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by Professor Len Riley, Rokudan throw.jpg (1412 bytes)

The following is a brief explanation of what I teach as a member of the Shoshin Ryu Yudanshakai and is my own personal summation of the philosophy behind what I was taught as I progressed up the ranks. This may not reflect the views of others within the organization.

I started my jujitsu training in 1975 at golden West College. My instructor was, and still is, Professor Mike Chubb. I was taught the basic rolling and falling techniques, and then on to the Kata boards, starting with Nage, and Yawara; then moving on to Shime, and Oku.

At the same time the college class was going on, my sensei also had a very small dojo at the townhouse complex where he lived. Some of the college students that showed a desire for more were invited to the small dojo.

Previous to this, I had trained in karate, and Te Kwon Do; but they did not fascinate me as much as jujitsu. The training was much less stressful and more relaxed, as opposed to the rigid, formal, and inflexible styles I had experienced. The idea was self-defense; the kind that really worked on the streets; the kind that would save your life or the life of a loved one. It wasn't fancy for show, or punching aimlessly into the air, but a fast answer to an inescapable attack.

We hold in high regard the basic principles and techniques as passed down by the founder of our Danzan Ryu jujitsu system, "Professor Okazaki". We study them and still practice them the way he would want to see them done if he were alive and watching. We try to hold to the traditional arts for historic reasons. But, we are constantly updating things we consider as variations of these arts to try and adapt them more to what a person may run into on the streets today. These variations to the old techniques are still done with Okazaki’s basic principle in mind, but since there are many ways to do a technique, we constantly change these variations. If we find a better way to do one of these techniques, we do it that way. We work to perfect each technique by repetition, but in my estimation, perfect execution is not as important as adaptability. Individual variations are opportunities to learn something new.

In many other martial arts, students are required to mimic their instructor’s movements precisely. Unfortunately, individuals differ in size and skill. Styles too rooted in tradition often suffer from a rigidity that can make them less effective; so variations of the traditional techniques are encouraged as long as the basic principle remains. It is in this way that our Shoshin Ryu style can be thought of as a living art and will withstand the test of time.

Professor Mike Chubb came up with the name Shoshin Ryu.  It is a term used in Zen.  Loosely translated to mean "of first mind", as in no preconceived ideas or notions. As if walking into a classroom with an open mind ready to be taught things you had no idea even existed. The analogy would be for example a new student walking into jujitsu for his first class. Then, when you attain the rank of black belt, you have only scratched the surface. Again, you are at the level; like a white belt, ready to learn, with no preconceived ideas and hopefully with an open mind.

You never stop being a student. There is always more to learn. If the teaching was proper, you will be giving back by passing these arts and philosophies on to others as you were taught.

Professor Okazaki passed these teachings on to us in the system he called Danzan Ryu, which means "Cedar Mountain System". The name of his school was the "Ko Den Kan". The name of our school is Shoshin Ryu. Our style is still Danzan Ryu from Professor Okazaki.

Our family tree in jujitsu started with Professor Okazaki in Hawaii. He taught many, many students in his lifetime; one of these students was a man named Ray Law. Professor Law and his wife (also a black belt) moved to Oakland, California where they started a school. One of the students at that school was William Randle. Professor Randle moved to Santa Monica where he started a school and taught my sensei, Professor Mike Chubb.  There are many others to numerous to add to this short history lesson and I mean them no insult by leaving them out.

Hopefully this will shed some light on any questions you may have had. There is much more to know and many stories to pass on but for now you can add this to your jujitsu notebook.


For more information please call the West Coast Jujitsu Club information line @ (714) 898-6053

This page last updated on Wednesday, June 16, 1999
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