Sensei Bernice Jay

     Sensei Bernice Jay was born on the Big Island of Hawaii on January 11, 1923.  Her mother was of English-Hawaiian ancestry and her father was of Chinese descent. She had five siblings, three brothers and two sisters.

As a child, she learned Hawaiian Lomilomi massage from her Great Aunt Maile Moku, she was Sensei Jay’s grandmother’s sister and a full blooded Hawaiian.

In school, Sensei Jay was very active in sports.  She participated in softball, basketball, volleyball, tennis and badminton.  In the middle of high school, she moved to Honolulu and entered Farrington High School where she graduated in 1941.  She married Wally Jay on June 7, 1941, in Pearl City.

Sensei Jay began her studies in the martial arts in 1944. ”I wanted to be involved so I could learn what Wally was doing and talking about.  I started learning jujitsu from Wally and Tony Gonzales.  I also learned from Moon Watanabe who specialized in Kodokan Judo.”  She studied Judo and jujutsu from Jerry Tarutani at the Palama Settlement.  She also learned “chokes” from Wallace Takabayashi.

She received her Shodan in 1947 and her Nidan in 1949.  “Professor Okazaki did all my promotions except my Sandan.”   She stated, “I was awarded my black belt just in time to go to the special class that Professor Okazaki taught every ten years.  There is a picture of me with the scroll Professor Okazaki gave me.”

Professor Okazaki trained Sensei Jay in Seifukujutsu.  When a young boy named John Noah was stricken with polio, Professor Okazaki showed her how to massage him.  This way, Sensei Jay could treat him when Professor Okazaki was not available. She took John to see Professor Okazaki on a regular basis for two years.  “That is when I learned Seifukujutsu,” she said.

The Jay family moved to Oakland on December 31, 1950.  In the 1950′s, Sensei Bernice Jay was busy raising small children but found enough time to volunteer at the Kaiser Hospital in Oakland.  She studied electronics and went to work as an assembler and an instructor for the Seven-up Bottling Company.  She later worked for E-H International.  She also taught jujutsu classes when Professor Wally Jay was out of town.

Sensei Bernice Jay has four children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  These days, Sensei Jay enjoys reading and spending time with her family.  She is slowly teaching a granddaughter the ancient Hawaiian Lomilomi and Professor Okazaki’s Seifukujutsu.