveled extensively, visiting more than fifty dojos scattered between Morioka City in the north and Kagoshima in the south. He mastered some six hundred seventy five techniques of Jujitsu, all the while improving his own Danzan Ryu. During this time also he worked out at the famous Kodokan and received a Black Belt in Judo directly from Dr. Jigaro Kano, the founder of Judo. He then returned from Japan in February of 1925 and started to teach his Jujitsu style on the island of Maui.
In 1929, Professor Okazaki moved to Honolulu on the island of Oahu. It was here that he opened the "Okazaki Seifukujutsu", or "Okazaki Adjustment and Restoration Clinic", which would eventually be called the "Nikko Restoration Sanitarium". At the same time he also opened his Kodenkan Dojo to teach his Danzan Ryu Jujitsu while still testing and improving his Jujitsu system.
Professor Okazaki was one of the first teachers to break from tradition and teach Japanese martial arts to the non-Japanese. Professor Okazaki was ostracized by other Japanese for doing this. Professor Okazaki firmly believed that everyone should have the opportunity to learn the art of Jujitsu, regardless of their ethnic heritage.
His first class in Honolulu consisted of six students: his son, Hachiro, Kiyoshi Kawashima, Benjamin Marks, George Harbottle, William Simao, and Y. S. Kim. In 1932, Richard Rickerts, Curly Friedman, Charles Wagner, Harold McLean, Bob Glover and Tantro Muggey enrolled in the Kodenkan. In 1936, they graduated with instructor diplomas. Professor Okazaki also formed an organization originally called the "American Jujitsu Guild", and later renamed the "American Jujitsu Institute" AJI.
Professor Okazaki felt that his Jujitsu system was now the most comprehensive form of Jujitsu because it took what he believed were the optimum approaches to self defense and combined them into one school. Professor Okazaki was also an avid promoter of sport Judo and Sumo competition in Hawaii.
Then on December 7, 1941, forces from the Imperial Japanese Navy executed a surprise, unprovoked attack on the U. S. Military bases on Oahu, thus entering the United States into war against Japan. What followed for island residents was martial law where many Japanese were arrested and detained at the military base on Sand Island.
Many reports have indicated that Professor Okazaki was detained as well. Recent official documents released by the United States Department of Justice under the "Freedom of Information Act" do not show that Professor Okazaki was detained. Eyewitnesses such as Steven J. Byzek, a Black Belt under Professor Okazaki, says that Professor Okazaki was taken in for questioning by authorities, but that he was not detained.
Probably the best account comes from the children of Professor Okazaki. His youngest daughter, Imi (now Professor Imi Okazaki-Mullins) recalls that she visited him on at least two occasions in a prison camp. This was a clear recollection of hers since she had to make a long bus trip to get to the location. Some accounts of this time do indicate that the "Kodenkan Dojo" was closed for a time, but was later reopened.
Ironically, it was during World War II that Professor Okazaki help to develop the United States Army's field manual on "hand-to-hand" combat and also taught many U. S. servicemen the art of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.
It should be noted that Professor Okazaki was extremely proud of his acquired American citizenship and openly displayed the American flag in his dojo, and in all official dojo photographs of him. This point was heavily emphasized by his daughter, Professor Imi Okazkai-Mullins.
One of Professor Okazaki's dreams was to have a Danzan Ryu school in every state in the union, which is becoming a reality as documented by the extensive Danzan Ryu website today.
In July of 1948, Professor Okazaki suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. This severely reduced his teaching ability and much of the teaching then was done by the instructors he had trained. His students would come and apply his own restorative massage techniques on him. Slowly, the paralyzed side of his was brought back to vitality. Although he was able to return to teaching, his disability continued to haunt him.
A second stroke occurred in September of 1950 that put him in the hospital, and another massive stroke in June of 1951, which left him totally disabled, and then finally at 4:00pm on July, 12, 1951, Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki died from the effects of the third stroke.