I am writing this as a brand new beginner in the world of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. I discovered this system, and an amazing Sensei (Filiberto Gutierrez), nearly by accident. I wanted my kids, ages five and six, involved in some form of martial arts because I feel that the self-discipline and character development involved are beneficial to overall growth as a person. Further, the ability to defend oneself is important for self-confidence, and that self-confidence extends well beyond self-defense, in having the mindset to take on and succeed in many of life’s challenges.

Team sports are great, and my kids continue to be involved in them, but they do not offer the same level of structure and overall individual development. I consider martial arts to be an individual sport. You will get out of it exactly what you put into it, no more, no less. There is nobody else to pick up the slack or carry you through a challenge; this teaches very important fundamental lessons on self-reliance.

We initially looked at a local Kenpo Dojo, but I was not really impressed by the couple of kids’ classes I observed. It didn’t look like the kids were having very much “fun” and, at my kids ages, that was going to be a big part of wanting to continue on the journey. I initially registered my son for the fall session of Danzan Ryu through our local park District, after peeking in a few times and hearing positive things from other parents. After attending the first class, meeting Sensei Gutierrez and doing some further research, I signed my daughter up at the next class.

It is truly impressive to see Sensei Gutierrez interact with the kids; he really has a gift for it. There is no yelling or even raising of voice, there is no need for it because the kids are engaged. Nearly every other sport I have had my kids in is like watching someone try to herd cats, and the frustration for all involved is usually evident. The kids in Sensei Gutierrez’s sessions are well behaved and having fun. I honestly don’t think they even KNOW that they are learning, which is a hallmark of excellent instruction. They are absorbing the information naturally, rather than being bombarded with memorizing forms and endless monotonous drilling, which at my kids ages and short attention spans, would likely result in very little actual learning and a lot of drop-outs from the program.

I was so impressed with the kids classes that I decided to sign myself up as well. I am and have been primarily a strength athlete for the last 5 years. Since the hours of the day are limited, I have neglected working on my mobility and dexterity to a large degree. My hopes for starting Danzan Ryu were initially to help my kids as needed with their progression in the system, and use it as “forced means” of improving my dexterity and mobility. After the first few classes, I am confident that this system will be a part of my overall training for a long time. It is the perfect way to balance my strength training. I feel like I am already starting to regain the ability to move smoothly, efficiently, and with purpose. I have jumped into Danzan Ryu with both feet, when I am not at Jujitsu, I am usually thinking or reading about it, or upgrading my training notes. I have woke up from sleep dreaming of Yawara multiple times, trying to perfect my techniques in my sleep apparently….I feel very fortunate to have such a great program/Sensei available to my family.

Photo: My kids are in dual language programs, as a project my daughter had to take Mickey somewhere over the weekend and write a story about it in Spanish – Mickey went to Jujitsu.

Back to Kiai Echo March 2018 – February 2019