Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, 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 ~

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Memoirs of Masahiko Kimura

Masahiko Kimura was one of the giants of Judo. Many considered him the greatest Judoka of all time.

At BJ EE, there was a series of articles which are a translation of Kimura's memoirs. An excerpt from the first in the series is below. The whole post may be read here.

Masahiko Kimura)was a Japanese judoka who is widely considered one of the greatest judoka of all time. (5 ft 7in 170 cm; 85 kg, 187 lb) He was born on September 10, 1917 in Kumamoto, Japan. In submission grappling, the reverse ude-garami arm lock is often called the “Kimura”, due to his famous victory over Gracie jiu-jitsu developer H√©lio Gracie.
He wrote this excellent piece on his Judo story. This excerpt from the book “My Judo” was translated from the original Japanese by member pdeking (edited for spelling by Neil Ohlenkamp).  “My Judo” was written in 1984 and was first published on Jan 31, 1985. It is no longer in print. also published parts of the book.  Here is Part 1:
By Masahiko Kimura
When I was in the 5th grade, I had my first shiai. I participated in a team match with Nakayama Dojo which was about 6km away from my dojo. My opponent was an 8th grader and was bigger than I. I attempted Tai-Otoshi and O-soto-gari, but he did not move a bit. I then tried O-uchi-gari, he reversed it threw me onto the floor, and pinned me by Kami-shiho-gatame. I could not get out of it and lost.The following is what motivated me to start judo. It was around the beginning of my 4th grade year. During a large-scale school cleaning (this is called O-Soji), Mr. Tagawa in charge of my class was absent. When I noticed it, I ran to a nearby Manto (Japanese pastries) Shop, ate four or five Manto, and came back to the school. I then noticed that some of my classmates were carrying the teacher’s desk. I ran toward the desk and jumped onto the desk. The desk collapsed making a loud sound. I jumped up and down with joy screaming “Banzai, Banzai”. Suddenly, someone grabbed me firmly in the rear lapel and pulled me backward. When I turned my head, I found Mr. Tagawa, who I thought was absent, glaring at me with a very scary look. He yelled “Idiot face!” and slapped me in the face. He then threw me to the floor. He pulled me up, slapped me, and threw me to the floor again. After this, I was scolded in the teachers’ room, and stood on the corridor. After this incident, I decided to get even with Mr. Tagawa. I though about how to get revenge on him for about a week, and investigated his background. I then found out that he was a 1st dan in judo. I thought “Is judo such a formidable art? Then, I would be able to throw him around if I became a 2nd dan.” Soon after this, I entered Shodokan Dojo nearby my elementary school.
When I was in the 7th grade, my older brother came home crying, saying that he got bitten by dogs. The next night, I went out for revenge. I found mid-size three dogs at a storage of a geisha house that was about 50 meters away from my house. They were the enemies. I called them one by one with a whistle, and kicked it with a geta (wooden sandal) by full force. When I passed by the storage, all the 3 dogs were covered with a bandage. Through this experience, I developed boldness and confidence for fighting with humans.
When I was in the 8th grade, I entered a prefecture sumo tournament and placed 2nd. In the final, I threw my opponent by O-sotogari, but the referee called my opponent the winner saying that my foot got off the ring first. After this incident, Mr. Ogawa of Chinsei Junior High visited my house with a student named Nakayama. He invited me to enter Chinsei Junior High and become a member of the judo club or sumo club. In April 1932, I entered this school. As soon as I entered Chinsei Junior High, I started to practice at Kawakita dojo 3 time a week. I practiced at Chinsei Junior High, Kawakita dojo, Butokuden, and Imperial 5th High (today’s Kumamoto University). In those days, I practiced 5 hours a day. In addition, I did 300 push-ups daily.

When I transferred to Chinsei Junior High, I was a 1st kyu. One day, Mr. Ogawa told me to take a promotion test. I went to Butokukai, which was the test center, alone, and threw 5 students of Kumamoto Junior High, and earned the 1st dan. When I took the promotion test for the 2nd dan, I was the captain of the red team, and defeated the remaining 4 members of the white team, all by Ippon. In this way, I became a 2nd dan in April 1933. In order to be a 3rd dan, one must go to the head quarter of Butokukai in Kyoto, and take a written test in addition to a skill test. In the May of my 9th grade year, I went to Kyoto for the first time in my life, and became a 3rd dan. I did not have any problem passing the skill test. But, in the written test, I was completely clueless. The time was running out. I snatched one of the answer sheets finished by someone sitting behind me, wrote my name, and turned it in as mine. I still feel guilty of what I did to the man who wrote the answers. In the summer of my 10th grade year, in a Red-White team match held in Butokuden in Saga Prefecture, as a 3rd dan I threw four 3rd dan opponents and six 4th dan opponents including the captain of the opponent team. As a result of this feat, I was given a 4th dan. A 4th dan 10th grader was very rare in the country. I became well known after this.

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