Henry Seishiro Okazaki was born in the town of Kakeda, Fukushima Perfecture, Japan, on January 28, 1890. He migrated to Hawaii in 1906 and settled in Hilo, Hawaii. At the age of 19 he was diagnosed as having a lung disease thought to be tuberculosis. As a desparate measure to combat depression, he began his study of Judo under the tutoralage of Master Yoshimatsu (Kichimatsu) Tanaka at the Shinyu Kai Dojo in Hilo. The arts fascinated him and eliminated his frustration over his illness. He practiced with all of his strength and being. Strangely, his devotion led to a complete recovery form his illness. In his own words he became the 'The owner of a body as if made of iron." Thereafter, he dedicated his entire life to Judo.
Okazaki studied various arts including Namba-Shoshin Ryu, Tenshin-Shinyo Ryu, Yoshin Ryu, Kodokan Judo, Iwaga Ryu, Kosogabe Ryu, Ryukyu Karate Jutsu etc. He returned to Japan in 1924 traveling from as far north at Morioka City to as far south as Kagoshima City, visiting more than 50 schools. He studied Okugi, considered the very secret techniques. He eventually acquired six hundred and seventy five techniques and earned a third rank in Judo. Professor Okazaki eventually returned to Hawaii and formed an eclectic system called "Kodenkan". This system included Judo, Jujitsu, Hawaiian Lua, Okinawan Karate, Chinese Kung-Fu, and American Wrestling. Breaking with tradition, Okazaki taught not only the Japanese, but any and all races.
He gave the name Danzan Ryu to his school of Jujitsu. He gave it that name for two reasons. One was in honor of an old Chinese man whom Professor Okazaki was indebted to (Wo Chong). At that time, the Chinese refered to Hawaii as Danzan for reasons explained later in the AJI manual. The second reason was that most of Professor Okazaki's studies had taken place in Hawaii.
Okazaki also studied Health Sciences and Physical Therapy. In 1929 he purchased an office on South Hotel Street and opened the Nikko Sanatorium Of Restoration Massage. Thus the Okazaki Seifukujutsu Institute was established. Student's of his were also expected to excell in the Okazaki system of restorative massage.
In 1939, Okazaki organized the American Jujitsu Guild which enjoyed a tremendous membership. The onset of World War Two, brought distressing times. The Professor was interned and interrogated, and later found to be loyal. Many military and government officials came to his aid and testified on his behalf.
At the present time, several of Okazaki's original students are still affiliated with the American Jujitsu Institute. They include Professor Jack Wheat, Director and Professor Wally Jay, Life & Charter Member. These Professors are of the rank of Judan.
In July of 1948, Professor Okazaki suffered stroke which left him partially paralyzed. His students would come and apply his own restorative massage techniques on him. Slowly, the paralyzed side of his body was brought back to vitality. Although he was able to return to teaching, his disability continued to haunt him. He suffered another stroke in September of 1950 and another massive stroke on June of 1951, which left him totally disabled. This led to his death on July 12, 1951.
Professor Okazaki found great satisfaction in knowing his American Jujitsu Institute was fulfilling his dreams. Before his death, he expressed his contentedness with his accomplishments. At his death, thousands of citizens who were his students, patients and friends mourned this most successful and humble man. The enromous interest in Kodenkan Jujitsu today, along with the growing number of organizations attributing their roots to him, is a testament to the impact that Professor Okazaki left in this world. On April 6, 1967, the AJI Standards Committee awarded Henry S. Okazaki the rank of Judan, 10th Dan, posthumously.
The AJI was created in 1939 by Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki, The organization was initially known as the America Jujitsu Guild. It's first president was Charles Wagner. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hombu was closed by the authorities. A senior student, William Ah Moo, succeeded in convincing the military authorities to allow training to continue and the Hombu was reopened. During the same period, Professor Okazaki was interned twice.
The name of the organization was changed to the American Jujitsu Institute in 1943. The AJI was officially incorporated on July 29, 1947 in the Territory of Hawaii. A new constitution was drawn. It's president at the time was Dr. A.M. Glover. Professor Okazaki was the honorary president. Charter members included Professors Jack Wheat and Wally Jay.