My Judo by MASAHIKO KIMURA

by Masahiko Kimura

Kimura at age 24

Kimura at age 24 with the Emperor's tanto gift after winning the Tenran Shiai

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 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.

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.

I became the captain of Chinsei Junior High when I was in the 3rd year. When I was in the 4th year in Junior High, my school participated in the National Junior High Championship held in Kyoto. My team advanced to the final. In the final, my team faced Kyoto First Commerce Junior High. This school was very tough and was well known for its strength in Newaza. When my turn as the Captain came, Kyoto First Commerce Junior High team still had 3 members left. I beat these 3 men by O-Uchi-Gari, Newaza, and Newaza respectively. As a result, Chinsei Junior High became the national champion for the first time in its history. Soon after I entered Chinsei Junior High, I was thrown by Funayama, who was 1 year senior to me, by an intense O-Soto-Gari, had a concussion, and could not get up for a while. In those days, I always wanted to get even with him, but could not get to his level, which was at the level of captain. However, he was very cautious and observant of me knowing that I would soon catch up with him. On our 3 km way to Butokuden from Chinsei Junior High, and on our way to Nagarokubashi station, from which I used to take a train to go home, whenever, we walked together, he asked my height and weight. He probably wanted to confirm his physical superiority over me. I really hated it. But being one year junior to him, I could not explicitly say that to him.

I had two big fights during my Chinsei Junior High days. In those days, in Kumamoto, Budo was widely and feverishly practiced. Given this background, it was a natural consequence that a young man who rapidly became famous became a target of challenge. The first fight occurred when I was in the 2nd year. One member of Chinsei Junior High Judo club, whose name was Iida, who competed for the position of 2nd Year Student Captain with me and lost, developed hatred toward me. On a Saturday of June, on my way to the school dojo, he walked up to me and said, "I have a little business with you. So, come with me." In a case like this, the meaning of "business" is tacitly understood. He uttered "You are impudent. I am going to get you today" and took out a jack knife from a pocket, and suddenly thrust it at my abdominal area. I thought I evaded it successfully, but the knife got to my buttock. He got on a bicycle, and started to run away. I also ran after him while bleeding from the buttock, and finally got to his house. He stayed inside the house and did not come out. Instead, his parents came out and apologized to me thoroughly and sincerely. They said, "Our son cut his own hand when he stabbed you, and is in bed now. A doctor is on the way." It turned out that Iida's injury was more serious than mine. But I had to stay away from practice for about 20 days also. In my 3rd year at the school, I was challenged by K (Note: the name of this student is kept secret in the book) who was then considered to be the number 1 street fighter among all the junior high school students in the area. He was a student of Kumamoto Commerce Junior High. He was small in stature, but was known to pull out a knife in every street fight. It was known that when he loses, his parents and relatives all join him and ambush for revenge. On my way back from Butokuden, I was about to cross Nagaroku-bridge, he found me and said "Hold it right there. Come with me". We walked to Shimogawara park near the sunset. He said, "You are Kimura, aren't you?" This was the first time that we saw each other face to face. We glared at each other over a distance of about 1 meter. He then suddenly pulled out a Tanto (short sword), and thrust it forward at me. I evaded it, grabbed him, and threw him hard onto the ground. Now, in this state, he is no match to me. "I am K. I surrender. You are strong." He honestly revealed his identity and apologized. After this, none of his parents came to see me. Moreover, no junior high student challenged me for a street fight.

People call me "Jo-Sho (meaning a man of constant wins or a man who always wins) Kimura". However, I have 4 losses in my judo life. I suffered all these losses when I was a 1st year student at Takushoku University. Until then, I had believed that O-soto-gari, Seoi-nage, O-uchi-gari, and so on as completed techniques, and compiled wins using these techniques. However, in the spring of 1935, my favorite techniques faced limitations for the first time.

In the spring of 1935, soon after I entered the Takushoku University Preparatory Program, in the Red-White Shiai of Kodokan, I beat eight 4th dan opponents. When I faced the 9th opponent, I was already exhausted. In the 9th bout, I was defeated by Miyajima, who was a student at Meiji University, by Harai-Maki-Komi. Still, it was sufficient to receive the 5th dan. When I returned to Ushijima Sensei's juku (Note: Mr. Ushijima owned a house for judo students on scholarship, where Kimura and other judo students were housed. Such a house is called "juku", meaning a learning center), and reported the result, Ushijima Sensei gave me a series of slapping in the face. He said, "Shiai is equivalent to a real sword 'Kill or Get Killed' duel between Bushi. To throw the opponent means to kill him. Being thrown means being killed. You killed 8 men, and got killed by the 9th man. Remember, if you devote your life in judo, you can survive only by throwing your opponents or fighting to a draw no matter how many tough opponents you face."

In May, I participated in a 5th dan Selection Shiai held by the Ministry of Royal Affairs. In the first bout, I faced Osawa 5th dan of Tokyo Police. In an attempt to throw him at once, I grabbed his left deep lapel with my right hand, and held his right sleeve with my left hand. Osawa had positioned his right leg behind. I initiated O-soto-gari by full force. He then pulled his right leg backward all the way, and withstood the pressure. I then made a transition to O-soto-otoshi. The next moment, my body floated in the air, and was flipped in reverse. I fell to the ground head first, had a concussion, and lost consciousness.

I won All Japan Championship in the fall of 1937. My dream came true. I pinched my cheek several times. It really hurt. It was not a dream. After dinner, I did 500 push-ups, bunny hop 1km, and Makiwara strikes of karate 500 times. I could not fall asleep that night due to the fatigue and pain incurred during the bout. All Japan Judo Championship was held on October 23 and 24, 1937 in Kodokan. I defeated Jinnosuke Yanagizawa 5th dan, Noboru Ueno 5th dan in the first bout, and semi-final, respectively, by O-soto-gari. I faced Masayuki Nakajima 5th dan who was the representative of Manshuu. His name was well known throughout Japan as well as Manshuu. He was 182 or 183 cm, and 100kg. He had formidable O-soto-gari, O-uchi-gari, Uchimata, and Tai-otoshi. A number of strong men and big men got treated like kids by him when he applied these techniques. In particular, his tai-sabaki (Note: footwork and moves) that precisely captures his opponents in a quick motion seemed like an exceptional talent he was born with. The final was 1 round 15 minutes. The minimum standard of judgment was Waza-ari. For the first 4 or 6 minutes, I was dominated by him. In those days, my lower body was still weak and had not mastered enough techniques. So, whenever Nakajima pulled me around, my legs wobbled. To be honest, I had no confidence in the techniques I applied. Moreover, I could not afford to play a chess match with him. I moved only in response to his techniques. I and Nakajima fell together down onto the press seats, which were about 1 meter below the Shiai-Jo (platform) many times. Every time I fell with him, our heads and backs got slammed so hard that we became unable to breath properly for a while. We both got up to the tatami while feeling half unconscious. Neither of us scored anything decisive, and the 2nd round overtime started. I guess I was lucky. At the very moment he extended his right arm, I grabbed the sleeve of his right arm with my left hand, and initiated Ippon-seoi. This caught Nakajima off-guard. I then scored Waza-ari. While continuing a hard battle, I felt relieved, and thought, "Now, my victory has been secured." However, the next moment, he delivered an intense Uchi-mata. By reflex, I lowered my hip and withstood this. But Nakajima must have calculated this. I felt relieved when I withstood the intense attack (I was very immature). My hip was raised step by step as he initiated the next attack, i.e, Ken-ken Uchi-mata. I could not withstand this attack any longer, and collapsed making a loud sound. He scored Waza-ari!

In the latter half of round 2, I reversed Nakajima's O-soto-gari, and tried to pin him by Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame, but he held my right leg with his legs and round 2 ended. After 30 minutes of battle, both my skin and do-gi were soaked with sweat. Sweat was dripping in so much quantity that I could hardly open my eyes. I had to open my eyes alternately to see him. Before the next overtime, I and Nakajima sat by seiza to bring our do-gi to the proper position. I tried to untie the belt, but I could not generate enough force in my hands to do so. The knot felt as hard as a stone. My fingers were almost completely powerless so that it took me a log time to fix the do-gi. Then, I saw Nakajima extend his legs alternately rub his calves with his hands. I thought "Those legs are the key for my victory." I re-tightened my black belt and watched his motion carefully. As soon as the judge announced "Start", I tackled at his legs. He fell from the buttock. I then caught him in Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame, thinking "I could never win if I lost this chance", and frantically held him pinned. The long intense battle, which lasted 40 minutes, finally ended. I thought in futon, "Today's victory is a fluke. I had more stamina than Nakajima simply because I am younger than he is. Could I beat him again? Probably not. I would lose next time." Before the championship, I wanted to win All Japan Championship just once. But once the dream came true, I did not want to give up the title. I felt like defending the title again and again. I got up from futon, turned on the light, and looked at my body. Neither my height (169cm) nor weight (86kg) is outstanding. There was no guarantee that I could continue to defend the title judging from my body size. I kept on thinking everyday, "I want to become a true winner." About 10 days after this, I came up with a solid good idea. That is, "San-bai no Do-ryoku (Triple Effort)". Until then, I practiced about 6 hours a day. I thought practicing twice as much as others would be sufficient since I had heard that others were practicing about 3 hours a day. In reality, however, they had been practicing about 4 hours a day (which I found later). But now I am the champion, others would start to train 6 hours a day to beat me. I could not beat them as long as I trained as hard as others. If my opponents train twice as hard as others, then, I will train 3 times as hard as others, i.e, 9 hours a day. This way, I would gain extra 3 hours a day, and I will do this everyday. The accumulation of these extra hours will become my flesh and blood, that is, my skills and mental power. This will automatically give me real self confidence. If I had this much accumulation, I would be able to fight as usual even if I got sick with fever at 40 degrees centigrade. I practiced "Triple Effort" everyday.

Masahiko Kimura

Masahiko Kimura

Soon after I started "Triple Effort", information on my rivals started to pour in such as "In Kyoto and Tokyo, tough challengers are studying how to cope with Kimura's initial attack. They are carefully analyzing Kimura's favorite techniques to come up with a method for defending against the techniques and countering them", and "Hirose 5th dan of Osaka has already extended his training hours to 6 hours from 3 hours. Ishikawa 5th dan of Tokyo Police has started training more than 6 hours a day." Initially I listened to these information with confidence thinking "I will never lose since I have been training more than 9 hours a day." However, after a while, I started to doubt my self-confidence. In those days, I was interested in Zen. I wanted to reach "the state of no ego", discover secret judo techniques and throw around tough opponents using the techniques. But in reality, I missed a chance to go to a Zen temple one after another. That is because it was evident that I would lose my precious time for training by doing so. After all, humans are weak. When they get sick or get into a trouble, they depend on God. I was no exception. I meditated trying to reach the state of no ego. I first struggled to reach the state of no ego, but soon I lost the force for struggling and forgot about tomorrow's bout and the fact that I was sitting. Soon after reaching this state, the character of "win" appeared on my mind. But the character soon got superimposed on the character of "loss". However, my mind was already empty. I did not make any effort to get the character of "win". I don't know how much time has elapsed since I started to sit. Suddenly, my whole body became hot as if somebody poured boiling water over me from above the top of my head, and my body started to tremble. I then noticed that the character of "win" was shining at the center of my forehead as if it had been waiting for me to notice its appearance. "I will win tomorrow's bouts." I was convinced of my victory with pleasure. I believed that it was a message from God that can be given only to those who push to the maximum limit of mental and physical strength and get to the border between life and death. If I had pursued only pleasure, I would have seen the character of "loss". God sides with only those who challenge a difficult task despite the possibility of death. Even though I had no special belief in any religion, it was my interpretation of the existence of God.

I then calmed down from the joyful feeling of victory, turned on the light of the room, and prayed for protection from various gods. I also prayed to the ancestors of the Kimura family. Centuries ago, it is said Musashi Miyamoto who was called the greatest sword master in history, visited a shrine before his battle with the Yoshioka family, and tried to pull a bell uttering "God, please protect me", but regained calmness and did not ring the bell. "I do not count on gods" It was his motto. I thought, "If I had lived in the same era as Musashi, pursued the way of sword, and fought Musashi, I would never lose. At worst, the fight would go even." The confidence based on the fact that I trained to the limit of my mental and physical capacity made me think so. Didn't Musashi really ring the bell? No, he must have. Being a man who engaged in life or death combat like me, he would definitely have rung the bell. Once I reached this stage, I wrote "Championship Victory", my name and today's date (the day before the bout) using a brush. To my eyes, tall opponents looked short, and big opponents looked small. An old opponent, who was bigger than I, whom I met recently said to me that I looked big.

The 8th All Japan Championship was held on Oct 16 and 17, 1938 in Kodokan. My first opponent was Tadashi Ichido 5th dan. I beat him by O-uchi-gari. Nakajima 6th dan whom I fought last year in the final lost to Keiichi Ogawa 4th dan by dominance in the elimination round. In the semi-final, I faced Bun-ei Tashiro 6th dan who was called Master of kanibasami (Crab Scissors). He attempted kanibasami on my right leg as soon as the bout started. I had, however, already fully studied counter measures against this technique. Since I had bent my right knee raising my right heel, even though Tashiro managed to hook his legs, he could not rotate his body sufficiently. As a result, he fell to the floor, and slammed his right shoulder onto tatami. He suffered from a broken shoulder bone, and became unable to continue. In the other bracket, Ogawa 4th dan faced Hirose 5th dan, and Ogawa 4th dan won by dominance. Ogawa 4th dan was over 180cm and chunky. He was good at right Uchimata and O-uchi-gari. When the final bout started, I attempted O-soto-gari. But immediately, he attempted Uchimata three times in sequence. I crushed this, cutting his hold on my sleeves. Ogawa fell down onto the tatami. I immediately pinned him down and held him in Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame. He tried to escape, but failed. I scored Ippon in less than 2 minutes. "I will not be content with this. I will win next year also." I vowed to myself holding the championship flag.

The 9th Japan Championship (the name was changed from All Japan Championship) was held on Oct 21 and 22, 1939 in Kodokan. My first opponent was Shi-ichi Nakamura 5th dan. I scored Ippon from him by O-soto-gari. My second opponent was Katsutaro Sato 5th dan. I beat him by O-soto-otoshi in less than 1 min. The 3rd opponent was Kiyoyoshi Iida 5th dan. He held a low stance to prevent me from attempting any offense. I swung him to the right and threw him by O-soto-makikomi. In the quarter semifinal, I faced Hidenosuke Tsujimoto 5th dan. I first attempted Seoi-nage. But it had no effect on him. Soon after this, I attempted Tsurikomi-goshi. I dropped my hip sufficiently low, and quickly rose, he could not withstand and flew up in the air. I scored Ippon. In the semifinal, I faced Tadashi Ochi 5th dan. He was very good at Newaza. As soon as the bout started, he attempted Tomoe-nage to take the fight to the ground for Newaza. I went to the ground to engage in Newaza. But he was so good at Newaza, it was not easy to mount an offense on him. I then pulled him up, and attempted O-soto-gari. He resisted for a while but I changed to O-soto-otoshi, and scored Ippon. In the other bracket, Katsumi Tokizane 5th dan beat Eisaku Iiyama 6th dan by dominance. When I entered the locker room before the final, Tokizane 5th dan appeared. He asked me, "What technique will you use in the final?" I said, "I cannot say such a thing." He then said "You are good at O-soto-gari, aren't you?" I pondered for a while, and said "That is not the only technique I am good at, but I will use O-soto-gari in the final." "Are you positive?" "Yes." He then nodded, and left the locker room. The final started. He pulled back his right leg and took a defensive posture against O-soto-gari. Of course I had expected this since I had declared "I will use O-soto-gari." I jumped in and initiated O-soto-gari. He anticipated this and received my offense. In defiance of his defense, I pushed my whole body against him, and changed to O-soto-otoshi. He fell down making a loud sound like a slammed log. I won the national title for the 3rd time.

Kimura demonstrating osotogari

Kimura demonstrating osotogari

 

In judo, when one grabs the opponent's sleeve or lapel, one uses 4 fingers of each hand extending the thumbs. Whether one pushes or pulls the opponent, without pressing the thumbs hard, one cannot grab firmly and the speed is reduced. Moreover, the opponent can easily cut off your hold on the sleeve or lapel. The 4 fingers generate an inward force, and the thumb creates the opposing force, creating a firm grip. Therefore, not using the thumb goes against the principle of dynamics. Even though I knew the efficacy of using the thumb, it was not easy for me to actually master it. Today, no matter what judo practice or bout I see, I do not see anyone grabbing with 5 fingers, which is disappointing. One day, when I visited Karate Club of Takushoku University to see a karate practice, I noticed that everyone was punching with his thumb over the pointing finger and middle finger. I thought they were all doing so to prevent the thumb from getting jammed on impact. I came to a conclusion that if I practiced Makiwara karate strikes, I would be able to grab with 5 fingers in judo. As soon as I got home, I started Makiwara strikes. After I practiced it everyday for 3 months, I found my hands grabbing my opponent's dogi firmly with 5 fingers. I discovered many things only after I struck Makiwara. I had thought that those who are trained in judo have strong finger tips, elbow, wrists, and fists. But, when I actually struck the Makiwara, my finger tips, elbow, wrists, and fists all hurt numbingly. Such weak finger tips, elbow, wrists, and fists are useless in pulling the opponent or controlling the opponent using elbows or wrists. I therefore slammed these weak parts onto Makiwara and strengthened them in preparation for bouts. I struck Makiwara with knife hand, backhand, and thrust 4 fingers into a sand box. I did this 1000 times a day. In this way, I developed steel-like strong hands. Later on, I got interested in karate, and learned Shorinji-ryu (Note: today's Shotokan karate) under the guidance of Master Funakoshi for a little over 2 years.

Kimura with Mas Oyama

Kimura on left with Mas Oyama on the right

After this, I learned Goju-ryu karate from Master So, who was a great master of Gojuryu, and eventually became an assistant instructor in his dojo. (Note: Mas Oyama who was 7 years junior to Kimura practiced karate in these dojo during the same period.) After I finished judo practice at Takushoku University, I went to Kodokan and practiced with top members of Meiji University, Waseda University, Tokyo Police, and Ministry of Royal Affairs. I slammed 23 or 24 4th or 5th dan tough men one after another and attacked them freely. Everyday, at Tokyo Police and Kodokan, about 10 men had a concussion and lost consciousness caused by my O-soto-gari. Many of them eventually started to beg me not to use O-soto-gari.

In Spring 1940, I was seeded to enter Tenran Shiai (Note: Championship in attendance of Emperor). Tenran Shiai was held on June 18 and 19. My first opponent was 22 year old Ogata 5th dan of Japan Physical Education University. He was good at Tsurikomi-goshi, O-soto-gari, and Ko-uchi-gari. Soon after the bout started, he attempted left Tsurikomi-goshi in sequence. He then delivered Ko-uchi-gari and O-uchi-gari. I pulled him toward me to de-mobilize him. He tried to move. I then let go of him momentarily. He thought he found an opening and immediately attempted a low Tsurikomi-goshi. When I reversed this, he got slammed hard on tatami, which resulted in Ippon. In the 2nd bout, I faced Tokuichi Takamura, an active Navy officer. Immediately before the bout, Mr. Akira Otani, who was my Shihan at Takushoku University and the winner of Tenran Shiai held in 1933, walked up to me and said "Takamura is a master of Tai-otoshi. He beat me 4 times in a row with Tai-otoshi. Be careful, finish him quickly." I had never practiced with Takamura. When he pulled his right leg backward a little bit, I delivered O-uchi-gari. I scored Waza-ari. When we returned to the center of the platform, and the bout was re-started, I attempted O-soto-gari, and scored Ippon. The bout ended in 1 min 35 sec. The 3rd opponent was Isao Otate 5th dan from Kyoto. He was much taller and heavier than I, and had formidable skills. He first pushed my chest with his hands and delivered left and right Harai-goshi. He then attacked me O-soto-gari. I was trying to find out what technique he was trying to attempt at what timing. I held my hip low so that I could hold balance against any type of attack. I attempted O-soto-gari, but he dodged it. Past the 4 min 35 sec mark, I delivered O-soto-gari, again. He pulled his right leg backward, and resisted the pressure of O-soto-gari while arching his whole body. But I applied my weight over him and changed from O-soto-gari to O-soto-otoshi. He then fell onto the floor head first. I scored Ippon.

In the 1st bout of Semifinal, Takahiko Ishikawa 5th dan defeated Ryokichi Hirata 6th dan by dominance. In the 2nd bout of Semifinal, I faced Hirose 5th dan. I had beat him twice before by dominance. I had decided to score Ippon from him this time. As soon as we got hold of each other, I attempted O-soto-gari. Hirose defended this well, and returned offense with left and right Harai-goshi. I countered these with Mae-goshi and repelled him. Hirose then delivered O-uchi-gari. But it collided with my O-soto-gari, and we both fell together. I tried to initiate Newaza, but Hirose stood up. I attempted O-soto-gari for the 3rd time, but had no effect, and we got out of the platform. I attempted O-soto-gari for the 4th time with full force. He quickly pulled his right leg backward and resisted the pressure. I then changed to O-soto-otoshi, and applied my body weight over him. He fell to the floor head first. I scored Ippon. Later on, when I met him and the topic got to Tenran shiai, he said "Since I had heard that you were training 6 hours a day, I trained 6.5 hours a day. I thought I was ready to beat you. I did not even imagine that you were training as much as 9 hours a day."

Kimura throwing Ishikawa

Kimura throwing Ishikawa

In final, I faced Ishikawa 5th dan. He was taller and heavier than I, but I had beaten him twice by Ippon within 2 or 3 minutes before. In those days, my main arsenals for Shiai were Tsurikomi-goshi, O-uchi-gari, Ippon-seoi, Okuri-ashi-barai (left and right), De-ashi-barai (left and right), O-goshi, Harai-goshi, and O-soto-gari. I applied, for example, O-soto-gari in a different manner depending on whether the opponent was large or small, and whether the opponent used the left or right variation grip. Therefore, I was able to adjust my technique to any type of opponent. Weakness can be turned into strength by research. Weakness and strength are not at opposing poles, but are adjacent to each other separated by a sheet of paper.

The final started. Ishikawa 5th dan grabbed my back lapel with his right hand. He then pulled down his right elbow. I cut this grip by force. Next moment, I grabbed his left sleeve with my right hand, dropped my hip and initiated Ippon-seoi. Ishikawa had anticipated this move, and had already bent his right knee. He hopped to my right side and evaded my Ippon-seoi. But I watched how he hopped in this moment. The next attack method flashed in my head. He kept the hold of my back lapel. I attempted Ippon-seoi again, but this time, I stepped in less than last time. He hopped again to evade the Ippon-seoi. However, my right palm had been pressed on his right knee cap at the moment his total body weight got loaded onto his right leg. Using the rightward momentum he generated when he hopped to the right, I rolled him in the forward-rightward direction. I scored Ippon at 42 sec mark.

Go to Part 2 of "My Judo" by Masahiko Kimura

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For more information on Masahiko Kimura please see this short biography, a longer biography, or the latest article by Jim Chen. Also read the Interview with Helio Gracie where he reveals that Kimura had choked him unconscious.