Shiatsu is a form of traditional Japanese therapeutic bodywork based on the theoretical framework of eastern medicine. Koho Shiatsu is the unique method of this therapy founded by Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho in conjunction with Hakkoryu Jujutsu. While Hakkoryu Jujutsu applies pressure techniques on Keiraku (the body’s energy lines, according to traditional eastern medicine) to defend oneself, or pin down an opponent when one is being attacked, applying pressure techniques on Keiraku is also the essential method utilized by Koho Shiatsu. In its basic practice, pressure is applied with the thumb or fingers against various meridians and pressure points (called Tsubo) on the patient’s body. It can be said to be a method of “helping one’s body to heal itself”. In Hakkoryu, one is learning a martial art while at the same time practicing Shiatsu techniques created by the founder. Koho Shiatsu, as a solid therapeutic method, is perfectly complementary to the techniques of Hakkoryu, as a martial art.
Hakkoryu Jujutsu at the Shinwakan Dojo:
Within our Dojo, classes in Hakkoryu Jujutsu are conducted through public (Thursday evenings), private, or semi-private lessons. This ensures that student's get significant attention through one-on-one training with the instructor. Progression is based on the motivation of the student, and often faster than in other class formats.
Our study of Hakkoryu is as an official dojo, under the direction of Devon Smith Sensei, who holds the rank of Menkyo Kaiden Sandaikichu Shihan under Nidai Soke Okuyama Ryuho, and operates the Kenshinkan Dojo in Clinton Township, Michigan. All ranks awarded at our school are issued directly from Nidai Soke Okuyama and the Hakkoryu Sohombu (headquarters) in Saitama, Japan.
Hakkoryu Founding Ceremony, held June 1st, 1941
The name “Hakkoryu” is based on a philosophical Japanese view of the color spectrum as being divided into nine bands of light. The eighth shade is infrared, which is invisible to the naked eye but extremely powerful, as are Hakkoryu techniques. The number eight in Japan also has associated with it numerous philosophical and religious meanings that are beyond the scope of this brief introduction.
Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho, Founder of Hakkoryu
At the same time, he had the opportunity to study with leading masters of traditional Japanese medicine including circulation (meridian-in/yo) theory, finger pressure medicine, acupuncture, massage, and traditional herbs and diet. He eventually became an instructor of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu, but in 1939 he broke with Takeda Sensei, calling what he taught “Meishido”.
The Founding of Hakkoryu Jujutsu:
Finally, on June 1, 1941 he held the “Hakkoryu Kaiso Hokokusai” (Ceremony Proclaiming to the Kami (Gods) the Founding of Hakkoryu). Hakkoryu was born on this date. Moving to the Kanda district of Tokyo, he established the Hakkoryu Kobujuku (Private School for the Classical Military Art of Hakkoryu) where he operated a popular training hall while also providing direct instruction to the police and military. When the Allied bombings of Tokyo became too severe, eventually burning the dojo, he and his followers fled the city and joined the Mount Haguro sect of Shugendo (a mixture of esoteric Buddhism and Shintoism) in Yamagata Prefecture. There he was to stay, study, and teach until around 1947, at which time he moved to Omiya City (now known as Saitama City), Saitama Prefecture and established the Hakkoryu So Hombu Dojo, sometimes referred to as the Hakkoryu Juku Hombu Dojo. The dojo has been in this location ever since.
The Founder: Okuyama Ryuho
Shodai Soke (First Headmaster) Okuyama Ryuho was born in 1901 in Yamagata Prefecture. His given name was Okuyama Yoshiji. He graduated from the Tokyo Seiji Gakko (Tokyo School of Political Science) and in 1927 moved to Asahikawa, Hokkaido where, along with Mr. Namikoshi Tokujiro, he established a medical clinic (Mr. Namikoshi was later to establish the now famous Nihon Shiatsu School in Tokyo).
During his early life, Shodai Soke traveled extensively from his base in Asahikawa studying many of the martial and medical systems of his day. During that period, the best way to find qualified teachers of Jujutsu was to find good doctors of oriental medicine. Included in his martial studies were Daitoryu Aikijujutsu (which he studied in Hokkaido primarily from Kyoju Dairi Matsuda (Toshimi) Hosaku and later for a short period of time from Daitoryu Soke Takeda Sokaku), Seigoryu Jujutsu (studied in Kyoto), Hasegawakoryu Kenjutsu (sword style studied in Hokkaido), Nitoryu Kenjutsu (sword style studied in the Kumamoto Hot Springs area), Sojutsu (spear combat studied in Yamagata Prefecture), Jojutsu (stick combat studied in the mountains of Niigata), Kyujutsu (archery studied in Yamagata Prefecture), Shurikenjutsu (throwing weapons studied in the mountains of Niigata), as well as other lesser-known systems. In all, he studied under twenty teachers of various bujutsu ryu.
Traditional Japanese Jujutsu:
Jujutsu is a traditional form of self-protection, descended from the feudal-era close quarter combat methods of the samurai. The name itself translates as the "art of yielding", and indicates that the exponent does not resist the power of the attacker directly, rather, they yield to it, harness it, and use it to defeat the opponent. Therefore, Jujutsu can be applied with minimal strength and can be used by anyone, male or female, young or old, to successfully defend themselves against an aggressor.
About Our Style: Hakkoryu Jujutsu
At our school, we offer instruction in the Hakkoryu tradition of Jujutsu. This style was founded in 1941 by Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho. Okuyama Soke was a master instructor of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and Asian medicinal practices, or specifically, Shiatsu (finger pressure healing methods). Like his colleague and fellow Daito-ryu student, Morihei Ueshiba of Aikido, he wished to create a system of humane self-defense that could be quickly and easily learned by anyone.
Hakkoryu techniques are closely related to Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and by extension, modern Aikido, but it is the influence of Asian medicine, and a strict moral code that distinguishes the style. Another distinguishing characteristic of Hakkoryu Jujutsu is the school’s emphasis on pressure points (tsubo) and manipulation of the opponent's body through both the skeletal structure and the body's meridians (keiraku).
The techniques of Hakkoryu are passed down in the form of kata or waza sets known as “Gi”. Each formal waza set (Shodan-Gi, Nidan-Gi, Sandan-Gi, etc.) has a number of fundamental (omote) techniques that must be learned before the student can progress to the next level. Each level also contains Gensoku, which introduce the core principles of Hakkoryu to the student. The theory behind focusing on the core principles is that these can be mastered much more quickly and efficiently than memorizing hundreds or even thousands of techniques to cover every conceivable scenario. Once learned, the core principles can then be easily applied to a multitude of self-defense situations. Class time is typically divided equally between the formal waza sets and these applied self-defense techniques.
“The three major characteristics of Hakkoryu are: no challenge, no resistance, no injury. With Hakkoryu, for the first time, the eyes of the dragon are drawn.” – Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho, Founder of Hakkoryu Jujutsu