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Old 06-30-2010, 01:07 PM   #49
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Does one's size or weight affect one's Aikido?

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
I'm well aware the weight categories are recent innovation. But they were introduced for important reasons. I agree also there are some very exceptional artists that are able to neutralize their own disadvantage when attacker is much heavier.
That was original judo. The weight classes contributed greatly to erasing important knowledge from modern judo.

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
...I have no illusions what can be done and what not in the dojo environment where you protect an attacker. I saw ppl who like you didn't respect that and got seriously injured by their own ego (not intentionally by attacker!!!). You can't cheat gravity.
Not sure what you mean by "ppl like" me. My teacher was uchi deshi to Mifune and Yoshio Sugino was one of his best friends. The only judo I know is from that original line--not the modern sport. My teacher said "Nowadays, judo has become a dumping ground for overweight children" and that the modern sport relies on weight and force, which is why Sugino left judo for good.

Of course, size influences everything, but few people found bigger size to be an advantage against Mifune, Sugino or Mochizuki because they trained in complete judo.

Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Also I tend to separate the legends from reality of training.
Of course, when you don't know the people in question, how can you determine what is legend and what is real? And thinking these real people only legends, how could you begin to consider what gave them their truly fantastic abilities? (Hint:: it wasn't weight.)

Although he tried practically every sport available, Sugino's real love was for budo, particularly judo and kendo. While at Keio, he began studying judo under Kunisaburo Iizuka, an 8th dan judoist who also taught at the Kodokan. Iizuka was even shorter than Sugino but he made up for his lack of height in his girth and exceptional skill. It was he who forged the young Sugino into a strong judo man. At first, Sugino was unable to win against any of his opponents because of his small size. "That was truly a difficult time for me," he recalls. Sugino studied kendo for a time under a man named Tadatsu Shingai, who was employed in the Imperial Household Agency and was ranked "upper second kyu." The dan system was not used at that time and practitioners were ranked instead from tenth kyu to first kyu, which ranks were further divided into upper, middle and lower levels. Given that a third kyu was roughly equivalent to a modern 4th dan, Shingai's upper second kyu rank suggests he had considerable skill. Although Shingai urged Sugino to train seriously, Sugino seemed to show little aptitude for kendo (perhaps it did not quite fit his nature then) and he made little progress. After a while he decided to give it up.

Sugino's real talent at the time was for judo. He trained every morning and evening, his desire to strengthen himself leading him to spend more time on the mat than anyone else. Iizuka's training was strict and under him the Keio judo club (which had generally been considered too weak to amount to much) and Sugino grew steadily stronger. Sugino sometimes relates a story he once heard about his judo teacher: "Years ago in Kyushu, Iizuka defeated a certain classical jujutsu man using his judo. As he returned to his lodgings that evening, his opponent ambushed him, this time brandishing a blade and hurling abuse, but Iizuka took him down and pinned him beautifully."

Iizuka was as strict when it came to etiquette as he was tough. Once Sugino was ordered by one of his seniors to referee a judo match, since there happened to be no one else in the dojo to do it just then. Hearing this, Iizuka roared, "Absolutely not! You don't even have a hakama to wear today. We certainly can't have someone with no hakama referee a judo match!" "Ordinarily Iizuka was a very gentle, very nice man," says Sugino, "but in the dojo he was a tiger of a teacher. Even now I feel the highest respect and gratitude toward him."

Undefeated in Judo
Once there was a judo tournament between Keio University and the four-school alliance comprised of Kuramae Engineering University, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Rissho University and Tokyo University of Fisheries. The Keio team being short on members, Iizuka arranged for Sugino to participate despite the fact that he was still only a first kyu. His opponents were all huge black-belts. But Sugino stepped onto the mat wearing his brown belt and threw his way through six of them, with the seventh match ending in a draw. Afterward his teammates crowded around him congratulating him: "You're so small, but you fought so well in there! Even Iizuka Sensei thought so." He came away from the tournament with unprecedented new confidence.

At the end of that same year Sugino took his shodan exam at the Kodokan on Iizuka's recommendation. This time he defeated six opponents in a row, earning for himself the rank of "shodan with honors", a rank which existed at that time and indicated performance above and beyond that required for an ordinary shodan. From then until earning his 4th dan, Sugino remained undefeated. Even in elimination-type series he would inevitably wind up first or at least in a draw with the last opponent.

His friend Minoru Mochizuki (present head of the Yoseikan) once commented about his judo skills: "Sugino? That guy has the kami [divine] in him!" One of Sugino's favorite judo techniques was utsurigoshi (hip shift), a somewhat acrobatic technique in which the opponent's throwing power is taken advantage of to throw him instead. He was also fond of urawaza (rear techniques) and kaeshiwaza (reversals) and always exploited openings left by opponents who carelessly underestimated him because of his small size. But more than anything he had the confidence that his teacher Iizuka had planted in him.

Sugino continued training in judo rigorously, day after day, constantly thinking of ways to strengthen himself and his technique. Being of a highly assertive disposition to begin with, he never hesitated to express his own opinions, even to his superiors. He once even argued with Jigoro Kano regarding a point of judo technique. Kano said that koshiguruma (hip wheel) and ogoshi (large hip throw) were the same technique. Sugino insisted they were different; for koshiguruma, he said, you load your opponent on your hips, whereas for ogoshi you do not. It was practically unheard of and highly irregular for a judo practitioner to argue about such things with the very founder of the art! But Sugino was of a strongly progressive spirit and never allowed himself to be bound by tradition or authority. Even then, though still relatively young, he was already searching for an answer to the question, "What should modern judo really be like?"

In May 1923 Sugino entered a judo competition in Taipei. He was selected as the first of five opponents to go against a third-dan judoka in a five-player elimination match. Judoka capable of making it through this sort of elimination competition are generally viewed as among the most skilled, with impressive strength and the ability to down at least five opponents in a match without too much difficulty. Perhaps deceived by Sugino's small stature, the third-dan moved in to execute what he probably thought would be an easy inner-thigh reap, but at the last instant Sugino caught him with a lightning-fast utsurigoshi (hip shift), one of his favorite techniques. The throw had been nearly perfect, but it so surprised the referee that he became confused as to how to call it. He hesitated to stop the match since the player still had four opponents to go. Wondering why the referee had said nothing, Sugino continued the match and brought the third-dan to the mat in a strangle hold. Eventually his opponent tapped out in submission, but the referee ignored this as well. Having no other choice, Sugino continued to apply the technique until the poor fellow lost consciousness.

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
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