View Full Version : Shiro Saigo with Sun Yat Sen (1913)

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Scott Harrington
02-15-2014, 09:20 AM
A nice shot of Shiro Saigo (made famous in the movie Sanshiro Sugata) who was one of Kano's earliest Judo students. There is a two-fold story with some debate about him being 1) a previous Daito ryu student who trained in Kano's dojo and 2) a master of the technique Yama-arashi (Mountain Storm) which has not been duplicated in the Judo world.

The Yama-arashi is a Daito ryu technique involving a modified shiho-nage with a sweep. Very hard to take ukemi from.

This photo is with Sun Yat Sen, first President of China, who was getting protection in Japan in 1913. What is amazing is how short Shiro Saigo was.

Shiro Saigo moved to Nagasaki after breaking from Kano and Judo and studied Kyudo (archery) and took up Journalism (probably why he is pictured next to Sun Yat Sen).

Scott Harrington

Ellis Amdur
02-15-2014, 11:12 AM
Saigo Shiro was very active in nationalistic circles. John Steven's does a very good job in pulling together the available anecdotes on Kano Jigoro's history, including his inner circle. Very interesting information on Saigo.
A couple of points, however: the only assertion that yama-arashi was a modified shihonage was done by Obata Toshishiro--and he openly says in his writing that this is something he assumes.
If one refers to books written by Saigo's contemporaries (Yamashita, Mifune), they clearly list yama-arashi - it's a technique mid-way between tai-otoshi and harai-goshi. In the films of Hal Sharp, taken in the 1950's, several older teachers show this technique.
Interestingly, in Steven's book, based, I believe, on Kodokan records, Saigo was thrown out of the Kodokan because he loved to fight so much--street fights, but that he returned to visit Kano on occasion and was awarded, I believe, a 6th dan, in the 1920's.
Finally, a researcher in Japan as assiduously looked into the history of the Kodokan epic shiai against other ryu, and has found absolutely no newspaper accounts, and no written claims of these matches until decades later--well into the 1900's. Furthermore, there is no reference to Saigo having studied Daito-ryu or studied with Saigo Tanomo, until the 1920's. This researcher, a judoka, notes that these assertions are exactly contemporaneous with Ueshiba Morihei's advent as a teacher in Tokyo (and an examination of Takeshita's diaries show that what he was teaching was "how to defeat judo.").

Scott Harrington
02-15-2014, 03:47 PM
Judo: Self Taught in Pictures by Hubert Klinger-Klingerstorff / 1952
Pg 12 -- 13
Paradoxically it was a European who inspired the modern revival of Jujutsu in Japan. He was a German physician, Dr. Baelz, of Tokyo University, who took a course in the "gentle art" from the septuagenarian teacher Totsuka, and because he was so greatly esteemed as a university professor his students followed his example and took up the art of their ancestors. Once the renaissance had begun, it spread quickly, and eventually there were few Japanese who had not taken a course.

One of Dr. Baelz's pupils, Dr. Jigoro Kano, made a study of the various system of self defense, and came to the conclusion that all suffered from a lack of spiritual purpose -- the various locks and hold were learnt and used mechanically as physical actions.

The above is a short section from the said book.

Dr. Baelz studied Jiujitsu, kenjutsu, and kyudo. His autobiography tells of his time with the movers and shakers in quickly westernizing Japan, along with details about Judo and Jiujitsu. Various spellings of his name exist.

Baelz, Erwin. Awakening Japan: The Diary of a German Doctor. Indiana University Press (1974). Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul. ISBN 0-253-31090-3.

I need to get out more notes I took from his book (interlibrary loan), but it seems Dr. Baelz also was involved in setting up a competition with the new school "Judo" and a venerable JiuJitsu school. The Judo was soundly beaten. I'll look up the name of the instructor (who I believe did teach the police.)

So, just as Aikido downplayed its Daito ryu roots, Judo's overwhelming victory in competitive match with a police dojo may have not been (as your research has looked into.) I am also reminded of Funakoshi's likeness drawn in instead of Motobu Chōki when Motobu won against a western boxer in a match and they ran pics in the newspaper.

Back to Shiro Saigo and his Yama-arashi throw, this is a Daito ryu technique and even has a similar looking advanced technique in Hakko ryu (a derivative of DR).

I have written before on this technique and both have Obata's book with his version and also believe this is NOT the technique. Various old Judo books show a wide range of ‘versions' which are also not the DR version. Nothing new, just look at Sumo and similar but differently named Judo throws.

As to Saigo training with his ‘adopted' father who may or may not have taught Takeda Sokaku ‘aiki (and Takeda Sokaku did claim this to his son and other people), it is a matter best left to RESEARCH.

Scott Harrington