Hanshi Hoshiyama Sensei began his martial arts training in the Hoshiyama family Jujitsu system passed down from his father Kazuo Hoshiyama Sr who in turn learned from his father Iwamatsu Hoshiyama who received the Shogo title of Hanshi and rank of 10th Dan from the pre-war Dai Nippon Butokukai. The Hoshiyama family comes from a long family line of Martial Artists. Shihan Hoshiyama’s Grandfathers side is of Samurai bloodline from the mainland of Japan. The Hoshiyama Jujitsu has been passed down from this line.
Hoshiyama-Ryu Jujitsu History
The origin of the Hoshiyama Family Jujitsu has been very difficult to trace back to its beginnings. The family records which were brought from Japan were confiscated along with the majority of their personal belongings when my family was interned in the Manzanar Concentration Camp.
Some of the techniques have a resemblance to the very old methods of Yoshimitsu Minamoto (1056-1127), the founder of Takeda-ryu Aikijujitsu and the Yoshin-ryu school of Jujitsu founded by Yoshitoki Shirobei Akiyama around 1723. When, where, and how these connections were made remains unknown. However I must be clear this is not Aikijujitsu.
These techniques have a similarity to what is taught by some of the modern Aiki-jujitsu schools and the so-called hard Jujitsu schools. A large part of the syllabus emphasizes atemi-jitsu (vital point striking methods). The techniques that are taught are nage-waza (throwing techniques), kansetsu-waza (joint locking techniques), torite-waza (grappling hand), atemi-waza (vital point), and lastly shime-waza (choking techniques) and katame-waza (holding techniques) as these were thought to be the least important of the techniques taught.
My Great-Grandfather Yoshimatsu Hoshiyama(b.1825?) was born into a Samurai Family and learned all of the techniques of the Samurai tradition including Archery, Spearmanship, Swordsmanship, Horsemanship, Swimming with armor and Jujitsu (Aikijujitsu) a tradition with a history that lasted over 1000 years. My Grandfather was born in 1876 during the time of Meiji at a time when the Samurai were no longer needed. My Great-Grandfather Yoshimatsu Sensei was reduced from being a proud warrior to becoming a rickshaw driver as his new profession. Yoshimatsu Sensei passed on only Jujitsu to his son Iwamatsu Hoshiyama (1876-1951) as the other arts were no longer needed.
Iwamatsu Sensei was born in Niigata city, Japan and moved to the United States in the 1930’s where he started a flower farm in the San Fernando Valley. This farm became a thriving business until World War II when Yoshimatsu Sensei, his Okinawan wife Maki (1899-1961), my father Kazuo Hoshiyama (1923-1996), his other son George (1924-1986), and daughter Hanna (1927- ) were all American citizens who were imprisoned in the Manzanar Relocation Facility. Manzanar was one of 10 Internment Camps that held over 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent prisoner during World War II. This event is truly a stain on American History. After they were released from the camp my Grandfather as a form of reimbursement was paid ten cents for every dollar of property confiscated by the U.S. government which now would be worth millions of dollars. During Kazuo Sensei’s time in the camp he trained not only in the family form of Jujitsu, which he began as a small boy with his father, but also trained with friends who studied several Jujitsu disciplines along with Judo. This must have not been an easy task as it is doubtful that the prisoners would have been allowed to train openly.
Upon being released from Manzanar, Kazuo Sensei was immediately drafted into the United States Army where he worked as a Japanese Language Interpreter.
Later on when the Japanese martial arts were becoming very popular in the United States he chose not to teach his family style of Jujitsu openly. He thought the country still needed more time to mature.
My father passed down to me what he had learned, most of which I have kept to myself. Over the years I have taught some of what I had learned from Kazuo Sensei, mostly as Karate bunkai (kata application). After suffering a crippling injury in a car accident in January of 2003 and another crippling accident in 2011, I have decided it is time to pass on my families Jujitsu techniques before they are forgotten.
Chris Kazuo Hoshiyama, Hanshi 10th Dan
An old painting describes the use of empty-hand technique
L-R: Iwamatsu Hoshiyama & Kazuo Hoshiyama Sr
About Hoshiyama-Ryu Jujitsu by Carl Withey Sensei
I have spent the last 40years studying Atemi Jujitsu, Aikido (original style), and Aikijitsu (mix of 2 styles). Hoshiyama-Ryu is very close to what I have done before, BUT FAR MORE DEVASTATING AND TAKES WHAT I LEARN’T TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL…!
Every single technique is a kill-technique, which you do not see in many of the techniques, because until shodan, they are “basic baby techniques” as Hoshiyama Sensei puts it, only beyond this level do you start to understand and learn to improve the basic technique of the system and learn truly to respect the techniques you are imparting upon uki (your training partner).
These techniques have a little similarity to what is taught by some of the traditional Aiki-jujitsu schools and the so-called hard Jujitsu schools, but understand Hoshiyama-Ryu Jujitsu is not an Aikijujitsu system, but an unique Jujitsu system that stands alone. A large part of the syllabus emphasizes atemi-jitsu (vital point striking methods). The techniques that are taught are nage-waza (throwing techniques), kansetsu-waza (joint locking techniques), torite-waza (grappling hand), atemi-waza (vital point), and lastly shime-waza (choking techniques) and katame-waza (holding techniques) as these were thought to be the least important of the techniques taught, because in combat on the battle field are all but useless.
What is interesting is that when Hoshiyama Sensei’s father was learning his family jujitsu, there were no names given to each techniques and no structure given to the teaching of the art. Also Hoshiyama Sensei would be called into the garden by his father and told “we learn this today”. Training with his father would be every single day for many hours at a time. The names given to each technique are a modern addition, and names adapted to differentiate each technique, many from Hoshiyama Sensei and his father.
It has to be said this old style of jujitsu is very different to modern styles or competition styles and very devastating, not for the faint hearted only to be taught to adults.
If you think that jujitsu is grappling and applying an arm-bar, or choke your opponent out for a tap-out or points, then sorry wrong!
Everything I have researched on traditional and ancient, jujitsu is that if the technique took more than 2-3 seconds it wasn’t worth practicing because you would be dead on the battle field, ambushes, or even in unrestricted combat fights amongst clans. Example here would be Yama-nage Rukko, or Hoshiyama mountain throw simular to Daito Ryu technique “Yama Arashi”, a techgnique synonymous with Shiro Saigo (1867-1922) who was a fully trained top student of Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu who was enticed away by Professor Kano to join him, and used him to promote his judo. The technique he supposedly used was in the pinnacle contest to prove superiority in Judo over Jujitsu was “Yama Arashi”, and very few if ever any were able to stand after the technique was applied, causing massive internal damage. This was deemed too violent for Judo, because both arms can be snapped before they hit the floor!
Hoshiyama Sensei often reminds his students that there are “no nages (throws)”.
This message can only be fully understood when one is on the receiving end of a technique, because if the technique is fully applied, you will not be able to break-fall, because you will have received broken or separated bones, become debilitated, or deceased before the completion of the technique. The special whips, hip rotations, centreline accelerated techniques define this system, with little or no ground techniques, because it was designed as battle field fighting against numerous people intent on your destruction, so attempting to apply an arm bar would be tantamount to suicide, even today in a fight, you would have your head kick in by your attackers friend.
This is one of the very few true battlefield systems left. Understanding the feudal battlefield of ancient Japan, you lost your weapon, you had seconds to either find another one or relieve your enemy of his, or if you go to ground you were history!
I hope this short personal view of this precious Jujitsu system lends some light to those of you that have an interest in martial arts.
Carl B. Withey
Hoshiyama-Ryu Jujitsu 副会長, Fukukaichou