Author Topic: The Influence of Jujitsu and Judo on the Early Development of Kajukenbo Part 2  (Read 1261 times)

Offline Mitch Powell

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The Influence of Jujitsu and Judo on the Early Development of Kajukenbo
By Mitch Powell (Part 2 of 7)


The following is the jujitsu lineage for Kajukenbo founders Ordonez and Choo:
•   Yoshimatsu Tanaka taught Yoshin-ryu jujitsu to Henry Okazaki
•   Okazaki used Yoshin-ryu jujitsu, Iwage-ryu jujitsu, and Kosogabe-ryu jujitsu in the development of Danzan-ryu jujitsu
•   Okazaki taught Danzan-ryu jujitsu to Charles Wagner and James “Sonny” Chang
•   Wagner and Chang taught Danzan-ryu jujitsu to Bing Fai Lau
•   Lau taught Danzan-ryu jujitsu to Sam Luke
•   Luke taught Danzan-ryu jujitsu to Ordonez and Choo


The following brief biographies provide some background on the jujitsu teachers within the Ordonez and Choo lineage as well as backgrounds for both Ordonez and Choo:


Yoshimatsu (Kichimatsu) Tanaka was born in the year 1875 in the Osaka Region of Japan (Narimatsu, 2009). He began teaching in 1912 after he used a jujitsu technique to apprehend a thief at the department store where Tanaka was employed. The event caught the attention of the store owner and other locals who then urged Tanaka to begin teaching jujitsu. Tanaka established a dojo. The location of that dojo is disputed. One report suggests the first dojo was established in the back of the store where Tanaka worked, which was located on Ferneaux Lane in Hilo Town, Hawaii (Masuhara). Another report by Tanaka’s son, Matsuji, suggests the first dojo was actually located on Kilauea Ave. Tanaka called the school the Shinyu-kai, meaning “New Friendship Society” (Narimatsu, 2009). Tanaka taught Yoshin-ryu jujitsu which he learned in Japan. One of Tanaka’s first students was Henry Okazaki. By 1923, Tanaka took on more of an advisory role with his assistant Okazaki teaching most of the classes. In 1932, the founder of judo, Jigoro Kana, visited the Hilo area where he inducted instructors into his judo organization called the Kodokan. It is believed Tanaka was one of those inducted. Tanaka passed away in 1954. He died in Hawaii at 76 years of age (Masuhara).   


From Tanaka the art of Yoshin-ryu jujitsu was handed down to Seishiro “Henry” Okazaki, who was born in Fukushima Prefecture, on the island of Honshu, Japan, on January 28, 1890. Okazaki moved to the Hawaiian Islands at the age of 16 (Morris). On July 5, 1910, at the age of 19, Okazaki began training under Tanaka at the Shinyu-kai dojo in Hilo, Hawaii (Arrington, 2010). While in Hilo, in addition to training in Yoshin-ryu, Okazaki also trained in Iwaga-ryu, and Kosogabe-ryu. In 1917, Okazaki began training in Hawaiian Lua under David Kainhee. Okazaki also trained in boxing, wrestling, knife throwing, and various resuscitation arts (Arrington, 1995, 2012). In 1922, Okazaki defeated boxer Carl “KO” Morris throwing Morris and causing an injury that prevented Morris from continuing (King, 1996). Also in 1922, Okazaki is reported to have earned his black belt from Tanaka in the art of Yoshin-ryu jujitsu (, 2010).

By 1923, Okazaki was providing much of the instruction at the Shinyu-kai dojo with Tanaka taking on an advisory role. It is reported that the older jujitsu techniques once taught at Tanaka’s dojo were being replaced by the more popular Kodokan judo techniques (Masuhara). In 1924, Okazaki returned to Japan where he studied at a reported 50 different schools ( over the course of about six months (King, 1996). While in Japan, Okazaki traveled to the Kodokan where he tested and was awarded rank by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. While many sites report that rank to be sandan (3rd degree), a 2013 visit to the Kodokan by Tom Lang shows the recorded rank received by Okazaki from Kano was a shodan (Lang, 2013). Danzan-ryu historian, George Arrington (1995, 2012), confirms Kano presented Okazaki with a shodan (1st degree black belt). In 1926, the Hilo Directory listed Okazaki as “Professor” and described his occupation as a jujitsu instructor. In 1927, the directory listed him as Professor Henry S. Okazaki. It was the first time the name “Henry” was used (King, 1996).

In 1929, Okazaki moved to the island of Oahu where he opened the Okazaki Adjustment and Restoration Clinic (later renamed Nikko Restoration Sanatorium) and the Kodenkan dojo where he taught his newly created art of Danzan-ryu jujitsu, a collaboration of the various arts Okazaki trained in to include: jujitsu, judo, Okinawan karate, kung fu, Hawaiian Lua, Filipino knife fighting, American boxing, and wrestling ( Two of Okazaki’s earliest students at the Kodenkan were Charles Wagner and James “Sonny” Chang. Both Kajukenbo founders Ordonez and Choo can trace their grappling lineage to Okazaki through these men.   


Charles “Charlie” Wagner began Danzan-ryu jujitsu training in 1932, at the age of 27, under Okazaki at the Kodenkan dojo. In 1936, Wagner received his shodan (1st degree) from Okazaki. When Bing Fai Lau began training in Danzan-ryu jujitsu, Okazaki assigned Wagner and James Chang as Lau’s primary instructors. In 1938, Okazaki presented Wagner with his Mokuroku (Instructor scrolls) and later that year presented Wagner with his sandan (3rd degree) promotion. In 1939, Wagner became the first president of the American Jujitsu Guild, later renamed the American Jujitsu Institute (McKean, 2015).


James “Sonny” Chang received his Mokuroku (Instructor scrolls) in 1940, indicating that he began Danzan-ryu jujitsu training in the 1930s under Okazaki at the Kodenkan dojo. In 1941, when Bing Fai Lau began training in Danzan-ryu jujitsu, Okazaki assigned Chang and Charles Wagner to teach Lau (McKean, 2015).

Continued on part 3...
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