The three major characteristics of Hakkoryu are: no challenge, no resistance, no injury. With Hakkoryu, for the first time, the eyes of the dragon are drawn.
– Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho
Nestled along a back street in a town one-hour northwest of Tokyo by train, is a dojo unique in modern Japan. It is called the Hakkoryu So Hombu Dojo (General Headquarters School of the Eighth Light Tradition), and was founded by Shodai Soke (First Generation Head) Okuyama Ryuho. This dojo provides for training in the arts of Hakkoryu Jujutsu (a Japanese system of self-protection) and Hakkoryu Koho Shiatsu (traditional medical therapy using finger pressure). Following Shodai Soke’s retirement in 1986, his son, Okuyama Toshio assumed the responsibilities of the Ryu. At that time, Waka Sensei, as Okuyama Toshio was then known, took his father’s pen name “Ryuho”, and with it, the title Nidai Soke (Second Generation Head). Nidai Soke Okuyama Ryuho now directs and has total authority over all Japanese dojo as well as branch organizations in several countries. Shodai Soke passed away in November of 1987.
Shodai Soke Okuyama Ryuho
Shodai Soke was born in 1901 in Yamagata Prefecture. His given name was Okuyama Yoshiji. He graduated from the Tokyo Seiji Gakko (Tokyo School of Political Science) and in 1927 moved to Asahikawa, Hokkaido where, along with Mr. Namikoshi Tokujiro, he established a medical clinic (Mr. Namikoshi was later to establish the now famous Nihon Shiatsu School in Tokyo).
During his early life, Shodai Soke traveled extensively from his base in Asahikawa studying many of the martial and medical systems of his day. During that period, the best way to find qualified teachers of Jujutsu was to find good doctors of oriental medicine. Included in his martial studies were Daitoryu Aikijujutsu (which he studied in Hokkaido primarily from Kyoju Dairi Matsuda (Toshimi) Hosaku and later for a short period of time from Daitoryu Soke Takeda Sokaku), Seigoryu Jujutsu (studied in Kyoto), Hasegawakoryu Kenjutsu (sword style studied in Hokkaido), Nitoryu Kenjutsu (sword style studied in the Kumamoto Hot Springs area), Sojutsu (spear combat studied in Yamagata Prefecture), Jojutsu (stick combat studied in the mountains of Niigata), Kyujutsu (archery studied in Yamagata Prefecture), Shurikenjutsu (throwing weapons studied in the mountains of Niigata), as well as other lesser-known systems. In all, he studied under twenty teachers of various bujutsu ryu.
At the same time, he had the opportunity to study with leading masters of traditional Japanese medicine including circulation (meridian-in/yo) theory, finger pressure medicine, acupuncture, massage, and traditional herbs and diet. He eventually became an instructor of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu, but in 1939 he broke with Takeda Sensei, calling what he taught “Meishido”.
The Founding Of Hakkoryu Jujutsu
Finally, on June 1, 1941 he held the “Hakkoryu Kaiso Hokokusai” (Ceremony Proclaiming to the Kami (Gods) the Founding of Hakkoryu). Hakkoryu was born on this date. Moving to the Kanda district of Tokyo, he established the Hakkoryu Kobujuku (Private School for the Classical Military Art of Hakkoryu) where he operated a popular training hall while also providing direct instruction to the police and military. When the Allied bombings of Tokyo became too severe, eventually burning the dojo, he and his followers fled the city and joined the Mount Haguro sect of Shugendo (a mixture of esoteric Buddhism and Shintoism) in Yamagata Prefecture. There he was to stay, study, and teach until around 1947, at which time he moved to Omiya City (now known as Saitama City), Saitama Prefecture and established the Hakkoryu So Hombu Dojo, sometimes referred to as the Hakkoryu Juku Hombu Dojo. The dojo has been in this location ever since.
The name “Hakkoryu” is based on a philosophical Japanese view of the color spectrum as being divided into nine bands of light. The eighth shade is infrared, which is invisible to the naked eye but extremely powerful, as are Hakkoryu techniques. The number eight in Japan also has associated with it numerous philosophical and religious meanings that are beyond the scope of this brief introduction.
For more information on Hakkoryu Jujutsu, please visit the official Hakkoryu Hombu Dojo English website, and in particular the Library section for further writings: