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The impact of Dr. Erwin Von Baelz

erwin-von-baelzThere are two major divisions of martial arts, and they can be described in several different ways. A very simple yet effective way of looking at the arts is to say one is a “sport” and the other is “self defense”. Of course this is a very simplistic way of making a differentiation of the arts. You could differentiate the two major groupings as “Do” or “Jutsu”. Or, in a more simplistic way we can describe the arts with a primary interest in “sport” or “self-defense”. Of course these are not hard and fast, a martial art system that promotes the sport or physical fitness aspect can be used in a self-defense situation. Likewise, an art that promotes self-defense as a primary concern can have aspects of sport and physical fitness. There are as many variations on these two broad categories as there are instructors. I do not want to place any value judgment on the value or worth of any one system, or orientation. Each is valuable and serves the purpose of the individuals. This is of course the way it should be.

Drager (1974) notes “traditionalists and to those who regard classical bujutsu from the viewpoint of actual combat, the modern disciplines are nothing but an ass in a tiger’s skin.” (p.55) It is quite clear there is a distinction made between arts such as Kenjutsu and Kendo or Ju-Jutsu from Judo. Prior to the Meiji restoration there was a need to have the martial arts to be combat effective. However, once the modernization of Japan and her military forces began they were trained in the most modern methods of the time. Japan based its navy on that of Great Britain and their army on the German model, each was dominant powers at that time. Japan recognized it’s need to create a modern army and navy and the infrastructure to support the modernization of a nation. They were able to recognize feudal warfare techniques, which relied on the samurai, were not practical. Living in this time seems unimaginable to me. I find it hard to even imagine what the time must have been like. When all you have known is turned upside down. Try to think what it would be like if our whole country found out they were 50 to a 100 years behind the rest of the world in technology? Just think what we would do to try to catch up. Think of what we would have to discard the old and how quick we would have to grab on to the new.

It was during this time the martial arts of Japan began to take on two separate roles. The modern discipline of Judo was at the forefront of this change. Judoka trained to improve their physical fitness and mental health. Judo proved its self as a practical form of self-defense system from victories of their members in contests against other schools of ju-jitsu. It must be remembered many of the early senior members of the Kodokan were trained in systems of Ju-jitsu before they joined the Kodokan.

Judo was the predominate modern discipline, as such many of the practices of this art would be copied by other arts and integrated as if it were their own. There are two clear examples of the integration of Judo practices. As an example when Karate was seeking recognition as a martial art in Japan it was necessary to have a standard training uniform. The Karate-ka of the time modified the Judo-gi to a liter version as their standard training outfit. In much the same way the belt system (kyu/dan[1]) of Judo was adopted to meet the needs of the emerging Karate-ka.

The kyu/dan system is a clear indication of the forward thinking of Jigoro Kano. In the 17th century Dosaku (1645-1702) a grand master of the board game “Go” introduced the kyu/dan system as a method of handicapping the game. Prof. Kano has been credited with the introduction of the kyu/dan system in the martial arts, but this was not a new idea in Japanese culture. It is evident from this bit of information Prof. Kano would have been willing to step outside of normal zone of comfort and look at ideas that could be applied to his new art of Judo. This willingness to look at other areas and draw on material to improve his art of Judo is a critically important characteristic of Prof. Kano. Without having this modern view it is debatable if there would be martial arts, as we know them today.

Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate into Japan in 1922. Jigoro Kano and Judo by this time was firmly entrenched as the most prominent teacher of the martial art and the most predominant martial art in Japan. At that time, all accomplishments would be examined relative to Judo. At this time the martial arts of Korea were under the control of Japan and all indigenous arts would have been banned. Only Judo, Kendo, and Juken-Jutsu were allowed to be taught during the Japanese occupation. The name “Tae Kwon Do” would not be adopted until 1955, however the forerunners were initially taught in 1945 with the liberation of Korea from Japan.

Impact of Erwin Von Baelz on Japanese Marital Arts

History sometimes provides us with interesting parallels. Bodhidharma was born in Kanchi in the Southern Indian kingdom of Pallava and was the first Patriarch of Chinese Zen Buddhism and the 28th Patriarch of Indian Buddhism. Bodhidharma was the third son of King Sugandha and of the Bhramin caste. It was probable that he would have studied the indigenous forms of combat (Vajarmushti) as part of his education as a royal prince. It is believed his Buddhist Master, Prajnatara, instructed him to spread the word of Buddhism to China. According to legend Bodhidharma traveled east to southern China around 526 A.D. and is reputed to have met with Emperor Wu Ti of the Liang dynasty. However, the meeting was not to the satisfaction of either party and Bodhidharma began to travel north to the Shaolin temple at Sung Shan in the province of Honan (520 A.D.) At the Shaolin temple Khim & Draeger (1979) state: “Ta Mo (Bodhidharma*) became disturbed over the fact the monks there frequently fell asleep during meditation. He thereupon designed special exercises by which the monks could increase their stamina and so stay their weariness.” (P. 13) Accordingly, he taught a method of conditioning called Shin Pa Lo Han Sho (Haines 1968). These the basic eighteen exercises were used for improving their health are reputed to be the foundation of the martial arts system of the famous Shaolin Temple. By his actions, Bodhidharma, this man from the west introduced to the east a method of physical fitness based on martial arts.

History seems, in some ways, to have repeated it’s self. On June 9th, 1876 a man who would play an important and yet under appreciated role in the development of modern Japan arrived in Yokohama. Not only would he play a critical role in the development of the medical education system of Japan but also it can be argued he influenced the development of the modern Japanese martial arts. Some have credited him with the resurgence of the martial arts in Japan and their use for physical education.

This remarkable man was Dr. Erwin Baelz, who traveled to Japan to teach western medicine at Todai (Tokyo) University. While in this position Dr. Von Baelz became personal physician to the Crown Prince Yoshihito, subsequently Emperor Taisho, and many of the important men and women in Japan. His circle of friends included the power brokers of Japan at that time. Even today his influence is felt in the medical community. In 1964 Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim Co., Ltd., initiated the Erwin von Baelz Prize to promote international collaboration between Japan and Germany in the field of medicine.

When he began to teach he found “The students at the Imperial University of Tokyo were badly nourished and overworked youths, who would often sit at their books all night, and took no bodily exercise, so that when examinations were at hand they often broke down and sometimes actually died of exhaustion.” (Baelz p. 72) As a professor of medicine and Privy Counselor, Erwin Baelz (Klinger-Klingerstorff p.11) was concerned with the physical condition of his students and tried to introduce physical education for students at Tokyo University. He stated: “In the 1870s at the outset of the modern era, Japan went through a strange period in which she felt a contempt for all native achievements. Their own history, their own religion, their own art, did not seem to Japanese worth talking about, and or even regarded as matters to be ashamed of.” (ibid. p. 72) To give an example of how deep these feeling must have ran, Dr. Baelz notes in his diary (November 8, 1880) “The famous “Temple of Hachiman” still stand in the fine fir grove, though of course the trees are different. Two kilometers away is the celebrated Daibutsu, a colossal bronze statue of a seated Buddha. The face is very fine. Ten years ago (1870*) the Japanese government was thinking of selling this most splendid of all the bronzes in Japan to foreigners for its price as old metal! So little veneration remains for these ancient relics. Happily, however, the negotiations came to nothing. Today the Daibutsu is treated with more respect, as a national curio.” (Baelz p.63)

This dislike of their heritage carried over to the martial arts. They were considered to be of the feudal past and were looked down upon. “ The native methods of bodily exercise, Japanese fencing, and jujitsu, and alike were placed under the ban. The older generation would not teach in the younger generation would not learn anything but European science.” (Baelz p. 72) However, Dr. Baelz, like Lafcadio Hearn (a.k.a. Koizumi Yakumo) did not want to see Japan completely dismiss the traditions of their culture in favor of total Westernization. They wanted to discover all of that which was good in the Japanese cultural heritage, and then attempt to adapt it, slowly and purposively and carefully, to the changing conditions they found in their time. Cott (1992) quotes Shuichi Kato, a leading social critic of Japan when he states “A world view which centers on the group and does not include transcendental values implies that the values implies that accepting the new does not require discarding an abstract conception of reality and ethical codes to conform with the new realities of the concrete situation” (p. xvi)

To promote physical fitness he found the martial arts of the past to be of value, and proposed the students begin to study Kenjutsu. He thought Kenjutsu; the art of Japanese sword fighting would be an excellent method of physical fitness training. He recommended its revival and practice to the administration of Tokyo University. However, the administration discounted his idea because they felt Kenjustu was a rough an even dangerous sport. This position of the administration may have been influenced by the fear of students using newly developed or honed skills with the sword to harm foreigners. “The samurai, once so much dreaded, were (in order to tranquillize foreigners) forbidden to wear swords, most of them have become students.” (Baelz p. 21) This fear of students practicing Kenjutsu was probably based in reality. Even a few years before his proposal, 1862, there were instances of foreigners (as well as native Japanese) being attacked and killed by advocates of sonno joi (revere the emperor, expel the barbarian), and the bombardment of foreign shipping in the straights of Shimonoseki. (Mason & Caiger P. 263).

Even with this recent history of violence with the sword upon Dr. Baelz was captivated upon his first encounter with Kenjutsu. On Sunday, August 3, 1879 Dr. Baelz wrote in his diary his observation of “a great fencing-match. I had heard a good deal about the sport, but this was my first sight of it, and I had the luck to witness one of the finest exhibitions given for many years.” (Baelz p. 48) He must have been highly impressed with this exhibition because he decided to become a student of fencing. He wished to overcome the popular conception of it being a “as a rough an even dangerous sport” so he endeavored to revive interest in this art. “Not until, in order to overcome this prejudice, I myself took lessons from the most famous fencing master of the day, Sakakibara, and secured little publicity for the fact in newspapers, did interest in this old method of fencing revive. It was felt that, if a foreigner, and, what was more, a professor of medicine at what was then the only University in the country, was studying the start, it was impossible to suppose that Westerners could regarded as barbarous or dangerous.” (p. 73) In seems the Japanese were ashamed of their past and regarded them as times of barbarism, one cultured man even went so far as to say of those days “We have no history. Our history begins today.” (p. 17) As a side note Sasamori & Warner (1968) credit Kenkchi Sakakibara (1830-94) for “aroused and fostered interest among the people by sponsoring fencing exhibitions for a small admission fee. Such efforts were the starting point for the revival of kendo schools in the latter part of the Meiji period.” (p.57) While I can not definitively state this was the same person who Baelz took fencing lessons from it does seem likely to be the same individual. The records of Sakakibara’s fencing school do record foreigners did study fencing with him at Kurumazaka in Tokyo. Sakakibara had requested permission of the government to conduct fencing exhibitions and had received permission to present such events. The first of these was in Asakusa, Tokyo on April 11, 1973 (Ibid p. 58). Consider also the fact kendo masters of the time wished to keep the practice of fencing alive supported the “Sword Unit of the Tokyo police force. The Metropolitan Police Bureau at one time had 6,000 members in this special force. The bureau strongly encouraged the continued practice of kendo and judo among the member of its organization.” (Ibid. 57) By 1887 a fencing demonstration was given at the residence of Prince Fushimi where Sakakibara demonstrated splitting a helmet with a sword in the presence of the Emperor Meiji (Ibid 58)

On November 1, 1909 Tokyo University formed the first college kendo federation was formed. (Sasamori & Warner p. 59) It appears at length the efforts of Baelz to incorporate Japanese fencing into Tokyo University succeeded. I feel it is important to note the two of the martial arts Baelz was connected with eventually became required in the school system of Japan. The connection of the upper echelon of Japanese society, Dr. Erwin Von Baelz, and a prominent martial artist, in the person of Jigoro Kano, cannot be ignored.

Klinger-Klingerstorff notes that Dr. Baelz “revived Japanese enthusiasm for this virile sport by himself” (p. 11) It appears in the late 1870’s he “first made acquaintance with jujitsu. This was visiting the provincial capital of Chiba. Talking to the governor about modern education, I complained how little interest in sport of any kind were shown by well to do use of the upper classes, though their health was for, and vigorous exercise would do them a lot of good. The governor was quite of my way of thinking, and expressed a strong regret that jujitsu, as a splendid method of physical training formerly much practiced in Japan, should have gone so completely out of use. It was, in fact, still practiced in his town, were an old teacher of the art, Totsuka by name, instructed to police in it. The results had been marvelous, and his men founded of the greatest value in making arrests. Next day he asked me to attend a gathering where Totsuka, a man over seventy years of age, gave a demonstration and of the principals of jujitsu and showed the various grips. That I watched dozens of jujitsu contests, and it was extremely impressed with the results. I so why should expected to the neck breaking grips and movements and throws executed without causing the least injury to the contestants; and I said to myself that this would be an ideal form of gymnastics for my students.

Still I had no success in the matter in Tokyo. The director the medical school and the other leading Japanese at the University and in the Ministry for Education would not hear word of my proposal to summon the jujitsu expert from Chiba to give a demonstration in Tokyo. The students, they said, had come to the University to do mental work. There had been some sense in jujitsu in the old days, when people had to protect themselves against armed men, but that was all over now. My insistence that I was concerned only with jujitsu as a means of bodily training, as a matter of health, had no effect. Then it occurred to me to do what I had done in the case of the Japanese sword fencing, and to aroused interest by studying jujitsu for myself. Unfortunately I cannot find any teacher willing to except me as a pupil, for they all said that it is necessary to begin in boyhood, and I, being 30, might easily do myself serious harm.” (Balez 73-74) However, according to Klinger-Klingerstorff, Dr. Baelz did in fact take “a course under one of the oldest masters, the 70-year old- Totsuka.” (p. 11)

It is interesting to note Baelz stated Kano and his followers induced the administration of Tokyo University to invite Totsuka to the University for a Ju-jutsu contest. It appears at this meeting Kano and his students lacked the skill to overcome their opponents from Chiba. The results of this match “made it clear how much training is needed to learn the art, for all the young men who had been working at it in Tokyo, not one, not even Kano, could cope with the police officers who had been trained by Totsuka in Chiba.” (Baelz p. 74) Later a turning point in Judo would be in 1886 when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Board arranged a tournament between the schools of Kano and Totsuka. It was a decisive battle in which both schools picked fifteen men to represent their art. At this time the group from the Kodokan won all of the points except for two, which ended in a draw. (Kodokan p. 5) This rivalry between the two schools must have come from the early encounter Kano and his group had with Totsuka at Tokyo University.

That Baelz had a considerable interest in the martial arts is without question. This brings up two long-standing questions of mine: 1) Where would an individual get the idea to turn a traditional martial art into to a sport? 2) How would a person gain enough political power to have this sport turned into a national sport that would eventually be taught in the school system?

I think the nexus of Dr. Erwin von Baelz and Prof. Jigoro Kano gives us the only likely combination of personalities and events that could have made this come to fruition. As noted earlier Baelz was concerned with the physical condition of the students at the University. He would have had experienced the rigors of University life in Germany, the traditions, and culture of Germany to draw upon. Two of these traditions would have been apparent to Baelz to draw upon. The first of these is the Turnverein movement in Germany. The second is the tradition of dueling found in the culture of Germany and in particular the student dues of the University.

friedrich-jahnBaelz had joined “Die Germanen” (lit. the Germans, which is a name of a Turnerschaft/Corps) who sill follow the traditional Greater German (‘grossdeutschen’) corps ideas. (Bãlz 1931 p. 15)[2] To me this piece of information is critical, it gives us insight into the thought processes and actions taken by both Baelz and Kano. By being a member of a Turnerschaft Baelz would have been fully converscent with the ideals of Friedrich Jahn. In the city of Berlin Jahn founded the Turnvereine in 1811. Germany at the time was a state that had been reduced to servile humiliation by Napoleon. Jahn hoped to “supply his country with a body of young men inspired by patriotism and love for freedom, men who, at the call to arms, would willingly sacrifice their lives to liberate Germany from the tyranny of a foreign rule”. (Metzner p.37) This concept would have fit very nicely with the attitude of the Japanese during this time period.

Even before Baelz traveled to Japan the philosophy of Jahn made its way out of Germany to America. There were three disciples of Jahn who played an important role in physical education in America. Carl Beck, Carl Follen and Francis Lieber fled Germany and introduced Jahn’s system of physical training into the colleges and universities of America. Carl Beck along with J.G. Cogswell and George Bancroft established a boys school at Round Hill in Northampton Massachusetts where the first gymnasium in America based on Jahn’s models was started.

The concept of the Turnverein movement found it’s way into the American and was responsible for the introduction of physical education into the school system of the United States in the mid 1820’s. Carl Follen was an active teacher at Round Hill until 1826 when he accepted a position at Harvard as a professor of church history and later he taught German language and literature. Follen established the second gymnasium in America at Harvard. Lieber founded a “swimming school in Boston where John Quincy Adams, President of the United States, paid a Personal visit” (Metzner p. 47) During the Civil War in America Lieber becam “an intmate advisor of the administration on questions of military and international law.” (ibid. p.47)

The Turners of America made a lasting impression on the educational system of the United States. As a direct result of the Turners physical education was introduced into the public school system of Indianapolis Indiana. In 1907 Indianapolis was chosen as the new home for the Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union, which was the collegiate training school of the North American Turnerbund. The courses for physical education teachers helped establish physical education in schools through out the United States.

The spread of the Turners philosophy toward physical fitness and health along with the general knowledge of its principals would have been know to Baelz as a member of the Turnerschaft and a physician. It is inconceivable Baelz would have not have followed with great interest and pride the success found by other followers of Jahn. Indeed it is likely Baelz would endeavor to emulate and replicate the success of other members of the Turnverein.

Dueling is the second tradition with which I would expect Baelz to have more than a passing knowledge. During the time Baelz would have been at the University studding to become a physician the dueling would have been practiced among the students, army officers, and members of the upper class. Baelz also spent a short time in the Army, but information on his time and position are unclear at this time. Clearly as a former member of the Army, a University student and as a member of the nobility he would have been intimately familiar with the dueling practices of the time. Dueling played an important role in Germany and a mans honor would proved by his dueling. The roots of fencing, which was firmly established in the universities by the 16th century, in Germany, can trace its roots to the late middle ages when fencing was taught in the Universities of France and Italy.

As a student Baelz would have been exposed to dueling in the University. His exposure to the student duel can be assured because in Germany, at that time, “members of the upper echelon of society were members of the dueling fraternities and Doctors and Jurists in the civilian duelists were most prominent.” (McAleer p. 149) At the time as a member of the upper class you would have been expected to be prepared duel so the honor of yourself and your class could be upheld. “Among German males, in order to be considered salongfãhig fit for good society – it was necessary that one also be satisfaktionsfãhig – capable of dispensing satisfaction in a duel” (McAleer p. 2-4) The idea of honor and the use of the sword for purposes of dueling would have been cross cultural concepts shared by the Germans and the Japanese. This shared value is typified by Tomofusa Sasa who wrote a letter back to Japan in 1897 about the student duel the said “my poor pen is incapable of describing how impressed I was with this brave spectacle”. (McAleer p. 119)

There are other areas in which there would appear to be shared cross-cultural values, similar to the use of the sword for dispensing honor. Another example can be seen in the strong affinity of the Teutonic people to wrestling. This can be evidenced by “their writing of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The general holds depicted greatly resembled those of the Greek period but the German masters frowned upon the use of the more brutal hold. The Turnverein used wrestling as on of its exercises but eliminated tripping and all holds below the hips.” (James et al p.398) The combination of dueling, wrestling, and the Turners movement of physical education would have given Baelz the ideas of how to improve the physical health of his students at Tokyo University.

Dr. Baelz wrote in his diary (December 14, 1879), “I am now diligently trying to master the art of Japanese archery. The bow is a very stout one, so that it is a hard job to string it. A matter of practice. I have had a platform built on the roof of my house.” This was to facilitate his practice of archery. (P.54) Does that not make you stop and think for a moment? Here is an eminent Physician to the Imperial family, Professor of Medicine at Tokyo University, who began to study at least three traditional martial arts of Japan, Judo/Ju-jutsu, Kyudo, and Kenjutsu in the late 1870’s! Consider the “old masters” Japanese and Okinawan martial arts that were not even born at this time, or were very young! Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), Hironori Ohtsuka (1892 - 1982), Genwa Nakasone (1886 - 1978), Kori Kudaka (1907-1988), Masaru Sawayama (1906-1977), Tatsu Yamada (1905-1967), Anbun Tokuda (1886-1945), Shimpan Gusukuma (1890-1954), Hohan Soken (1889-1982), Juhatsu Kiyoda (1886-1967), Chotoku Kyan would have been around 9 years old at this time! (1870-1945), Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953). (McCarthy 1999)

Or, to look at it in another way the first section of Railroad track was opened from Yokohama to Tokyo in 1872 for a total of 18.08 miles of track in Japan. By 1884 there were only 76.06 miles of railroad track in all of Japan! (Mason & Caiger p. 273) Yet, here is a German Professor attempting to revive traditional Japanese martial arts to improve the physical health of his students at Tokyo University.

In 1902 Dr. Baelz argued there should be a standardization of medical training in Japan. When he first arrived in Japan there was only the one school. Yet, by the time he presented his speech at the first Medical Congress at Tokyo University there were several institutions training physicians in Western medicine. He lamented each institution had not standardized the education of physicians, he strongly felt there should be a standard syllabus for their education, so they could be “administered in exactly the same way and pursue a common plan of studies.” (P. 162) This could not have been a spur of the moment comment, but a continuous plea from him, heard by the faculty of Tokyo University. Dr. Kano who was a Rector at the University and former student of the University must have heard this many times from Dr. Baelz.

This may be part of the reason Prof. Kano did in fact form a standard syllabus for his Kodokan Judo. Perhaps this was partly in response to the arguments he had been exposed to by Dr. Baelz. By forming the “Gokyo no Waza” (1895), which are forty techniques divided into five groups, Dr. Kano was able to offer standard training in Judo throughout Japan. As Judo was eventually introduced into the physical education system of Japanese schools. In addition to a standard syllabus in 1906 Kodokan Judo for the first time established a standard Dogi, (Stevens 41). The Dogi established by Kano may have been based on the traditional garb of Japan, or it may have been based on the clothing used in the wrestling style of Cornwall and Devon (in the U.K.). Both of these styles of wrestling required the contestants to “wear loose jackets and take holds only above the waist or on any part of the jacket.” (James et al. p.400) A decision was based on the winner throwing their opponent so both shoulders and a hip or both hips and a shoulder. This type of decision is very similar to the “Ippon” or full point given in Judo contests. (Ibid. p. 400) This type of wrestling was popular in the early 1800 and it is not inconceivable Prof. Kano may have been exposed to this style of wrestling when he studied books on western wrestling. In fact it is said in 1877 Prof. Kano developed “Katagruma” by his research on western wresting in the Tokyo Library. Such a technique was demonstrated in Klare Onderrichtinge der Voortresselijcke Worstel-Konst by Nicolaes Petter in 1674. In this book there are many examples of techniques that would have been familiar to Kano from his training in Ju-jutsu. An example would be of the throw we now know as Tomenage or stomach throw (figure 3).

In 1889 Prof. Kano was asked to tour educational institutions in Europe at the request of the Imperial Household Agency, it was not until 1891 he returned to Japan. It is clear to see Prof. Kano had the opportunity to be strongly influenced not only by wrestling styles of the United Kingdom but Germany as well. The part played by outside forces can only be speculated upon, but there is ample evidence to support a connection to European forces.

Consider, Dr. Baelz was able to argue a number of important points that would have been taken seriously by those in political power at the time, if nothing else because of his close ties with the Imperial family. He spoke of one of his most earnest endeavors being neglected that of physical education. The people of Japan must “strengthen the body from youth upwards. Let me, therefore, once more, take this (my last) opportunity of directing your attention to the enormous importance of preventive medicine and physical therapeutics.” (P. 159) He strongly believed physical education would do more to prevent disease because it “simply because it cuts at the root of the evil, strengthening the body so that the invasion of bacilli becomes impossible” (p. 159)

The efforts of Dr. Baelz to introduce Kenjutsu and Judo into Tokyo University and the efforts of Dr. Kano were eventually rewarded. The government of Japan, in 1908, passed a bill in the Japanese Diet requiring middle school students be taught Judo or Kendo as a part of their education. This would have been a sweet victory for both of these pioneers in the educational system of Japan. Later in life (1909) Dr. Kano went on to become the first Japanese member of the International Olympic Committee. If that were not enough in 1922 Dr. Kano was elected to the House of Peers. Although he did not live to see his beloved Judo become an official sport in the Olympics it did so at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

If these men could have lived to see how this aspect of traditional Japanese culture has come to be spread around the world I am quite sure they would be well pleased with their efforts.


* - by me not in the original quote
[1] kyu/dan system is a method of ranking individuals. The lowest grade is 10th kyu with the highest kyu grade being 1st. Dan grades are higher than the kyu grade and they start with 1st and 10th being the highest grade.
[2] Aus Uberzeugung tritt er den Germanen bei, die noch den burfchen gchaftlich großdeutfchen Traditionen huldigen.

Reproduced with the permission of the author.

rick-clarkProf. Rick Clark was born in 1948 and began his life long study of the martial arts in 1962. Prof. Clark is deeply indebted to his first instructor Mr. Wesley Hughes who instilled in him the desire to continue his practice of the martial arts. Mr. Hughes demonstrated outstanding dedication to the martial arts and his desire to pass on his skill and knowledge when many would have give up. Mr. Hughes was in a tragic car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down, yet he would coach his students from the side of the mat in his wheel chair. This dedication to teaching the martial arts has always impressed and humbled Prof. Clark.

From the beginning of his training in the martial arts Prof. Clark has been exposed to the concept of cross training. In the early days most of the martial arts to be found in the U.S. was Judo. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Aikido were practiced in the U.S. but tended to be in the larger cities or perhaps in military bases. At that time martial arts schools were not as numerous as they are today. So when a visitor would come to the Dojo they would be welcomed and asked to participate in the class, and even teach some of their favorite techniques. They would even offer what they could in a short period of time if they practices a different martial art.

This cross fertilization of martial arts offered the genesis of the current system taught by Prof. Clark. Over the years Prof. Clark has had the opportunity to train with a number of instructors who have felt he had the skill and understanding to be ranked in their system. In the past this has led to some confusion with his students because they would question the origin of a particular technique. The late Grand Master Remy Presas (founder of Modern Arnis) offered the advice to Prof. Clark that he should form his own association and name the system of techniques he taught. While this was sound advice, Prof. Clark was reluctant to venture out and name a style of martial arts that he was teaching. However, it became increasingly difficult to separate the individual arts from the blended style he was teaching and after further suggestion by Grand Master Remy Presas and from his students Prof. Clark adopted the name Ao Denkou Jitsu for the style he was teaching and Ao Denkou Kai for the organization. Visit the website: http://www.ao-denkou-kai.org/

Ao Denkou roughly translates as "blue lightning", the lighting is for the "zing" of electricity you feel when a pressure point is struck or manipulated. "Ao" or blue is in respect to Chung Do Kwan (Blue Wave) from which Prof. Clark studied from 1966 under Chung Nak Young.

Ranks Prof. Clark has been awarded are:

  • 8th Dan Ryukyu Kempo
  • 7th Dan Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan
  • 7th Dan Ju-jitsu
  • 5th Dan Judo
  • 3rd Dan Modern Arnis
  • 1st Dan Hapkido


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