JUDO The first known meeting of Kodokan judo and any American occurred in 1879, when President U.S Grant was in Japan on a state visit and observed a demonstration of judo techniques by 19-year-old Jigoro Kano. The official date given for the start of kodokan judo is 1882, and most likely Kano did not explain his Kodokan Judo then but may have lectured on his study of jujutsu. In any case, President Grant was exposed to the judo master at a very fertile and productive period in pre-Kodokan judo’s history.
The next contact came in 1889, when Kano lectured on the educational values of judo before a group of foreign dignitaries. There were several Americans present but this contact had no discernible result.
The first American to study seriously at the Kodokan was Prof. Ladd from Yale University. Ladd came to the Kodokan sometime during 1889, ten years after Kano’s demonstration for President Grant. Ladd studied nage (throwing), katame (mat work), atemi-waza (striking techniques), and koshiki-no-kata (self-defense forms). By 1908, the Kodokan had a total of 13 American members studying in Japan. During 1919 Prof. John Dewey of Columbia University went to the Kodokan to observe a demonstration. Dewey discussed Kodokan judo with Kano and may have been instrumental in the beginning of a pioneering judo program at Columbia University.
Yoshiaki Yamashita, then 6th dan, was the first person to teach judo in the U.S. He arrived in 1902 at the invitation of Mr. Graham Hill, director of the Great Northern Railroad. Hill contacted a Mr. Fujiya, who contacted Mr. Shibata, who was a student of Prof. Yamashita, concerning Yamashita’s coming to the U.S. to teach his children judo. After Yamashita arrived, the Hill family decided that judo was much too dangerous for their children.
Mr. Hill arranged for judo demonstrations in New York and Chicago. Healso tried to arrange for Harvard University to hire Yamashita as a judo teacher.
At the same time, Sen. Lee’s wife and Mrs. Wadsworth started taking judo lessons from Yamashita. They had the sixth floor of a building covered with tatami mats. The women mostly practiced nage-no-kata. These few women started the first judo class in the country. A men’s judo group made up from various embassies in the area appeared. Thus judo traveled in prominent circles in its embryonic stage in America.
For lack of wider participation this judo mission died out with Yamashita’s return to Japan in 1907. Mrs. Wadsworth was a fine horsewoman and went to the same country club as did President Theodore Roosevelt. She mentioned to the president that Yamashita was teaching judo and that Roosevelt might be interested in the art. Yamashita was subsequently invited to Washington to give a demonstration at the White House. There was a contest with a wrestler by the name of John Graft, who was the coach at the U.S. Naval Academy and who was teaching President Roosevelt wrestling. Although Yamashita threw him time after time, Graft continued to get up. Finally, Yamashita decided that he would do mat work with Graft, since there seemed to be no end to the match. In the mat work, Yamashita got an arm lock on Graft, but the wrestler would not give up. Yamashita kept up the pressure until Graft groaned as his arm came close to breaking. President Roosevelt was impressed and took judo lessons. After leaving office, he kept mats in his home. Roosevelt studied judo for about a year, earning a brown belt in the process. Through the help of the president, Yamashita taught judo at the Naval academy. In 1935, Yamashita was promoted to 10th dan, the first person to hold that rank. He died later that year.
Pacific Northwest In 1903, one year after Yamashita’s arrival in America, Shumeshiro Tomita journeyed to the U.S. He was the first person to sign the rolls of the Kodokan; he was instrumental in establishing judo in the U.S. as well as in Japan. Tomita stayed in the U.S. for seven years and taught judo at Princeton and Columbia Universities. After the arrival of Tomita and Yamashita, many judo instructors came to America. Among the very first were Miada Kousen, Sataki Nobushitam, and Ito Takugoro. Judo in the U.S. f irst flourished on the West Coast because of its large Japanese population.
Judo in the Pacific Northwest dates back to the beginning of the century, when judo was practiced in small, scattered clubs. The first dojo was opened in the Seattle area by a judoka named Kano in 1903, but this club closed after only a few months. Prof. Takugoro Ito, then 4th dan, arrived in America in 1907 and opened the Seattle Dojo.
Ito, like many other early judoka, was a wrestler. He held challenge matches, in which he was unbeatable. After several years he left the Seattle area, traveling to South America. Eisei Media, Akitoro Ono, Satake, and Matsuura traveled with him, touring South America as professional wrestlers, and returned to San Francisco in 1914. (Eisei Media stayed in Brazil and the Brazillian government gave him a quarter-million acres near the Amazon for his wrestling feats.)
In the 1920s, there were two dojos in the state of Washington, the Seattle Dojo and the Tacoma Dojo, operated mainly by yudansha of the respective communities, businessmen, farmers, and laborers. Yoshida sensei of Tacoma, then 3rd dan, was the best judo player. He was employed as a laborer in a sawmill. The other black belts were 1st and 2nd dans. Factions within the Seattle Dojo had difficulty working together. It is not known what the exact problem was but, around 1930, some members of the Seattle Dojo withdrew and formed their own Tentokukan Dojo. Each club hired teachers from Japan. Among the Seattle Dojo’s teachers in the 1920s and early 1930s were senseis: Miyazawa, Shibata, Kaimon Kudo, and Suzuki.
Before World War II, three main styles of judo were prominent in North America. The Budokan style and the Kodokan style predominated in the U.S. In Canada the Kito-ryu was strong, especially in Vancouver, B.C. The Seattle Judo Black Belt Association was organized around 1935 by Kumagai and Sakata senseis, tending to unite the two rival American factions. The two instructors were also responsible for organizing the bi-annual 24-man team contests with the Nanka (southern California) team. Southern California and the Northwest had the strongest judo groups at that time.
After World War II, the Tentokukan Dojo was not re-activated because the former membership was spread around the country. This closed out a pioneering judo effort on the West Coast. The Seattle Dojo owned their building and were able to continue with practice after the war.
The Washington team competed against the Vancouver B.C. team annually, against sailors from the visiting Japanese training ships, and occasionally with college teams from Japan. Eventually, nisei yudansha were hired when dojos were opened in Spokane, Yakima Valley, Eatonville, and cities in Oregon and Idaho. In the late 1930s, some dojos existed in the state of Washington, and each sponsored an annual tournament.
Judo in the Tacoma, Washington, area was started by Prof. Iwakiri, who was born in Japan, and who came here in 1912. Iwakiri exhibited such skill that he received his 1st dan from Prof. Kano at the age of 13. The Fife-Tacoma Dojo was originally formed as the St. Regis Dojo and was located in the St. Regis lumberyard sawdust pit. (The dojo was later moved from the lumberyard to the corner of 17th and Market Streets). Prof. Kano made two trips to the Fife-Tacoma dojo, in 1932 and 1938, in recognition of its outstanding achievements. In 1932 he presented the dojo a scroll and in 1938 another was given to the yudanshakai. In the 1938 scroll Kano wrote “return to the source,” and the ambiguity of his phrase still causes debate. Most opinion holds that the statement refers to Zen training.
Rev. Yukawa was the first yudanshakai president and served the Fife-Tacoma, Washington area from 1924 to 1925. After Rev. Yukawa, Prof. Iwakiri served as president from 1940 to 1958.
Before World War II, there were six dojos in the state of Oregon: Shudo-Kan Dojo, Obukan Dojo, Salem Judo Club, Milwaukee Dojo, G. T. Dojo, and the Shobukan Dojo. The Shobukan Dojo was the first, and was organized under Mits Nikata, then a 2nd dan. Prof. Kano visited the Portland area in 1932; during this visit he took the occasion to rename the Portland Dojo the Obukan Dojo. Some of the pioneering judo specialists in the Portland area were Mr. Nishizim ofthe Kito-ryu; Mr. Kobayashi of the Kito-ryu; Mr. Sakano Ichiro, 3rd dan from the Kodokan; Mr. Sazaki Ojiro,2nd den from the Kodokan; and Mr. Tomori, 2nd dan from the Kokodan.
After World War II, Buddy Ikata gathered together some of the people who knew judo and got the Portland -Obukan Dojo going again. The Obukan was re-established in 1952. Rev. Homma, a Buddhist priest, started judo at the YMCA and the YWCA. The Guiki Dojo started practice again in the spring of 1953 under Mr. Kato and Mr. Hamado, both 2nd dans, and Rev. Homma and Nakata, 3rd dans. March 3,1960, was the 42nd anniversary of the Obukan Dojo.
The Los Angeles Area The story of judo in southern California begins with Prof. Ito. Prof. Yamashita and Tomita were his contemporaries in American judo, but of the three only Ito made a lasting contribution to the development of American judo. Wherever Ito stayed, judo took hold and flourished. In 1915 he moved to Los Angeles and established the Rafu Dojo on the first floor of the Yamato Hall, near Jackson and San Pedro Streets. When Prof. Ito returned to Japan after seven years in Los Angeles, the Rafu Dojo continued under the management of Prof. Seigoro Murakami, Dr. Matsutaro Nittat and Ryuii Tatsuno .ln July 1917, there were still only two dojos in southern California.
The Nanka Judo Yudanshakai was organized in 1928. In 1930, the Kodokan Nanka Judo Yudanshakai was formed and Yasutaro Matsuura, then 4th dan, was elected president. Still only eight dojos and fewer than twenty black belts existed in southern California.
The Kodokan Nanka Judo Yudanshakai was reorganized at the direction of Prof. Jigoro Kano in 1932 while he was visiting the Los Angeles Olympic Games. The yudanshakai was renamed once more, this time the Hokubei Judo Yudanshakai or Southern California Judo Black Belt Association of North America; its presidency to devolve permanently upon the Los Angeles Consul General of Japan. A formal organization of judo occurred as a result of Prof. Kano’s visit, and four yudanshakais, or judo black belt associations, were formed: Southern California, Northern California, Seattle, and Hawaii.
When World War II started in Dec. 1941, there were twenty-six dojo in southern California, with 422 black belts and about 2,000 students. The black belts were distributed in the following manner: 6th dan-2; 5th dan-5; 4th dan-6; 3rd dan-42; 2nd dan-101; 1st dan-264; and 2 honorary black belts.
During World War II, judo continued to flourish in relocation camps such as Manzanar, Heart Mountain, Post Gila River, and Rule Lake. Although all other judo clubs ceased operations during the war years, Seinan Dojo kept its doors open. Jack Sirgel, then a 2nd dan, the head instructor, visited the Manzanar Relocation Camp with his students to improve their judo techniques, even though the war was at its peak.
San Diego As the last major port of entry for the Japanese on the west coast of the U.S., the pacific southwest failed to develop the large judo communities characteristic of northern cities.
According to oral reports, the only judo club or judo activity in the San Diego area before World War II was begun in 1925, and continued for several years, upstairs in the Taiikuki Hall on 6th and Market Streets. The first instructor, Mikinishake Kawaushi, taught for several years; Mizuzaki Showa, 5th dan, taught for about one year before the organization ceased activities. The only other organized martial arts activity in the San Diego area before World War II was a kendo society located in the Buddhist temple at 29th and Market Streets. This organization ceased activities after outbreak of the war.
Judo activity after World War II commenced in the San Diego area in April 1946 with the opening of classes in the city YMCA by Al C. Holtmann. From 1946-54 much prejudice against the Japanese existed. The promotion of judo in the San Diego area proved difficult during the early post-war years. In 1952, with hostility abating, the general public expressed an interest in Japanese goods, culture, arts, and sports. The San Diego Judo Club joined the Nanka Judo Yudanshakai (Los Angeles) in 1954, at the invitation of Mr. Kenneth Kuniyuki. Under Nanka’s jurisdiction much assistance was given the San Diego area in the way of advice, promotions, and technical help. An open invitation to all of Nanka’s tournaments was extended also to the San Diego judoka. The Sanshi Judo Club, located in Oceanside, in 1955, taught by Sachio Matsuhara, joined Nanka in 1955 In that year Benso Tsuji, now a 7th dan, became technical director for the San Diego Judo Club. As the highest graded black belt in the area, he brought his technical knowledge to bear on the teaching and promoting of Judo in the community.
Western United States The earliest record of judo being taught in the Denver area is that of Dr. T. Ito. Ito had learned his judo in Hawaii and was teaching in the early 1930s. James Fukumitsu, who had studied judo in Japan, was in the area and teaching judo to put himself through college from 1937-40. Some of the other early area judoka were Bill Ohikuma, Don Tanabe, and Nob Ito.
During World War II, judo activity ceased in the area. In 1944, George Kuramoto left the Amachi Relocation Center and with Fred Okimoto started judo classes in the local gymnasium, in the 20th Street Recreation Building, during 1950. During this time Toro Takematsu, 4th dan, had moved to the Denver area and notice an announcement in the Japanese community paper. Takematsu introduced himself to George Kuramoto and Fred Okimoto. Together, they purchased straw mats and started the original Denver Dojo, located between 19th and 20th Streets and Lawrence, the heart of the Japanese community. As the dojo developed, a larger building was rented and renovated.
Hawaii During the era of Japanese immigration to Hawaii, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, many Japanese immigrants trained in the art of Kodokan judo arrived. The first judo club in Hawaii, the Shunyo-Kan, was formed on March 17,1909, by Shigemi Teshima and Naomatsu Kaneshige. Consul-General Isami Shishido, 7th dan, joined the club in 1919 and served as chairman of the club’s board of directors for many years.
The Shobu Kan judo club was founded by Yajiro Kitayama, Nakajiro Mino, and others. Its first dojo site was the basement of the Ono Bakery on Beretania Street, followed by several locations in Honolulu, until it was moved to its present location on Kunawai Lane in the Liliha area.
Other clubs were subsequently established, and in 1929, three of the major judo clubs, Shunyo Kan, Shobu Kan, and Hawaii Chuugakko (junior high school) initiated an effort to organize judo in the territory of Hawaii. The organization hoped to demonstrate a united effort to the community and to be recognized as an instrument through which the social and cultural significance of this martial art would be transmitted and perpetuated. Organized judo grew rapidly under the supervision of this body, the Hawaii Judo Kyokai. In 1925, the Kodokan issued the first certificates for black belts to judoka in Hawaii. In 1927, a judo seminar was conducted by a visiting Waseda University judo group, headed by Mr. Makino, 6th dan. By 1932, the Hawaii Judo Association had several active clubs, and received official recognition from Prof. Kano during one of his stopovers in Honolulu. The certificate of recognition, #76, issued by the Kodokan Judo Institute on November 15,1932, was the first such authorization granted to a yudanshakai outside of Japan.
During 1954, the Judo Black Belt Federation started to establish local chapters, or yudanshakais. The Rocky Mountain Regional Black Belt Association was recognized as the local governing body.
Intermountain Area The first, post-war judo club in the Salt Lake area was formed in 1950 by Frank Nishimura and George Akimoto. Hot Springs, Utah, had a judo club that was started in 1954 by Mr. Mimya and Mr. Okawa, both 1st dans. Their club was active for about three years. In 1955, Mr. lchi Isogi started judo in Corinne, Utah. It was later started up again under Mr. Yamasaki. In Ogden, Utah, judo was started in 1956 through the efforts of Mr. Masaichiro Manomoto, 4th, Ted Sakawa, 1st, Tom Kimomoto, 1st dan, and Mr. Yonetani, 1st dan.
Frank Oryu, an old pioneer in the area, started the first Oregon dojo. An older 4th dan by the name of Muramoto, who also worked for Oryu, helped Oryu organize judo in 1949 and the Ontario Dojo was founded in 1950. The Ontario Dojo had a membership of about twenty black belts.
According to a report from Mas Yamashita, judo in the Caldwell-Boise Valley area started about two years after judo in Ontario, Oregon. Judo experienced a strong growth and was doing well when the first tournament was held in 1952.
Judo in Omaha began during the mid-1950s. Mike Meriweather taught at the YMCA and Dr. Ashida (at 22 one of the youngest 5th-degree black belts) taught at the University in Lincoln. Also, a number of black belts practiced judo at Offutt Air Force Base. Among the better known military judoka were Sgt. Mann, Augie Hauso, Phil Porter, Carl Flood, and La Verne Raab. The military people did not get involved in civilian judo until about 1958. Around 1960, Darrell Darling, Phil Porter, Paul Own, Wally Barber, who was director of the local YMCA, and Mike Manly met at Dr. Ashida’s house and decided to form a yudanshakai.They framed a constitution and made contacts with the yudanshakai officers in Chicago and Denver to implement the project. In 1961 the yudanshakai, which covered the greater part of six states, was formed. The first president of the Midwest Judo Association was Dr. Ashida. The second was La Verne Raab. The third, Ike Wakadayashi, had a strong judo program established at Kansas University. The fourth president was Dr. Loren Braught. The fifth and sixth presidents were Bill Stites and Darrell Darling respectively.
The first commercial judo school, the Omaha Judo Academy, was opened by La Verne Raab and Carl Flood after they left the military. Mel Bruno, who later became head of judo for SAC, taught judo at the Omaha YWCA and at the Omaha Athletic Club.
Chicago Judo first arrived in the Chicago area in Sept. 1903, when Mr. Graham Hill arranged for a judo demonstration by Prof. Yamashita in the cities of New York and Chicago. According to Prof. Kotani, in 1916, Heita Okabe, 4th dan; Toshitaka Yamauchi, 4th dan; and Ken Kawabara, 4th dan were teaching judo while studying at the University of Chicago; this would be the earliest organized judo activity in the midwest.
Mr. Harry Auspitz incorporated the first judo club in the Chicago area in 1938,the JiuJitsu Institute. Prior to 1939, judo was practiced sporadically by members of the Japanese Consulate and other interested individuals. The JuJitsu lnstitute became the first Kodokan Judo Club in Chicago, Whie Auspitz opened the dojo, the first instructor was Ralph Mori, who eventually opened his own judo club in 1941. Mori named his dojo the International Judo Club. Mr. Shozo Kuwashima came from New York in 1939 to teach at the institute; he later opened his own dojo. Also in 1941, Mr. Yasushi Tomonari came from New York to teach at the institute. During May of that year, Mr. Masato Tamura, then a 4th dan, came to Chicago from Fife, Washington, and also taught at the institute. With the illness of Mr. Auspitz in 1944, Mr. Tamura became the owner of the Jiu Jitsu Institute.
The Chicago Judo Club was founded by Shozo Kuwashima in 1941. When Kuwashima moved to the West Coast, the Chicago Judo Club was taken over by John Osako and Ruth Gardner.
After World WarII, judo in Chicago received numbers of Japanese who were relocating in the midwest section of the country. Vince Tamura came to Chicago and helped out at the Jiu Jitsu Institute. In 1944, Mr. Yoshitaro Sakai moved to the area, and Hiro Iwamoto arrived in 1945 as the relocation camps closed. Hank Okamura relocated close to the Lawson YMCA in 1946 and joined the “Y.” Okamura, wrestling at the YMCA, met Kenji Okimoto; and the two men, who discovered they were both judoka, began to practice together. From this start, judo remained at Lawson YMCA for the next twenty years.
The Chicago Judo Black Belt Association was formed during 1947 and a charter was received directly from the Kodokan. (As a recognized judo organization the yudanshakai could promote up to 3rd-degree black belt.) At that time the Chicago Judo Black Belt Association covered the states of Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Michigan. The first constitution for Chicago, a rather informal document, stated that John Osako would be president of the association, and the vice-president would be Mas Tamura. There was not much more to the constitution than that. The charter members of the Chicago Judo Black Belt Association were Masato Tamura, Hank Okamura, Hik Nagao,Yosh Sakai, Carl Shojii, Carl Kalaskai, Jack Ohashi, and Tom Watanabe.
In 1949, MasatoTannura became the president of the yudanshakai and remained in that office for the next fourteen years. During the late 1940s the Oak Park YMCA started under Bob Matsuoka. Some noted members of the Chicago Judo Club were Hik Nagao, Tom Watenabe, Jim Beres. John Osako, and Art Broadbent. At the Lawson YMCA were the Benson brothers, the Fletcher brothers, Hank Okamura, and Kenji Okamoto. The Jiu Jitsu Institute had Masato Tamura, Vince Tamura, Bob Belhatchet , Frnak Leszczynski , Bill Burk. Bill Berndt, and Bill Kaufman. During these years, any team that represented the U.S. was mostly made up of people from the Chicago Judo Black Belt Association. Chicago sent teams to the first two Pan-American Judo Tournaments and one of the two American representatives to the 1st World Tournament in Japan.
Judo was intensively promoted in Chicago during the 1950s. There were a number of self-defense demonstrations conducted for television shows. Tournaments became regular events with the Lawson YMCA providing a central location.
Konan, or Detroit, was encouraged to break away, about 1952. This change relieved Chicago of the responsibility for all of Michigan and some midwestern areas. Milwaukee, Wis.. and St. Louis, Mo. were starting to develop judo groups during this time, but, unlike Chicago, these two areas did not have strong Japanese judo players to get the sport going and give guidance to its development.
With the start of the 1950s, judo in Chicago began to develop into a citywide sport as new dojos were opened. Bill Kaufman was discharged from the service in 1952 and came back from Japan as a 2nd-degree black belt. Kaufman worked out at the Jiu Jitsu Institute and started his own club at the Hyde Park YMCA. Later he taught at the University of Chicago. Mr. Hikaru Nagao was teaching judo at the Illinois Institute of Technology. In time, these two clubs combined to form the Uptown Dojo.
In the early 1950s, some students from the original dojos began teaching at various locations around the city, and the Oak Park YMCA was developing a good judo group also. Indiana at this time had a judo community developing under the guidance of Mr. Bill Craig. In local tournaments there would be as many as 80 brown belts competing at one time. National registration was adopted during this period and was run by the Chicago Yudanshakai for a few years. In the late 1950s, Chicago had 2,800 registered members.
In 1954, Vince Tamura represented the Chicago Yudanshakai and the U.S. in the 1st World Tournament. There were no weight divisions in early world competitions, so the matches were rough. Tamura lasted until the semi-finals, defeating heavier and higher ranking people. His only loss was to a future world champion.
Texas In 1957 the Second Air Force held its championship tournament in Austin. Tex., and invited Roy H. Moore to officiate the tournament. Pop decided to stay, and, with the help of Col. Walthrop, Beverly Sheffieid, from the Austin Recreation Department. and a young competitor, Jerry Reid, from Bergstrom Air Force Base. the Austin Judo Club opened its doors.
With the addition of members such as Bill Nagase and Sam Numahiri in Fort Worth, Karl Geis and Rick Landers in Houston, and Rick Mertens in Shreveport, the Southwestern U.S. Judo Association came into being. The association annexed small areas out of several yudanshakais and covered the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arakansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. In 1959 the Southwestern U.S. Championships were held in Austin, Tex.. with over 300 competitors attending. In the late 1950s Bill Nagase and Gail Stolzenburg competed in the National AAU Senior Judo Championships.
The sport continued to grow and attracted several talented instructors to Texas-Ace Sukigara, 3rd dan. to Longview, and Vince Tamura, Th dan, to Dallas. In 1961 the Southwestern U.S. Judo Yudanshakai became the Texas Judo Black Belt Association, and in 1962 the Texas Yudanshakai was approved by the Judo Black Belt Federation as a regional association. The first officers included John Ebell. Rick Landers, Gail Stolzenburg. Karl Geis, and Vince Tamura.
In 1964 the National Collegiate Championships were held in El Paso with Texans Ace Sukigara. John Rowlett, Wes Maxwell. and Joe Rude among the winners. In 1971 Odessa Boys Club hosted the USJF Junior National Championships with many trophies staying in Texas. In 1975 the High School National Championships were held in Houston.
To keep all the clubs informed of the Judo activities in Texas and surrounding areas, the Texas Yudanshakai has produced since 1963 a bi-monthly magazine entitled Texas Judo News.
Shufu Yudanshakai at one time had the largest judo area in the U.S. Over the years. new, localized judo organizations grew out of the initial central organization.
James Takemori. 5th dan, has served as rank registration chairman. secretary, and president of Shufu. He related the following information concerning shufu’s history:
In Washington before Shutu was organized there were only a handful of men in the area, approximately ten yudansha. Among the black belts present were Kenzo Uyeno, Eich’ Koiwai, M.D., Nonkey Ishiyama,Donn Draeger, Bili Berndt, Lanny Miyamoto, and Masauki Hashimoto Mr. Hashimoto became Shufu’s first president.
There were five yudanshakais prior to the formation of Shufu The earlier five were in Chicago, Seattle, Hawaii, Hokka, and Nanka. Donn Draeger was an early advocate of a yudanshakai on the East Coast. His efforts resulted in the first meeting of the forming yudanshakai, in the spring of 1953. There were some differences of opinion regarding a name for the new organization Some felt it should be called, using Japanese terminology, East Coast. while others felt the Japanese for Capitol was more appropriate The name Capitol finally won, thus Shufu Yudanshakai The early officers of Shutu were: Mr. Hashimoto, president: Kenzo Uyeno, vice-president; Lanny Miyamoto. secretary -treasurer; and Donn Draeger. chairman of the board of examiners.
Shufu eventually stretched from Maine to Florida, including the Panama Canal Zone. Those seeking examination or further study might have had to travel two days for such an activity Takemori and Uyeno traveled a great deal during that early period: to North Carolina twice a year for promotional tournaments; to New England twice yearly; and for Dixie states twice yearly. Early applicants for examinations were not very knowledgeable about judo. Many of those tested had learned judo from a book, owing to the small number of instructors on the East Coast. The candidates usually failed to pass the examinations on their first attempt The exams were designed to develop instructors, which the large area desperately needed. Terminology was very highly stressed.
Shufu, unlike many of the other yudanshakais, did not have a large indigenous Japanese population from which to form the basis of the organization. Many of the judo people came from the military Often. men recently home from military service overseas. would return to the U S. from Japan as 1st- or 2nd-degree black belts
Among the instructors in the area were Dr. Koiwai. teaching in Philadelphia at a YMCA; Lanny Miyamoto in Baltimore; Ken Freeman and George Uchida in New York; and James Takemore, Bill Berndt. Kenzo Uyeno. and Donn Draeger in Washington There was considerable practice of Judo at military bases as well. especially at Ft. Benning and at Ft. Braggi in 1957, the Washington Judo club. earlier named the Pentagon Judo Club, established a dojo outside of the Pentagon.
The level of judo awareness and numbers of practicing judokas in the various areas of Shutu increased. It soon became practical for more localized judo organizations to exist. The first to develop a base sufficient to run its own affairs was the Florida area. Next. New England formed its own yudanshakai. followed by the Dixie States, and Allegheny Mountain. As long as the local judo population has sufficient numbers and knowledge to administer judo in its area, the more efficient service of a local yudanshakai is preferred This concept has motivated the splitting of areas from Shufu’s original territory.
Intercollegiate Judo The first record of any U.S. collegiate judo participation was in the early 1930s when Henry Stone. a young coach at the University of California, Berkeley sent a few students to participate in some tournaments held in San Francisco.
in 1937 Emillo Bruno, a student. introduced judo as a sport to the physical education department at San Jose State College: later the judo program was taken over by another student, Yosh Uchida Mr Uchida took the first group of college judo competitors from San Jose to Southern California to participate in a yudanshakai tournament. the beginning of sectional tournaments.
World War II interrupted all collegiate judo. In 1946. Yosh Uchida returned to college and helped revive the judo program at San Jose State.Many of the students, who were World War I I veterans, had been taught strictly self-defense in the service. Because fine technique was lacking among the judo participants, great force was used on opponents and small competitors were easily injured.
In 1948 Henry Stone devised a weight system that he hoped would aid the growth and development of judo. For several years, the weight system was experimented with at San Jose State in the physical education classes and proved worthwhile. The original weight divisions were: 130, 150, 180 lbs, and unlimited. These weight divisions were adopted by the AAU, but have since been revised several times in an effort to keep up with changes in body size. The weight divisions adopted by the Olympic Judo Committee, and used in the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964, were 156,176, heavyweight, and open.
Most of the early college judo participation and development was earned out on the west coast at San Jose and U.C. Berkeley. Dual meets between the two schools were initiated in the early 1950s. In 1953, the first collegiate judo championships were held at U.C. Berkeley, called the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Judo Championships. Also in 1953, the first National AAU Judo Championships were held at San Jose State. Lyle Hunt, a San Jose State senior, was the first grand champion of the National AAU Championships. Later in 1953, as a college student, Lyle represented the U.S. in several tournaments in Europe, along with John Osoko from Chicago. Yosh Uchida, from San Jose State, was coach. This was the first U.S. representation abroad in the sport. Judo was recognized as in intercollegiate sport at San Jose in 1954, but the growth of judo was definitely hampered over the years by a general lack of understanding and knowledge of the sport by athletic directors and physical education department chairmen, who have been traditionally reluctant to accept new minor sports.
In 1955 San Jose State hosted the first International All-Star Collegiate competitors. Haruo Imamura, who won the U.S. National AAU Grand Championship in 1960, was a member of that team. The tournament was the first all-college judo participation on an international scale between two countries, although sometime during the mid-1930s, a team from Keio University had participated in a yudanshakai tournament in southern California.
Henry Stone, the great leader of judo, passed away suddenly in 1955 and judo floundered on the university level. A long-smouldering feud between the NCAA and the AAU flared up in 1960, and it became impossible for college teams to compete in AAU -sanctioned tournaments. On May 12,1962 college leaders met and organized the National Collegiate Judo Association. In 1962 the first National Collegiate Judo Championships were held at the U.S. Air Force Academy, San Jose State, U.C. Berkeley, University of Minnesota, Mankato State College, and the Eastern Collegiate Judo Association. Since then many National Collegiate Judo Championships have been held at various colleges and universities across the country.
In 1967, the National Collegiate Judo Association selected Howard Fish to represent the U.S. in the University Games held in Tokyo. George Uchida, of U.C. Berkeley, was coach and manager. The only U.S. representative, Fish won a bronze medal in both the heavyweight and open divisions. Because of Fish’s outstanding performance, the NCJA was invited to send a team to Lisbon, Portugal, in 1968. The U.S. sent Mike Ogata, Doug Graham, Roy Sukimoto, Gary Martin, and Yosh Uchida as coach. Doug Graham won a silver medal in the 205 lb division, and Gary Martin was a silver medallist in the 154 lb division. These two U.S. collegiate judoists lost only to collegiate competitors from Japan.
In 1972 the University Games were held in London. Team members included David Long, John Reed, Tom Cullen, Louis Gonzalez, Tom Masterson, and Tom Tigg. In Soo Hwang, from Yale University, served as coach-manager. Tigg won the silver medal in the 139 lb division.
For all the University Game competition, financial help was received from the USJF. Without this national governing body, U.S. judo would have had a far greater struggle; and certainly, without its financial aid, competitors would never have been able to compete internationally. (YOSH UCHIDA)
The organized judo program in the U.S. Armed Forces began in the Air Force in 1950 when Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, the commander-in-chief of the Strategic Air Command, USAF, directed the setting up of a model physical conditioning unit at Offutt AFB, Neb. In 1951 similar conditioning units were set up at other SAC bases. Gen. LeMay appointed Emilio (“Mel”) Bruno, a former National AAU Wrestling Champion and Th-degree in judo, to direct the program. At this time, civilian judo instructors staffed six SAC bases; the rest had physical conditioning units, but no judo instructors. In direct charge of the judo and conditioning program for SAC was Gen. Thomas Power, later honorary chairman of the National AAU Judo Committee.
Because of an obvious deficiency of instructors, Power sent two classes of airmen (24 men) to the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo in 1952 for several weeks training. This was the first such training for any Armed Forces group.
Air Force judo received added impetus in 1953 when ten experts from Japan, six in judo, three in karate, and one in aikido, gave demonstrations at over 70 U.S. Air Force Bases over a three-month period. The purpose of this tour was to train judo instructors and combat crews and to give exhibitions on and off base. Many civilian judo clubs had their first visit from high-ranking judo teachers as a result of this tour. One of the highlights of the tour was a demonstration at the White House on July 22. The year 1953 was also marked by the first National AAU Judo tournament held at San Jose State College. A SAC team participated in these first Nationals.
In 1954, the first SAC Judo Tournament was held at Offutt AFB the Grand Champion was Airman Morris Curtis. Also in 1954, 26 SAC Air Police went to the Kodokan to study judo fourteen weeks. The curriculum consisted of police tactics, aikido, karate and, of course, judo. Two SAC judoists advanced to the last few rounds in the 1954 AAU National Championships at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco. The 12-man SAC team won 29 rounds and lost 19 but was unable to place a man. Staff Sgt. Ed Maley, SAC, a member of the 1955 SAC Judo Team, placed in the 1955 AAU National championships-third in the 150-lb division. The Air Research and Development Command, USAD (ARDC), also entered a team in 1955, after only a year of competition, and A/1 C Vern Raab won an unofficial fourth place in the heavyweight division.
The year 1954 also brought a 10-man AAU-Air Force team visit to six Japanese cities to compete in 16 contests. Five members of the team were Air Force, and the most successful member of the team was to be heard from many times in the future. This man, Staff Sgt. George Harris, won all of his 16 contests.
Seventy men from SAC and ARDC journeyed to the Kodokan in 1955 for instruction. Under the guidance of Gen. Power, who had taken over as ARDC Commander, the SAC-ARDC Judo Association was formed and received recognition from the Kodokan in 1956. Emilio Bruno was elected president, and the association was permitted to grant judo rank. This was the first and only Armed Forces judo association to be so recognized by the Kodokan. SAC and ARDC sent 280 Air Policemen for four-week classes at the Kodokan during 1956.
Again in 1956, the Air Force placed one man in the national AAU Judo Tournament at Seattle. Returning from his successful Japanese tour, George Harris, then a 2nd dan, placed third in the heavyweight division.
In 1957, after only five years in judo, Staff Sgt. George Harris won the Grand Championship in the National AAU Judo Championships in Hawaii. Harris was first in the heavyweight division; sweeping the division with him were A/1 C Lenwood Williams in second place and A/2C Ed Mede, third. The Air Force also took the National 5-Man Team Championship for the first time.
Winners of the SAC and ARDC tournaments represented the Air Force in the AAU tournaments on April 13 and 14 in Chicago. Twelve Air Force judoists participated, with George Harris successfully defending his Grand Championship, and the Air Force team captured the National 5-Man Team Championship for the second year in a row. Due to the great power of southern California in the lower weight divisions, the Air Force was unable to win the overall team championship.
The SAC Judo Team, consisting of L. Williams, E. Mede, G. Harris, J. Reid, R. Moxley, and M. O’Connor (trainer) was designated as the U.S. Pan-American Judo Team in 1958. Team members won first and fourth in the 3rd dan category (Harris and Williams), third in the 2nd dan (Reid), and second in the 1st dan (Mede). In the fall of 1958, George Harris and Ed Mede represented the U.S. in the 2nd World Tournament, held in Tokyo. Harris’s three wins before losing to Sone, a Japanese 5th degree, placed him in a tie for fifth place along with the four other defeated quarter finalists. As a result of this fine record, George Harris was promoted to 4th degree in judo, the first Armed Forces man to be so honored. (LT AGULLA GIBBS DEBRELL)
The Governance of U.S. Judo The development of a national governing body for U.S. judo started in 1952, through the efforts of Dr. Henry A. Stone, Maj. Draeger, and others. At that time there was no national authority to give guidance to local judo communities and insure the logical and orderly development of judo as a sport. The Amateur Judo Association was a first attempt at establishing a national governing structure. Dr. Stone served as the first president. Authority to grant the most coveted Kodokan judo rank was assumed by the national organization. High ranking individuals were no longer permitted to grant promotions independently. The growth of local judo organizations was encouraged, promotion privileges were granted to yudanshakais,
and a national communications avenue was opened.
Until the early 1960s, judo in the U.S. had grown in a haphazard, somewhat informal fashion. Most leaders tended to be purists, preferring the security and recognition offered by their local influence. Judo was structured strictly on rank, and those without the proper credentials were considered outsiders. It was judo rank, that coveted mantle of recognition, which for so many years retarded the formation of a strong, responsive national organization. As judo spread across the nation, false claims to rank and promotions were commonplace, and the existing organization was powerless to take action. Those leaders who had feared a national organization and popularization of judo in time became the strongest voices for change.
The national organization was renamed the Judo Black Belt Federation. President Yosh Uchida (1960-61) delegated the task of laying the groundwork for reorganization to Donald Pohl, a relatively unknown 1st dan from Detroit. Pohl, the executive secretary of the Detroit Judo Club (then the nation’s largest non-profit club), had effected a pilot program for a national rank system.
During the brief tenure of President Renyo Uyeno (before his untimely death at the age of 39 on June 1,1963), the Judo Black Belt Federation launched a national rank registration procedure, which was coupled with a detailed rank identification system. This was the basis for future financial stability of the organization. The Judo Black Belt Federation also adopted a comprehensive constitution and by-laws, established a national communications system and published the Judo Bulletin.
Although the early leaders of the Judo Black Belt Federation (then known as the Amateur Judo Association), had actively sought out the Amateur Athletic Union and had been granted the right to represent U.S. judo on the international level, little attention or significance was attached to this accommodation until early in the 1960s when amateurism and sanctions began to become important. As the Judo Black Belt Federation expanded (18 yudanshakais in 1963) and tournaments were more widely attended, the importance and presence of the AAU began to be noticed. The Judo Black Belt Federation and the Amateur Athletic Union succeeded in maintaining an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual assistance during the remainder of the decade.
In 1963 the Judo Black Belt Federation joined the Amateur Athletic Union in producing the first of what were to be five joint handbooks (two published by Phil Porter and three by Don Pohl). Sales of the books, mostly through the Federation, exceeded 100,000 copies. All proceeds were given to the Amateur Athletic Union Judo Committee to help finance its operation. When proceeds from the sale of hand books failed to provide the necessary funding for the expanding program, the Judo Black Belt Federation authorized grants in excess of $75,000 to the Amateur Athletic Union to help finance international competition and related programs
In 1964 and 1966, Hiro Fujimoto of Detroit was elected president of the Federation and Dr. Eichi Kolwai of Philadelphia, vice-president. Dr. Koiwai assumed the presidency at the 1968 election, holding office for several terms. During the uncertain years of the 1960s the Federation changed its name to the U.S. Judo Federation, published a book of procedures, rewrote the judo contest rules, adopted a comprehensive promotion procedure, drafted a new referees’ certification procedure, and expanded to 25 yudanshakais.
Judo soon grew to the third largest sport in the array of Amateur Athletic Union activities. What were first considered minor contentions between the Union and the Federation soon grew to open disagreement over philosophy, priorities, and control. Amateurism became a bone of contention. considered by many a stumbling block in the way of development. Amateur Athletic Union advocates, on the other hand, questioned the unchallenged control of rank exercised by the U.S. Judo Federation.
In 1969 the differences and positions that had been fought out at the meetings finally culminated in one of the yudanshakais (the Armed Forces Judo Association) withdrawing from the U.S. Judo Federation to start a rival national organization. The Armed Forces Judo Association adopted a name similar to that of the parent organization, the U.S. Judo Association. The association closely aligned itself with the philosophy and position of the Amateur Athletic Union. (DENNIS HELM)
KARATE Kung-fu arrived in the U.S. with the first Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century, but the growth of karate is largely owed to contact between American servicemen and Japanese experts during the post-World War II occupation of Japan and Okinawa.
Kung-fu: the Forerunner of Karate Kung-fu was a part of the Chinese lifestyle in the labo camps and mining towns that grew up following the gold rush of 1848. With the importation of large numbers of Chinese laborers to work on the Central Pacific Railroad, beginning in 1863, the swelling Chinese communities isolated themselves within their own, transplanted culture.
Conflicts over control of gambling, prostitution, and the like, arose; rival secret societies fought each other in the notorious “Tong Wars,” which lasted until the 1930s. The troops in these internecine wars were “hatchetmen,” so-called because they used meat cleavers and hatchets as weapons. They were skilled also in kung-fu, in the art of “pin-blowing,” and in hurling lethal, razor-edged coins. Hatchetmen in the U.S. handed down, from one generation to the next, the secret and sinister practice of kung-fu, the forbearer of modern karate.
Until roughly two decades after World War II, kung-fu was not available to non-Chinese on the U.S. mainland. The early Japanese and Okinawan communities in the U.S. were isolated, introverted, and intensely secretive about their ethnic arts and crafts. Judo was the only exception: Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, encouraged its spread. According to martial arts scholar Donn F. Draeger, Kano asked that ” judo training be undertaken not only in the dojo but also outside it, and so make of its physical aspects the focus of human endeavor for the progress and development of man.” The other martial arts had no such original intention.
The first club to practice kung-fu in organized classes with instructors from Chinese provinces was a branch of the Chinese Physical Culture Association, founded in Honolulu in 1922. This association promoted physical culture among the Islands’ Chinese communities, but kung-fu remained unavailable to non-orientals until 1957, when Tlnn Chan Lee, at’ai-chi-ch’uan specialist, became the first Chinese sifu to open his teaching to the general public.
In 1964 the closely-guarded doors of kung-fu finally opened in the U.S. mainland. Ark Y.Wong of Los Angeles, born in China, broke the traditional kung-fu “color line” by accepting students of all races at Wah Que Studio in Los Angeles’s old Chinatown Also in 1964 the movie idol Bruce Lee and his one-time partner, James Yimm Lee, began accepting non-Orientals at Lee’s kwoon in Oakland, Calif. In fact, the notorious John Keehan, a.k.a. “Count Dante,” claimed to have trained there as early as 1962.
Teachers like New York’s Alan Lee, Ark Y. Wong, and T.Y. Wong popularized Shaolin. Choy-Li-Fut and t’ai-chi-ch’uan quickly became public and, soon after, the various branches of northern and southern Shaolin kung-fu.
In northern California, sifus Kwong and Brendan Lai helped establish the praying mantis system. Y.C. Wong promoted the hung gar and tiger crane systems; Kuo-Lien-Ying promoted t’ai-chi; George Long, the white crane; and Lau Bun and the Luk Mo Studio, the Choy-Li-Fut. Noted scholar Wen-Shan Huang, with his protege Marshall Ho, started the National T’ai-Chi-Ch’uan Association in the early 1960s, opening up instruction in this “soft style” of kung-fu to Caucasians.
Throughout the U.S. kung-fu spread, especially during the Bruce Lee era, when so-called Eastern Westerns dominated American and international movie screens. Even so, the majority of kung-fu styles and teachers still remain hidden.
Many of the first karate students were street fighters. Few of these rough types possessed, however, the discipline necessary to remain with the art and learn it thoroughly. The small number who did found their original attitudes startlingly transformed.
Today, karate classes are predominantly composed of business persons, professionals, skilled workers, and students-a cross section of American society.
Karate Comes to Hawaii In Hawaii, a great cultural crossroads, karate secured a foothold long before its emergence on the mainland. Although practiced within the Okinawan community, no wider audience had seen karate in Hawaii until 1927, when Kentsu Yabu, a famous Okinawan master, introduced Shuri-te in a public demonstration at the Nuuana YMCA in Honolulu.
A few “naichi” Japanese (i.e., Japanese from one of the four main islands of Hawaii) who observed the YMCA demonstration adjudged karate a strong fighting art, possibly even stronger than their judo. Interest in karate by non-Okinawans flourished thereafter. Yabu’s open teachings also brought together interested groups of Okinawans for practice and recreation, something the rivalries of llaha, Shuri, and Tomari had prevented on Okinawa.
In 1932 Choki Motobu, a legendary, eccentric Okinawan karate fighter, was denied entry to Hawaii when a group of Okinawan promoters living in Hawaii tried to import him for a public match against well-known Island fighters. In 1933 Zuiho Mutsu and Kamesuke Higaonna were allowed into Hawaii with the understanding that they would teach and lecture but not compete in the boxing ring. Both refused to engage in public matches and prepared to depart immediately. Thomas Miyashiro, who had studied with Yabu in 1927, convinced other karate enthusiasts to approach the pair collectively and urge that they remain in Hawaii to teach their art. They agreed and, after great initial success at the Asahi Photo Studio, the site of their original school, the two karate masters chose a new facility for their classes, the Izumo Taishi Shinto Mission.
The club formed from these classes, the Hawaii Karate Seinin Kai (Hawaii Young People’s Karate Club), subsequently staged a public karate demonstration at the Honolulu Civic Auditorium. A number of Caucasian spectators in attendance, mostly members of the First Methodist Church, became interested in learning karate. Through their efforts, the first known Caucasian group in the Western world to study openly and to sponsor karate activities was formed in 1933 Shortly thereafter, both Mutsu and Higaonna departed for Japan, where they had been teaching previously.
In May 1934 Chinei Kinjo, editor of the Okinawan newspaper Yoen Fiho Sha, invited grandmaster Cholun Miyagi, the founder of goju-ryu karate, to Hawaii. Miyagi lectured and taught to popularize Okinawan goju-ryu karate-do, staying almost a year and returning to Okinawa in Feb. 1935.
The spread of kempo to the Islands is largely owed to Dr. James Mitose, a Japanese-American born in Hawaii in 1916. At age five he was sent to Kyushu, Japan, for schooling in his ancestral art of self-defense, called “kosho-ryu kempo,” said to be based directly on Shaolin kung-fu. Mitose returned to Hawaii in 1936. In 1942 he organized the Official Self-Defense Club at the Beretania Mission in Honolulu. This club continued under his personal leadership until 1953, when it was assigned to Thomas Young, one of his chief students. Only five of his students-Young, William K.S. Chow, Paul Yamaguchi, Arthur Keawe, and Edward Lowe-attained the rank of black belt. But the kempo arts flourished in Hawaii and later on the west coast of the mainland, where three of Mitose’s protégés formed clubs of their own. In 1953, before going to the mainland, Mitose wrote What is Self-Defense, reprinted by his students in 1980.
Of Mitose’s students, perhaps Chow played the most significant role in the evolution of the American martial arts. Although he had learned kosho-ryu kempo under Mitose, Chow was the first to teach what he called kenpo (first law) karate. From 1949 Chow trained a great number of students to the rank of blackbelt, including Adriano Emperado, Ralph Castro, Bobby Lowe, John Leone, and Paul Pung. By far the most famous of Chow’s students is Ed Parker, a leading pioneer in the American karate movement.
Adriano “Sonny” Emperado was a co-founder in 1947 of the kajukenbo system, formed by five experts: Walter Choo (karate), Joseph Holke (judo), Frank Ordonez (jujutsu), Emperado (kenpo), and Clarence Chang (Chinese boxing). The name is an acronym derived from the five disciplines of its founders: ka from karate, ju from judo and jujutsu, ken from kenpo, and bo from Chinese boxing. Today, this style is one of the most prominent in Hawaii. In 1950 Emperado founded Hawaii’s first and largest chain of karate schools, the Kajukenbo Self-Defense Institute, Inc., in which he still holds the office of vice-president. Probably Emperado’s most famous student is Al Dacascos, founder of the won hop kuen do system.
In 1954 Japan’s colorful Mas Oyama visited Hawaii for a month to assist Bobby Lowe, a Chinese -American, in setting up the first overseas branch of Oyama’s kyokushinkai style.
Karate Emerges on the Mainland The first karate school on the U.S. mainland was established by a former sailor, Robert Trias, who began teaching karate in Phoenix in 1946. In 1942, while stationed in the Pacific, Trias trained with Tong Gee Hsing, a teacher of heing-I and Shuritode ryu, and a nephew, according to Trias, of Okinawa’s Choki Motobu. The word “karate” was not then in universal use; Shuritode ryu was a style of Okinawan shorei-ryu karate.
Upon his discharge in 1946, Trias returned to the U.S. and established his private, 14-foot-square dojo. He charged a low annual fee for instruction in judo or karate for two to three hours daily, seven days a week. Until the late 1970s, when John Corcoran investigated the subject, little acknowledgment was given Trias as the actual founder of karate in America. Later, in 1948, Trias formed the United States Karate Association (USKA), the first karate organization on the mainland.
From Mar. to Nov. 1952, Mas Oyama of Japan toured 32 states by invitation of the U.S. Professional Wrestling Association-officials had heard of his exploits in Japan. While in the country he began his famous challenge matches with professional wrestlers and boxers, all of whom he is said to have defeated. Oyama’s exhibition bouts and demonstrations, including the breaking of boards, bricks, and stones, received great public attention, including articles in the New York Times, which covered his bout with a pro boxer at Madison Square Garden.
In 1951 Emilio Bruno, judo teacher, pioneer, and administrator, had been named supervisor of judo and combative measures for the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Bruno formulated a new approach to military combat training, integrating parts of aikido, judo, and karate into a systematic unarmed combat technique. To implement his idea, he suggested a pilot program to Gen Curtis LeMay, then commander of the U.S. Air Force and one of Bruno’s judo students. The program had a significant effect on the subsequent propagation of karate in the U.S.With Gen. LeMay’s endorsement and SAC’s sponsorship, Bruno initiated eight-week training programs for Air Force instructors at the Kodokan, judo’s mecca, in Japan. Kodokan officials contacted the Japan Karate Association (JKA) to manage the karate instruction, and that organization selected Hidetaka Nishlyama as one of the coaches. Financially backed and supported by SAC, Bruno invited ten martial arts instructors of judo and karate to participate in a now famous four-month 1953 tour of every SAC base in the U.S. and Cuba. The touring group included seven judoka and three karate dignitaries: Nishiyama, Toshio Kamata, and the late Isao Obata, a JKA co-founder and senior disciple of Gichin Funakoshi.
The 1953 SAC tour was responsible for opening up communication between Japan and the U.S., accounting for the migration of dozens of Japanese karate instructors to America. It also influenced other U.S. military branches and departments to adopt similar martial arts programs.
In 1954 the JKA established its first, small headquarters in Tokyo, and, with the establishment of a central dojo, Nishiyama was elected chief of the JKA instruction department. He conceived a plan to train large numbers of karate instructors and send them across the world to establish karate. His plan, once put into operation, accounted for the migration, beginning in 1955, of many instructors who pioneered Shotokan karate wherever they settled.Nishiyama himself assumed responsibility for furthering karate in the U.S.
In 1954 Ed Parker, black belt kenpo student of William Chow, began teaching a karate course at Brigham Young University. Hawaiian-born Parker, who had arrived on the mainland in 1951, limited instruction to Americans attending the university His evening classes enrolled as many as 72 students: city police, state highway patrolmen, fish and game wardens, and sheriffs’ deputies. With some of his students, Parker formed an exhibition team, and through various chambers of commerce, he and his group performed in several Utah cities.
William Dometrich, who began his karate training in Japan in 1951, returned in Dec. 1954, settling in Kentucky. A student of Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, the founder of Chito-ryu karate, Dometrich was the first to teach this system in America. He formed the U.S. Chito-Kai in 1967.
Denver’s Frank Goody, Jr., who had as early as 1924 started judo lessons with his father, is the first instructor to have taught karate in the Rocky Mountain region. Jack Farr, in compiling the history of martial arts in Colorado, reported that between 1945 and 1951, Goody promoted yawara tournaments within his judo school in Denver. While Goody’s background is the subject of much confusion, his contribution to karate’s growth is not. In 1957, he opened a karate school in Boulder, Colo., and is credited with teaching nearly all the other karate pioneers in the Colorado area.
Dewey Deavers, a jujutsu and karate instructor who reportedly traveled in China and Japan in the 1920s, surfaced around 1954 in Pittsburgh. By then he had already trained two students to the rank of black belt: Warren Siciliano and Larry Williams. Williams in that year introduced karate to a promising student, Glenn Premru, who in the late 1960s and early 1970s, became a noted performer and national kata champion.
Another pioneer was Atlee Chittim of Texas. After studying tae kwon do in Korea, Chittim returned as a brown belt in 1955 and taught his art at San Antonio College. (Interestingly, the name “tae kwon do” had only been created in April of that year.) As far as can be determined, Chittim was the first to teach any form of karate in the southwestern U.S. outside of Arizona. And he sponsored the entry of Jhoon Rhee to America from Korea in 1956. Rhee, a tae kwon do black belt, came to the U.S. to study engineering at San Marco’s Texas State College and began to teach his art on campus, opening a commercial club in 1958. Rhee, known as the “Father of American Tae Kwon Do,” went on to become one of the most important leaders in American karate.
In 1955 Tsutomu Ohshima, a graduate of Waseda University in Japan, organized a small karate class at the Konko Shinto Church in Los Angeles. A disciple of Gichin Funakoshi’s Shotokan style, Ohshima was the first instructor in the U.S. to teach a typically Japanese karate system, and was the first resident karate teacher on the West Coast. In 1956 he opened the first public dojo in Los Angeles. He also founded the Shotokan Karate of America.
The First Karate Tournament Robert Trias in 1955 conducted the first known karate tournament in America, the 1st Arizona Karate Championships. Held at the Butler Boys Club in Phoenix, participants were chiefly members of the Arizona Highway Patrol, Trias’ own students.
Karate Comes to Hollywood By 1956 Ed Parker had moved to California where his growing student list began to include such Hollywood names as Darren McGavin, author Joe Hyams, television executive Tom Tannenbaum, producer Blake Edwards, and the late film stars Nick Adams, Frank Lovejoy, and Audie Murphy. Both Hyams and Tannenbaum later achieved black belts under different instructors. Each made substantial contributions to karate, Tannenbaum in television and Hyams in print Through Parker’s influence, Blake Edwards directed his writers to add karate scenes to the screenplays for such 1960s hits as A Shot in the Dark and The Pink Panther. In those days, filmmakers were intrigued primarily by the more spectacular aspects of the martial arts, such as board and brick breaking.
Eventually Parker taught many more celebrities, including Elvis Presley, and appeared in motion pictures and television shows. It is difficult to determine whether Bruce Tegner or Parker was the first karate expert to work in films. It is a matter of record, however, that Tegner attracted attention to the martial arts early by setting up fight scenes for the 1950s TV series “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” and “The Detectives,” starring Robert Taylor. He also wrote a large number of books which had a great influence on the number of Americans that got involved in karate. As early as 1956 Stirling Silliphant had begun writing martial arts into many of his films requiring combat action. He first did this in Five Against the House in which Brian Keith portrayed a Korean war veteran and karate expert. Later he wrote martial arts roles in TV series like “Naked City” and “Route 66.” Silliphant later became largely instrumental in the rise of Bruce Lee, with whom he studied for 3 years.
Karate Pioneers In the years 1956 through 1960 the core of an American establishment came into being. A nucleus of first-rate instructors-immigrants from the Far East and returning U.S.servicemen-opened the first schools in assorted styles, in their respective regions. In 1957 Don Nagle returned from Okinawa, where he studied isshin-ryu under Tatsuo Shimabuku. He opened a dojo in Jacksonville and trained such well-known black belts as Ed McGrath, Harold Long, Gary Alexander, Ron Duncan, Donald Bohan, James Chapman, Lou Lizzotte, Ralph Chirico, and Joe Bucholtz. Nagle became one of the instructors chiefly responsible for the profileration of karate throughout the Eastern Seaboard.
Louis Kowlowski, an early USKA member, opened the first karate school in the midwest in 1957, in St. Louis, Mo. He was also one of the first to introduce Okinawan shorin-ryu (Matsubayashi) into the U.S.
In 1957 Cecil Patterson, a wado-ryu black belt, opened a private club in Sevierville, Tenn. And in 1962 he opened his first commercial school in Nashville, which, by the mid-1970s, expanded to as many as 17 dojo across Tennessee. Patterson also began the Eastern U.S. Wado-Kai Federation.
Okinawa kempo master Zempo (atsu) Shimabuku founded the first known karate dojo in Philadelphia in 1957.
In 1958, Roger Warren, who studied in the Orient, started leaching karate in Chicago and Peoria. Charles Gruzanski (d.1973) also opened a martial arts school in Chicago in the same year. Gruzanski, who spent many years in Japan, was a black belt in a number of different arts and was one of the few Caucasian experts in masakiryu-manriki-gusari, a viscous chain and sickle weapon.
In the mid-1950s Ed Kaloudis traveled to Japan to improve his judo knowledge. While there he studied koei-kan karate from Eizo Onishl. In 1958 Kaloudis moved to New York where he began to teach at NYU and also to members of the New York City Police Department. He later moved to New Jersey and opened up schools in Clifton and Caldwell. Today he oversees a large number of affiliated schools.
Robert Fusaro, who trained under Nishiyama in Japan, was the first man to teach karate in Minnesota. He began teaching his shotokan style in 1958 in Minneapolis and founded the Midwest Karate Association. Today he runs a number of schools in Minnesota.
In 1958 George Mattson was discharged from the U.S. Army. He returned home to Boston where he became the first Uechi-ryu instructor in America, as well as the first karate pioneer in the New England region. Mattson became a leader of karate on the Eastern Seaboard sponsoring the first karate tournament in New England in 1961. Mattson also wrote one of the first books on karate, The Way of Karate, published in 1963.
In 1958 in Portland, Oreg., Moon Yo Woo began teaching kong su an obscure Korean style of karate.
In 1958-59 Harry Smith, a student of Don Nagle, opened the first-known karate school in western Pennsylvania. He trained several students including Joe Penneywell, Harry Ackland and James Morabeto.
Around this time Walter Mazak and Joe Hedderman opened a dojo in Pittsburgh, Hedderman was a student of Chito-stylist William Dometrich.
In 1959 Philip Koeppel was discharged from the Navy. He had studied karate in Japan with Richard Kim and Kajukenbo with Adriano Emperado in Hawaii. In 1960 he joined the USKA and studied under Robert Trias. In 1963 he promoted the 1st World Karate Championships in Chicago and has since built a strong chain of karate studios throughout the midwest.
In 1959 Natamoro Naikima opened a school in Philadelphia teaching shorin-ryu.
Peter Urban, one of the founders of karate on the East Coast, opened his first goju-ryu karate school in Union City, New Jersey, in Sept.1959. Urban had studied in Japan with Richard Kim and later became a top student of Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi.
In 1960, Urban moved to New York City and taught karate at the Judo Twins (Bernie and Bob Lepkofker) and later established his own dojo, the famous “Chinatown Dojo.” He also broke away from the goju-kai organization and formed his own, which he called USA Goju. Urban probably trained more top black belts than anyone on the East Coast; among them were: Chuck Merriman, Al Gotay, William Louie, Frank Ruiz, John Kubl, Lou Angel, Thomas Boddie, Joe Lopez, Joe Hess, Bill Liquori, Aaron Banks, Ron Van Clief, Susan Murdock, Owen Watson, and Rick Pascetta.
Ralph Lindquist, an isshin-ryu stylist, opened a school in 1960 in New Cumberland, Pa.
In Michigan, AI Horton began teaching hisuechi-ryu in Kalamazoo in 1960. Other early pioneers included J. Kim in Lansing; Ernest Lieb in Muskegon; David Praim in Mt. Clemens (1962), who taught fighters Everett Eddy and Johnny Lee; and Paul and Larry Malo from Detroit who taught Shito-ryu and operated a number of multimillion-dollar karate centers.
As the decade closed, karate was gaining appeal. While no single member of the 1950-60 group of pioneers appears to have been greatly successful, the fact that so many individuals were operating schools, whose enrollments were increasing steadily, proved this new form ofself-defense was attractive to the general public. ln this decade the foundation was laid for the circulation of styles, instructors, and masters that would in the 1960s see the art of karate surpass judo in numbers of active practitioners.
The early 1960s also marked the beginning of an extensive immigration of Korean tae kwon do instructors. After Jhoon Rhee, who introduced tee kwon do in the U.S. in 1956, the first wave included: S. Henry Cho, Richard Chun, and Duk Sung Son in New York; D.S. Kim in Georgia; J.Kim and Sang Kyu Shim in Michigan; Mahn Suh Park in Pennsylvania; Haeng Ung Lee in Omaha; Ki Whang Kim in Maryland; and Jack Hwang in Oklahoma. In all, it is estimated that more than 25 masters during the early and mid-1960s settled in the U.S.
The Vietnam War gave this native Korean art visibility.Pictures of Korean instructors training American GI’s in hand-to-hand combat appeared in Time and Newsweek.
While these legitimate instructors were encouraged to emigrate to the U.S., the teaching credential itself was to create an intense controversy in American karate. As more and more Korean tae kwon do instructors and masters arrived in the U.S., it was clearly unlikely that all of them could have taught American military personnel. Yet this claim, coupled with insupportable claims to unreasonably advanced degrees of black belt rank-usually no less than 7th dan-first caused suspicion, then rebellion by American karatemen. More often than not a third claim, that of being an “All Korean Champion,” was another of the tee kwon do credentials. It is improbable that there were more than a few dozen All Korean Champions, since tae kwon do embraced no organized competitions until the 1960s-when more than 800 master instructors were teaching tae kwon do in the U.S. The degree and intensity of business competition was undoubtedly the motive for these exorbitant claims. At any rate, potential martial arts students now had a choice of where and with whom to study. By the early 1970s more than 1,200 tae kwon do instructors were reportedly teaching in the U.S.
Such phenomenal growth placed increasing demands on the tae kwon do community as a whole, and the need for a central organization quickly became apparent. In the U.S., as in Korea, the cause of organization was initially obstructed by affiliations of master instructors to parent schools and associations in Korea.
Meanwhile, within the Japanese karate community, Tsutomu Ohshima, who was still traveling, arranged in 1961 for Hidetaka Nishiyama to come to California to preside over his Los Angeles headquarters. Nishiyama arrived in July and within four months struck out on his own to form the All America Karate Federation (AAKF), a branch of the powerful Japan Karate Association (JKA). Today, the AAKF is one of the largest karate organizations in the U.S. This development spawned a bitter political rivalry between Ohshima and Nishiyama, which continues under the surface of the international amateur karate movement. Both pioneers, however, are consummate karate masters. Each is responsible for having firmly planted Shotokan karate in the U.S., and for having trained numerous disciples of high technical skill.
Richard Kim, sensei to such American karate pioneers as Peter Urban, Phil Koeppel, and Canada’s Benny Allen, came to America from Japan in 1961 and began teaching at the Chinese YMCA in San Francisco, Calif. Later Kim became the foremost karate historian residing in the U.S.
Top JKA instructor Teruyuki Okazaki arrived in the U.S. in May 1961 and began teaching Shotokan karate in west Philadelphia. In Sept.1962 he formed the East Coast Karate Association, a branch of the AAKF. Today he oversees the 50,000-member International Shotokan Karate Federation.
Also in Philadelphia that year, Mahn Suh Park established his first tae kwon do dojang, which, like Okazaki’s dojo, is still in operation today.
It was around 1961 that John Keehan, alias “Count Dante,” began teaching karate in the midwest from his base dojo in Chicago, III. Keehan joined the USKA in 1961, at age 22, and was instrumental in helping Trias firmly entrench the USKA in the midwest, the association’s strongest territory. He taught numerous students all the way to black belt, who opened their own schools and turned out respected students.
On the night of April 23, 1970, he took part in the infamous “dojo war” that ended in the brutal stabbing death of his friend and student, Jim Koncevic, at the Green Dragon’s Black Cobra training hall in Chicago. The tragedy left a profound mark on Keehan until his death from bleeding ulcers in 1975.