To understand our style of aiki Ju-Jutsu one must first travel back to ancient Japan. It was in that bygone era that one of the most famous schools of Ju-Jutsu had its beginning. The style was called Daito-Ryu. In The Hidden Roots of Aikido: Aiki Jujutsu Daitoryu (pages 13 and 14), Shiro Omiya describes the history of Daito-Ryu as follows: "The DAITORYU is believed to have originated within the family of Emperor Seiwa (reigned A.D. 858-876) and to have been greatly developed by one of the emperor’s descendants, Shinra Saburo Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, in the eleventh century. Yoshikiyo, his eldest son, settled in the village of Takeda in Koma (in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) and founded the Takeda branch of the Minamoto clan. The Daitoryu tradition of Yoshimitsu was thereafter handed down in complete secrecy to successive generations of the Takeda family.
Daito Ryu, to a new system, the Hakko Ryu
It was not until the nineteenth century when martial art genius named Takeda Sokaku began to teach his Daito-Ryu to the public and became widely known. Takeda Sokaku had many students; Among these was Toshimi (Hosaku) Matsuda who recived his Daito-Ryu kyoju dairi license around 1928. It was Matsuda who was Yoshiji Okuyama’s (1901-1987) first and primary Daito-Ryu teacher. Based on research, Okuyama studied with Matsuda sensei from around 1929 till 1939. From this date, as was recorded in Takeda sensei's Eimeiroku (ledger), Okuyama sensei studied directly with Takeda Sokaku, Soshi for a 13 day seminar in November 1939. This is important because Okuyama didn't return to the Matuda sensei after this time. Okuyama sensei started teaching Daito-ryu separately at his new dojo, but the break from the Matsuda's Renshinkan was met with many challenges. From 1940-1941, Okuyama sensei, along with his kohai and friend Maeda Takeshi sensei (the future successor of the Daito-Ryu Renshinkan), started teaching a new Ryuha named Hakko-Ryu Jujutsu, in 1941/42. Takese Michio sensei, the current soshi of the Daito Ryu Renshinkan stated that the original Hakko-ryu scrolls contained 220 waza, which included the traditional Daito-Ryu Hiden Mokuroku, Aiki no jutsu and Hiden Ogi. They were mostly Daito-ryu Renshinkan makimono renamed as Hakko-ryu. In the years to come, the system was reorganized to the current system we see today.
In addition to Daito-ryu, Okuyama also studied Iai-Jutsu (quick draw sword), Ken-Jutsu (fencing), Jo-Jutsu (short staff), Kusarigama-Jutsu (sickle and chain), So-Jutsu (spear), and Kyu-Jutsu (archery). Equally as significant, he made a study of oriental medicine. The study of which would greatly influence the development of his particular style of Ju-Jutsu.
The History of Hakko-ryu
Succumbing to the nationalistic fervor of the time he actively supported the ideals of Imperial Japan. It was in 1941, the same year as the attack on Pearl Harbor, that he founded his Hakko-Ryu Ju-Jutsu. It was a style that combined the physical techniques of Daito-Ryu with elements of oriental medicine. But, it was also firmly grounded in the state religion of the day. Upon the founding Hakko-Ryu, in a Shinto ceremony, Okuyama took on the name of "Ryuho" which literally means "Spine of the Dragon". Hakko-Ryu translates to "Eighth Light Style". This name was based upon the belief that there is an eighth band of light in the spectrum. This band of light is much weaker than the others, almost invisible, but actually very strong, like x-rays. As an analogy, Hakko-Ryu’s techniques may appear weak, but are actually strong. It is quite common to confuse a lack of big sweeping motions with a lack of power. Nothing could be further from the truth. Small, direct, well-executed techniques are normally far more effective than those consisting of a great deal of wasted motion. This is true in virtually all martial arts. Okuyama’s nationalistic views changed as a result of the war. He became more peace loving as a result of the pain the Japanese people had to endure. This new philosophical outlook was reflected in a change in his approach to Ju-Jutsu. Thus Hakko-Ryu took on the characteristics of "No Challenge, No Resistance, and No Injury". It was a move away from the brutal combative approach normally associated with Daito-Ryu and its various offshoots. This approach was reflected in the Ju-Jutsu taught at the new Hakko-Ryu Hombu Dojo established in Omiya, Saitama Prefecture, in 1947 legalistic society.