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History of ...


( The Gentle Art )

...relative to the American Freedom Form Kenbo-Jitsu Hybrid Mixed Martial Arts System

  • From where did the foundation Martial Arts style/system of Jujitsu originate?

Jujitsu (Japanese Style)

*The "Jitsu" in American Freedom Form Kenbo-Jitsu represents "Jujitsu".

It has been said that the origin of Japanese wrestling dates back nearly 2000 years ago when two men stood face to face and kicked each other; one is said to have kicked the other in the ribs and stomped on and crushed his waist and killed him. This has been regarded by some as the origin of Jujitsu.

About 400 years ago the Takenouchi school of jujitsu was systematized. Approximately 60 years later a Chinese man came to Japan and taught the art of Chinese boxing. And 40 years later, another Chinese individual came to Japan and introduced the art of seizing one’s opponent. Through the process of elimination and harmonization, a new art known as Yawara was created and popularized. This is the origin of present day Jujitsu.

Jujitsu is the term which has been applied, at different times, to the whole of the ancient Japanese national art of unarmed self-defense practiced by the Samurai or "warrior class" of Japan. The basic principle of this art is to avoid or give way before an opponent’s superior weight and strength in order to overcome him by using his weight and strength to his disadvantage (thus the "Gentle Art").

The term "Jujitsu", or gentle "art", gave way in later years to the word "Judo" or gentle "way", which stressed the ethical and philosophical concept of DO or "way in harmony with natural law". When the Japanese Ministry of Education adopted a limited form of the national art (Kodokan Judo) for sports instruction in the secondary schools, JUDO came, in time, to denote only the sport based on JUJITSU, and JUJITSU remains the only word to denote the entire "martial" art.

Henry S. Okazaki, born in Japan in 1890, is commonly considered to be the Father of American Jujitsu. Okazaki went to Hawaii when he was 17 years old and studied several different schools of Jujitsu as well as Okinawan Karate, Chinese Kung-Fu, Hawaiian Lua, Fillipino Knife fighting, American Boxing, and wrestling. In 1924, he toured Japan, making an exhaustive study of several other styles of Jujitsu and also earned a third degree black belt in Kokodan Judo. He also made a special study of restorative massage, because he recognized the virtue of reversing the effects of deadly or disabling arts by restoration and treatment.

Gradually, Professor Okazaki developed a system of jujitsu comprising courses for men, women, and children, and included methods of defense against the knife, sword, club, gun and bayonet. In 1930, Okazaki moved to Honolulu and established a reputation for being a physical therapist who yielded amazing benefits of his treatments. It was also about this time that he came to know a therapist named Peter Baron who taught him how to operate a commercial studio and the techniques of Swedish massage. In appreciation, Okazaki did the unthinkable - he offered to teach Jujitsu to Mr. Baron (a white man) and, eventually to any person regardless of age, race, creed, sex, or handicap. Defying the traditionalists, (Japanese martial arts were taught to Japanese only), Okazaki was, for a time, ostracized by his fellow Japanese. However, he took consolation in his belief that the martial arts transcended borders and belonged to those who needed them. Okazaki named his school Danzan Ryu (Chinese for Hawaii) in gratitude to Wo Chong, who was a Chinese man who had broken tradition by teaching Okazaki, a Japanese man, the Chinese art of Kung fu when the two were in Hawaii.

It is safe to say that when Professor Okazaki died in 1951, thousands of students had trained in his school. His system, Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, remains today a widely taught system of Jujitsu, and the published set of Okazaki’s Esoteric Principles is still guiding Danzan Ryu Jujitsu students toward Okazaki’s intended goal of "perfection of character through physical, mental and moral training". (Mr. Cunningham has developed aspects of the American Freedom Form Kenbo-Jitsu System to utilize his similar but intentionally more current "Mr. Cunningham’s New Millennium Esoteric Principles" to foster appropriate attention to and continual improvement of the character and lives of American Freedom Form Kenbo-Jitsu students through his System’s strong and purposeful training of the body, mind and spirit.)

The art of Jujitsu in America has advanced to a very respected position in the martial arts world. Originally, the first and second generation of teachers in America taught strictly the old traditional ways and forms as taught by their instructors. However, as each succeeding generation of teachers became leaders they tended to modify the traditional methods to fit their immediate needs and gain combat supremacy. There are many pioneers whose contributions have enhanced American Jujitsu such as: Antone Pereira, Antone Gonzales, John Chow-Hoon, Willy Cahill (coach of U.S. Judo team), Michael de Pasquale, Sr. (and Jr.), Florendo Visitacion, David James, Moses Powell, Larry Greene, Dennis Palumbo, George Kirby, Jonathon Stewart, Toru Tanaka, Robert Crosson, Wally Jay and others, including the Gracie family from Brazil as follows.

Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ)

In 1801, a Scottish immigrant named George Gracie moved to the state of Para in northeastern Brazil. There he and his family lived for many years. In the early 1900's, a Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda moved to the same area. The Japanese government was eager to form a colony in Brazil and Maeda was there to help the colony prosper. In addition to his political skills, Maeda happened to be a former champion in the Japanese art of Jujitsu. He became close friends with the elder George’s great grandson, Carlos

In 1925, after moving to Rio de Janeiro, Carlos and his brothers opened the first Academy of Gracie Jujitsu to great success and soon the brothers were teaching the top politicians and celebrities of Brazil. What they taught, at first, was the traditional Japanese style of Jujitsu that Carlos had learned from Maeda. Like judo, it was a grappling style of combat with many formal rules. But, half a world away from Japan, the sport found room to breathe in Brazil. Carlos and his brothers actually knew little of traditional martial arts and were thus able to simply emphasize what was effective and leave behind anything that didn’t serve a purpose. Therefore, "Gracie Jiujitsu" quickly evolved from its parent sport into something quite different and has eventually come to be known more generically as Brazilian Jujitsu. Brazilian Jujitsu, largely by virtue of the early success of Royce Gracie in the Ultimate Fighting Championships in the early 1990's (and subsequent success of some of the Gracie family students) has contributed much to the evolution of modern American Martial Arts.

Buck and Coltin Cunningham would gain their initial exposure to Jujitsu in the process of earning their first degree Black Belts. Mr. Cunningham clearly understands the very real need to be effective with one’s self-defense arsenal in all ranges of combat and has continually pursued with enthusiastic interest the most efficient ways to integrate street effective ground fighting techniques and intrinsic as well as esoteric concepts from the dynamic art of Jujitsu into his American Freedom Form Kenbo-Jitsu System. While the AFFKbJ System will not emphasize "sport" grappling, and while it will reflect the true philosophy that the ground is not the best place to be (especially in multiple attacker scenarios), nor is the ground necessarily the place that all fights end up (as some might argue), the AFFKbJ System surely, decidedly and effectively trains its students to survive and emerge victoriously in self-defense scenarios in all ranges of personal combat. The efficient integration of street effective stand-up and ground-fighting Jujitsu techniques (combined with other strong and effective groundfighting concepts and techniques) contributes greatly to this objective.

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