Interview with Joe Morejon of Torukukai Aikijitsu School of Samurai Arts
Property Type: Multiple Styles
1. Who is the dojo’s founder and what prompted him/her to build the school? Is there any rich history behind its making?
The Torukukai Aikijitsu School of Samurai Arts was established in 2001. I, Joe Morejon Sensei, established the school with the goal of reaching youths and their families with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in the Orlando, Florida area. Our school has deep traditional roots as well as a love for the Japanese people. The styles taught at our dojo are of direct lineage to Japan. However, at our dojo, training goes beyond just the martial arts; there is total immersion in the Japanese culture. In addition to learning our martial arts and weapons styles, students can enjoy cultural classes in Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony), Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), Taiko (Japanese Drum), and Nihongo (Japanese Language). The word “dojo” means [the place (jo) where you find the way (do)].
“I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6
Christianity in Japan can be traced back to 1549 when ships from Europe brought Jesuit priests who planted the seeds of Christianity in Japan. For decades the seeds of faith grew under the watchful gaze of the Shogun. But the fear of foreign influence eventually gave rise to persecution and the Shogun ordered the expulsion of all Jesuits. The Christian Japanese migrated to the island of Amakusa (an island belonging to Japan, on the west of Kumamoto Prefecture, formerly the province of Higo on the island of Kyūshū). Religious persecution against Christians turned into open revolt in 1637 resulting in the Shimabara Rebellion. The Tokugawa Shogunate sent a force of over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebellion, and after a lengthy siege against the rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them. In the wake of the rebellion, the rebel leader Amakusa Shiro was beheaded, and persecution of Christianity strictly enforced. Japan’s national seclusion policy was tightened, and formal persecution of Christianity continued until the 1850s. Today, Japans’ population is approximately 1% Christian (96% are followers of Shinto and Buddhism). For our dojo, Japan represents a fertile field ready for the sowing of Christianity. Our ministry mission is to reach out to the Japanese people with the saving message of Jesus Christ through the practice of the Japanese martial and cultural arts.
2. What forms of Japanese martial arts do you teach in your school? Can you please share with us the history behind them?
Our dojo is a traditional Japanese school. We teach the Samurai martial art of Aikijitsu but also offer training in the other Japanese arts of Aikido, Kodokan Judo, and Shotokan Karate. We teach the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu sword style as well as various other Japanese weapons (nunchaku, jo, sai, tessen, and naginata).
Our style lineage is as follows:
Torukukai Aikijitsu – Aikijujutsu is a form of jujutsu which emphasizes “an early neutralization of an attack.” Like other forms of jujutsu, it emphasizes throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively control or subdue an attacker. It uses the timing of an attack to either blend or neutralize its effectiveness and use the force of the attacker’s movement against them.
Torukukai Aikijitsu is a Christian application of Aikijujutsu technique modified to provide realistic responses to today’s self defense needs yet using the least amount of force to neutralize an attacker.
Japanese Swords – Muso Jikiden Eishin Rryu, is a Japanese koryu sword art, and one of the most widely practiced schools of iaido/iaijutsu in the world.
Ikebana – Japanese Flower Arrangement – under Bansho Ricardo Carrasco, 2nd generation headmaster of Banmi Shofu Ryu, a philosophy that follows the 600-year-old tradition of Japanese flower arrangement popularly referred to as Ikebana
Kyudo – Japanese Archery under Doug Morin instructor of the Kyudo Society of Florida under
Kanjuro Shibata Sensei, Imperial Bowmaker to the Emperor of Japan
Chanouyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony – Omotesenke of Florida, teaching the “Japanese Way of Tea” as established by Tea Master Sen no Rikyū (1591)
3. What are the principles and concepts that you uphold and try to instill in your students?
The Samurai live by a code of honor (Bushido). The word Samurai means “one who serves”. The Samurai serve one “Master”. The Samurai were always ready to give up their life in service to their master.
As Christian Samurai we live by Judeo-Christian biblical principles, ready to serve our Master (Jesus Christ), and serve others as we live a Christ centered (rather than “me” centered) life.
At our dojo we teach the values of C.H.R.I.S.T – Character, Honor, Respect, Integrity, Self Discipline, and Teamwork.
4. Why do you think it is important for people to learn martial arts?
The practice of the martial arts has many great benefits (building confidence, self defense, getting in shape, etc.). However, personally, I feel that the most important benefit is the ability to learn to live life as a warrior’ to meet every challenge, every obstacle, win or lose, with honor.
One can be a skilled football, basketball, or baseball player without honor (one only needs to read the sports pages of any newspaper for the latest steroids, gambling, and infidelity scandals).
Unlike other “traditional” American sports however, one can not be a true Samurai without honor.
Due to the nature of the practice of the martial arts, with it’s focus on discipline and respect, martial arts offers a unique opportunity for instilling morals and values (especially in youth) that will shape students into great citizens and tomorrow’s leaders.
5. What difficulties and obstacles have you encountered so far with regards to teaching martial arts and how did you overcome them?
The main obstacle we’ve encountered over the years has been combating ignorance in the Christian community about the Japanese arts.
Ironically, teaching a Christian martial art style has been well accepted by the “secular” world.
However, it is the Christian community who looks at the Japanese arts with a critical eye and a heart full of skepticism.
Many Christians believe that the practice of the martial arts requires meditation and the acceptance of “mystical Eastern philosophies”.
On the contrary, our Christian Bushido Code is based on the universal Ten Commandments.
For example, in Japan, where the culture is homogenous, the word honor is understood by all.
In America, the term “honor” can mean different things to different people of different cultural backgrounds.
Basing the concept of honor on the 5th Commandment (Honor your Mother and Father) gives a student a moral absolute, a concrete anchor on which to establish their sense of honor.
It goes beyond just “respecting your parents”… it’s about living your life in a way that brings honor to your family name.
6. What advice and/or insights can you share with our readers who want to pursue their interest in the Japanese form of martial arts?
A young but earnest student approached his teacher, and asked the Master: “If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find mastery.”
The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast –
How long then?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”
Replied the Master,” When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”
For almost 1,000 years the Samurai dedicated their lives to service with honor and humility. The Samurai code of Bushido (The Way of the Warrior) code stressed frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor until death. Mastery of the Japanese arts is a pursuit not to be taken lightly; it is a lifelong journey not a quick path to a destination (i.e. Black Belt).
Perfection is an illusion; the most we can hope for is excellence!
7. Can you please give a short biography of your dojo’s instructor(s)?
Sensei Joe Morejon
Sensei Joe Morejon is the Founder of Torukukai Aikijitsu and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida International University in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Juvenile Delinquency. Sensei Joe Morejon is recognized by the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame and has over 20 years of combined martial arts experience. His training in the Japanese arts includes Karate, Judo, and Aikijitsu (Japanese Jujitsu), Iaido, Kyudo.
Sensei Martha Morejon
Sensei Martha Morejon is Head Instructor of the Torukukai Aikijitsu System and serves as Director of the Black Belts for Christ ministry. Senseis Morejon also serve as Christian martial arts tournament promoters through the BBFC organization in partnership with the BBFC Official Members Schools throughout the Southeastern U.S., serving 17 schools in 5 states, ministering to over 500 Christian martial arts competitors and their families.
Sensei Jose A. Morejon is a second generation martial artist as well as Black Belt Instructor of the Torukukai Aikijitsu System. Sensei Jose’s specialty is the nunchaku but is well versed in all the Japanese weapons taught at the Torukukai Aikijitsu dojo.
He has won various martial arts competitions and holds State Championship titles in Weapons and Forms competition under the Black Belts for Christ organization.
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