Hawaii Karate Seinenkai
Born on January 28, 1890, in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Henry Seishiro Okazaki immigrated to Hawaii in 1906. He lived in Hilo on the Big Island. At the age of 19, in response to poor health, he began the study of Judo at the Shinyu Kai Dojo under Yoshimatsu Tanaka. Although Hilo is a small town today, at that time it had a remarkably strong Ju Jutsu and Judo community. While on the Big Island, Okazaki studied various forms of Ju Jutsu, Ryukyu Karate, Filipino knife fighting, boxing, and Hawaiian Lua. One of his influential instructors was Wo Chung. Okazaki visited Japan for several months in 1924, during which time he practiced Ju Jutsu and Kiai Jutsu.
The identity of Okazaki's Ryukyu Karate instructor is unknown. However, there were several in the Hilo area, including Chonin Sanra Arakaki and Seiichi Urasaki.. Kamesuke Higashionna also visited the Big Island several times starting in 1933. His mother, Kama Uejo, lived in Olaa (now known as Keeau).
Okazaki earned a fair amount of fame, particularly within the Japanese community, as a result of his defeat of a Western boxer, "Kayo" Morris. The match was held at the Yuraku-Kwan Theater in Hilo, on May 19, 1922. Morris had earlier defeated and then lost to "Speed" Takahashi, a Ju Jutsu expert originally from Japan but then living in Colorado. On December 12, 1925, Okazaki had a rematch of sorts with Kid John Morris, who was supposed to be "Kayo" Morris' younger brother. This match, again held at the Yuraku-Kwan Theater, ended in controversy when Okazaki left the arena after the third round. The crowd nearly rioted. Tetsuo "Rubberman" Higami, a Ju Jutsu expert and professional wrestler in Honolulu, filled in for Okazaki and defeated Morris.
Based of his training in mutiple arts, Okazaki founded the Danzan-Ryu form of Ju Jutsu. He briefly taught Ju Jutsu on Maui, during which time he published The Science of Self-Defense for Girls & Women. This is believed to be the first martial arts book published in Hawaii.
Okazaki established a dojo on Hotel Street in Honolulu in 1929, and openly taught people of all races. His dojo flourished as a result of his openess and systematic approach to the art. Many martial artists cross trained in the Okazaki dojo, including students of James Masayoshi Mitose, the founder of Kenpo (Kempo Jiu-Jitsu). Some of Okazaki's students included Sig Kufferath, Wally Jay, Bing-Fai Lau, and Jack Wheat. One of the Hawaii Karate Seinenkai members who trained with Okazaki was Taro Azama. Okazaki also helped to promote Sumo.
A wealth of information about Okazaki is available at George E. Arrington III's The Danzan-Ryu Jujutsu Homepage.
Here is a group photo of Okazaki Sensei. It states that this is a Dai Nippon Butokukai Hawaii Division gathering. Click to enlarge it. It is believed that this photo was taken at the Kotohira Jinsha Temple in Kalihi.
Do you recognize anyone in the photo? Okazaki Sensei is seated in the second row, second from the left. The photo was donated to the Hawaii Karate Museum by Ms. Constance Day who found it in Massachusetts.
Okazaki is remembered as one of the most important and influential martial arts instructors in Hawaii. The Hawaii Karate Seinenkai salutes Henry Seishiro Okazaki.
The spirit of Karate is the Aloha spirit
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