Don Cross began his Jujitsu career in 1957 when he became a student with Professor Ray L. Law in Oakland, California. Prof. Law was a direct disciple of Prof. Henry S. Okazaki, Founder of Danzan Ryu, and one of the four founders of The American Judo & Jujitsu Federation. Over the next few years he raised through the ranks to become an assistant instructor in Prof. Law’s unique children’s classes, and adult classes. At least once a month throughout his training he entered both judo randori and jujitsu kata tournaments throughout California and Nevada. At Law’s dojo he studied judo with Joe Lous, a contemporary of Olympian Anton Gesink, as well as Kenpo with Jim Shear, Shotokan with David Love, and T’ai Chi Chuan with Albert Soo. An important aspect of Don’s training with Prof. Law was in Seifukujitsu, a Japanese healing art system. In 1964, at the age of 16, Prof. Law promoted him to Black Belt, and later to Nidan, the Instructor’s Degree Black Belt. He continued his training with Prof. Law until his teacher died in 1969.
About a week before Prof. Law passed away he assisted Don in establishing his first dojo in Sacramento at an adult education facility. As Sensei Cross was becoming a seasoned teacher of Danzan Ryu, he continued his advanced training under Professor Bud Estes, another close disciple of Prof. Okazaki. He also trained in Sil Lum Kung Fu, the famous Shaolin Temple fighting style, for many years with Sifu Lee Birchfield, a disciple of Grand Master T.Y. Wong.
In order to enhance and expand his knowledge and skill in the healing arts, Prof. Cross studied Swedish Massage at the California School of Massage, where he was certified as a Massage Therapist in 1978. In 1980, with the blessings of Prof. Estes, he worked with a small group of Jujitsu teachers to establish the first Japanese Restorative Massage Certification Program for the AJJF. The first three years of this program were held at his dojo in Sacramento. He continued his involvement in the AJJF program as a Staff Instructor and member of its Steering Committee until 1994.
In 1974 Prof. Cross was asked to become a member of the Board of Managers of the AJJF as Manager of Regions. He served in this capacity until the death of Prof. Estes in 1982, and then took over his position as Manager of Internal Relations. He served the AJJF in this role until 1994. In 1992 he was awarded the rank of Rokudan and title of Professor, and has served on the Board of Professors ever since then. He had also been awarded the rank of Yondan by the U.S. Judo Association.
Spiritually, Don was baptized as a Presbyterian as a child. In college he studied comparative religions intensely, and was drawn to Hinduism and Buddhism. He studied Integral Yoga and Hatha with Swami Satchitananda, Tantrik Yoga with Ananda Marga, and Raja Yoga with Master Subramuniya. He was initiated into Advaita Vedanta by Swami Shradhananda, of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Order, and sang Sanskrit hymns in the temple choir for many years. He completed a yearlong course in mysticism and spiritual healing, and was certified as a Spiritual Healer and Counselor by the Universal Star Link Temple of Light. He has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for many years, and has been initiated into Kriya Yoga by the Self Realization Fellowship.
Prof. Cross studied Tian Gong (Qi Gong) with Grand Master Le Tian for several years to learn his unique system of Chi Gong and spiritual development.
Academically, Prof. Cross earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Sociology from California State University, and later a Master’s Degree in Education. He holds a life Standard Teacher’s Credential in California.
In 2014 Professor Cross was promoted to the Jujitsu rank of Hachidan, 8th Degree Black Belt by the AJJF, and was awarded the coveted Kaidensho – which declares that he is an inheritor of the Danzan Ryu system.