“No matter how hard you train in shiatsu and waza, you will never be able to improve if you are not honest and true to yourself.”
– Shodai Soke Ryuho Okuyama, Founder of Hakkoryu Jujutsu and Koho Shiatsu Igaku
With this being my first blog on my website, I thought I would lead off with this quote from the founder of Hakkoryu Jujutsu and Koho Shiatsu Igaku. I firmly believe he was a true martial arts genius in how to transmit the true way of martial arts. I never met Shodai Soke, but I’ve had the opportunity to train under two great shihans, San Dai Kichu Nanadans Joseph Miller and Gil Adams. They’ve taught me many great principles and values that I believe echo from Shodai Soke. Nidai Soke, and the Okuyama family. Although my journey is still in the beginning, I enjoy the walk along the way. From the writings and excerpts I have read, Shodai Soke makes a point to say that Hakkoryu Jujutsu is based on matters of life and death, not sport, but to win against a violent attacker. So, what does winning mean?
Some martial artists measure winning as how effectively they can inflict pain or how much damage they can deliver to an attacker. Others may position or put assailants in submissive positions in order to gain a dominant advantage. A select few will kill the aggressor, which has consequences personally as well as socially. I believe that all of these things fail to reach the principles and values in Hakkoryu Jujutsu waza.
Let’s be honest. Violent attackers are human beings trying to live their lives the best way they know how. They can be evil, desperate, or in extraordinary circumstances. Regardless, human life is something to be cherished even in the most despicable individual. The samurai understood this value in feudal times and those of upstanding moral character took life only as a last resort to better society overall. To my understanding, the appreciation for human life was recognized by the founder which drove the development, philosophy, and strategy of Hakkoryu Jujutsu and Koho Shiatsu Igaku. Both end in winning with either defeating an opponent or alleviating pain in those suffering.
Natural skill or repetitive practice will only go so far in winning. Shodai studied from many great masters during his time. I believe he understood the weaknesses of the human body, mind, and spirit; but most importantly the weaknesses in himself. Most practitioners quote the obvious vulnerabilities: face, solar plexus, groin, or joints; however, the mind and heart are vulnerable as well. Understanding people’s sensitivities can push them into a direction that is either stabilizing or unhinging. The choice comes down to the values the practitioner holds in his or her heart. Going beyond the obvious is the true victory every Hakkoryu practitioner should strive to accomplish.
For example, pressure points or tsubos are regularly used in both techniques and shiatsu. Ei Fu (TB 17) is located just behind the ear in between the mandible and mastoid process is such a valuable point. Pressing it can be therapeutic for a person who is having hearing and visual problems while at the same time can promote psychological stability. For a violent individual, attacking this point can disrupt vision, equilibrium, hearing, and psychological/emotional stability. Understanding these vulnerabilities allows a practitioner to win against the basic destructive qualities of human nature while at the same time win through compassion, understanding, and healing. The ability to win requires that a practitioner be focused, open-minded, learned of the human body, and familiar with the nature of the techniques being used.
Hakkoryu jujutsu techniques by their very nature are painful, will position the attacker into a compromised position, and disturb the individual psychologically. Correct biomechanics, focus, technique, and spirit must be present in order to win. Application of power or some form of trickery to “make” the technique work or have a training partner who will “go with the technique” has its place in ego and complacency. Overcoming an attacker through these deceptive means leaves a sense of emptiness, anger, and wanting to fight more. Winning means creating a situation during the engagement where the attacker wants to get away rather than to engage or reengage. When learning how to win, training partners should always give full committed attacks; otherwise, they lose out on valuable insight and focus. A preoccupied mind in the moment of an attack is a distracted mind that will lose.
Having a relaxed yet flexible body and mind is another key to winning. Hakkoryu jujutsu techniques that are studied alongside Koho Shiatsu Igaku and vice versa allow practitioners to develop a relaxed yet flexible state. To much dismay, I’ve heard, “The shiatsu isn’t necessary,” “I’m not interested in learning it,” “I didn’t learn that when I took the course,” or worse “I don’t teach it to my students.” Those who marginalize the shiatsu will never understand the true nature of Hakkoryu Jujutsu. When a practitioner places hands on another human being, that practitioner has a duty to serve that human being whether friend or foe. That duty can range from training, healing, protecting, or destroying.
To me, winning means more than conquering an opponent or conquering an arbitrary base nature. Winning means destroying greed, anger, and ignorance under calm and crisp control of mind, body, and spirit. Even more importantly is recognizing where these detrimental vices stem from in the human heart. Cultivating a compassionate, yet vigilant heart is a needed for survival, growth, future development, and to truly win in life.
Gregory Casey, PhD, LMT
Sandan Hakkoryu Jujutsu
Koho Shiatsu Igaku Certified
Reference reading and citation
Omura, Y. (1982). Acupuncture medicine: Its historical and clinical background. Tokyo: Japan Publications.
Services, L. E. (1996). Student Manual on the Fundamentals of Traditional Oriental Medicine. San Diego: L.E.E. Services.
Anderson, S. K. (2008). The Practice of Shiatsu. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.
Serizawa, K. (1984). Effective tsubo therapy: Simple and natural relief without drugs. Tokyo: Japan Publications.