Tuesday, September 22, 2009

AJJF Senior Professor Succession

The last couple of weeks has been difficult in the American Judo and Jujitsu Federation (AJJF). On September 10, 2009, the Senior Professor of the AJJF, Lamar N. Fisher passed away in Chico, CA. Having started his study of Jujitsu in the late 1940's with Prof. Bud Estes, Prof. Fisher has been a stalwart in the world of Jujitsu training. At his funeral the following Tuesday, he was mourned and remembered by many of his friends, family and students.

In too many instances of the passing of a martial arts leader, those who have left behind fail to act in moving ahead. While we want to wallow in our sorrows, I believe that the departed would have wished us to forge on. The AJJF has acted in a way that has paved the way for future progress. 
The weekend after Prof. Fisher's funeral, the board of Professors met on the issue of succession and issued the following statement:

American Judo & Jujitsu Federation, Inc.

Board of Professors
September 17, 2009
Subject:  Sr. Professor Succession

The American Judo & Jujitsu Federation Board of Professors announces the succession of the title ‘Sr. Professor’ upon the passing of our esteemed leader, Sr. Professor Lamar Fisher, Judan.

The successor is:  SR. PROFESSOR TOM BALL, KUDAN.

The AJJF BOP further created a Sr. Professor’s Council.  Two additional Professors will serve as advisors to the Sr. Professor. The advisors are:  
          Professor John Congistre, Kudan
          Professor Jane Carr, Hachidan

PROFESSOR HENRY S. OKAZAKI  proclaimed the advancement of Danzan Ryu through the ‘credo of the gentle way’.

Following the tradition of our Founding Fathers and preceding Professors, Sr. Professor Tom Ball will fulfill Professor Okazaki’s dream realizing:

“Leadership is the influence of others in a productive vision-driven direction and is done through the example, conviction and character of the leader”.


I applaud the actions of the AJJF Board of Professors and their decisive action.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It is the eventual terminus for all of mankind that we enter into that long sleep. So it was with the recent passing of AJJF Senior Professor Lamar Fisher in Chico, CA. A fine tribute was given by his long-time student Prof. Geoff Lane who noted that, in his last days, Prof. Fisher wished to attend his own funeral and express his affection for everyone. Indeed, the large gathering of his friends at Prof's services recalled that love of more than sixty years of service and "had a good time."

Any time there is such a loss of a leader in our Danzan-Ryū family, several things happen. We certainly mourn the loss. We remember the one who has passed. We revisit our training under him/her. One thing that we must do, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, is to move forward with next steps. This last point is essential. In an ideal situation, the passing of a martial art leader opens a position for the next one to step in. In the past, such transitions have been handled in a variety of ways; some smooth and others not so good. 

In the past couple of decades, it has been my observation that the AJJF has developed a coherent corporate structure with well-defined policies, procedures and oversight. It would certainly be a great tribute to the memory of Prof. Fisher that this transition goes well. I suspect that it will.