Saturday, January 09, 2010

Cool judo story: Kano vs. Mochizuki

A while back I was telling one of my students a story - one of the apocryphal legends. It had some bearing on some conversation I was having with him at the time. Anyway, I couldn't remember the names or details (as often happens), so I wrote a note to the one guy who I knew would remember the story I was talking about - Sensei Mike Denton of the Wind of Change Dojo in Charlotte NC. I wrote...
...I remember a judo legend about some badass young competitor back in the day who missed one of Kano's classes to attend (and win) two shiai in one weekend. He thought Kano would be proud of him for winning but Kano was pissed about him missing class and told him he didn't know anything about the real meaning of judo.
Do you remember the story i'm talking about? Do you remember the names or details?
Mike replied...
I am familiar with that story – I forget where I heard or read it…I THINK it may be from one of the interviews in the Pre-war Aikido Masters volume… I have that at home if you don’t… I think it’s Minoru Mochizuki
And Mike even went home and verified the details for me...
Turns out my hunch was right - it's Minoru Mochizuki on pp 103-104 of Aikido Masters: Prewar Students of Morihei Ueshiba (Aikido Masters, Volume 1),

Mochizuki talks about going to two judo tourneys and missing an appointment with Dr. Kano. He returns home, and his sister reminds him of the appointment. He says that Kano planned his day down to the second, so he rushes over to Sensei's house. He forgets his wallet and because he has to change trains, he has to convince two different conductors to let him ride. The first time he says was less embarrassing because he didn't realize he didn't have money when he jumped on, but it was very difficult the second time because he knew he didn't have money when he got on.
He arrives about 2 1/2 hours late and is worried about the scolding he will get. Kano changes into formal wear to meet him (a fact that impressed him since he was 50 years Kano's junior). Kano studies Mochizuki's face and asks if he is sick. Mochizuki explains that he was in and won two tournaments that day. He then says there must have been pride in his voice, because Kano's tone changes completely.
Kano asks Mochizuki what he thinks "tournaments are anyway?" Mochizuki cannot understand why Kano is mad that he has won twice. "We write shiai with characters which mean 'try out together.'" Kano continues to explain that shiai is part of the system in order to test one's strength at any given time. "Does it take you two times in one day to do that?"
Mochizuki reflects, "I'd just been out there to win. I hadn't given any thought to the idea of trying out my strength." Kano continues his scolding, "You have a mistaken understanding of judo. Competition is not some sort of game you do for fun. With that kind of attitude, you'll never be a good instructor."
Yep, that's the story. Thanks, Mike! I'd forgotten the part about the train ride and about Kano getting dressed up for their meeting. That's impressive.

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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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