Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kufferath 2011 International Martial Arts Symposium

More than a year ago, Sig Kufferath’s daughter Leslee had the vision to honor her father’s memory by celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday. She wanted to bring a group of his students, friends and others together for an event of training and sharing. This is indeed what happened at the Santa Clara (CA) Marriott on the weekend of March 25-27, 2011.

Professor Sig Kufferath (1911-1999) had been a senior student of Danzan-Ryu Jujutsu founder from 1937 until Okazaki’s passing in 1951. During that time, he and his partner Bing-Fai Lau ran Jujutsu classes at both the Kaheka Lane and the Kodenkan Dojo’s in Honolulu. After the founder’s passing, the American Jujitsu Institute elected Sig to be the next Professor of the system in 1952. He continued to teach in Honolulu until 1957 when he moved his family to the San Francisco Bay area. On the mainland, Sig established his school and trained many students in both Jujutsu and massage until his death in 1999.

Leslee Kufferath, along with assistance of Hans Ingebretsen and others organized the 3-day event of martial art seminars and a Saturday evening Hawaiian luau buffet. There were more than 50 instructors including formers students of Sig, prominent U.S. martial artists, and a contingent of international teachers from England, Spain, Portugal, Kuwait and elsewhere. There were eight mats for adult and children’s classes, as well as a special room for therapeutic massage.

Most of the seminars went off without a hitch with students gaining valuable knowledge. Two unfortunate incidents, however, did occur. In one seminar, an exceedingly careless instructor was responsible for a student being thrown on his shoulder, breaking his collarbone and causing him to be taken to the hospital. In another distasteful display, an instructor publicly berated and challenged one of the seminar students without cause. Unfortunately, this unsuspecting student happened to be the son of one of Sig’s oldest students. In both of these cases, the instructors had studied with Sig and no doubt, he would not have been pleased. 

Despite these, the symposium was generally enjoyed by the attendees. In addition to the hundreds of students, several special guests attended, including: Sig’s son Bruce Kufferath, Sig’s grandson Scott, Professor Liebert O’Sullivan, Great Grandmaster Al Novak, Senior Professor John Congistre and Professor Rory Rebmann.

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