About Us

The Origins

This page introduces the origins of Jujutsu in Japan, briefly covers the introduction of Jujutsu into New Zealand and moves on to talk about the establishment of Samurai-Arts in New Zealand and its subsequent development. In this page you will meet some of the key figures in Jujutsu and Kenjutsu in the world along with some of the many interesting friends and associates we have been privileged to meet and to be involved with around the world.

Lineage and History

With Ju-Jutsu, lineage is difficult to trace as ancient Japan had hundreds of schools, each specialising in a particular aspect of the art, and each with a different name. Even Kokusai Budoin, the International Martial Arts Federation based in Tokyo put forward three main theories of Ju-Jutsu development, one even having a Chinese influence. They concede that Ju-Jutsu evolved not as one art but as the merging of a number of special arts from separate schools into what is now considered Ju-Jutsu.

The name Ju-Jutsu is a generic term that first came into common use well after 1600AD. Ju-Jutsu was a term given to many forms of Japanese combat that previously went under names such as – Kumiuchi, Yawara, Kowami, Taijutsu, Hade, Goho, Koppo, Kogusoku, Koshi no mawari, Hakuda, Kenpo, Shubaku and so on.

Many misconceptions exist about Ju-Jutsu names and origins – the art of Daito-Ryu Aiki-Ju-Jutsu, for example, which is the fore-runner of modern Aikido and which many believe to be an ancient discipline may not have received its current name until after 1868. Its teachings are believed to stem from as far back as the eleventh century and the art was sometimes referred to as Oshikiuchi. However there appear to be no formal written records of the school prior to the Meiji period which began in 1868, leading to some confusion about its true origins, and whether it has an ancient lineage or whether it was created within more recent history.

Even the term “Judo” which many believe to be invented by Professor Jigoro Kano at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, had its beginnings before 1725 and is recorded in scrolls of Jikishin Ryu amongst others. In the last 100 years, a dramatic sporting transformation of Judo has taken place, making today’s version bear little resemblance to that developed by Kano, and even less resemblance to the schools using the term in the sixteenth century.

While Ju-Jutsu is today considered an unarmed art, it often utilised small weapons such as Tessen (fan), Tanto (knife) and a variety of concealable weapons that go under the term “Kobuki”. Furthermore, Ju-Jutsu was usually either integrated into a school teaching major weapon arts or alternatively weapon arts were taught as part of the Ju-Jutsu curriculum. Stand alone Ju-Jutsu schools were generally not part of the martial domain, but became more common during peaceful periods when their effective techniques were modified and used in civil applications such as law enforcement. In earlier centuries Jujutsu was a military discipline.

The Sho-Sho Ryu-Ha in Hokkaido, one of the few traditional schools still operating claims the Ju-Jutsu, as westerners know it, is not Ju-Jutsu at all. They claim that westerners, lacking Japanese culture and spirit, are unable to even comprehend the art in it’s true form. They further state that Ju-Jutsu is not a stand-alone art but is one of many that were taught as a package to the samurai and that this art cannot be separated from the other components of bu-jutsu that make up the “Samurai-Arts”. The Shinbukan, a school recently visited in Omiya supports this approach, teaching sword, bo, small weapons and Jujutsu as interrelated arts.

I.M.A.F.(International Martial Arts Federation or in Japanese, Kokusai-Budoin) in Japan put forward a softer proposition that follows similar argument. At the time of the demise of the samurai, (the Meiji Restoration) and in the years following, Ju-Jutsu underwent a huge transformation long with the rest of Japanese society. In order for the samurai to earn a living the arts were taught to commoners and were eventually transformed into other arts, including theJJ Masters sport of judo developed by professor Kano, a university educationalist. In doing this, on July 24th 1906 Kano met with the heads of Ju-Jutsu schools including Miura Ryu, Kyushin Ryu, Yoshin Ryu, Seikiguchi Ryu, Santo Ryu, Sosuishitsu ryu, Takeuchi Ryu, Fusen Ryu, and others in order to formalise a new Ju-Jutsu syllabus, and to decide what the kata of the new syllabus should comprise of. This was the beginning of Kodokan Judo, and while judo is in no way Ju-Jutsu, these events had a huge impact on the battlefield art of Ju-Jutsu. A photo of those former samurai who attended that meeting is shown. Other styles of Jujutsu specialised more in jointlocking techniques and transformed into Aiki-based arts and there were some that specialised more in atemiwaza or striking techniques to disable an opponent, but generally every style had some elements of the others.

Modern Lineage

Samurai Arts students are often reminded that once an egg is scrambled, it is exceedingly difficult to get it back into its original form. In their own way this is what the Sho-Sho Ryu Ha, Shinbukan and IMAF are saying about the western styles of Ju-Jutsu now taught to practitioners worldwide. Samurai Arts Inc. are not magicians and can neither reverse history nor unscramble eggs, but having learned the basics of technique at the outset they elected to undertake advanced training with Japanese masters who taught the original styles of Bu-Jutsu. In this way, much of what was lost can be uncovered and pursued in a manner that represents traditional principle that can be modified where necessary for practical modern street situations. The old teachings are not at all disregarded as being irrelevant. In fact they contain a treasure chest of information that is as useful today as it was 500 years ago.

Our lineage chart shows the style learned by Samurai-Arts Inc. instructors going directly back to Shihan Kawaishi Mikonosuke, a veteran of both Ju-Jutsu and Kodokan judo, who taught in France in the middle of last century.

Sensei Hans van Ess, a Dutchman, travelled regularly to Paris to learn the Kawaishi style of Judo and Ju-Jutsu and in 1960 immigrated to New Zealand. In 1962 van Ess formed the NZ Judo College in Auckland and in 1968 formed the NZ Jiu-Jitsu Association, although he had been teaching both arts before the creation of the NZJJA..

From the NZ Jiu-Jitsu Assn, under van Ess , a number of Jiu-Jitsu black belts emerged including Laurie Oliver, Jack Bailey, Ivan Gale and Gary Trail. At this time and earlier, other styles of Ju-Jutsu had already been brought to New Zealand, sometimes by war veterans after the occupation of Japan or by others who had been exposed to Japanese culture.

Examples of these are Dave Rowe in Whakatane and “Pop” Adams in Auckland. Dave Rowe was known to the writer and even at an old age claimed to once be world champion.

Undoubtedly the school of van Ess was the first to really promote the art and the name of Ju-Jutsu in New Zealand.

Ivan Gale, one of van Ess’ graduate black belts started a club in Pukekohe, and Dave Butler, now the chief instructor of Samurai Art Inc., studied Ju-Jutsu here for 9 years from 1968/9. Butler sat his black belt grading in 1978 at NZJJA headquarters before moving to Australia to study the arts of Ju-Jutsu and Judo at the Australian Society of Ju-Jutsuans under instructors Gordon Griffiths and Bruce Bryson. Upon return to NZ a year later he established the Bushido Ju-Jutsu Kai based in Mt Albert. The name was borrowed from a club visited while in Australia, and the connection of Bushido (samurai, or military warrior) held a close link with the direction that would be pursued in later years.

The first student intake included Bill Thomson who has remained loyal to the organisation from 1979 until retiring recently and is for many years was the chief instructor at the Auckland club based in Mt Roskill after Butler relocated to Christchurch.

The experience in Australia demonstrated that while the syllabus taught previously in New Zealand was comprehensive and effective, there were other worthy styles of Ju-Jutsu. To add depth to the style both instructors studied Aikido for several years. Butler also studied gung-fu taught by Tom Grbich in Glenfield, Auckland (who had studied under master Wong-Lum in Kowloon).

Regardless, Ju-Jutsu was the main focus and a conscious effort was then made to study Ju-Jutsu styles to advanced levels overseas. In 1984 and again in 1987 the chief instructor undertook extensive overseas ventures to find international Ju-Jutsu systems and to learn their methods. On these trips several organisations were located, Including Jiu-Jitsu International. In 1984 he called on the Yamanaka Yudansha Kobujutsu Karateh-Doh Federation based in Toronto and met and studied with the chief instructor, Ron Yamanaka, 8th dan Karate, 8th dan Gung-fu, 3rd dan Ju-Jutsu. Yamanaka was a member of Jiu Jitsu International and this meeting led to a long association with JJI and with Kyoshi Richard Morris, 9th dan Ju-Jutsu, based at the London Ju-Jutsu Centre, England.

Soke Morris was and remains the founder of JJI and for a period was also Chief Director of the World Kobudo Federation.. Butler studied the JJI system under Morris at the London Jiu-Jitsu Centre as well as at other locations in North America and Europe. The photo shows Butler during a training session in London with Soke Morris in 1987

Thomson and Butler attended numerous JJI and World Kobudo Federation conventions in Toronto, Ottawa and in France in subsequent years of 1990, 91, 93 & 94. The association also allowed Butler to train in the dojos of world-renowned instructors in Europe, Scandinavia, and North America between conventions. These experiences added diversity and intensity to the syllabus taught in New Zealand.

In addition to JJI and WKF dojos, two opportunities were sought to visit the dojo of Prof Wally Jay in San Francisco. Wally Jay is regarded highly in the martial arts world, not just for his technique but as a real gentleman of the martial arts community, with honour and integrity, and is an example for others to follow in this respect. During one visit to San-Fransisco a group of Samurai-Arts students attended a seminar called camp Danzan Ryu which was hosted by many famous martial artists. The photo below shows Butler, Thomson, Greg Trail and Mark Lewis socialising with prof. Wally Jay and Sifu Dan Innasanto. Both Jay and Innasanto trained regularly with Bruce Lee through their early careers. Wally Jay was responsible for teaching Bruce Lee some aspects of Jujutsu.

In the mid 1980s Bushido Ju-Jutsu was looking more to traditional aspects of Bu-Jutsu and encouraged Sensei Tony Crawford to come out of retirement to teach Iaido to instructors on a weekly basis. Sensei Crawford had learned various martial arts in the UK under Japanese instructor Abe KeInnasantonshiro. This introduction to the sword was valuable but for the curious Bushido instructors it raised more questions than it answered. A book “Naked Blade” was purchased and this led to a letter to its author, Obata Toshishiro, a Japanese swordsman recently settled in Los Angeles.

Obata Sensei holds approximately 75 dan grades. These range from unarmed arts of Aiki-Jutsu to 4 styles of samurai swordsmanship, Okinawan Kobudo, Bojutsu. (Obata was also a martial arts researcher and wrote a training manual on authentic Ninjutsu under the nom-de-plume of “Yukishiro Sanada” along sith several other budo texts).

A reply in broken English was received inviting Butler for private training in Los Angeles. The meeting with Obata Sensei opened a new dimension for Bushido Ju-Jutsu, and an opportunity to really focus on traditional Bu-Jutsu. Obata was skilled in all the arts of the samurai and advantage was taken to train in Batto-Jutsu, Bo-Jutsu, Aiki-Jutsu and others that fall under the all-encompassing term “Aiki-Bu-Jutsu”

This is a term used by Obata Sensei to this day and one that precipitated a name change from Bushido Ju-Jutsu to “New Zealand Aiki-Bu-Jutsu Federation”. Obata gave written permission for the Bushido Jujutsu school to use this term as the club name. It is only unfortunate in the sense that nobody in New Zealand had a clue what the name meant. A few years later it was changed to “Samurai Arts Inc.” for just this reason, with the meaning being clearer to most that hear it.

Many visits to Obata sensei’s dojo in Hollywood by Samurai Arts instructors have followed. Multiple visits have occurred by instructors Bill Thomson, Greg Trail, Mark Lewis, Steve Albrow and Malcolm Thompson to name a few. To take full advantage of the knowledge offered by Obata Sensei, Butler acquired an export position that required frequent travel through the USA to Europe. This provided advanced instruction in Aiki-Bu-Jutsu up to six times a year along with opportunities to grow many other international affiliations that had been developed. A magazine article on NZ Aiki-Bu-Jutsu activities resulted in a call to the organisation from the World Ju-Jitsu Federation based in Liverpool, England. A WJJF delegate then visited Samurai Arts and offered a future seminar in New Zealand by a team of top WJJF instructors including Prof Robert Clark, 9th dan, now deceased,  Sensei Bertoletti (Italy) now 9th dan and Sensei Tony Siong 5th dan. This opportunity was accepted and again resulted in a symposium in Christchurch and an ongoing close relationship with the WJJF, Liverpool dojo and Clark. Follow-up training visits by instructors to their dojo headquarters in Liverpool ensued. The photos show Prof Robert Clark and accompanying instructors at a seminar in New Zealand, and another shows Butler at one of his visits outside the World Ju-jitsu headquarters in Liverpool, England, with chief UK instructor Alan Campbell who is now in Australia.

Samurai Arts Inc has also hosted nationally attended seminars in New Zealand by Shihans Alain Sailly and Pascal Stoupy of Jiu-Jitsu International and the French Federation of Goshindo in 1991, and multiple seminars in Rotorua, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland by Obata Sensei in 1992 and 1996. Hanshi Alain Sailly. 8th dan, returned to conduct a seminar at the Samurai-Arts dojo in Rotorua in 2018.

In the early 1990s Samurai Arts Inc was introduced to Kokusai Budoin (International Martial Arts Federation) based in Tokyo. This came about because Jiu-Jitsu International was a member of Kokusai Budoin and Prof. Morris’ Kyoshi “Master Instructor” status had been issued by IMAF. Regular overseas travel made visits to Japan easy and study of Nippon Goshin Ju-Jutsu at the American Embassy Dojo in Tokyo took place. The dojo was presided over by Shizuya Sato Sensei who was Chief Director of IMAF and who held 10th dan Ju-Jutsu, 9th dan Judo and 6th dan Aiki-Jutsu, as well as a Meijin title. Sato Sensei, a veteran of bu-jutsu disciplines regularly describes Ju-Jutsu as “the mother of Japanese martial arts”. This simple statement holds a lot of meaning.

As well as studying in Japan, opportunities were taken to attend the IMAF USA masters’ conventions in Nevada in 1994 and in Nashville in 1995. At the Nashville convention, Samurai Arts instructors Steve Albrow and Malcolm Thompson received shodan gradings in both Ju-Jutsu and Batto-jutsu to add to their existing grades received both within New Zealand and from Obata Sensei in Los Angeles. The gradings were significant in that they were conducted before a panel of 5 divisional leaders from IMAF Japan, plus other examiners from around the world. In all about 15 very senior examiners presided over the examinations. Butler also received promotion to 5th dan Ju-Jutsu and 4th dan Batto-Jutsu at the same event with certificates being presented at a formal ceremony in Japan the following month. Again this fits with the Samurai Arts philosophy of encouraging external technical audit of the system. It is not enough for any martial arts organisation to become insular and to develop promotional systems without having them subjected to scrutiny by a higher authority. This is exactly how we operate.

Steve Albrow, impressed by the IMAF system has completed a second year of Ju-Jutsu study at the American Embassy dojo in Tokyo and has recently achieved a second dan promotion before returning to Christchurch late in 2004.

Other significant associations that have added to Samurai Arts system of Budo is an alliance with Jiu-Jitsu International in Germany. (Shihan Alfred Gugel claimed the name JJI after the original JJI changed its name to World Kobudo Federation for a period.). Sensei Alfred Gugel taught a direct and effective style of Ju-Jutsu, tanbo, hanbo and hojo-jutsu that really whets the appetite. A 3-day seminar in Switzerland was attended in 1998/9 that included all these arts plus intense firearms instruction at the police firearms training centre in Basel. The approach to technique is traditional (fitting the Samurai Arts philosophy) as well as being deadly effective. Our relationship with this style has continued with visits to Alfred Gugel’s nephew in Germany (now 8th dan Kyoshi) and a visit by Kyoshi Oliver Gugel to Rotorua in 2018 where he conducted a very well-received seminar.

Other marvellous instructors have directly influenced the Samurai Arts style (for example Kyoshi John Therien 8th dan, Canada, Auvo Niiniketo, 10th Dan Finland) and all have become good friends. Each is worthy of their own article, and you may well find these in past editions of New Zealand martial arts magazines. Many of the instructors mentioned above, and others have now re-joined Jiu-jitsu International to create a huge technical resource for Budo. It is also a large pool of old friends and colleagues for Samurai-Arts. To further illustrate the support received form these legends in martial arts, Soke Auvo Niiniketo 10th dan, visited the Samurai-Arts dojo in Nov 2016 where he presented our chief instructor with the rank of 8th dan and title of Hanshi.

From the outset, the technique of Samurai Arts practitioners has been on display to the highest authorities within many of the world’s leading bu-jutsu organisations. This is a conscious and open effort to welcome technical audit from those in a position to offer high level judgement. Samurai Arts has its own grading system, but encourage practitioners to seek parallel recognition and certification from international organisations to which Samurai Arts is affiliated. No certification is offered without a grading. The chief instructor is not permitted to accept internal certification that exceeds those granted by appropriate international authorities. In fact the chief instructor has received no qualifications whatsoever from Samurai Arts Inc. or its predecessor bodies. The qualifications held from these international bodies are clearly displayed on the “Qualifications” page of this website.

Ju-Jutsu grades up to 4th dan can be awarded internally. Above this level we seek the guidance and confirmation of our international parent bodies.

Kenjutsu grades are offered also

It is clear then that Samurai Arts Inc. is not a grading factory and in fact issues very few grades above shodan. Those that are issued are backed by the most reputable bu-jutsu organisations in existence. This is another major part of the philosophy – quality before quantity.

A further principle that guides instruction is care for students. Samurai Arts Inc promote hard physical training once students are at a level they can cope with it. Before that, safety, restraint and control are more important. Even with hard training a distinction is drawn between safe, intensive training and destructive training. The latter is not tolerated. The power of technique is stressed.

With these values in place, the future is bright for Samurai Arts Inc. A wealth of knowledge to draw upon, a core of dedicated students and instructors, and credibility in what it promotes.

Close relationships and friendships have been maintained with overseas bodies as detailed below.

Our close relationship with Jiu-Jitsu International and Soke Richard Morris has been further strengthened.

Our relationship with World Kobudo Federation has strengthened in parallel with Hanshi John Therien 9th dan, inviting us to represent them in New Zealand.

Sensei Alfred Gugel’s unique style of traditional Ju-Jutsu will be analysed and incorporated in time, in cooperation with Sensei Oliver Gugel and Jurgen Kippel in Germany. An association with the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, will be maintained to provide links to Japans oldest traditional martial arts lineage. Close relations will be fostered with Kokusai Budoin to retain goodwill with a body authorised by the Japanese emperor to issue martial arts grades and titles. Communication and further study with Shinbukan will be promoted as a means of retaining links to a traditional family ryu-ha that has handed down Jujutsu and Kenjutsu skills through the generations.

All this reflects a policy of continuous improvement – while maintaining traditional values. Interesting is the fact that over 40 years 3 name changes have occurred – Bushido Ju-Jutsu – NZ Aiki-Bu-Jutsu – Samurai Arts Inc. Interesting also is that all 3 names mean the same thing – the focus is unchanged.

Samurai-Arts offer sincere thanks to Fuji-Arts for their kind permission to reproduce traditional prints of ancient Japan shown . To purchase the prints, or to get more detail please go to their website at http://www.FujiArts.com


The famous 47 Ronin who attacked Lord Kiras Mansion

Scene depicting when Lord Moronao is found by the 47 Ronin