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 ~

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Kurosu Harutsugi, 9th Dan Judo

Over at his excellent blog, Kogen Budo, Ellis Amdur posted a biography of one of the great past masters of Judo, Kurosu Harutsugi. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here. 

 Mr. Amdur is a prolific author. His many fine books on a variety of topics, not just martial arts, may be found here. 

Kurosu Harutsugi (黒須春次) was born on March 13, 1888, and died March 15th, 1973. He was born in a farming family, but due to his father’s illness, he had to help him from a very young age. At the age of 18, he began studying Araki Shin-ryu jujutsu in 1906, from Hayashi Hikojiro. His body trained in jujutsu, he was accepted into an artillery regiment. He received a menkyo kaiden in Araki Shin-ryu in 1921 from Urano Kasutsugu Nobutaka. 

[NOTE: There is more than one line of Araki Shin-ryu, that bear little relationship to one another. Perhaps the most famous is a a ryuha started by Araki Buzaemon, which has a complicated relationship to the original Araki-ryu torite-kogusoku of the founder, Araki Muninsai.] 

A few years after beginning his study of Araki Shin-ryu, he also began training in Shinto Rikugo-ryu jujutsu, an amalgam of a number of older schools, and eventually receiving a rank of 4th dan in 1922. Although kata based, it focused on hand-to-hand combat and was, for a period of time, a rival of the Kodokan. (The last known teacher of this school is Shiigi Munenori of the Ichigido). 

Kurosu was not satisfied by jujutsu alone, obviously needing to compete. Only judo at that time allowed shiai and he entered the Kodokan in 1913. Very soon afterwards, he was ‘tested’ in a match with four seniors, and after defeating them, was awarded a judo fourth kyu (NOTE: which meant a lot more in those days). He established his own judo dojo in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo in 1914 (remember, he was already had high rank in two jujutsu schools, which he continued training–apparently, this was rather common in those days, enabling the Kodokan to incorporate jujutsu practitioners quickly into their organization). In fact, he was already considered skilled enough that in 1916, he was appointed a judo instructor of the Kenpeitai. 

 Kurosu participated in judo practice on a daily basis, rising at 4:30 each morning and walking one and one-half hours to the Kodokan. Walking so early drew the attention of the police at times, but Kurosu stated that all this walking also made his legs exceptionally strong. With his grounding in Araki Shin-ryu & Shinto Rikugo-ryu, he quickly rose in the ranks: 

  • 1917 – shodan 
  • 1919 – nidan 
  • 1922 – sandan 
  • 1924 – yondan; 
  • 1926- godan. 

He was powerfully built at 167 cm, 78 kilos. Aside from a powerful uchimata, he specialized in yoko-sutemi waza. He would flow right into groundwork, and got the nickname of “The Worker” for his methodical machine-like approach. He participated in every tournament he could, and won the famous red-white tournament at the 4th dan level. He won his age division of the first All Japan Judo Tournament in 1930, and was awarded his 6th dan in 1931, at the age of 42. At the age of 49, he got to the final round of the All Japan Judo Championship, and was awarded a 7th dan. He also participated every year at the Dai Nippon Butokukai tournaments and was awarded the rank of renshi, also in 1937.

 A wonderful picture of some of the greats of pre-war judo – Kurosu is on the far right. 

After the 2nd World War, he worked heavily to revive judo and was awarded his 8th dan in 1948. In reminiscing about his career in judo, he stated that he believed he had taught over 50,000 people in his personal dojo in Shinjuku. He continued practicing himself at the Kodokan, particularly treasuring the intensive winter and summer special practices, believing that this intense expenditure of energy made him strong for the rest of the year. 

 He still competed in randori at advanced years. At the age of 70, he found his injuries were catching up with him, and he shifted to concentrating on newaza rather than tachiwaza. He would joke that you had to be careful with newaza because, being an old man, because it was easy to have one’s dentures knocked out. 

 At the 90th anniversary of the Kodokan in 1972, he was awarded a 9th dan. He died of heart failure at the age of 85. His two sons became Kodokan 8th dan in 1969 and 1975 respectively. See this LINK for a Japanese language biography of Kurosu. 


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