Professor Sig Kufferath

Professor Sig Kufferath was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, February 16, 1911, the second youngest of 11 children born to Carl Kufferath and Shin Hori.  His Family moved to Hawaii in 1910, after his family had lived in Japan some 23 years (his father being the German consulate there).  Seven of his brothers and sisters were born in Japan.  His eldest sister was born in Berlin and another born in New Zealand.

Professor Kufferath and James MuroProfessor Kufferath was fortunate to live in the same neighborhood as Professor Okazaki, about a block away in fact.  He knew that Okazaki taught the martial arts.  Always very active in all sorts of sports, Professor Kufferath went to Okazaki’s dojo to see for himself just what went on at the club.

Every day for a week, Professor Kufferath went to Okazaki’s dojo and watched the class.  Finally, he decided this was something he felt he could do.  He joined Professor Okazaki’s dojo in September 1937.  Professor Kufferath received his Shodan from Professor Okazaki on May 17, 1941.professor-sig-kufferath-professor-joe-holck-and-professor-james-muro

In 1942, Professor Kufferath became chief instructor of the Jujitsu Club on Kaheka Lane with Bing Fai Lau as his associate.  During this time, Professor Okazaki had some 22 clubs throughout Hawaii, and the Kaheka Lane Jujitsu Club was certainly one of the best.  Many good students came out of this club, such as John Chow-Hoon, Joseph Holck, Julie Vierra, Esther Okazaki, Moses Pang, Bill Costa, Jerry Turantani, Boyd Andretti, Michael Chong, John Kaneakua and many others.

During this time, Professor Kufferath also refined some of the karate Professor Okazaki taught by working out with Professor James Mitose’s top instructors such as Professor Thomas Young.  On occasion, he would trade off techniques with Professor William Chow, who would stop by the club.

professor-sig-kufferath-professor-james-muro-professor-bing-fai-lau-professor-laus-home-in-kapahulu-area-of-honolulu-hawaiiWhen World War II broke out, Professor Kufferath was drafted into the military and became an instructor of hand-to-hand combat.  Throughout the war years, many students of Okazaki were sent abroad.  Professor Kufferath was fortunate to be able to continually train with Professor Okazaki and develop a close relationship with him, on a personal level.  Through this training Professor Kufferath was able to further refine the advanced aspects of Kodenkan Danzan Ryu.  This was also a grim period of time for Kodenkan Jujitsu, in that many certificates and scrolls made and given out by Professor Okazaki were intentionally burned by the military police.

In 1946, Professor Kufferath was asked to teach as the chief instructor at Professor Okazaki’s main dojo, the original Nikko at 801 Hotel Street in Honolulu.  He became Professor Okazaki’s senior instructor.  In 1948, Professor Okazaki awarded Kufferath his “Kai Den Sho” or certificate of1980s-sig-massaging mastery.  Also, at this time Professor Kufferath received his greatest honor from Professor Okazaki, by receiving the only title of “Shihan” ever bestowed by Professor Okazaki.  He also had the great distinction of receiving the secret orally transmitted principles and techniques of Danzan Ryu’s “Kuden” level teachings.

After the death of Professor Okazaki in 1951, Professor Kufferath was voted unanimously to be the successor and new professor of the Kodenkan Danzan Ryu system.  He became president of the American Jujitsu Institute for three years.  In 1953, when Aikido came to Hawaii, Professor Kufferath studied under Professor Koichi Tohei and eventually received his Shodan in Aikido.

Prior to Okazaki’s death in 1951, Okazaki would invite some of the top Judoka of Japan’s Kodokan, to come and give clinics at all the clubs around the islands.  Most of them taught at the Nuuano YMCA.  While they were in Hawaii, Professor Kufferath would work out every day with Professor Kimura, who, at the time, was a 7th or 8th Dan.  He also trained with S. Yamamoto, Kaimon Kudo, Sakabe and others.  Professor Kufferath eventually received his Nidan 1941-5-17-kufferath-shodanin Kodokan Judo.  He was also a representative of the Hawaiian Judo Team that won the first National Judo Championships held at San Jose State in 1953.

– Professor James Muro