YOSHITSUNE JUJUTSU KAI
A Japanese Martial Arts School of Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu & Iaido
We practice Japanese Jujutsu, a fighting system that can be applied against armed or unarmed aggressors and dates back to the early history of Japan. Regular training includes physical conditioning, evasive movements, striking, throwing and immobilizations (joint locks and other methods of restraint). The training employs a systematic approach to self-defense that effectively develops speed, balance and power through graduated exercises.
All students learn through the practice of Kihon Waza (basic techniques) that must be mastered and thoroughly understood. These basic techniques contain the principles that are built upon throughout the system which develop into a cohesive whole. As the student masters these principles they are able to develop their own Henka (variations) using combinations or unique applications for an infinite number of circumstances.
This allows the student to create techniques and applications suited to one’s own needs and circumstances, rather than blindly memorizing the techniques. With this method one achieves the ability to create rather than merely imitate.
Classes are taught one-on-one, Master Teacher to Student. The old concept that it is preferable to train a few students well rather than many anonymous students not so well continues. This traditional teacher to student relationship allows the Teacher to make immediate comment or correction on a student’s technique. In this manner, a disciple can learn rapidly and can better come to understand the many subtleties of the techniques and approaches. It not only guarantees a high quality of excellence in its exponents, but this method also limits the number of students a Teacher can teach. It’s the quality of disciples not the quantity that matters.
Constant throughout the training is the concept of abandoning force. Muscular strength is not required. Instead, the techniques rely mainly on an understanding of anatomy and physiology, both the exponent’s and his opponent. Students are encouraged always to relax both mind and body so that one’s center of gravity settles in the proper place. Thus, body weight can be easily focused at various points during the execution of techniques. Should a student try to use strength alone, their body weight will not be focused properly, and techniques will be much less effective. Once a student can grasp and unconsciously practice this concept, progress becomes rapid. Another reason one should relax is that training sessions are painful, sometimes extremely so. Relaxing one’s mind and body diminishes such pain and prevents injury.
Our dojo’s curriculum includes training in three distinct styles of Japanese Jujutsu: Hakko Ryu Jujutsu, Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu and Yoshitsune Jujutsu as described below.
Hakko Ryu Jujutsu is a system that uses the body’s meridian system to create varying amounts of pain to control an attacker without necessarily causing serious injury.
Japanese and traditional Oriental medicine teaches us that “Ki”, one of the non-physical aspects of life, flows through the meridian system in the body. Certain Tsubo (special points) along the meridians are sensitive to touching or striking and cause sharp distracting pain, but do not necessarily damage bones, joints, or other body tissue. These are the focal points of Hakko Ryu techniques that a trained exponent uses to distract, dispatch or arrest an attacker.
Jerry Tardi, a Shihan (Master Teacher) of Hakko Ryu Jujutsu leads all training in Hakko Ryu Jujutsu. He is Licensed to Teach by the current Headmaster, Tashio Okuyama of Omiya, Japan.
Daito Ryu is an ancient system of self-defense handed down by Japanese warriors through the ages and perfected in the nineteenth century by martial arts master Sokaku Takeda.
Like other forms of Japanese Jujutsu, it emphasizes throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively subdue or injure an attacker. Of particular importance is the timing of a defensive technique either to blend or to neutralize an attack's effectiveness and to use the force of the attacker's movement against him. Daito Ryu is characterized by ample use of atemi, or the striking of vital areas, to set up jointlocking or throwing tactics.
Some of the art's striking methods employ the swinging of the outstretched arms to create power and to hit with the fists at deceptive angles, as may be observed in techniques such as the atemi that sets up Gyaku Ude Dori (reverse arm lock). The previous Daito Ryu Headmaster regarded one of the unique characteristics of the art to be its preference for controlling a downed attacker's joints with one's knee to leave one's hands free to access weapons or to deal with the threat of other attackers.
Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu is important to our school since it is the parent art of our Hakko Ryu Jujutsu. Although many of the techniques are similar to Hakko Ryu, in many ways it has key distinguishing characteristics. Among the key characteristics are its powerful/distructive self-defense techniques. Much of this power is derived from applying “aiki,” an ancient Japanese way of using subtle body movements and mechanics to gain and maintain combative advantage.
Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei, the current Headmaster of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu, Mainline Tradition, received his Menkyo Kaiden (License of Full Transmission) directly from Tokimune Takeda Sensei in 1988. Fred Bernier is one of Kondo Sensei's USA Black Belts with formal permission to teach Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu. Bernier Sensei personally teaches all Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu classes.
Daito Ryu students are permitted to attend the Annual week long seminar in Katsuura City, Chiba, Japan which is personally led by Kondo Sensei.
Yoshitsune Jujutsu is an Americanized derivative of Hakko Ryu as formulated by Junji Saito and Michael DePasquale Senior. Saito Sensei was a Menkyo Kaiden (License of Full Transmission) and the first US representative of the Hakko Ryu Jujutsu System.
He came to the United States in the early 1960s and after being here for a short period of time he quickly realized that the mentality and size of Americans required modifications to many of his techniques for them to be effective. So after gaining the permission of the Hakko Ryu Headmaster he took all of his favorite techniques and combined them into a system that became known as Yoshitsune Jujutsu. His thought was that these techniques were more suited to the larger physique and the self-defense needs of Americans.
Fred Bernier, a Shihan (Master Teacher) of Yoshitsune Jujutsu leads all training in Yoshitsune Jujutsu. He received his Shihan License in 1992.
Here at the Yoshitsune Jujutsu Kai we pride ourselves on staying true to these Jujutsu systems and teach them exactly as they were taught to us. We concern ourselves with teaching and training in the fundamentals of these three styles and spend considerable time in drilling the practical self-defense aspects of these techniques.
All classes are taught by Licensed Black Belt Instructors and you will practice with a training partner that will help you learn and improve, cultivating a supportive environment.
Both Jerry Tardi and Fred Bernier have strong ties to these systems and maintain positive relationships with the current headmasters. They also continue to train on a regular basis and make regular trips to Japan to visit and train with their teachers.
We practice Ryushin Shouchi Ryu, a small ancient style originally from Kyushu. Training involves solo kata, partner kata and various kihon waza affiliated with the style. RJR is unusual in its use of a smaller, lighter-weight sword and many one-handed techniques. This is a formal Koryu that dates back to the Edo period and associated with the traditions of the Samurai.
Kunikazu Yahagi of the Seiseikan Dojo in Tokyo is the current Headmaster. Fred Bernier is one of Sensei's Senior Blacks and has a Formal License to teach Ryushin Shouchi Ryu. Yahagi Sensei visits the USA on a yearly basis for a series of training seminars and for student gradings.
The formal kata 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).
Kumitachi (Partner Forms) - In addition to the solo forms, members also do pre-arranged partner forms, which teach timing and distance (maai), courage and calmness of mind. Students begin to practice these forms slowly, gaining in speed and intensity over time. As in many traditional dojos, senior members of the dojo have an obligation to teach newer members proper technique, and reckless behavior is never tolerated.
Tameshigiri (TestCutting) - We believe that good concentration and a meditative mindset cannot be fully realized without proper technique, so members practice cutting paper and grass mat targets periodically. The emphasis of this training is to check technique, rather than as a potential form of competition.
The study of the human body's vital and pressure points are part of our training. These points are used to incapacitate or control an opponent. Its theory is based upon the study of the weaknesses of the human anatomy and the specific energy pathways called meridians found on the body. Pressing, seizing or striking certain acupressure points or combination of points at certain angles can result in weakening an opponent, deadening a limb, causing great pain or even knocking a person out.