Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Interview with Gozo Shioda and Masahiko Kimura

The Aikido Sangenkai Blog recently published a translation of an interview conducted years ago with two giants of Japanese martial arts: Gozo Shioda, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido and Masahiko Kimura, one of the greatest judoka that ever lived and the man who famously defeated Brazillian Jujutsu founder Helio Gracie.

Below is an excerpt. The full interview may be read here.

Aikido and Judo – Interview with Gozo Shioda and Masahiko Kimura

Full Contact Karate Magazine – December 1987

More Full Contact Karate at the Aikido Sangenkai! Previously we presented a translation of the article “Secret Technique: The Secret of Aiki” (秘技・合気の秘密) from the  January 1996 issue of the Japanese magazine “Full Contact Karate” (フル・コンタクト・カラテ). This time we’re happy to present the English translation of an interview with Yoshinkan Aikido Founder Gozo Shioda (塩田剛三) and legendary Judo champion Masahiko Kimura (木村政彦) that appeared in the December 1987 issue of Full Contact Karate.

Gozo Shioda was born in Shinjuku, Tokyo in 1915. He began training with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei in 1932 and trained under him for eight years before the war. After World War II he established Yoshinkan Aikido and became one of the major figures in the post-war Aikido world.

Masahiko Kimura was born in Kumamoto in 1917. At the age of 18 he became the youngest Judo 5th Dan in history, after defeating eight opponents in a row at Jigoro Kano’s Kodokan Dojo. It is said that he was defeated only four times in his professional career, one of those losses to Aikido student Kenshiro Abbe (although Abbe would not begin studying Aikido until some years later). He is most well known in the Western world for the famous match in 1949 in which he defeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Founder Hélio Gracie.

Gozo Shioda and Masahiko Kimura were classmates at Takushoku University, which also counts such famous Karate instructors as Masatoshi Nakayama and Mas Oyama among its alumni.
Interviewer: I’ve heard that you were classmates at Takudai (Takushoku University / 拓殖大学).

Shioda: In Takudai at that time I and Kimura and one other Karate practitioner, Fukui (福井功 / Isao Fukui), were called the “Three Crows” of Takudai (拓大三羽烏). (Translator’s Note: this is a common way of referring to three pre-eminent proponents of a certain skill) Kimura was shy and wouldn’t speak to Fukui, but for some reason I hit it off with both Kimura and Fukui and became friends with the two of them.

Kimura: Was Fukui that strong?

Shioda: Fukui started the Karate Club at Takudai along with Mr. Masatoshi Nakayama (中山正敏) and Mr. Masatomo Takagi (高木正朝). He was a strong fighter, but he had a strong personality and said that Judo or Aikido would be no problem for him.  So I said that I would take him on, and the two of us did it in the gymnasium. He combined a right Seiken-zuki (“forefist punch” / 正拳突き) with a Mae-geri (“front kick” / 正拳突き), but I slipped right past him on the left, sandwiched his fist under my right forearm, and when I hit Fukui’s right elbow with my left forearm he just flew away. That guy’s elbow hurt for awhile, you know, and they took me in, just an unknown at the time who had been training in Aikido, as one of the Three Crows. (laughing)

Kimura: Shioda and I played at arm wrestling back then. Ahh, he was really strong. I was 170cm (5′ 6″) tall and 85 kg (187 lbs), and Shioda was 154 cm (5′) tall and 47 kg (103 lbs).

Shioda: Somewhere Kimura said that he lost ten out of ten times, but actually we did it three times and I only won the first two times. At most, he slipped his hand out the third time. (laughing)

Interviewer: Shioda sensei, were you doing some special kind of conditioning?

Shioda: No – in Aikido, in order not to create stagnation in the body, you mustn’t build up your muscles. However, I didn’t understand that when I was young, so I would hide from Ueshiba sensei and lift weights. When he found out I’d really get scolded. Of course it’s natural to want to make your body strong when you’re young, and logic comes later. Anyway, you should just train as much as you can. I trained everyday from five in the morning until nine at night! I think that kind of period is important to have when you’re young. Kimura over here was called the “Training Ogre” (稽古の鬼). There’s a famous phrase, “triple effort” (3倍の努力), but he really went through that.

Kimura: Well, you can’t just lie around sleeping like everybody else. Before the Emperor’s Games (天覧試合) in Showa year 15 (1940) I didn’t even have time to sleep because I was practicing ten and a half hours every day. In my university days I would get up at 4:30 and clean, since I was one of the private students of Ushijima sensei (Translator’s Note: Tatsukuma Ushijima / 牛島辰熊, colloquially known as “Ogre Ushijima” and famous for his intense workouts), and then strike the makiwara from the left and right a thousand times each. You see, when you strike the makiwara you grip the thumb firmly, and when you strike the arms, elbows and wrists also become strong. Then I would go to the Police Department and train from around 10:00. For just about an hour. Then training at Takudai for about three hours, then at the Kodokan from 6:30 and from 8:00 to 11:00 at a local dojo in Fukagawa.

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