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Hakkō-ryu (八光流) or Hakkō-ryu Jujutsu (八光流柔術) is a school or 'style' of jujutsu related to Daito-ryu founded in 1941 by Okuyama Ryuho (1901–1987) a student of Sokaku Takeda and a practitioner of shiatsu.
Meaning of the name
Hakkoryu comes from the Japanese language meaning "The Style of the Eighth Light," or specifically "eighth light school" In the color spectrum there are seven color bands. It was believed that there was also an eighth very narrow (barely visible) band: the Eighth Light. The "hidden theme" of which is,"from the faint and weak" in appearance comes surprising strength. Schools of Hakkoryu Jujutsu exercise strategies that avoid conflict as much as possible, and employ techniques that do not use strength, but instead use techniques that work against the body's natural motions. These techniques are not very visible, but effective and strong, as is the eighth light in context.
Okuyama was an instructor of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu which he studied from two people: Kyoju Dairi Matsuda (Toshimi) Hosaku and later Takeda Sokaku himself. In 1938 Okuyama finished his studies with Takeda and published a martial art text called Daito-ryu Goshinjutsu (The Daito System of Self-Protection), later founded the Dai-Nippon Shidokai (Greater Japan Way of the Samurai Association) and began teaching what he called Daito Hiden Shido (Secret Daito-Ryu Way of the Samurai). Okuyama's first Dojo was located in Asahikawa and was called Nippon Shidokai Ryubukan. In 1939 he moved to Kanda and opened another dojo called Dai Nihon Shidokai. This marked the beginning of the split from Daito-ryu, as by this time Takeda was very old and his son Tokimune was still very young. Seeing no place for advancement in the Daito-ryu school, and being a skilled medical and martial person, Okuyama began to form his own system based on Daito-ryu Jujutsu and Daito-ryu Aiki no jutsu as well as his experience in other forms of bujutsu.
The Hakko-ryu Kaiso Hokokusai (ceremony proclaiming the founding of Hakko-ryu) was held on June 1, 1941 at the Shiba Tenso Jinja (Shinto shrine in the Shiba district of Tokyo). On that date Hakko-ryu was formed and Okuyama took the pen name Ryuho (spine of the Dragon). The Hakko-ryu Kobujuku (private school for Hakko-ryu study) was located in Kanda district of Tokyo. During World War II the allied Bombing grew close; Okuyama and his family fled and joined the Mount Haguro sect of Shugendo (a mixture of Buddhism and Shintoism) in Yamagata Prefecture. The Hakko-ryu Kobujuku burned down during the bombing of Tokyo. In 1947 he moved to Omiya City (Saitama City) and founded the Hakko-ryu So Hombu Dojo (Hakko-ryu Juku Hombu Dojo). This is the home city of Hakko-ryu today.
While Hakko-ryu techniques are closely related to Daito-ryu, it is the influence of Oriental medicine and a strict moral code that distinguishes the style. The Koho Igaku Shiatsu system is taught to its members at all levels and is a requirement for those holding Menkyo Shihan and higher licenses. The jujutsu system's emphasis is placed on pressure points and manipulation of the opponent's body through both the skeletal structure and the body's meridians; this helps give Hakko-ryu its trademark of appearing weak but being powerful in application.
The techniques of Hakko-ryu are passed on in the form of kata or waza sets known as Ge. Each kata has a number of Omote (surface) techniques that must be learned before the student can progress to the next level. Each level also contains Kihon waza, which introduce the core principles of Hakkoryu to the student; the Omote techniques are not to be changed but handed down to the next generation, and so forth. They are as follows:
Besides the Omote, Kihon, and Gensoku Of Hakko-ryu, some subjects taught include concepts such as:
- Kamae (combative engagement posture/stance)
- Hara/Tanden/Ki (center of gravity, how it may best be concentrated)
- Kime (focus)
- Tsukuri/Kuzushi/Kake (preparing/off balancing/executing)
- Ma ai (combative engagement distance)
- Sen (combative initiative or "timing")
- Suki (detecting weaknesses/openings)
After Yondan the system uses the older Koryu Menkyo licenses. A student must be invited by Okuyama to train with him in the upper waza. To obtain an invitation the student must be referred by a Shihan in good standing with the Hombu. Upon receiving the invitation, the student may travel to Japan and stay with the Okuyama family for a period of time for training or receive training from him during his visits outside of Japan.
Hakko-ryu is governed in an autocratic nature. Hakkoryu Jujutsu and Koho Igaku Shiatsu  belong solely to the Okuyama family. Okuyama has total authority, and while he is advised by senior Shihan and councils, his word is final. This has been difficult for some to take, but especially for non-Japanese which has resulted in the expulsion of some over the years. There are few people outside of Japan recognized as legitimate Shihan and teachers. Okuyama states that "Some may use the word 'Hakko' (八光) in the names of their systems. Interested parties are advised that many have no relationship to Hakkoryu. Many desire the legitimacy of such affiliation without the accompanying training, efforts, sacrifice, responsibilities, limitations, and burdens actual membership requires. This is true of those who have never had any training or affiliation at all with Hakkoryu as well as those who have been expelled or claim they have retired but continue to teach."
Hakkoryu is distinctly separate and apart from Hakko Denshin Ryu and other schools who use the name "Hakko" within the name of their schools.
- Secrets of Hakko ryu Jujutsu by Dennis G Palumbo, Paladin press 978-0-87364-422-8 ISBN 0-87364-422-0
- Secret Nidan techniques of Hakko ryu by Dennis G Palumbo, Paladin press 978-0-87364-455-6 ISBN 873644557
- Essence of Hakko ryu Sandan Gi techniques By Dennis G. Palumbo, Paladin press 978-0-87364-455-6