10th Degree Black Belt is the highest rank in the Judo world
- Mifune, Kyuzo (b1883-d1965)
- He began Judo at age 13 and joined the Kodokan in 1903. By 1912, he was already
a Rokudan (6th Degree black belt) and a Kodokan instructor. He was unbelievably
energetic and eventually stood at the head of the Kodokan's instructors. The
speed with which he mastered the techniques
of Judo can only be matched by the rapidity of his promotion. He
received the grade of 10th dan on May 25, 1945, was the second youngest man
to be promoted to 10th Dan, and he held his rank nearly 20 years, the longest
of any 10th Dan. He was a permanent member of
the Kodokan Dojo Consultative Group. He is the author of the Canon of Judo.
In 1964 the Japanese Government awarded him the honor of the Order of the
Rising Sun. He was the first person ever to be honored this way during his lifetime.
Before his death on January 27, 1965 he was the only tenth dan alive in the world.
- Iizuka, Kunisaburo (b1875-d1958)
- Entered the Kodokan in 1891 and was graded 10th Dan on April 5, 1946. As
young man he was very keen to go abroad but in 1906 was asked to become
Judo instructor at Keio (the oldest private University in Japan) and he
remained there for more than fifty years, devoting his whole life to the
work. He was a member of both the Kodokan Council and the Dojo
- Samura, Kaichiro (b1880-d1964)
- One of the two longest living 10th Dans, he joined the Kodokan in
1898 and received the grade of 10th Dan on April 5, 1948. In 1899 he became the
head of the Judo Section of the Butokukai and later traveled extensively
teaching at schools and police establishments. In 1931 he began teaching
at the Kodokan and was a member of the Dojo Consultative Group.
- Nagaoka, Hidekazu (b1876-d1952)
- Came to Tokyo from his birth place, Okayama at the age of 16 to
seek out the Shihan. Entered the Kodokan in 1893 and practised so hard
it was said of him, "The technique is Sutemi, the man is Nagaoka." Many
of his contests are still the subject of countless reminiscences. All
his efforts were poured into the training of young teachers and he was
of the greatest assistance to the President of the Kodokan. He did much
to gain for the Kodokan the secure position it enjoys today and was
promoted 10th Dan on December 27, 1937 by Jigoro Kano, just a few months before
Jigoro Kano died. He is one
to that rank by the founder of Judo. He and Isogai were the first students of
Kano to be promoted to 10th Dan while alive, and he
to 10th dan. He passed away on November
- Yamashita, Yoshitsugu (Yoshiaki) (b1865-d1935)
- The Shihan's assistant from the very founding of the Kodokan, he is
one of the great names in Judo. He entered the Kodokan in 1884 and
gained a formidable reputation from his contests with the strong men of
other jujutsu schools during the Meiji period. He later went to theUnited States
where he taught Judo to President Theodore Roosevelt and
altogether enjoyed a colorful life. Jigoro
Kano awarded him the first 10th Dan ever awarded after his death on October 26, 1935,
although he dated the certificate two days before the death.
- Isogai, Hajime (b1871-d1947)
- Entered the Kodokan in 1891 and practised assiduously under Jigoro Kano.
In 1899 he was selected to go to the Butokukai in Kyoto where he worked for
many years spreading Judo and training new teachers. On December 22, 1937 he
was awarded the grade of 10th Dan directly by Jigoro Kano (only a few months
before Jigoro Kano died). At the age of 66 he was the fourth youngest person
to attain 10th Dan. He is considered to be one of the
great figures in Kansai Judo (Kansai is the mid-western portion of
Honshu, the main island of the Japanese group.)
Isogai died on April 19, 1947.
- Kotani, Sumiyuki (b1903-d1991)
- He received the rank of 10th Dan in April 1984, the oldest person to be
awarded this rank (until 2006 when Ichiro Abe was promoted at age 83). Graduated
from Tokyo College of Education. He was one of Jigoro Kano's direct students,
and only the 7th man to receive a 10th Degree Black Belt while he was still
alive. He was very active in promoting Judo all around the world and was the
head instructor of the International Division of the Kodokan for many years,
and a professor of Tokai University. He was the Kodokan's top ranked official
and Vice President of the All Japan Judo
days, he would practice with every powerful and skillful Judoka he could lay
his hands on, rather than avoid the "beating" he knew would be coming. To be
thrown, immobilized, or strangled, was nothing but delight for him. The thing
that really counted was practice. He died on October 19, 1991.
- Tabata, Shotaro (b1884-1950)
- Entered the Kodokan in 1900 and was promoted to 10th Dan on April 5, 1948.
He was the third youngest person to receive a 10th Dan. From 1905 he taught at
the Butokukai in Kyoto where he trained many new
instructors and contributed greatly to the development and diffusion of
Judo. Together with Isogai, 10th Dan, he occupies a special place in
Kansai Judo. He died on May 25, 1950.
- Okano, Kotaro (b1885-d1967)
- Okano was born April 1885. He became the 9th man to be promoted to
10th Degree Black Belt after his death on June 2, 1967. He was the first graduated
the Budo Senmon-Gakko (martial art school) and he became "shihan"
(master of martial art) in 6th Okayama Higher School and Okayama Police.
His mat technique was one of the best among the Judo world at that time.
- Shoriki, Matsutaro (b1885-d1969)
- Born April 11, 1885 in Toyama Prefecture, educated at Takaoka
Middle School, Fourth National Higher School, and Tokyo Imperial
University. Director of the Police Affairs Section of the Metropolitan
Police Board, President of the Yomiuri Shimbunsha (Japanese newspaper)
and later its owner. Appointed Member of the House of Peers and elected
Member of the House of Representatives. Served as State Minister.
Established Japan's first commercial television station Nippon
Television Network Corporation. Started professional baseball in Japan
and contributed to its development. President of the Franco-Japanese
University Judo Association, Chairman of Nippon Budokan, and President
of National Dietman's Judo Federation. He is the only non-professional
in the history of the Kodokan to hold the 10th Dan. He was promoted after his
death on October 9, 1969.
- Kurihara, Tamio (b1896-d1979)
- Kurihara was born in May, 1896. He became the 11th person to be
promoted to 10th Degree Black Belt after his death October 8, 1979. He graduated
from the Kyoto
Budo Senmon-Gako (Martial Art College) and became "shihan" (Master
Instructor of Judo) at Kyoto 3rd higher school. One of his impressive
competitions was the May 1926 Emperor's Cup final facing one of the
young upcoming strong players, Ushijima Tatsukuma, a 26 year old 5th
Dan. He won a decision here after a hard competition to take the title.
- Nakano, Shozo (b1888-d1977)
- Nakano was born in January 1888. He was promoted to 10th Degree Black
Belt after his death on December 22, 1977. He became master instructor at Tokyo
Ikashika University (Medical School). He energetically promoted Kodokan Judo
to the world.
His uchimata throw was very famous. He said "my strategy is to let my
opponent get his favorite satisfactory grip and then I find my own way
of chance to throw my opponent."
- Toshiro Daigo (80), Ichiro Abe (83), Yoshimi Osawa (79)
January 8, 2006 the Kodokan promoted three new tenth dans. The promotions were
presented by Jigoro Kano's grandson at the Kagami Biraki (New Year's rice-cake
cutting ceremony) at the Kodokan. These are the most promotions to judan ever
made at one time, and the first to be made in 22 years. More information is in this article.
Here is some information on each of the new Kodokan tenth dans:
Daigo (b1926) -- Author of Kodokan
Judo: Throwing Techniques, and several other judo
textbooks. He has been the chief instructor at the Kodokan for many
years, manager of the Japanese Judo Team at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics,
an international referee, and he won the All Japan Judo Tournaments in 1951 and 1954. He had been a ninth dan since 1992.
Ichiro Abe -- Mr. Abe was international chairperson of the All Nippon Judo Federation. Mr. Abe is head of the Promotions Panel at the Kodokan, and also head of the International Division. He has travelled extensively in Europe, and is a former national coach of Belgium.
Yoshimi Osawa -- An international referee for many years, Mr. Osawa won the Fukuoka tournament in 1948. Osawa was a fabulous technician, in the eyes of some, the best ever. Despite being a lightweight, he was considered a true threat to win the All-Japan championships.
1933 photo of Jigoro Kano (center) with 10th dans
Kunisaburo Iizuka (front row second from left), Hajime Isogai (rear left), Hidekazu
Nagaoka (rear row second from left), and Yoshitsugu (Yoshiaki) Yamashita (rear row second
Kodokan 10th Dans in order of their promotion date:
- Yamashita, Yoshitugu (1865-1935) Promoted 10th Dan 1935
- Isogai, Hajime (1871-1947) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
- Nagaoka, Hidekazu (1876-1952) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
- Mifune, Kyuzo (1883-1965) Promoted 10th Dan 1945
- Iizuka, Kunisaburo (1875-1958) Promoted 10th Dan 1946
- Samura, Kaichiro (1880-1964) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
- Tabata, Shotaro (1884-1950) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
- Okano, Kotaro (1885-1967) Promoted 10th Dan 1967
- Shoriki, Matsutaro (1885-1969) Promoted 10th Dan 1969
- Nakano, Shozo (1888-1977) Promoted 10th Dan 1977
- Kurihara, Tamio (1896-1979) Promoted 10th Dan 1979
- Kotani, Sumiyuki (1903-1991) Promoted 10th Dan 1984
- Daigo, Toshiro (1926- ), Promoted 10th Dan 2006
- Abe, Ichiro, Promoted 10th Dan 2006
- Osawa, Yoshimi, Promoted 10th Dan 2006
Note: in addition to these Kodokan 10th dans the International Judo
Federation promoted Anton Geesink (NED) and Charles Palmer (UK) to 10th dan in 1997. Some countries have also made promotions to 10th dan, such as Henri Courtine in France in 2007, and Jaap Nauwelaerts de Agé in Holland in 2008.