Monday, August 31, 2009

The Next Generation

The year was 1993 and a special gathering was held by a group of nearly thirty people to bring a focus back to many disperse ideas. The event included a set of training sessions designed to propose the statement, "Here is the truth." Some eventually let this knowledge lapse into the annals of time, where others nurtured the seeds and harvested them into abundant fruit. At that time, I observed that those who attended that class would form the core of the next generation of Danzan-Ryu leadership. This has come to pass.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure to attend the "Summer Slam" kata and Sumo tournament in Woodland Hills, CA. The event was sponsored by Sensei Greg Poretz and his Kenshokan Dojo. The atmosphere outside was warm (over 100 degrees) and a little overcast (smoke from the La Canada fire near Burbank). The atmosphere inside was exciting. The competition ranged from pee-wee white belts to master black belts. The competition was tight and the presentations were all enjoyable to watch.

I had come down from the bay area to this event because my two original teachers: Mike and Steve Belzer had decided to compete in this tournament. They had been two of the leading competitors in the 1970's and 80's in these types of contests and having them back on the mat after nearly 30 years was an event I could not miss. The brothers did not disappoint. Their presentation was exciting, dynamic and real. It was a true pleasure to see them perform again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Headin' South

A couple of months ago, my original Sensei, Mike Belzer (a.k.a. Malasia Mike, a.k.a. Menkyo Mike, a.k.a. Butch the Mugger) told me that he and his brother Steve would be heading back to competition.

Many years earlier (more than forty), Steve and Mike (along with their father, Bob) had been students at the famed Penmar Judo Kai under the late James Marcinkus. While there, the brothers were well-known as laser-sharp technicians at kata competitions. They often took honors with their partners Geoff Kyron (Steve) and Dave Marcinkus (Mike) and sometimes partnering with each other. Their performances contributed to the notoriety of the Penmar dojo. But that was long ago.

When I heard that the Belzer brothers would be competing at the Kenshokan "Summer Slam" (hosted by Sensei Greg Poretz), I knew I had to be there. In fact, I plan on driving down there in the next day and attend one of their practices prior to the event. To be sure, I will have a camera or two to capture and archive images of this historic event.

For those interested in attending this contest, see the following flyer:

I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mokuroku and Kaidensho e-Book

In 1993, I saw the catalog scroll (Mokuroku) given by Professor Okazaki to Sig Kufferath upon his graduation from the Kodenkan. Over the next three years, I set about the task of translating this and a couple of other scrolls. I also worked on translating the complete transmission certificate (Kaidensho) that I received at the 1993 Okugi class. (This certificate was identical to the one awarded by Professor Okazaki to a special black belt class in 1948.)  Since these documents were written in old-style Japanese, this was no easy task. Despite that I wanted to learn EXACTLY what these documents said.

In 1996, I published my book, Mokuroku and Kaidensho: The Official Documents of Danzan-Ryu Jujutsu. This book provided a line-by-line exposition of these documents including the following: 1. image of the line, 2. printed kanji version of the line, 3. Romanization of the kanji, and 4. direct translation of the line. This type of translation makes these documents accessible to anyone regardless of their knowledge of the Japanese language. This makes this a valuable book for any martial artist and an essential resource for students of Danzan-Ryu.

The current 4th edition is a vast improvement over previous versions including improved, cleaner kanji fonts, a rigorous overhaul, and new material about the Okuden and Koden techniques past those in the Mokuroku. In the new e-Book PDF format, the reader can easily search the document for any word or phrase. This is very valuable for any type of research.

I hope you will take advantage of the new discounted price of $27.00 for this updated e-Book.

Purchase it at:


Monday, August 24, 2009

Do we have enough techniques?

Teachers of Danzan-Ryū have sometimes been presented with the problem of having a student who has learned "everything". Specifically, the student has reached a level of learning where they have gone through all of the techniques for their rank. This presents the greatest difficulty when the student is a black belt at about the Nidan or Sandan level. The apparent problem is that the student will lose interest if they continuously are required to do the same arts over and over.

One way that teachers have approached this problem is to add requirements to, or "pad" their testing requirements. In some cases, this padding has come from other non-DZR martial arts (Karate, Judo, Aikido, Eskrima, or whatever.) Another way that this has happened in the past is for a teacher to create a new board and proclaim inclusion in Danzan-Ryū.

There are martial arts which contain only a handful of techniques and are very effective with their short curriculum. The proper approach (in this writer's view) is to do what the Professor laid down for us. The collection of techniques found in the boards should not leave us bored.