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.

L-R: Iwamatsu Hoshiyama & Kazuo Hoshiyama Sr

L-R: Iwamatsu Hoshiyama & Kazuo Hoshiyama Sr. 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.

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
Menkyo Kaiden