Henry Seishiro Okazaki, Founder of Kodenkan Danzan Ryu
The founder of Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, Henry Seishiro Okazaki, was born in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, on January 28th, 1890. At the age of 16 he moved to the Hawaiian Islands. Three years later, at age 19, Okazaki was diagnosed as having a lung disease.
At this time Okazaki, whose lineage can be traced to the Samurai, decided to take up Judo. His instructor was Judo Master Kichimatua Tanaka. While under Tanaka's tutelage Okazaki seemed to vanquish his malady. As his studies continued, his body and determination continued to strengthen. He was convinced Judo had rid his body of its previous torment. Okazaki studied under several Judo stylists as well as mastering Filipino knife play. A Spaniard taught him to throw a knife. An American instructed him in American Boxing.
Another sensei to Okazaki was an elderly Chinese man named Wo Chong. The 78 year old instructed Okazaki in Mushi-Jitsu, a system of boxing designed to kill the opponent. In memory of Wo Chong, and since most of Ckazaki's studies took place there, Okazaki adopted Wo Chong's name for the Hawaiian Islands, "Danzan", as the title for his self-defense system. In light of this we can translate Kodenkan Danzan Ryu as The Hawaiian School of Ancient Tradition, or The Hawaiian School where Seniors Transmit Knowledge to Juniors.
Professor Okazaki returned to Japan in 1924 to enhance his martial studies. Okazaki exposed himself to more than fifty schools of Judo and Juiitsu. He also studied Karate in the Okinawa Prefecture of Japan. In addition to the above, Okazaki studied and incorporated the restorative arts of Katsu, Kapo, and Seifukujitsu into his system.
In 1929, after returning to Hawaii, Okazaki opened a studio of massage and restoration. Also offered was instruction in his new Kodenkan Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. Training in these early years was 6 days a week, 2 or 3 hours a day. His school was among the first in the world to teach these secret arts to non-Asians. The Professor continued to teach Jujitsu until 1943, when he relinquished most teaching duties to his Black Belt students. From this time, until his death, Okazaki concentrated primarily on massage. He was known to work 10 to 12 hours a day, driving himself to a state of exhaustion. Some of his direct students were Charlie Wagner, Marion Anderson, Tsutae Watanabe, Juan Gomez, John Cahill, Bing Low, Curly Freedman, Ray Law, Bud Estes, and Sig Kufferath. Other notable students were Esther Okazaki, John Chow-Hoon, Wally Jay, Willy Cahill, Lona Ancho, Bill Amoo, and Bill Montero to name just a few.