A Bit of Old School..


Photo above from an photocopied article in my archives, from NY World, 4/9/05 (that’s 1905), p.10.

The article, clear evidence that the Kodokan altered oral history to serve it’s own ends in the very same way BJJ does now, also points to a very different approach to Judo than we see today. We can clearly see already some common practices in jiu itsu today – not only in technical approach but note the use of the term “professor,” for example, and comparing the art to chess….the more things change…



Japanese Have Developed Gentle Art of Bone-Breaking and Maiming for Self-Defense.


Spirit of Japan is Chief Thing Inculcated in Judo – To Be Truly Courageous and Courteous.

“Jiu-jitsu is a thing of the past in Japan,” said Prof. Tsunejiro Tomita to The World reporter yesterday, in his office at No.1947 Broadway. “The system that has taken its place is called Judo – literally, the gentle art, or soft, yielding art.”

“And with the gentle Judo you break bones, dislocate joints and knock the enemy unconscious?”

“Oh yes,” replied Prof. Tomita softly; “but that is only when attacked. There has been so much talking in America, so much wrong printed about jiu jitsu and judo that I want to explain, to tell the actual truth about these arts.”

Prof. Tomita is well fitted to do this, for he has been for years the principal of the Kodokwan, or training school for Judo at Tokio, which is a part of the Gakushu-in, or Peer’s College, which sons of noblemen attend.

“Jiu jitsu,” Prof. Tomita continued, “was developed 350 years ago among the Tamurai (sic, this is actually what is printed in the original…) – the two-sworded men. Primarily, it was a system by which an unarmed man could defend himself when attacked by an enemy with weapons.”

“But since the Japanese Empire was foundd, in 1868, we fight with guns, not swords. Prof. Kano Jigoro, one of the leading educators of Japan, began twenty years ago a careful study of the best features of  jiu jitsu, working them out by analysis and comparison and experiment into the present complete system, which he named judo. I have helped him teach it for many years.”

“The chief thing impressed by judo is the spirit of Japan.  I do not know enough English to describe the spirit of Japan.”

“Perhaps the Russians could describe it,” suggested the interviewer.

“Oh yes,” replied Prof. Tomita with a polite smile. “Oh yes, they know now. They did not know at first. Many of our victorious generals and other officers and private soldiers in the field were among our 8,000 pupils in the Kodokwan. The training in Judo helped to win our nation’s victories.”

“Judo teaches a man not to think of himself, but of his nation; to be patient and enduring and practise self control; never to show boastfulness or cowardice to the enemy, but always to meet him with politeness and calm courage.”

“To be polite to the enemy while destroying him?” asked the reporter.

“Certainly,” replied Prof. Tomita. “To fight best a man must be polite and calm. It is a part of the system of Judo to smile while we are at practice – always to be pleasant.”

“The practice of Judo is excellent mental training as well as physical. The first thing we teach is how to fall. Not only does the pupil learn how to let himself fall loosely to the ground, so as to avoid being injured by the shock, but the experience is useful to him in any shock of adversity.”

“But the chief mental training obtained through Judo is in learning to read the intention of the adversary. An expert in Judo will anticipate what the antagonist intends to do, not only in the first movement of an attack but in the move after that. He is like  a master in chess, who sees far ahead in the game and shapes his course to meet and destroy the enemy before the enemy himself quite knows what he is going to do.”

“The chief aim in Judo is to go with the enemy. For example if he rushes at you to knock you down, you seize him and fall down as intended, but while falling  you drag him down above you and send him flying over your head. You have fallen softly because Judo has taught you how, but you whirl the enemy flat on the ground, and before he knows where he is you jump up and get him by the throat with a strangle hold or pin down his arms so that he cannot move without breaking it.  Then it is an easy matter to kill him (if necessary) or to hold him a prisoner.”

“Do you adopt any special diet in training?” was asked.

“No; we merely live temperately.”said Prof. Tomita. “That means an alcoholic drink or very, very, little – just temperance in everything.”

Prof. Tomita, aided by Prof. Eisei Maeda, gave an exhibition of Judo on a broad spread of bamboo mats.At each fall the building trembled, yet the players bounded up as if they were not in the least jarred. The best defensive plan was the Sukui-nage, or “scoop.” Eisei rushed at Tomita as if to exterminate him.  The wiry little man stooped under the rushing big man’s arms, picked him up by the legs with the motion of one who uses a scoop or shovel and pitched him adroitly over his hips.

Thirty styles of falls were  shown – all good. Just how effective judo is was demonstrated at Grand Central Palace Thursday evening, when little Prof. Higashi, although twenty pounds lighter than George Bothner champion lightweight wrestler of the world, kept the American on the defensive all the time and scored several flying falls which, unfortunately, were not seen by the referee.


A Note:


It should be noted that there is some question as to whether Higashi was a Kodokan man at all, and may have done a different style of jiu jitsu.





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