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
Hakkoryu Jujutsu was founded by Shodai Soke (First Generation Head) Okuyama Ryohu, born in 1901 in Yamagata Prefecture. His given name was Okuyama Yoshiji. During his early life, Shodai Soke traveled extensively, studying many of the martial and medical systems of his day. He studied under many 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 left Daitoryu to begin formulating Hakkoryu.
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. 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. The belts awarded at Shihan level and higher are colored purple, which represents not only the last visible color on the spectrum, but the color of Imperial royalty, representing the highest levels of technical ability.
Hakkoryu is a Jujutsu system which uses the body's Keiraku (meridian system) to create varying amounts of pain to control an attacker without necessarily causing serious injury. Japanese and traditional Oriental medicine teaches that "Ki", one of the non-physical aspects of life, flows through Keiraku in the body. Certain Tsubo (special points) along the Keiraku 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 Hakkoryu techniques that a trained exponent uses to distract, dispatch, or arrest an attacker. Because of the non-injurious potential of these techniques, Hakkoryu is said to be humanitarian in nature.
Constant throughout Hakkoryu training is the concept of abandoning force. Muscular strength is not required in Hakkoryu. Instead, the techniques rely mainly on an understanding of anatomy and physiology, both the exponent's and his/her attacker.
Training from white belt through Yondan on a step-by-step basis may be compared to the forging and tempering process that gives body and strength to a Japanese sword blade. The Higi and Okuden of advanced training impart the sharpening and polishing processes that endows a blade with the razor edge and mystical elegance of this most prized weapon. Should a disciple complete the Shihan Jikiden, he/she is given the certificate of Shihan training- the Menkyo (teaching license)- and is awarded a Hakkoryu purple belt, the Imperial color of Japan.
Beyond Shihan Jikiden are the even more advanced teachings of Kaiden Shihan (Master Instructor of the Deepest Mysteries) and Kaiden Shihan Sandaikichu (Master Instructor of the Deepest Mysteries and the Three Great Foundation Pillars).
Hakkoryu Koho Shiatsu
Along with Hakkoryu, Shodai Soke maintained an original and distinct school of traditional medical therapy called Koho Shiatsu (Imperial Method of Finger Pressure Therapy). Using the same Keiraku utilized in Hakkoryu to control an attacker, Koho Shiatsu defends against attacks of disease and sickness from within and outside the body. Varying degrees, directions, and kinds of pressure on Keiraku applied by a trained therapist can assist in balancing irregular and incorrect accumulations or deficiencies of Ki in a patient, allowing the patient to heal himself.
Following Shodai Soke's retirement in 1986, his son, Okuyama Toshio assumed the responsibilities of the Ryu. At that time he 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 Hakkoryu dojos tied to the So Hombu Dojo. Shodai Soke passed away in November of 1987.
Martial arts with their roots in Hakkoryu Jujutsu continue to be taught by several of Shodai Soke's most senior disciples in schools all around the world through various independent schools and organizations such as Hakko Densho Ryu Jujutsu, Kokodo Jujutsu Renmai, Dentokan Jujutsu, and Hakko Denshin Ryu. The HMAF strives to unite all practitioners of these arts in the common goal of passing along knowledge and keeping it true to Shodai Soke Okuyama's visions.