I held it truth, with him who sings To one clear harp in diverse tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones Of their dead selves to higher things.
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
This article originally appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser posted on September 22nd, 2010
Hachiro Okazaki, age 88, was born on January 7, 1922 in Hilo Hawaii.
He married Ruth Hifumi Suzuki in 1943. They had three children, a daughter Sharyn (Nathan) Waipa and twin sons Keith (Cheryl) and Clyde (Judy). He had four grandchildren Eric (Chiyoko), Amanda (Daniel) Hartman, Galen and Karyn) and two great-grandchildren (Kaito and Keina)
Following in his father’s footsteps (the late Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki) he became a massage therapist and the proprietor of Nikko Restoration Massage. As a massage therapist, Hachiro, like his father, helped countless people with their health problems. Included among his patients were President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor John A. Burns. Whatever their occupations were, he treated all with respect. Many became life long friends. As a young man, Hachiro learned Judo and Jujitsu from his father and became a very accomplished Judoka.
Hachiro loved and cherished many things. Foremost, his family was closest to his heart. He took them on weekly camping trips to the shores of Kahuku’s beaches. Several of his friends with their families joined them and together they created unforgettable memories.
In the last three years of his life, as he was battling life threatening illnesses, he was truly blessed by the care of his three children and their families. Every desire and even “whim” was granted. In addition to his children, Hachi was also blessed by having caregivers Ana, Nesi, and Nonga who really looked after him in many ways. They were always patient and handled him gently and lovingly. He was truly fortunate to have had such priceless loving care from all.
In addition to his immediate family, he is survived by sister Irene (Hideki) Nakamura, two sisters-in-law Jeanette Okazaki and Jean Okazaki of Gardena, CA, and nieces, nephews, and numerous cousins.
Hachiro lived life to its fullest. We will miss him.
Professor Libert O’Sullivan
He traveled extensively, having a particular love of Germany. In fact, while visiting Germany once, he had the opportunity to make one of his signature woven hats for Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. When the chancellor put the hat on, he comment, “It’s too small.” With his typical aplomb, Libert answered, “Perhaps the head is too big.” This was a classic example of Libert’s quick and penetrating humor.
Libert worked as a docent at the Queen’s Palace in Honlulu, and at many other locations, and enthralled many an ear with his great stories. He was a captivating public speaker, and he was well known for his many appearances on local Hawaiian t.v. commercials. An excellent singer, he livened up many a party by belting out a few choice songs.
When he attended ju jitsu events on the mainland, he would be surrounded by students who were thrilled to spend time with him. A tall, powerful man, he exuded power, bur always held himself with an easy grace. He chose to wear a white obi, representing the full circle of training from white belt to black belt and back to white again. Always humble, his seminars were full of his sparkling wisdom and quick wit. Having trained under Professor Sig Kufferath, he was the person Prof. Kufferath turned his dojo over to when he moved from Hawaii to the mainland. Prof. O’Sullivan was also a senior advisor to the Kilohana Martial Arts Association.
Many people were the recipients of his special leis that constructed of white, black & red cloth, representing the different colored belts as they progress towards mastery of the art of ju jitsu. The first such lei that he made was presented as a gift to Professor Wally Jay.
A celebration of life was eld for Libert on February 22, 2017 at the Heieia State Park in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where the guests shared their stories of this great man. Music was provided by the Makaha Sons, with Barry Flanagan, from the group Hapa, sitting in with them on guitar. Libert’s son Daniel has passed way just a week after Libert did, and there was hardly a dry eye in the room when Barry san his version of “Danny Boy.” Whether digging in a taro patch or weaving baskets and hats, Professor O’Sullivan shared the Hawaiian culture with many people, and his aloha remains with us all.
Written by Professor Hans Ingebretsen
Professor Wally Jay
Saturday, 26 November 2011
By Norm Johnson and John Mellon On Sunday, 29th May, 2011 the greatest grappling innovator and teacher and one of the most influential martial artists of the last century, Prof. Wally Jay passed away after a short illness.
Professor Wally was our friend and mentor, as he was to so many others, including the late, great Bruce Lee.He was an extraordinary individual: driven; focussed; hard-working; ambitious; utterly confident in the quality and significance of his art and his work, and yet without a trace of arrogance.
Indeed, once you spent any time at all around the Professor, his humility was perhaps one of the most striking things about him. A flawless technician, he might have been forgiven for being impatient with lesser talents, such as ourselves, but he was unendingly patient, taking the attitude that his consummate competence shouldn’t bestow any particular special status, and that he was a human being like any other.
But those of us who had the privilege to get to know the man behind the martial arts master will testify he was quite the opposite – there was no-one quite like him, nor will there ever be. His son and successor, Prof. Leon Jay is a different individual, entirely worthy to succeed his father as the second generation Headmaster of the Small Circle Jujitsu system. Father and son, though different people, are nonetheless alike in drive and talent, and we know that Prof. Leon will continue to develop his father’s original concepts and, if it’s at all humanly possible, to go on as he has begun, continually improving upon them.
Prof. Wally could perhaps best be described in every way as a ‘thoughtful’ individual; he was always thinking, musing, considering and creating. John Mellon tells the story of being on a train journey with the Professor and his lovely wife, Bernice from London to Edinburgh about 24 years ago. It’s quite a long journey – at the time nearly 7 hours – and once or twice the Professor, then about 70 years old, appeared to doze off for short periods. Despite apparently being asleep, John noticed that his right hand, in particular, continually made repetitions of his trademark wrist and grip motions, as if applying a finger-lock over and over again. When he roused a little while later, John asked him something that had been bothering him for the couple of years or so that he had known him at that time, “How is it, Professor, that such a nice, gentle soul like yourself, can spend every waking hour thinking of ever more efficient ways of inflicting pain?” He didn’t reply right away, plainly considering the question in his usual thoughtful manner. The minutes stretched on, and finally he said, “You know, I really don’t know; it’s just what I’m good at!” John’s comment was, ‘thank the Lord that he only ‘used his power for good’!
The question was only half in jest – this charming, dignified, good-natured man we’d come to know, respect and love had never shown a hint of intolerance, let alone irritation or ill temper while we’ve had been around him. If you’ve experienced what the Professor’s students came to call the ‘Dance of Pain’, where you appeared to become a marionette with a few thousand volts running through you, as he made you stand up, lie down, roll over, flip to your feet, somersault, run in a crouched position etc., for what felt like hours, but was probably only a couple of minutes, all of this using only finger-locks, and even more impressively what he called ‘palming’, where he didn’t even bother to keep hold of you, just sensing where you were going and redirecting you while using only the pressure of his open palm, then you’ll realize that the mismatch between the excruciating pain inflicted by his art, and the charming, gentle creator of that art was downright surreal!
We have had the privilege of training with many great martial arts teachers, but the Professor remains the one we will continue to try to emulate the most. There are some wonderfully talented teachers out there, but often when one attends seminars with an acknowledged ‘great’, they spend half the time telling you about how extraordinary their art is, and by extension, they are! If you’ve been to Prof. Wally’s seminars – and he spent a good 30 years post-retirement running around the world for 10 – 11 months a year demonstrating and teaching his art, so there’s a fair chance you may have done – then you’ll doubtless recall he began each session by telling you briefly how he came to devise Small Circle Jujitsu, then getting straight into the teaching which he delivered with remarkable openness.
The story of how he came up with the technical innovations that define Small Circle as a significant development in Jujitsu typifies the man. No single apotheosis, no ‘Eureka’ style epiphany with himself at the centre, bathed in the spotlight of reason, so typical of many other self-aggrandizing masters’ stories. Instead a simple story: he is taking his blue-belt grading in Kodenkan Jujitsu (itself an innovative art taught by a great, non-conformist teacher, Prof. Okazaki), and despite the fact that he made a mess of one particular throw, which he had always struggled with in training, he finds that he has still passed the test. A perfectionist even then, he resolves to refuse the rank, but is persuaded by Ken Kawachi Sensei not to do so, with the promise that Kawachi Sensei will teach him how to be an effective thrower. For those of you not familiar with Judo throws in any technical sense – and at this point in Judo’s development, it is not significantly different to Jujitsu, except for the reduced focus on particular skills – throwing techniques are problematic. Every individual finds some throws more difficult to execute than others, and some will remain entirely impractical for any given person no matter how long they train. For instance, it is generally an advantage – despite modern Olympic Judo being contested in weight categories – to be smaller than your opponent. The majority of the throws in Judo are based around the basic mechanic of first ‘scooping’ your attacker’s pelvis with your own, before directing where you want them to fall using your arms and the degree of rotation of your waist and torso. Therefore, it is generally more difficult for a taller man – and Prof. Wally, though not hugely so, was nonetheless fairly tall for a Chinese person of his time and lean in build – to throw a smaller, stockier person.
Ken Kawachi Sensei however, in addition to studying Okazaki’s Kodenkan Jujitsu, was All Hawaiian Judo Champion, and regularly took on and trounced all-comers, of all weights, sizes and backgrounds, from huge American body-builders, catch-as-catch-can wrestlers to other Judo Champions several weight categories heavier, despite being a small man. Kawachi told the young Wally Jay that the ‘secret’ lay in the wrist-action he used – instead of the push-pull mechanic employed by the arms, he used this ‘two-way action’ within the grip itself of each hand. Wally continued to work with the action and it transformed his performance of throwing techniques.
Fast-forward some years, and Prof. Wally is married to the lovely Bernice, with whom he has a young family and they have emigrated to the mainland, living in San Francisco. He continues to teach Kodenkan Jujitsu and to develop and teach his own style, while creating and coaching a Judo team. Unfortunately, the Judo team is beaten again and again in tournament – he knows that their technique is good, but the typical American opponent they face is significantly larger and stronger – and Wally has to suffer the good-natured ridicule of his Judo teacher friends and rivals.
The Professor makes no bones about this; he is quite clear that, good-natured he may be, but no-one likes to be humiliated, particularly not again and again. So, he went back to the drawing board and further developed the ‘two-way wrist action’ first taught to him by Ken Kawachi. He worked equally hard on the footwork – to the non-Judoka this may seem less significant, but if you’ve watched Olympic Judo for instance, you’ll have seen many tedious, indecisive matches where the opponents remain in ‘jigatai’ for the entire proceedings. Jigatai is where the contestants appear to be grappling around an invisible column that sits between them, so that they are bent over double at the waist with their arms fully extended and their hips and feet as far away from the opponent as they can manage while remaining in physical contact. This is a tactic designed to prevent that crucial scooping of the hips and pelvis, but it is a ‘counsel of despair’ as, although it prevents the opponent from delivering a significant throw, it also prevents the user from doing so too. In short, it is about ‘not losing’, rather than ‘winning’. He understood that in order to ‘win’, it was necessary to commit yourself to the technique; not recklessly, but when a clear opportunity presented itself, or could be created. Wally Jay’s solution to the problem was two-fold: he cut down the mechanics of the footwork entry – if you can’t put yourself in place to deliver the technique, you’ll never get to perform your throw – and the refined mechanics of his hands, in combination with sensitivity training, created relative safety on the upper-body entry by virtue of his control over his opponent’s mobility. The ability to minutely read an opponent’s movements when in contact allows constant redirection of his force, defeating them with very little energy.
There is a common drill performed by Judoka: pairs work in contact with one person initiating entry footwork, and the other ‘riding’ each attempt by slipping out of range, or foiling it by altering the angle of their own body to match the opponent’s. This is hugely refined in Small Circle, with relaxation being the key. Keeping the knees soft, and the grip light, but firm, a good Small Circle stylist is incredibly difficult to ‘shake off’, always there and at the same distance and orientation no matter how much you move. With the Professor’s innovations in technique and training method, his teams soon began to win and become dominant in West Coast judo tournament circles. Characteristically, instead of becoming resentful of the ribbing of his fellow teachers, he used it as a spur to his creativity. He was honest about his competitiveness and his ambition, but it was directed at the perfection of art and self, not focused narrowly against the relative development of any other individual, which leads me to another aspect of this remarkable man’s character.
This is Prof. Leon’s story really, but I feel sure he won’t mind our passing it along. Several years ago, we were talking about his Dad, as we often did, and considering what made him the special man he was. That combination of dignity and humility he had was something we all admired hugely. Leon recalled attending many a large martial arts gathering with his father. Now martial arts is not exactly devoid of ‘Type A’ personalities, and Prof. Wally’s world was full of highly competitive contemporaries – particularly as it is probably true that Hawaii and California are home to the majority of the advanced oriental martial arts talent the 20th century has seen. Many of those great masters were in direct competition for students and kudos – or at least their styles were – and this sometimes led to ill feeling and fallings out. As Leon puts it, “All that stopped the moment my father entered the room”; Prof. Wally was held in such high regard and affection, no-one wanted to be seen acting in a petty fashion when he was around.
He and his contemporaries were and are an incredibly tough generation of martial artists. John says he was made especially aware of this when I visited him with Leon in 2000, shortly after he had endured a major heart by-pass operation. He had never seen the Professor down-hearted, but it was hardly surprising given he was 83 years of age, had always been a picture of health and vitality and then experienced this sudden brush with mortality.
He and John were discussing writing his biography, and knowing he was thinking about this, he had brought a voice recorder. Sitting in his living-room in his pajamas, he transformed the moment he began talking about his martial arts life. He recalled the fun they had with martial arts demos both in Hawaii and California, and how he introduced a great deal of humor into the proceedings in the days when this just wasn’t done. Naturally irreverent he even wrote comic songs to accompany the ‘sketches’ that he used to demonstrate martial arts and self-defense moves; he recalled and sang some of these for John as he told him about the ‘old days’.
What happened next shows the degree of resilience of a man who, perhaps two to three weeks earlier, had endured major heart surgery. Out of the blue, he asked John if he knew Bruce (Lee) had studied Judo for a short time, something he’d had never heard from any other source. He told me that Bruce had even competed on the West Coast circuit briefly, just for the experience. “Here,” he said, indicating John should stand up, “this is the first thing I taught Bruce”. Before he’d even registered that he had gripped him, he found himself high in the air, head pointing directly at the floor, before being slammed into the Jay living-room carpet – Leon nearly wet himself laughing, mostly because of ‘the look on your face!’ By contrast, a little over two and a half years ago, John was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and he’s ashamed to say, he felt truly sorry for himself for a few months, before one day he heard himself moaning – then he thought of the Professor and all that stopped! That was Prof. Wally for you; he just made you want to be a better person and live up to whoever it was he seemed to see when he looked at you.
A couple of days later, he had the singular privilege of teaching a session at the Jay home dojo – as far as I know, the only European instructor ever to do so. The walls are covered by signed photographs of the cream of Oriental American instructors who have taught there, not least of whom was Bruce Lee, so it was both a great honor and extremely daunting. Prof. Lee Eichelberger, who runs the day to day teaching at the dojo, and all the regular students were extremely welcoming. Norman Johnson, a senior student and a long-time friend of the family, and Leon’s friend since high-school, acted as John’s uke. Prof. Wally had taken the back stairs down from his office – the dojo is behind and beneath the house – and was sitting in his pajamas with a tracksuit over it and wearing his big, sheepskin slippers that Leon brought back from a teaching trip to Australia.
John wanted to put a smile on his face – as well as, truthfully, to impress him if he could with something he wouldn’t have seen before. As ever, Norman (probably the only person who has endured ‘the dance of pain’ as often as Leon!) was the one to suffer as he demonstrated a technique he’d created only after hearing I would be teaching a few days before. It’s called the ‘baby-crawl’, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. He asked Norman to just ‘punch me in the face’ as quickly as he could, then dropped below him onto all fours and, with one hand on the floor either side of his lead foot, proceeded to crawl forward at speed. Predictably, Norm was felled like a tree and various parts of his anatomy ‘tenderized’ as he made his way over the length of him on elbows and knees. He looked up to see Prof. Wally laughing so hard there were tears running down his face. It will remain one of his fondest memories of a great teacher and an even better human being.
Another of Leon Jay’s favorite stories about his Dad highlights Prof. Wally’s attitudes to his own, and all other martial arts. The Professor was preparing to teach his part of a combined seminar with GM Remy Presas, his good friend. Remy was teaching and Prof. Wally was in the next room when an excited junior Small Circle student came to find him. “Come quick, Professor, Master Remy’s stealing all our techniques!” Prof. Wally leaned forward and in a conspiratorial whisper told the young student, “I know – we’re stealing all of his too; we call it sharing!” That was the essence of Wally as teacher: utterly confident in his ability and in the value of what he was teaching, but totally open to learning from others. GM Remy was typical of the type of talent Prof. Wally attracted to him; George Dillman sought him out because Bruce Lee told that “Wally was the best teacher in America!”
Rank was pretty much meaningless to the Professor. He was a genuinely democratic man – happy to teach as long as you had the desire and the capacity to absorb, and with the judgement to know when and where those limits lay. He was equally happy to learn from anyone else – if you had something to offer, then he was receptive, and indeed eager to learn.
Having the opportunity to simply spend time with the Professor outside of the dojo was a particular privilege. He was always ready to listen and to offer sage advice, and he had a way of offering it that made needing it less of a failure – you were just two old friends ‘shooting the breeze’; he might just ‘happen’ to tell a pertinent story from his own life that seemed to offer a lesson. That comfortable way of his made it very easy to learn from a great master while getting to feel that your ideas had real validity, that you were holding your own in admittedly exalted company.
That relaxed facility gave all his interactions with his students a genuinely empowering, nurturing quality. We’ve all been to seminars with great performers of their arts, and felt discouraged afterwards, feeling we’d never replicate their skills. Yet, despite his technical virtuosity, you always felt with Prof. Wally that if you paid enough attention, practiced assiduously enough, for long enough, you might – just might – be able to do some, at least, of what he could.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “The greatest sophistication is simplicity”, and Prof. Wally always said that his art was simple. Of course, once mastered that’s entirely true, but understanding what he meant is the difference between complicated – which his art was not – and complex, which it most definitely is. Perhaps one of Wally’s greatest achievements was to make his art uniquely accessible in spite of its level of sophistication.
He always said that he was “a slow learner”, in contrast to his much adored wife of 71 years, Bernice. Bernice, apart from being perhaps the prettiest grandmother in existence, is an extraordinarily talented martial artist; indeed she is one of those people who can just see movement, intuitively break it down and immediately replicate it, and martial arts presented no more difficulty in mastering than dance, at which she is equally adept. Far from being a ‘slow learner’, as he characterized himself in typical deprecating fashion, Prof. Wally was a deep thinker; he was one of those artists who had to feel he understood something before he did it. Bernice Jay was the linchpin of Prof. Wally’s life – her support was crucial in his ability to devote time and study in creating the art, and he often gave her credit as his sounding-board as it developed. Her combination of abundant common-sense and technical insight made her his most important advisor.
So, we won’t say goodbye to you, Professor; it’s more of a farewell – we’ll meet again, we hope and in the meantime, it’s as if you’re just in the next room, you’re always just at the edge of our vision and we know we’ll go on hearing your gentle encouragement in our heads whenever we need it. Those of us that had the honour to know him will always miss him, but no matter how hard, better that then never having known such a remarkable human being.
God Bless, your friends and students, Norm Johnson & John Mellon.
In sorrow, we mourn the passing of Dave Martin
Kilohana Martial Arts Association reaches out to those who grieve and remembers him. He was a good martial artist and friend of our members. Dave was a friend and an acquaintance to many people in the Danzan Ryu and law enforcement community.
Dave had been involved in martial arts for over 50 years.
Dave retired from the California Highway Patrol in 1991 after 23 years of honorable and professional service to the people of the State of California. He had been a member of the California Governor’s Protection Service. Dave served with honesty and integrity. He was a well known and respected police defensive tactics master instructor, teaching academy recruits and instructor courses in the methods of physical arrest & control, straight baton and the PR-24 baton.
He had been a long time member of the American Judo & Jujitsu Federation and was often invited to teach at their annual conventions during the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s. Dave hosted the 29th Annual A.J.J.F Convention held in Monterey, CA. in 1977. He was also the recipient of the A.J.J.F. Police Tactics Advisor Award.
Sensei Bruce Raney
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
July 23, 1951 – January 27, 2010
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Sensei Bruce Raney, father, husband, teacher and friend. Our hearts and thoughts go out to his family and all those who knew and loved him. Sensei, your light and knowledge will truly be missed.
Bruce had a tremendous heart always giving to others, loving life, and loving friends. He enjoyed hiking, skin diving, and traveling with his wife Ella. His son Aaron just graduated vet school in Australia with honors. Bruce especially enjoyed all the wonderful people in the Martial Arts Community.
A memorial for Sensei will be held at the Hawaiian Memorial Park Mortuary on Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe on February 11, 2010. Please contact Jonathan Largent if you have any additional questions.
Professor Charlie Robinson
Grandmaster Mike Young
Born in 1932 in China with more than 60 years martial art experience, in White Crane, Hung Gar, Chowygar Ma, Choy Li Fut, he was instramental in connecting Sijo Emperato to the Chinese community and acted on the standards board for Kajukenbo and other groups for many years, he attended and grew up with Professor Bing Fai Lau’s sons worked out with Professor Lau and was he was a primary source for historical boxing back in those days.
He was a primary source for historical martial art history for me and was a very good mentor to me.
— Professor James Muro