Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kokodo Jujitsu

Of the three martial arts I primarily practice—Aikido, Judo and Jujitsu—jujitsu is by far the most practical. Jujitsu, even at the most basic level, consists in simple movements that result in tight wrist and elbow locks. Some of the more advanced techniques can become excruciatingly painful, but, unlike other martial arts, techniques in jujitsu rely increasingly on relaxation for their greatest effectiveness.

This past weekend I traveled four hours from Katsuura, in Chiba, through Tokyo and finally to Omiya in Saitama to the dojo and clinic of Soke Yasuhiro Irie. Irie Sensei is the founder of Kokodo Jujitsu and practices acupuncture, bone setting, moxa and shiatsu as well as jujitsu at his clinic.
Irie Sensei trained under the founder of hakko-ryu jujitsu, Soke Ryuho Okuyama, and received the title of jodai in 1977. This is an old Japanese term which means “castle value” and is given to only the most proficient and trustworthy students. Irie Sensei became head instructor at the Hakko-Ryu honbu dojo (head dojo) where he continued teaching until 1993. In 1995, he founded the Kokodo Jujitsu at his bone setting clinic in Omiya.

When I walked into Soke Yasuhiro Irie’s dojo on Saturday, I was greeted warmly by Irie Sensei himself. He asked me how long I had been training in Hakkodenshinryu jujitsu; saying, “Is your Sensei OK with you training here?”
I replied, “Yes, of course, my sensei in America asked me to please find you and train as much as I could.”
“Good,” Irie Sensei said, “Because once you become a member of my dojo you are a member for life. This is like a mafia!” He then proceeded to laugh very hard and finally explain, “That is a bad joke, but you will always be a member of our dojo.”

AS I changed into my dogi, I was given a pair of tabi to wear. Tabi are a type of booty--or sock--that has a separate pocket for your four smaller toes and one for your big toe, like mittens for your feet. Sensei explained, “There are three reasons we wear tabi: first, to keep the dojo clean; second, to protect our feet; third, because tabi are slippery. If you learn to do a technique wearing these slippery tabi, then it will be that much easier to do a technique if you are attacked on the street. Someone on the street isn’t going to stop and wait for you to take off your shoes before they attack. Fourth…. Is there a forth reason? I guess there are only three reasons we wear tabi.”

Sensei asked me to demonstrate some of the techniques I had studied in the United States. The twenty-one black belt techniques (Soudan waza) are similar in form and intent with only a few slight name differences. What is referred to as “te-kagame” (hand mirror) in Hakkodenshinryu jujitsu is referred to as “kotogaishi” in Kokodo jujitsu. Where Kokodo jujitsu differs from Hakkodenshinryu jujitsu is where many of the martial arts differ from Japan to the United States: the amount of force used.
I am by no means an expert in Hakkodenshinryu jujitsu. I have practiced for a short time and, although my sensei was very impressed with the speed at which I picked up the techniques, I will be the first to admit I am a mere beginner. This being said, I found it interesting that Kokodo jujitsu relied much less on pain than did the Hakkodenshinryu style. Te-kagame—or kotogaishi, for example, involved driving an opponent’s elbow into their own stomach while applying a tight wrist lock in Hakkodenshinryu jujitsu. In Kokodo jujitsu, however, the lock is equally disabling but there is very little pain. There were many other interesting differences in the application of wrist locks and especially in the emphasis on movements from the hip; something Americans seem to struggle with. I will save some of these discussions for later posts, but one thing wanted to report was on Irie Sensei’s explanation for how one uses the middle, ring and pinky fingers to grip. The pinky finger, Sensei explained, is connected with the heart. Gripping with the pinky finger will increase the strength of the heart. The pointer finger, however, is much weaker. Sensei explained that gripping with the pointer finger, which is directly connected with the bowels, will lead to heavy bowels and slow movements.

In the west we are taught that the middle, ring and pinky finger fall on a line with tendons in the lower arm and are, therefore, stronger. It was interesting to hear this alternative explanation for a man who practices so many eastern style of medicine.

Unfortunately, the four hour trip to Omiya makes for a long day, especially if I intend to return home in the evening. I don’t know how often I will be able to attend classes in Saitama, but I look forward to visiting Irie Sensei’s dojo again in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. HI. My name is Eran.
    I am training in Irie Sensei dojo. you are welcome to come and train again if you like.