A Japanese Martial Arts School of Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu & Iaido

Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai / News 

Here's updates on past events at the Jujutsu Kai.

Hakko Ryu Jujutsu Seminar -
conducted by current Headmaster, Nidai Soke Okuyama

The current Headmaster of the Hakko Ryu Jujutsu System, Headquartered in Omiya, Japan, recently conducted a week-long series of seminars at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai. They also honored the life and teaching of Hakkoryu Shodai Soke Ryuho, founder of the Hakkoryu style during his visit.

The seminar was attended by practitioners from across the United States where the headmaster taught the techniques of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu which has direct lineage to Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu.

The Headmaster shared valuable insights and provided valuable feedback that will improve our skills and assist our future training.

All those interested in attending future Hakko Ryu seminars should contact me via email fbernier1@gmail.com or on 201-725-9019.

Ground Grappling Judo Seminar -
conducted by Judo Coaches of the West Point Military Academy

Reno Claudio and Tony Notaro, both current Coaches of the United States Military Academy's Judo team conducted a Ground Grappling seminar at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai. The seminar was attended by several local Jujutsu schools who were treated to an afternoon of training similar to that of a Cadet on the US Military Academy Judo team. They train in this fashion everyday to prepare for their Judo tournaments. This past March they won the Men's National Collegiate Championship in College Station, Texas.

72 year old, Reno Sensei, a retired US Army Soldier, personally led our group through a conditioning and toughening routine similar to the one that the Cadet's follow at each training session. He stressed the importance of being in shape and physically prepared for this type of strenuous activity.

Tony Notaro then led the group through the details associated with two basic Judo throws - Ippon Seio-nage (Shoulder Throw), Osoto Gari (Big Leg Sweep) and two ground grappling techniques - Osae-Komi and Yoko-Shiho-Gatame. He stressed the importance of mastering the fundamentals. Without sound fundamentals all Judo techniques are useless. He reviewed the fundamental principles of Kazushi (unbalancing your opponent), Tsukuri (moving into position) and Kake(execution of the throw). He showed the effortless execution of both throws using these three principles.

Upon completion of the throws he proceeded to teach the basic principles necessary for effective ground grappling. Judo uses three methods for ground fighting - Oase Komi waza (hold-down techniques), Shime waza (strangling techniques) and Kansetsu waza (joint techniques).

Reno Claudio then led the group through the self-defense aspects of all four techniques. He emphasized the importance of learning these techniques slowly and carefully given the potential danger associated with many of these techniques. It's more important to learn the techniques properly using the principles he taught and to allow speed to come as you practice and master the material - techniques by technique. Sensei mentioned numerous times that practice is for learning and drilling your techniques and that competition was only after Judoka have learned, practiced and prepared for such an activity. Sensei shared numerous, highly effective variations and combinations appropriate for self-defense.

We look forward to their next visit where they expect to build upon the techniques and lessons provided during this session.

All those interested in attending future Judo seminars should contact me via email fbernier1@gmail.com or on 201-725-9019.

Ryushin Jigen Ryu Iaijutsu Retreat

We spent a weekend training Iaijutsu in Upstate New York at a beautiful facility. Students from the New York Budokai, Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai and the Long Island Group attended. It was an great opportunity to prepare for Yahagi Sensei's visit this coming November.

Phil Ortiz led the weekend training where he reviewed kihon, basic kumitachi and the entire curriculum of formal kata. He shared insights and provided valuable feedback to help get us on point for Yahagi Sensei's visit. Stanley Chin led the Yudansha group through an intense session on the Shoto Kumitachi.

Jerry Tardi led a Shiatsu Session at the conclusion of the training on Saturday to help relieve our sore muscles and restore some energy back into our system.

Phil Sensei also led us through early morning mediation on Saturday and Sunday morning. It was a great way to greet the new day in this beautuful environment.

We also had the opportunity to spent time together and to build our friendships and have some fun. We trained hard, eat well and had some laughs together. Mitch had us in stitches as he recalled his predawn conversation with Stanley and Anthony. A conversation regarding the time, getting up early and being totally prepared. Mitch was having none of it. "So Funny"

Thanks to Sumie for arranging the accommodations, Phil for his outstanding instruction and everybody for their generous food and drink contributions and their help setting up and cleaning up. We're all look forward to 2011 for our next retreat.

All those interested in attending Yahagi Sensei's seminars during his visit to our area November 6, 7, 8 & 9 group should contact me via email fbernier1@gmail.com or on 201-725-9019.

Trip to Japan

Fred Bernier, the Chief Instructor of the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai recently returned from his yearly visit to Japan. The first week was spent at the Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Special Training session at the Nippon Budokan Training Center in Katsuura City, Chiba. This is a yearly seminar where Hombucho Kondo Katsuyuki leads a week's worth of Budo training that starts at 6am each morning and continues until 4 or 5pm each day.

Many of Kondo Sensei's students from all over the world travel to Japan for his yearly event. Kondo Masayuki, Sensei's younger brother, his designated successor was also present at this seminar to assist with teaching responsibilities.

This was a physically strenuous week's worth of training where Sensei personally shared the technical details and his Budo philosophy associated with the Mainline tradition of Daito Ryu. As always he was precise in his teachings and demanding in his expectations. Both teachers are passionate about their Budo and are generous in sharing their knowledge.

We ended the week with a special Demonstration performed at the International Budo University. The demo was performed in a large dojo with 140+ tatami mats on a sprung floor. Each local dojo and country conducted a demonstration of their skills and the session ended with the presentation of awards and promotion announcements.

During my visit with Kondo Sensei, he named our dojo as an official study group of the Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Mainline tradition. With his permission I now have his blessing to teach what I know of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu at my dojo. All those interested in joining this group should contact me via email fbernier1@gmail.com or on 201-725-9019.

The second week started with a trip back to Akabane in Tokyo to visit the Ryushin Jigen Ryu Hombu Dojo for training with Yahagi Sensei. As always, it was a pleasure to see Soke Sensei and to have the opportunity to train with him. He reviewed basics and all 54 Iai kata to provide me with technical feedback and corrections to help fine tune my skills.

I also had the opportunity to spend time with his students and to participate in a Tamaeshigiri (test cutting) session. We were honored to have the Ambassador of Mexico and his interpreter with us for this part of the training. Watanabe Sensei, one of Sensei's top students demonstrated a free standing, multiple mat cut that was absolutely phenomenal.

Sensei is looking forward to his special training session in September that is to be held in Tokyo with students traveling from all over the world to attend. Part of this training will include a visit to a Bamboo forest for a special Tamaeshigiri session. He is also excited about his upcoming visit to the USA this November. As always, he will be visiting Miami, Florida and the New York/New Jersey area.

The final part of the trip was a visit to the Hakko Ryu Hombu Dojo in Omiya Japan. This was really special for me to finally visit the Hombu from where my teacher, Michael DePasquale Sr. received his Shihan rank in the early 1960's. Nidai Soke Okuyama was a real gentleman and I felt very welcomed. He was generous with both his time and his expertise. He spent considerable time reviewing my technique and providing valuable feedback and correction on my Hakko Ryu kata. I look forward to building this relationship and having the opportunity to return for additional training opportunities in the future.

Many, many thanks to Kaiden Shihan Joe Miller for arranging the introduction to and for providing the opportunity to train and test directly with the Headmaster. I'm sure my teacher would have been pleased and proud of my efforts at the Hombu.

This was the most rewarding trip to Japan for me given the time I spent in the country and the number of training opportunities made available to me. I feel blessed to be afforded this level of opportunity and to be capable of this amount of training. At this point, I'm very tired, but extremely happy having learned a great deal and for having the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our Japanese teachers. I'm already looking forward going back next year.

Current Headmaster of Ryushin Jigen Ryu conducts a Masters Seminar

Kunikazu Yahagi, Sensei of the Seiseikan Dojo of Tokyo conducted a Senior Teacher Seminar at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai the weekend of April 3 & 4th. Each generation there is only one Headmaster that is responsible for maintaining the school and for accurately passing the school's curriculum and secrets to the next generation of practitioners. A personally invited group of Sensei's instructors traveled from as far away as Europe to attend this training. Sensei led a series of vigorous training sessions where he shared advanced techniques, and imparting specific teaching methodology to ensure the accurate transmission of this ancient sword style.

The Ryushin Jigen Ryu style of Japanese Swordsmanship is a formal Koryu (ancient style) that dates back to Japan's Edo period (1600's) and is associated with the traditions of the Samurai. It is a small ancient style originally from Kyushu, Japan. Training involves solo practice, partner practice and various fundamental practice affiliated with the style. RJR is unusual in its use of a smaller, lighter-weight sword and many one-handed techniques to his enemy's vital areas.

These solo practice forms are associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sword from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. While new students may start learning with a wooden sword (bokken), many use an unsharpened sword. Advanced practitioners use a sharpened metal sword (shinken). Because of its emphasis on precise, controlled, fluid motion, it is sometimes referred to as moving Zen.

Kaiden Shihan conducts a Hakko Ryu Jujutsu Seminar

Miller Sensei, Menkyo Kaiden, San Dai Kichu of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu conducted a Weekend Seminar at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai. He reviewed jujutsu fundamentals and helped sharpen our technique by sharing valuable insights. He also shared advanced level kata on Sunday from the Nidan and Sandan levels of the curriculum. He closed the seminar with a much needed session on Koho Shiatsu as taught to him by the founder of Hakko Ryu, Ryuho Okuyama.

Tony Notaro, Judo coach at the West Point Military Academy taught a very active session on ground grappling where he shared insights and techniques associated with controlling and defeating an opponent from the ground.

Phil Ortiz, Chief Instructor of the New York Budo Kai taught a couple of brilliant sessions on the Japanese Sword and how it relates to and can help with our jujutsu techniques in terms of timing, balance, distancing, awareness and attitude.

Monthly Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Workshops

Derek Steel, one of Kondo Sensei's senior USA teachers is conducting monthly workshops at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai. He spent 15 years living in Japan and training directly with Kondo Sensei in Tokyo. Kondo Sensei is the current Headmaster of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Mainline. Derek is knowledgeable, very capable and an excellence instructor that is sharing the Hiden Mokuroku starting at the Ikkajo level.

If you are an experienced martial artist and think you may be interested in joining us for these sessions please let me know via email. If you know of other experienced martial artist that may be interested, feel free to forward the invitation to them. I look forward to hearing from you and having the opportunity to train together.

Keiko Hajime (Beginning Practice)

It's traditional to conduct a "Keiko-Hajime" for students to demonstrate and reiterate their commitment to practice at this first meeting of the New Year.  It is said the first practice will reflect upon your training for the upcoming year. Therefore it is important for all students to be present, well rested and ready to fully participate in the event to show both their continued commitment and their enthusiasm.

We held our the January 9th.  It was well attended by members of the three local schools that practice the Traditional Sword Arts associated with the Ryushin Jigen Ryu, a traditional school based in Tokyo, Japan.

If this first practice is any indication of the upcoming year for these students, it will be a highly successful one for them.  The practice was attended by the Chief Instructors from all three schools located in New York City, Queens, NY and Bayonne, NJ.  Also in attendanc were three Senior Instructors visiting from France, Florida and New York.

The day was spent working on Fundamentals and Sword Kata (Prearranged movements associated with drawing, cutting and re-sheathing of the weapon).  The session ended with Tameshigeri, the test cutting of rolled up straw targets with live blades.  The test cutting is not a competition, but a test of the accuracy and strength associated with the student's technique.

Many view Japanese Swordsmanship as moving Zen because of the esoteric nature of these exercises,  The practice has a way of settling ones balance, and it fosters a level of concentration of the mind and body that when done properly is considered beautiful by experts in the field.

Hakko Ryu Workshop

We just conducted the first of a series of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu Workshops.   Hakko Ryu comes from the Japanese language meaning "The Style of the Eighth Light."  In the color spectrum there are nine color bands,  Violet is the eighth light.  Schools of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu exercise strategies that avoid conflict as much as possible, and employ techniques that do not use strength, but instead use techniques that work against the body's natural motions and movements to take down the opponent.   This style of Jujutsu was founded in 1941 by Okuyama Ryuho (1901-1987) a student of Sokaku Takeda and a practitioner of shiatsu.  Many techniques of this school are very similar to those of the Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu.

During these workshops we are teaching and practicing the full curriculum associated with the Shodan level (1st Degree Black Belt).  There are a total of 31 kata.  We expect to minimize the ukemi (falling and rolling) to enable our experienced, non-jujutsuan martial art friends the opportunity to participate.   These techniques are split between Seiza, Hantachi and Tachi techniques.  These are highly effective jujutsu techniques that form the basis of countless self defense variations.

If you are an experienced martial artist and think you may be interested in joining us for these sessions please let me know via email.  If you know of other martial artist that may be interested, feel free to forward the invitation to them.   I look forward to hearing from you and having the opportunity to train together. fbernier1@gmail.com


Nidai Soke Okuyama