Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki was born in Fukushima
Prefecture, Japan in 1890, but he and his family moved to
Hawaii in 1906. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with a
lung disease thought to be Tuberculosis, and was expected
to die. “With courage born of desperation,” Prof. Okazaki
knocked on the door of Yoshimitsu Tanaka at the Yoshin Kai
Dojo, and took up the study of Yoshin Ryu Jujitsu. Shortly
after, his Tuberculosis disappeared and his health returned
completely. Feeling Jujitsu had saved his life, Prof.
Okazaki dedicated the rest of his life to Jujitsu.
While in Hawaii, he mastered Yoshin Ryu, Iwaga Ryu, and
Kosogabe Ryu Jujitsu. He also studied Kodokan Judo, Chinese
Boxing, Filipino Knife and stick fighting, Hawaiian Lua,
American Boxing and Wrestling, and Spanish Dirk Throwing.
In 1924, Okazaki toured Japan and visited over 50 dojo,
learning secret techniques (675 in all) and the art of
Kiaijutsu (focusing breath power).
It is from these roots that Danzan Ryu comes. Prof.
Okazaki took the crucial step of modernizing the traditional
arts he had been taught. He did homage to his roots by
retaining a large portion of the Yoshin Ryu curriculum
and many of the ceremonial traditions of Japanese culture.
Yet he also included pistol defense, wrote the first book
on women’s self defense in the US, put together police
and commando courses, and, most importantly, began accepting
non-Japanese students. By applying the lessons of the
past to the problems of his time, he created one of the
first modern systems of jujitsu, and certainly the first
founded in the United States.
On his return from Japan, Okazaki began teaching. In 1929,
he moved from Hilo to Honolulu and opened the Nikko Sanitorium
at the old Chester Doyle residence where he practiced his
In the back, he started the Kodenkan (school of ancient
traditions), and began teaching his complete
Okazaki taught all comers, regardless of race or sex, feeling
that everyone could benefit from Jujitsu. For this, he was
ostracized by the Japanese community for teaching secrets
to the enemy.
U.S. servicemen came through the Kodenkan and were issued
instructor's licenses, then returned to the mainland to spread
the system. Since those days, several different
have formed, all teaching what they believed Professor Okazaki
taught. Through his life, Professor Okazaki taught thousands
of people, established the first American system of Jujitsu,
and the oldest martial arts organization
in the United States. He died from his third stroke in 1951.