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Biography/Marital Background of Shihan Eric Merrill


  • Grew up in South Pasadena, CA.
  • Began training in Kodokan Judo as a youth in 1966.
  • Later that year (1966) met retired WWII Japanese military policeman Myoshi Otake.
  • Over time developed relationship with Otake Shihan and was eventually accepted as a student.
  • For nearly a decade trained daily in Otake Han Taiho Jutsu (before and after school) at Otake Shihan’s home.
  • During these years was Otake Shihan’s only constant/consistent student, others came and went, but did not stay.
  • Even Otake Shihan’s only adult son showed little interest in family’s hereditary system.
  • Earned grudging respect from Otake Shihan who saw someone to whom the martial tradition of the Otake clan could be passed.
  • Continued to train in Kodokan Judo during these years eventually earning the rank of Nidan.
  • Also trained in Kyokushinkai Karate for a few years earning the rank of Shodan.
  • In mid-1970s parents divorced, forcing a parting of ways with Otake Shihan, thus ending training.
  • Issued Menkyo Kaiden in Otake Han Taiho Jutsu by Otake Shihan upon leaving.   
  • Following parents divorce, moved to Colorado for a few months then onto Arizona to graduate high school.
  • Joined Marine Corps upon high school graduation (served from 1976 to 1983).
  • While in Marines was qualified in HALO, graduated Reconnaissance School, became a Special Forces combat diver, and served in 4th Battalion Recon.
  • During years in Marines began painstaking task of organizing, systemitizing, and structuring Otake Han Taihojutsu for Western consumption.
  • Not being a member of Otake family, was hesitant to use Otake name, adopted name of Goju Ryu Jiu Jitsu for system.
  • Began teaching career in 1977.
  • After military career began firefighting/paramedic career.
  • Currently Deputy Fire Chief of Rio Verde, AZ Fire Department.
  • Changed system’s name to Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu in 2003 to avoid confusion with other Goju Ryu named systems and to return system to its heritage.
  • Retired from active public teaching in 2005, turning these teaching responsibilities over to senior yudansha.
  • Privately instructs Otake Han Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu Yudansha Kai and occassionally offers public seminars.
  • Continues in the capacity of Head of the Ryu and with help of senior yudansha administers system via the Otake Han Dōshin Kai.


Martial Arts Training Background

1966-Present   Otake Han Taiho Jutsu/Dōshin Ryu Jujutsu
                                   Instructor: Myoshi Otake Shihan
                                   Rank Achieved: Menkyo Kaiden

1966-1979        Kodokan Judo
                                   Instructors: Sensei Terry Kozell – Rokudan
                                                      Sensei Junhyo Hyung – Sandan
                                                      Sensei Hiro Kasaku – Nidan
                                   Rank Achieved: Nidan

1972-1975        Kyokushinkai Karate
                                   Instructors: Sensei John Walsh – Sandan
                                                      Sensei Norbert Rozanski – Shodan
                                   Rank Achieved: Shodan

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