Jujitsu-Do: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
By Professor Don Cross, M.Ed.
Danzan Ryu Jujitsu is much more than just another martial art. While the system does provide its students with a wide array of very effective techniques of defense and offense, on a deeper level it is not about fighting and having power over others. It is actually a unique life-enhancing journey conducted within the context of close interactions and physical confrontation with others. The objective of the training is to gather those very personal insights we learn on the mat, and to direct them into new and better ways of interacting with others. Through the practice of Danzan Ryu, one learns masterful behavior, effective communication skills, advanced methods of non-violent conflict resolution, positive mental attitudes, healing arts, and a healthy perspective about life.
The Founder of Danzan Ryu, Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki of Hawaii, wrote in his Esoteric Principles that‚ “The primary purpose of the study of Jujitsu is to complete and perfect ones character‚ and to become productive members of society.” Through his words and deeds, he taught his students to become healers in this world, and to bring peaceful solutions to adverse circumstances rather than to perpetuate violence and chaos. In other words, we should always be ready to give peace a chance. Jujitsu is an intelligent and sane approach to self-defense, since the techniques can be applied in non-violent ways in order to create opportunities for peaceful reconciliation.
In his treatise on Jujitsu, Professor Okazaki taught us that one of the secret lessons of Danzan Ryu is to approach all challenges in life with calmness of spirit. He wrote that ‚”Whatever the trials or dangers, even hell under the upraised sword‚” practice calmness. This state of inner balance, equi-poise, is the foundation of true confidence, which in turn is the foundation of all peaceful action. When faced with a life threatening physical challenge, your fear of pain and death could debilitate you. As the author Frank Herbert (in Dune) wrote: ‚”Fear is the mind killer, the little death that brings total obliteration”. Fear literally takes your breath away; you forget even to take a breath when gripped with fear. Without breath there is no oxygen to the brain, which clouds your thinking and makes your decisions reactive and poorly timed.
How do we develop the calm confidence we need to create and promote peace? Professor Okazaki explains in his Esoteric Principles that letting go of our fears, and of all preconceived ideas and notions, enables us to attain calmness of spirit. He calls this inner state of open mindedness “kyoshin tankai“. He goes on to explain that if you are caught in the rapids of a fast flowing river, you must abandon your fear of death by making yourself void and simply float through the danger. During such troubling experiences in life, we must have an inner dialogue convincing ourselves that all our fears are groundless, and simply let them go. When faced with an intense challenge, first straighten your back to free the energy in the spine, take a deep breath, and affirm to yourself: “I’m all right right now, and I’m in my center”.
Professor Okazaki taught his students that the only way the martial arts should be used is for the mutual welfare and benefit of others. He said that if a man were to break into his house and try to injure his family, he might have to break the man’s arm to stop him. But that he should always remember his humanity and be ready to render that man first aid afterwards. It takes real strength of character to let go of ones anger and resentment over what others have done to us, and then to forgive and offer aid. Professor Okazaki emphasized that compassion and humility are the two most important virtues we need to practice if we are to attain perfection of character in this lifetime.
Undoubtedly, Danzan Ryu Jujitsu is a very effective martial art system. But it is also a profound personal journey to self-discovery and actualization. It is a balanced approach to physical, mental and emotional health. Truly, Jujitsu-Do is the way of the peaceful warrior.