Yawara as many of you know is the first set of techniques in the Shoden or beginning level of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. This list contains twenty basic arts that are thought to vary infinitely.

This article though is largely not on the physical aspect of Yawara. Rather, I wish to speak mostly about the internal or spiritual aspect of Yawara. By Spiritual I mean not only that which is transcendent but also the sociological and psychological implications as well.

The word Yawara has it’s origins in ideographs that mean to not confront. To go around conflict like water will go around say a reef or any fixed object. Water conforms in shape as well as it follows the least line of resistance as it moves freely. This implies that we also like water must learn to go around confrontation. We need to go around those things that are fixed and rigid with no give.

Physically when we perform the arts we see new students using strength to execute the techniques. As time goes by we begin to see the subtlety in the arts and begin to appreciate the softness possible when performing a given move. Further, in time we actually spontaneously yield to any force. Literally ounces. This means that any action any movement like a gyro or a ball we turn, rotate, drop, we move in circles and lines that like water conform to the energy given. Not in a programmed way but naturally and in harmony like water with the energy given.

Psychologically is where this becomes the most challenging, the most difficult. If we are internally tense, if we are angry or frightened, confused or whatever, this natural movement with not happen. Our body and mind are dynamically linked and you cannot have one without the other. So, while we all would like to think we can keep whatever personal inner state to our selves in fact we are reflecting that inner state in every action we make.

Sociologically we learn to “put on our best face”. We learn at a very early age to be socially acceptable at all times while internally we might be quite miserable, very angry, or depressed. These feelings will when confronted no longer be controlled as we do socially but will come to the front and be the operative inner climate in control. Or better said out of control. All the softness we learned in Yawara, the yielding will very likely simply dissolve into a disorganized series of movements based on our mental state we’re feeling at the time.

So, by training in the quality of the feeling felt in Yawara, by putting a great deal of your concentration while performing Yawara arts on enjoying going with the flow, by finding resolution by going around conflict, we can correspondingly begin to change our responses to life’s confrontations.

One of the secrets in making this possible lies in precisely a word I used previously and that word being; “enjoyed”. We must learn to enjoy going around conflict. We must come to feel this as a pleasant way to respond to conflict. We always speak of gaining confidence in our arts and our selves and I agree wholeheartedly. But I believe it is equally important to enjoy this way of doing things. We must “move with the groove”. We must love to “go with the flow”. We have to “surf” through the confrontations of life by enjoying going around force. We must enjoy using intelligence and adaptation to problems that “feel” rigid and inflexible. When this begins to become real to us, when we see the results of this principle in our daily lives, we have indeed inculcated the science of Jujitsu into our lives.

Okazaki stated in the mokuroku quote; “The bough that bares the most hangs the lowest”. We can apply this here to mean as we start to “go around conflict” we find that while we might enjoy doing it socially we might find others not behaving with the same principle in mind. We might find that others resent our new way of behaving. Here then arises yet another obstacle, another confrontation. It is here that this principle means the most. When we can go around insult, or confrontation from the most important people in our lives we have truly transcended limitation. Being critical of others is as easy for us as it is for everyone else. It is one thing for folks we are only indirectly connected to confront us, or be critical of us. It is quite another when it is “at home” so to speak. When we find a way to gain understanding and acceptance at home and with all our loved ones we have indeed achieved true peace within.

So, reviewing, we see that not only is Yawara a set of physical movements that teach to yield to power. We also see that our mental climate is as vital as the arts themselves and indeed without the inner self being disciplined there is truly no way to master such principles. It is to such principles that Danzan Ryu Jujitsu is dedicated to teaching and making possible for each and every one of us.

Bringing us one step closer to “perfection of character”.

Professor Hudson's chop