The System of Junji Saito Sensei
Yoshitsune Waza was the original curriculum, which was created by my teacher Mike DePasquale Sr.’s teacher Junji Saito Sensei (Shihan Menkyo Kaiden Sandaikichu) of the Hakko Ryu. Saito Sensei put together a school of Jujutsu where he could share his life’s work in the study and pursuit of true Jujutsu. His original curriculum consisted of Hakko Ryu, Sekiguchi Ryu, Sosuishitsu Ryu, Kito Ryu, Jigen Ryu, Kodokan Judo, Nihon Goshindo Kenpo, plus his own family’s style of Hepi Ryu Bojutsu. It is in honor of Junji Saito Sensei and my teacher that I have decided to introduce these pages on Jujutsu. It is my deep sincere wish that through your own hard training you can come to appreciate and respect the true forms and correct spirit of traditional Jujutsu Ryu.
(Junji Saito & Mike DePasquale Sr.)
My teacher Mike DePasquale Sr. met his teacher, Junji Saito for the first time in January of 1960. At the time Mr. DePasquale Sr. was employed as a railroad police officer. One night while he was traveling to the Pennsylvania Station to pick up work papers related to freight thefts, he chanced to meet his future teacher, Junji Saito. Saito Sensei had just arrived at the station himself from Philadelphia. Saito Sensei was always described to me as being very small in stature, 5 feet tall and very slender with a full head of white hair. Saito Sensei was not very strong looking, was very soft spoken and wore wire framed glasses. This all added to his appearance and the impression one got when meeting him for the first time. Mr. DePasquale Sr. told me that Saito Sensei had in his opinion, an ability far superior to anyone he had ever met, and that ability was to teach! He had a way about him to make people listen attentively and understand as he passed on his gems of martial arts techniques.
(Saito Sensei Teaching A Special Point To A Student - 1972)
Saito Sensei had been a reporter for a Japanese newspaper and was assigned to London, England some years prior to Lloyd George becoming prime minister of England. Junji Saito after being disappointed with Kodokan Judo, first trained with an 86 year old Jigen Ryu master who taught him their special form of Jujutsu. There then followed many years of studying additional systems of Jujutsu such as: Sekiguchi Ryu, Sosuishitsu Ryu, Kito Ryu, and eventually Hakko Ryu. Junji Saito was a long time childhood friend of Ryuho Okuyama, the founder of Hakko Ryu. Saito Sensei eventually became the highest rank possible in the system, Shihan Menkyo Kaiden Sandaikichu. After Saito Sensei met Mr. DePasquale Sr., he moved to the U.S.A. and became the first international representative of Hakko Ryu outside of Japan. Saito Sensei took all of his favorite techniques from the systems he had mastered and combined them into one system. It was called Yoshitsune Waza because Saito Sensei only ever had one Dojo, and that was the Yoshitsune Dojo.
(Jigen Ryu Jujutsu Training - 1983)
I first trained under my teacher Mike DePasquale Sr. in 1976. I was 8 years old at the time. I trained with him directly for 12 years until moving to Arizona in 1988 to attend college. At the Yoshitsune Dojo, which was at that time located in Closter, New Jersey, we had training in kids classes three times a week and also on Saturday mornings. When I was old enough, I entered into the adults classes which were also three nights a week in addition. Every third Sunday of the month we had special seminars with many of the neighboring Dojos. A large number of practitioners from various arts all came to train with us in the spirit of learning and sharing. We had guest teachers instruct in their specialties and in return they were exposed to the many aspects of the curriculum of our school. To date, I have never experienced another Dojo so completely dedicated to the open sharing of Budo with all students, regardless of their respective arts. My teacher always impressed on me the importance of training as a Kozaku (family). My teacher was so very hard on me and treated me like his own son. I feel without his stern (huge) hands, I would never have been able to understand the most important point in all of Budo... To use the training to clean your mind and wash your heart every day of your life, and to always live in selfless service to others.
(Junji Saito & Mike DePasquale Sr. Awarding A Child After His Test)
(Shiho Nage Demonstrated By Mike DePasquale Sr.)