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Old 04-24-2005, 06:04 AM   #1
gwailoh
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Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Can anyone provide more details as to this story? Has anyone ever seen this video footage, or heard first-hand accounts of it? There was also a confrontation with a reporter, iirc, and the video of that was on the 'net somewhere -- any links to it?

Thanks folks!

" Koichi Tohei Sensei's first visits to Hawaii in the 1950's when Judo players challenged him and lost. This was far from friendly sparring matches. One occasion he was asked to take 4 Judo players at one time in front of an audience and wiped the floor with them. There was even video. This was a reason why many of the early aikido students in Hawaii had previously been Judo players."
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Old 04-24-2005, 08:21 AM   #2
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

You know, I'm all for aikido - but is is possible that Tohei simply was remarkably more senior to those folks in JUDO? I would love to see the video as well.

Rob
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Old 04-24-2005, 11:04 AM   #3
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
You know, I'm all for aikido - but is is possible that Tohei simply was remarkably more senior to those folks in JUDO? I would love to see the video as well.

Rob
Tohei wasn't all that advanced in Judo - a nidan when he met Ueshiba and became his student, IIRC. In fact, one of the reasons that he was looking around was his inablity to defeat the larger Judo folks.

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-24-2005, 03:55 PM   #4
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
Tohei wasn't all that advanced in Judo - a nidan when he met Ueshiba and became his student, IIRC. In fact, one of the reasons that he was looking around was his inablity to defeat the larger Judo folks.

Best,

Chris
You might be privy to info I'm not, Chris. But my understanding is that at some point, he had little difficulty with Judoka and therefore left from lack of interest--not that there wasn't a period of struggle intermixed.

Regardless, there's a reason for weight classes in Judo, so problems with bigger opponents seems to be pretty endemic to the sport itself.

Last edited by sanskara : 04-24-2005 at 04:08 PM.

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Old 04-24-2005, 04:03 PM   #5
gwailoh
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

I got some responses from different places i've posted this query:

--------------------------------------------------------

Kohei was in Hawaii in 1953 and he was familiar with judo because hehad done it as a child (continuing into university judo) before
starting in aikido.

"Tohei-sensei was born in 1920 and grew up in an upper class Japanese family, north of Tokyo. He was sickly as a child and was introduced to Judo and Zen by his father, a 4th dan in Judo, to try to strengthen his constitution. By fifteen, Tohei had acheived 1st dan in Judo and later 2nd dan (by 19)." (http://www.houstonkiaikido.org/society.htm)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And I got this reply from the Head of Hawaii Aikido.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Charlie,

In 1953 Tohei Sensei was in San Jose, California, promoting Aikido and wanting to draw attention to the art. He attended the All-American Judo Championships there. After the contest, when the 5 champions had been selected (from the 5 different categories), he stated that he would take all five of them on at the same time. He did so, and they were unable to hold him as he threw them in all directions. They were quite confused and disturbed that their strength and great skill meant nothing in the face of this small man. This was all recorded on the Pathe' News, which played in theatres before the movie in those days, and was shown on Maui. Here Shinichi Suzuki Sensei saw this video, shortly before Tohei Sensei came to teach the police on Maui, and Maui Ki-Aikido was born. Unfortunately we do not have a copy of the film and do not know who does.

Thanks for your interest, and keep up your training.

Aloha,

Christopher Curtis
Chief Instructor
Hawaii Ki Federation
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Old 04-24-2005, 07:21 PM   #6
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
You might be privy to info I'm not, Chris. But my understanding is that at some point, he had little difficulty with Judoka and therefore left from lack of interest--not that there wasn't a period of struggle intermixed.

Regardless, there's a reason for weight classes in Judo, so problems with bigger opponents seems to be pretty endemic to the sport itself.
It's based upon his own statements in "Ki no Kakuritsu". He was unhappy with the focus on purely physical technique, and with his inability to deal with the larger Judo players, so he was looking around when he got an introduction to Ueshiba. To be more exact he says "Because I was small, when I had a match with larger opponents I couldn't equal them".

Anyway, problems with larger opponents are endemic to any martial art aren't they?

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-24-2005, 08:08 PM   #7
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

I did Aikido for the 2003-2004 school year, and then had to stop due to my water polo schedule. Now I am back and I'm very happy. One of the things I love about Aikido is the fact that there are no weight classes and that a weak old man can throw an opponent much taller heavier and stronger than him across the room. This de-emphasis of strength seems to set Aikido apart from most other martial arts. It is often compared to Judo, which I understand because of the joint-lock/grappling style of fighting however the approach seems to be completely different. Are there any other martial arts that have a similar approach that does not emphasize physical strength?
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Old 04-24-2005, 09:23 PM   #8
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote:
It's based upon his own statements in "Ki no Kakuritsu". He was unhappy with the focus on purely physical technique, and with his inability to deal with the larger Judo players, so he was looking around when he got an introduction to Ueshiba. To be more exact he says "Because I was small, when I had a match with larger opponents I couldn't equal them".
Chris
Here's some more grist for the mill:

http://www.aikidojournal.com/article...t=koichi+tohei

Quote:
Also, having been away from judo for nearly two years, by the time I got my second dan, everybody else was already ranked fourth or fifth dan. Even many of the third dans had progressed so far ahead of me that they could throw me all over the place. That wasn't very interesting and it wasn't much fun, either.

Hoping to strengthen myself, I went home and started kicking lightly at the support pillars around the house. After doing that a couple of thousand times a day, though, the walls started to come down. My elder sister wasn't very pleased about that and made me go outside in the garden instead. After a few weeks I got so I could move my feet with the same agility and dexterity as my hands. I went back to the dojo and was able to throw everybody.
If Tohei's story is an accurate representation of his abilities--I have no idea if it is--he appears to have transcended the stage you mentioned. That's why when I asked you if you were privy to outside info, I thought you might know someone who was there.

Quote:
Anyway, problems with larger opponents are endemic to any martial art aren't they?
And prison yards too.

Regards,
James Bostwick
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Old 04-24-2005, 10:44 PM   #9
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Edited and Condensed from KI: A Road That Anyone Can Walk by William Reed

Tohei met a Japanese-American from Hawaii - Kyoto Fujioka. Fujioka invited to him to come to Hawaii to teach young people. After Fujioka are returned to Hawaii he looked for a sponsor and found one in Nishkai a health-oriented organization founded by and based on the teachings of Dr. Katsuzo Nishi. The Nishikai had members on all of the islands of Hawaii.

Tohei made his first trip to Hawaii in February of 1953. He traveled by himself on boat leaving Yokohama. He had no particular plan for gathering students in the beginning, except to show any wrestlers and black belt martial artists who came how easily they could be thrown. No challengers seem to come from among the professional wrestlers. The wrestlers had little to gain from such an offer and much to lose.

Dr. Kurisaki, the vice-president of Nishikai, asked if it was possible to handle more than one attacker using Aikido. Tohei replied that it must be possible if you use mind and body coordination, although he had never practiced aikido against more than one opponent at a time and nearly everyone he trained with was around his own size. Dr. Kurisaki asked for a demonstration and Tohei agreed. He found himself facing seven men, all of them 4th Dan or higher in Judo. There was even a 16mm camera to record the event.

On Dr. Kurisaki's signal, the seven men attacked. Tohei moved like mad, throwing and evading, until finally Dr. Kurisaki gave the signal to stop. Thinking he had terribly embarrassed himself, he was surprised to hear a great applause. Later, when he saw the film of the attackers, he himself was surprised at how smooth it looked. Doing a multi-person attack (randori) would become one of the trademarks of his teaching style.

In May 1953 the All American Judo Tournament sponsored by the AAU, was held at San Jose State College in California. Tohei gave an Aikido demonstration between matches. At his hotel was a message from a reporter who liked the exhibition, but since it was over quickly, had no time to take pictures or notes. He asked if Tohei could do it again on the last day of the tournament.

After giving his demonstration, Tohei found himself facing five Judo men in an impromptu randori. Dr. Kurisaki had mentioned that the five were not used to kicks and punches, so Tohei would not strike them. However, they could punch, kick and bite Tohei and would be attacking him at once from different directions. After the randori was over, Dr. Kurisaki mentioned how calm Tohei looked and the fact that he was even smiling through the whole event. Tohei replied that it was unintentional and he always smiled when he was in trouble.


FWIW several sources have Tohei describing how he had to figure out Aikido against people who were much stronger and larger than himself, when he was in Hawaii.

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Old 04-24-2005, 11:15 PM   #10
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Ted,

Thanks for the post. I didn't want to have to delve into the books and do the typing myself. I think Chris Curtis left out the Hawaii challenge in his e-mail. I wonder if that means there was also footage of the San Jose challenge, as he stated, or if he blended together Hawaii and San Jose into one event? I'm thinking the latter, given my conversations with some of the Hawaii crowd, including Suzuki Sensei some years back.

Regards,
James Bostwick
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Old 04-24-2005, 11:52 PM   #11
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
Ted,

Thanks for the post. I didn't want to have to delve into the books and do the typing myself. I think Chris Curtis left out the Hawaii challenge in his e-mail. I wonder if that means there was also footage of the San Jose challenge, as he stated, or if he blended together Hawaii and San Jose into one event? I'm thinking the latter, given my conversations with some of the Hawaii crowd, including Suzuki Sensei some years back.
From what I can figure out, there should be two films, one for each event. Assuming they both survived the years.

Although Hawaii was the first time for Tohei to do a randori, there is a 1930's Japanese propaganda film of the founder doing a randori type demonstration.

For us, this is all history, but at the time it seems it was a pretty close thing. Those judo guys could have easily handed back Tohei's head on a platter, if he hadn't been able to figure out things on-the-fly.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
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Old 04-25-2005, 12:26 AM   #12
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
James Bostwick wrote:
If Tohei's story is an accurate representation of his abilities--I have no idea if it is--he appears to have transcended the stage you mentioned. That's why when I asked you if you were privy to outside info, I thought you might know someone who was there.
When Tohei met Ueshiba? That was before the war, so there are very few people (nobody?) still around who might have been there. Anyway, my comments were based only on Tohei's own words from his own book.

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-25-2005, 12:32 AM   #13
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Nathan Gusdorf wrote:
Are there any other martial arts that have a similar approach that does not emphasize physical strength?
any Jujutsu that is focused on self-defense rather than becoming a sport would fall in that line, including Judo. Just is a lot of Judo is taught at a rather low level. Aikido can recieve the same criticism nowadays too unfortunately.

and well, Systema would be another example.

and any martial art where the primary motivation is more about surviving than scoring points.

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Old 04-25-2005, 12:51 AM   #14
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Ted Ehara wrote:
From what I can figure out, there should be two films, one for each event. Assuming they both survived the years.
I wonder how many 16mm films of that type have survived from the 1950's? That film stock does decay. Is it rotting in some storage facility in the forgotten archives of someone's estate. Is it in a vault of some news agency ? How hard has anyone tried to track it down, I wonder.

The late Iwao Tamura Sensei talked about seeing newsreel in Japan of Tohei Sensei around 1954. He was being attacked by a large group of men and throwing them around with seeming effortlessness. It impressed him so much he sought out an aikido school. Turned out to be a Yoshinkan school, but he didn't understand the difference at the time.

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Old 04-25-2005, 02:10 AM   #15
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Regarding weight classes. Let's not get carried away into thinking Aikido is somehow superior because we don't have weight classes. The reason we don't have weight classes is because we don't have competition. A small guy can throw a big guy during the drilling phase of judo just as easily as he could perform an Aikido technique on him. It is when the opponent is resisting with motivation that weight classes become important. It would be the same with Aikido. When both combatants have training, physical attributes are vitally important, in any art, to think otherwise is dangerous fantasy.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 04-25-2005, 02:18 AM   #16
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

I think you're reading something that's not there. I don't recall anyone suggesting that Judo is inferior to Aikido.

Regards,
James Bostwick
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Old 04-25-2005, 03:28 AM   #17
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Nathan Gusdorf wrote:
I did Aikido for the 2003-2004 school year, and then had to stop due to my water polo schedule. Now I am back and I'm very happy. One of the things I love about Aikido is the fact that there are no weight classes and that a weak old man can throw an opponent much taller heavier and stronger than him across the room. This de-emphasis of strength seems to set Aikido apart from most other martial arts. It is often compared to Judo, which I understand because of the joint-lock/grappling style of fighting however the approach seems to be completely different. Are there any other martial arts that have a similar approach that does not emphasize physical strength?
That's the sentiment I was responding to. The beleif that the lack of weight class in Aikido is due to a something intrinsic in the art that takes away the advantage of size, rather than simply being due to the lack of sporting application (i.e. vs motivated resistance)

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 04-25-2005, 03:32 AM   #18
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Michael Fooks wrote:
That's the sentiment I was responding to. The beleif that the lack of weight class in Aikido is due to a something intrinsic in the art that takes away the advantage of size, rather than simply being due to the lack of sporting application (i.e. vs motivated resistance)
Yep, my bad, someone did insinuate that. Your sentiments pretty much match mine on that one.

Regards,
James Bostwick
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Old 04-25-2005, 07:32 AM   #19
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

I got a kick out of Dan Mesisco (sp?) sensei talking about the first time he got to work out with a Samoan! He said he could move him (from center), but he suprised himself in doing so. He also mentioned that he wasn't quite over the shock of how the guy's hand enveloped Dan's entire forearm.

In a martial situation, it would be silly to say that size doesn't matter at all; but it would also be silly to say that size matters more good movement (which we should be learning in aikido). Take it to the nth degree, you are a million pounds, and so I move to the other side of the planet - I'm still safe.

Rob
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Old 04-25-2005, 11:05 AM   #20
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
but it would also be silly to say that size matters more good movement
Should read:

...but it would also be silly to say that size matters more THAN good movement

Sorry. I think I must have done one CTRL-Z too many.
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Old 04-25-2005, 11:22 AM   #21
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Size matters when you are trying to set up a competition because you are trying to negate size/strength differences in favor of technical skill. Weight classes exist because when you have two combatants, that is two people who have agreed to fight and stay engaged to the end, the longer the engagement lasts the more likely large physcial differences (size/strength/endurance) will trump technical skill. Especially true if you are agreeing to play the same game. Especially when the opponent is allowed to fall on a soft mat and the rules allow him to recover for another go.

In fairness to the Judoka, Tohei did know their game and he was playing a game they didn't know at a very high level.

A similar thing happened when the Gracies showed up with the UFC. They set up their game. Later it evolved so that others like Shamrock learned their game and came in physically bigger and stronger.


I don't think it is a delusion that a smaller person can take someone out in SD situation with technical skill. But if you expect to go toe-to-toe like John Wayne in "The Quiet Man", you had better be a physical match for their size.

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Old 04-25-2005, 02:12 PM   #22
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

That's a very good point, Craig. A lot of people do forget that Tohei had enough experience in Judo to have a pretty good idea of what these guys were going to do strategically, and that that consituted a significant advantage. Especially if they as challengers had never seen Aikido.

I would also add that no one I've talked to really thought of these challenges as anything even remotely approaching a life and death scenario (the unsourced quote at the beginning of the thread notwithstanding.) That sure, these Judoka tried hard to take him down (they didn't want to be shamed in front of their consituency.) But it was far from a knock down drag out fight, and somewhere between that and a friendly public relations indulgence--which means they didn't tank for him either.

I would contend that motives affect aggression levels, and that as cool as these stories are, we have no idea how differently this might have played out if they were really pissed at Tohei or had there been stronger incentive for these guys to win, say, in the form of substantial monetary remuneration, as in some of the high profile tournaments of today. None of this is meant to take away from Tohei's accomplishments, of course, a win is a win, and there's no way it could have happened "accidentally" so many times in a row, if the margin for error had been razor thin, and luck had simply been on his side.

In fact, if I recall correctly, once the first challenge took place in Hawaii and word got around, some Judo guys were upset that it was being said in the martial arts community that Judoka dropped like flies against Tohei because of the "superiority" of Aikido. Unless I'm remembering incorrectly, I believe it was just that annoyance that led to further challenges like the ones in San Jose. But without footage, we simply don't have enough info to judge the level of attack. All just food for thought...

Last edited by sanskara : 04-25-2005 at 02:15 PM.

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Old 04-26-2005, 09:58 AM   #23
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Without a video documentation, myths and legends are born. I heard all kinds of stories about Gozo Shioda and JFK's bodyguard, then I saw the video and 90% of what I heard was incorrect.

The old saying is "Believe nothing of what you hear, and half of what you see".
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Old 04-26-2005, 12:08 PM   #24
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

You know, that is a good point.

There was a story about when Ikeda sensei attended a Chiba sensei seminar. One day, I overheard a friend telling someone else about what happened. I find the story telling to be farily credible - but he was not there. When I questioned him about the accuracy of the story he told me that he had heard it from one of Ikeda sensei's students "who was there". The funny thing is that I had also heard about that same event from another person "who was also there" - and was not one of Ikeda sensei's students, who gave me a much more balanced and reasonable retelling of what _he_ saw. I think that sometimes students just have stars in their eyes.

It makes you wonder about what really happened with some of the stories about O-sensei. Maybe, getting the information from a former uchi-deshi is not as reliable as we'd like to think.

Rob

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Old 04-26-2005, 07:45 PM   #25
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Re: Tohei throwing Judoka in Hawaii?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
You know, that is a good point.

There was a story about when Ikeda sensei attended a Chiba sensei seminar. One day, I overheard a friend telling someone else about what happened. I find the story telling to be farily credible - but he was not there. When I questioned him about the accuracy of the story he told me that he had heard it from one of Ikeda sensei's students "who was there". The funny thing is that I had also heard about that same event from another person "who was also there" - and was not one of Ikeda sensei's students, who gave me a much more balanced and reasonable retelling of what _he_ saw. I think that sometimes students just have stars in their eyes.

Rob
Hmm.. mm.. b..but..wwots the story??
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