NAGANO RYU HEIHOU, FOUNDER
Jamie Ellerbe began his martial arts training on August 18,1980. Over the last three decades, Ellerbe sensei has strictly dedicated himself to researching, studying, and immersing himself in the martial arts of Japan. Ellerbe sensei travels to Japan annually to teach and study classical Budo and is actively involved in the preservation of the ancient warrior arts of Japan. Ellerbe sensei is passionate about the warrior culture and its values, traditions, and customs.
Ellerbe sensei began to teach Hojojutsu, Jujutsu, Aikijujutsu, and Battojutsu in 1996. In the following years, Ellerbe sensei founded the first student organization on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro North Carolina as a means for providing assistance to rape victims. Ellerbe sensei is passionate about helping others and has for many years used his gifts to provide a service to his community. Ellerbe Sensei is very active in the community providing free self-defense courses for victims of date violance as well as working with local authorities in defensive tactics, public awareness workshops, lectures on Samurai culture and history, and crime prevention.
Ellerbe sensei's early studies began with Nagano Daisuke sensei. Today, Ellerbe sensei is the student of Takase Michio sensei, out of the Gunma dojo in Japan. Recently, Takase sensei granted permission for Ellerbe sensei to officially open the Daito Ryu Renshinkan USA International Branch and Ellerbe sensei is the Head Master of the Nagano Ryu Heihou Kyokai.
After 39 years of training, Ellerbe sensei has received several honors. In 2001, Ellerbe sensei received two Black Belt Hall of Fame inductions for Master and Grandmaster of the Year awards and Aikijujutsu Instructor of the year in Madison Square Garden in recognition for his community involvement and many accomplishments.
Ellerbe Sensei has often said that founding Nagano Ryu Heihou has always been about bringing together the complete military arts of the Samurai as well as preserving them. However, his major focus is in ensuring that our practice, research and studies don't get so lost in rituals that technique effectiveness and principles that allow students to successfully protect themselves are also lost. Ellerbe Sensei believes in adaptation, immersion, effectiveness, and realism while staying rooted in tradition.
A NOTE FROM THE FOUNDER
MY PHILOSOPHY ON ANCIENT & MODERN BUJUTSU.
Each of us are drawn to something that we can't always explain. What is it that calls to us? I can remember as far back as 3rd grade that my passion for the ways of the Samurai and the Shinobi in those days "The Ninja boom of the 1980's", began. The early days of renting VHS tapes at Blockbuster was always a driving part of my growing interest in Feudal Japan's warrior culture. We all have to admit that much of our fascination with Japan in the early years of the 1980's steamed from Hollywood's depiction of the Samurai and the Shinobi. My friends always wanted to understand why I was so fascinated about Japanese culture and I'm sure that they all thought that it was just a phase that I was going through which i would soon grow out of.
I remember sitting down with my father in those years to discuss my interest in Japan. We had a pool in our backyard in those days where daddy would teach me to swim and I would ask him about his days in the Marine Corps stationed in Japan. My fathers stories and the pictures that he took in the 1950's & 60's of his days there at Nagano, Zenkoji Temple only emboldened my passion and before I knew it my feet were on the path of the Bushi. My father never tried to persuade me to not follow my passion. In fact, it was my father who set me on this path. He encouraged me to be the best that I could be knowing full well that i would face impossible obstacles. What obstacles you say? Daddy was stationed in Japan during the Post World War II transition. He explained the disdain that he experienced as an NCO in the Marines from both sides as this was a bad time for African Americans both at home and abroad. He always reminded me that in his experience Japanese masters would never accept us as students. "Not true students" You see in Japan there is Uchi (Inner) and Soto (outer) students.
All of these experiences have shaped my views but it wasn't until I actually started to travel to Japan to train, teach, and immerse myself that I started to see my true path. My philosophy on ancient and modern Japanese martial arts has evolved a great deal since my younger years. I used to think only about the techniques and the Kata (prearranged forms). The arts seemed to be made up just of the sum of their techniques. Minor changes to simply differentiate one style from the next. Many of my peers seemed to be only interested in how many techniques that they could pick up for their own ends. As i continued to grow, I started to realize that all techniques are based on governing principles which are both cultural and strategic. This lead me to travel to Japan more and to ask more questions and to expect more of myself. I began to study Samurai culture and tradition more diligently and before I knew it, I began to realize that many of the secrets are hidden in plain sight. Many wonderful details are hidden in the etiquette, more-over I found that the true secrets lay with-in principle mastery. This understanding for me changed everything.
On the battlefield, samurai could not afford to be limited by one or two arts if winning the war was the goal. That meant historically, the Bushi were trained in Jitsuyoku "Tactics/Techniques for effective use on the battlefield". This means that adaptation and mastery of principles were extremely important for success. I knew then that I was looking at my training all wrong and I needed to change my focus. Once I graduated college and moved into the work force I began to teach seminars and workshops with many organizations and I realized that there was a huge disconnect between Japanese derived American martial arts here (Meaning- American Martial Arts with Japanese roots), and the Classical Arts or (parent arts) in Japan. I could clearly see the cultural and philosophical divide with both sides seemly not caring about the true essence that connects them.
There is a parable that goes "A Warrior can fire 1000 arrows hitting the target a 1000 times and still miss the self". This is about personal development. Essentially, we tend to focus on tasks or goals that are mere distractions. We don't see the big picture. If you don't better yourself by improving your outlook, seeking personal self-control, impulse control, maintaining the correct behavior and the practice of making good decisions while maintaining respect for others you miss the self. You can not grow if you can't get past yourself. Put the Ego aside. We spend so much time thinking about whether or not we can do something that we don't stop to think about whether or not we should? Just because you can doesn't mean that you should. Personal restraint and respect for others is most important. We all make mistakes. We all have done and said things that we are not proud of. No one (Masters or not) is perfect but we have to forgive ourselves first and then strive to be better versions of ourselves. That's what i love about Budo. I get out of it what I pour into it. Being a great fighter is not as important to me now as it was 2 decades ago. Now its about me trying to make me a better me. Me teaching the traditions and walking this path with my students. Me seeking growth and being an example for my students. There truly is no end to growth. If what I teach helps a father to be a better father, or helps someone get through a tough patch in life it means that I am making a difference. I made the decision to develop Nagano Ryu because I love Japanese culture and my art has saved my life more times then I can recall. It has made me a better person, a better father, a better mentor, and has given me the opportunity to connect with like minded individuals who share my passion.