Friday, November 15, 2019

Seiichi Shirai, Kodokan Judo 9th dan

photo from:

Our judo and aikido teacher, Karl Geis, attributed a significant portion of his newaza doctrine to seemingly little-known judo sensei (at least in America) Seiichi Shirai. Geis even called part of his groundwork doctrine, "The Shirai System."
But there is relatively little online about a Shirai-sensei, so who was this Shirai guy? It turns out that he was one of Kyuzo Mifune's uchideshi, favorite ukes, and later Mifune's nephew-in-law. That clue gives us some research leverage because there IS a lot online and in print about Mifune!
We can get a glimpse into Shirai-sensei's thinking on judo from these quotes in Draeger's Training Methods book:

...and from Draeger & Otaki's Judo Formal Techniques book:

...and from some lessons quoted from the Spring Park Judo Club at Garland TX:
"...Another of judo’s first generation who trained under founder Jigoro Kano was Seiichi Shirai. He also trained with Mifune and eventually married Mifune's niece. ...a story that Shirai would tell about the importance of repeating a lesson:.The mind is like a tea cup. And if you fill it again and again with green tea, the cup will eventually turn green, absorbing the lesson. “And that’s the way,” Shirai would say, “I would repeat a story, over and over and over again.”...Another lesson ... from Shirai was about gaijyu and naiko. While the outside appearance of people in dealing with each other should be soft and gentle – gaijyu, the mind and the heart inside should be strong like steel – naiko."
Shirai doing randori with Mifune begins at about 3 minutes into this video.

And here's Mifune-sensei demonstrating kata with Shirai-sensei

So, what parts of our judo doctrine at Mokuren Dojo appear to have come down through the years from Shirai?

  • Throw into ground control. Throws should transition directly, immediately, and naturally to ground control.
  • 2-hands on a point and shrimp-bridge - Tear holes in the opponent's ground control and balance by getting 2-hands on 1 point on the opponent and blindly shrimping and bridging.
  • Use pointy elbows and knees to fill the holes created by shrimping and bridging. Also use pointy elbows and knees as part of udeosae-type hold-downs
  • Meatgrinder - our basic lessons about turning turtles and taking backs that we call "The Meatgrinder" have been attributed to Shirai.

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Patrick Parker
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